Monday, November 10, 2008

Soccer players more prone to Motor Neuron Disease

Dozens of former "football" players have died from the paralyzing ailment, one form of which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, to the extent that in Italy, professional soccer players, especially midfielders, are seven times more likely to develop the disease than the general population. So far, scientists have yet to establish a link between the sport and the activity.

  • Footballers fall prey to fatal disease [Times Online UK]

  • Rapper vs. Baller: Eric B. & Rakim and Allen Iverson

    Even without any historical context, Eric B. and Rakim will blow you away. The hard flow of Rakim's rhymes weaving in and out of sample after sample interlaced together by Eric B. is sheer beauty. If "Paid in Full" or "Follow the Leader" were released in the last five years, they'd be among the top albums based solely on artistic brilliance. What makes the duo so much more impressive is how innovative they were. Eric B. and Rakim are so old that A Tribe Called Quest throws back to them ("My favourite jam back in the day was Eric B. for President", from "Steve Biko"). The two aforementioned albums, both considered to be among the most groundbreaking and influential of all-time, were released in 1987 and 1988 respectively, in other words, probably before most active rappers ever picked up a mic. Yes, Grandmaster Flash started producing mainstream rap music in the early 1980's, but suffice it to say that "Paid in Full", which Eric B. produced at the tender age of 18, was like nothing the world had ever seen.

    Before AI, we had seen crossovers, and they were well and good, but they were not AI's crossover. We take such things for granted in today's age of AND1 mixtapes, but in the 1996-1997 season, the number of broken ankles in the NBA skyrocketed. The laundry list of top defensive players that got rocked back on their heels is endless. Even compared to today's highlight reels, those old rookie year videos still catch our eye, and as such, the crossover became the deadliest innovation since Kareem's skyhook. Again, we stress, before Kareem, there were hook shots, but none like the skyhook. Also, the fundamental difference is that while the skyhook is recognized as impossible to stop, AI's crossover is such that if you try to stop it, you look ridiculous, if you try to contain it, you look even more ridiculous. Once he brings the ball to his hip, AI becomes the puppet master, with one string attached to the ball, and two attached to your feet.

    Friday, November 7, 2008


    Photo by Flickr user Vicki's Nature

    The baby Hawks have grown up, and seem to be building on last year's playoff appearance towards becoming one of the "dangerous" squads that everyone talks about (see: Blazers). Tonight they are in the process of dismantling the Raptors, who I picked early on to be very good in the East this year.

    Who thinks the Hawks could be a 5 seed this year? (Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Orlando, I guess)


    After watching the last 1.9 seconds of the Rockets-Blazers game, I can now die happy. As a Rockets fan, I am crushed, but as an even bigger basketball fan, I have seen that there is light in this world.

    [edit] Now, with video! [courtesy of Upside and Motor]

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Rapper vs. Baller: Lil Wayne and Tracy McGrady

    Rapper vs. Baller will be a new regular installment discussing a usually prominent rapper or rap group and picking an NBA Player whose career, style, or personality most resembles that rapper. Hopefully it will be fun and longer lasting than my other attempts at regular installments.

    Lil Wayne, if nothing else, is probably the most discussed rapper of 2008. His gremlin voice has topped charts right and left and to some he is the second coming. To others, he is just more of the same: an example of rap heading in the wrong direction, away from the Golden Age of ATCQ, Wu-Tang Clan, and, well, The Roots. The about Lil Wayne is that you either love him or you hate him. Either you fall in love with his intricate rhyme scheme and wordplay or you are turned off by his simplistic flow, bubblegum beats, or gimmicky attitude. Moreover, you are always wary that he is just one OD away from ending his career and life, for better or worse. One thing that is undeniable is that he is prolific. He has released literally hundreds of albums and mixtapes in his career, so much that one might wonder whether he should employ some quality control. Also, it should be noted that his career truly took off once he joined the DJ Khaled stable (seen above), as he often can't carry an entire song with his gremlin voice, but rather can act as the headliner and showstopper of a hit with a solid supporting cast.

    Similarly there are mixed opinions about Tracy McGrady. At this point in his career, you might only expect 60 games played per season, and with stats that won't jump off a page. Even so, you never know when he's going to blow up and have a 40-point night. He's still one of the most dangerous players in the NBA for that reason, but you also wonder when that gimpy back of his will finally give out. In his prime, was he one of the best players in the NBA? Some would say so, but others would point to teh fact that he has never been out of the first round as evidence that he was not. Earlier in his career, he was the NBA points leader, but it is this season when he could achieve real success, alongside a revamped Houston Rockets supporting cast. It is obvious that he will take on a lesser role this season, but he is still the star and go-to guy in the clutch for this team.


    Akon = Yao Ming, a staple for any song/game he's in, but undeniably soft.
    T.I. = Ron Artest, capable of tearing it up and being the unsung hero, as well as being arrested for possession of assault weapons.
    Rick Ross and Fat Joe = Carl Landry and Luis Scola, the less heralded big men who patrol the middle.
    Birdman = Rafer Alston, throws up the assist for Weezy Mac to throw it down at the end.
    DJ Khaled = Shane Battier, a seemingly limited role, but actually behind the scenes the glue that holds everything together.

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Belated 2008-2009 Prediction Post

    Photo by Flickr user gandhiji40 used under a Creative Commons license.

    Now that the season is underway and I'm back to blogging, I thoguht it would be apt to throw one of these bad boys up. Let's see how wrong I am. (Note: I did not check that the league as a whole finishes at .500. Please do not send me angry e-mails saying that I don't know math.)


  • 1. Boston Celtics (57-25)
  • 2. Cleveland Cavaliers (52-30)
  • 3. Toronto Raptors (50-32)
  • 4. Orlando Magic (48-34)
  • 5. Detroit Pistons (49-33)
  • 6. Philadelphia Sixers (45-37)
  • 7. Miami Heat (41-41)
  • 8. Atlanta Hawks (39-43)
  • 9. Washington Wizards (37-45)
  • 10. Indiana Pacers (37-45)
  • 11. Chicago Bulls (36-46)
  • 12. New Jersey Nets (33-49)
  • 13. Charlotte Bobcats (32-50)
  • 14. New York Knicks (30-52)
  • 15. Milwaukee Bucks (27-55)


  • 1. Los Angeles Lakers (63-19)
  • 2. New Orleans Hornets (55-27)
  • 3. Utah Jazz (54-28)
  • 4. Houston Rockets (52-30)
  • 5. San Antonio Spurs (51-31)
  • 6. Dallas Mavericks (46-36)
  • 7. Portland Trailblazers (45-37)
  • 8. Denver Nuggets (42-40)
  • 9. Phoenix Suns (41-41)
  • 10. Los Angeles Clippers (38-44)
  • 11. Sacramento Kings (38-44)
  • 12. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-50)
  • 13. Golden State Warriors (30-52)
  • 14. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-54)
  • 15. Memphis Grizzlies (23-59)

    I'm not going to explain most of my picks, but you can note that I have Toronto higher than most people. This is because JO and Bosh complement each other perfectly and Calderon is one of the most efficient point guard's in the league. Nay-sayers will note that second unit players are often the beneficiary of lessened competition, but Calderon's stats improved when TJ Ford was out in previous seasons, so there isn't evidence that they'll decline in a starting role this year. As for the Suns missing the playoffs, they've completely lost their identity as the Run-and-Gun Suns with the acquisition of the Big Cactus and new Coach Terry Porter. Other notes, the Lakers looks unstoppable, Blazers look just OK, Bulls are intriguing. Clippers and Hawks face-off for the title of best collection of fantasy players on a mediocre at best team IRL.

    Other Picks:

    League MVP: Chris Paul (Voters love the assists, see: Steve Nash).
    ROY: Derrick Rose looks like he could be something else.
    MIP: Ty Thomas is going to make Chicago breathe a sigh of relief that they aren't in another Ty Chandler situation.
    DPOY: Ron Artest, because Shane Battier never gets any credit.
    6MOY: Lamar Odom, with Manu out, the title is up for grabs.
    COY: Sam Mitchell, because I picked the Raptors to outperform expectations and the team that does that usually wins this award.
    Exec. OY: Daryl Morey and Co. Because of this and this and this.

  • We're Baaaaaack (Theoretically)

    Sorry for the Olympic hangover, but now that baseball is gone and basketball is back, so are we (back, not gone... for now).

    Not that any of you care, but here is what I have been occupied with:

  • Moving back into school.
  • Getting addicted to gambling on sports.
  • Losing my bankroll by gambling on sports.
  • Getting addicted to online poker.
  • Exams/Homework? (Not that time-consuming)
  • Being surprisingly good at online poker (I make more in poker than at my job, which is both great and sad).
  • Drafting probably the worst fantasy basketball team in history in the U&M Fantasy Basketball Classic

    "Loren's underground. And something tells me that he's not only down with that, but that he embraces it. Power to you, Loren, and stick it to the man.

    -Rob Mahoney, Upside and Motor

    What that basically means is that no one has ever heard of me. I guess I embrace it, but that's not to say that I would turn down exposure. But with great power comes great responsibility and the inability to go on season-long breaks.