Black Lives Matter

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
23 April 2015

I. Black Lives Matter

For the record, Black lives have always mattered, which means they mattered before TIME magazine dropped with that cover, but it may have been the cold-blooded killing of Walter Scott that finally makes America take notice of police brutality which too often has left unarmed Black men dead.

II. Black Lives Matter II

We don’t know, nor will we ever know, what would have become of Mike Brown’s life had he gotten to go to college and live for another sixty years or more. But what we do know is that in death Mike’s name lives on, and his legacy includes the increased political participation in Ferguson, leading to more African-Americans elected to city council.

III. Famous Black Lives Matter

At times we think that money and/or celebrity status of some sort insulates you from falling victim to the types of things that people with less resources encounter…but I guess one would have to know that you have said status or money. So when you’re Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks and you are taken down by members of the NYPD, resulting in a season-ending injury, your problem was that they didn’t know who you are.

IV. A Little Help

Unlike the Vegas oddsmakers who listed the Cleveland Cavaliers as favorites to win the championship prior to the ink being dry on LeBron James’ contract, I didn’t immediately drink the Cleveland Kool-Aid. I picked the Chicago Bulls as the team to emerge from the Eastern Conference, and if Derrick Rose remains healthy, I will stay with that pick…but meanwhile, the Hawks have been the top team in the East all year. That said, the recent incident – see above – lessens the Hawks chances, and the uncertainty about Rose’s injury status lessens confidence in the Bulls’ ability to score enough, which means that the Vegas guys might have been right, at least in terms of Cleveland winning the East.

V. MVP

One probable casualty of the San Antonio Spurs’ loss to New Orleans on the final day of the regular season was the MVP candidacy of Russell Westbrook, as the Spurs’ loss eliminated OKC from the playoffs. And that was too bad, given that Russell had an unbelievable triple-double filled season, largely in the absence of Kevin Durant and, down the stretch, Serge Ibaka as well…but fair is fair, at least as far as my opinion is concerned.

In 1987 Darryl Strawberry got robbed of what should have been his first of two consecutive MVP awards. The 1988 robbery was the more egregious of the two, as the MVP was gifted to the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson on a 25 homer season, supposedly for the “intangibles” he brought to the table.

Straw, with 39 homers, over 100 RBIs and 30+ stolen bases, carried the ’87 Mets all season, and especially down the stretch in their battle with the eventual NL champion St. Louis Cardinals. The MVP was Andre Dawson of the fifth-place Chicago Cubs, who slugged 52 homers and had an absolute monster year. But Dawson did it while playing half a year of meaningless games for an out-of-contention team, whereas Strawberry played under pennant race pressure all year. Theoretically Dawson couldn’t have been the most valuable because in his absence Chicago would have finished in fifth or worse anyway. I was fine with him being recognized as Player of the Year but not MVP. So therefore, with this history, I should say that Westbrook should not be this year’s MVP.

But in retrospect, if Gibson could get one for ’88, Russell Westbrook can get one this year. Good luck.

VI. Thanks A Lot

To show their gratitude for coaching the injury-riddled OKC Thunder to within one game of a playoff berth, management fired coach Scott Brooks. Memo to you OKC suits: nothing in life is guaranteed, especially not an NBA title. And especially not respect for you.

VII. Really, Floyd?

Someday, somewhere, somehow, someone will be a better boxer than Muhammad Ali. And hopefully I will recognize and acknowledge it. But it ain’t today – and it ain’t Floyd Mayweather.

Just for Floyd saying that he is better than The Greatest, I’m rooting for Pacquiao.

Higher Ground

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
5 April 2015

I. Aim High

Funny to see these NBA Eastern Conference teams and their records on the screen the other night accompanied by the caption, “Aim High,” given that at least two and possibly three of the playoff teams will finish with sub-.500 records. More on that later.

II. Soul Train

If Steph Curry is fast becoming one of the faces of the league, plays like this are why:

http://www.sbnation.com/2015/3/31/8324099/stephen-curry-crossed-chris-paul-up-so-hard-he-breakdanced/in/8087176

III. David Wins

As natural as it is to root against Goliath, I feel somewhat bad for the guys on the previously unbeaten University of Kentucky team. As they are a Goliath to virtually everyone they play, those guys were under crazy pressure every time
they walked out on the court. 38-1 is still an historic feat…but next time, if there is a next time, shake hands afterwards.

I wonder if old coach Adolph Rupp – who turned over once when Tubby Smith coached UK to a title some years back – has turned yet again at the sight of all of those Black McDonald’s All-Americans at Kentucky.

IV. Spurs Lose to Knicks

With the seeding race so tight within the Western Conference, the unexpected overtime loss the charging San Antonio Spurs – as is the case this time each year -suffered at the hands of the worst record New York Knicks may wind up having an effect on the entire playoff picture in the west.

With that said…

V. Playoff Solution

Here’s a little postseason solution that addresses the current talent imbalance between the conferences, but maintains conference and divisional rivalries that a straight 1-16 playoff setting would not.

1) Reduce the regular season to 80 games – to essentially shave one week off…because an extra week of playoffs will follow.

2) Award playoff positions to:

The three division winners in each conference, and
The next four best records in each conference.

At that point there would be 7 teams from each conference. Then award spots to the teams with the four best remaining records, leaving a total of 18 playoff teams. The 4 teams with the worst records will then play a best of three play-in round, eliminating two teams. Those two teams would play the number one seeds in each conference.

One interesting possibility is that both of the play-in winners would be from the same conference, meaning that one team would be competing in the other conference’s playoff rounds – which could create some intriguing matchups from year to year. Anyway, it’s something to consider. Whoever knows Adam Silver, please share with him!

VI. Black Girls Rock

I am fortunate to know two young ladies, Crystal & Donna, that helped show Black Girls Rock on BET. Check it out tonight…or on one of the dozen times they rerun it.

VII. Happy Easter

Enjoy the rest of your Easter Sunday!