Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nowitzki All Time Great?

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Early on this season, Dirk Nowitzki passed Hakeem Olajuwon as the highest scoring international player in NBA history. That was certainly an outstanding feat, and many people have used that feat as an opportunity to crown him as the best foreign NBA player ever. The question is, where does he actually rank?

The 1st thing a person needs to do is define what exactly constitutes a foreign NBA player. Guys like Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Tim Duncan were all born outside of the United States, and that trio could all give Nowitzki a run for his money if you are comparing NBA careers. However, many people rule all three of those guys out of the discussion because they played college basketball in the United States, and all three also wore Team USA colors in the Olympics.

Nowitzki crafted his skills in Germany, and he is a true European player by every definition. He was one of the 1st big men to play mostly on the perimeter, and he represented Germany in several international competitions as well. Since entering the NBA after being traded during the draft to the Dallas Mavericks, he has been their franchise player for practically the entire time.

There are some people who feel like Nowitzki has a few more years left in the tank. With the way the Dallas Mavericks have started the year this season, it is not out of the question that he is able to pick up another NBA championship after winning at all in 2011. That would just add to his case of being not only the best international player in NBA history, but perhaps the most important as well. He has inspired countless other players from Europe to hone their skills and feel like they have an opportunity to play at the highest level. Remember, it was not always a given that a European player could actually have success in the NBA.

By strict definition of a foreign-born player, Nowitzki would have a hard time passing Olajuwon. Duncan is from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and he would probably have an edge as well. Guys such as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Yao Ming are the ones Nowitzki should really be compared to. When it comes to those names, he has stood out in fantasy basketball above the rest. Factor in his NBA Championship, and he is the best true foreign player the league has ever seen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Live Mascot For Browns Hopes To Change Culture

A guest article, written by: Grant Helena

The Cleveland Browns have not exactly having a lot of success in recent years in the NFL. With that being said, there is plenty of optimism heading into the 2014 season. They have a pretty solid draft, and they were able to add some pieces through free agency as well. However, most people seem to be very excited about adding a new live mascot, “Swagger” the Bullmastiff.

Even though they are nicknamed the Browns, Cleveland has always had a connection to dogs. The eastern seating section at their home field is known as the Dawg Pound, and there are even fans who dress up as dogs to support the Cleveland Browns. This might seem more like a college football thing to do, but Cleveland is hoping to just improve the game day experience as much as possible.

There is increased focus on the Cleveland Browns this year now that they have added one of the most polarizing figures in quite some time in Johnny Manziel. It comes as no surprise that after all the moves they have made this year, they are in a way trying to reinvent themselves. Manziel might not start right away, but he is definitely a big part of their future at this point in time. They also added fantasy football standout Ben Tate to be their new starting running back, and if Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon (if eligible) can stay healthy, they have a formidable offense going into the year.

At the end of the day, having a live mascot is probably not going to make that much of a difference. However, it just goes to show that Cleveland is ready to put their past behind them and have new success with the direction the franchise is going. Adding a little bit of “Swagger” to the sidelines could be just what this team needs.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

*Super Bowl Sunday*

It was meant to be a day of joy. Or hatred. Depending on how The Big Game played out in your team's favor that evening.

But those superficial emotions meant for a silly game gave way to genuine sadness at a moment's notice, when I awoke to the news of my favorite actor's death on a Sunday morning that had felt just like any other.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: 1967 - 2014

I first heard of the news via an unreliable post on Facebook. Considering this is the day and age of fake celebrity deaths on the Internet (an odd era, to say the least), I spent the next 30 minutes doing my best to disprove what, I had hoped, was the nastiest of rumors.

But I lost that battle worse than Denver would go on to lose the Super Bowl later that night.

I can't imagine the list being very long, of people who I've never actually met in person, who's news of their death would result in tears pouring down my cheeks. Maybe an athlete or two. A select few other actors. It's hard to project, really. Alas, there they were, tangible feelings of sadness.

The most comparable death in my lifetime was Chiefs LB Derrick Thomas. I don't remember crying at all that day, but I also heard the news while at school, in 8th grade (where you'll do everything in your power to fight them off).

The fact that Hoffman could have such a strong impact on me emotionally, simply by pretending to be somebody else on screen for 90-to-however many minutes Magnolia is, should tell you how highly I regarded him as a person.

What separated Hoffman from his acting peers was his humility, versatility, and passion for his chosen profession.

Some actors give off the impression they are acting for the fame, or the fortune, or both. Not that I blame them in any way. That's both the main objective of a job along with one hell of a perk. But it's not exactly endearing. Atleast, not in my opinion.

With Hoffman, you could tell he treasured the art of his profession. How? Well, for one, he was a regular stage actor. Those are the bare bones of acting. On stage. Live audience. Grinding away night after night. I've heard countless people refer to him as an "actor's actor" over the past 48 hours, which is a very fitting tribute.

On screen, nothing was off limits for Hoffman, who originally made a name for himself as a supporting actor, taking on such "oh yeah, that guy" roles in classic films such as Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski and Almost Famous.

Not to mention, his scene/movie-stealing performances in lesser-acclaimed movies like Twister, Punch Drunk Love and Along Came Polly. I mean, The Man introduced "shart" to American pop culture. Where would we be as a species without that?

PSH took on characters ranging from a religious cult leader, to the manager of the Oakland A's, to the villain in Mission: Impossible III, to his lone Oscar winning performance as troubled author, Truman Capote.

He actually got to play the cool, preppy guy for once, in The Talented Mr. Ripley, as opposed to being the fat, dorky schlub in countless other films. He dominated both ends of the spectrum.

He excelled as the lead role in independent films such as The Savages, Happiness, Synecdoche, New York and Jack Goes Boating (his lone directing credit), probably my favorite type of films to watch him in.

Shit, he even got to fulfill the biggest fantasy of all, banging it out with Marisa Tomei in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (you're gonna want to click that link, gentlemen).

And yet, it wasn't just the way he carried himself on screen, but off screen, too. In my opinion, there is no greater quality a human being can possess than genuine humility.

In watching coverage yesterday, I was overcome by the numerous stories from different neighbors talking about how Phil would walk his kids to school every day. There he was, the most fantastic of actors, walking his children to school just like any everyday man.

He also lived in an apartment. I'm not going to pretend to know the details of his residence, nor his actual salary, but that comes off as very modest to me.

Unfortunately, that is where this tragic tale reaches its conclusion.

After reportedly being sober for 22 years, Hoffman entered rehab sometime last year with a heroin problem. It came as an absolute shock to me at the time. Granted, most of my experience with smack comes from assorted characters on The Wire, and needless to say, he was nothing like them.

I believe Jim Carrey summed it best, "For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much."

"The noise."

I choose to believe Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn't struggling, or hurting, at the time of his death, but just needed a little help. We all need a little help getting by sometimes. I know I do. And who are you, or I, to draw some arbitrary line between what's enough and what's too much. Heroin. Alcohol. Pot. Pills. Even television. We're all numbing ourselves in one way or another.

I hope somebody, someday, is able to tell Phil about the time he hijacked Twitter on Super Bowl freakin' Sunday of all days. Or how respected he was by people who truly love film. Or how he could amaze me, and inspire me, despite never even knowing of my existence.

Or maybe I'll get to tell him myself, on our long journey to the middle.

R.I.P. The Man

His Dirkness

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