The Grind

It may seem like teenagers are complaining when we say we don’t get enough sleep, or the schoolwork is too much. But to dismiss it entirely as laziness, without looking at any statistics, is textbook juvenoia.

I – and I’m sure most bright, young people would agree – don’t think the actual mental work is that difficult. Sure, there’s new concepts that take some time to get used to, but all in all it’s fine. The crucial problem lies in the workload and amount of things to do within a 24 hour day, while also maintaining a human-like level of sleep.

It’s not necessarily bad to the point that after a day or two, or even a week, people are complaining. It’s after months, after weeks of going deep into the night on weeknights and all day on weekends, that it begins to take its toll.

This isn’t to say, of course, that it’s unfair, or that we should somehow be exempt from it. The skills developed in working deep into nights and getting things done by a deadline pretty much everyday, as well as the discipline and character it builds is crucial in this world.

The world of 2016 and beyond is far more competitive than in generations past. There are many factors that have gone into that, but that’s for another time. The fact of the matter is that this is how the world works now, no matter what you or me or we may wish to do about it.

The grind of school isn’t going to stop, nor should it. It’s life. Hard work through fatigue is a part of it. 

But to dismiss the fact that school is now a grind worse than ever before is living in ignorance.

However, the brightest and smartest kids out there aren’t living thinking about this. They’re simply doing.

Free Agency Fiasco

July 1st at 12:00 a.m. est marked the beginning of the mess of the NBA we call Day 1 of Free Agency.

By this time, many B-level players, those not named KD, LeBron, or Wade, but someone along the lines of Chandler Parsons, Timofey Mosgov, and Dwight Howard, have already agreed in verbal terms to a principle deal with whatever team, but the information tends not to come out until the actual signing of the contract.

The NBA cap rise – something not seen in terms of magnitude since the 97-98 season when MJ signed his famous $33 million a year contract – has led to some crazy-looking numbers for players that don’t like right.

Among the “weird” signings are:

Jeremy Lin to the Nets – Returns to New York, albeit in Brooklyn, for 3-years, $36M

Timofey Mosgov to the Lakers (from Cavs) – Massive 4-year, $64M (64M?!!!)

Chandler Parsons to the Grizzlies – Max 4-year, $94 million. Just keep in mind all of this is guaranteed.

Evan Fournier stays in Orlando – 5-year, $85 million. Not one of the biggest contracts on this list, but if you knew who Fournier was before this article, props to you because I didn’t. (shows how much I know)

Matthew Dellavedova to Bucks (?) – 4-year, $38.5 million. The Cavs have a chance to offer that to Delly, as he’s a Restricted FA, but it seems highly unlikely. Also, the Cavs’ GM, LeBron James, already tweeted out a congrats to Delly on the contract.

Sidenote: Sad to see Delly leave the Cavs, been a Delly-nation’er, but go get that money, Delly. Good for you.

Speaking of getting that money…

Whiteside started from the bottom now he’s here (max) – Hassan Whiteside agreed a near-max deal (saving some for a potential KD merger), and though the contract won’t be final until after Durant makes a decision, Whiteside will be the first player to rise from a minimum contract up to a near-max one or even potentially a maximum deal.

Dwayne Wade leaves Miami??? – This one isn’t even a sure thing, but the fact that contract talks between Wade and Pat Riley have led to other teams seriously meeting with the “Heat-lifer”. The Knicks and the Bucks are teams he could go to.

A Wade-Knicks marriage could be dangerous for the East, as Joakim Noah is likely to sign with Knicks any time now, and thus the starting lineup would be “Random PG”-Wade-Melo-Noah-PorzinGOD.

Mike Conley signs richest NBA deal ever – Don’t get too crazy, LeBron will sign a 200-million plus deal either next-year or in 2018, but this just goes to show how crazy the cap rise is in the NBA. The numbers: $135 million for 5 years.

Howard ruins signs with the Hawks – 3-years, $70.5 million. Doesn’t seem like a good culture fit with Dwight and Atlanta, but at this point, any place that’s throwing money around seems to be a good fit for Dwight. It gets kind of sad to wonder what kind of career he might’ve had if he’d signed somewhere else in 2011 or stayed in Orlando.

Those are pretty much all of the signings right now that will directly affect the NBA standings next year, it would’ve been kind of dull to put down all of the signings of C and D level players that get swapped around anyway.

Kevin Durant’s likely to stay in Oklahoma City, and if not he’s certainly going to Golden State. It’s been said he’s “90%” staying, but at this point it’s likely a toss-up. His and Wade’s signings will be the last real big signings of free agency, up until LeBron resigns with a 1-and-1 deal with the Cavs to maximize his profits after next year.

The Death of British Soccer

I may be on some sort of MI6 watch-list for calling the sport soccer, but it’s for my American friends. Let’s be honest, as well, soccer isn’t as boring as people give it credit for, far from it, but American football is far more entertaining in my opinion.

Anyway.

I don’t really watch any sort of league soccer, I’ll mainly just watch the Women’s and Men’s World Cup, go for the U.S. or some Cinderella country and maybe watch the Final if it’s close at halftime.

That’s why I was surprised that I got a Bleacher Report notification that Iceland was leading England at the 60′ minute mark, 2-1.

So what? Big deal. England can stand to lose in the Round of 16 every few years. Just look at March Madness, crazy things are bound to happen.

Nevertheless, I flipped the channel on to the UEFA Euro Championship on ESPN2. Yes, I know, soccer?! Oh please, people say that but then go tune their TV’s to baseball in June and watch one of 162 regular season games that that particular team will play in the regular season.

(Not to say soccer is more exciting than baseball, but can you really knock a sport that’s boring when 99% of the game is standing around in baseball? Any counterargument for that is just as easily used in defense of soccer.)

So I’m watching, and it’s just like any other soccer game, there’s no goals, but you can see the game developing and which team is outplaying the other or if it’s neck-and-neck. The commentator gives the statistic of how unlikely this win would be for Iceland: there are more registered soccer players in the state of Rhode Island than in all of Iceland.

Other facts that later come up: there are as many people in Leicester City alone than in Iceland as a whole, Iceland’s manager is a part-time dentist whilst England’s manager is (was) paid $4.5 million this year, and this was Iceland’s first ever knockout match. Ever.

The odds of this happening, and the comparison of just how improbable this win was needs to be explained in simpler terms. The pool size for England to pick from is mounds beyond what Iceland could even dream of. The skill level is just bar none for England.

It’d be like if you and I went to some mid-size college recreational facility, picked the best ten basketball players, and then we went and beat North Carolina or Duke. Or if we went to a national pie-baking contest, picked the best ten entrants and then pitted them against the best chefs in the world in a cook-off, and they won.

This win is unbelievable when you dissect it, and it isn’t hard to see why the British tabloids will be raving about it tomorrow, the manager of England is now the former manager of England, and Iceland citizens are probably some of the happiest people on Earth right now besides Northeast Ohio citizens that are still partying hard over in Cleveland.

But on the flip side, not only does this strike the hearts of England citizens everywhere, but it also comes the week of Britain’s exit from the European Union. It’s a huge decision that will affect the economy of Europe and the world long-term, and may set off a chain of events that ruin a dream of a united Europe.

Just as something so divisive occurs for the state, now something like this comes along. At least those who may disagree on Leave or Remain can agree on something now.

English soccer is dead.

The Drive

No, this article isn’t about the John Elway-led Drive against the Browns in the NFL Playoffs like 20 years ago, this is about the drive that is in all of us.

Recently I’ve felt a drive to be the best at what I’m doing right now. It’s something everyone’s felt at some point or another.

The Drive is this in a nutshell:

I will do the things I dream of doing. I will be the best at whatever I choose to be and no one will stand in my way. I will spend more time working then anyone else is. I will put in the hard hours now, the hard hours that the vast majority of people don’t think is possible for anyone to do. I will do the hard now so I can do the impossible later.

It’s why I’ve gotten less sleep in the summer than in the school year and why I’ve for some reason not been tired at all, because I’ve been doing what I want to do.

I assumed at some point I was going to feel burnout, and though I feel like I’ve gotten close, I’m proud every time to push through it and keep grinding.

This post’s aim is to try and inspire that drive that you have inside of yourself. It’s there right now, waiting to come out in the form of your wildest dreams.

Whatever it is, if you’re trying to be the best violinist in Finland or you want to finish Orange Is The New Black so you and your friends can discuss it tomorrow when you go out for coffee, do it!

Just leave this article right now, don’t even think twice. Just go.

Do.

Legacy Complete

It’s official.

After thirteen years in the NBA, LeBron James’ career is validated. He could retire tomorrow morning live at the parade in Cleveland, and though it would be disappointing and a dumb move, his legacy wouldn’t be hurt.

LeBron is top 3.

  1. MJ
  2. Kareem
  3. LeBron.

The fact that James put the team on his back from 3-1 down against the greatest regular season team of all-time to break a 52-year curse for his hometown team solidifies his legacy.

Gone forever are the incessant haters that have found solace in James’ previous Finals failures, as that has long been the only spot on his card in the NBA. Sure, the haters may chirp, but they’re now low-basketball IQ “fans” who listen to what people say on internet chat boards and don’t actually watch the games.

But enough about the actual NBA Finals itself. Analysts have already dissected every part of it and searched how the series played out on the court.

The point is that the curse is broken. After years of torment, after decades of heartbreak, Cleveland has emerged from its shell and is back to the top of the sports world.

Those who live in Northeast Ohio say that they’ve never seen the city or more accurately “The Land” so reinvigorated and united. The legacy that LeBron has already left behind and will continue to add onto will never be taken away.

After The Fumble. The Drive. The Shot. The Decision.

There is The Return. The Promise. The Block. The Triumph.

It’s becoming like beating a dead horse to keep writing about the Cavaliers, but this truly is one of the greatest sports stories of all-time. In my opinion, it is the greatest sports story ever.

Cleveland’s people have lived in hardship, the world not giving them anything, working hard through struggle and earning everything.

LeBron James embodied everything about Northeast Ohio. He had to leave to learn how to win. He came back and delivered on his promise in his second year back.

Not only has James solidified his legacy and become a living basketball legend, but he has awakened the region of Northeast Ohio.

LeBron’s Battle Against Social Media

The Cavs came up short last night, and that pretty much closes the door on a revenge Finalebron james complaining for foul cleveland cavs finals game 4 robert trevino idealeases.jpgls win for LeBron James, barring something miraculous that’s never happened before. This would set James’ Finals record to 2-5, and in the critics’ eyes, that would be inexcusable for James.

Twitter came alive midway through Game 4, as people criticized James’ passiveness and his unwillingness to drive inside and “simply score”. It’s the same type of criticism that seems to have been following James ever since his decision to leave Cleveland in 2010 and join the Miami Heat.

I still find it interesting how the world’s most dominant basketball player for the past ten years now has been so hated. On the surface, it isn’t hard to see why. He in some ways abandoned the community of Akron, at least in the eyes of those in Northeast Ohio. He teamed up with other good players – oh no! right?! – and left his hometown to go somewhere else.

Perhaps it was that which eliminated James’ humanity in people’s eyes and caused him to be an easy villain to root against. Or it could’ve perhaps been the constant complaining of calls during games, the ego to call himself the King.

Any of those reasons, however, is exactly why this may play out with the media just as it happened with Kobe.

Is it fair to criticize LeBron for going to join the Miami Heat? Definitely. Is it also understandable why he would do that, as he entered the prime of his career and still hadn’t sniffed a title, except for a miracle, self-led 2007 run only to get run over by Poppovich? Definitely.

And sure, LeBron has a bit of an ego, an obsession that he is the greatest basketball player on earth, and yet it’s undeniably true. Ali called himself the Greatest, and it wasn’t false. Perhaps that’s why when LeBron called himself the “best player in the world” during last year’s Finals that social media blew up.

Right now, at this point in time, LeBron James is the greatest basketball player on the face of the earth.

In a couple of years, it will likely be Kevin Durant, as James leaves his prime and Durant ascends to his prime. For all we know, Steph could come back next year, have a similar season or just a little worse, and be crowned as the best player.

Maybe James should consider it an honor to be in such an esteemed level that his would-be 2-5 NBA Finals record would be a shortcoming. I’m sure 99% of players in the league would take a 2-5 record instantly and with a smile on their face.

To get to the NBA Finals once is something that nobody in the league takes for granted or has ever taken for granted, not even during the 1950 Celtics run with only a few teams in the league, or during the 1990s when the East was dry and barren besides the Chicago Bulls.

To get to the Finals seven times in one career is ridiculous, and is one of the few marks that proves yearly dominance during the playoffs, when it matters the most. To march to the Finals six years straight, changing coaches seemingly every year, changing styles of play, and playing always into mid-June while other challengers are resting and getting better, and only resting until November, 120 days of rest after 100 games of battling, is something unthinkable.

And yet James has done it, this year dominated the East so much that “analysts” have begun to call the East the weakest its ever been and that James’ Finals runs should somehow not count, even with the Toronto Raptors – the Cavs’ ECF opponent – having a better regular-season record than anyone the Warriors played on the way to the Finals.

No one cares to remember the weak Eastern Conference’s Michael Jordan got to fight through, with the incredible Reggie Miller going 1 vs 5 against the Bulls and Ewing’s teams never having the depth to compete with just Pippen and Rodman. Not to say that any of Jordan’s title runs were easy, but getting to play the SuperSonics, Trail Blazers, and Jazz twice, compare mildly to James seeing the Spurs, beating a hungry and underrated 2012 Thunder team, and arguably the greatest NBA team of all-time, the Golden State Warriors, twice in a row.

The only Finals loss that falls squarely on James’ shoulders in the loss to the Mavs in 2011, when James fell totally flat and looked as though he didn’t want to be there.

It also becomes harder to understand the hate against LeBron when you look at his nature as a teammate. His nature as someone who gives back to community, even in Miami and Cleveland the entirety of his career.

It’s an odd hate against a great player and great man that might leave some people wishing they would’ve appreciated his greatness when he inevitably falls from his prime and retires.

And though this series is over, the chatter that will fill this offseason and flood notifications on social media only begins for LeBron once again.

It’s gotten old.

You Would Be Just Like Me

I don’t think it’d be too crazy to say that people are results of circumstance. It sounds simple to say, but it really helps to be able to put me in a truly empathetic mindset.

The basic idea is that if I were born in the same situation as you, with the same early experiences in life and the same parents, with the same amount of wealth and the same amount of unfortunate incidents, I would be just like you. Well, that’s because I would be you.

Thinking about this now as I write this, it leads me down a path of questioning what an identity is. I mean, if I was you, wouldn’t I still be me?

But how could I be me if I never had the experiences I had, if I never made the choices I made?

Perhaps, there is no me or you, we’re just the result of atoms colliding and nerves firing and we’d all be each other if we were each other. But I refuse to believe it. My soul refuses to budge.

I don’t know exactly why. It sounds logical in theory that I wouldn’t have some sort of soul, some sort of sense that I exist if I were just an animal without a goal other than to populate my species.

I mean, if my only goal was to populate more humans, wouldn’t a conscious mind be the opposite of what we need? Wouldn’t an automatic response with no regard for morality or social restrictions be more efficient?

This question of who I would be if I grew up exactly as you did, or if I grew up like Adolf Hitler did is much deeper below the surface than on it. I think it’s a much more philosophical question and something that questions the soul and who we are as a person.

It’s kind of like the theory that you might the only that’s real.

If that’s true, that would be kind of crazy. To think that you’re the only real person in the world makes you wonder if your brain isn’t just in a vat somewhere.

The Battle Against Procrastination: A True Underdog Story

I honestly just needed five more minutes of mental rest, and then I’d get straight to one of the simplest chemistry assignments we’d been assigned all year. Next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes and for the first four or five seconds, that just-woken-up feeling felt amazing. Once the realization hit me however, it was pure panic. Only the five questions I’d done when I’d first gotten home the day before, something that made me feel proud, were complete. Time for school. I threw it in my homework folder, slid it into my backpack and started my day.

To be straightforward, I find it a semi-miracle how I even survived this school year, not in terms of the challenging schoolwork, but in terms of the sheer lack of hard work that could’ve made it easy.

I’m not explicitly going to go into the amount of work that was put in from a student standpoint, but it stood to be a lot more. So as the summer arrived and goals I had time to pursue needed to be reached, I thought of how I could beat my procrastination.

This is what I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks, and although I’m not exactly working at a Kobe Bryant-rate or like someone at the NYSE, I have been able to increase my productivity and not totally neglect this blog.

1. You can’t beat procrastination

It sounds highly counter-intuitive to what I’ve described above, but the simple fact is that no matter how inspired you’re feeling, at some point your mind is going to begin to get bored somehow or otherwise distracted, or just plain feeling like you can do it later. It’s inevitable.

I found this out about a week into summer, and the next time I sat down to do my summer reading assignment I just tried to go for 5 minutes. The next time I tried to go eight or ten minutes. I didn’t succeed, but every time I failed, I tried the next day, and when I finally got it down, I tried to surpass it the next day.

I think the trick is to build your endurance of doing a certain amount of work that you don’t necessarily like to do but you would like to do (if you get what that means).

2. No work is better than half-minded work

This notion isn’t exactly a new one, but it’s something that I found out is true over the past couple of weeks. If you’re not mentally ready enough to do something straining like reading a literary novel that even Joyce couldn’t decipher, then don’t do it. Go do something else.

I tried to push through some ridiculous boredom and read the book I needed to anyway, and so I did. It was excruciating, I fell asleep with it on my face, losing precious hours of sleep, and when I woke up in the morning I didn’t remember any of it anyway.

This might not be the same for you, some people seem to be sponges at like 4 am and others like me need to be in some sort of zone to understand at a deeper level.

3. Eh…. just watch the video or whatever

Sometimes you really just gotta break. You’ll try again next time. But please just don’t do it last night. Oh whatever, I will too, and if you do manage to do whatever it is before you need to, good job!

I guess in conclusion I really don’t know how to beat procrastination, but good luck out there to everyone, I’ll be trying this summer. We’ll just see how many times I can beat my brain into doing something without getting mentally burned out.

Deja Vu

It’s been two months about. At last, the end of this whole marathon to a NBA champion is upon us.

The Warriors had arguably one of the best NBA seasons, picking teams apart, and then struggled through a hard-fought 7-game series against the Thunder, who are arguably the best team in the league. The Cavs, on the other hand, “struggled” early on this season despite having a 30-11 record at the time of David Blatt’s firing. They lacked chemistry and unity, but found their spark behind LeBron James and new head coach Tyronn Lue and rattled off 10 straight playoff wins and beat the Raptors in 6 to get to the Finals.

In a lot of ways, this year’s Finals is a polar opposite from the teams perspectives than last year. The Cavs come in healthy, with additions to this series they didn’t have last year such as Kevin Love, Channing Frye, and Kyrie Irving (injured in Game 1).

The Cavaliers last year were lucky to get into the Finals, and once there required LeBron to play like a man possessed in order to even win 2 games. The Warriors made mince meat of the NBA last year in the playoffs, and this year were poised to make the NBA look like Little Dribblers until the Oklahoma City series.

Nevertheless, the two biggest stars in the sport square off again. If last year’s series was about the greatness of LeBron, this series is about the greatness of Steph Curry. Curry’s superstar-dom is in question somehow as some people are ready to crown him the King of the NBA while others are more hesitant.

Somehow this series has become a threshold of who’s better. Curry or LeBron?

If that’s true, then this series will arguably determine the future of basketball itself.

LeBron’s reluctance to shoot beyond five feet from the basket and his emphasis on easy dunks and layups counters that of Curry’s strategy of firing from deep to spread the defense and enlarge the margin of error from a statistical standpoint.

So how does this series determine the future of basketball? Let’s see:

If the Cavs win:

If the Cavaliers win and the Warriors are somehow unable to win another title due to the unstable nature of the NBA, how is Golden State any different from the Seven Seconds or Less Suns? Sure, the system they played in and style worked, but it was entirely reliant on the players in the system, a la Steve Nash and Steph Curry.

The thinking would be that if the Warriors don’t win another title and become a dynasty, that they were a proverbial flash in the pan. The Cavaliers, however, with a greater emphasis on 2000’s and 1990’s basketball, and the use of 3-pointers as an occasional backseat weapon, would be a sure thing regardless of a “special” roster.

What we’ve seen over the past two years in terms of how 3-pointers have morphed from the top of the NBA down to little kids in the driveway could somehow evaporate. Could the rebirth of the big man occur? The skills that 6’6 prospects are developing right now are slowly crushing the “small” man’s hope of playing professionally, but could the Cavs’ title run over a smaller team encourage LeBron-like emphasis on the paint rather than beyond the arc?

If the Warriors win (again):

If the Warriors win and repeat as title champions, how can analysts such as Charles Barkley or anyone else who has harped on Steph Curry this season deny that a smaller team can win championships?

The thinking would be that if the Warriors are a dynasty, the game has changed. Smaller teams win championships now, and in the same vain as teams trying to scramble together Big 3’s circa 2012-2013, teams would likely assemble small-ball rosters and coaches would begin to accept the new way of playing.

This could lead to the death of positions, as a greater emphasis on shooting and basic skill work for big men would cause players to not specialize in any one thing such as raw strength, but shooting and skills would become mainstream, as well as the meshing of teammates to form a well-rounded unit.

But in the same way:

Can’t it be said, however, that neither of these might happen? After all, the Cavaliers and Warriors are the top two 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, and here they are in the Finals.

Basketball is already headed in a very analytic direction similar to the one baseball went in about a decade ago. The prospects coming up into the NBA are putting more emphasis on the three. How long will it be until we see another five players like Steph? How long will it be until we see the whole league become like Steph, to varying degrees? It may sound silly, sure, but didn’t the same thing occur with Jordan?

It’s in this way that Curry is similar to Jordan, not in legacies or skill level, but in the ability to change the way the game was played.

What we’re seeing in this series is not quite old vs. new like last year, but an evolving of the game of basketball as a whole, from rugged and powerful to skill-oriented and exciting.

This series represents the new beginning of a new brand of basketball that may never be replaced by anything else. This may be the beginning of basketball found, a brand of the game that may be its final form.

And boy, will it be exciting to watch.

Prediction: Cavs in 6

Game 7

Oh yeah by the way, I’ve neglected this blog for about eight months and I don’t know exactly how its been keeping hold of any traffic but that’s kind of cool.

I’m gonna be really dedicated to this thing now.

But anyway, the Dubs forced a Game 7 and I might be on the verge of keeping my hair.

curry
How did Curry almost have a triple-double?? Felt like he played average. I guess for him it is.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it, you shouldn’t. And I’m kinda half joking anyway.

(Depends who wins Game 7.)

kobe

But yeah, it seems like the Dubs would have to momentum to easily win Game 7 but there’s no such thing as guarantee, especially when you’re a superstitious fan like me.

But for real, down here in Lubbock there seems to be so many Thunder fans, or just people in general who don’t like the Warriors bandwagoners (like me).

I don’t know, I just think that KD really could go off for like 50 in Game 7.

Look out for some more sports posts or whatever really. Probably some summer hangouts we me and my bros or something. Probably something on Spieth too pretty soon, he had a big win at Colonial today.

Oh, almost forgot the article. Yeah, Dubs in 7, because…

1. The NBA rigged it

I’m sure you’ve seen it already, the NBA Facebook page put up schedules with Cavs vs. Warriors already. I guess they’re basically the WWE. Poor Adam Silver. Oh, and does that mean LeBron is John Cena or the Undertaker?

2. Draymond sucks

As someone who’s actively screaming at the TV for the Dubs in Thunder country, Draymond’s been whining at calls and kicking at nuts way too often this series, and even this playoffs in general.

Not to say he’s dirty, but just play the game, bro…

3. “Curry!”

I wonder if Steph ever says “Curry!” when he shoots it. I sure as hell would.

It’ll be close throughout, but I got the NBA rigging it this time.

Dubs 104 – Thunder 98

P.S. if anyone knows how to set up podcasts or livestreams can you hit me up via email? Thanks.

@james – I’m joking bro about the hair part. Y’know unless the Dubs actually do win. (just kidding) (but seriously)