The Playoffs

Friday, May 1, 2009

Its still the first round, but this years NBA playoffs has been pretty damn awesome so far. I can not remember the last time I was this interested in pretty much every series that was going on. Everything just seems...different.

I thought it was just in my head until I came across this post by the crew at The Starting Five. This really does seem to be leading up to a pretty special playoffs.

On the surface, it seems like there is just more passion and hustle out there. I always hate it when people make those kinds of statements because I think, for the most part, that players always play hard. But this playoffs, its almost like every team (except the Hornets and Pistons), really feels like they could win and are really leaving it all out on the floor.

So is it because guys are playing harder?

I say no. I think a lot of these younger teams have just grown up. Players have been in the league for a few years and now really understand what it takes to win. Guys like Ben Gordon, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, etc, etc have really come into their own this year.

Add that to some exciting rookies and second year guys and vets showing that still got it (Billups is on fire in Denver and I'm loving Artest with the Rockets) and the overall level of play across the league has improved and we're seeing it this playoffs.

We'll see if the playoffs can keep this early momentum, but its definitely been great so far.

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The Freedom of Marriage

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It seems every Friday or Saturday I get a series of phone calls from my friends asking me what I am doing that day. My answers usually range from watching the game to laundry to errands, etc. They're looking for something more in the way of "I'm going to Club fill in the blank." From time to time I succumb to peer pressure and head out to a "fun" night of clubbing only to realize about an hour or so into it that I have absolutely no desire to be out at all.

Pretty soon, I'm standing around making idle conversation with randoms and pretty much on a full countdown until its time to leave. This is pretty much by the usual comments of me "not being fun anymore" blah blah blah. My reply is that its not that I'm not fun anymore, but that I am now an adult and my view of what is and is not fun is radically different from what it was 10 years ago.

In other words, I'm too old for this shit.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not that old (31), but I am married. I also went to Southern University and anyone who went to an HBCU will probably agree with the feeling that they partied enough the first couple of years to last a lifetime (and they probably also send a quick thanks to God that they actually withstood all that and graduated). The thought of going out to Club X and staying their all night just doesn't hold the same sway that it did when I first unpacked my stuff in my dorm room on the yard.

This line of reasoning is often met by a round of "marriage has changed you" arguments from the crew. Marriage has no doubt changed me. But my boys are implying that I am not as free as I used to be. That marriage is restricting me from doing things that are fun.

I beg to differ.

Their mindset is not uncommon. When people think of marriage today, the first thought on their minds seems to be how restricting it is. I look at things from the other direction. While marriage may limit you from being able to date a bunch of people, it does something (or at least it should do something) that's even greater than that.

It frees you to be you.

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Maxwell - Pretty Wings

After a LLLOONNNNGGG hiatus, Maxwell returns. Seems to be picking up right where he left off.

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Saints Draft Recap

Monday, April 27, 2009

There is nothing more worthless than trying to grade a draft. There is just no way of knowing how a player will pan out. There are so many variables both on and off the field that affect how a college player reacts to being in the NFL. Why so many people spend so much time obsessing over this every year is beyond me.

So, without further adieu, here is my opinion of the Saints draft..

1st Round - Malcolm Jenkins.
Honestly, if the Saints hadn't picked him here, I think my conversion to one of the DC/Baltimore NFL teams would have been pretty much a done deal. While some question his speed, there's really no doubt that Jenkins is a ball player. He was the best corner in the draft and the Saints needed a corner.

Sounds simple enough, but rumors floated in that the Saints were considering taking a running back. While for most teams this would be an easily dismissed rumor, with the Saints history of stellar draft moves, such a completely dumb ass move could not be taken for granted. I got no problem with Wells, but the Saints offense is not the problem. I'd love to have a premier running back, but the combo of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas worked pretty well last season. I also think Thomas has a ton of potential especially in our offense.

No, grabbing a running back with our first pick when we desperately need help in the secondary would have been silly. I could have easily forgiven picking up an inside linebacker or even another defensive tackle to pair with Ellis, but a RB would have been unforgivable.
So back to the actual pick. Again, Jenkins was the best corner in the draft, but teams waffled because of slow times at the combine. Why teams throw out four years of production for one day at a combine is also beyond me. But, if it weren't for the slow time, there is no doubt he would have gone earlier and the Saints couldn't have grabbed him. Everyone else's loss is our gain.

2nd & 3rd round - The Saints traded their picks for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey. While Shockey's been injured, I think these were good deals especially Vilma. These three guys alone make me feel like the Saints draft should be an A or a B. Getting a guy as good as Jenkins along with a couple of Pro-Bowlers at their respective position is a pretty good draft in my eyes. Hopefully Shockey can stay on the field this season.

4th round - Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux
It's tough for me to get too worked up on second day picks. Sure, great players are to be had, but I can honestly forgive a team for missing on one of these picks. With that said, I think the Saints got two solid prospects in Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux. The film on Chip Vaughn looks solid. He's definitley not afraid to lay a hit on someone. With him and Jenkins, our secondary will look a lot better the next few years.

Arnoux was a bit of a head scratcher at first, but from everything I can gather, he is a good prospect. His coach seemed to think he was just as good as first rounder Curry. We will see if that holds true, but it shouldn't be too hard to knock Scott Shanle to the bench.

5th round - Thomas Morstead
Now this one was just bizarre. Sure, it looks like this guy is a good punter, but moving up to grab him just seemed strange. I have to believe there is someone out there they could have gotten without having to move up. Still, with the difficulties our kicking game has had, I can see us trying to get a good punter. Just strange for a team to trade up to get him.

So overall, with the inclusion of Vilma and Shockey, I give Saints a B+ for the draft. We'll see how well that holds up over the next season.

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Love and Marriage

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last week another man killed his family and then killed himself. Beyond the sadness of these events, I naturally found myself wondering why these men chose to do this.

And even more, I wondered if they sought help or counsel when things started going south? And if they didn't why not?

In relationships, I think its easy for guys to fall even further into the trap of not talking about things. Right or wrong, being able to provide for and take care of your family is a huge part of being the guy in the relationship. I can definitely understand how the inability to do that could have a negative effect on a guy's self esteem and lead down a road to depression.

But being a good mate isn't just about paying bills and buying stuff. The other side of the coin in being a good husband or boyfriend is taking care of yourself, mentally and physically. Too many of us are lax on both of those, especially the mental part.

No matter how tough people are, the simple act of sitting down, picking up a phone and telling someone about your problems is difficult and almost impossible for some. I definitely have trouble talking about things sometimes.

However, when it gets to the point where violence toward your family is floating through your head, its time to drop the BS and go get help.

And that's not just in the extreme, unfortunate cases of these men and their families. Its also for the physical and verbal abusers out there. There is just no reason to sit and allow yourself to go down a dark road mentally. You owe to your family and yourself to go and get help.

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