11 years. That’s how it long me to get a green card. I was sitting in COMP140 on a Tuesday afternoon when I got a text from my dad saying that our green card application had finally been processed and approved.
I moved to the United States when I was seven. I left everything behind, as did my parents. I arrived in New Orleans, got off the plane, and went to my dad’s friend’s house. We pranced around the living room sofas, as six- and seven-year olds are wont to do. I’d never seen a house that big before. Or a bathroom with tiles that shiny. My dad’s friend said I could choose whether I wanted to drink apple juice OR chocolate milk OR soda. My seven-year-old head was spinning. Is this what’s possible? Is this what it feels like to live in America?
It’s cliché at this point to state that the NBA has become a shooter’s league. Guys who can knock in shots reliably from behind the arc are at a premium and sought after more than ever. Just look at what the Cavaliers have done in the playoffs so far. However, even as the amount of skilled shooters (and more generically, scorers) increases, some players – looking at you Steph – continue to set themselves apart from the pack. There are a lot of good scorers, good shooters, but what separates good from great is the versatility of their shot making ability. To be able to put the ball through the net in any condition.
It’s human nature to compare, and nowhere is that tendency more present than with sports. We have an almost debilitating dependency on analyzing players by comparing them to others. And well, if we’re gonna do that, may as well do it in as informed a way as possible. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.
Did you know Ryan Tannehill’s box score from last Sunday pegs him as roughly the greatest quarterback in NFL history? He went 18 of 19 for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns. The NFL world was abuzz over him setting the record for most consecutive completions. On the flip side, did you know that 248 of those yards came after the catch? Tannehill himself only technically threw for 34 yards on 19 attempts. That’s an obscene amount of screens and flares and quick slants. It’s also emblematic of what has started to separate the NFL from the NBA.
Update: This article was originally published for the Houston Chronicle on June 10, 2015.
Be like Mike. The original and greatest mimetic. You can also be like Michael Jordan. Nobody ever said Be like Magic or Be like Malone. It was always about Jordan. Here’s the problem with mimetic techniques. Beneath the feel-good aspirational comparison is a whole lot of hollowness, an empty void where actual value and quality should be, masked by a marketing-friendly image.
Be like Silicon Valley. In the past few days, I’ve witnessed this debate pick up again, about Houston’s constant struggle to compare itself to Silicon Valley. There’s constant desire to frame our challenges and problems in terms of “why aren’t we more like SV?” And, after some thought, all I can ask is “Why?” Why do we settle for mimetics when there’s plenty of quality and talent to stand on its own? You can’t want to be unique AND want to be like Silicon Valley. There’s no having the cake and eating it too.
Update: This article was originally published for the Houston Chronicle on May 18, 2015. The Rockets ended up falling to the Warriors next round, still sad face.
“We’ve got to hold on, to what we’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love. We’ll give it a shot.
“Oh we’ve got to hold on, ready or not. You live for the fight when its all that you’ve got. Whoa, we’re halfway there, whoa, livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear, whoa, livin’ on a prayer.”
Update: This story was originally published in the Houston Chronicle on April 10, 2015. Harden did not win MVP, sad face.
True story- Microsoft Word has Beyoncé in its spell check database to make sure that we plebeians get the accent mark right. When spell check has got your back, you know you’ve made it big. Incidentally, Beyoncé has a poignant line in “Drunk in Love” – We woke up in the kitchen, saying ‘How the hell did this shit happen?’ MVP voters, don’t let that be you. Don’t wake up in the kitchen with Steph Curry thinking how you let James Harden’s 2014-2015 pass you by, unrewarded.