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LeBron James and the Miami Heat take the court vs. the 76ers in Game 5 Wednesday night, and Wednesday morning LeBron was asked whether it mattered if they can beat the 76ers tonight.
His reply, via the Palm Beach Post:
When asked about whether the three days of prep — rather than one — would make a big difference, LeBron James said tonight was about this: ‘Just finishing our breakfast.’
What does that even mean, you ask? Why, it's a Jay-Z quote, of course! "My homie Strick told me dude finish ya breakfast," Jay-Z rapped on The Black Album. So, obviously, we have the latest reminder that hip-hop and the NBA are forever intertwined as these parallel universes that don't necessarily make sense to white people, but tend to collide on a daily, even hourly basis. Either you're slangin' crack rock or you got a whicked jumpshot or you're just confused by all of it...
We know this, though. That's one of the biggest cliches in sports. Everyone knows rappers want to be athletes and athletes want to be rappers, and the cultures overlap so most of the time it's redundant to mention it. Except... This time it goes even deeper. Who was Jay-Z's homie "Strick"?
Yeah, he's a New York City streetball legend that played for Jay-Z's Roc-a-fella teams in Rucker Park back in 2003. And if you're keeping track of the hip-hop-NBA crossover rate, we just had LeBron James quote Jay-Z, who, it turns out, was quoting a streetball legend. From basketball to hip-hop and back to basketball.
It's an instructive example. Yes, it's redundant to point out the connections between hip-hop and hoops, and next time you hear someone going on about how intertwined hip-hop and the NBA are, you feel free to roll your eyes. But also remember that even when it looks obvious, the roots all of this go deeper than most of us even realize.
As the years go on, the ties between both worlds just gets wrapped (or rapped) around each other even further. It's only a matter of time 'till some rapper quotes LeBron's breakfast line.
You Know Who Doesn't Get Hip-Hop? Reggie Miller. He's maybe the most obnoxious announcer this side of Jim Nantz, and when TNT cut into the Lakers and Hornets game Tuesday night to talk about Ron Artest, you just knew Reggie Miller would find a way to ruin it. "I was standing and giving him a standing ovation," he said while TNT rolled footage of Ron's pregame ceremony Tuesday night. "Because when we got Ron in Indiana, he was very raw. And a lot of those emotions came out through his play. And I'm not going to revisit a lot of the things in his past that got him suspended, because I'm going to look forward."
Dear Reggie, THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU.
"This is a guy that has made a commitment to mental health awareness and to helping young people. A lot of the problems that he went through, growing up in Queensbridge, in New York City, in Brooklyn... You know, you gotta applaud guys like this. It's a rightful award for the right guy."
Wait a second... Did he just say that Ron grew up in Queensbridge, in Brooklyn?
QUEENSbridge, in BROOKLYN?
That, my friends, is how you find new and creative ways to drive America crazy.
The Only Antidote To Reggie Is Charles. In addition to openly doubting Kobe Bryant's overhyped ankle injury on National Television, there's his high school teacher buttondown:
"Y'all better get to used to 'em, 'cause I bought five more in different colors!"
Before The NFL Draft... Check out the draftees as high schoolers.
Hey It's Open Season On Roger Goodell! And it's glorious. On Tuesday I mentioned that more than anything, Roger Goodell's Wall Street Journal response made me wonder if this lockout has proven he's not worthy of being the NFL commissioner. Today, some others echo that sentiment.
First, there's Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, who critiques the response:
On Tuesday, Goodell wrote an extraordinary op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal in which he all but begged for a return to the collective bargaining status quo, the "carefully constructed rules proven to generate competitive balance." Interestingly enough, Goodell did not offer a single legal defense for the way the league does business. He simply argued that the system has made it "one of the most popular and successful sports leagues in history." So judges like Nelson should leave it alone.
Then there's Joe Posnanski at Sports Illustrated, who critiques the respondent:
... it looks like the impressive NFL commissioner is completely out of ideas. I wrote on Twitter that the only thing missing from this ludicrous column was exclamation points. You could tell right away that this column was untrustworthy when in the second sentence he wrote, "For six weeks, there has been a work stoppage," as if that was caused by some sort of natural disaster and was not a result of the owners locking out the players.
He then talks about how great the NFL system has been for everyone without even taking one sentence to mention the inconvenient fact that it was the owners, not the players, who wanted to blow up the old system in a bald money grab. He then offers an utterly unrealistic and devious doomsday scenario "if the players win" — a scenario that he knows will never happen and is only in play now because of the owners’ greedy lockout that was slammed down by the courts.
It all screamed of desperation and, frankly, it felt a bit incompetent, too.
And finally, there's Nate Jackson at Deadspin, who looks closer at Roger Goodell's statistics on player safety, where he claims the average NFL career lasts six years, with Pro Bowlers averaging careers that span more than a decade. You should read Jackson's entire piece, but here's a sample:
This is all part of a PR battle, and facts will inevitably get stretched to the breaking point in service of making an argument. But you have to wonder what motivates the league to lie to its fans about the typical experience of an NFL player? What could the NFL gain by giving fans the impression that players are rich and privileged and enjoy long, glorious, fulfilling careers? Why do they want you to think that?
In any case, that's something to keep in mind the next time you see the league pimping out Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Through no fault of their own, the game's biggest stars are now serving involuntarily as a sort of red herring during negotiations. Close your eyes and imagine what life is like for players in the NFL. What do you see? A guy staring at his cell phone? Or Giselle?
Meanwhile, 52-year-old Roger Goodell is in his 29th year with the NFL. Now that's a career.
I'm tellin ya, if Roger Goodell keeps doing business this way, at some point, this is going to get really ugly, and end really badly for Goodell. You can only twist the truth so long, and if you happen to be twisting it for the sake of billionaires, you deserve whatever consequences come your way.
The NBA Playoffs Go Mainstream. As a lifelong NBA addict, it's been cool to watch the rest of the sports world catch on this spring. This week Chris Paul's on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the headline, "The Beautiful Games". That seems just about perfect to me, and Lee Jenkins' story on the Playoffs' "Perfect Storm" is worth a look, just the same.
The Chris Kaman Memorial Awkward Photo Of The Day We've been running this feature on the sidebar every day at The Ham Sandwich for the past month or so, but if Talking Points is going to be a daily feature, as well, we might as well include them in two places. Today? DIRK!
And Finally, Hip Hop And NBA Overlap Everywhere. But in Miami, all bets are off.