Category Archives: Sports

And how are you so different… (A blog inspired by Lamar Odom)


The impetus of this Blog all started off from a question proposed by my current life partner.  I informed her that I started reading a Lamar Odom interview and I saw a lot of myself in who he was.

She then proposed a question to me that resonated: How are you so different?

It sparked some thought within my mind. I live by the philosophy that there is an existence beyond our five senses: ideals, concepts, and things seemingly imperceivable and not so much verifiable by conventional scientific means. I believe the majority of individuals have an intuition of the same inclination but struggle to reconcile this belief with their everyday existence. Most, I presume, live there life by certainty. Bills are cut and dry and are certainly due. Food is tangible and you certainly need to eat. Sexual desire is certainly real and we seek outlets for the expression. But there are so many nebulous concepts and motivations out there that inspire people, and I believe these intangible desires begin many of the psychological rifts within a person. For instance, love: how can you define love? Can it simply be reduced to chemical reactions and a genetic desire to promulgate a phenotype or is there something more to it, something other worldly about it. The soul: do we all have one, or maybe it’s a subsection of the mind or a construct of such?

And so the question remains…

What makes me any different than Mr. Lamar Odom? Initially I was a bit affronted by the question, because she subsequently stated I often think you have issues. As I began to reflect more upon the question I realized he and I were not so different. No matter how much I attempted to rationalize the truth, there is a part of Lamar that links him to me and that part is the yearning for truth.  The yearning for an understanding of who we are and what we are, and the reconciliation of both ideals.

Lamar stated in an interview: “Wherever my heart is and I can have peace of mind (is home). Life can seem nomadic because I don’t know if I’m embracing it or running from it. I can go anywhere, but I don’t know where I want to be.”

This is a very telling statement. I see a lot within this statement. I see a man attempting to reconcile the thoughts in his head with the life that’s been presented to him. I see a man struggling to quiet the voice that’s telling him that there is more truth to life than the common eye can discern. A man who has suffered much but has no true solace for his suffering only the thoughts within his head.  Those thoughts provide his only console and so he self-medicates. Perhaps as an attempt to drown out the reality of it all, because maybe the reality that he can doesn’t feel so real after all.  And the reality he can sense isn’t evident enough.

Of course I could be projecting all this on to Lamar. I’ve only seen the man once in passing at an AAU tournament I played in when I was younger an Loyola Marymount University..

Lamar: “I’m searching,” he says. “I’m searching, but I don’t know for what. I can’t see what I’m looking for. I just, like, reach out and hope I grab something. But I don’t know what it will be because I don’t know what I’m searching for.”

I see a man who derives no fulfillment from fame and money. He enjoys its fruits but it does nothing for his soul. A man beginning to understand the fact that who is isn’t necessarily all that is to him and his existence.  The money fame is never enough and was never enough, it only created a buffer between him and others.  It only further entrapped him into a prison of his own thoughts and his own means of self-actualization.  Which can make a man feel alone, it’s hard to make your self vulnerable when you live most of your waking life being the image you portray yourself as.

Lamar: “I think about a lot. I think all the time–about everything… There’s so much going on. So many thoughts. I think about this life. About me. Who I could be. Who I was. Who I am. Who am I?”

These seem to be self reflective questions that any person would ask themselves. The “issues “arise when the answers you receive become irreconcilable with your truth.  Some people find these answers through religion, others through societies standards and still others seek to derive their own answers. Although our circumstances are vastly different and the manner in which I choose to go about seeking those answers differ. Maybe there are less differences between us as I would have liked to presume– Lamar and I.

So then the question truly becomes…

How are YOU so different?


“I’m a dying breed…There are no more Lamar Odoms. I’m the last one”

Here is a link to the Chris Palmer, Bleacher Report interview from which the quotes were pulled: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2580319-finding-lamar-odom-tracking-down-the-elusive-and-recently-embattled-former-star

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Past vs. Present Mayweather vs. Ali…Symbols of an Era (A Blog by Jack)

This Blog is analysis of two Iconic figures in the Sports World of Boxing.

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Up first, we have a fighter who is often regarded as the Greatest of all-time, Muhammad Ali.  Too often we just define greatness by simply the feats that are done in the athletes specific arena of expertise.  Yet, Ali transcends this, he does not have the greatest record, but he knew that he was a human.  He knew as a being part of humanity that he had a role within and obligation towards humanity.  He knew that he was bigger than boxing and that he was working towards something Bigger than himself.

As an Icon, we must factor the totality of a man–the totality of a human being,  comprising of the mind, body, soul, and spirit.  Not just the accolades one could do with their specific gift or physical prowess.  But how one uses the attention one receives for a bigger purpose of Bigger cause.  And Ali was endowed with all of these characteristics.  He was a well spoken, confident, articulate, handsome, self-serving yet a self-sacrificing man. As a man of principle he sacrificed the lion’s portion of his career to protest the Murder of people’s in Vietnam.  As a warrior he navigated through several fights in which the odds were pressed against him and he managed to strategically maneuver and persevere  through these feats of human suffering.  As a prophet he foretold the world of his sure coming greatness and fulfilled these prophecies.  He Spoke of his forthcoming greatness and ushered himself into this greatness.  As an articulate poet, he gave the public catch phrases and rhymes that reverberated in the collective conscious of the public.  These literary gyms help push forth the many prophesies through mere repetition and quantitative thought of the public.

Ali was more than a man.  He is a symbol beyond himself.  He is a symbol of championship and a barometer of the people of the time.  The mindset of the era, and the hope that ensued.  He represented n embodied what it meant to be American.

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Which brings us to one Floyd “Money” Mayweather.  A modern icon, he too stands for more than just a fighter.  As his name entails, he too is a symbol of our era and unfortunately, is a barometer of our era as well.  Floyd is the, self-proclaimed, greatest boxer that has ever  lived. And he has a myriad of fans who would support the notion.  But who is Floyd in comparison to the Great Ali.  As a man, what exactly does he symbolize?  And if we are using his Symbol to eclipse that of Ali, what exactly does this implicate or entail?

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Analyze Floyd, he is a man small of stature.  He is boxer who is undefeated and is known for his preternatural ability to leave a fight unblemished– meaning he has never had to overcome within a fight.  He is a man who puts much of his value in the money that he has obtained.  He derives vast self worth from the money he possess.  Not to imply that he doesn’t use his money to help others but when confronted about possibly donating money to Africa this was his response.

“[People] say ‘well, he got all this money, why is he not giving to Africa?’” starts Mayweather. “Well, what has Africa given to us?

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And if you would take look at this statement, you would see it is but a cross-section of the larger picture.  This statement alone can summarize the persona of Floyd “Money” Mayweather.  Yet he too has very redeemable qualities.  He too, is prophetic: prophesying his forth coming glory and putting in the requisite work to ensure these prophesies come true.  He is a very hard worker.  And of course, he has yet to lose.

But as a symbol what are we believing in, if we place him on a pedal stool above the Great Ali. What exactly are we uplifting?  The symbol of our era: a small man, self-absorbed, self-righetous, self-proclamating, an anti-prophet, money obsessed, inarticulate and self-centered individual.  He does not stand for anything outside of himself, and he reduces his movement to something very small and very confined.  He is currently not in the state of mind to allow his movement to be bigger than himself.  So it reduces both his role and his iconic status, although, this may be an accurate barometer of the current era.  And it may be why so many people identify with the man, because he is everything that they want to be.  He is everything that they hold in high esteem.  He represents everything that they value and in their eyes he is the perfect representation of the era.  Now what that implicates is far more tragic and is meant for another blog.

So we have one closed off individual who keeps most at a distance and is quite introverted vs. the ultimate “man of the people”.  And Ironic enough, as America has declined, so has its symbol.  And now we have a new symbol to go hand in hand with a new America.

So, to whom do you see as the Greatest?

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Does the sport make the star or does the star make the sport? Black Stars Burn Brightest…

It is without doubt that Professional Sports plays a major role in the lifeblood of America.  It does everything from pushing the economy forward,to providing heroes for the youth to aspire towards, to galvanizing entire regions across cultural lines.

Yes, America loves its Sports.  Some may even go as far as to say that the ritual of Sunday football has replaced the ritual of attending Church. The energy once used to worship “God” has been averted to the anticipation, elation and praising of football teams and their stars.

Indeed America loves its sports and the stars that they produce.

2015/01/img_4161.pngAmerica loves its athletes.  We are no different than any other civilization, just like the Romans of yesteryear, we hold our Gladiators in High Esteem.  In fact we hold our stars in high esteem no matter what arena they participate in.  As long as they are an entertainer, there will be somebody that can relate to them and there to give praise.

The argument arises, does the sport make the star or does the star make the sport.  Conventional thinking would lead one to believe that no one person is bigger than the sport.  Like David Ruffin and the Temptations no one part can thrive without the sum.  But I would beg to differ.  Perhaps no one single person can persuade the game one way or another, but a subset can have a tremendous impact on the popularity of said sport.  And I have food for thought, that may offer strong persuasion.

Let’s look at the most popular sports in America, currently Football reigns supreme; followed by basketball and at a distant third baseball.  There was a time when Baseball claimed the thrown, and then it struggled to keep it but eventually capitulated and gave way to the current king–Football.

But Why?

Is it a direct result of a shift in the demographics of America.  Is it due to the fast pace society that we live in and the American continuum wants a fast pace sport to parallel its pacing.  Or is it something subconsciously deeper than that.

Follow me, America has an affinity for its stars and in particular its Black stars.

2015/01/img_4162.pngLet’s look at a low hanging fruit—Golf.  I don’t have the numbers but I can definitively correlate the spike and decline of golf with the oscillation of Tiger Wood’s Greatness.  He single handedly brought the sport from the rungs and gutters of popularity to the forefront of American Consciousness.  As his “Scandle” ensued and his decline in play sprang forth as did the popularity of Golf.  Just look at the ratings.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4163-0.pngLet’s take a look at the sport of female tennis.  Can we say it received a jolt of enthusiasm with the influx of a certain two sisters?  I’m not even sure how much relevance the female tennis world captured without that shining Eastern Star Serena and her sister Star Venus.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4164.pngBasketball  was a sport on the fringes of being popular.  A sport with an identity crisis, it didn’t know if it wanted to be great or not.  Back in the 80’s the NBA was on the verge of something special with star power of Bird and Magic.  These stars shined indeed but they weren’t enough to bring the NBA to the Billion dollar business that it is today, sitting comfortable in the royal court of the King–Football.  No—it was arguable the brightest black star of all time—the marketing creation of one Michael Jordan.  This bright star single handedly carried the NBA on his back–the Tiger Woods before Tiger Woods.  Before him, 100 million dollar contracts were unheard of.  He parted the Red Sea and allowed for the NBA to ascend to the peak of its popularity.

America loves its Black Stars.

2015/01/img_4165.pngFootball—the king in this sports jungle.  Now football is a bit of an anomaly I would admit.  It is a sport flooded by Black stars but you can honestly say there is no polarizing figure.  In fact, it is a sport that hails its white stars.  Yet footballs popularity didn’t increase until it received an infusion of Black athletes if not stars.  The 80’s is when football first spotted it’s opening for the crown, but it wasn’t until Baseball, former King, exposed its chink in its armor.  A sport that thought it was too Big for its Black Stars, which eventually led to its downfall.  Yet as we see today, football sits atop its thrown gazing over its kingdom as it embraces its litany of Black Stars.  And baseball looks at what was, and like a scorned lover: looks back on what could have been.

America loves its Black Stars.

This brings us to Baseball, “America’s Past Time”.

2015/01/img_4166.pngWhat happened to Baseball?

Suicide happened. –Self-inflicted misery by way of Pride. I will tell you what happened, Baseball and the powers to be got fed up.  It got fed up with its Black stars.  It became fed-up with the arrogance of seeing these young Black Stars shining so brilliantly.  It grew tired of these young flashy, wealthy, insolent stars.  It felt, man, talent is multi-cultural; I can replace these egregious, haughty black stars with colored stars from another land.  Yah, that’s it…I’ll go down and get these Latin American stars that look the same and play the same and we’ll teach them.  But its plan backfired.

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Because  America loves its Black Stars.

Key word being “its”.  Not someone else’s Black stars, America loves its Black Stars.  I would argue that the decline in Baseball popularity is a direct result of its systematically ushering out of its Black Stars.  The same arrogance and haughty nature it despised is the same arrogance and haughty nature America seeks to embrace.  We love our Dennis Rodman’s.  We love our Dion Sander’s.  We love our Mike Tyson’s.  We love to hate our Lebron James’s.  We love our Charles Barkley’s.  No matter what form or fashion they come in—we Love our Black Stars.

There is a deeper issue here as to why this axiom is true, but that is for another blog at another time.

Baseball should take it as a lesson learned.  Although, without the sport there would be no superstar one could clearly see that without the superstar the sport doesn’t quite shine.