Three Things This Summer
First things first, my apologies to my readers – I know you have been yearning for the latest release of your favourite column. After being thrust into the abyss affectionately known to me as my summer, I’ve finally been able to sit back, reflect and collect my thoughts on a number of events that have transpired in the sports and entertainment industry.
Immediately after this year’s NBA finals and NBA Draft, I decided to give my cable company a call to cancel my sports channel subscriptions. July and August are the two months devoid of anything worthy of my acknowledgement sports-wise. Of course, July saw the emergence of the Pan Am Games in Toronto – its relevance brought faint interest into certain events and the overall medal standings. Oh, and of course, Kanye West delivered an unforgettable performance at the closing ceremonies.
Throughout the sports and entertainment industry it seemed as though everyone from writers and bloggers to fans were begging, if not pleading for stories to follow. To be honest, there wasn’t much to yearn for, but here’s what’s important to this writer and what I believe should be important to you as well.
NBA FREE AGENCY
July 1, 2015 marked the first day of NBA free agency, and as expected, a number of teams made incredible noise during the first few hours that they were allowed to contact unrestricted free agents. Making a lot of noise, though, is not always viewed as making substantial change as it relates to the league.
The biggest winners by far, were the perpetual “haves” the San Antonio Spurs, acquiring the likes of highly sought-after power forward Lamarcus Aldridge. On the flip side, many of the “have-nots” got marginally better.
You see the NBA free agency is a lot of smoke and mirrors – moves largely made to appease the local fan bases – but really with little or no relevance or immediate impact to the team itself.
For instance, my hometown’s Toronto Raptors made waves picking up free agent journeyman DeMarre Carroll and local boy Corey Joseph. The move will undoubtedly shore up their lacklustre perimeter defence, which looked futile and at times simply embarrassing, during their quick post-season exit.
Although the period kept most fans intrigued by the never-ending notifications and updates sent via social media, digging below the gloss and clamour of it all revealed that no one team got dramatically better overnight.
But hold on Toronto; let’s not plan the championship parade on Yonge Street quite yet. Although the Raps picked up a decent defensive stopper in Carroll, this will be his sixth team in six years. Joseph is an intriguing pick up, and someone that I’ll continue to root for, but the fact remains, that he has been a back-up point guard his entire NBA career, albeit with a championship ring to his credit.
For the most part, NBA free agency period seemed to only surround itself with the circus that is DeAndre Jordan and his inability to make up his mind about where he wanted to continue his career. Once all was said and done, he remained a Clipper and the Clippers look like pretty much the same team, save for a few new additions.
Although the period kept most fans intrigued by the never-ending notifications and updates sent via social media, digging below the gloss and clamour of it all revealed that no one team got dramatically better overnight. This was nowhere close to the excitement that saw ‘The Big 3’ form in Miami a few years back. This was more or less Twitter fodder, Band-Aid treatments for reeling clubs and moreover a ho-hum period as only time can dictate a successful or unsuccessful outcome for your respective team.
DRAKE VS. MEEK MILL
This whole Drake versus Meek Mill social media war is somewhat comical. I’ve always believed that hip-hop is an art form that lends itself to one’s creativity through five different disciplines: graffiti, b-boying, DJing, knowledge/understanding and emceeing. Emceeing is the discipline that is prominently displayed today, as the other elements have taken a back seat to the most important person in hip-hop – the rapper.
While everyone was either enjoying a cold beverage on a patio or biting into a juicy burger at a barbecue, Meek decided to take some time away from performing alongside his girlfriend Nicki Minaj on her international Pink Print tour to come at Drake through Twitter. Meek went on about how Drake doesn’t write all of his rhymes; more importantly, he didn’t write the verse he gave to Meek for arguably the hottest track on Dreams Worth More Than Money – “R.I.C.O.”
Rappers have become entertainers and I’m cool with that. To assume that an entertainer won’t borrow styles, techniques and sometimes lyrics to formulate their own brand is ludicrous.
Drake is the hottest rapper in the game right now, hands down. His mercurial ascension to the top is unprecedented because of the magnitude of his chart-topping songs – the dude can flat-out make hits. Essentially, that’s what emceeing is – moving the crowd. KRS-One told us a long time ago, that’s what an emcee does. Drake not only moves a crowd, he also moves numbers, and they never lie.
Since the end of rap’s golden era, the ’90s, I’ve found myself hard-pressed to find rappers that actually represent the entire hip-hop ideal to the fullest. Rappers have become entertainers and I’m cool with that. To assume that an entertainer won’t borrow styles, techniques and sometimes lyrics to formulate their own brand is ludicrous. So, when Meek first divulged this earth-shattering piece of information, it really didn’t shake any parts of my earth.
Every professional in any profession will tell you that they’ve borrowed something from someone to get where they are now. It’s almost like assuming Kobe’s now famous fist pump and tongue wagging weren’t famously done before by another 6’6” guard from North Carolina named Michael Jordan.
For some reason rap music is held to a different standard. Perhaps if Meek’s rhymes weren’t pedestrian in nature, repetitive by design and pre-school in delivery, the masses would question his own lyrical prowess and creativity.
NFL TRAINING CAMP
With the now infamous “Deflategate” scandal between the New England Patriots and the NFL dominating the headlines during the off-season, we have witnessed the evolution of trial by media and judgment by commissioner.
Barring any changes prior to the commencement of the season, quarterback Tom Brady will serve a suspension of four games for his role in the deflating of balls prior to his playoff game earlier this year. Despite his plea of innocence and ignorance, Brady and the culture of cheating that has dominated the Patriots organization over the years, will undoubtedly have his legacy tarnished by this suspension.
The fervent desire for the average fan and fantasy team owner to have their meaningless Sundays replaced by NFL football action will soon be attained, as training camps are in full swing.
With all that said, the fervent desire for the average fan and fantasy team owner to have their meaningless Sundays replaced by NFL football action will soon be attained, as training camps are in full swing.
Twenty-eight teams will once again vie for the Vince Lombardi trophy and all the scandals that plagued the off-season will thankfully be forgotten as the excitement for gridiron action returns.
In the mean time, this fan will wait patiently for a noteworthy and relevant response track from Meek Mill and pray that what happens on wax doesn’t manifest in the streets or clubs.