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The Firing Squad

Every offseason in every sport there is turnover amongst teams whether it’s players, coaches, GM’s and in the Clippers’ case the owner. Some aren’t surprising like D’Antoni at Los Angeles or Tyrone Corbin in Utah or Mike Woodson in New York but yesterday one firing that sent the social media ablaze was the firing of Mark Jackson, coach of the Golden State Warriors. Mark Jackson had a 121-109 record over his 3 years reaching the playoffs 2 years in a row. His 51 wins is the most since 1993-1994 and 3rd behind Don Nelson and Al Attles in franchise history. His improvement from 23 wins when he first started to 51 hasn’t gone unnoticed to us as fans but as ownership sees it, ‘what have you done for me lately’. A 1st round exit to the Los Angeles Clippers pretty much sealed his fate as he foreshadowed that same sentiment by wearing all black which symbolizing being killed in mob movies.

Bob Myers, General Manager of the Warriors states: “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position that it was when he arrived 36 months ago” If he do such a good job then why fire him. Sure he may not have been the ‘Yes man’ that many owners want to have but the results are there. 23 wins 3 seasons ago and now 51. Yeah, I know 51 wins only got them the 6th seed in the Western Conference but it’s the Western Conference. If this was the Eastern conference, they are battling for the top spot and Jackson’s job is safe for now. While Jackson has had the most amount of success since Don Nelson there were problems between him and the front office. Now I won’t say this is what happens when keeping it real goes wrong scenario but it obvious something went awry and it wasn’t fixable. Golden State Management is under a lot of pressure after this move but who is to blame for this?

When placing blame on something or someone there is never just one culprit. There’s always a catalyst, antagonist, instigator and then the parties themselves. When Joe Lacob and the rest of the management team made this decision they starting on a trail that can become very dangerous and could be the ultimate demise of this franchise and here’s why: they are risking the support of the players which is making them all this money for them and they are making it clear to potential free agents and coaches that we don’t really value your opinion. We’ll listen but we won’t hear you. Face it Run TMC wasn’t running out that locker room but with the help of Mark Jackson the Splash Brothers were created. Before Jackson, Steph Curry was a guy with a jumper and had glass for ankles. Now, he’s becoming one of the better Point Guards just like his former coach Mark Jackson; a coincidence I think not. There are 3 parties that are responsible for this: Injuries, Mark Jackson and the front office.

Injuries were a key factor in this season for Golden State starting with Andre Iguodala’s hamstring to Andrew Bogut’s rib injury. Golden State took the Clippers to 7 games without Bogut imagine if he played are we even having this conversation. Jackson has to take some of the blame because his inability to maximize the talent or adjust to the injuries his team occurred to his team which proved to be costly in the exit of the Warriors. Granted, his defensive mindset propelled them to 3rd in the League in Team defense but at times his offense was stagnant and relied on Stephen Curry and isolation ball. It was kinda similar to the episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when the coach tells the team to pass the ball to Will and get out of the way. There were also times when Jackson would substitute the whole starting 5 for another starting 5 which created confusion and inconsistency.

But it’s not like he was gifted the best roster either, this is where management must take responsibility. Who gave Andrew Bogut a three year extension worth 36 million despite his injury history? Who traded two future 1st round picks to create cap space for Andre Iguodala? Who didn’t think to acquire some decent backup players? Who traded for Jordan Crawford and Steve Blake in the middle of the season which didn’t turn any positive dividends at all? I know it’s still early but has Harrison Barnes lived up to expectations? These are calls from management sure no one is free from blame but Mark Jackson will be the scapegoat. It’s easier to fire a coach then an owner so what’s next for Mark Jackson.

There are plenty of jobs available for him: Lakers, Pistons, Timberwolves, Knicks, Jazz, possibly Bulls if Thibodeau leaves or OKC if Brooks get fired. Just know he won’t be on the market long if he decides he wants to coach. He can go back to the broadcast booth when he came up with catchphrases like ‘hand down, man down’. Another alternative could be preaching since he is an ordained minister and leader of a nondenominational church in California. He will always be a leader whether in the pulpit or on the blacktop will remain to be seen.

What options are available for Golden State? Whoever they pick better create a bigger splash than Curry and Thompson could ever do? Is it too much pressure on the next coach? What coaches could be options? The names that I can think of off the top are: Kerr, Hoiberg, Ollie, Hollins, Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Mike D’Antoni. These are just guesses but we will see. Even though the lights at the coliseum are off, the pressure is on.

There’s always a First Time for Anything

0.9 seconds left Game Damian Lillard off balance three…Game. Watching Roy Hibbert play like me on the court…Set. 5 almost 6 Game 7’s in the first round… Match. I know when you hear must-see television it normally comes from HBO, TNT, VH1 or possibly BET but lately must see television starts with these letters: NBA. There is no drama on TV right now as compelling as the first round playoffs. This is like the thrill of a March Madness game multiplied by 50. Is there a way that Round 2 could be better?

The matchups have been set, predictions have been made and even though these matchups are intriguing can they match the same intensity that had us glued to our seats for the past 2 weeks or was it an anomaly? I’m not a writer but if I was call the Golden Globe people not now but right now.

Think of your favorite show right now, for example Game of Thrones, 24, Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead and others and imagine watching 50 episodes consecutively where the impact increases with every episode. How many people would need an oxygen mask? How many timelines would you flood with your every expression? How many phone calls and text messages will you miss? How many times would you call Stoko’s for delivery?

Are you not entertained in my best gladiator voice is the only words I can use to describe my excitement for this NBA Playoffs. The playoffs were so good in the first round that I was a fight party for Mayweather vs. Maidana and he kept changing the channel back to TNT. Now I’m not poor or rich but if I spent 74.95 for HD programming, I’m watching every minute. As a matter of fact I would become a commentator; I might even watch it again like a re-run of Sportscenter but that just shows how entertaining the first round really was.

Even the best writers of all-time couldn’t fathom the outcome of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. If this was scripted who was the idiot that threw that Donald Sterling curveball into the mix. Whoever that person needs a vintage Iron Mike two piece combo to the forehead so you can look like Martin when he fought Tommy Hearns.

There were 50 first round games. 5 Game 7’s maybe 6 if James Harden played as much as defense as college kids play Madden or 2K but hey he’s a millionaire so who’s the real winner there. There were 3 upsets which brings the comparison of a March Madness tournament but there weren’t any real blowouts beside the 40 point drubbing LA handed to Golden State. There were 8 overtime games need I say more. This may be the best first round of NBA playoffs in history. Can the next round continue to trend or will it die out quicker than a Twitter hashtag.

Can the second round live up to see the agony of Indiana as it’s late season collapse continues into the playoffs even though they made it to round 2 but they were taken to a 7 game series by a team that only had 37 wins. If you’re not good at math, the NBA season is 82 games long so minus 37 wins guess what you have 45 losses. This is the one time that mediocrity could have been as rewarding as summa cum laude. Can the second round live up the experiment known as Roy Hibbert and the disappearing act that only David Copperfield can explain. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Jordan told LeBron after the Heat swept the Bobcats, ‘I had the monstars take all of Roy Hibbert’s skills, thank me later’. Spurs and Mavericks had Vince Carter playing like his days at Toronto hitting buzzer beaters and Kevin Durant was called Mr. Unreliable. If that isn’t an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. Kevin Durant in my opinion best scorer in the league and to make that statement even more stupid he will be named MVP later on this week. Let’s not forget about the Zach Randolph punch that makes the infamous phantom punch of Ali era seems like a haymaker. That wasn’t a punch maybe a mush at best but like I said I don’t write this stuff.

What was lost from this first round was the coming of age backcourt of Wall and Beal that is bringing fun back in DC. But they will have their chance against the Pacers so let the games begin. From the buzzer-beaters, punches, Blake Griffin acrobatics to the block in Toronto that made all fans go back to hockey there is still a chance of a Miami 3Peat.

Even though the top seeds made it to the next round they were taken to 7 games, will this have a toll on them in the next round? Will Roy Hibbert be dominant or nah? Will Wall and Beal be household names after this? Will Paul George continue his rise to stardom? Is Damian Lillard a Top 5 PG after this playoff? Will Jay-Z dap up LeBron in Brooklyn? Will it be more game 7’s this round? If OKC lose will the blame be placed on Westbrook?

I’m going to make my predictions as I see in an upset Wizards in 6 barring any Nene head butts, Thunder in 7, San Antonio in 6, Heat in 6 but make no mistake these series will still have excitement, intensity and borderline insanity but that’s what the playoffs are all about. This is the one time I don’t mind hearing Jim Mora yelling out ‘Playoffs’. Watch out Miami because if Brooklyn steals a game someone crying in the car. If the Wizards steal a game, Roy Hibbert would have scored 0 points and 0 rebounds again and be the butt of every joke known to man. If Portland steals a game, Gregg Popovich’s interviews will get worse. If the Clippers steal a game, then the question of who’s the real leader of OKC dominates at least the first 30 minutes of ESPN First Take and who doesn’t what to hear Stephen A Smith articulate his viewpoints while so eloquently dismissing Skip Bayless as he’s pontificate his views until the point where he becomes unpleasant to be around….see what I did there (for those that watch ESPN First Take, you know Stephen A Smith uses those words at least twice an episode. He’s the Cornel West of Sports Talk; I need a dictionary, thesaurus, SIRI, google and a stenographer every episode. I salute you Stephen A Smith and your usage of vocabulary) We have already seen 50 games how will the rest turn out…no one knows but to quote Jack Buck…..’I don’t believe what I just saw’

*cues Sportscenter them music…da-da-da…da-da-da*

The Three Sonny’s

My name is Sonny B and I’m 30 years old with 2 and a half kids because my wife is pregnant now with the very last addition coming in July. I’m praying for another healthy boy but a healthy baby is the most important part.  Before I get into this entry, I gotta shout out my main man Corn for providing this platform. I don’t know what I’mma write about. I’m just going to let the ideas flow which can be very dangerous, if you don’t believe me ask my wife or my friends.

Who is Sonny B really? That question isn’t as easy as you would think because in the past 12 years, I have been three different people with different psyches which handled situations differently. Sonny at 18 was a freshman at Morgan State University breaking out of his comfort zone and embracing new challenges. The man Sonny was born (another shout out goes to Jamaal Patillo for giving me that name that summer during the PACE program), who loved to smoke weed and holla at more women than Wilt Chamberlain had sex with. Sonny at 24 was a budding engineer still hollering at more women than Wilt Chamberlain had sex with before I met my future wife. I probably hollered at some of her friends ( fuck that it wasn’t probably, I did but I was man enough to admit it when she asked about it) Sonny at 30 is a proud father, husband, very practical, similar to the characteristics of Julius from Everyone Hates Chris and prompt taxpayer. See before I went to college, I was more of the gentle giant, like Michael Oher from the Blind Side before he got upset. My mom is a very nurturing woman that loves to be a mother. You have some mothers that want to be your friend but my mom wanted to be my mom. When I was growing up, if someone made fun of me I would ignore it but it would just fester and make me upset but I would always cool down because my mom said, “boy you too big to be getting mad just ignore them, you are fine just the way you are” Now that I’m older what the hell was my mom thinking. I don’t even know for real maybe when we are both angels and with the Lord by my side like literally the Lord standing next to me, I will have enough strength to ask her that. When other boys made fun of me it was easier because I could always fight them and gain respect that way, but with women it was different. That all changed in 2001 when I had a crush on a girl and it didn’t go through and I was felt stupid. See in high school, I had all the traits known to man that would prevent any guy from getting pussy, for instance I had a widow’s peak, braces all 4 years, not the flyest gear and I kinda resembled Biggie Smalls. At the time I thought that was cool until I learned that if you gonna be that big and black you gotta have personality, charisma, and a little bit of money. Biggie once said, “I’m black, ugly as ever however I stay coogi down to the socks” Any other big black that says “I’m black, ugly as ever” normally ends any chance of getting the pussy. Nevertheless, I was upset felt rejected and didn’t know how to bounce back. My mom said everything will be okay, you’re still my handsome boy and even showed me a picture of myself when I was 3. On the other hand, my dad, my right hand man pulled me to the sides and gave me a shot of Henny straight. In that long drunken talk my dad said, ‘Son you about to go to college, don’t sweat any of these high school chicks. The baddest chick in high school is about a 6 in college and for the record no woman want a big black that be acting all shy and shit so if a woman come at you incorrect put that girl in her place and you will get the respect” My response: “but dad, mom said treat women like queens and be nice” My father replies, “that’s the dumbest shit I ever heard don’t tell mom I said that but son that is stupid, trust me I had mad broads before your mother I know” So where would be the best place to try this theory out none other than Morgan State University.

When approaching a woman, Sonny at 18 would start with a compliment get a couple of laughs and then ask for the number. If it didn’t work depending on her answer determined my response. For example, one girl came to speak to me and I went for the kill and she said, “I gotta go, can’t talk right now” and I responded, “man if you sit your fat ass down and talk to me”. I can imagine Sonny at 24 was like you fuckin idiot any shot of you getting any pussy from her has gone down quicker than that chik-fil-a sandwich you just ate and sonny from 30 would of just shook his head and begin a mentoring session. I felt disrespected when she said that so I took my father’s advice to the T and let her have it. Wasn’t the smartest idea in retrospect see the other sonny’s have learned to embrace rejection and learn a lesson. Sonny at 18 wasn’t having no parts of that shit, I want what I want and I want it now. I broke out of my shell but since I had no guidance, I became a loose cannon which made myself and others look bad but at the same time I could be very charming, funny and personable. Sonny at 18 didn’t know how to turn the switch on or off, it was always one or the other. It became so bad that if any of my friends were having an issue with their woman, they would call me to lean on them. I was the Mariano Rivera of leaning but I felt accepted and I was good at it so fuck it why not. I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me but they was gonna learn today. Glad I got older and wiser, there were some lonely nights from that and now Sonny at 30 would say, “sonny this is all your fault, now you playing Madden getting your ass whipped by a computer, when you could whippin on some pussy. You’ll learn one day but until then keep losing nigga”

Sonny at 24 was like an African basketball prospect; full of potential but still very raw and would need some coaching. If this was a NBA Draft, Jay Bilas would say the word potential 47 times but then end it with well if he’s a bust I wouldn’t be surprised. Here’s a story that exemplifies that: I was with my main man Corn when he says guess what, I got this lady friend who got some lady friends with her lets meet up at Friday’s in Towson. My train of thought was worst case scenario I was getting something to eat so we all win. So it was about 5 of us and 5 of them and I remember Corn saying Sonny take the big girl on 3 ready break. First of all this wasn’t a basketball game and why do you think all big dudes only get big girls which is ironic because my wife is but that’s partially my fault since she’s been pregnant 3 times in 5 years. But he was serious like a basketball coach drawing up a play and I was heated. Don’t get me wrong she wasn’t ugly but she was thinking the same way I was thinking like why I gotta get the big nigga and the appetizers weren’t even half off so I hope this guy ain’t cheap either. I can tell just by looking at her man and that scowl that we were on the same wavelength but we would at least give it a shot before all hell broke loose while Corn had the Stevie J face and birdman hand rub at the same damn time. It was a cool event we got along fine but I wanted her homegirl instead and she want another one of Corn’s friends so it all worked out in the end. After some drinks some laughter and me leaning on corn it was all well and good and just another example of the man known as Sonny evolving live and in living color. I mean I played the wingman like I was supposed but please believe if she would of came at my neck, it would have been a Battle Royal.

Sonny at 30 ain’t hollering at nobody but my kids sike I don’t yell at them I just articulate at a volume where the whole neighborhood can hear it. Look at those moments as teachable lessons for any of my neighbors that are going through the same shit as me. Some consider me the wise man, some consider me a fool but I don’t know the difference because if you leave the comparison up to my wife it’s gonna vary from the dude who played Biggie. So I’m really just a biggie playing a biggie that’s acting like another Biggie to Kwame Kilpatrick that’s only when I have hair, Rick Ross and let’s not forget Doug Heffernan. I take it all with laughter and make jokes back until in Sonny fashion I go too far and I gotta get Chipotle or Coldstones or Rita or all three to keep me from sleeping on the couch. This married with kids life that I live, I wouldn’t trade it for the world since it gives me so many opportunities to act a complete fool and still get laughter from someone. I can only imagine the faces my friends give me when I tell them these wild stories but hey if you gonna listen to a story why not by me. Some say I need a reality show, I don’t know how that would pan out but I’m glad the acceptance that I was looking for is showing its true colors. There are various sides to me, I’m like the Vitruvian man shout out to Whitfield for explaining what that was nevertheless, ladies and gentleman this is only the beginning who knows where this will go but buckle your seatbelt and let’s get on down to that old Sonny rhythm.

Until next time stay classy Westside.