Ten years ago on New Year’s Eve, I stood in a hotel room in the Mirage preparing for a night of Las Vegas revelry, a process that consisted for me at age 23 of putting on a flamboyant cream and gold Jordan Brand button-down and drinking Tanqueray out of a water glass. My friends and I had a hip-hop station on the clock radio, and right before we departed for the Strip, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” came on. That was incredibly meaningful for me at that moment, because I felt I was on the verge of something I hadn’t quite figured out yet.
Make no mistake, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m used to being in weird environments. Last year, I helped set the Guinness Record for participating in the largest gathering of zombies. But from a sports perspective, sitting at the Hoophall Classic last week, I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but think the whole thing was pretty perverse.
I still remember like yesterday the day Darryl Strawberry left the Mets for the Dodgers. I was waiting to get a haircut in fifth grade when the news on the television at the barber shop told me Darryl had jumped ship. I melted out of my chair and sank to my knees.
Straw was my first sports love; it was as if my best friend had moved away. (That actually happened a couple years later, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recall it hitting me nearly as hard as losing Darryl.)
Going through that was rough when I was 11, but it was a necessary lesson about two years into being a sports fan: Nothing lasts forever. Players leave, teams change, eras come and go. I eventually came to grips with it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ years later, I even bought a Dodgers Strawberry jersey.
Now somewhat jaded at 32, with Dan Marino and Patrick Ewing and LeBron James the Cavalier in my rearview mirror, this sort of thing honestly doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t faze me anymore. Our teams are inextricable parts of our identities, but the players on them shuttle in and out like friends from various chapters in our lives.
As such, I always just have to shake my head at peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s knee-jerk reactions when a star player leaves for another team. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 12, sure, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crushing blow. But if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been watching sports for any legitimate portion of time, how canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you know by now this is the way it goes?
Charles Oakley said a lot of provocative things in his one-hour media session at K1X on Saturday, most of which have already been printed elsewhere. (IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already heard his take on the current-day Knicks, AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e Stoudemire and Isiah Thomas.) Transcribing an hour of Oak was a bear, but I enjoyed every minute of it, and I wanted to share some more of his comments after the jump, along with my take, after the jump.
I think the best way to ponder our own inevitable passage into physical decline is to watch it happen to those who would seem invincible to such mortal constraints Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and observe how they handle it.
I have what one might consider to be an extensive sports jersey collection, one I continue to cultivate despite the fact that I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have nearly as much occasion to wear them as I used to when I was a few years younger.
Though I work at a sports website, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve attempted in recent years to clean up my act a bit. Inspired by Jay-Z eschewing jerseys, I made a begrudging stop at the Jackson, N.J., Polo outlet the day after my 30th birthday. And even when not at work, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve taken to wearing shirts with buttons, but minus some other guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name emblazoned on the back.
Yet still, wearing a fresh, hard-to-find jersey has never lost that high school cool factor to me, especially during the summer.
I brought with me from my younger years the thrill of the chase for the almighty holy grail. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m speaking of that moment I stumble across a Mark McGwire 1999 Home Run Derby jersey on eBay, something like that, where I never knew it existed but now have to have it. (I did get the McGwire jersey, though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m unsure if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever worn it.)
My most recent grail? an Ohio State jersey with the LeBron James logo on the chest in place of the Nike swoosh.
When you open my apartment door, the first thing you see when you walk in is a poster of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“We Are All WitnessesÃ¢â‚¬Â billboard that stood as a beacon of pride in Cleveland.
I loved that campaign. It encapsulated everything I wanted LeBron James to be.
I watched Bryce Harper go through the motions last Friday night, his attention to detail and serious countenance connoting a longtime veteran of the sport.
I listened as the 18-year-old Harper, sporting a ridiculous mustache, crafted a respectful and droll media presence, relaying with an underlying trace of irony to a group of reporters that he was Ã¢â‚¬Å“trying to get better every dayÃ¢â‚¬Â — repeating that four times in the course of a minute.
A little later, I was down in the tunnel talking baseball with Hagerstown hitting coach Marlon Anderson when I heard a bit of commotion coming from the visitorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ clubhouse. I looked over as a shirtless and smirking Bryce Harper emerged from the clubhouse, pointed at a teammate and hollered, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Better be careful, or that bagÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna be gone when you get back.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This was the Bryce Harper IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been waiting to see all night.
Kobe Bryant sat on stage at Foot Locker on 34th Street in New York City on Friday night, his congenial nature thinly veiling his inherent razor-sharp focus, which had been on full display at Madison Square Garden just an hour beforehand.
Make no mistake: Though Kobe was relaxed and enjoying himself while entertaining and inspiring his young fans, his drive to succeed in all aspects of his career was on full display at Foot Locker UnlockedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s event to promote the release of the Nike Kobe VI Supreme/Rice.
As I sat in the MCI Center and watched LeBron James in the 2003 Jordan Capital Classic, his final game as a high schooler, I fantasized that the next time IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d watch him play live would be at Madison Square Garden.
And heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be wearing Knicks blue and orange.
The Knicks, of course, did not win the 2003 Draft lottery — they only had a 1.5 percent shot at the No. 1 pick. I held out some hope for the magical Summer of 2010, but LeBron infamously decided that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not about saving franchises.
So though it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite the way I imagined it, after eight years, I decided it was finally time to go see LeBron at the Garden.