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THE 10 COOLEST ATHLETES I’VE EVER MET

Posted by HG on June 22, 2007

I was 10 years old the first time I met an athlete. My pops had taken me to an N.C. State basketball game, and after the game he got us down to the Wolfpack locker room exit. It was the highlight of my life to that point. I got to stand there, talk to, and get autographs from Sidney Lowe, Derek Whittenburg, Chuck Nevitt, and Jim Valvano. Thurl Bailey slipped out but I’d catch up to him later.

 When I say I got to talk to, I might be slightly overstating it. Lowe and Whittenburg couldn’t have said more than 15 words to me..combined. And I was talking to Chuck Nevitt’s girlfriend more than I was talking to Big Chuck. She was telling me a story about Chuck buying a boat… Jim Valvano talked to me a little bit but the greatest thing about him was his consistency. He kept calling me A.C. instead of H.G. I met him about 10 years later when he was working for ABC and in town to call a Louisville/UCLA game. He kept calling me A.C. instead of H.G.

Since then, through work and dumb luck, I’ve crossed paths with a number of athletes. In the brief time that I’ve talked to any of them, I’ve always wound up with an impression. It’s probably not fair to judge somebody that quickly, but it’s all I get.

10. Bobby Bonilla: I met Bobby at a celebrity golf tournament. I was there as a member of the media, not being a celebrity, obviously. We talked Pirates, he talked cigars, and then we just stood around bullshittin’ for about 5 minutes. People passing by could only assume we had known each other for years.

9. Warren Sapp: 99 could be on the list or off the list. The first time I met him, he was still a Buc and Tampa had just signed Keyshawn. He was more than happy to chop it. He kept reiterating that Key was the key and now they were gonna win the Superbowl. The second time I met him, he was a Raider, and he didn’t have two words for me.

8. Lennox Lewis: I guess knowing you can knock out anybody in the building probably leaves you pretty relaxed. That’s what Lennox was. Real relaxed, real English, but he really didn’t wanna talk about Mike Tyson. He was still boxing at the time, so we mostly talked boxing. We talked a little music and he swore that when he hung up the gloves he was done.

7. Eric Karros: There’s no one time for EK. I met him a couple of times over the years and he was always cool. He didn’t take the business of baseball too seriously, but he loved the game. He always had time to talk baseball, and he’s good for a joke about an opposing team/player.

6. Tracy McGrady: I talked to T-Mac for about 10 minutes at a party. He had just joined the Rockets, which was precluded by rumors of Shaq going to Orlando to be teamed up with McGrady. T-Mac gave me his opinions on why the deal never got done, but said Houston was a good move too. We gm’d on what some of the other teams in the league should do, and he told me the things he was gonna miss most in Orlando. It was just an average conversation between an NBA player and some dude at a party.

5. Thurl Bailey: Meeting him wasn’t as cool as it was sentimental. I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet Thurl without Karl Malone arranging the meeting. We talked N.C. State hoops for a little  bit, and then I asked him to sign the “Go Pack” sheet that had the Valvano, Nevitt, Lowe, and Whittenburg autographs on it. I thought he was gonna cry. You should have seen how that piece of paper took him back in time. It was a great moment, and to this day those are the only 4 5 autographs I have.

4. Lenny Harris/Mike Sharperson/Darryl Strawberry: I went to the worst/best post game barbecue in the early 90s. It was bad because there wasn’t much food, the grill was on somebody’s patio, and there weren’t more than 3 ladies there. Then Lenny, Sharp (R.I.P.), and Strawberry rolled in and things livened up a little. Lenny Harris was in rare form, Sharperson wasn’t sure who they played next (it was Atlanta, and the games were important. The Dodgers were in a pennant race.), and they all wanted to get the hell out of there before Kal Daniels showed up. They were gonna go out on the town for the night and they didn’t wanna drag him around. Kal showed up to everybody’s dismay (I think even me and my buddies by this point). Darryl was cool as could be, and even sought us out before he left to say “nice to meet y’all”. He then got in his black Mercedes, cranked the beat, and bounced. He was dope.

3. Karl Malone and John Stockton: I didn’t meet them together but you can’t have one without the other. I got a chance to do some work with Karl, and I gotta say he pretty much is what you see on tv. A big country dude that prefers a small city and starry nights. He’ll say some shit that will have you dyin’, not neccesarily intentionally, but he was a cool cat.

I met John Stockton after a Jazz/Clippers game. It was weird… The Jazz weren’t in any hurry to get to the bus or anything like that and I ended up standing there, talking, to John Stockton… and Peter Vecsey walks over. It didn’t ruin the conversation I was having with Stockton although it didn’t make it better either. The best part of the conversation was when John was breaking down Utah’s pick and roll, explaining how they have limitless options depending on what the defense does, and basically saying Stockton/Malone= Unstoppable.

2. Chris Webber: I useta go out with a chick that thought Chris Webber was the finest man on the planet. You could call her a C-Webb Stan. When I met Webber, we started off talking basketball, and during the conversation I thought about Ms. C-Webb Stan. Camera phones weren’t around yet, but I did have my trusty recorder that I carried with me everywhere for work purposes. I told Webber that I had a friend that thought he was the biz and asked if he could say something nice to her on tape. He takes the recorder and does 1 minute 30 seconds of telling her how much he’d like to meet her and if things go well they can get married in his backyard. It was some of the funniest shit I had ever heard. As you can guess, she was pretty damn happy with that tape.

1. Derek Fisher: Probably one of the top ten coolest people I’ve ever met. You’d be hard pressed to find somebody with a bad word to say about D-Fish. I’ve met him through work and in social settings and he’s been the same all the time. Cool and down to the Earth.

DIGG IT  *  DEL.ICIO.US  *  REDDIT  *  BALL HYPE

Posted in BOBBY BONILLA, CHRIS WEBBER, COOL ATHLETES, DARRYL STRAWBERRY, DEREK FISHER, ERIC KARROS, JOHN STOCKTON, KARL MALONE, LENNOX LEWIS, LENNY HARRIS, MIKE SHARPERSON, N.C. STATE, THURL BAILEY, TRACY MCGRADY, WARREN SAPP | 2 Comments »

UTAH RAISES THEIR GAME, GOLDEN ST. FOLDS

Posted by HG on May 16, 2007

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Congrats to the Utah Jazz for moving on to the Western conference finals. The Jazz closed their series against Golden State with a 100-87 game five victory. Utah already defeated my Secret team, and now they’ve taken down Cinderella. These are my Utah Jazz highlights from the series:

  •  Derek Fisher showing incredible fortitude and heart after everything he’s been through.
  • Carlos Boozer opening the eyes of the people that didn’t know about him. He was serving people for the second straight series. 
  • Jerry Sloan getting Utah to the Conference finals again. He’s never been coach of the year?!?!
  • Deron Williams playing like a vet. Game 5 notwithstanding.
  • Mehmet Okur, Paul Millsap, Matt Harpring, and Gordon Giricek playing their roles well.
  • Andrei Kirilenko leaving his tears in the first round and causing havoc for Golden State’s offense.

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I don’t know anybody that’s not impressed with Utah. When the Jazz got out to the hot start at the beginning of the season, a lot of people didn’t believe they were for real. I was one of those people. The lack of playoff experience from key players had me thinking Utah would flame out in the playoffs regardless of their record. I admit it… I was wrong. Another thing I was wrong about is Utah’s style of play. I didn’t get to see them too much this season so I assumed they were a slow it down, grind it out type of team. They can play that way, but they just proved in the G. State series that they can run up and down the court too.

As far as Golden State is concerned, what can I say? They pulled off the great upset in round 1, but seemed to be out of gas and definitely over matched in round 2. Baron Davis put the league on notice for next season, and Stephen Jackson proved that the Kings have to trade Artest just to put some miles between Jackson and Ron-Ron. The unfortunate thing is, G. State was in game 5 until they started acting like the 3 point line was an alligator infested moat protected by a 12 foot, 100,000 watt electric fence. I couldn’t believe how the Warriors would stop at the line and jack a three whether they were on a fast break or 1 second into the shot clock. The Warriors need to grow up too. All of the complaining, technical fouls, and cheap shots really put G. State’s nice postseason story in an ugly light.

So again, congrats to the Utah Jazz. The winner of the Suns/Spurs series is going to have it’s hands full in the conference finals.

DIGG IT  *  DEL.ICIO.US  *  REDDIT  *  BALL HYPE

Posted in ANDREI KIRILENKO, BARON DAVIS, CARLOS BOOZER, DEREK FISHER, DERON WILLIAMS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, NBA, NBA PLAYOFFS, SPORTS, STEPHEN JACKSON, UTAH JAZZ, WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS | 2 Comments »

DEREK FISHER A.K.A. MAN

Posted by HG on May 10, 2007

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Game two between Utah and Golden State was more exciting than game one. Deron Williams picked up 2 fouls right before the game tipped off. Dee Brown, Williams’ back-up, was lost in the first quarter to a neck injury when Mehmet Okur fell on him. The Warriors played their uptempo style, led by the increasingly impressive Baron Davis with help from Richardson, Barnes, Harrington, and Jackson (what the hell is up with Monta Ellis?!?). Carlos Boozer continuesto clown Cleveland with his play, and Andrei Kirilenko looks like a completely different player from round 1. It took overtime to decide the game.. Utah came out on top 127-117.

The Jazz fans are doing their best to be a factor in the series, but who’s idea were those powder blue t-shirts? I kept expecting Roy Williams and the Tarheels to take the floor at some point. I don’t know how it goes down in Utah but pastels are not intimidating. I do know Golden St. can’t wait to get home, back to Oakland, back to the bright yellow tees and the craziness of the Oracle.

The game was great, but that’s not the story. The story is Derek Fisher. D-Fish missed game one and arrived at game two late in the 3rd quarter because he was dealing with a family issue. His 10 month old daughter Tatum was suffering from retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer that required a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Tatum had several hours of surgery in New York on Wednesday, and I’m happy to be able to say that the surgery was a success by all accounts. Things went so well that the family travelled back to Utah with baby Tatum Wednesday night.

Derek’s flight landed in Salt Lake City and he was whisked to the game, led by a police escort. He didn’t get a chance to warm-up or anything.. He entered the arena to a standing ovation and went directly to the scorers’ table to check in.

Fisher played great defense down the stretch of the game, and scored all 5 of his points in the extra session. He didn’t have the statistical game of his career but his presence was bigger than anything that happened on the court. Derek couldn’t put the experience into words after the game:

“I don’t know how I got through this tonight. I really don’t. My daughter’s doing very well. We had a successful operation in New York and I flew back, got off the plane, came to the game. I’m speechless.”

I don’t know how he got through it either. If you didn’t feel for Fish watching his post game interview then you’re a robot or completely heartless. It was a tremendous and special moment.

I hope this puts to rest all of the speculation about why Fisher missed game one. I can check a number of things through my blog stats. I can see how many views an individual post gets, I can see what sites link to my blog. I can also check what search engine terms people use to find my site. I was disappointed by these:

  • Derek Fisher suspended
  • Derek Fisher marriages problems
  • Derek Fisher arrest

I hope the people that were expecting the worst of a genuinely good guy feel like jackasses now. The truth is out, the verdict is in, Derek Fisher is a MAN.

Thoughts and prayers to the Fisher family.

Pure Hollywood. Courtesy of ESPN.com True Hoop

Retinoblastoma. Courtesy of Web MD

DIGG IT  *  DEL.ICIO.US  *  REDDIT  *  BALL HYPE

Posted in BARON DAVIS, BASKETBALL, CARLOS BOOZER, DEE BROWN, DEREK FISHER, GAME TWO, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, MONTA ELLIS, NBA, NBA PLAYOFFS, RETINOBLASTOMA, SPORTS, UTAH JAZZ | 2 Comments »

CRUMBLING FROM WITHIN

Posted by HG on April 20, 2007

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Need more proof that the power of positive thinking is helping the Houston Rockets? Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and guard Derek Fisher have traded words through the media, resulting in Miller meeting with the team for 30 minutes after Wednesday’s shootaround. The Rockets first round opponent has some in house fighting going on.. That’s gotta be a good thing. 

Forget for a minute that Larry Miller’s original comments came after a game Sunday, and I didn’t start supporting Houston until yesterday. I’m gonna need you to ignore the part of the story that states both parties have said everything is ok now. Let’s focus on some of the things Derek Fisher had to say after Miller ripped the team.

” … what it’s not time for is peripheral people to have comments about what’s going on in our locker room and questioning who we are as a team. And I don’t really care who that is.”

Well said Mr. Fisher.

Derek admits that he had been biting his tongue for some time:

He made a statement, and I made a statement in response to not only his statement but just overall. It was something I probably wanted to say overall but just held onto it. It was something I just feel is important, and I want everybody to hear that, not just to him, just to Coach (Jerry Sloan) or to the fellas. It was to everybody. That’s important to me.”

Like I said earlier, Miller and Fisher have said everything’s good between them but I don’t believe it. “The Secret” is conspiring to guide the Houston Rockets to the championship by any means necessary. I’m not hoping that any of the Utah Jazz get arrested.. Off court problems are weclome though…

A couple of former Rockets must not know what being positive means or they don’t read my blog. TNT’s Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley might be using the tough love tactic.. It’s just that they sound like they’re being negative.

Chuck and Jet, you guys have the opportunity to inform millions of people about the Rockets trek toward the title. Use your platform to spread the love, don’t start shoveling the dirt. If the Rocket’s and their fans can’t have the support of two of their own, doesn’t that mean that the terrorist Utah Jazz have won?

***The Houston Rockets are a proud franchise. Stop telling me the only reason they won a couple of titles in the 90s is because MJ was playing baseball. I have to go with the history books..The Rockets were absolutely, POSITIVELY, back to back champions in ’94 and ’95. Woulda coulda shoulda whatever.***

Miller apologizes for comments. Thank you Desert News

Barry, Smith, Barkley cutting Rockets no slack. Thank you Houston Chronicle

Walk into the light friend..not away from it. EVERYTHING is right with Houston.

DIGG IT  *  DEL.ICIO.US  *  REDDIT  *  BALL HYPE

Posted in BASKETBALL, CHARLES BARKLEY, DEREK FISHER, HELP ME OUT, HOUSTON ROCKETS, KENNY SMITH, LARRY MILLER, LAW OF ATTRACTION, MISC., NBA, NBA PLAYOFFS, PLAYOFFS, SPORTS, TEAM MEETING, THE SECRET, TNT, UTAH JAZZ | Leave a Comment »