Tag Archives: LeBron James

You Can’t Watch This Commercial And Still Hate LeBron

A couple years ago I wrote this article, pretty much vilifying the transcendent LeBron James, perhaps the most well-rounded player since Larry Bird, the Basketball Jesus.

Now there’s this commercial:

I hate how good this commmercial is. It makes me like LeBron James, which is in conflict with my long-held disdain for the best player in the world. This commercial makes me feel like a hypocrite. Maybe that’s why people fight change so much. It starts by admitting that your status quo is wrong.

In America, we forgive any sort of perceived flaws as long as the individual is great, and there’s probably no greater example than in the narratives we love. Don Draper, Walter White, and Tony Soprano just prove that we’ll be intrigued and drawn towards success. LeBron James is none of the evil or broken we see in our favorite TV characters. He’s just a guy who left his hometown for a better job opportunity, but that “flee the Cleve” gesture pissed us off. That was then. Today, the historical narrative is already so different than what was being crafted by us short-sighted pundits of the internet. LeBron is the best there is at what he does. For that, he’s won our praise.

Tonight he kicks off his season against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. I’m still rooting against the Heat. But the “Basketball Judas” label just isn’t fair anymore. The ends have justified the means. He’s been baptized in the redemptive waters of success. I’ll still always wish that he’d stayed in Cleveland, but that’s hindsight. He may have not become the transcendent superhero we see in that commercial if he had.

Begrudgingly respectful,
Dusty ” 30 Pieces in Debt” Riedesel

Non-Style Guy: 9 NBA Draft Fashions That We Love To Hate

9, nba, draft, fashions, that, are, burned, into, our, memories,

There has been a significant learning curve here.

This was an article I wrote for PolicyMic.com in excitement for the 2012 NBA draft. Most of what I would say as a preamble to this year’s draft is still in the preamble below. Enjoy the article and enjoy the draft!

One of the best things about recurring events like the NBA Draft is that they naturally birth recurring traditions; traditions which usually center around a quirky subplot within the event itself. Prominent examples of these organic traditions include ranking the Super Bowl commercials, or giving a thumbs up/down at movie previews like Siskel and Ebert (suck it, Roeper). A dandy piece of entertainment at the NBA Draft is that viewers inevitably turn into Tim Gunn, mocking college-age kids who dress up and play icon. It’s adorable.

My personal style is essentially Nick from New Girl (probably due to our similar financial situations).  If I was going to parade around on national television, I’d pay someone who knew about these things to dress me right, just like my mom did when I was little so other kids wouldn’t laugh at me (kind of worked). But here lies the problem. Legions of handlers have started getting these future draftees away from the Steve Harvey collection and in front of working mirrors, a nearly mandatory move considering today’s NBA players make personal fashion a priority. For us, this obviously sucks. The fashion awareness of the NBA fraternity is trickling down to the pledges, and it’s ruining my once healthy tradition of draft night mockery.

But I’m an optimist.  I still believe that Andre Drummond (update: Alex Len) has the potential to wear a red jacket.  Maybe Thomas Robinson (regret that optimism) will give a subtle nod to the upper ceiling of his ability by wearing an homage to Karl Malone (a satirical retro-suit is easily the Holy Grail of potential outcomes here, kind of like getting a Sega Genesis for Christmas in 1991). So here’s a look back at past draft-day fiascos, and let’s cross our fingers (and toes) that we get an outfit this good in 2012:

1. Samaki Walker (1996)

In retrospect, this suit should have been the first sign that Walker would make some bad judgement calls. He last made headlines by attempting to eat his weed prior to getting pulled over by police in 2011.

2. Erick Dampier (1996)

Dude played in the league for 15 YEARS! Amazingly earning more than Michael Jordan. Obviously his expensive tastes kept him working.

3. Tim Thomas (1997)

No words. Just emotions.

4. Chuck Person (1986)

It was 1986.  I was eight months old and wearing off-brand Huggies.  Maybe pink cummerbunds were cool back then.

5. Karl Malone (1985)

The GOAT of draft day apparel.  Short tie, white pants, purple jacket, future hall of famer.  And yes, moose knuckle!

6. Jalen Rose (1994)

Current ESPN analyst. Good to see he has grown up since the draft.

7. Drew Gooden (2002)

If you search “Drew Gooden” in Google images, you’ll see that this was far from his worst style move. You know what, the longer I look at it, the more it grows on me.

8. Maurice Taylor (1997)

#neverscared

9. LeBron James (2003)

I don’t care how many rings or $8,000 suits he wears, LeBron won’t live this down! Haters, keep on hatin.

The 2012 NBA Draft airs Thursday, June 28th at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN….And the 2013 NBA Draft is June 27th on ESPN at some time on the clock.

NBA Playoff Beards: The Best and The Worst

With Tommy’s permission, Dusty will be commenting in these italics throughout the article (in fact, this is Dusty doing that now). I couldn’t help but talking about beards and the NBA, probably both in the my top ten topics if you ever broke down my personal zeitgeist by “time spent discussing.” Anyway, I’ll hand it back to Tommy…

Fact: I’ve only shaved my face with an actual blade 3 times in the last 2 years. Once was for a job interview. The second was for my Ace Ventura Halloween costume. The third was out of boredom I think.
Dusty – I personally think the third time is because he was so overwhlemed by the best start-up video of the year. (Tommy again…this is actually true).

Needless to say facial hair is a part of my life. In fact, I can only count a few times when I’ve seen my old man with anything less than a mustache. It’s a testament as a man to don a healthy beard. Among other things its something that separates us from the fairer sex. A well put-together beard says “I’m rugged, but I also pay attention to the details.”
Dusty – Schockingly, we are not sponsored by the Gillette  Fusion Proglide Styler.

I also have a love of sports and the superstitions that inevitably come with them. I wouldn’t call myself superstitious per se, but in the words of Michael Scott, “I’m a little-stitous.” Either way, I love the annual hockey playoff beards that come out this time of year. I even grow one myself and it unites me with my team in some weird way.

I started thinking, “You don’t really see a playoff beard in the NBA.” Why? I don’t have an answer for that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some powerful (and shameful) facial hair(s?) on display in the NBA. Below is a collection of the Best and Worst facial hair examples in the NBA.

Worst:

3rd: LeBron James – Dude, LeBron. Come on. Its like he wants a perfectly oval face and as his hair line fades back, he shaves his beard further down his face. It’s getting dangerously close to being a Neard. The Neard is not a good look for anyone, regardless of how much money you have. I’m trying to think of a beard joke that integrates not being able to finish the 4th quarter, but I’m drawing a blank. Dusty..anything?
Dusty – I have to admit a lack of objectivity when it comes to The Basketball Judas LeBron started growing facial hair at roughly the same time he started eating solid foods. He has the talent to be the greatest beard grower of all-time! Instead, we get a neard. It’s no coincidence that this neard didn’t come out until after he left Cleveland. His facial hair is the physical manifestation of his lost soul.

2nd: Kendrick Perkins – Hey Kendrick, you got your body into incredible shape (no homo), your game is average (more intimidation than raw basketball talent) but what the hell is that enormous, black cotton ball dangling off of your chin? It looks like all of the hair on your face melted together and slid down to your chin and decided it was the most fertile ground. The last time this type of intentional facial hair design was the Egyptians in 1000 B.C. My personal opinion, you’d look much better with a handle bar mustache. Pullin for you guys in the playoffs though buddy.
Dusty – Perk’s beard (I use the term loosely) is the single reason that Blake Griffin did this to him.

1st:  Joakim Noah – Where do I start? Let’s start at the point where the parts of your beard connect…wait…that’s impossible. This beard is like the “State” of Hawaii – a bunch of random shaped patches that don’t actually touch anywhere. (That’s slightly redundant since the definition of an island is a body of land surround by water, but you get my point). Here’s my advice, watch the video in the first link of this post, invest $1 a month and never grow facial hair again. Unless you’re dressing up as a gay French man for Halloween and you just want to let that weak mustache grow.
Dusty – I feel like if someone played word association with me, my insta-response to “French” would be “gay” (which is odd since I’ve never known a single French person). In all fairness to Joakim, his hair and face are so ugly that you barely notice the beard…check out this “fun with Noah’s hair article.

Best:

3rd: Barron Davis – The modern day Baron has dialed the beard back a bit for  more of the John Legend look. But the Baron of old had a luscious beard that was equal parts Kimbo Slice and Rick Ross. If you put some big shades on Baron, he would look just like that ENORMOUS gold face Rick Ross wears around his neck. Look at the picture below. Much like our favorite beard of all time, Chuck Norris, “Even Baron’s beard has its own sweat glands”
Dusty – Baron’s beard guy coined the term “perfectly coiffed.” His beard is actually a great foil to LeBron’s neard. Physically out of shape and loafing through the regular season, Baron’s beard displays his inner confidence that has always made him great in the clutch.

2nd: Kevin Love – Well done, sir. Well done indeed. A threat every night for a double double. You’ve slimmed down, grew your hair out and stopped growing that damn chin strap line beard that probably got you laid by hundreds of Asian girls at UCLA. This beard isn’t particularly great by any stretch. So why is it number 2? I like to refer to this as the Every-Man’s beard. It just looks natural and unkempt like any average guy you might see (read: me and Dusty) who has decided to embrace his inner Bohemian and rock a beard with his t-shirt, jeans and a PBR.
Dusty – An every-man’s beard in the NBA is about as rare as, well, a good white player in the NBA. Rarefied with commonality, Kevin Love has the diamond of NBA beards…and as far as I’m concerned, it’s conflict-free.

1st: James Harden – I know what you’re thinking. “Damn, why is that picture below so big?” The answer: A beard that big deserves the full size picture that I copied from someone else’s website. Most people have a face with a beard. This is a damn BEARD with a face. It’s so perfectly groomed all while being Paul Bunyan long. It’s like he doesn’t even have a mouth until he has something to say, like his beard is actually talking to you. Combine that with the baux-hawk (black guy faux-hawk) – which was really big about 2 years ago and you have a man who is making a statement with the hair God blessed him with. “I’m a love, not a fighter. But my beard will kick your ass. So don’t mess with us.”
Dusty – Classic case of the beard growing the man. James Harden has improved every year in the NBA. Causal explanation? His beard’s been getting longer and thicker (I have a theory about dingleberries being beard Viagra, but the theory is actually more vulgar than that synopsis). I drop my razor to you, Mr. Harden.


As a special bonus…this guy isn’t even in the Association anymore and probably never should have been. But his facial hair, hair, fatness and overall face are just too much to leave off of this list.

Adam Morrison – I’m laughing too hard at this to even make a comment. This is a staged photo. He showed up to have his picture taken, for his player profile with this on his face. Question 1: Why is it so uneven? Question 2: If you touch it, will it bite you? The female cashier at WalMart had a more complete and better groomed goatee than this. Poor guy. I wish you the best of luck in Germany, Kazakistan or wherever you’re playing (or not) in the world today.
Dusty – No words, just emotions.

Thinking about growing a ‘stache,

tc

The Basketball Judas, LeBron James

You’re 6’8”, 260 lbs and chiseled.  You’re freakishly fast, and not in the overstated Jimmy John’s way, but in the way that the word ‘freak’ is actually a perfectly accurate descriptor. You’re smart, and not just in that hardwood genius (decent porn name alert) way like Pete Maravich, but in that entrepreneurial icon way, like Magic Johnson (awesome porn name alert) and Michael Jordan. You’re LeBron James, and you’ve got the world on a damn string. So why do so many people hate you?

We’re a couple years removed from LeBron’s choice to play basketball in Miami. And it highlighted one of the greatest questions any sports fan can ask of themselves, “Why does this matter so much to me?” I try to ask myself that anytime I’m getting revved up about a player, a game, or anything in the sports world. Now that I’ve had a couple years of hindsight, I think I know what it is with LeBron.

I’ll put my cards on the table: I used to be jealous of LeBron. In fact, I hated him. He’s one year older than me, and while I was wondering if I would make the basketball team as a freshman at Asbury College, LeBron was coming off his Rookie of the Year season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. At that time, LeBron was like body fat, a constant reminder of what I’m not.  Now I’m over it. I think it’s the five-thousandth hour in a cubicle that lets a person release the jealousy of impossible dreams.

That’s right, kids. Life is full of disappointment.

Life lesson learned. Good for past Dusty. Now it’s now, and I still hate LeBron. He’s my least favorite player in the league, and it’s not even close.  But why? He’s not a junkie. He’s not lazy. He’s not a selfish player. There’s a few standard answers other people give me, but they never satisfy my experience of dislike.  I’ll get to my personal beef, but here are a few things that I don’t hate him for:

1. I don’t hate LeBron for being an arrogant prick (ie. The Duke fan of NBA players).

A couple years ago, a friend asked me if it was possible for LeBron James to be arrogant?

Interesting.

The obvious, philosophical answer is ‘Yes.’  The definition of arrogance is “overbearing pride”, but this definition requires the participation of another person, so what might seem overbearing to me probably doesn’t feel the same to say, Dwyane Wade. Basically, I don’t like what I’m saying about myself when I think of LeBron’s pride in who he is as overbearing to me. It smacks of a personal insecurity that I spent my younger days getting over (yeah LeBron, I ended up being captain of my college basketball team. Can’t say that, can you?)….all that reminds me of this:

“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had to today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy that not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they’ll have to get back to the real world at some point.”

LeBron James, in the aftermath of the Heat’s loss in the NBA Finals

This quote is my favorite thing that LeBron has ever said. Most people think he’s bashing the little guy, but if you re-read that quote and think of “people rooting for me to fail” as being Dan Gilbert or James Dolan, doesn’t that quote seem totally sensible? Sure, I danced like a butter-churn  when the Heat lost the Finals, but I had to wake up the next morning and get back to the same life I had before. He’s right, and I’m okay with it. So I’m ruling out arrogance as the reason I hate LeBron. But I do hate him. I hate him like I hate Brad Pitt doing voice-over work (a well-used but still wasted talent).

2. I don’t Hate LeBron for being compared to Michael Jordan (or Kobe):

Let’s face it, LeBron has a statistical argument for being as good as Michael Jordan in regular season play at the same point in their careers (fyi, Jordan was better statistically…but it’s close enough that a LeBron fan could put a respectable subjective spin on it). However, there’s the “rings” argument. (see: “scoreboard” argument).

For the record, I think the “scoreboard” argument is completely illogical. But as a Kobe fan, I’d just like to say that anyone who uses this argument to rank Jordan over LeBron has absolutely set a precedent for using that argument for Kobe over LeBron. Sorry, it’s just the truth.

3. I don’t hate LeBron for his zero clutch factor….well, not totally

Forget the fact that it has been shown to be statistically irrelevant over his entire career. It was obvious during the 2011 Finals. OBVIOUS. No debate. He disappeared. It’s not like he turned into young Kobe and went down in a blaze of misery. He went down like Bruce Willis in Braveheart (and if you’re thinking “wait, Bruce Willis wasn’t in Braveheart?” Congratulations on being really close to getting the joke). I would hate this attribute in a player, but I actually love it in LeBron because it helps him fail, so I kind of like him for disappearing. Three more reasons I don’t hate him:

4. I don’t hate him for all his pre-game and on-court antics.

5. I don’t hate him for dressing like giant, mutant Steve Urkel.

6.I don’t hate him for Nike hiding the Jordan Crawford event.

I hate LeBron for making success the highest priority.

I don’t hate him for “The Decision” or for any of the theatrics involved. I don’t even hate him for the decision and the super team it formed. “Nobody roots for goliath” is a cliché by now, and while it’s definitely a true cliché, I understand why LeBron did it. It’s easier to be successful. There’s less pressure and more fun. The money’s a wash when you consider all streams of revenue. I mean, I’d have probably made the same choice. What he is now, I don’t hate. He’ll continue to have professional success with the Heat. But if we go back to Pre-Decision, he had a chance to be a hero. A chance to be uniquely great. I don’t hate LeBron for what he is, but I do hate him for what he didn’t become. Were I his friend or agent or counsel, I’d probably think differently. But I’m just a fan, and it’s what I wanted.

I wanted LeBron to stand like a Spartan against the forces of Big 3’s (and big 4s), market inequality, civil stigmas and and every player who thinks they’re better because they have wins and rings (fun sidenote: which person is Pat Riley and which one is LeBron in this picture? Had LeBron stayed in Cleveland, it’d be an easy answer).

I wanted him to be David the shepherd, not the King.

I wanted LeBron’s statement, “I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland.  And I won’t stop until I get it,” to mean something. Anything!

I wanted him to test limits. Not just his ball skills, but how much can one man mean to a team, a city?

I wanted him to prove that being great is about a hell of a lot more than being successful.

I wanted LeBron to be Cleveland’s Basketball Jesus, spurning offers like Matthew 16:23. Instead, he turned out to be their Basketball Judas.

It’s over now. The damage complete and everlasting. I just wrote that I hate LeBron James for what he didn’t become. Now that I’ve edited the column, I’m realizing that’s not it. It’s not the answer to “Why does this matter so much to me?” I think this, like getting over my jealousy of him when I was 18, is probably just part of growing up. I think hate is the completely wrong emotion.

That’s right, kids. Life is full of disappointment.