Tag Archive: michael jordan


 

tim-duncan-5-championships

My all time starting five for guys who I saw at least a part of their peak in my lifetime:

Magic is my starting point guard (because OF COURSE HE IS!)

Jordan at the 2 (come on, I’m not crazy…)

LeBron at small forward (this last one just confirmed his spot for me)

Hakeem the Dream is my center (at his peak he outplayed your boys the Admiral and Shaq in the playoffs)

And the 4 spot goes to Timmay.  Low key and unassuming but consistently went out there and did his thing.  Even as a Lakers fan, how can I not respect that?

Enjoy retirement Mister Duncan.

 

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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.

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.

 

jordan-statue

Now, everybody in every sport goes nuts with the pre-game introductions.

But this is the original, greatest introduction ever.  Even those of us who weren’t hardcore Jordan fanboys always got hyped for this.

Enjoy!

 

 

Michael-Jordan-Championship-Rings

The NBA playoffs are heating up, so it feels like a good time to post this one.

I’m not the sneakerhead a couple of my homies are, but this is my favorite Jordan commercial by far.  Someone will eventually catch him statistically, but Kobe, LeBron, whoever you name, this is why they (and no one else) can actually be Jordan.  When you’re iconic enough we recognize your career through the dunks and jumpers you made…

On a Hollywood note, I do chuckle now when I watch this and think about the director’s notes for the kid who got cast as young Cliff Robertson.  “That’s pretty good son, but we really need to see the hopelessness in your body language.  This is the moment when you realize you’re on the wrong end of history and you’re powerless to stop it…”

 

A year’s worth of great and not so great moments the first five months of 2012 for yours truly.  I’m on the upswing right now though, so we’ll see how successful I am with another seven months to go…

So I start my (and your) week off with this goodie as I push forward.

 

While we all have different ‘favorite’ films in black cinema, it is my argument, using the criteria I’ve established (relevance to black culture, the legacy or shelf life of the project after the initial release, the actual craftmanship of the filmmaking, the degree to which the film was noticed/recognized by the mainstream, and the Apollo or ‘Wow’ moments that stand out from the project) one film stands as more important to black cinema than any other film made to this point.  It probably comes as little surprise that I feel the most important film has been made by black cinema’s most important filmmaker, Spike Lee.  After the production and response that came with the second most important black film, Do the Right Thing, Spike was well versed in the good and bad of controversy.

Because of that, there really wasn’t anyone more qualified than Spike to do a film about one of the most controversial and polarizing African-Americans in history.  For those of us who admire and respect him, the film is a fitting tribute to his greatness.  For those of you who ‘don’t get it’ or simply can’t stand him, you (as always) will find elements in Spike’s film to validate your point of view…

Kobe Doin’ Work is a 2009 Spike Lee documentary that shows us what a typical NBA game is like through the eyes of the best player of his generation, and one of the best ever, former MVP, four time NBA champion, and future first ballot Hall of Famer, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bean Bryant.

Put down the cell phone.  Delete that hostile text message, email, or comment you were about to send me.  It’s called sarcasm people.  GOTCHA!!!

 OK, now I’ll ‘make it plain…’

Malcolm X is a 1992 Spike Lee film based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Anchored by an Oscar worthy performance by Denzel Washington, the film is a 210 minute epic that rode in on a new wave of black nationalism, and in large part it delivered on the hype that surrounded it.

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance: 

Fade in from the Warner Brothers logo.  The introductory speaker hypes the crowd and introduces Malcolm.  Malcolm (Denzel), also in voiceover, starts in with a vicous tirade, charging the white race with all the genocide that’s happened throughout history.  The visual over this is two-fold: footage of the Rodney King beating that sparked the Los Angeles riots, and an American flag burning, until it forms an “X.”

Any questions?

Legacy:

If you want one reason why this is the most important black film made to this point, here is my argument:  Spike always had it in mind to make a 3 hour epic.  Warner Brothers had the money, they wanted a 2 hour movie tops.  Spike shot everything he wanted to shoot, put most of his salary back in the movie, hoping WB would get on board after the film was nearly done.  Nope.  Spike ran out of money, the bond company (i.e. the insurance if you’re not familiar with film lingo) wasn’t chipping in.  This project was dead.  So Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Tracy Chapman, Prince, and Peggy Cooper-Cafritz gave Spike the money to finish the film.  Read that last sentence as many times as you need to.  Those were at the time, and continue to be some of the most wealthy and influential African-Americans of this or any other generation, and they all chipped in so Spike could finish his film.  Warner Brothers eventually manned up and provided the financing, but with the possible exception of the election of the last President of the U.S., there may never be a better example of a harmony between a philosophy (blacks supporting/investing in our own) and seeing that philosophy carried out.

Craft: 

“You see, Islam is the only religion that gives both husband and wife a true understanding of what love is.  The Western ‘love’ concept, you take it apart, it really is lust.  But love transcends just the physical.  Love is disposition, behavior, attitude, thoughts, likes, dislikes – these things make a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife.  This is the beauty that never fades.  You find in your Western civilization that when a man’s wife’s physical beauty fails, she loses her attraction.  But Islam teaches us to look into the woman, and teaches her to look into us.”

– From the Autobiography

I’ll be the first to admit it often gets lost in the shuffle of the politics and messages of this film, but on repeated viewings, it’s harder to ignore how well written and acted the relationship between Malcolm and Betty (Angela Bassett) is played out.  Although it’s obviously based on two real, high profile figures in black history, it still deserves to be mentioned among the best love stories in black film.  Their courtship is sweet and very high-school sweetheart-ish, she’s devoted to him and him to her.  When the people he’s representing stab him in the back, it’s his wife who calls him out on it and challenges him.  As played in the film, she is truly his best friend.  The revelation struck me so hard I asked a few of my happily married friends, “Is your wife your best friend?”, and they all answered without hesitation, “Absolutely.”  I have friends who are looking for their Claire Huxtable or Michelle Obama (the woman who can be bad by herself and together they will be a power couple).  And obviously, there is nothing wrong with that model in the least.  Personally though, I’m looking for my Betty Shabazz (as played by Angela Bassett):  loyal, nurturing, maternal, but who will challenge me without hesitation if I’m wrong or out of line.  A true ‘partner in crime’, or as the young people say, a woman who will ‘Make Me Better.’

Crossover: 

Absolutely; even today this might have been the most hyped black film made to date.  They were rocking X baseball caps in the suburbs; it wasn’t even politics, it was fashionable.  Denzel lost the Oscar to Pacino who won for ‘Scent of a Woman’.  Definitely a career Oscar, similar to when Denzel did finally win Best Actor…for ‘Training Day.’  Spike was still in his prime pissing Hollywood off in general, so no little golden men for him.  Still hasn’t gotten any; will be interesting to see if he gets the Scorsese treatment somewhere down the line.

Apollo:

The dead man walking sequence of Malcolm going to the Audobon.  It was the first time I remember hearing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,”;  in all of black cinema there may never be a more perfect use of music with images.  But that’s just the beginning.  You have the cross cutting of Betty and the kids, the assassins, and the ‘Agency’ all converging on the Ballroom.  You have the signature Spike Lee ‘shot’ of Malcolm floating down the sidewalk.  And the coup de gras is the nice bystander telling an exhausted Malcolm to keep ‘doing what he’s doing’, followed up with the line, “Jesus will protect you.”  And yes, I’ll admit personal bias here and say that line and Malcolm’s (Denzel’s) reaction is my single favorite shot/reverse shot in any film.

So there you have it.  Later this month, the most important black television show…