Coronavirus, From My Perspective

Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert. On March 11th, the 27-year old tested positive for Coronavirus.

Greetings, beautiful people! This piece will discuss the state of the COVID-19 virus (also known as Coronavirus), as well as its impact, from my point of view. Enjoy, and please, share it with your friends!

DISCLAIMER: I won’t be discussing the virus’s origins, potential cures, symptoms, etc. This is NOT an informational piece, nor a health guide. With that being said, please stay healthy, stay cautious, and wash your hands!


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. On March 11th, he announced that classes at SUNY & CUNY schools would move online starting March 19th.

I think I can speak for many, when saying I can recall my location when I received the information, that this virus was officially a pandemic.

In my case: I was in SUNY Oswego, sleeping. Desperate for rest between my final class of the day and work-study in the math department, I gave myself a 45-minute nap, enough time to prepare my brain for the remainder of the day.

I was mistaken. I slept for over an hour, making myself late for work in the process.

Upon entering my bosses classroom, I glanced at my phone’s home screen, as a notification read: “the Coronavirus is officially a pandemic”, on the CNN news app. I thought nothing of it. Criminally immature, I had the mindset, that if the virus didn’t affect me, it’s wasn’t important. So I head to work.

My boss directs me to make a delivery across campus. Perfect chance to burn time and listen to music.

As I began my voyage across campus, and reach for the Apple AirPods in my pocket, I can overhear some chatter from the school’s janitorial staff. They were discussing the breaking news: CUNY & SUNY schools would transition to online classes beginning March 19.

I was startled. That scenario felt bittersweet. Sure, I would be able to remain in my hometown, New York City, with my family, with home-cooked food, with my closest friends. However, there’s a reason I went upstate to attend school. The opportunity, the resources, the experience of living on your own. And now, it’s essentially gone in one day.

I know many college students feel this way.

Visual representation of the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus).

Make no mistake, our health is the most important thing, above all. However, that doesn’t hide the fact that our lives are being altered due to a virus that may not be as dangerous as advertised.

It’s a disappointing development, in a year filled with them thus far.


Following the announcement that Coronavirus had become a pandemic, the immediate response felt like a scene straight out a drama film.

It’s as if we are in a crisis. You begin to question: is this the beginning of the end? Did our ancestors endure this during the Great Depression? The World War? It all feels so surreal.

President Donald Trump. Since March 11th, he’s commented on the Coronavirus several times.

There are SO many questions left unanswered. What is the future of our society? What is the government doing to bring an end to all of this? How long will it take? Is the virus that serious? It’s a scary time right now.

The fear of the virus appeared to peak on the evening of March 11th. Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus that night.

That diagnosis prompted the NBA to suspend its regular season. The NBA G-League did the same. The previous time there was no basketball played, it was due to labor disputes. Nothing of this magnitude has ever transpired within the sport.

As mentioned before, it’s as if bits of pieces of our lives are being eliminated due to this virus. For me, I’m someone that lives off routine. To have that routine interrupted, without warning is, crazy.

You may be thinking, why is he complaining about the NBA? Is that all he cares about? That’s far from the truth.

It’s simply fear. If something as significant as the NBA can be suspended, think about what could be suspended next. Stocks are already plummeting. Think about the people that may have contracted the virus from Rudy, like teammate Donovan Mitchell. It’s more to it.

Utah Jazz G Donovan Mitchell. On March 12th, the 23-year old tested positive for Coronavirus.

Lastly, my biggest concern during this entire fiasco, is the aftermath. How will people act once this is over? Even simple things, like handshakes, daps, hugs, sharing food. Will everyone become a fearful, germaphobe?

Will Gobert be executed by the public, for his reported carelessness pertaining to the virus?

I may be exaggerating. Like many, this entire situation is unfamiliar to me. I’m just hoping for the best in these confusing times.

Some tips on how to stay safe from the virus.

To conclude, this last month puts life into perspective. If you’re reading this, to steer clear from the virus, regardless of its mortality rate, we must take the necessary precautions to do so. I’m no doctor, but I feel obligated to remind others what they should be doing.

After coming in physical contact with something that has germs, wash your hands, sanitize yourself. Cover your mouth when coughing & sneezing. Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. Avoid public places & gatherings if possible. Educate loved ones about the virus if possible.

And most of all, pray. Regardless of your faith & beliefs, positive energy & spirits will eradicate this virus before we know it.


If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends!

Blessings,

Andy

*Special shoutout to my mother, Ziyah, Chernor, Sekou, and Kwame S.

(Originally posted March 12, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)

The Knicks F*cking Suck…

Knicks & Rangers owner James Dolan (arms crossed) sitting courtside during a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.

Greetings beautiful people! This piece will discuss the continual dysfunction, which is the New York Knicks franchise. All from the heart, of a LOYAL Knicks supporter. Enjoy, and please, share it with your friends!


Knicks logo from the hardwood Madison Garden Square floor.

Knicks/Rangers owner James Dolan & Knicks franchise reminds me of a snobby rich kid, that gets whatever he desires. But doesn’t deserve ANYTHING he receives.

Think about what they have: a state of the art arena, Madison Square Garden, filled to the brim with history between its walls. An excellent location for a sports team, New York City, the largest media market in the country. That means you’ll always fill arena seats, even when you’re underperforming.

That’s another thing the Knicks don’t deserve. Their fans, especially celebrities. Unlike the Lakers at the Staples Center, celebrities at Knicks game don’t show up for attention. They KNOW the game of basketball and are passionate about the squad.

Award-winning film director & Knicks super-fan Spike Lee, at a Knicks game, donning a (#34) Charles Oakley jersey.

Amongst the celebrities, remains one of the more passionate sports fans ever, Spike Lee. Yes, the award-winning film director, writer, actor, & producer. THAT Spike Lee. The Knicks don’t deserve him, especially after what occurred March 2nd.

*I left off a few details from the incident. However, I’ve included the majority of the story, in accordance with the words of Spike Lee.


According to Lee, Monday he entered Madison Square Garden, per usual, via it’s West 33rd street employee entrance. The same route he’s entered the Garden for the last 28 years.

Upon entering the elevator that directs you to the Garden floor, Lee was stopped by security without explanation. He was asked to step out, and resisted.

After an intense shouting match, Lee was informed that he must enter MSG, via the West 31st street V.I.P. entrance. He wasn’t notified of the change in policy.

When asked to exit the Garden by security, Lee resisted. Exiting would prevent his re-entry into the arena, causing him to miss that night’s Knicks game. Click below to hear his explanation of the entire incident.

There’s more. Following Lee’s appearance on ESPN’s “First Take”, where he went in-depth about the incident, the Knicks PR department released a statement, found below.

The statement insinuated that Lee wasn’t a victim, but rather the suspect. It also stated that he exaggerated the situation, to stir drama. They even said his comments were “laughable”.

Statement released by Knicks PR department, following Spike Lee’s appearance on First Take March 3rd.

Now, after doing some research to prepare for this piece, I noticed some people comment on this fiasco. Many felt Lee carried some entitlement, and that is incident represented “rich people problems”. May be true, but this episode runs deeper than that.

Lee has been attending Knicks game since 1968, when he was in grade school. He would continue attending games throughout most of his adult life. He even subsidized TEN MILLION dollars in ticket purchases over the span of three decades.

And most importantly, he’s been the Knick’s greatest supporter throughout his entire journey. From the revolving door of management & head coaches, from playoff appearances to 17-win seasons, Lee was still on the sidelines, celebrating the great moments that were few and far between.

Throughout the constant change within the Knicks organization, Lee’s support for the franchise never wavered.


Lee standing courtside at a Knicks game in 2018.

It’s disappointing that the Knicks organization would treat their highest-profile supporter, a Brooklyn native, in this manner. Accusing him of stirring drama he wasn’t seeking. It’s as if the Knicks could never do wrong.

And to add insult to injury, this isn’t the first time the franchise has battled their fans. Do you recall the physical altercation involving former Knick Charles Oakley, that led to his removal from the Garden? Or when owner James Dolan banned a fan FOR LIFE? Simply because said fan told Dolan the truth?

Knicks/Rangers owner James Dolan.

Despite everything mentioned in this piece, with the Spike Lee incident, & how the franchise treats their fans, people still attend Knicks games at MSG.

That’s the problem. It gives Dolan and the franchise the privilege to treat it’s supporters however they please. It’s unfortunate, because the fans of New York (including me) deserve to root for a team that cares about winning and conducting business the correct way.

The NBA is an attractive product when the Knicks are competitive. And, it sucks that we can’t see the league at its utmost potential, due to the consistently underwhelming performance from the Knicks on, and off the court.

R.J. Barrett (#9) & Russell Westbrook (#0) during the Knicks March 2nd win over Houston.

Each big market NBA team is a winner on the court, and within its fan base. The Lakers & Clippers are flourishing. The Celtics and Raptors are contenders. The Nets have Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving.

But what about the Knicks? What do they bring to the table, being in the largest media market in the country? Their win-loss record year in and year out is atrocious. And fans across the city are fed up with the actions of owner James Dolan. Especially Spike.

Unfortunately, all that information is rendered meaningless. New York still has a snobby and obnoxious owner, filled with pride, that doesn’t know what he’s doing.

And until he gains respectability towards others, or sells the franchise, the Knicks will remain in competitive purgatory for many more years to come. They deserve NOTHING that they currently own.

That’s why the Knicks f*cking suck.


If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends!

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted March 4, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

King of Canarsie

Bashar Barakah Jackson, famously known as Pop Smoke, was gunned down early Wednesday morning. He was 20.

Greetings, beautiful people! This piece will honor the life of slain Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke. Early Wednesday morning, he was gunned down in a home invasion robbery, at his Hollywood Hills residence. He was 20 years old. His death sent shockwaves across the Hip-Hop community. He is gone, but not forgotten.

Often dubbing himself the “King of New York” I was hesitant on giving him that title myself. “King of Canarsie” felt more appropriate, given his high stature in the Brooklyn community.

My prayers & condolences go out to the family & friends of Bashar Jackson. Rest in peace Pop!


Unfortunately, after a famous person passes, many have a story, or moment, that signifies how that person influenced them. Here’s mine.

Pop Smoke was born to a Jamaican mother and Panamanian father.

In a world where music reigns supreme, we cycle, and listen to several different albums each year. I’m no exception. Whenever I seek new music, I return to the music catalog on my Apple Music account.

After listening to an album months removed from the release, if I enjoyed it, I can recall what occurred in my life at the time. A few hours following the passing of Pop Smoke, I re-listened to his first album, my personal favorite, to properly honor his life.

Pop Smoke released his debut album “Meet the Woo”, Volume 1, on July 26, 2019. During that time, I wasn’t in New York City, myself & Pop’s hometown. I was in Oswego, NY, at my EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) summer program.

Pop Smoke released his second mixtape “Meet the Woo, Vol. 2,” on February 7th, 2020.

I could reminisce about the energy following the mixtape’s release. Following his hit singles in early 2019, his debut album was expected to cement his star status in the Hip-Hop industry. And cement it did. The album reached the Billboard 200 chart within a month of its release.

On the album were prominent tracks “Meet the Woo” & “Welcome to the Party”, and underrated gems “Hawk Em” & “PTSD”. But no song would surpass the popularity of “Dior”: an uptempo tune that mixed Smoke’s drill-rap flow, witty rhymes, and luxury brands he enjoyed in Mike Amiri & Christian Dior.

Smoke drew inspiration from artists 50 Cent, Meek Mill, & Drake.

The anticipation surrounding the release was amazing. I remember the clock striking 12 am that Friday morning, with people racing to download the album to their devices. Me and my friends were already giving our reviews on how dope the project was.

Despite spending my summer six hours from home, “Meet the Woo” gave me that vibe, like I was back in my neighborhood, playing hoops, listening to the hottest tracks in the park.


Pop Smoke went mainstream for barely a year. Therefore, the success he achieved, speaks volumes. However, his impact runs deeper than his impressive discography.

In a post-Bobby Shmurda era, following the rapper’s incarceration, New York yearned for an artist to represent the city’s tough and gritty persona, on the big stage. Go read that again. Not an artist to represent New York as a totality. Just one to represent the grittiness our city holds its hat on.

Pop was infatuated with fashion, donning several designer brands with his daily attire.

A-Boogie wit Da Hoodie, has no drill-rap records. Ditto for Lil Tjay & Lil Tecca. Fivio Foreign’s breakthrough came after Pop. You could make an argument for Casanova, but he doesn’t have the widespread popularity on par with Pop. The same can be said for 22Gz, Smoove L, Sheff G & Sleepy Hallow. What is Tekashi 6ix9ine at this point?

Let me clarify. I’m not saying Pop started New York drill rap. I’m simply saying he popularized it. Make no mistake, that wasn’t his only imprint on the culture.

Despite putting New York drill-rap on the mainstream, Pop maintained his own distinct sound. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Pop often drew comparisons to legend 50 Cent, but 50’s voice wasn’t as deep or defined as Pop, further increasing his individuality.

Pop Smoke was arrested in January 2020 after accusations of stealing a luxury vehicle. He was released on $250,000 bail.

His ascension to fame was unheralded as well. He went from recording tracks in his neighborhood of Canarsie, with no features, to collaborating with the likes of Quavo, PNB Rock, Nicki Minaj, and Travis Scott.

Given another year, and who knows who worked with. His work ethic was uncanny, as he consistently released new music for fans to enjoy.

Lastly, his loving personality. One word to describe the Brooklyn star, is “cool”. He was the smoothest, coolest guy out, and acted as such.

I’ve found myself watching his very first interview on Real 92.3 L.A. four to five times, because of the way he carried himself. The deep voice, the humorous New York slang, how he pauses before he speaks, it was fascinating.

And Pop was very mature for his age. That’s the part that hurts the most. He passed away very young. He was 20! He failed to enjoy the embarrassment of riches in his future.

With myself, being a month from my 19th birthday, and having friends in the same age bracket as me, it puts life into perspective.

Now, I left out several details that made Pop Smoke… Pop Smoke. That was intentional. With this piece, I decided to incorporate my personal knowledge and experiences with the Brooklyn artist.

SLEEP IN PEACE POP!

To conclude, death is never easy. And sometimes, it’s unexpected. That friend you may be at odds with, that family member… tell them you love them. Cherish them, check upon them. Tomorrow is never promised! Like Pop did, let’s aim for success, TODAY. Let’s strive for our dreams, TODAY. Let’s be impactful, TODAY. From the words of Pop Smoke himself: “coming where we come from, we can’t afford to fuck up, or slip up. Can’t make no mistakes (@ 24:46).

Don’t let that go over your head.

If you would like to listen to Smoke’s latest project, “Meet the Woo”, Volume 2, or any of his other music, click here.


If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends. S.I.P. Pop!

Blessings,

Andy

P.S. Shoutout to my high school friend Alex, he’s a longtime Canarsie resident, and big Pop Smoke supporter.

(Originally posted February 20, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

After The Dust Settles

G/F Andrew Wiggins, during his Warriors debut vs. the Lakers.

Hello everyone! With this piece, I’ll be discussing the biggest moves from the 2020 NBA trade deadline, as well as the top storylines for the remainder of the regular season. Enjoy, and please, share it with your friends!


Random question. What’s your favorite holiday? An average person will probably answer with Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even New Years. Not me. Weird, I know. My favorite has always been the NBA trading deadline.

This past year, the deadline was on February 6th, at 3 pm EST. During that time, it was my world history class. Similar to a child leaving his presents under the tree until he wakes up Christmas morning, I left my cellphone in my dorm during class.

When I returned at 4 pm, an hour after the deadline, I ran to my cellphone, went straight to the ESPN app, and read all the updating news.


My assessment on this year’s deadline: should’ve been more moves. The ones that did transpire, were strange nonetheless.

New Minnesota PG D’Angelo Russell, warming up before matchup vs. L.A. Clippers. He did not play.

The first domino: the 4-team blockbuster that sent Clint Capela to Atlanta, & forward Robert Covington to Houston. The largest trade in 20 years, this transaction was fascinating due to it’s moving parts.

First, Denver acquired a first-round pick for the expiring contracts of Malik Beasley & Juancho Hernangomez, two serviceable role players that were buried on a deep Denver bench. Malik Beasley will thrive in Minnesota. He’s the perfect two-way shooting guard, that compliments D-Lo and KAT.

As mentioned before, Houston received Robert Covington in the deal, doubling down on coach Mike D’Antoni’s idea of small-ball. Similar to popular opinion, this move will come back to bite them, unless they acquire a big in the buyout market. Going up against the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert & Kristaps Porzingis, could spell trouble for them come playoff time.

Also, outside of their backcourt, is their roster skilled enough to attack the mismatches they’ll have against bigger opponents? Maybe. They could prove us all wrong.

Rockets F Robert Covington (#33) during his Rockets debut vs. the Lakers.

The last piece of the transaction: the Hawks getting their guy. Seeking reinforcements at center for years, Atlanta has found it in Clint Capela. A double-double machine, his fit alongside John Collins is a bit murky, given their roles as a rim runners. However, he’s a perfect fit alongside Trae Young. Expect an extensive alley-oop connection between the two.


On to one of the sadder transactions: Detroit moving Andre Drummond to Cleveland for spare parts. There was a common consensus around the league whether Andre would be traded, due to his declining value and upcoming player option. To see him dealt, to Cleveland of all places, was interesting.

I like this move for the Cavs. Many forget that Dre is just 26 years old. Picking up a semi-young center for practically nothing, can help further this team’s rebuild. As we’ve seen this season, Drummond is an All-Star caliber player. Just don’t resign him to a max deal, Cleveland.

For Detroit: this move signals a rebuild, but they held on to veterans Markieff Morris & Derrick Rose. Sparking some buzz around the league, the Pistons failed to capitalize on the trade value of two solid contributors.

C Andre Drummond during his Cavs debut vs. the Clippers.

From one Andre to another, what about Andre Igoudala? The Heat’s newest addition has a chance to make a significant dent in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

After an unforgettable stint in Memphis, Iggy brings defense, playmaking, and valuable championship experience to a Miami squad that’s strong, but full of youth. Jae Crowder is a sneaky-good throw in as well. The trade could result in a deep playoff run for the Heat.

Heat G/F Andre Igoudala during his Heat debut vs. Portland.

On the other side of the spectrum, Justise Winslow is another addition to a spectacular young Memphis core. He’s on a good contract, fills a position of need, and removes some of the ball-handling burdens from rookie sensation Ja Morant. Love the trade for both sides.


Arguably the most surprising move at the deadline: the Andrew Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell swap between Minnesota & Golden State.

Given the size of Andrew Wiggins’s contract, I doubted anyone would take on his money. This move made me wonder about the motives of Golden State. I assume Minnesota’s 2021 top-three protected pick makes up for things. They should’ve waited, and may have received a more favorable offer for Russell during the summer.

G D’Angelo Russell during his Timberwolves debut vs. Toronto.

For the Wolves, this deal is tremendous for them. They acquired their franchise point guard, & find themselves with two cornerstones to build around (Russell, Towns). Due to their defensive deficiencies, surrounding the duo with low usage 3-&-D players will help Minnesota return to the postseason.


Other trades across the league that caught my attention:

F Marcus Morris (#31) during his Clippers debut vs. Cavaliers.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends.

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted February 12, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

We Love You Kobe!

Kobe Bean Bryant, 20-year NBA superstar, passed away Sunday morning. He was 41.

Greetings, beautiful people! This piece will honor the career, and life of Kobe Bean Bryant. He passed away Sunday, at the age of 41, in a helicopter crash. Bryant’s presence and personality, left a resounding mark on basketball fans across the world. His impact went beyond the hardwood. His untimely death left a scar in the sports community.

However, rather than mourning his loss, we must celebrate! Bryant is now in a better place! Although he is gone, he won’t be forgotten. Sleep in peace Kobe!

(To properly honor the departed Bryant, the length of this piece will be 8 minutes. Bryant wore the No. 8 jersey from 1996–2006.)


Kobe Bryant was born on August 23rd, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s the son of former NBA player, Joe Bryant. His father played a role in his love for sports at a young age.

Kobe Bryant, as a young child.

Despite playing soccer as a child, basketball proved to be Bryant’s passion.

Attending Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Bryant had one of the most decorated high school careers, in basketball history. He scored 2,883 points, the most of any player in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area. He won the National player of the year award, as a senior. Lastly, he led his school to a state championship in 1996, the first in it’s history.

Deciding to forego college, Bryant declared for the 1996 NBA draft. Selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, he was quickly dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, for veteran big Vlade Divac. Worst trade in NBA history.

Bryant at his Laker introductory press conference.

Kobe Bryant carries an extensive list of accomplishments during his NBA tenure. Therefore, I’ll select five moments from his illustrious career, that describes his legacy as an NBA player, and a global icon in the 21st century.


THE 81 POINT GAME

Bryant, receiving an ovation after scoring 81 points vs the Raptors, 2nd highest-scoring performance in NBA history.

Known during his career as a prolific scorer, this game was arguably Bryant’s finest performance.

On January 22, 2006, Bryant notched a career-high 81 POINTS, against the Toronto Raptors. It’s the second highest scoring performance in NBA history, after Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game. His Lakers finished victorious, defeating Toronto, 122–104.

Bryant torched the Raptors with a bevy of slashes to the rim, contested mid-range jumpers, and three-point baskets. He scored 55 of his 81 points in the second half, outscoring the ENTIRE RAPTORS team 55–41, in the final two quarters.

His 2005–06 season was memorable. He averaged 35.4 points per game, the highest single-season scoring average, in the last 25 years. That season, he lost the MVP race, to Suns point guard Steve Nash. Speaking about MVPs…


MVP SEASON

Bryant won his first and only MVP award in the 2007–08 NBA season.

After years of disappointment & playoff failures, Bryant and the Lakers were on a mission during the 2007–08 NBA season. They began the year at 28–16, contending in a tough Western conference. In February, L.A. would acquired All-Star forward Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. This move gave Bryant the help necessary, to finally compete for a championship. He took full advantage.

That season, he averaged 28 points, 6 boards, 5 dimes, & 2 steals. He captured his only MVP award. Surprisingly he only has one, given his lengthy run as a top player in the league.

Nonetheless, he led the Lake Show to 57 wins, the top record in the West, and an NBA finals berth. They would lose that final series to the Boston Celtics. Despite his personal accolades, Bryant sought team success: another championship. It would be his first ring, since his divorce with former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Speaking about rings…


RING NO. 5

Bryant finished his NBA career with 5 championships, the final one coming in 2010, at the expense of rival Boston Celtics.

Bryant would win his fourth championship in 2009. But he was hungry for more. The following season, he averaged 27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 dimes, and led Los Angeles to 57 wins. His squad’s championship experience, and chemistry, earned them their third straight title berth.

In the finals, they faced their rivals, the Boston Celtics, led by Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, & Kevin Garnett.

Battling in a thrilling seven-game series, this was one of the all-time great playoff matchups. Torching Boston for most of the series, Bryant struggled in game 7. He recorded 23 points and 15 boards, with a broken finger. The Lakers came out victorious, winning their 16th championship as a franchise, and Kobe’s fifth overall.

Ranking all of his title victories, Bryant stated that, the 5th was his most rewarding, since it was at the expense of a Boston group that defeated him in the Finals, two years prior.


PASSING MICHAEL

In 2014, Bryant surpassed childhood idol Michael Jordan, to become third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list

On December 14, 2014, Kobe Bryant sunk two free-throws to surpass Michael Jordan, for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. His childhood idol growing up, Bryant strived to be as talented, or better than Jordan. Mirroring several of his moves, Bryant wanted as many rings & accolades as Mike. Therefore, passing Jordan, was one of Bryant’s finest achievements.

Jordan acknowledging the feat, and congratulating Bryant after the game, made it that much special. Kobe made sure to do the same, after LeBron passed him, on the NBA all-time scoring list recently.


FAREWELL GAME

Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016. In his final game, he scored 60 points, the 6th time in his career, and the most points scored in an NBA player’s final game.

Last, but not least, Kobe’s final game. Bryant announced his retirement at the beginning of the 2015–16 season. Following the announcement, in each opposing team’s city, opponents and fans showered Bryant with standing ovations & tributes. Bryant showed his appreciation, by thanking each opposing city, and gifting a player from the opposing team, a pair of his signature sneakers.

He did this in each city, until the final game of the season.

It was April 13, 2016. Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe’s final NBA game. And boy, did everyone show out. The Lakers honored Kobe, by featuring both his No. 8 & No. 24 on the hardwood. Every celebrity imaginable was in attendance. Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, Shaquille O’Neal, & Kanye West, amongst several others. And most of all, the Mamba put on a show.

Everyone can remember their location when Kobe scored 60. I know I remember.

I was sleeping.

However, once I woke up, I quickly ran to my phone, to see how Kobe performed. My phone was blowing up. It was flooding with notifications reading: “Bryant scores 60 in final NBA game.” I was amazed. I couldn’t believe it. I had to watch the highlight twice.

Many forget, statistically, Kobe Bryant’s final season was mediocre. He averaged 17 points, on below average efficiency. That made his final performance that more impressive. During a season where he couldn’t make any shots, he went out missing none.

60. Fucking. Points. 60 points! Bryant was unstoppable. At age 37, he became the oldest player ever, to score 60 in a game. That performance was vintage Kobe, running up and down the Staples Center floor, wreaking havoc, one last time.

To cap off a wonderful night, he ended with a speech. He thanked everyone in attendance, and appeared grateful for the tremendous love and support, throughout his entire journey. He concluded the speech, with the now iconic Mamba Out” & mic drop.

Kobe’s farewell was the perfect ending, to a storybook career.


As mentioned before, Kobe Bryant’s carries an extensive list of accomplishments, too many to count.

I’m well aware, that I’m missing several important moments from his remarkable career: four straight airballs in the playoffs vs. the Jazz, playing in the 1998 All-Star game, the alley-oop, his performance in the 2000 NBA finals, his first championship, the three-peat, his performance in the 2004 NBA finals, scoring 62 points in three quarters, switching from #8 to #24, scoring 50 points in four consecutive games, his clutch plays in the 2006 NBA playoffs, his trade request from the Lakers, his gold medals at 2008/2012 Olympics, his 61 points at the Garden, his entire 2009 NBA playoff run, championship No. 4, dragging the 2013 Lakers to the playoffs, shooting free-throws after his Achilles tear, & winning a freaking Oscar.

Despite the long list of achievements, what is Kobe’s legacy?

There’s no concise answer for this question. So here’s my opinion. His drive, discipline, and work ethic molded him into one of the greatest basketball players to ever live.

His determination and persistence to be nothing but his best, resinated with millions of fans across the world. Bryant inspired an entire generation of athletes, to want to play basketball. Why do you think boys yell “Kobe!” when they throw something into the trash?

He inspired a generation of women hoopers as well. Whenever given the chance, Bryant taught his daughters about the game. He also gave recognition to the deep pool of talented women, in the WNBA.

He even inspired others off the court. Wherever he went, he shared knowledge. Not only was he an exceptional athlete, he was an intellectual. Bryant influenced many, like myself, to realize, there’s more to life than just shooting hoops. How do you think he won that Oscar award?

There’s much more that Bryant did for our world. But for now, let’s restate the question: what is Kobe’s legacy? Well frankly, he’ll go down as the greatest of all time (da GOAT!).

To conclude, Kobe’s untimely death sent shockwaves across the globe. It’s unfortunate, that we live in a world, where something drastic must occur, for us to come together.

Let this be a lesson. Remember, live every day like it’s your last because tomorrow is NEVER promised. Cherish your loved ones, your friends, and the people most important to you. And most of all, be grateful that you woke up today, because many others won’t get the chance to wake up again.

My prayers & condolences go out to the people that lives were lost during that helicopter crash: Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, & Ara Zobayan.

Sleep in peace!

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you liked, or disliked this piece. And please, share this with your friends. With that being said, again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And much success in 2020. We LOVE YOU KOBE!

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted January 27, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 WordPress.)

The Human Highlight Film

Atlanta Hawks G/F Vince Carter.

On Jan. 4th, 2020, Atlanta Hawks G/F Vince Carter became the first player in NBA history, to play an NBA game in 4 different decades. To celebrate his accomplishment, I decided to write this piece, highlighting the most memorable moments of his 22 year career. You’re welcome Adam.


(2000) Sports Illustrated Magazine cover of Vince Carter, then a member of the Toronto Raptors.

Vince Carter was selected 5th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1998 NBA draft. Moments after being selected, he was traded (for his college teammate Antawn Jamison) to the Toronto Raptors, beginning his career in Jurassic Park.

Suiting up for a squad that was only in its 4th year of existence, Carter early on showed flashes, of being the superstar that the franchise had been lacking. He averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, en route to the Rookie of the Year award in 1999. From there, he consistently improved each season, slowly cementing his status as one of the more talented players in the league.

In 2000, while participating in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend in Oakland, he put himself on the map. I’m not even going to attempt to explain the amazing dunks he did, but you can see for yourself here.

Vince Carter during 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest.

Carter’s high-flying aerial assaults on the rim, made this one of the most memorable slam dunk contest performances in NBA history.

Not to mention, he dominated a tough group of contestants, going up against the likes of Steve Francis, and his cousin Tracy McGrady, two well known high-flyers. Carter also revived a competition that had been growing stale in recent years, due to lack of star involvement, and repetitive dunks being attempted. IT’S OVER LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

Carter’s dunk contest performance put him on the national spotlight. However, he vowed to show the league that he was more than an athletic marvel. He developed into a talented offensive player, able to shoot from long range, bully smaller guards in the post, and obviously cut and slash to the rim.

The 2000–01 NBA season was his finest showing, from a statistical standpoint. He averaged 28 points, 6 boards, and 4 assists, and made the All-NBA second team.

His offensive arsenal was on full display during the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Going up against the MVP, Allen Iverson, and the Philadelphia 76ers, he exploded, averaging 30 points during the 7 game series, capitalizing with a 50 point outburst in Game 3. Despite losing the series, Carter showed the world what he was capable of. He even graduated from college during the playoff run.

Vince continued to excel on both sides of the court, but the same couldn’t be said for his teammates. He missed the playoffs in his final 3 seasons with Toronto, and after several rifts with management and the coaching staff, he demanded a trade.

On December 17, 2004, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets for a bag of chips.

New Jersey Nets introducing Vince Carter.

Deciding to dunk less, Vince Carter still exposed the all-around offensive game from his Toronto days, running alongside Richard Jefferson and Hall of Famer Jason Kidd.

During his five year tenure with New Jersey, he averaged 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and had this crazy dunk on Alonzo Mourning. He guided the Nets to three straight playoff appearances between 2005–2007.

He was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2009, and with Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, led the Magic to Vince’s first and only Conference Final appearance of his career, in 2010. They would lose to the Boston Celtics in 6 games.

Vince was then traded to Phoenix later that year, and spent an unremarkable 5 months in the desert. He then signed a three-year deal with Dallas in 2011. While not being the player he once was, he still provided Maverick fans with several memorable moments, including this game-winning triple in Game 3 of the first round versus the Spurs. Too clutch.

In 2014, he signed a three year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. He helped stabilize those Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies squad with his veteran leadership, helping them reach the playoffs in all his three years there.

When his contract expired in 2017, many wondered whether he would retire. But at age 40, he still had plenty left in the tank.

Vince Carter with the Atlanta Hawks in 2019.

Rather than signing with a championship contender, to acquire an NBA title (the only thing lacking from his NBA resume) Carter decided to sign with a young, rebuilding team. He did this, to not only be a veteran presence for younger players, but to also show that he can still contribute at a high level.

In 2017, he signed with the Sacramento Kings, and then inked a deal with the Atlanta Hawks in 2018, where he’ll spend his final NBA season.

In his last two stops, several young players credit Carter’s wisdom and constant teaching, being crucial to their development. Players like De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, and Trae Young speak highly of him.

Carter will conclude his NBA career with eight All-Star selections, two All-NBA selections, a gold medal, and several memorable nicknames, including: Vinsanity, Air Canada, and “Half-Man, Half-Amazing”.


So, what is Carter’s legacy? He never won a championship, never played in the NBA finals, and never led a team to serious title contention. Despite all that, he is an icon.

Vince was the first superstar of the Toronto Raptors, and with that, the first star in the country of Canada.

When he came into the league in 1998, the NBA had two, new struggling teams in Canada, the Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies, who were desperate for a fan favorite. For the Raptors, that was Vince. The Grizzlies never found that player while in Vancouver, which led to their relocation in 2001.

The Raptors did.

He kept their franchise in Canada, gave them their first taste of winning basketball, and most importantly, impacted a generation of young Canadians to want to go and play the sport.

He changed the notion that Canada was an hockey-only country, and inspired kids to want to go jump, dunk, and play in the NBA like him. Current NBA and Canadian players like Kelly Olynyk, Jamal Murray, and Andrew Wiggins grew up watching Carter, wanted to play basketball, & “be like Vince” growing up.

Canadian, and Cavs center Tristan Thompson, went as far as saying that Vince Carter was “his Michael Jordan”, signifying how impactful he was. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a statue of him in Toronto some day.

With all that being said, we love you Vince! Especially my younger brother Adam, he loves you a lot. Oh, and thank you for the Dunk of Death.

Vince Carter is retiring at the conclusion of the 2019-20 NBA season.

If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you agree, or disagree with this piece. And please, share this with your friends. With that being said, again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And much success in 2020!

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted January 8, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

The Loss of A Legend

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern.

I was sitting in my living room, engaging in a friendly game of NBA 2K20 with my brother, when a notification popped up on the phone.

I quickly glanced at it, but not fully, as my mind was focused on the final score of our game. After I lost, I took a look at the notification, and was disappointed by the unfortunate news: former NBA commissioner David Stern had passed away at age 77, due to brain hemorrhage.

It wasn’t until recently, that I realized this, but David Stern IS the reason why the NBA is successful today. You can witness his fingerprints around the league.

Stern became the NBA’s commissioner in 1984, and held the position until 2014. During his thirty years at the helm, he worked hard to improve the quality of the NBA.

He increased the popularity during the 1980s with TV deals, that helped showcase the league’s top stars, to the country. And this was during a time, where the league almost folded, due to a lack of interest, and the ongoing cocaine problems that negatively impacted the sport.

Stern was the mastermind behind the construction of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic Basketball team, or the “Dream Team”, led by Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, the greatest collection of basketball talent, in the sport’s history. That squad also increased the popularity of the sport at the international level, influencing a generation of children born in different countries, to play basketball.

He helped get my Knicks back to relevance in the 1990s, with the introductions of the draft lottery, and the entire “frozen envelope” conspiracy, that allowed us to draft Georgetown star, Patrick Ewing.

He cracked down on NBA player safety, and fan safety, and increased the professionalism within the league, in the aftermath of the infamous, “Malice in the Palace” brawl. He increased the average salary of his players, from $250,000 to $7 million dollars.

He even assisted, in the creation of the WNBA, giving young girls across the globe, a professional league, in the states, they can strive to be apart of, when they grow up.

These are just a couple of the remarkable things that Stern did, too many to count, to help improve this great league, and the sport of basketball. His impact was without question. He changed many lives, and inspired several generations, to want to go play basketball.

David Stern presenting MVP trophy to Derrick Rose.

Yesterday, we lost a legend. His death is truly sad, but his legacy will be remembered forever. I personally felt like this piece was necessary, to properly commemorate the great man we know as Emeritus David Stern, and to celebrate his life. Sleep in peace David!


If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you liked, or disliked this piece. And please, share this with your friends. With that being said, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And much success in 2020!

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted January 2, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

So, Why A Blog?

My lovely mother.

You may be wondering, who is that lady in the photo above? Well, that’s my mother.

The picture was taken at her college graduation, from last July. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend. Nonetheless, it’s favorite picture ever.

It’s my phone’s home screen, and profile picture on all my social media. It’s not only her big, happy smile, or the sight of seeing several COLLEGE graduates that are minorities (#BlackExcellence), but it’s the story behind the story.

In the photo, my mom received her Associate’s degree. The average age, for a college student to receive said degree, is between 20–25 years. At the time of the photo, my mom was 38 years old.

That’s not even the absurd part.

Did I mention she’s a single mother of three children? All above the age of fourteen?

My mother is the toughest person I know. She dropped out of high school during her sophomore year. Despite the trials and tribulations she endured following that decision, she received her high school, and college diplomas.

Why do I share THIS story? (A whole lot of why’s in this post). Because my mother is the reason this blog exists.

Back in fifth grade, I discovered the game of basketball. One day, while at an after school program, my friends and I had free gym time. That day, I decided to play my favorite sport at the time: kickball.

Now, kickball isn’t fun without at least sixteen people playing (two teams, each with a pitcher, 4 baseman, and 3 outfielders.) Therefore, you could imagine how much fun it was playing alone (it wasn’t).

I was playing alone, because all my friends were playing basketball that day. I remember, begging my group leader to end their game, so we can play kickball. My plea went unanswered, as they played basketball for the remainder of the day.

To prevent the horrifying experience of playing alone, I decided that the next time my friends played basketball, I would join them. And join them I did.

Basketball was amazing. I had so much fun running up and down the court, traveling my life away, and committing every foul imaginable. Everyone would call me a “hack”, and I didn’t even know what that term meant. Such a fun time.

After that experience, I realized how exciting the sport was, and I wanted to learn everything there was to know about it.

I can recall the first game I watched from home. February 18, 2012. The Milwaukee Bucks were visiting the New Jersey Nets. Two mediocre squads that were anything but exciting at the time. I thought otherwise.

It was so much fun watching the Nets, playing from behind for most of the game, struggling to defend Ersan Ilyasova of all people. I remember running from the living room to the kitchen, where my mother was, with the Nets down six points, saying: “mommy mommy, if they score seven points in twenty-one seconds, they can win the game!”

My mom witnessed my growing love for the sport, and like the person she is, helped me increase it.

One day, she was watching television, and a commercial came on, about this basketball website for kids my age: NBA Hoop Troop. She showed me the website, and I fell in love. It’s what I was looking for.

Every day during my after-school program, when we had computer time, I would only go on that website, play games, read the stories about NBA players, see the standings and statistics. Studying the website, allowed me to become knowledgeable with the sport, to the point where I was considered more than a fan, almost a fiend.

From that point on, I aimed to do anything and everything that had to do with basketball. I started playing competitively in middle school, and studying the NBA whenever the chance arose.

Back then, if you asked me what I would to study in college, I would’ve said basketball. The passion was evident. That passion periodically increased throughout high school.

Granted, I have several other inspirations, that lead to me creating this blog. Adrian Wojnarowski, a well-known NBA columnist is one. I just admire his work as an NBA insider, with him having information on the NBA’s top stories, information no one else has. I just find him to be very consistent, and elite at his craft, and aspire to do what he does.

Other inspirations include one of my good friends, Mamadou Tall. He has his own sports blog/website, dubbed Hoops Views. After reading his work, and discovering that we had the same passion, I approached him and expressed how impressed I was with his website. He thanked me and encouraged me to create some sort of website myself. I’m grateful he did that.

To cap off, there are several reasons why this blog exists, too many to count. However, it all traces back to my mother.

If it wasn’t for her, then I would probably be pursuing a career in professional kickball (is that a thing?). No, but in all seriousness, I love my mother, so it’s only fitting that she helped me discover my ultimate passion. Therefore, the photo above is used, to honor her, and thank her for helping me find my passion.

Thank you mommy.


If you made it to the end, I promise this is the last intro blog. Everything from here on out, will be basketball-oriented for the most part. And again, if you’re reading this, I love you. Remember that.

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted December 27, 2019 on Medium. Edited on May 22, 2020 on WordPress.)

Welcome To My Blog!

Official logo of the “Andy Buckets” blog.

If you’re taking time out your day to read this, I love you.

Believe that.

I’m an emotional person. The little things in life make me happy. You reading this gets me one step closer to my dream. So thank you!

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff. Let’s get to business.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with me, my name is Andy Alberto Guity. I was born & raised in the South Bronx. I’m the son of a single mother, and have two younger siblings.

I’m eighteen (and a half) years old, & a freshman at SUNY Oswego. I major in journalism, and minor in Sports Studies & Human Development. I’m an aspiring sports journalist.

And unfortunately, I am a Knicks fan.

Welcome to my blog! It is titled “Andy’s Buckets”. On the blog, we’ll be discussing topics surrounding everything basketball, with the majority focusing on the NBA.

Other topics will discuss the sport at the collegiate level, overseas, in the minor leagues, and much more.

Content will include my personal opinion on teams and players, weekly power rankings, breaking news, spotlight on certain things I am passionate about, etc. Throughout the year of 2020, and beyond, I look to grow the blog, include more fun content, and potentially branch out to other sports.

Maybe create some merchandise? A podcast? You never know.

Comments and critique is ALWAYS WELCOME!

If you see something you don’t like, let me know. You’re doing me a favor. Comments help me improve as a writer, and a curator, and honesty makes the world a better place.

Hopefully I didn’t leave out anything important. I’ve kept you around long enough. With 2020 just around the corner, I plan to be more consistent with uploading content, and improving the look of the blog.

Today, marks the beginning of a new chapter!

Special thanks to my lovely mother, my younger brother, and younger sister. Thank you to all my friends and family that pushed me to do this. Specials thanks to Mamadou Tall, the man who inspired me to do this in the first place.

And thank you to YOU! The person reading this! You’re amazing, trust me. Lastly, thank you to the wonderful man above. With all that being said, let’s have a good year. 2020 is OURS!

Blessings,

Andy

(Originally posted December, 26, 2019 on Medium. Edited May 21, 2020 on WordPress.)