Saturday, December 12, 2020

THE DOWNFALL of #THEMECCA: "DIVIDE ET IMPERA" (PART 0)


Since most of my n****s won't ever work together
You run a check up but they never give you leverage
No red hat, don't Michael and Prince me and Ye
They separate you when you got Michael and Prince's DNA, uh


"What's FREE" MEEK MILL featuring Rick Ross and JayZ



HOT TAKE:


Although today a few of NYC's grassroot programs are under leadership of people FROM and OF #theculture, historically speaking, many were NOT.  Despite their intentions majority still operate from a vantage point different from #theculture as a whole.  


It is a known fact that youth basketball is a highly competitive and equally volatile space where artificial "beef" is created in an effort to serve a means to an end.  


We have seen it without seeing it, program A (MJ)and program B (Prince) both of whom are FROM and OF #theculture via their "coaches" aka infantry soldiers look to recruit a player for their respective teams. This goes on for some time and as a result program "employees" grow a pseudo "hatred" towards each other.  


This faux division merely serves as a distraction that is by most accounts fueled and flamed by "he say/she say" childish banter. This tactic seems to pit "employees" against each other and such division only intensifies the moment money, sneaker sponsored gear, and perceived clout are involved, but not for the "faces" of the programs but rather for the program's OWNERS.


So essentially MJ (program A) and Prince (program B) are butting heads over rumors, hearsay and half-truths.  This in of itself, is a classic case of "DIVIDE and CONQUER"and program's executive leader$hip thrive off of such dysfunctional

behaviors.


Imagine if "opposing" programs FROM and OF #theculture decided to WORK together as opposed to "fight" each other better yet, imagine a MJ and Prince collaboration.  



WOW.


Such a relationship would threaten many who profit from #theculture. And as pointed out in another song by Shawn Carter "Nobody wins when the family feuds."



#carryon




#crabsinthebarrel

#stockholmsyndrome

#willielynchsyndrome

#meritoriousmanumissionact





Thursday, November 26, 2020

DIARY OF A BASKETBALL MOM (PART III)

 


So let’s get back to the story...

Disclaimer! Events and situations have been changed to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. LOL


Our intro into competitive AAU was initially a smooth one. Someone knew someone, who knew someone; and so it began... and what also began was the chipping away at the confidence and security - my athlete had before the journey began.


We experienced nepotism and favoritism to a degree that I was not prepared for. Her talents were no longer “good enough”. It became about playing her role and letting others shine on the court. Making friends with the right kids and forming alliances. I felt like I was in one of those competitive reality tv shows... While off the court it was. “show us what you got in practice and we will let you hit the floor.”


We never played by those rules because my kid is REAL... just like her momma. You either like us or you don’t... 


SIDE BAR: Every GOOD parent knows that in order for your child to grow, feel secure and progress they need nurturing and consistency. Inconsistency in ANY relationship breads insecurity and discord. 


But I digress. 


We were at every event, every practice and stayed loyal at all costs. Expecting for people to keep their word and to honor her hard work. But that didn’t change the fact that if she had a good game and outshone some, the next time she played her minutes were much less.


You tell me how that is fair/just for a kid? 


It became clear - she was not part of the agenda and was not supposed to shine. 


Her confidence dropped, and so did her interest in becoming better... 


But we pushed through and "trusted the process". 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

THE DOWNFALL of #THEMECCA: "GYM COSTS IN NYC" (THE PREQUEL)




Many within the world of basketball consider NYC #TheMECCA largely due it's long history of churning out top notch players.  As of late, such claims have been under attack by other cities however very few can dispute the influence of NYC on the basketball landscape, as a whole.  


There are a myriad reasons of why some no longer consider NYC as #TheMECCA but for this blog entry we will focus on an overlooked fact that has stymied NYC's basketball development and growth. 


NYC basketball is known for it's playground flair and overall toughness, however the landscape of basketball has changed.  Gone are the days of playing on the playground instead players of today can be found indoors working on the flair of yester year and not on relevant game tested skills such the ability to SHOOT.  


Having the means to rent a gym in NYC is rare for many trainers / coaches / parents for most are not in a position to a afford the steep prices of $125-150 per hour for a private court.  Yes, you read that correctly  $125-150 per hour.  "Awww, rent a gym in a school" pundits might say but although they are correct for the rental costs are lower it does not mean they will have access to a school.  To a certain extent, access is to a facility comes with knowing a principal or an administrator who is willing to allow an organization into the building.  By comparison gym rentals in cities such as Atlanta ($65), Seattle ($50), and states such as New Jersey ($50) and Pennsylvania ($65) per hour are very affordable for trainers / coaches / and parents to allow their trainee / child to "get some work' and NOT to mention the gyms in question are FAR superior to 99% of NYC rentable gyms. Granted NYC is expensive but NOT that damn expensive. And this is where NYC fails NYC. 


At any rate, we are aware that basketball is a business and like ALL businesses people must make money but it's getting to the point - as mentioned in a previous blog - GENTRIFICATION has caused players without financial means to be left behind. 


In conclusion, add NYC gym costs and it's impact on the play of players to the long laundry list of reasons adversely affecting NYC's status within the world's basketball community.



IN OUR UPCOMING "THE DOWNFALL OF THE #THEMECCA" SERIES WE WILL IN A VERY CREATIVE FORMAT LOOK TO BREAKDOWN (A FEW) DIFFERENT ISSUES THAT #THEMECCA WILL NEED TO ADDRESS IN ORDER TO REGAIN ITS FOOTING AS THE "EPICENTER" OF GRASSROOT BASKETBALL


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

DIARY OF A BASKETBALL MOM (PART II)




10 Things I wish I knew that you need to know... 

(In no particular order)



1. It’s NEVER that serious - Until your player hits high school. It’s all about learning the game, refining skills and gaining confidence.



2. Trust the process - Be patient with your athlete. Trust that the hard work and dedication they put in will come to fruition.


3. Trust your instincts - If you feel and see things are not ok in a team, in a coach, in a program... call it out, speak to who ever you need to speak to and if it doesn’t change, RUN... You are better off maintaining your athletes well being and mental health. Then “sticking it out” for the sake of loyalty or “potential” of the situation.


4. Don’t be fooled, it’s just as much about who you know as it is what you know. -The saying is The players who play are the ones who do all they are supposed to do”

... But that is not always the case. Some players play because they pay, because they have a name, because the coach likes them more, because the program director needs them to stay... understand that it is important to know the people who “run” the machine and know “how” the machine works. Make sure you meet informed parents, trainers and coaches who are willing to share with you what they know and ask ALOT of questions.


5. Take it slow, don’t rush into a “big brand” team until your child is ready to compete mentally and physically - Many of these “name brand” teams need to maintain a level of status and clout that can create a difficult and hostile environment. Don’t rush into it actually you should wait until your athlete is ready to compete against top players and is mentally strong enough more importantly CONFIDENT enough to do so.


6. Learn to play politician - You will have to learn the art of “making friends” and not always saying what you feel. Learn to listen more, talk less. Smile and be polite. Watch and observe and be careful who you surround yourself with. Not everyone needs to know your next move and not all people have your best interest at heart.


7. Be clear on your goals - Know what your athlete wants, what they need, what the end of the journey looks like and map out a plan on how to get there.


8. People lie - Self explanatory


9. Surround your child with positive, encouraging trainers and coaches - This is so important. The people who speak into your athletes life need to be genuine, real and loyal to your athlete. They need to know the goal and be part of the process. You and your kid must be comfortable with them and trusting in them


10. Teach your child to be a team player. But as a parent be loyal to no one... Very rare are the genuine and honest, programs, directors and coaches etc... -They all say we want to help them grow. “We want to help them in their journey. We are dedicated to the game and to ALL the athletes”… however reality is that this new era of programs look for clout, social media hype and profit. And many programs use the names of kids to gain that. So often times if you don’t have a “name” you are not as important. Talent can get you but so far in a world where people have their own agendas and reasons for doing the things they do. Not all programs are willing to put in the real work to help an athlete that needs to be pushed and nurtured into their role. So know your kid and what THEY need and find a place that fits.





Friday, October 09, 2020

DIARY OF A BASKETBALL MOM (PART I)



My daughter started her basketball journey at an average age (9-10). We started it as a hobby to keep her in shape and active. Never did I know that it would lead us to possible college scholarship aspirations nor did I in my uninformed mind know that it was even a possibility. But as the path flowed and lead us so began our journey. I say “our” because although, yes it is about the athlete, the parents are very much involved, committed and invested in it. Sometimes, unfortunately, more then the kids are. But I digress...

We began with basic local recreational teams and workouts. She took to it very quickly and was, as some would say “a natural”. I was approached by the coordinator of the recreational league about connecting her to an AAU program. I shared that I had been looking into local stuff and found a team that was doing tryouts in the area. He said he knew the coach and that he would put in a good word. We went to tryouts and I saw how intent on doing a good job she was and how well she did. I also saw how the coach was very excited at her abilities.


She made the team and so began our AAU journey.


I myself did not grow playing sports and did not start watching till I was a teenager. I was a student at every game. Learning the rules, understanding all the nuances. It was very exciting and easy to watch. How I sometimes miss those simpler times!


My daughter was a two sport kid, playing both baseball and basketball. We would often times pack for both teams and she would transition from one to the other in the car. It was exciting for me as a mom and a woman to watch this young girl be confident and just perform in these activities that mostly boys play.


As AAU wrapped up she was asked to play on our local boys team because there were not enough girls who wanted to play basketball. She played on that team for one season and proceed to play two seasons with a local boys AAU team as well as with their girls team AND also while fitting baseball in. She was an Athlete through and through. Her confidence at this point was still strong and her skills and athleticism were getting better.



Side note, anyone looking to put their girls in basketball I HIGHLY recommend they play/train with the boys at some point. The boys play and mentality is very different and I find that it builds confidence, focus and discipline. It also helps them get tougher and stronger. This has been my own experience.



But back to the story at hand.



We began to notice that many of the teams she was in had little competitiveness and the skill level was not improving. She would generally play up in every team she was in. Which is great, but also felt that she needed more in order to be pushed to improve and in order to develop her game better....so began our journey into competitive AAU.

Friday, September 11, 2020

"CANCEL CULTURE"


Today, is definitely a different world. 


We live in an era where adults criticize children for their lack of toughness/competitiveness, their unwillingness to voice their opinion or even hold people accountable for their indirect or direct actions yet perhaps the adults should take a peek into their own mirror.


As of late, largely due to social media, “cancel culture” has become apart of today’s lexicon where according to dictionary.com -“Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered OBJECTIONABLE or OFFENSIVE”. 


In essence, subscribing to “cancel culture” people are, generally, “cool” with the removal of public figures / companies who in their opinion are ADVERSELY affecting the climate, as a whole.


So here we are.


The gift and curse of social media is everyone has opinion and such can be unfavorable while some can be ultra flattering.  Most adults love “likes” or positive comments but become irate with an opinion. To the point where some even consider providing a dissenting opinion as “hate” or “anti” resulting a “back and forth” via twitter, instagram, or tic tok.


Let us paint a picture.


A random adult (business owner) types his/her opinion towards another business owner’s “unfavorable” business practices and deems such activity as detrimental to the “culture” to the point where he/she feels it affects their business. 


If the (affected) adult raises questions (via social media) is he/she considered a “hater” or is she/he one who is concerned about “the culture” and the perception of the practice?


Ultimately, despite friendly cliques and partnerships businesses are in the business of being a business.  Therefore, as a business, one must COMPETE in order to secure their position within the field. There is no doubt that competition comes in many facets, we are quite sure the PEPSI / COKE wars were not friendly as they each tried to secure a portion of the market place for it’s called competition. Sure the same mental reigned supreme in the APPLE/MICROSOFT battles but yet today’s ultra sensitive world ADULTS  cry afoul when confronted with such a situation.


In short, (laughter), most businesses are results driven and from our vantage point, it is (very) FAIR to question those within the business. That is how people (businesses) GROW professionally and develop.  It also can serve as a way to “convince” prospective clients that a certain product/service is better simply by having an open and transparent conversation.  


BUT, such conversations might be a thing of the past as we now live in an uber sensitive, non competitive (friendly), afraid to question anyone society.





Friday, August 28, 2020

Elgin Baylor: Needs more flowers


MEDIA: What is reality compared to pseudo truth?


Today, we live in a world where the use of phrases like - “unprecedented”, “groundbreaking” or even “never before” are thrown around with a “cavalierly” attitude to the point where such statements are considered truth without any form of research.


There is no doubt, the recent boycott by NBA players of the 2020 “restart” season sent shock waves throughout the media channels and created an “unprecedented” movement for 2020, but such a decision is NOT “unprecedented” in the HISTORY of basketball and should not be spoken with a “matter of factly” voice.


We would be foolish to believe today’s “sport fan” shoot even “regular person” has time to research every nugget of information.  However, it would be wise for such a person to cross reference the information to formulate their own opinion instead of relying on “trusted” sources who have displayed compromised practices throughout history.


Case in point, we present Elgin Baylor [inventor of the Euro Step]- who in 1959 “boycotted” an NBA game in protest of equal hotel rights for the (3) “colored boys” on the Lakers team.  One can only imagine what the then rookie was called during this era, but despite such pressure the soon to be Hall of Famer sought to defy “common sense” in order to stand up for equality.  Yet, the MSN (main stream media) would have one believe the narrative that the 2020 NBA boycott [which sparked other professional athletes to follow the NBA’s lead] was a “new thing” yet- despite the over abundance of ways to find and consume information in today’s world most are willing to accept this pseudo truth as a reality. 


We are living in a turbulent and in “powder keg” era, but we must avoid becoming “prisoners of the moment” and refuse to rely - solely - on MSM for our information. 


As American writer Philip K. Dick wrote 

“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”


——-


[For historically purposes]

  • Craig Hodges of the 1991 NBA champion BULLS attempted to boycott game of the series against the Lakers but was thwarted by his peers namely Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
  • Baylor (again) along with Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and others refused to participate in the 1964 All Star Game until their “demands” surrounding pay and pensions were not met. 
  • The great Bill Russell along with several of his Black teammates, like Elgin years before, boycotted an exhibition game in Lexington, Kentucky where players were denied admission to establishments during the road trip.