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Date archive for: January 2014

Blake Griffin: Leveling Up

In the ongoing discussion focused around Blake Griffin and just how good he may or may not be, I present exhibit “A” (originally a gif, but it was taking too long to load so just click play; you won’t regret it):

Besides LeBron James, what other big guy comes even remotely close to being able to do this? THAT’s a POWER forward!

Seerat Sohi and Zach Lowe recently put up a couple of great pieces at ClipperBlog and Grantland respectively. You should check them out to get an expanded, and well-written breakdown of what makes Blake Griffin a special player.

As for my thoughts on the matter, well, they’re a little biased seeing as how I root for the Clippers. In spite of that, however, what cannot be taken away is the amount of progress that we’re seeing from Blake – improved shooting and free-throw percentage, increased handles, smarter decisions while airborne and a maturity of the desire to win above all else.

I left the following comment on Seerat’s piece, so instead of re-writing it here, I thought I’d just quote myself—that’s right, quote myself. #DontHate

…Blake Griffin, has shown tremendous improvement in key areas that afflicted his effectiveness last season, especially as of late.

In addition to an ever-improving midrange shot and Crawfordesque handles, Blake has begun to focus on defenders’ weaknesses instead of relying merely on his strengths. In exploiting those weakness, whether they emanate from a defender’s lack of speed, strength or IQ, Blake is transcending beyond just a highlight player.

Griffin even implemented the scoop into his game this season. More often than not he’s finishing plays with a finger-roll instead of violently attempting to throw it down while we hold our breaths.

As bummed as I was to see Chris Paul go down, it’s allowed the development of Griffin even more. Big ups to the young man! May he develop that Swiss army knife of skills even more!

#CountIt

It’s like the beast is finally self-aware. Not only will you be immortalized if you get in his way after takeoff, now you run the risk of looking silly and lost if he’s running the point.

How do you feel about Blake Griffin’s improvements? Are you still a hater? Or do you think he could one day occupy the title of “Best Power Forward in the game”?  Sound off!

Clippers Dunk Lines – A Pregame Tradition

The L.A. Clippers have developed a reputation for lobs and high-flying dunks.

In what’s become part of their preparation, the Clippers pregame dunk lines allow players to get loose physically and mentally.

What surprised me from the video below was the physical capabilities of Willie Green—a player we normally see as a disciplined and focused shooter and defender. Here we get a glimpse of another side of his game which we don’t often see.

As we all know, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are the most physically gifted athletes on this team, and their dunking abilities easily outshine the rest of the crew. However, instead of pushing teammates away with their gifts, they have instilled encouragement for a part of the game which amplifies in-game excitement.

These warm-up exercises end up translating into on-the-court mentality. Whether it’s Blake Griffin pulverizing anyone who dares get in his path or J.J. Redick throwing one down, dunking is part of who the Clippers have become and a highly enjoyable aspect of why they’re fun to watch.

Video courtesy of Madelyne Burke & the Los Angeles Clippers.

Photo of the Day: LeBron James Performs to Jodeci

It wasn’t long ago that LeBron James and his preoccupation with what others thought of him dominated the NBA landscape.

With two championships under his belt, however, LeBron James no longer takes himself too seriously. This new iteration of LeBron is much more charismatic even while attempting to perform to Jodeci’s “Come Talk to Me.”

The picture below is courtesy of James himself, and he posted it along with a description of the event:

Me performing my solo “Come Talk To Me” by Jodeci with @chrisbosh & @dwyanewade at “Battioke”. What an great event Shane and I wanna say thanks to u and Heidi for allowing myself and @mrs_savannahrj for being apart of it.

More pics from our Jodeci performance from tonight. @dwyanewade @chrisbosh #Battioke #WeLookBelievableThough

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Another Heartbreaking Loss for the 49ers

By now, there are probably thousands of articles about the 49ers loss to the Seattle Seahawks in yesterday’s NFC Championship game.

I think of the many stories floating out there, this quick snippet from Peter King is the one that will stick with me until next season:

One more note from the NFC: Second straight season San Francisco lost driving for a touchdown on its final offensive play of the season, with Colin Kaepernick lofting one high into the right corner of the end zone for Michael Crabtree, who, both times, strained for the ball about six yards deep in the end zone near the sideline stripe. Incomplete, intercepted. Last year Baltimore in the Super Bowl, this year Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. What a cruel bummer of a coincidence.

Peter King, MMQB

The Power of A Soccer Ball: The One World Futbol Project

To use the idea of sport to resolve conflicts, teach tolerance and equality, and help kids recover from trauma. — Tim Jahnigen

What if you could help bring joy through donating something as simple as a ball?
What if you could help bring joy through donating something as simple as a ball?

Every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we run into partnerships that speak to us and some of our deepest passions.

This morning I ran into a Mashable article about a seemingly indestructible soccer ball that was making its way to remote areas of the world where it is most needed. Areas where the harsh conditions of terrain or geopolitics have a way of flattening hope as often as they flatten balls.

The idea of creating a durable soccer ball came to Tim Jahnigen after watching, and being moved by, a news clip about children refugees in Darfur. The children, in order to enjoy the simple pleasure of playing soccer, would improvise with trash and twine and innovate a make-shift soccer ball.

Bourne out of the simple passion of sport, the clip motivated Jahnigen to pursue a solution to the problem through creating a new type of ball that wouldn’t flatten.

Although, Jahnigen personally lacked the resources to bring his idea to life, his vocation as a music producer provided him access to someone who would help the concept become reality: Sting.

Together they brought vision to life and created a ball made “of injection-molded, closed-cell foam, similar to the material used to make Crocs shoes.”  The ball is “virtually indestructible, can’t be deflated, doesn’t get waterlogged and is made to survive.”

Check out the story in their own words:

In addition to the many organizations that the project has already collaborated with, the cause found a major brand willing to partner with One World: Chevrolet. The major car company has committed itself to donating 1.5 million One World Futbol Project balls over the span of three years.

Chevrolet even created an entire micro-site and social media presence devoted solely to promoting and tracking their collaboration with this project.

Naturally, a brand partaking in such a cause does have inherent interests that extend beyond “just doing good.” Additionally, the One World Futbol project is classified as a B Corp, and not strictly a non-profit. This means that although there is a genuine cause at the heart of this operation, there is a product being sold (as well as costs associated with that product).

Still, this should not detract from the value that a simple soccer ball brings to kids that are lucky enough to play because of it, nor from the efforts associated with this campaign via Chevrolet FC. In fact, I commend them highly for choosing this specific cause because it speaks to me personally.

As a kid, I grew up in a Latin American country where we used to save up what little money we had as kids (pennies and quarters really), in order to purchase an extremely cheap plastic ball full of air that would get punctured and go flat almost immediately. Our solution to this problem was to cut the ball in half, fill it with dirt, and tape it back up – this extended the life of the ball and enriched our childhood days.

I didn’t live in a conflict area but there was enough poverty among us to relate to the heart-breaking joy I see in some of the photos or videos hosted on the One World Futbol Project website.

For those of you fortunate enough to be able to donate to a cause, the One World Futbol Project donates one soccer ball for every soccer ball purchased through their website; or you can just donate a ball if you don’t need one.  Check this page for details.

A simple soccer ball brings communal good and individual joy that stays with us through the years. Trust me, I’ll never forget how happy we were kicking around a ball made of dirt and plastic.

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