Tag Archive: lakers


malikiverson

You all know who my team is.  But as you see above, my favorite player from my generation never played for the Lakers.

An undersized guy among Giants.  Wears his flaws on his sleeve.  A natural born underdog, rebel, and non-conformist.

‘Iverson’ gives you all the highlights of what made ‘the Answer’ so appealing to myself and millions of others.  Even when you know the broad strokes (as I did), the filmmakers do a good job of making the ride entertaining.

You get the clips of his high school football and basketball career (State Champion in both sports, and even at this stage, just another level of speed and athleticism over everyone else on the field.)  The circumstances around the bowling alley brawl that sent him to prison (and how that unsurprisingly shaped his attitude for the rest of his life.)  Being drafted by the 76ers and becoming a culture shock to the Association in the post Michael Jordan era (after that famous crossover of His Airness of course).

And the moment I remember most vividly: that Game 1 of the NBA Finals against my Lakers.  I was here, so trust me on this: the trash talking and arrogance leading up to that series was one of those ‘I see why people hate L.A./the Lakers.’ I kid you not, they were promoting the Championship party after Game 4 before Game 1 was played.  There was no question who the better team was, but to this day I can’t remember cheering as loudly after an upset victory over my own team as I was that night (sorry Coach Lue).  You could hear a pin drop in this city after that game was over.  I was ready to put him in the Hall of Fame that night.

So check out ‘Iverson’.  Now streaming on Netflix.

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kobe

Don’t plan for this to be a weekly thing, but these past two causes are things I dig so…

On his way out the door, Kobe is using his goodbye game as a way to raise money for a few of the foundations he attaches his name to.  For a Lakers fan and a guy who’s attracted to the ‘historic’ nights, this is a pretty cool idea in my eyes.

Full details at the site below.

Good luck!

Kobe’s Last Game

Shaq-Fu

Congrats Big Man on officially being the next statue outside of Staples.  Those championship parades feel like they were yesterday.

Starting the week with this ‘silly but he’s not the worst rapper I heard growing up’ song.

Enjoy!

Thanks, Bean…

kobe_bryant_extension

Now that it’s officially coming to an end, we can step back and appreciate the career of one of the best to ever lace them up.  As Adande and Durant noted, Kobe’s place will probably be best remembered as the bridge between Jordan and the current greats.

Everyone will have their own ‘favorite’ moments. As someone who definitely saw more of the day in day out regular season games than most NBA fans, today’s clip goes back to a game that, I’ll always remember watching live, and like many Laker fans screamed ‘THIS MUTHAF&&&A!’ at the top of my lungs. Twice. And yes, for those of us wired to enjoy the silence that comes from shutting people up as we enjoy the love of our supporters…this is one of the best.

The setting: Portland. Last game of the season. With a win, the Lakers secure the second seed and the Pacific Division.

Enjoy.

And thanks for the memories Kobe.

lakers

Now that the NBA Draft lottery has concluded, let’s first take a live look in at Knicks headquarters…

And now let’s go to the live look in over on the Best Side in Fredo Buss’ office!

LOOK AT THESE WOMEN! AIN’T NOTHIN LIKE THEM NO WHAIR!

ENJOY!!!!

 

Griffith Observatory

I made my annual trip to Griffith Observatory this weekend.  I saw a show that wasn’t playing on my last trip, and as usual I marveled at how big the Universe is, and how small we are, and how much we still don’t know.

I walked outside; darkness had fallen.  I looked out over Los Angeles.  My city.  My home.  And I felt…frustrated.

At this point, I was supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my rise to the Crown.  Kobe would be closing in on ring 6, and I’d be courtside with Jack, who’d be grooming me to be the next ‘Laker Fan Number One’ when he’s eventually gone.  That was the plan anyway.

But the best laid plans…

As I’m thinking this, I feel his presence.  Dressed in a dark jacket not that much different my own.  He’s sharp, but in such a public, touristy place like this, nobody really notice us.  We look at most like two extras out of a Michael Mann film; maybe people glance for a second, but then they immediately go back to their own business.

The Devil’s voice is charming and playful.  Like the voice of VD in that Chappelle skit with the puppets:

‘Why hello Malik Aziz!  Haven’t seen you in a while!’

‘Nasty muthafu…’

‘It’s not too late for you, my old friend.’

‘Not too late for what?’

‘The courtside seats.  The customized black Maserati GranTurismo Sport with gold trim.  You know, the Devil is not one to spread gossip, but you give me a year to build up your profile and status, and Beyonce might be back on the market…’

‘Uh huh.  Yeah, well, I’m not Michael anymore.’

‘Oh please!  You were posting MJ songs on Facebook three days ago!’

‘How do you know that?’

‘I’m one of your Facebook stalkers.’

‘I guess.  Anyway, not MJ.  I’m not Michael Corleone anymore.  I don’t daydream about that kind of stuff like I used to.’

‘And what do you dream about?’

‘I have visions of my woman admiring me for making peace with climbing as high up this mountain as I can without completely selling out what I stand for and what I believe in.  I see my children looking at my actions and seeing all the major decisions I made: who I married, where I lived, what I prioritized; and appreciating that it all started with love.  And hopefully no matter what I try to teach them, when it’s their time to make those life choices, they’ll start from the same place.’

We’re quiet in each other’s presence for awhile.  The moon is out tonight.

‘The world is not kind to honest men, Malik.  And this thing you’re passionate about, even less so.’

‘Man, I learned all that before I left Kansas.  I guess now I’m just really starting to accept it.  I told you, my ego is content now with who and what I attract through my natural abilities and personality.  You have nothing else to offer me.’

‘So be it.  Jedi.’

The Devil slinks away to make a deal with some other insecure, tortured soul.  This is Hollywood.  I’m pretty sure he got that done before he got to the parking lot.

I take a deep breath, and I look out over my city.

My home.

I turn my phone on and send a sarcastic text to one of my aces.

I jump back in the Matrix and like my people’s posts and updates to let them know I’m thinking about them and I’m glad they’re doing well.

I walk back down the hill to my car and put on the Easy Star.

I feel at peace.  It’s been a good night.

 

 

brotherali

This weekend went beyond my expectations so we’ll delay the music for a day.  I’d say from Christmas to now I’ve seen 80 to 90 percent of the people I care about, and certain questions keep coming up repeatedly.  So here’s a quick Frequently Asked Questions post for the other 10 percent of you (and you nosy types who want a little more information beyond the superficiality of these Internets…)

1. Haven’t said much lately about projects you’re in, what’s up?

The nature of the beast, but I have a TV show, a movie and a play I’ll be hyping up over the next three months.  The play is a live show (duh), the other two projects were shot last year and are just getting released this year.  Like I said, nature of the beast.  But the promotional side of me will be returning soon enough.

2. Can you sing?

Put it like this: if I have to sing to get into heaven, I’ll get in for being ‘not bad for someone with no formal vocal training’.  I’m far from the best, I’m far from the worst. Truth be told, today’s original post was a video I recorded of me singing one of my favorite songs (since my people outside of L.A. are for the most part not going to be able to see me on the stage).  No intention of posting it now, but in the spirit of good sport, how about this: I name dropped Rashida Jones as the co-star I was singing to in the scene, so if you one of you connected types gets Rashida to ask me to post it, then I’ll post it.  (I won’t be losing sleep over losing that bet…)

3. Oh, is she your ‘crush’ now?

Through my own actions and the stories of my friends, the funniest thing of the past week has been kind of being able to say, ‘OK, this is the Malik Aziz prototype’ as far as what draws me in nearly every time when it comes to the opposite sex.  True to my own personality, it’s nothing overly simple like ‘If she’s this race’ or ‘If she dresses like this’.  But there’s a definite ‘commonality’ nearly all of my exes and well known crushes have.  To answer the question, yes Rashida falls into that ‘commonality.’

4. So what’s good then, player, where you at?

‘The Circle’ is nearly closed, and I’m making a conscious effort now to close it.  Part of my code/faith is that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, and I pursue without pressing.  You told me the Circle closes this year, I’d believe you.  You told me I’m still Bruce Wayne in 10 years, I’d believe that too.

5. Bruce Wayne?  Wait, I thought you said you weren’t Batman anymore?

Batman is just a symbol.  The point is anyone could be Batman.  That’s the purpose of the mask.

6. What’s up with the Brother Ali picture?

Of the many nice things I got this week, one of my homies filled out my Brother Ali catalog to a respectable level.  Don’t misunderstand, I knew the brother, ‘follow’ him, but I wasn’t as hip to him as I should be.  That’s changed now (thanks Jay).

7. So how do you feel about the Lakers now?

As a fan?  Same as always, let’s carry this as far as we can take it.  Practically, realistically?  Uggghhhhhhhhh.  I (think I) would love to see what happens to this city if we get a Clippers-Lakers series in the first round this year.  It would be nuts!

Alright, amnesty posting ends now.  Back to regular shallow stuff tomorrow.

 

Well, since we won’t get Vetoed out of a deal this time, we in the Laker Nation have started daydreaming again about getting back into the Finals next year.  I was in the minority apparently in the group who were Andrew Bynum fans, but I won’t deny the logic in trading the 2nd best center in the league for the best center in the league.  So Opening Night we’re trotting a starting lineup of Nash, Kobe, World Peace, Gasol and Howard.  Undeniably impressive but what could go wrong?  Well…

  1. He’s Dwight Howard.  That’s right, I haven’t so quickly forgotten the past 12 months.  Or the majority of his career for that matter.  Yes, he’s never had teammates this good, he’s a statistical giant.  As funny as his Kobe impression was, I’m still in a ‘wait and see’ mode on him when the going gets tough.  And from what I hear, he’s still going to test the free agent market (which I can’t knock him or any player for, it’s their right, but still…)
  2. His Hall of Fame teammates are past their prime.  In Nash’s case, way past his prime. In Kobe’s case, for those of you who don’t watch every game, last year’s series against the Thunder illustrated that even Kobe can’t turn it on at will the way he could have even a couple years ago.  On paper, I think this team is better, but I do remember going through a very similar dance the summer Gary Payton and Karl Malone came here to team with Shaq and Kobe.  That team was too talented to not be in the Finals, but they still lost.  (And to be honest, I wasn’t that upset about it since I couldn’t stand Karl Malone.)  One more…
  3. What if World Peace snaps at the worst possible time?  Look, I love the guy, but who among us is really saying, ‘No that would NEVER happen!’  Really?  Have you already forgotten when he tried to elbow James Harden’s teeth straight?

So all that aside, I’m hoping for the best obviously.  Just trying to temper the enthusiasm until they get on the court.  Bring on football for now.

 

In my opinion, some people have been put on this Earth to drive people apart and to pull others down into their insecurities and misery.  I, on the other hand, feel that I’ve been put on this Earth to remind others of the connections between us.  Conflicts are inevitable, but ultimately, in between our disagreements, we have to co-exist peacefully.

So that first paragraph lets you know, this post is more intellectual than normal.  So fair warning to those of you who normally come to this space for silly/charming/smartass/’Bruce Wayne’; I’ve saved most of that energy for Volume II. No offense taken if you want to skip ahead to the jokes, it’s one of things I enjoy most and do best.  But this is about the foundation of my house; my ideology and philosophy, why I am and why I do what I do.

This year I celebrated my birthday in Vegas; a month later I flew home to Kansas City.  Same airline.  As fate would have it, same skycap attendant for both flights.  A brother, he recoginzed me immediately the second time (which I was kind of flattered by when you think of how many people pass through LAX daily).

Anyway, here’s the conversation:

Skycap: ‘My man! How was Vegas?’

Me: Vegas always treat me well brotha!

Skycap: ‘So what’s up, the Lakers gonna threepeat?”

Me: I hope so!

(He looks at my driver’s license.)

Skycap: Oh… Um… one second my man!

(He does the 10 foot Walk of Shame to the Feds, who runs my permanent record and finds out I’m a natural born U.S. citizen who’s never been arrested, who has voted in every presidential election since I was 18 years old, and hold down a steady 9 to 5 job.  He does a second Walk of Shame back to me with my boarding pass and a shit eating grin on his face…)

Skycap: Yeah man, you know, just doing my job!

Me: I understand, I understand.  So, you know as soon as we’re in the air, I’m jumping out of my seat and screaming ‘Allahu Akbar!’ at the top of my lungs right?

(OK, OK, I didn’t really say that last line; I’m not suicidal.  Had to throw a little sarcasm in there; I can turn it down but not off.  Back on point…)

Way back when sticking my head in a book was my outlet into a world beyond I knew, I took an early interest in American History.  It started of course with the story of my ancestors.  My roots on both sides are in the rural sections of Louisiana.  In other words, I learned as much with my eyes as I did in any book.  I recall with a chuckle my father and uncles pointing out to me the trees they picked pecans from as boys; as a kid I just smiled, but in my teenage years it occurred to me these tours always stopped before we got to ‘the Big House’.  (It didn’t take a genius to surmise that while our family name is linked to one of the biggest Creole families in the area, to this day I doubt anyone on ‘my’ side of the family has spent any time in the ‘Big House’.)

As I studied, my natural curiosity led me to wonder if there had been any similar stories in American history.  The Black Experience (in America) is unique in many ways, least of which is the physical/karmic violence that God forbid will never be repeated.  But as I looked for a common thread, I learned that, truth be told, it’s practically ‘Standard Operating Procedure’  for U.S. citizens at some point to be told “Yeah you were born here, but that ‘freedom and justice for all’ line doesn’t apply to you.’  A few examples that immediately come to mind…

We refer to Native Americans as such in part because they were living their lives here before there was an actual ‘United States of America.’  Of course, the reason there is a U.S. of A. is because the United States Army was created to fight the British. And as far as Native Americans are concerned…

During America’s immigration boon, the first generations of the Italians and the Irish immigrated to this country and had to jump through the imaginary ‘You’re not really an American’ hoops.  Africans, um, ‘immigrated’ here in mass numbers and…yep.  Leap forward a century or two and Japanese-Americans got the ‘royal treatment’ after Pearl Harbor.

Now you may argue I’m pulling the race card left and right, but historically race is always the easiest to point out because, well, you can literally see it. There have been plenty of other ‘Scarlet Letters’ in the history of this country.  The most well known is probably Senator McCarthy and the Communist hearings of the 50s.  If we’re expanding this analogy to legal battles, lest we forget women in America didn’t always have the right to vote; that had to be won.  In present day there’s the ongoing battle by gay couples to have their unions legally recognized as marriages.  Those who dislike America or consider themselves ‘Enemies of the State’ will use any or all of these examples (and more) as to why this country is fundamentally flawed.  We shout democracy at the top of our lungs here and around the world, and at the same time will sanction, sometimes officially, that our own citizens can’t have equal rights.  Truthfully, I can’t say that argument is flat out wrong; I just choose a different perspective…

While it’s true America’s history in dealing with its own citizens is ‘checkered’, it’s also true that in nearly every circumstance some level of progress was made. (We can debate the definition of ‘progress’ another time.)  The analogy I often use, as it’s an analogy I’m familiar with, is that of a pledging process.  You walk in the first day, you’re nobody, and you’re told and made to feel like you’re nothing. During the process, you stand your ground and learn ‘the rules of the game’. Eventually the process is complete, and you come out of the other end a member.

(If you really want to extend the analogy, it would be interesting to study who becomes ‘the One whose identity completely became the new group’, ‘the One who focuses on the history and getting ‘the next guy’ through the process’, and ‘the One who became an asshole who can’t wait to take out their anger and frustrations on the next guy’.  Again, another time.)

When you define yourself as an idealist (as I do), you know going in that the change you seek in the world can’t be measured by ‘tangible’ results.  Let’s say hypothetically my goal was for a law to get passed.  A law can create an opportunity that didn’t exist before; it can force us to share a classroom or a workspace.  But it can’t change human nature or people’s opinions.  Only time and life experience can do that.  To be honest, I’m not convinced the words I write or the way I choose to carry myself will change any individual’s mind about what they believe ‘Islam’ is, and what ‘Muslims’ are.  But if I don’t even attempt to make things easier for the next generation of Muslim Americans, then I’ve guaranteed myself failure.

One of my favorite guy jokes is ‘Man Law’; the code of being a Man and the unwritten rules of what we will and won’t do.  Man Law Number One is universally recognized: ‘Protect Your House.’  Depending on the circumstance, its meaning can be physical, verbal, or in this case spiritual.  I remember clearly a time when a Muslim woman could wear hijab, and while it was certainly ‘different’, there was nothing suspicious about it.  I remember clearly the days of when people discovered a man was a Muslim, the natural curiosity of that man’s life story stopped short of anything that suggested criminal or the ‘T word’.  I don’t believe in ‘turning back time’, but I do believe we can get to a point in the future where my children can just be ‘kids’ and will reach early adulthood before having a justified paranoia that some fringe group in this country or in another country is plotting to wipe them off the face of the earth.

So this is my foundation.  Apologies if I got preachy at the end, but it’s the state of things as I see them.  There’s a line that is being repeatedly crossed now between ‘political showboating for your supporters’ and ‘you went there because you’re not expecting anyone to react.’

Volume II (probably next week) will go more into what happens when you wake up a sleeping dog.

Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.

Peace unto my non-Muslim brothers and sisters.

Thanks for reading.

One.

 

Today the hip hop nation takes pause for 2Pac’s birthday.  He would have been 39.  It’s a strange reality to me to know there’s a generation who know of 2Pac through videos and old footage, but who didn’t live through his peak years.

Like some but not all, I had a love/hate relationship with 2Pac while he was alive.  I loved the passion of his voice, I loved the depth of his lyrics.  In my circle we define a movie star as a guy the guys would hang out with and the girls would bone.  By that definition 2Pac is still hip hop’s biggest ‘movie star’ to date. 

What I didn’t care for where the extremes of his personality.  How could the same man who made ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Dear Mama’ be part of a gang rape?  How could the son of a Black Panther throw a whole Coast of black people under the bus so…violently?

If Pac was our real life version of Bishop, or Tony Montana, or Nino Brown, then it feels no less sad but maybe less surprising he had the same violent end those characters did. 

The Hate U Give Little Infants Fux Everybody.  Was this prophetic?  Ironic?  Both?  From the time Pac died (and really after Biggie died), the shift started.  Some really do grow up with no sense of ‘options’ or ‘hope’ of living a life different from what their parents or grandparents had.  But for pretty much any young black person who grew up in at least a lower middle class background (like myself), we had to ask ourselves, “Look I love the music and I love my culture, but I’m not trying to DIE over this!”  There were of course those who were talking down to the gangsta rap culture from day one, but how often do people react positively when they know you’re talking down to them? 

Baby steps.  Sometimes one step forward, two steps back.  Where I went to college, there was a very infamous ‘Welcome Back to School Party’ where a member of one historically black fraternity pointed a gun at the member of another historically black fraternity.  And yes, choas ensued.  I still chuckle as I remember one of the freshmen, his eyes still bugging out of his head, coming up to me and saying, “Malik, is THIS what college is like?!?” 

(As an aside, I’m not trying to ride my high horse for those of you who vividly remember that night in our lives.  As a matter of fact, it was one of my fraternity brothers who took me out to shoot my first automatic.  Riding around Douglas County Kansas bumping Makaveli’s ‘Me and My Girlfriend’.  Now THAT’s irony!)

Anyway in pop culture black artists have gone from being genuinely tense, to mocking how we took some things a little too seriously.   Everything from Chappelle’s ‘When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong’ to the Huey/Riley dynamic on the Boondocks to the Wire have deglamourized the gangster lifestyle (since 99.9 percent of the time it ends only one of two ways – death or jail).  These shows have all illustrated how we both embrace the ‘outlaw’ lifestyle (and always will) but for the most part have learned the lesson about letting real gangsters do gangster things, and the rest of us will watch from a safe distance.

In some of his last interviews, Pac talked about forming a new political party and running for President.  That’s still funny to me, but none of us would have ever imagined a little more than 10 years later there would actually be a black President.  Or for that matter, Snoop and Diddy sitting next to each other courtside at a Lakers game.

I guess what I’m really saying is that for all my complaints over the years about 2Pac or the ‘thug culture’ or the state of hip hop today, in the end, it is still my culture and I will still take pride in its success and defend it.