Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kobe + Lebron doesn't equal Jordan, period

I had to add some very direct, even blunt force, with the title of this blog entry.

Now that the NBA Finals and NBA free agency are about to begin, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are all over Sportscenter. The main two questions are " Will Kobe win his 5th championship ring in his quest to better Michael Jordan's 6 championships in the 90s?" and "Where will Lebron go to try and earn his 1st ring, or will he stay in Cleveland?"

I usually stay out of this subject as to whom's better, Kobe, Lebron, or Jordan, simply because sports fanatics get very sensitive about it. This leads to long, drawn-out arguments, and folks throwing out stats left and right like they are statistics professors at Harvard. Well, with the hype going on this year and seeing the discussions a little too much, I had to come forward with my thoughts.

All three are great players, and will go down as some of the greatest players in NBA history. However, neither Kobe nor Lebron are the type of player Jordan was, gave to the NBA like he did, etc, etc. And I'm going to explain why, and I will even spare you all many of the mind-boggling stats folks like to use.

OK let's start with Lebron James. First of all, he may be the overall best athlete to ever play in the NBA outside of maybe Kareem, Wilt, or even Magic. The things he can do for his team, the shots and dunks he makes are amazing, and his character isn't perfect but it's not an apparent put-on. In 2007, Lebron took a team of also-rans to the championship against the San Antonio Spurs. They were swept in 4 games but the fact that he pretty much did it all says so much about his character and ability. He has also led his past two teams to 60+ win seasons and #1 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Lebron has worn Jordan's famed "23" since middle school, but has decided to give that up next season, whether or not he leaves the Cavs. He has been notable since his junior year at St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School in Akron, OH when his high-school team was nationally ranked and beating the bejesus out of everyone they faced around the country. I highly recommend that ANY basketball fan check out the newly-released documentary "More Than A Game" based on Lebron and his teammates, 3 of which he played with since 11 years of age. Lebron hasn't had the team around him necessary to win a championship ring, plus he still has plenty of time. Plenty of champions, such as Jordan and Kevin Garnett, didn't win a championship until later in their career and after they were surrounded by teammates and a coach capable of winning this championship.

Now we have Kobe Bryant. As a person, I do not care for him for many reasons. He's arrogant, thinks he's above the law, and tries to make his team all about him. With the exception of the latter, none of these apply to his skills on the court. Bar-none, Kobe is the BEST in the league RIGHT NOW. Lebron is the better athlete but Kobe is the best player. He shoots well, scores high, brings his A-game nightly, and has that killer instinct that allows him to rise to the occasion in the BIG games. Lebron has yet to display this. Kobe has 4 rings, and could have a 5th one in the next couple of weeks. Kobe has groomed himself since birth into becoming the consummate NBA player, being the son of former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. Kobe chose Jordan to model himself after. He had a VHS collection of Jordan's games, drills, techniques, etc. Kobe's comparisons became stronger after the rape allegation in 2003. He changed his number from #8 to #24, and he shaved his trademark afro into a bald-cut like Jordan. He started even talking like Jordan during post-game interviews and chewing his gum like him, etc. Kobe-haters and Jordan-lovers have more reason to hate now. Instead of trying to become his own player and himself, Kobe wants to be Jordan. He has surpassed Jordan in many areas of the game statistically, and can actually do things on the court better than Jordan. But guess what, he's still not better than Jordan. No way!

Michael Jordan came into the NBA and didn't immediately take it by storm. However, the things he accomplished are undeniable. 6 NBA championships in 8 years, numerous MVP awards, scoring titles, big endorsements, jersey sales, and his trademark "Air Jordan" sneakers to name a few. Jordan became the face of basketball, even making others forget about those before himself. Granted, Jordan didn't have to deal with as much adversity as Kobe or Lebron, or things such as the hand-check rule, the Internet, bloggers such as myself, message boards, etc. Still, he was the BEST.

Michael Jordan is the BEST NBA player not necessarily in stats, games won, NBA titles, etc. He is the best because he was a pioneer, an originator. Like Michael Jackson, Muhammed Ali, or Babe Ruth, he has that timeless character and image that is often imitated but never duplicated. He just wanted to be (and became) his own man. You can't compare Kobe, Lebron and Jordan at day's end because they are all 3 DIFFERENT basketball players, and different men. Jordan had the famous sneakers, was the role model and the face of the NBA, and made not only the black basketball player but the superstar athlete exist. Most of the things Kobe and Lebron are doing have already been done. They are simply attempting to break records. Both of these young men need to focus on being their own player and person. Lebron's made a huge leap towards that by giving up #23. Kobe, on the other hand, is still determined to beat all of Jordan's records. It is a generational thing also. Many of the 20 and under crowd didn't watch Jordan like myself and my friends did. They watch Kobe and Lebron, so that's what they see and know. Therefore, Jordan cannot be the best for this generation. He is simply the greatest in the NBA for his intangibles that NO other player, before or after, cannot and will not bring. Kobe can win 10 NBA rings and it won't matter. Lebron can sign with the Bulls, play for Phil Jackson, wear #23, and win a few rings also. It won't matter because THEY ARE NOT MICHAEL JORDAN! They do not have his heart, his teammates, circumstances, etc. They are Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, period, and everyone should focus on this.

I'm sure Jordan is one of few folks that agrees that this is one sleeping dog that folks should let lie. Based on my criterion of character, intangibles, sneakers, and circumstances, Jordan did it first and BETTER than anyone else ever in the NBA. Kobe and Lebron have and will continue to do great things in the NBA. However, this is Kobe and Lebron doing this.

I await all comments, phone calls, text messages, FB posts, tweets, etc regarding this subject. I have wanted to say most of this for a while, but didn't know how to until a couple of weeks ago. Once again, these are my criteria. Based on your criteria, Larry Bird could be the NBA's best. Remember this is only my blog, not an official government proclamation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Good Ole Capri Theatre

Watching movies is a hobby of mine, whether renting them or going to the theater.  This love for the big screen cinema began as a child when I started going to the famed Capri Theatre in downtown Gaffney, SC.

The Capri was one of the vintage Mom and Pop operations. Back in elementary school, every time school was out for a holiday or a teacher workday, the school would give out free tickets for students to see movies at the Capri. They called it "The School's Out Special". My mom loved taking myself, my brother, and often some of our cousins and friends. I looked forward going to the movies then as it was often the only time we would go. 

Movie theatres have evolved so much now, offering THX sound, stadium seating, 3D screens and other features. They have become very corporate and therefore expensive. You can easily spend $25-$40 for a night at the movies. The Capri was very simple: cheap to free for admission, the cheapest concessions, and a couple of arcade machines. There was something special about that theatre that had a balcony open only for special occasions. It had history, represented a more innocent time in my life. It showed how small businesses can be a beacon to the local community, and then become obsolete when a larger corporate brand comes to town (i.e., Gaffney Entertainment). Granted I like Gaffney Entertainment a lot. It just doesn't give me that simple, nostalgic feel that the Capri provided.

I remember the FINAL time I went to the Capri. It was in summer 2006 and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl. I felt like a child again, sitting in that theater.  It lacked the elements of the big time theaters, but that mattered not to me.  I enjoyed myself. 

Present-day, the Capri is open for local concert performances, open mics and special events.  It is now called the Capri On Main.  No newly released movies play in this theatre anymore. I have actually been to Capri On Main and it’s nice.  I like how they have remodeled the place and have given it some more flare. However, it’s not quite the same feeling that the movie theater aspect gave me.

Also, when I was younger, the Capri was NOT just a building or a theater. It was a good way to relax on a day off, bonding with family and friends, and simply enjoying a movie without all of the frills and whistles that enhance today's movies.   Those were indeed good times, simpler times. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smartphones: Blackberry, iPhone, and Android

Smartphones are the latest new hot gadgets to have. It is no longer good enough to just have a cell phone, or even a cell phone with a full keyboard with unlimited texting, 3G internet, picture mail, etc. Having one of the many smartphones on the market that allow different apps, games, email accounts, etc is a must-have for many consumers. Many of these smartphones make it unnecessary for one to use a traditional computer as often. I'm gonna discuss 3 of the most popular and proven smartphone brands: Blackberry, iPhone, and Android.


I currently own a Blackberry Curve so I realize I am biased in this analogy. Therefore, I based this discussion on research I conducted prior to deciding on a Blackberry, and on opinions and facts from others I know. The Blackberry is currently the #1 selling smartphone on the market, and the most business practical. It was previously behind Palm in terms of organization and business-use. However, it became more user-friendly for the general user in late 2007 and has since boomed in popularity. The Blackberry Messenger (BBM) app is one of the more popular apps, as it allows one to keep in contact with other Blackberry users, irregularless of the Blackberry model they may own (Pearl, Curve, Storm, or Tour). Blackberry messaging also doesn't take away from your text message usage, and is more advanced than traditional texting. It's also easy to do a conference with very little delays, and some BBs are international. Having access to up to 10 different email accounts at once is a major positive as well. BBs have more apps than ever now, especially with the App World app that lists all of the free and paid apps. Some of my favorite apps include BBM, UberTwitter, Facebook, Poynt, and Pandora. It is now possible to personalize your BB for recreational use. Many complaints, outside of the app selection, are that BBs are "disposable" and crash very often. This can be true, esp if you use too much of your data, don't back your phone up regularly, etc. Companies do offer significant discounts on BBs, and EVERY major cell phone carrier has the Blackberry. The trackball on the Curve and Tour has also caused problems, users complaining of them getting stuck. Nonetheless, I still love my Blackberry, although I've only owned mine for two months.


The iPhone has been out for 5 years now and there has been several upgrades but the basic iPhone is still in place. AT&T is currently the only carrier that offers the iPhone so you have to be an AT&T customer to own one. There have been many complaints about AT&T service, often comparing it to Sprint (those that know me know my feelings towards Sprint mobile). Nevertheless, the iPhone is considered a dream of a smartphone, particularly for Apple lovers. They have almost any app known to man, plus the many capabilities of the iPod Touch. It is purely touchscreen, which is a positive if you are a fan of touchscreen phones. It is very much a recreational phone, although it can be used for business as well. iPhones also have uStream, and you can have live video chats with other iPhone and even Droid users. However, the iPhone isn't even as durable as many BBs or Droids, and replacing them is a much greater chore. The Internet on the iPhone is superb however, waay moreso than a BB. In my opinion, however, the iPhone is more for the casual user and doesn't have the business capabilities of a BB. One of my friends that despises BBs was making the joke that BBs are basically kiddie phones and that a toy company such as Fisher-Price should distribute them. To me, you could possibly make that same argument for iPhones. I mean, the apps, music and games are great. But how many apps and games does one adult really need? Also, the iPhone battery is built-in, until BBs and Droids. If the battery goes bad, you often have to replace the entire phone.


The Android, Droid, etc. is the hottest new commodity in the smartphone market. Microsoft and Google were NOT going to be out-done in this arena, so they have created a variety of phones capable of competing with the BB and iPhone. HTC, Samsung and Motorola are the main distributors for Droid phones, and they are available on every carrier. In a sense, Droids are the PC-answer to the iPhones. They also have several apps, many of them are free where they are not on the BB. The Internet, video, and uStream are superb as well. Many Droids have the options for the virtual and the traditional keyboards on the same phone. Droids also do not crash as often as BBs, and are typically faster on running apps and such than BBs or iPhones. Just like the iPhone, if you're a fan of Apples and Macs, the Droid is a great option if you're a huge Microsoft fan. Droids have definitely taken smartphones to the next level. They're not as proven as BBs or iPhones in my mind but they are definitely on their way

Basically, whichever phone you decide to end up with (or stay with) is merely a matter of personal preferences. I have my reasons for why I chose my Blackberry, and that is that. I don't condemn anyone for their choices. I ask that folks keep an open mind, and look at the advantages/disadvantages of each phone. Some phones have many negatives, and need waay more "cowbell" than the next phone. However, I truly believe there is a smartphone out there for every gadget junkie. Question is, which one is it for you?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My mother, Debbie Lanier

Today is Mother's Day, so it's only fitting I talk about my mother, Debbie Lanier, and why she is so special to me. She is my mother, best friend, hero, counselor, role model, and inspiration.

My mom was a single parent, raising myself and my brother on her own with the help of my grandmother. She had to be very strong in playing both parental roles. She cherished (and still does) her time with her kids. She truly takes her role as a mother serious, and kids are a top priority to her. She may not have been rich, educated, or famous, but she had the biggest heart and cared as much (if not more) than any mother I know.

My mom has believed in me, even when others didn't or doubted and criticized me. She has supported me, even when I have made some crazy decisions and did some dumb things. She has loved me unconditionally. She is proud of me when I excel, and when I fail.

Growing up, I wasn't the most social person. I didn't have a lot of friends, was picked on frequently for a number of reasons. I could always count on my mom to take care of business and not let anyone disrespect me, or even talk to when I was having problems. She has a good intuition for reading folks and can usually see when someone is up to no good. It seemed like she stayed up at the school for a number of years due to students picking on me and/or teachers doing things she didn't agree with it. She is very dedicated to what she does.

She's also extremely tough. I've seen her endure sooo much pain throughout her life that would make the average person perish. She's had nervous breakdowns in her life, lost both of her parents, her son (my younger brother Adam), and several other loved ones in her life. She's experienced extreme poverty and discrimination and hasn't always been treated well by other men. She's currently going through what will be an ugly divorce. Nevertheless, she will come through it strong like she always does. Her faith in the Lord, along with prayers from others, is what keeps her the strongest and dries her tears.

She's also very protective, which used to drive us crazy growing up. She wouldn't let us play unless we were in her sight, she would screen a friend's parents carefully before we could go visit, and nobody except our grandmother would babysit us. She is very old-school and traditional, and goes with what works for her. She's always been her own woman and could care less what others think about her ways.

My mom's not perfect of course. She's a huge homebody, rarely will leave her house except to go to the doctor, grocery store, etc. She will not even go out to eat on occasions such as Mother's Day and her birthday. I accept her for who she is, flaws and all. That's how it should be.

Mom always wanted the best for me and my brother. She never pressured or pampered us; she was just there in spirit and encouraged us to reach for the stars.

Many may accuse me of being a "mama's boy" and this and that. It's difficult to understand the relationship that my mom and I have. It's a special one, one filled with love and mutual respect. She speaks her mind, but at the end of the day, I do what I want to do as a grown man. I don't try to embarrass or disgrace Mom. At the same time, I do me and she respects that.

I show my love, honor, and respect for my Mom every chance I get. Mother's Day is special, and I definitely make it all about her on this day as it should be. But to me, every day should be Mother's Day, especially for what she's done for me and the sacrifices she's made throughout my life for myself and others.

I'm grateful to have a mother as wonderful as she is. She's been great, and it will be a sad day when she passes on to meet the Lord. However, she has taught me the inner strength to be able to deal with the tough times and tragedies. I love you Mom, Happy Mother's Day, and I hope our bond always stays this strong.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Anti-Coonery: Views against BET, Tyler Perry, and other entertainment that degrade folks of color

This is a subject that has been on my mind for a long, long time. I talk about it regularly, and do what I can to fight against it. Coonery, what I feel is a disease not only to black people but to folks worldwide.

Coonery can be defined as "buffoonery", "showing negative stereotypes" and simply "foolery". Exploiting stereotypes in black folks can be entertaining but also degrading. Is that how black folks want to be viewed, or any person? We have come waaay too far as a society and a world for us to be taking steps backwards. Times changes, and we have to change with those times. There must be progress.

Then there's BET. Ugggghh, BET was once a good network to watch, featuring Teen Summit, Rap City, and various other programs that enhance and displayed black folks in a positive light and addressed relevant issues. Present-day 2010, BET shows little to any substance in their programming. They do have Sunday's Best, reruns of the prematurely-canceled program The Game to boast of. However, you cannot tell me with a straight face that 106 and Park, Tiny and Toya, and the rest of this lineup is how black folks want to be seen and represent. BET partners with a declining, music industry to form one huge joke on television. BET was created by Bob and Sheila Johnson for positive reasons and to be the beacon and voice for Black people. Over the years, that has not happened. Check out this link to see what Sheila Johnson thinks of her creation now Many of the programming on BET looks bootlegged, cheap, and second-rate. The commercials and sponsors are fast-food franchises such as McDonalds and KFC. Many blacks suffer from high-blood pressure and diabetes due to fast food, and this does not help the cause at all. BET supporters will say things such as "it's the only network that represents me, who I am" and "It's just showing them living their lives and progressing as Black folks in America" and my personal fave "We need to support BET. If we do not, who will. It is us on the screen". Now, wait just a minute! First of all, TV One exists. Although TV One still in 2010 isn't available on many cable networks, is still a quality, positive network. They address the relevant issues and show positive programming. Second, I have no obligation as a person of color to support ANYTHING negative or of poor quality. Granted, BET is owned by Viacom, the same folks that produce MTV and VH-1. It is also true that MTV and VH-1 feature a large amount of coonery as well, which is true. It seems like the programs along the three networks mirror each other in many ways (reality-TV programs with black celebrities acting a fool, degrading females, etc). However, BET is supposed to be the voice, image, and beacon for Black folks. It must do better. TV One has gotten this memo loud and clear.

We have Tyler Perry in our society now. Billionaire actor, movie director, and playwright. He started off well with his stage plays and movies. Now the quality of his movies (even his most recent release "Why Did I Get Married Too) have slipped. Tyler has given Black folks plenty of opportunities to be seen and jobs they wouldn't normally be able to land in other studios, movies, etc. However, his movies, plays and TV shows all have the common, foolish, stereotypical themes. Two of these main characters are the Madea and Leroy Brown characters. These characters will have you thinking (although we all know folks like them exist) that it is ok to break the law continuously, use violence and guns to get your point across, and to act stupid 24/7. Black folks have to be portrayed better in entertainment overall. They should be portrayed in more diverse roles as teachers, lawyers, doctors, rather than pimps, whores, hustlers, and crooked ministers. While TP does cover this pretty well, he still shows the same storyline and stereotypes for pretty much every production he does. Here's a sample format: Male/female is down on their luck, in an abusive relationship. Enter Madea. This person finds refuge from the church, people break out into praise and spirituals. More Madea. Person meets a good mate. More Madea. More spirituals and praising. Person and mate get married. The End. Terence Howard was once quoted as saying "The only thing missing from a TP production is Blackface" Interesting.

Now I'm not hating on TP's success and what he has done in helping Blacks land roles they couldn't normally be able to land or gain exposure that would have been more difficult otherwise. However, these actors have to show diversity once their foot is in the door. If they continue to play the same tired roles from TP's films, they will always be typecast in that particular role and their careers may not flourish in the way that a Denzel, Will or Halle has. I'm sure they also don't want to continue landing roles in films such as Booty Call, Soul Plane, and Next Day Air.

The deal is we want to have entertainment where we are not a joke, aren't being laughed at. We want to be laughed with. That's at least what Dave Chappelle thought when he left at the height of his success. Comedy Central was trying to change up his show and have him go against his creativity and principles. Chappelle saw how comedians before himself such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock had taken major roles in blockbuster busts and ended up looking foolish. Dave wasn't going out like that. He wasn't gonna star in another movie such as The Toy, Pluto Nash, or Down To Earth. Many, many folks thought Chappelle had flipped his lid and flew over the cuckoo's nest. Did he, or was he the only sane person at Comedy Central?

The state of music (particularly hip-hop) has become a joke as well. Now artists such as Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and Wocka Flocka Flames are being taken seriously as hip-hop musicians. Their music may be fine to dance and party to. However, their lyrics and songs suggest ignornace, hustling, flossing, and overall irresponsibility. Rappers such as Lupe Fiasco, Black Thought, and 9th Wonder have proven you can be rap and have intelligence at the same time. However, many radio stations do not view this as entertainment, bringing in money and entertainment.

That's right, now coonery is entertainment. Do we REALLY want Gucci Mane, BET, etc to REALLY be considered top-notch entertainment.

Tonight the cartoon The Boondocks returned to Adult Swim after a two year hiatus. The Boondocks is considered quality TV and anti-coonery for numerous reasons. One is they show the problems and stereotypes often represented in society. They show why they're bad, however, and how and why black folks should be represented positively. Some consequences and scenarios (unemployment, ignorance, poverty, etc) are also showed as result of foolish and coonish behavior. Characters such as Uncle Ruckus also show that there are Blacks who hate the skin they are in and do everything they can to denounce their race. In short, The Boondocks is trying to be part of the solution and not the problem. They show intelligence, real-life relevant issues, while playing mostly quality music and hip-hop. It's enlightening material. They also regularly rip on many of the things aforementioned in this blog, such as BET, Tyler Perry, and Soul Plane.

Coonery is NOT entertainment in any form people, it's degrading, dangerous, and sickening. One has to think when they look at coonery and think is that how they really want to be represented and portrayed. I certainly hope not. We have come to far as a human race and a world. Everyone needs to do better and start becoming part of the solution instead of the problem. We need to do what's right, rather than what's popular, trendy, and makes you the most money.