We just launched a new Nike campaign on Facebook called RUN Like ME. It’s a bit of a crazy ‘social media running’ experiment.
Every ‘Like’ the page gets, our actual runner Joseph, will run 100 meters more. Please ‘Like’ the RUN Like ME page and help Joseph run as long as possible!!
Visit and ‘Like’ the page here.
There are a number of factors that make this scenario all but impossible.
1. The Oklahoma City Thunder. They have already proven that they belong in the NBA Finals, and you could argue that they arrived there ahead of schedule. Now that they have experienced their first taste of championship defeat, their hunger will grow and turn them into even more viable rivals to the Miami Heat’s chances of winning four or more championships. To say nothing of the Chicago Bulls, who can potentially make even getting to the Finals a high hurdle moving forward.
2. Internal Chemistry. All of the pieces proved to be in place for this year’s title run, however you cannot guarantee the identical combination of internal factors heading into next season. D-Wade’s injury woes this year made him a clear number 2 option. This was not by choice. If D-Wade starts next season at full health, LeBron, Bosh and him will have to re-establish the pecking order by deferring egos, as opposed to having their egos deferred based on the fate of injury.
3. Lack of role players. With Mike Miller possibly retiring and Udonis Haslem advancing in years of service, you cannot predict how management will replace their roles moving forward. This year saw a perfect combination of star to role player talent. It will be a tough challenge for management to consistently stock the team with reliable bench options to support the team’s bedrock of superstars.
4. Coaching. Eric Spoelstra rode the coattails this year, but over the next several seasons we will understand if he is the long term solution to the Miami bench. LeBron is the clear leader of the team, and any pecking order was established by him, not the coaching staff. LeBron’s aura pulled out the victories this postseason, but in order to win multiple championships, the Heat will need a master of execution and motivation on their bench.
Will LeBron James and the Heat (likely) win 4 or more NBA championships?
When it comes to what teenagers in Ashikaga, Japan wear, Bad English, is king.
I walked by waves and waves and thousands of teenagers in malls this weekend. Over 80 percent were wearing shirts with English words on them. Being a native English speaker, the type, kerning, syntax, and everything were clearly designed by people who didn’t exactly know what the words meant.
Walking through those malls in rural Japan, you see a ton of the typeface Impact. Often distressed in photoshop and then stretched, pulled and skewed in Illustrator. A lot of the shirts fall into the ‘American University’ genre.
Phrases on selected shirts read:
REBEL WHO CARE.
LOVE YOUR BEST THING.
FIND HAPPY TIME.
STRAWBERRY CUPCAKE DREAMS.
Those were some of the memorable, short headlines, but there were many, many, long copy shirts who I cannot recall how the words were put together. It’s like the American dude who gets a Japanese tattoo because he likes how it looks. In Japan, it’s still clearly cool to wear some English letters on your chest. I’ve seen this throughout my time in Japan, but it seemed more concentrated than ever this weekend.
I wish I could have set up a photo booth in the mall and documented some of the highlights. It would be a fascinating look book.
Welcome to the NBA Wonder Years.
Brought to you by LeBron King James, Self-Annointed Chosen One, His Royal Decider.
Today marks the end of the NBA as we know it. Michael Jordan’s legacy is now securely encased in carbonite. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird have given their blessing. It’s a day we all saw coming for over a decade.
LeBron James has claimed his throne.
Now his detractors will have to get more creative. Gone are all the opportunities to call him ringless. LeBron got his. Just as the immense decade of hype promised. We’ve seen highly touted stars more often miss the mark than hit it. Which makes LeBron’s feat all the more impressive.
It’s time for the world to think of LeBron differently now. At first we demanded a Jordan replica to fill the void that his Airness left. When LeBron showed he didn’t have the identical tougne wagging swagger, we were collectively let down and shifted our attention to Kobe who has seemed to make a career out of modeling his game after Jordan.
But LeBron’s game was elusive. Tough to pin down in a single mold. He was a freak of nature who could leap tall buildings, yet also seemed perfectly at ease dishing the ball in the final seconds. And was called a cop out for it. Was he Jordan or was he Magic? We needed an exact legend equation to understand his unique gift.
As I watched King James hoist his Larry O’Brien trophy, I considered that maybe we should simply be enjoying this. Were we disappointed that Michael didn’t dominate with the same Showtime flair as Magic? Were we okay with Larry Bird being the Hick from French Lick, a previously unknown brand of basketballer?
Just because the NBA has been in the collective consciousness for several decades now, doesn’t mean that history is going to ever repeat itself. There will be new types of superstars. There will be point guards who achieve iconic status by being nothing like Magic Johnson. Superstars will find ways to carry their teams to titles in ways we haven’t seen before. We are now starting to see LeBron dominate the league in his own way. We haven’t found a perfect way to describe it yet, but we better get on that.
For me, LeBron’s game might be considered what we call in baseball, a five-tool player. The rare superstar who has the gene to excel in every category his sport demands. LeBron can score on anyone, at any time. Check. He has a sixth sense court awareness that earns him high numbers of assists. He can out rebound anyone on the floor. And he has the intangible ‘coolest guy in the locker room vibe.’ You can tangibly feel his aura. Just watch how his teammates react to him, or how they talk about in him interviews. See how they gush with respect. Not in an awkward, I have to do this way, but in a ‘that guy is a basketball alien sent to destroy us all’ kind of reverence. Heck, even watch how LeBron is the social center of attention when the All Stars gather, or the Olympic team even.
For the first time since Jordan (sorry Kobe), we have the best basketball player on the planet winning a championship. He’s hungry, he’s in his prime, and he somehow, still has room for improvement. Look at how much LeBron keeps adding to his game. That’s something that the great ones have always done. Kobe, the current Godfather of the NBA linked that legacy between the 90s and today, and thankfully it’s considered cool to practice again. There was a brief post-Jordan moment when the NBA turned into a glorified version of the And1 circuit. Guys like Latrell Spreewell, JR Rider, Rasheed Wallace and others would famously loaf through practice, only to let their instinct and raw talent out when the arena lights turned on on game day. That made for amazing highlight tapes, but you felt a tangible disrespect for the game between the lines.
Now, the three best players in the league are notorious gym rats. Kobe wakes up at three am to get his work in. Kevin Durant stays in the gym after the game to refine his already perfect touch. And LeBron James, the King of them all sets up grueling workouts for himself with Hakeem Olajuwan in the summer and trains each part of his game with workman like efficiency. The game comes easily to these guys, but they are championing a work ethic that will trickle down to all levels of the game and inspire intense hustle and sacrifice. LeBron’s example will make basketball better. Just watch.
Is LeBron perfect? Hell no. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tune in and respect what he is doing on the basketball court. He is playing the game the right way, with his own power twists. He is loved by his teammates and is only going to improve.
We haven’t had a champion like this in the NBA in a long time.
All hail the King.
Darvish responded well after the Rangers gave him eight days of rest. Maybe Texas should move to a seven-man rotation to closer simulate the kind of rest Darvish got in Japan. Fatigue and being able to handle the heavy demands of the major league calendar was a major concern surrounding Darvish’s signing. This experiment certainly proves a well-rested Darvish is a better rested Darvish. The question remains, can Darvish adjust his body and workload to fit into the major league requirements?
Darvish’s dominance of the Astros wasn’t entirely about getting enough rest. The way he worked the batters and approached the game was consistent with the previous successful games he’s had. The secret to a dominant Darvish performance is throwing first pitch strikes. When he allows himself to get the ball over early, he stays ahead and puts himself in a position to close batters out. When he nibbles and gets too fine with his fastball, he loses his command and confidence, which leads to walks and eventually high run totals.
Against the Astros, Darvish was able to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate, often going outside and then inside to the same batter. This kept the Astro hitters off balance and looking very uncomfortable trying to hit against Darvish. His curveball was also on, as it usually is, but was even more effective since his fastball was accurate. In the past we have seen Darvish trying too hard to outthink his opponents and throwing a lot of first pitch off speed stuff. Against Houston, he didn’t try to be tricky, he just established his dominance early and often.
In Darvish’s disastrous start against Oakland, you could almost see the gears in his head turning, reducing the game of baseball to an over complicated game of chess. It looked as though Darvish thought every batter would hit a massive home run against him. You can’t pitch like that. Out of that mindset, Darvish was reluctant to throw the ball confidently over the plate, and the walks and runs piled up fast.
There was no fear in Darvish’s game against the Astros. As a result, it was only the Houston batters who looked nervous and overmatched. Darvish’s talent coupled with his confidence are his greatest weapons. If he keeps those with him, he can win the Cy Young award. If he forgets them, I’m sure there are triple A pitchers that can outperform him. Texas gave him the pile of gold to be the rockstar he was in Japan.
And against Houston last weekend, his game looked worthy of a laser light show and a ten-minute guitar solo.
Japanese love to line up for things. It could be to meet a celebrity, to get first dibs on a fashion release, or even just to grab a bowl of ramen. Long lines are a common part of daily life in Japan. I’m sure there are people out there who arrange their schedule based on what they can line up for next. Oh, a new ice cream shop opened AND my favorite idol group is posing for pictures? Now there is a dilemma for these lovers of long lines. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of lines at pancake houses. One of the latest Tokyo crazes. Every time I see a line I just chuckle. They are always orderly, and they often look like they are about an hour long. I find it extremely funny. Of course I also sat in a long line over the weekend for the release of the Nike Air Yeezy 2’s, but that’s an entirely reasonable reason to wait in a queue, right?
It was great to see Dice-K back on the mound at Fenway this weekend. He looked solid out there. In fact, I couldn’t really tell he’d had any time off, let alone had missed an entire season. He made some mistakes, and got the loss, but the first four innings showed a lot of promise. His ball had good movement on it, as his 8 strikeouts would indicate. He showed a variety of pitches and his outing had the feel of an intellectual pitcher who knows how to outthink his opponents.
I know Daisuke isn’t satisfied with his performance and he will have things to focus on next time. You know there is a part of him that wants to steal some of the spotlight from newcomer and countryman Yu Darvish. Looking forward to watching his next start.