Donald Trump Congratulates the Cleveland Cavaliers (but just the…

On a day when it was revealed that Donald Trump’s campaign manager was let go by Ivanka Trump and that his campaign had almost no money, The Donald tried to offer some congratulations to the newly crowned NBA Chamption Cleveland Cavaliers.  However, in classic Trump style he managed to forget Finals MVP Lebron James, star sidekick Kyrie Irving and everyone else that is black on the team! He gave a big shout out to Kevin Love, but Trump has obviously moved well past dog whistle politics and has gone full racist bullhorn with this one.  Try to laugh if you aren’t crying while watching this:

(Be sure to give the video a like on YouTube when finished watching)


Top 10 Predictions for the 2016-17 NBA Season

Lebron James ended the NBA season on a high note last night delivering a title to Cleveland, a city over 5 decades without a sports title, despite having three major sports teams.  He defeated one of the greatest teams ever (and statistically the greatest regular season team ever) and led the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.  He did it in versatile and dominant fashion and ended all doubts that he is a top 5 all time player (I have him as 1B to Michael Jordan’s 1A).  As someone who has loved Cleveland since my first visit to the city in 2010 (my endorsement has led to a nice renaissance of the city over the last six years) and has defended Lebron’s greatness since the late 2000s I am super happy for the city, Lebron and mostly myself for being completely correct.  But now that we are left with only baseball for the next 2+ months (with a brief respite for Wimbledon) I figured I should at least compile a list of things to look forward to for next season. Here are my top 10 predictions for next NBA Season:

1) Steph Curry returns built like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – After hearing that the physical play of OKC and Cleveland damaged his game, Curry will undergo a Michael Jordan-esque commitment to weight training.  He may go overboard though as he tries to go from the NBA’s Kevin Hart to the NBA’s Rock.

2) Kevin Durant goes to the Miami Heat – Pat Riley goes full Vince McMahon and brings in Durant to disrupt Lebron’s eastern conference dominance. Instead of Durant, Bosh and Wade doing a big pep rally it will be Riley coming out alone in McMahon cadence: “Oh I am happy for Lebron. He won his title for ‘The Land’… BUT NOW WE HAVE A NEW SON OF THE BEACH!” and then a curtain drops with Durant coming out as Riley flashes all his rings for the camera.

3) Russell Westbrook Has The Greatest/Worst Season in NBA History – With Durant gone, Russell Westbrook will average 38 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, 15 turnovers and shoot 36% from the field,  He will actually tear both ACLs midway through the season and still play all 83 games.

4) The Knicks Sign Harrison Barnes – Harrison Barnes was tremendously awful in the last three games of the Finals (seriously – Nick Anderson level mind issues may have occurred – it looked like Barnes was aiming his shot in Game 7).  He may have cost him a lot of money, but in Montana there is one team president who probably thinks he can snatch Barnes at a discount.

5) Demarcus Cousins punches his coach – Every season needs a controversy and Cousins seems to be on the edge of all NBA talent and 30 for 30 cautionary tale.

6) The Utah Jazz Make the Playoffs and, inspired by Cleveland, start calling Salt Lake City “The Lake” if they don’t already – Hey, I am a Jazz fan so give me this one.

7) The Minnesota Timberwolves Begin Frightening the Entire League – Great new coach, loaded with young talent (and about to add another lottery pick). I think T-Wolves make the playoffs and everyone realizes that Towns-Wiggins are coming for all of you like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones (GOAT episode last night by the way)

8 ) Lebron Haters Go Completely Silent – This is the only way to tell that Lebron has been great.  Look for them to reappear in 2019 to declare that Lebron is not THAT great.

9) David Blatt Joins ISIS – I think we can all agree that joining a terror organization is wrong, but Blatt is as close to being justified as anyone could be.  Watching Tyronn Lue’s “coaching” get praised has to be killing him. He comes from Europe to Cleveland and is spit out by the heart of rock n’ roll?  Not on his watch!

10) Steven Adams pledges his loyalty to Daenerys Targayan – Kahl Adams should date Emilia Clarke raising his celebrity profile during what should be a breakout season for the OKC big man.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!


Lebron is the Greatest, but Hakeem Already Did THIS…

I have spent the last 8 years of my hoops fan life calling Lebron the greatest player of all time. His combination of Magic Johnson skills, and a size and athleticism combination suggesting an evolutionary leap forward made it obvious to me.  And then for 4 years I wrote and podcasted his greatness to death post-The Decision, mainly because of the obviousness of his talent and the hypocrisy of non-Cleveland basketball fans who seemed to only express outrage at Lebron’s disloyalty because he was not disloyal with them (hi Knick fans).  So it is sort of bittersweet to see Lebron getting so much respect and credit now from people with low basketball IQs who could not fully appreciate Lebron’s greatness until they had 100% proof in the form of this year’s Finals run (a LOT of people on my Facebook feed qualify).  Was he not the greatest of all time last year when he played great, but was severely under-matched against a brilliant and hungry Spurs team? Well now everyone is back on the Lebron bandwagon more than ever before and it has forced me to point out a fact amidst this love fest narrative: Lebron may be doing something Michael Jordan never did (potentially winning a finals without a stud second banana), but what Lebron is doing is NOT unprecedented.  It happened in 1994 and was done by Hakeem Olajuwon.

In 1994 Hakeem Olajuwon took a team of journeymen and young, not yet developed talent on his back and carried them to a 7 game win over the Knicks (hi Knick fans) in the Finals.  He averaged 28 ppg, more than double the next best playoff average on his team. And let’s look at his roster:

  • Vernon Maxwell
  • Robert Horry (rookie year)
  • Kenny Smith
  • Otis Thorpe
  • Sam Cassell (rookie year)
  • Mario Elie

Wow – doesn’t that roster inspire fear???  Not one all star on the team. Not sure if Thorpe ever made an all star team and I was informed on social media this morning debating this point that Sam Cassell made one all star team… in 2004.  So the idea that no player has ever done what Lebron has done is plain false.  Sorry, I have defended him and love watching him play, but facts are facts.  And watching this finals aren’t the Cavs sort of displaying the same sort of unlikely heroes that the Rockets sort of did?  Granted both supporting casts benefit from playing with a top 10 all time player, but let’s look at it:

  • Dellavadova is playing as great as any role player in Finals history.  And it is not all because of Lebron. The man is on every lose ball like one of those annoying guys trying to impress the coach.
  • Tristan Thompson is rebounding like the spirit of Dennis Rodman is inside him
  • Timofey Mozgov is proving to be a competent center (Hi Knick fans). Not an all star, but solid in the post, able to hit clutch free throws (game 1) and a legitimate rim protector
  • JR Smith and Iman Shumpert (just to say hi Knick fans), but isnt JR Smith basically Vernon Maxwell?

My point is this: I freely admit that this Cavs supporting cast wouldn’t win 30 games without Lebron, but neither would that 1994 Rockets team.  So let’s enjoy Lebron’s run as potentially the greatest finals performance ever, but what he is doing is not completely unprecedented.  Hakeem may have operated int he shadow of Michael Jordan’s departure, but it is no reason to bury his legacy under the ascension of Lebron James.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!


The Weekend of Melissa, Lebron and Stannis

I gave a positive review of a Melissa McCarthy movie. I was rooting against Lebron while it seems most people I know are now rooting for him.  Comedians were on social media criticizing Stannis Baratheon (Game of Thrones SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) for using his child to advance his career.  Any one of those things in a decade would be enough to justify me writing a post (first one in just under a month – I believe a record for lack of productivity for me), but they all happened in the span of four days.  I am not sure what to make of all these, but I need to break out of my blogless slump so here goes.

First off, last week I saw a screening of Spy with Melissa McCarthy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, which thoroughly surprised me.  The critical praise has been big and the movie opened up at #1 at the box office.  I offered a solid (first positive review of the Summer) and slightly shorter review than usual of the film and even posted it two days early.  The result?  My least watched review of the last year. The message is clear – call J-L a negative and bitter observer of entertainment… and then don’t watch when he likes a movie.  Call J-L sexist… but don’t watch a glowing review of a film centered around a strong and funny female lead.  That’s right critics of this critic – time for you to look in the mirror.  Welp, I guess next week I will have to take a verbal dump on Jurassic World…

Then there is watching the social media reversal on Lebron James.  I spent 4 years writing posts (some of which got shared a ton) and recording some podcasts defending Lebron going to Miami, but more importantly as his place as the game’s best player (I have been saying he is the best since 2007).  But then something happened.  After beating up on the eastern conference that everyone said sucked many more people joined the “Lebron is the best… time to recognize… I think the Warriors have no chance…”  in the last few weeks, which feels insane.  And it all happened as Lebron began spouting insecure platitudes like a Teddy Ruxpin whose string you pull and he only says 4 phrases:

  • I have to teach my team to win
  • I am a leader 
  • I’ve been there
  • It’s a process

Basically it looks like he took Rosetta Stone Erik Spoelstra during his four years in Miami and brought fluency in sports cliches to Cleveland… and the fans love it!  I preferred Lebron wearing the black hat and forcing his greatness down the throats of haters.  If I can give the devil his due, at least Kobe has not taken off his black hat since he put it on in 2004.  But last night Lebron won me back. I still want Golden State to win, because the most important thing to me is being right and I predicted GSW in 5, but Lebron won me back with last night’s performance.  I am not talking about his inefficient, but stat sheet stuffing performance. Rather I am talking about his explosion of exuberant rage at the conclusion of the game and the fact that he was too tired and drained to spew cliches in the post game interview.  I loved that!  He got away with several travels in the game, but he was hacked badly so bad late in the game that the ref should have blown a rape whistle that I enjoyed seeing him enraged with happiness (possible album title for me?).  I hope Lebron keeps it up so no matter who wins I can be happy.  But if he starts mentioning his own leadership again I will slide back firmly into Golden State’s camp.  But to the morons on social media (majority of people): Lebron is and has been the best. Him defeating the Hawks with a shitty cast should not have been what pushed you over the edge.  Nor should 4 Finals appearances with the Heat. He has been the best individual player since 2007.  But to the knee jerkers who also will inevitably start calling Steph Curry a bust or not great if he fails to win the title – The Warriors are a great team. Not a very good one. A great one.  And Steph Curry is a top 5 player in the NBA.  Just facts.  Anything else regarding Lebron, the Warriors and Curry is open for conversation, but the respective greatness of those three parties is not.

But the biggest moment in entertainment for me this weekend was episode 9 of Game of Thrones this weekend.  I have always identified with Stannis Baratheon.  If you don’t know who he is, see if my description of him sounds familiar.  He is an angry and dark person, who is generally right about his career but has not attained his goal yet.  His goal is to be King because he is the rightful heir to the throne.  And last night (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) he had his daughter, who he loves, burned alive because it will likely give him the power to succeed at war.  Apart from my horror all I could think was, if only I had a daughter… is that what Comedy Central execs are looking for?

But of course the social media reaction, including from comedians, was pretty much universal condemnation. Huh?  The community that exploits pics of their kids for laughs and likes across the Internet is mad at Stannis for simply using his kid the way the Native American uses the buffalo?  You use all of it or it is a waste.  I, for one, am doubling down on my support of Stannis.  Sure you don’t like his attitude or his methods, but he is the rightful king and it can’t be an easy choice to torch your daughter so at least no one can tell him that he isn’t working hard enough.  Perhaps if it doesn’t work though Stannis’ next course of action will be to secure management. OK, maybe I made this a little too personal.

In other news, this week’s podcast will go up Wednesday because this Tuesday is the launch of my new video 12 Years A Bringer.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!


The Case for Lebron James

I felt like last night’s blow out win by the Spurs over the Heat probably made many people feel the way I felt when Joffrey died on Game of Thrones. Sure it was good that his character ended, but you wanted a more satisfying and violent revenge, perhaps at the hands of one of the Stark children.  Perhaps that is what would have been better for Lebron haters.  Perhaps seeing him blow out both knees while being dunked on by Kawhi Leonard as his family was executed by a Dan Gilbert led death squad, like the Czar and his family during the Russian Revolution, would have been more satisfying end to the bizarre fixation that the country has with Lebron.   All of this is supposedly based on The Decision (which you all watched – you only seemed to turn righteous and pious once he didn’t choose your team, esecially you NY Knick fans) and the pep rally the Big Three had.  Really? So he lost in the Finals to the Mavericks, giving you the schadenfreude you needed, but then wins back to back titles against a young upstart (Thunder) and a great, respected veteran team (Spurs) and still all that pent up envy and resentment came spilling out after the “cramp game” four years later?  And now the world of ill informed, semi-literate sports fans whose hoops expertise often extends no further than NBA2K games  can finally declare Lebron as a much lesser player than everyone who has ever won a title.  His stats put him slightly ahead of Larry Bird (in 2 fewer seasons AND a career that started right out of high school, though Bird’s final few seasons were back-injury hampered so maybe that cancels out Lebron’s youth), his championships put him with Wilt Chamberlain and Isaiah Thomas’s careers and his overall career trajectory in terms of overall stats has no real equal at this age. So here are a few points I would like to make in defense of Lebron (it was nice having last year off, though I did love writing this right BEFORE his epic Game 6 against the Celtics in 2012):

Stop Calling Wade and Bosh Superstars

I know it is convenient to cite Bosh and Wade as superstars that Lebron ran to to get his titles, but that is not Raptor Chris Bosh and that is not 2006 Dwyane Wade playing out there.  If Lebron signed with a team that had Bill Russell and Michael Jordan on its roster would you say “Lebron’s a pussy who signed with 2 of the 5 greatest players of all time to win titles” or would you say “those old dudes ain’t doing shit for Lebron.”  Wade has allowed Lebron to carry a heavy load the last two years for him during the regular season in the name of him being healthy come playoff time.  The result has been a horrible playoffs last year leading into the Finals where Wade was admittedly solid and this year’s finals where Wade was horrific.

As for Bosh – he is a jump shooting small forward in a power forward’s body.  He was outplayed by anyone the Spurs put down low.  Legitimately Boris Diaw appeared to be a better player than Chris Bosh. Now are you willing to call Boris Diaw a “superstar?”  I didn’t think so.  That label has not applied to Wade or Bosh for a few years, but it sticks, because it is simply a tool to diminish Lebron’s standing as the great player of his day.

The Spurs Are a Great Team with a Great Coach – Better Than Any Team Michael Jordan Beat for A Title

Lost in this really has been the greatness of the Spurs.  Tim Duncan now has 5 titles.  He has won 4 with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, making them the only trio to win four titles since Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and (I think) James Worthy.   But instead of viewing the Heat’s loss to them as a great achievement by the Spurs, it if offered as proof that “Lebron is not as good as Michael Jordan.” Two points here – one – if the first insult constantly hurled at a player, whose game and body have no resemblance to Michael Jordan, is to say “he is no Michael Jordan,” then you are obviously constantly comparing him to Michael Jordan and doing it for a reason.  Like if the UN is debating if genocide is occurring, my instinct is to say “if you are thinking about it, let’s just assume for safety sake that it is genocide.”  Similarly, if you are obsessing over a comparison between MJ and Lebron then just admit that his talent and unique brilliance is there and the comparison is worth talking about halfway through his career.

The second point is that  I do not think Michael Jordan ever beat a team as good as the Popovich Spurs.  Not to say he would not have. He had a better cast and a better coach than Lebron, as well as greatness that earns him the benefit of the doubt.  But no team MJ ever beat was as good as the Spurs.  The closest two teams I can think of are the Utah Jazz and the NY Knicks.  The Jazz were a system based team led by Hall of Famers that produced good play out of mediocre supporting cast members (an upper-middle class Spurs).  But they were never as good as the Spurs. Clearly.  The Knicks on the other hand played the Bulls tough with a rough style from a great coach, Pat Riley. But they never had more than 2 stars and Ewing was a low level superstar if you want to elevate him above simple “star” status.   So if you are going to say that losing in the Finals, as Lebron has done three times (to be fair he lost in the finals twice at an age younger than Michael Jordan’s 1st Finals appearance – don’t penalize him for being too good, too young), is clear and convincing evidence of Jordan’s superiority (as I have seen many people write) then be honest and realize that these Spurs much more resemble the Rockets that Jordan never played.  Except these Spurs are better than those Rockets as well.

Shaq, Rodman & Pippen

If you want to compare Kobe, MJ and Lebron on pure title numbers then let me ask you this – who would you pick 1st, 2nd and 3rd of these supporting stars:

1998-2004 Shaq and a loaf of bread

1995-1998 Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman

2012-2014 Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

Lebron won 60+ games twice with Cleveland and made the NBA Finals with Anderson Verejao and Mo Williams as his two best mates (and the now fully exposed Mike Brown as coach – Lebron should also have Brown’s coach of the year award).  Kobe won his first 3 titles with the most dominant physical force in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain.  Do you honestly think Lebron could not have won multiple titles in his first 7 years as a pro if he was playing with the Black Mountain (Game of Thrones reference and my preferred moniker for Shaq in his prime)? Do you think playing with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman in mid 90s form – a glue-like defender and multi-skilled offensive player and a tenacious rebounder (someting sorely lacking from the Heat) would not have been better than a phsically and mentally defeated Wade and a jump shooting Euro big man in a dinosaur’s body named Bosh?  If your answer to the above question is Bosh and Wade then as Adam Carolla says “you’re either stupid or a liar.”

You don’t hate Lebron; you might just dislike yourself (plus he became “uppity”)

This year alone Lebron spoke out in the Trayvon Martin case and took an early stance against Donald Sterling.  This may seem meaningless (though he put more than a hashtag on the line when he did so), but it was a lot more than Kobe or MJ did with their clout at leading stars of the NBA.  Since The Decision Lebron has been a great ambassador of the game, a model citizen (at least in the ways we as fans could know) and a spectacular player on the court.  So why do we hate him?  Because we can never be him. And for a split second with The Decision, he let us all know that to our faces.  He changed jobs and it was ESPN’s highest rated program of the year. We change jobs – not even our Facebook friends really give a shit.  He is a physical marvel, a savvy business man and appears to have a happy family life.  In other words – he has it all nd he did not have to be in a Dove Soap natural beauty commercial to prove it.  But unlike Tim Duncan, Lebron made us feel a bit of shame and envy. What man wouldn’t want to go to warm climate, play ball with his friends and be a sports icon?

The rich irony I have observed over the last few years watching playoff games in bars surrounded by guys who work in finance calling Lebron James a “scumbag” or an “arrogant douche” would make me laugh if it was not so insidious.  Money manipulation and moving from their cities to bigger, cooler cities like NYC are both apparently noble pursuits, but when Lebron does it, he’s a villain.  As I have said before I felt bad for Cleveland when Lebron left. I like the city and I, like many sports fans can romanticize the homegrown talent connection to sports teams.  But what happened with Lebron was worse, and yes there is a racial component to this.  He was the good boy who stayed home, helped the town, knew his role was allowed to flourish and have praised heaped on him as long as he stayed that nice humble boy from the town.  But when he wanted to go the big city he got a little too “uppity.” I would have not made these references before, but the jealousy and rage of Lebron have lingered too long to be based on any rational reason.  NBA fans, including the rage filled white fans (according to a recent poll Lebron lost popularity among black and white fans, but has since become more popular with black fans, but is still not even at pre-The Decision levels of popularity with white fans), basically had the burden of being fans’ favorite house servant – giving us amazing feats of enjoyment with humble habits right in our living rooms and sports bars.  So of course the betrayal felt even worse when he became perceived as the league’s most brash field hand (even though neither was ever true, but that is how the perception was). If you are going to be better than most of America Lebron you better not let them know it.  Barry Bonds can be a jerk and disliked because he was always a jerk. BUT LEBRON – you made us think you were a good one – someone who would entertain us, but never make us jealous – and then you turn around and act like you are better?  That is unforgivable.  We would never let Allen Iverson in our home so we would never feel duped, but Lebron, you were the humble, hard working one!  Never again!

So let’s just hope if Kawhi Leonard’s career keeps up its star trajectory that he keeps his mouth shut for the rest of his career (which actually seems like a distinct possibility).

Great watching you play Lebron and I hope you make your haters eat shit next year.  And as it should be, the final words should be about the Spurs – great run, great team and led by a guy all of America can root for – a wife cheating, former teammate-wife banging, French point guard named Tony Parker. #AmericanRoleModel

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!


Lebron, Nipples and Shows: LA Comedy Journal

This week I have been in Los Angeles, with the main purpose of my visit being my second appearance on The Adam Carolla Show, which you can listen to here.  The recording went great and I think ensured me a third appearance (at which point I will refer to myself as a show “regular,” which although a stretch, will certainly be more true than the 1.5 million people walking around LA with either “activist” and/or “producer” on their business cards.  Among the perks of the show were the new vending machine that is completely free sitting in the studio.  Leaving the studio I did the classy thing and only took one bag of Famous Amos Cookies, instead of taking 9 bags of cookies, 14 bags of various candies and some gum, like I wanted to.  But there has been so much more to this LA trip than just crushing another appearance on the Carolla Show (#grinding #blessed #thankful).  So here are some of the highlights:

Los Angeles’ Confused Relationship with Lebron James

On Sunday evening I watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals at a sports bar.  My friend Nick and I were rooting for Lebron, which earned us numerous scornful stares, which I found odd given the fact that half of this town are people who left their hometowns behind to pursue the noble professions of acting and fellatio.  But fast forward to Tuesday night for Game 3 at a different sports bar that was dominated by Miami Heat fans (they even had jerseys to prove that they have been die hard fans for at least 4 years) and the reaction was completely different.  Being that this town feels like it is full of front running ass-kissers (imagine if the NYC comedy community ran an entire city) this felt more appropriate than the hostile reaction Lebron support got on Sunday.  Of course I eventually felt uncomfortable supporting the Heat when with 4 minutes left and the Heat  down 18, Rashard Lewis hit a 3 pointer, cutting the Spurs insurmountable lead to 15 points.  And then I saw a 13 year old Latin kid (I would guess Puerto Rican) ,who did not weigh on the triple digit side of 100 pounds pump his fist, mean mug a table of chubby Mexican dudes who were rooting respectfully for the Spurs, and say “what the fu*k you gotta say now you fu*king fa*gots!?”  Now they did not hear him, but I did… and so did this kid’s proud family members.  The response?  Nothing.  Obviously there was an undertone of Latin-on-Latin hate (Puerto Ricans rank 2nd on the Latino on Latino rankings, trailing only Cubans, but far outranking Mexicans), but I thought to myself “What would have happened if I called a group of strangers “fu*king fa*gots” at 13 in front of my family.  My guess is my parents would have stabbed me to death in shame before the table of Mexicans could do it.  But I wish this young man in his future as a low ranking member of the Latin Kings or as a high ranking member of a fast food management team in a decade.

Epidemic of Male Nipples at LA Gyms

So after a few days of eating terribly (the unlimited chips and cookies on a six hour flight are a gateway drug) I went to the gym today, a nearby 24 Hour Fitness.  And boy did it deliver.  Over 50% of the people had tattoos, including several guys that look like Harry Potter.  A majority of the women had ink, but the thing I noticed most of all, besides the worst pec size-to leg size ration I have seen in a good while, was the proliferation of male nipples.  Now I am not one of these tools that thinks women should be allowed to walk around topless (my apologies to Bruce Willis’ oddly big-breasted son who has been campaigning hard for this), but it makes me think that maybe men should do some covering up.  I would actually find it less weird for a dude to be working out shirtless than with a tank top that only seems to be beating the gym rule of “must wear shirt” on a technicality. Congrats sirs, 4 millimeters of each shoulder and your lowest 2 abs are covered by your “shirt.”  Other than seeing two women walking around with gallon jugs of water (is this a new cause? to prove that women can be as douchey as men in a gym?), the proliferation of male nipple was the weirdest trend I saw in the LA gym.

Fun Shows ad Reunions with NYC Comedians

It is amazing the mental change that can occur when doing unpaid bar shows 3,000 miles from home.  Other than been paid in a substance that I have no desire to use my four shows this week are all unpaid (#Grateful #blessed #Grinding #thankful).  Normally I would just watch TV or hang out with buddies in town, but being in a different city in front of different people, has a natural rejuvenating effect that motivates one to get on stage and, at least in my case, work on newer material.  I have also seen enough familiar faces to add a touch of comfort to the experience.  So I guess what I am saying  is when I get back to NYC… I will return to my normal level of unmotivated.  #Grinding

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!


Why Lebron Will Never Please You

The question of who is the greatest basketball player of all time is not historically settled, by the very nature of History – people are always making it and adapting from and surpassing the past.  It is of little debate that at the present moment, by almost any standard one can apply that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.  He has the stats, championships, individual and team accolades and perhaps most importantly, a series indelible marks left upon the imaginations of millions of Americans.  Jerry West may be the logo of the NBA, but Michael Jordan is its most shining symbol of glory.  Others who have tried to lay claim to the throne have fallen short, most notably Kobe Bryant, the closest approximation to Jordan in style (if not in success) to the point that if Kobe could have killed Jordan on a boat, assumed his identity (along with press conference cadence, fadeaway jumper and gum chewing) and called himself The Talented Mr. Jordan, he might have.  But the danger in replicating a great is that no matter how great you are, unless you surpass the original in every way you can never be considered greater.  And this goes beyond stats and number of titles, but also the spirit of the legend.  Which is why I have found Lebron James so damn intriguing.

Lebron James, I have always said, is the only modern player with a chance to surpass Jordan (read the words haters – a chance – not a declared certainty or a present-day fact) because he is a different model.  Kobe challenged Jordan on Jordan’s turf. Lebron’s eventual legacy will challenge Jordan from a new template – a point guard mind- power forward body phenom.  He will never score as much as Kobe or MJ, but he impacts the game in a way I have never seen.  He is a defensive force and only Scottie Pippen has been as versatile a defender in my life.  What other player in NBA history goes chest-to-chest with Tim Duncan and rejects his post shot and then resumes guarding Tony Parker out on the perimeter?  Defensive player of the year Marc “Hodor” Gasol?

To watch the San Antonio defense you would think no one on the court exists except Lebron  They guard him with multiple players, a layered scheme and are only willing to concede the worst shot statistically in basketball – the 17-19 foot range jumper.  He is a gifted passer, a savant of the game and a physical freak, but he has only shown glimpses of an assassin’s mentality on the court and because Jordan set the framework and Kobe followed it, the fact that Lebron does not adhere to that model means in the hater/hoops-simpletons’ minds that he can never be as good or better than those who operate with that mindset.

And yet, Lebron is one game from winning his 2nd NBA title a year before Michael Jordan won his 2nd NBA title.  He has collected 3 triple doubles in his last 7 NBA Finals games.  He has thrived offensively in a league that, although not as physically dirty than the one Jordan played in and that Kobe began in, is much more sophisticated defensively and the statistics bear that out.  Better athletes, more zone defense and more complex stats and schemes make scoring a bigger chore in today’s NBA (not necessarily individually, but the game is a lot slower than in the 80s).  Am I in any way suggesting the MJ would not thrive in today’s NBA?  Of course not.  I think he would excel.  But this is more to defend Lebron.

Lebron is playing under a microscope that no other NBA player has ever played under.  Jordan felt the glare, but that was the glare of an adoring spotlight for most of  his career.  He was a Madison Avenue darling very early on and became the toast of the league for the second decade of his career.  Once MJ broke through, he was never questioned again, at least not pejoratively.  This has not been the case since Lebron won.  Lebron has had the spotlight, but much of it has come from the ever present 24 hour news cycle and the 200 foot troll of a magnifying glass known as social media.  Every game Lebron plays is not specific enough evidence of greatness or failure – he has every play dissected.  After willing the Heat back from the brink of destruction all 4th quarter in Game 6 last night, the instant reaction from haters was that Ray Allen had “bailed Lebron out” with his incredible three pointer.  What is Lebron Moses?  He gets to lead his team to the Promised Land, but not get to experience any of it?

The problem for Lebron is not that he is not talented or clutch or great.  He is all of those things.  The real problem for Lebron is that he is the greatest athletic specimen we have on the planet, other than perhaps Usain Bolt, and that shames a lot of the public.  See, we live in a society now where everyone’s opinions, thoughts, pictures and mundane activities are on display making us all feel like important celebrities in our individual, mundane circles.  Mediocrity has never been more famous and self-important and Lebron has been reminding us for the last three years that he is better than us.

We were OK when he was a nice kid from Ohio, toiling away, earnestly failing to achieve his profession’s highest goals.  But then he made THE DECISION.  I did not like it, but I got over it, mainly because I enjoy watching him play so much.  But what Lebron said is “watch me America – I am important and you will watch me.” And we did watch and then we hated him for showing us how much we cared and how shallow we all felt (THE DECISION was a huge ratings success).  We became champions of Cleveland’s dignity, even though many people watching were just hoping their team would be the one to break Cleveland’s heart (Hello Knicks and Bulls fans). Rather than apologize for our own hypocrisy we turned Lebron into a massive villain.

But don’t forget he was arrogant at a free pep rally fgor Heat fans!

And then he lost in the Finals to Dallas and it proved that he was being punished for his hubris and we could all feel good.  It was a text book case of schadenfreude.  We determined he deserved a comeuppance,  he got it and we delighted! Good riddance King James! Except rather than fade away into the Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter wing just outside of the NBA Hall of Fame for underachieving athletic freaks he bounced back and destroyed his rivals en route to his title in 2012.  Yes he played with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but only a truly delusional hatred could ignore that Lebron was the Sun that the other Heat players revolved around.  And he never had that iconic moment in the NBA Finals last year because he destroyed the OKC Thunder so thoroughly.  So other than Boston Game 6 (and Indiana Game 3 if you paid attention), his 2012 playoffs did not give us Jordan over Ehlo or Jordan (shoving) shooting over Russel.  Another strike against Lebron!

So we arrived at 2013. The Heat win 66 games, 27 in a row and Lebron puts together the most or oneof the most efficient seasons in NBA History.  And then the playoffs happen and it appears that by the Pacers’ series Lebron is no longer part of a big three.  He is the Big One and is alternating between dragging his teammates and creating for them.  He single handedly vanquished a very tough and balanced Pacers team that specifically were strong where the Heat were weak.

And now the Finals.  Standing in Lebron’s way are a 4 time champion player and coach, a team with size and a team with a devastatingly good point guard – all weak spots for the Heat. And with some help, finally, Lebron is one game away from defeating the team that swept him when, like a Mozart of basketball, he took a terrible Cavs team to the Finals in 2007 with only his individual natural brilliance.  But now Lebron has mastered basketball.  Does that mean he is perfect? No.  Did Jordan shoot below 33% in the final game of the 1996 Finals?  Did Kobe go 6-24 in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals?  Yes and yes.  Does that diminish their legacies? No.  Yet Lebron for that he has accomplished before the age of 30 and the brilliance with which he plays is still having every dribble examined with heightened scrutiny.  So if he were to score 40 and go 15-15 from the field on Thursday, but Tony Parker hits a buzzer beater to win Game 7, this will somehow render Lebron’s admission to the upper elite of the sport null and void.  He cannot please these people because they want him to fail.  They need him to fail.

Lebron James has shown us that he is great. Greater at what he does than we will ever be at what we do.  He has also shown us that he knows he is great and better than us.  Not in a brash Terrell Owens sort of way where it feels cartoonish. Rather, Lebron was blessed by God, fate or nature with incredible potential for greatness.  He was not born Peter Parker or even Bruce Wayne – he was BORN as Spider Man and Batman. And what is worse is that he is fullfilling that great potential and enjoying it in beautiful Miami.  Lebron is better than us, knows it, but what really stings is that we could never be him.  No matter how hard we work and dedicate ourselves he was always going to be better. Kobe and MJ gritted their teeth, yelled at and in MJ’s case, punched, teammates – they had the gifts, but they also exhibited the grit that made us feel better about them being better.  Lebron is just enjoying a game he has mastered and fullfilling his promise, but with something closer to a child’s enjoyment than a mob boss’ ruthlessness.  And in an age where we all think we are so important and special he has shown us that we are not.  But that he is.

Good luck in Game 7 Lebron.  And get ready to hear “but MJ and Kobe threepeated” or “now Tracy mcGrady has as many titles as you” right after.   And then have a hearty laugh.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!


Dear Nerds, The New Superman Movie Cannot Hurt You…

I have a ticket to see Man of Steel tomorrow and it has been the movie I have anticipated most this Summer.  Reviews have been much more unsteady than I expected, but after seeing Christopher Nolan’s name attached as a producer and an all star cast I am still optimistic.  And the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate reviewing system has failed me a few times this Summer already – most notably with After Earth, a movie I liked and predicted would be around 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, which garnered only a 12% – a complete hater fest against Will Smith, his son and M Night.  However there are reasons to be concerned with Man of Steel.  First off the director is Zach Snyder so don’t be fooled that Christopher Nolan is directing.  I enjoyed 300, but I generally find Snyder’s movies to be weak (300 and Sucker Punch – both CGI fests that could not keep my attention).  Second, like the film Jesus of Nazareth, the only relative no-name in the cast is the guy playing the Messiah. Henry Cavill is an English actor (for a second I thought he was Australian and I thought “seriously, can these guys stop taking our jobs – who cares about 1 million Mexican migrant workers when we have like 30 Aussies taking multi-million dollar pay days from hardworking American waiters?” But I was wrong.) whose biggest role to date was in the underwhelming, overly CGI’d Immortals.  But I have the good fortune of not being a nerd or someone who found the will to live as a child or a teen based on picture books.  I read real books, I played sports and I made people laugh with me, not at me. Now this may explain why my career in stand up comedy is so stalled, but it also explains why if Man of Steel is good I will be happy and why if Man of Steel is terrible I will not curse the Heavens (I will save that for the San Antonio Spurs if they beat Lebron James in the NBA Finals).

See, I don’t care if any of these directors or writers stay true to the source material, or the spirit of the original.  I am going to watch a movie. If the movie is good, mission accomplished.  Oh no Superman is not wearing red underwear outside his suit!  Oh no – he is struggling with his identity in this one!  If it makes for a better movie then great.  If changes and approaches make for a worse movie then that is where it ends for me.  Too many freaks and geeks have too much of their adult identity in Hollywood somehow validating their sad and pathetic youth.  Is it not enough that Hollywood and pop culture have turned being a “nerd” into a cool thing?  That bullies are an endangered species?  That everything you ever liked as a kid is being made into a big spectacle for you to enjoy as an adult.  Shut the fu*k up already.  You cannot go back in time and make friends or kiss a girl or any other things you wish had happened when you were younger and a new Superman will not fill that void – nor should the movie’s failure to live up to your hopes be reason to feel that you are being stuffed into a locker again.

So I hope Man of Steel is good.  But if it is not at least the silver lining is a whole lot of tools will lose their minds.  Now if you don’t mind I have much more adult things to do – like worry about if Lebron James can beat the San Antonio Spurs.  Probably almost as immature and lame as comic book fans except at least the guy I am rooting for actually exists.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!


From Celebration to Hi-Tech Lynching: The Reverse Sports Comedy…

Most sports comedies start with some sort of historical context, either real of fictional, dealing with some sort of tragedy or woe that has befallen a team or city.  Then the team gets together and commits a series of blunders and near successes.  Then after some magical moment, of either forced racial harmony or the emergence of a collective enemy to rally against, the team begins to play well.  In a series of montages, with some humor, the team begins to play great with each member showcasing the specific talent that they had shown potential for all along.  By the conclusion of the movie there is some obstacle that the team must overcome and thanks to some clutch performance the team achieves their goal and has a big celebration.  Major League is the best example of this, both because it follows the formula perfectly and for extra irony, took place in Cleveland, the city Lebron James left.

With the conclusion of the NBA Finals last night it became clear to me that the Miami Heat’s season was literally the reversal of a sports comedy.  And LeBron James was the star.

Before examining the most fascinating story line in the NBA since Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV, some credit needs to be given to the Dallas Mavericks.  And me.  I had had a big debate with Knick fan friends about the future of the NBA.  They all panicked with the advent of the Big 3 in Miami and declared that the NBA was now exlusively a superstar arms race.  Ignoring teams like the 2003 Spurs and the 2004 Detroit Pistons, my friends assured me that the Knicks, built around Amar’e Stoudemire with a slew of potential super role players could not compete in the NBA and that the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony for half of their roster was necessary.  What followed was the disappearance of Amar’e Stoudemire and an early exit for the NY Knicks.  If one team has the two best individual players (Wade and Lebron) in the game it makes no sense to try to out-star power them.  The Mavericks have proven that the Hakeem Olajuwon/early Tim Duncan model can work.  Get a dominant superstar and build super role players around him.  This is a great tribute to Dirk Nowitzki’s will and talent and a relief to NBA fans who were afraid that the league would automatically become 6 super teams and a bunch of teams wasting their time.  But back to the anti-sports comedy.

The Beginning Is The End

So after The Decision, which apparently now outranks OJ murdering his ex wife and a waiter as the worst crime ever committed by an athlete if one reads the Twitter feeds of most basketball fans, the Heat had a celebration in front of their fans in Miami.  This was obviously premature being that it was the first, rather than the last, thing they did as a group (the Big 3 at least).  By the way, if you Google “The Decision,” the first result is Lebron James’ announcement.  The second is “the decision to drop the atomic bomb.”  This could not more perfectly illustrate America’s misplaced priorities and anger towards Lebron.

Tough Finish Is Tough Start Instead

The Heat went 9-8 in their first 17 games, much to the glee of most NBA fans.  In the proper order of a sports comedy this would be the tense finish, barely eeking out a victory in the end.  Instead they struggled to open the season and despair seemed to be reigning in Miami.  Dwayne Wade was injured (sports comedies often have a late injury that forces everyone else to step up their game, so naturally the reverse has an early injury), which also led to their early struggles.

The Success Montage

This part of the film would basically last from late December to the beginning of June.  It would show the Heat rolling, there might be some comedy clips of Joel Anthony hitting free throws, as the audience laughs and says, “Hahahaha – even THAT guy is doing work!”  LeBron and Wade would provide oohhh and ahhhhh moments for the audience.  The only difference is that in the sports film the montage would start with a big win against Dallas and then end with a thrashing of the champion Lakers, leading to the tense, final third of the movie.  Instead, this montage began with a Christmas win against the Lakers and finished with a solid win against the Mavericks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The Rick Vaughn In Reverse Moment

In the aforementioned Major League, a major turning point for the Indians is when their talented, but erratic pitcher, Rick Vaughn, finally learns that he needs glasses.  From that moment on, he meets his potential and dominates.  But before that moment he is a bumbling idiot and it is not clear why.  That was LeBron James in the last three games of the playoffs.  It was an inexplicable display on par with Vaughn, who could throw 100mph, but was nowhere near the plate.  Whether you hate him or love him, the fact is Lebron had delivered tremendous performances both consistent and clutch for the first three rounds of the playoffs.  He even played well in the first three games of the NBA Finals.  And then, in this reverse sports comedy, he lost his metaphorical glasses.  It did not look like someone quitting consciously.  It looked more inexplicable.  Like someone stole his soul.   Meanwhile the last three games became worse and worse displays by the Heat that would have been comedic if they weren’t so sad.  Too many passes, too much Mario Chalmers, too much celebrating by Deshawn Stevenson (in a sports comedy a doofus like Stevenson would open the movie talking garbage and then get served late in the movie or at least during the heroic montage part), Dwyane Wade dribbling off his foot, Chris Bosh crying (hey at least he cares), etc.

The Historical Tragedy Is Epilogue, Not Prologue

I have maintained throughout this whole Heat spectacle, but I wanted Lebron to stay in Cleveland.  Everyone likes the hometown hero story.  And Cleveland has had it tough with their sports teams.  And the city felt betrayed.  I famously wrote (famous meaning to the 13 people who read the post) that I would root for Kobe this year, which was up until The Decision was unimaginable to me.  But then three things happened.  One, I watched Kobe again and realized he’s Diet Jordan and it is impossible for me to be a fan of a cover band with a rape allegation.  Two, NY Knick fans, who surround me, were the most awful people in the Lebron fiasco.  They were ready to suck Cleveland’s soul as long as Lebron came to NYC.  But when he opted for South Beach, Knick fans became the most self-righteous bunch of fans in America.  Hypocrisy reigned supreme in NYC.  Much like the steroid scandal in baseball, America, led by the NY fan base, had turned into a bunch of people who could not wait to trash someone else.  America is a bunch of cheats, whether it is on your spouse, your taxes or your math test, but show us some people living a life we are jealous of and we will annihilate them once they don’t live up to standards we don’t hold ourselves to.

As a friend mentioned to me yesterday, how many people have left Cleveland for better cities or better job opportunities that were born there?  I know comedians from Cleveland.  Could you not make it on to Letterman while living in Cleveland?  Why not?  There are clubs and open mics in Cleveland.  Maybe you should have just worked harder.  An interesting point in the very least.  But Lebron got to go to South Beach with his buddies and live a dream life.  So we went overboard.  And that is the third thing that cemented me rooting for Lebron again.  The hi-tech lynching that occurred.

Yes, I know I am using the term made infamous by Clarence Thomas in his 1991 confirmation hearings, but in this case it is actually true.  Lebron did one thing that annoyed people – he had a television special to announce that he was going to Miami.  He did not murder anyone.  He did not rape anyone.  He did not take drugs.  He made one decision and handled it in a less than gracious manner.  What he incurred (speaking to everyone not in or from Cleveland), however, was on par with the Tea Party’s response to President Obama.  Following on Facebook and Twitter, people who I never knew even knew what basketball was or had ever made a comment about sports, let alone basketball, were all too ready to bash LeBron James and wish ill will upon him.  It felt like a cyber posse that became a cyber lynch mob – people just seemed to know that they were supposed to hate Lebron.  And about 1% of the comments I read were from people in Cleveland.

And this is not just how some people hate on brash wide receivers in football for being cocky (and backlash). This was deeper and angrier.  Something about LeBron has made Americans angrier than they should be.  Is it the fact that he has been blessed with gifts that we will never have and he doesn’t use them to their full capacity?  That is what bothers me or at least perplexes me.  I feel like watching Lebron is like watching a superhero who sometimes randomly decides that he doesn’t want to be a superhero.  Is it the fact that a young, rich black man held the NBA hostage with a televised special, foolishly wielding his power without realizing the backlash that would ensue?  Will there be the same hatred and bile for the whole league and the vast majority of white owners when they manifest a lockout next season?  Or is that fair business?  And to be fair the hatred is not just from white people, the same way black cops can mistreat black suspects.  But it is unlike anything a white athlete has ever faced.

Even today, his post-game press conference remarks are being twisted and turned into some sort of “I’m rich and you’re poor” sour grapes speech, which seems to be a stretch to say the least.  But maybe this is just part of the American pop culture playbook.  We built up a high school athlete because he had incredible talent.  Then we begin tearing him down as an arrogant Frankenstein that if true, means we bear significant responsibility in creating his image.  Now all that is left is the redemption story.  But judging from past examples, only history will view him more favorably.

That is, unless he shows that has learned his “proper place,” but after seeing this season in action and the vitriol spewed last night against him, hopefully he never learns it.


Kobe Beef

Last night I watched the Boston Celtics get out-hustled and out-played by the Los Angeles Lakers.  As if it wasn’t enough to see Kobe Bryant have a solid game I was forced to swallow my own vomit several times as I watched Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar make quality contributions.  Rumor has it in the off-season they will be filming a buddy cop flick called Euro Trash and Shrek Ears.  But as much as Kobe has played the villain in my NBA story for the last 4 years, last night it got personal.  Because of the Laker victory, they will now play Game 7 on Thursday, my first night in Atlanta at The Punchline.

The Punchline is a big club and a chance for me to atone with Southern audiences for a minor debacle in Birmingham last Summer.

Backstory – Last Summer I featured at The Stardome, a huge club owned by some nice people.  6 of the seven shows went somewhere in the B- to B+ range, but one show, the Saturday show led to only the second time I have been boo’d on stage (the other time being Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn – a disgrace to higher education and the Civil Rights’ Leader’s memory, whose student attendees thought it was “boo every comedian that dares step on stage – like Amateur Night at The Apollo, without the credit of The Apollo. To put it in television analogies – if my comedy career was the show Homicide – Medgar Evers College would be Adeena Watson).  I said nothing offensive at The Stardome – I was just neither BET nor rednecky enough for the racially diverse, intellectual bottom feeders that occupied a few of the tables at the club that night.

So going to Atlanta was to be a bit of redemption for me and I actually booked the gig on the strength of my Always Be Funny/Glengary Glen Ross spoof video, which also restored my faith that YouTube was not entirely useless for my career.

But then the Lakers won because they seemed to finally discover that Rajon Rondo has the jumpshot of Shaquille O’Neal.  So that means Thursday night’s show will be empty of just about all basketball fans.  Now my routine has very fewbasketball references in it, but there is a correlation between people who are aware of basketball and people who enjoy my comedy.  Those people will not be there Thursday because Kobe & Co. won.  So who is going to be there Thursday night?  Southern comedy fans who do not like basketball.  Hmmmmmm, I just hope after the show I don’t have to tell anyone, “In New York they call me Missssster Cauvin!”

But the obvious point is that Kobe Bryant is to blame.  (I just wish LeBron James was at Game 6 and walked up to Kobe a la Maximus to Commodus in Gladiator and said, “The Time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end.” Because Kobe should know that when the LeBron James era will begin the moment LeBron gets a teammate(s) that is/are not terrible or fu*king his Mom…

Sidebar – For those of you that do not know – LeBron James mother is rumored (strong rumors) to have slept with LeBron’s bipolar, shotgun-carrying teammate Delonte West.  However, not a word has been uttered on this by ESPN , which is rather frightening.  My theory is that ESPN has marching orders from Nike not to say another word (what would ESPN be without Nike athletes and Nike advertising dollars?).  The story was discussed all over the Internet and on The Huffington Post, but not a peep from the premier sports news network in the world about one of the 10 most famous athletes on the planet?  Just makes you think if people including “The People’s Sports Reporter” Bill Simmons a/k/a The Sports Guy can be silenced (he gave a token – “absolutely false” comment on the story even though when I was in Cleveland everyone seemed to believe the story) by corporate titans (my friend Mike told me this has all the makings of a Michael Mann sports themed sequel to The Insider), what chance is there that news isn’t corrupted all the time by even bigger corporations (obviously it is).  And if you think this has nothing to do with sports – LeBron James disappeared against the Celtics after the rumors started flying, so unlike Tiger Woods’ Blasian fallace, LeBron’s story actually has sports-related salaciousness.

Back to Kobe- Is there anything more absurd than Kobe’s wife and future stripper daughters (when your Mom is a hot gold digger and your Dad is a wealthy rapist aren’t your employment prospects limited psychologically?) standing in the tunnel at halftime to greet him with adoration before he goes into the locker room?  “Look Nike and McDonald’s I am done with the butt rape and the cheating because here is my family right here.  But at the same time I am so driven to win that I take time out of halftime to greet my family?”  Anyone else’s wives or girlfriends meeting them in the tunnel?  Did Michael Jordan have Juanita waiting at halftime? No – he was too busy thinking about winning and killing the other team.  Now he might have had sex with his opponent’s wife in the tunnel as a competitive advantage, but he would never waste time to kiss his own wife mid-game.

So now for this horsesh*t I have to see potential fans not show up tot he first show in Atlanta.  It looks like me and the Celtics are going to have to put in a strong effort Thursday to make sure Kobe does not win.  Odds are the Celtics will have a tougher time than me.