Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Lessons from Fasting and Silence

As I continue my weekly day of fasting and silence, I've realized that it often doesn't matter if we're right or wrong, it's our reaction that is most important. Even if we're right in a disagreement, if we react badly, our reaction then becomes the issue.

This week, I was nearly hit by a crazy driver. Then, as I tried to merge, and the woman would not let me do so, running me off the road and onto the shoulder. I honed and stuck my hand out to tell the woman to stop. The woman began honking and yelling wildly. I reacted poorly. I stuck my middle finger out at her and screamed at her indignantly that she had nearly swerved into me and then tried to run me off the road.

Had I reacted more appropriately, I would have completely held the moral authority. Instead, I ceded that power with my reaction. It stems back to not allowing things to bother me. And that comes from appreciation.

At 2am last night, I took a walk in the neighborhood. I had been fasting and silent for two hours. Electricity flew through my body. What I realized is that even seemingly mundane moments can create that feeling if we recognize that there is beauty in everything in this world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stoudemire in More Trouble

Amar'e Stoudemire is in hot water again. Just days after he was exposed for using Twitter's direct messaging service to call a fan a homophobic slur, Stoudemire's finds himself in trouble with the law.

Miami police are looking into charges that Stoudemire's attack of an American Airlines Arena fire extinguisher following a May 1 playoff game was actually a hate crime. It turns out the fire extinguisher is gay.

Stoudemire, frustrated by his team's loss that night, physically assaulted Butch, the gay fire extinguisher, who was hanging out in the Knicks locker room after the game. Immediately after the incident, Butch claimed that he was punched by Stoudemire because of its sexual orientation. In lieu of Stoudemire's recent anti-gay gaffe, Miami police now have decided to investigate and may charge Stoudemire with a hate crime.

Butch, the gay fire extinguisher, has argued that he fought back against Stoudemire in self-defense by being an inanimate hunk of metal. Stoudemire badly injured his hand in the scuffle.

More updates to come as this story develops.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Top 10 NBA Players

Top 10 NBA Players Now
While this list consists of the top 10 players now, the past is taken to account, but it is not a list of the best players who happen to be active. Previous ranks posted on June 15, 2011.

# David (PR) - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. LeBron (1) - LeBron (1)
2. Kobe (2) - Durant (6)
3. Durant (9) - Wade (3)
4. Wade (4) - Paul (9)
5. Howard (3) - Kobe (2)
6. Paul (6) - Howard (4)
7. Parker (NR) - Rose (7)
8. Rose (8) - Parker (NR)
9. Dirk (5) - Westbrook (NR)
10. Carmelo (10) - Duncan (NR)

Top 10 NBA Careers Among Active Players
You're making a list of the ten best players in NBA history, but there's one caveat; you can only include players who played during the 2011-12 season. These are our choices, taking the players' entire careers into account. Previous ranks posted on June 15, 2011.

# David (PR) - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. Duncan (2) - Kobe (2)
2. Kobe (3) - Duncan (3)
3. James (5) - James (7)
4. Kidd (4) - Kidd (4)
5. Garnett (6) - Garnett (5)
6. Dirk (7) - Dirk (6)
7. Nash (8) - Wade (10)
8. Wade (9) - Nash (8)
9. Parker (NR) - R. Allen (9)
10. Billups (10) - Pierce (NR)

Top 10 NBA Franchise Players
This list is about which players you would pick to start a franchise right now. They must have played in an NBA game. Previous ranks posted on June 15, 2011.

# David (PR) - Mike (Previous Rank)
1. James (1) - James (1)
2. Durant (3) - Durant (2)
3. Paul (5) - Rose (3)
4. Howard (2) - Howard (4)
5. Rose (4) - Paul (5)
6. Bynum (NR) - Westbrook (8)
7. Rondo (9) - Bynum (NR)
8. Irving (NR) - D. Williams (6)
9. Westbrook (10) - Rondo (10)
10. Griffin (NR) - Wade (7)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another Obnoxious Pound-for-Pound List

Here is the updated version of my obnoxiously unnecessary and utterly superfluous list of the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers. The previous list was posted on March 21.

1) Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs), [Previous Rank: 1]
2) Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs), [PR: 2]
3) Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), [PR: 3]
4) Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs), [PR: 9]
5) Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs), [PR: 4]
6) Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KOs), [PR: 5]
7) Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 40 KOs), [PR: 6]
8) Nonito Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs), [PR: 7]
9) Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), [PR: 8]
10) Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs), [PR: NR]

Exiting the list:
Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs), [PR: 10]

Friday, June 22, 2012

Game 5 - A New Legacy

LeBron James, thanks to a triple double, led the Miami Heat to the 2012 NBA championship, exorcising its demons from the previous season. Game 5 was a route. Miami was able to match Oklahoma City's intensity early and pulled away in the second quarter. The Thunder battled back in that quarter and in the third, but never cut the lead far enough to threaten.

Miami took a 5 point lead into the start of the second quarter, but the game wasn't really that close. Mike Miller, on his way to 23 points and 7-8 shooting from behind the three point line, was hot early. Miller looked like he would disintegrate with every step as he was nursing a bad back, but it didn't hurt his long distance stroke. Rookie Norris Cole also played well early.

The Heat were balanced. Bosh had his best game of the series with 24 points, Wade had 20, Battier added 11, and Chalmers 10. While Miami exhibited balanced scoring and great shooting, Oklahoma City relied on Durant, who had 32. Westbrook came down to earth and scored 19 on 4-20 shooting, though he was 11-13 from the line. Harden scored 19, breaking a dubious streak of poor performances of late.

Miami has been the team America loves to hate since LeBron James famously and shamelessly announced his decision to come to the team during the summer of 2010. America just got another big reason to despise the Heat. They're not merely arrogant, they're champions now, too. Miami won 121-106, taking the series 4-1, as I predicted at the start of the season.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Self-Belief through Silence and Fasting

Today, I've been fasting and not speaking. This is the second Thursday in a row. If something bothers me, I will say something about it, but I want to get to a place where I am not bothered by the aggravations of life.

Today, I've focused on seeing my own value as a person. If I can better appreciate myself and understand that I can and do contribute a lot to this world, then I will be confident enough in my own skin to not allow others to shake that self-belief. I've thought about specific things that I feel self-conscious about it and tried to diagnose why I feel this way.

It mostly comes down to societal expectations. I have my own value system and my own beliefs that do not always compute with those of society's. I do not have much money and I can't claim to possess other status symbols, but that isn't what is important to me. Being a loving, compassionate, and empathetic person is important to me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pacquiao-Bradley, Detailed Round-by-Round Analysis

I rewatched the fight with the sound off. I noted the margin of victory for the winner of each round. Very slight means it's a toss up round. Slight means I can see how it would be scored the other way. Solid means this boxer deserved the round, but the other boxer had his moments. Clear means there isn't much of a case that the other man deserved the round. No question means one boxer dominated the other.

Round 1
Winner: Pacquaio
Margin: Very slight
Why: Even round until Bradley leads with a minute to go. But two clean punches near the end of the round, win it for Pacquiao.
Details: In the first 30 second, Bradley scored with his jab, but Pacquiao landed fewer, but cleaner shots to the body. For the next minute and half neither man could mount an effective attack. With 1:40 to go, Bradley threw a 3-punch combo that was blocked. Pacquiao's shots, a left with 1:26 to go and a 1-2 with 1:12 to go were blocked. With 0:56 left, a 5-punch combo by Bradley scored a punch or two (the camera angle was bad). Bradley led the round. A jab with 0:51 left, increased that lead. With :16 seconds left Pacquaio lands a left, Bradley leads the round very slightly. With 10 seconds to go, Pacquiao lands a clean left in a three punch combo to take the round by a very slight margin on my card.

Round 2
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Solid
Why: Two big clean lefts by Pacquaio in the first 35 seconds were better than anything Bradley did in the round. Bradley threw punches and came forward, but couldn't land cleanly.
Details: Bradley couldn't land effective punches early. 24 seconds into the round, Pacquiao lands a big clean left that knocks Bradley back. This is the essence of clean, effective punching. 33 seconds in, Pacquiao lands another left. He has a big lead. Bradley is held 5 second later and is legally using his right hand to punch Pacquiao's body. This cuts into the lead. Bradley then punches with his free arm at Pacquiao's head; these punches are blocked. He then throws at his body, but the punches are hitting Pacquiao's elbows. He tries for the head and they're blocked. Then referee Robert Byrd breaks up the two. With 1:37 to go, Pacquiao touches Bradley with a jab. Bradley is coming forward, but not landing cleanly, for example with 19 seconds left, Bradley misses on a three punch combo. They trade a punch at the end of the round.

Round 3
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Clear
Why: Bradley landed more cleanly than in the first two rounds, but Pacquiao seemed to not only land more clean punches, but three lefts landed flush on Bradley's face throughout the round. Bradley did not have the level of clean punching or effective aggression.
Details: Bradley won the first minute slightly. A right 5 seconds in and the occasional jab got through Pacquiao's guard are the reasons. With 1:47 to go, Pacquiao lands a clean left taking the lead in the round. He followed it up with a clean jab, padding his lead. 1:14 left, Bradley is held, but pops him with a right. With about a minute to go, Bradley lands a right body shot. With 39 seconds left, Bradley knocks Pacquiao back with a right, his best shot so far. But Pacquiao knocks him right back with a left. With 11 seconds left, Pacquiao does the same thing. Pacquiao lands a right 3 seconds later.

Round 4
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Clear
Why: The round was close through the first two minutes, but Pacquiao threw combos and landed some of them with a minute to go. Bradley was hurt a bit and had to hold. In the last ten seconds, he dominated Bradley.
Details: Bradley led early with body shots. The two traded evenly twice in the first minute. A minute in, Pacquiao landed a left to the body, Bradley missed with a right, and Pacquiao's right hook hit Bradley's face cleanly while the latter was throwing a left. Bradley was throwing, but was getting blocked as happened with a flurry with 1:12 to go. A double jab by Bradley 2 minutes in was his last good punch of the round. Pacquiao bounced him around with a combo that started 2:12 seconds into the round. With ten seconds left, Pacquiao couldn't miss Bradley's head on numerous shots.

Round 5
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Clear
Why: Bradley was aggressive, but didn't land very much. Pacquiao took control with 40 seconds to go and won the round clearly with in the last 15 seconds.
Details: Not much happened in the first 50 seconds, but Bradley had a very slight lead due to work rate. 52 seconds in, Pacquiao landed a right and left combo flush. Bradley answered back with a right to the head. Very slight lead to Pacquiao. The next minute saw the two attempt to mount an attack, but ineffectively. Bradley ducked Pacquiao's one-twos; Pacquiao blocked Bradley's flurries. An example of their ineffective aggression came 2:05 into the round. With :38 seconds left, Pacquiao seems to land with a left that knocks back Bradley, but the camera angle isn't great. Bradley holds right after though. In the last 15 seconds, Pacquiao couldn't miss Bradley's face.

Round 6
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Slight
Why: After a slow first minute, Bradley landed two clean rights taking a lead. With under a minute to go, Pacquiao seems to land two lefts and soon after knocks Bradley back to the ropes and into the corner. He didn't land every punch in that sequence, but enough to send Bradley back. Pacquiao also closed out the round well again.
Details: Bradley's jabs in the first minute were weak and didn't land, but Pacquiao didn't throw much back. With 1:50 left, Bradley lands a big right and blocks Pacquiao's counter in one motion. He followed up with a right and leads the round. He connected with a nice jab with 1:27 left. With 0:52 left, Pacquiao seems to land with two lefts, but the camera angle is bad. With 40 seconds to go, Pacquiao lands, backing Bradley up to the ropes and to the corner. He missed some of his punches, thus not taking a solid lead, but enough to take a very slight one. Bradley touches him with body shots and an uppercut, but the punches don't have force. A Pacquiao uppercut and jab soon after have more force and land cleanly.

Round 7
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Clear
Why: About 1:20, Pacquiao lands three clean punches. He lands repeatedly in succession 30 seconds later. With 1:10 to go, Bradley pushes Pacquiao to the ropes and lands as they trade, which is Bradley's best moment of the round, but Pacquiao is also landing and the exchange, which lasts 15 seconds, is even. At most Bradley gets a slight edge, but Pacquiao was clearly winning the round to that point, so still led. Pacquiao wins the last minute of the round, also.
Details: Bradley jabs early. They exchange body punches about 30 seconds in. See "Why" for Pacquiao's action from 1:42 left until 0:55 seconds left. With 44 seconds left, Bradley lands a right to the body, then both connect. Pacquiao lands 2 lefts and a right shortly thereafter.

Round 8
Winner: Bradley
Margin: Slight
Why: Bradley's strong first minute won him the round with jabs and rights. Pacquiao won the next two minutes, but only by a slight margin, not enough to overtake Bradley's strong opening minute.
Details: Bradley's jabs and rights were landing cleanly in the first minute. Pacquiao didn't land anything. With 1:40 left, Pacquiao gets going with a 3-punch combo, the last right landing cleanly. He lands with 1:32 to go. They both land in an exchange with 1:28 left in the round. The next 1:10 they both tried to score, but their attempts were thwarted. Pacquiao landed a few times with 5 seconds left.

Round 9
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Solid
Why: Bradley had his moments. He took the first minute again. After a strong second minute in which Pacquiao had his way, landed consecutive scoring shots, Bradley did answer back. The two traded clean blows throughout much of the final minute. Pacquiao's huge second minute won the round.
Details: Bradley landed body shots early. Pacquiao was slow out of the gate again. Bradley was off balance 46 seconds in, but it didn't look like it was from a punch. With 1:49 to go, Pacquiao lands a combo, but Bradley still leads. 3 lefts by Pacquiao with 1:45 to go- Bradley answers with 1 right- gives Pacquiao the lead. With 1:26 left, Pacquiao lands several flush shots consecutively. He had a big lead. He lands an uppercut ten seconds later. Bradley cuts into it with 3 shots with 1:07 left. Bradley has success 2:01 into the round and seven seconds later. Pacquiao lands two body shots with 0:39 to go, then Bradley lands a left to the head. They trade for the next ten seconds. Bradley cut into Pacquiao's big lead, but wasn't close to taking the round.

Round 10
Winner: Bradley
Margin: Clear
Why: Bradley got off to a good start and had a big first minute. Pacquiao never landed anything significant to put a dent into that lead.
Details: Bradley smacked Pacquiao's body early. He landed a combo 35 seconds into the round and a jab with 2:18 to go. The next minute and a half saw ineffective aggression by both men, though the occasional jab got in for Bradley. He landed a left hook with 0:53 to go. Pacquiao was coming forward for almost the entire round. They traded late in the round.

Round 11
Winner: Pacquiao
Margin: Slight
Why: Bradley led early with the jab. But in the last two minutes, Pacquiao slowly chipped away at Bradley's lead. Bradley didn't land much cleanly after the first minute and by the end Pacquiao had landed enough to take the round.
Details: In the first 45 seconds, Bradley's jab give him the lead. With 2:11 left, they traded and Bradley got the better of it. Pacquiao landed a left with 1:52 to go. Bradley still led. Six seconds later, another left, but Bradley still leads. With 0:52 left, Pacquiao lands a left to the body, right to the head combo. Pacquiao landed a left with 0:42 to go in the round and a right with 0:20 left. Those punches in the last two minutes negated Bradley's good first minute.

Round 12
Winner: Bradley
Margin: Slight
Why: Bradley started off strong. Pacquiao seemed to answer Bradley's shots throughout the round. The round kept fluctuating between solid for Bradley when he landed to slight when Pacquiao landed. Pacquiao landed a lead left late to make it a slight win for Bradley.
Details: Bradley landed some of the combo he threw in the first 10 seconds. With 2:22 to go, Pacquiao lands a right. Bradley landed a right to the body with 2:18 to go. Pacquiao landed a combo 10 seconds later.   In the middle of an exchange with 1:46 left, Bradley landed an impressive left uppercut. Bradley then cements his lead with a combo to both sides of Pacquiao's body.Nearly halfway into the round, Pacquiao landed two lefts. Bradley connected soon after. Bradley landed a jab here and there for the next 50 seconds and so did Pacquaio. Bradley lands with 30 seconds left. Pacquiao landed a straight left with 8 seconds left.

Wrap up: Upon further review, Pacquiao beat Bradley 117-111 or 9 rounds to 3. Bradley jabbed early in each round. But Bradley seldom landed cleanly. Pacquiao knocked Bradley back in several rounds and landed more of the clean punches in the majority of the rounds.

The first round was a toss up in my mind. I gave it to Pacquiao. There were a total of 5 close rounds in my mind (slight or very slight). They were rounds 1, 6, 8, 11, and 12.  I gave 3 of the 5 close rounds to Pacquiao. That means if a judge gave every close round to Bradley, it would be a draw, 6-6. If you gave every close round to Pacquaio, he wins 11-1. That's how there can be wide discrepancies in scores and all sides can have valid points. I cannot see Bradley winning this fight 7-5, however. And typically, all the close rounds don't go to one fighter or another. So, in conclusion, we all were right, this was a bad decision.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Game 4 - Three in a Row

If we lived in a less cynical time, Russell Westbrook's inspired performance in Game 4 would be recounted to grandchildren all across the country in two generations from now. He exhibited smooth mid-range pull-up jumpers and kamikaze layups that were as elegant as they were reckless. He coaxed the ball into the basket for 43 points on an impressive 20 for 32 shooting.

But we don't live in some mythical past. And when Russell Westbrook and Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals are remembered, only one play will be the focus of those recollections. Down 3 with 18 seconds to go, Udonis Haslem and James Harden both grabbed the ball. The shot clock was at 0.8 for the Heat. But on the jump ball, the shot clock reset to 5 seconds.

Harden won the tip and knocked it towards Durant. But Battier flew in and jousted the ball over to Mario Chalmers. Westbrook, thinking the shot clock had reset to 24, fouled. Chalmers made both free throws and the Thunder's chance at victory evaporated.

Oklahoma City got off to an uncharacteristically quick start. Westbrook and Collison helped the Thunder race out to a 33-16 lead late in the first. The Heat stumbled because Bosh was the focal point early and he insisted on taking tough shots. But Miami raced back and tied the score with fewer than five minutes into the second quarter.

At halftime, Oklahoma City held a three-point lead. The Thunder didn't come out at halftime with their usual fire. Conversely, the Heat didn't show their typical flatness. LeBron showed a bit of magic, grabbing an offensive rebound with his right and and winging it across his body to Wade for the dunk. James wasn't guarded by Durant early in the game and decided to distribute the ball. In previous games, with Durant guarding him, he became a scoring machine. But, with Durant shifting over to Lebron inthe second half, James became more aggressive. LeBron ended with 26 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds. Wade scored 25 with 2 key blocks late.

For Oklahoma City, only Westbrook and Durant were able to reach double digit points. Harden has not had a good series. Durant did score 28, but a more telling statistic was the one measly rebound he grabbed. It was an offensive board and led to a score.

With under three minutes to go, LeBron, who had banged his knee and was hobbling on defense and during stoppages of play, hit a three over Durant. Wade then made a layup. With under two to play, Westbrook hit a contested finger roll. That's when Chalmers made a key driving layup to send the team up three. Chalmers had 25 points in the game and 12 in the fourth quarter. Each team scored two points, leading to the possession that would be the Thunder's and Westbrook's undoing.

The Heat won 104-98 and took a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 in Miami.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Game 3 - Home Sweet Home

The third game of the 2012 NBA Finals was a weird one. It seemed as if Miami dominated the first half. James, Wade, and LeBron all played well. Miami was able to move the ball close to the basket for easy shots, the key to their offensive success. Miami also retrieved a plethora of offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Durant and Westbrook struggled to get off early. This was the fourth consecutive game the Thunder got off to the slow start.

One problem, the score didn't reflect Miami's dominance. At halftime, Oklahoma City trailed by only one point. Kendrick Perkins played well early, but he can't carry the team. This spelled doom for Miami, who hadn't brought the same energy in the third quarter as they had early on during the first two Finals games.

Sure enough, the Thunder played far better in the third quarter. They took significantly more shots than did Miami in the third and Durant and Westbrook seemed to get into the flow of the game. Yet, Miami actually doubled their lead to two when the quarter ended.

Miami exorcised some of their demons by playing well in the fourth. While Durant, who received a slick alley oop pass from Harden, had 25 points and Westbrook had 19 on 8 for 18 shooting, Miami's two stars were the story. LeBron had 29 points and 14 rebounds. Wade, whose games was punctuated by a reverse layup for a three point play, scored 25 points.

OKC couldn't hit the big shot when it counted. Miami won 91-85 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Chance for World Peace

We have a unique window of opportunity for world peace. We must act now. I've heard from people of different races, different religions, different nationalities, different genders, different sexual orientations, and different political bents. They all have one things in common. They all hate LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But we must act quickly. The NBA Finals will only last for another week or two.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Ten Worst States

In 2006, in the hopes of helping our immigrant friends, I developed a list of the ten worst states in America that I've been to. Here is the post. That list included: Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia, and Louisiana.

Yahoo! just put out an article about a study by a scholar who determined the most racist states by examining racist Google searches about President Obama. Here's the article. The list includes: West Virginia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Alabama, and New Jersey.

Six are the same. I've never been to Michigan or South Carolina. I drove through Alabama and back once; it was terrible, but I didn't spend enough time to include the state on my list. Pennsylvania has its racist western portion and it also has South Philly. But I wouldn't have guessed it to make the top ten racist states.

At the end of the article, the scholar says, "Prejudice could cost Mr. Obama crucial states like Ohio, Florida and even Pennsylvania." So that includes Florida, which is on my list. I'm shocked Georgia and Arkansas didn't make the top ten racist states, especially in front of Pennsylvania and Michigan. I postulate that Ted Nugent is responsible for the majority of racist anti-Obama Google searches.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Game 2 - Holding On

The Miami Heat started the game with a tremendous amount of urgency and energy. They took an 18-2 lead and it already looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder would have to travel to Miami with the series tied. But the Thunder had been trailing in the first half during the previous two games at home and had come back to win.

The Thunder played the Heat tough for the rest of the first half because of the splendid offensive arsenal displayed by sixth man James Harden. The man with the beard and the interesting hairdo had scored more than half of his team's points into the second quarter. Durant and Westbrook were struggling from the field.

Miami maintained their double digit lead thanks to balanced scoring. Bosh was a monster on the offensive glass all game long. Head coach Erik Spoelstra decided to start Bosh, who had come off the bench in the previous four games for the first time in his career since his rookie season. That gave the Heat a small lineup. But with Bosh crashing the glass (he ended with 15) and Battier having another outstanding three-point shooting game (5-7 from 3, 17 points in all), the Heat could get away with it.

James was amazing all game long. For the fifth straight game, he scored over 30 points. The key to Miami's first half success, however, was their desire to attack the rim. Wade symbolized this renewed commitment and finished the game with 24 points.

Oklahoma City wasn't able to erase the lead in third and Miami entered the fourth quarter with an eleven-point lead. In the fourth, Durant continued his late-game heroics. He hit on seven straight shots and scored 32 after a subpar first half. Westbrook, who had 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, also shot better in the second half. He was effective with his pull up jumper in transition and had a dramatic put-back dunk in transition late in the fourth. Serge Ibaka added 5 blocks.

Down 5 with under a minute to go, Fisher poked the ball out of Wade's hands. Miami was in disarray in transition and Durant swished a three as smooth as satin sheets. James missed a straight-ahead three. With ten seconds left, Durant threw up a running jumped from the baseline. James played good defense and rebounded the ball. LeBron was then fouled and hit two clutch free throws to seal the game.

Miami won 100-96 to tie the series.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fasting and Silence

Today, I'm fasting and keeping silent. I'm hoping this will help me to not be bothered by little things as much. It's about sacrifice. If I sacrifice, I appreciate more. If I'm more appreciative, I become more content.

I can also learn to appreciate others, even if they are acting negatively. Often times, it is our own reaction that counts. If we act in a poor manner, it really doesn't matter if our actions are justified or not. So, we must act appropriately at all times and not allow others to influence the way we act. We can do that by realizing everyone has something to teach us. We must appreciate everyone, because each person has a lesson to teach us, whether they know it or not.

This sacrifice has also showed me that I must be compassionate to others. You never know what another person is going through. Right now, I haven't eaten all day and am unable to speak. I would hope people would be understanding when interacting with me in this condition. I must show that same understanding and empathy to everyone else.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Game 1 - Fourth Quarter Flair

Kevin Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder with 17 points... in the fourth quarter. He maneuvered his lean lanky frame with grace and eloquence through the lane and exhibited an array of classy finger rolls, combative dunks, and smooth jumpers. Durant totaled 36 for the game, 4 assists, 8 rebounds and was the primary reason for the Thunder's Game 1 victory.

Russell Westbrook- who had 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds- was also clutch in the fourth quarter. He only made ten field goals on 24 shots, but helped energize the Thunder in the second half. Thabo Sefolosha played excellent defense and actually got more minutes on the floor than did James Harden. Nick Collison was superb as well in a supporting role.

The Miami Heat got off to a quick start. The Heat took a 29-22 lead into the second quarter. Shane Battier got hot from three-point range and ended with 17 points. He was all over Durant for much of the game, but KD was too long and proficient. LeBron James, who scored 30 with 9 rebounds, led the Heat to a seven point halftime lead.

But Miami couldn't match the Thunder's energy in the second half. The Thunder foraged for loose balls the way a rabid fox does for food.. That turned the tide. Oklahoma City took the lead by the end of the third quarter and ran away with the game in the fourth. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh shot a combined 11-30 from the field. Wade had 19 points and Bosh scored just 10. Mario Chalmers was 5-7 from the field for 12 points and 6 assists, continuing his strong play in his Finals career.

But Durant, Westbrook, Sefolosha, Collison, and veteran Derek Fisher played as a team while Miami settled for too many outside jumpers. The Thunder won 105-94 and took a 1-0 series lead.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 NBA Finals Preview

How they got here:
The NBA lockout diverted negative attention away from the Miami Heat for the first time since LeBron James joined the team before the 2010-2011 season. The Heat, though displaying a better supporting cast, were not much more than a three-man squad this season. James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh comprised the big three. Point guard Mario Chalmers improved upon his impressive 2011 NBA Finals showing. The Heat acquired defensive standout Shane Battier, who played behind James and Wade.

The lockout helped the Oklahoma City Thunder the most. They are a young team with a good bit of roster continuity. Kevin Durant won his third straight scoring title and dramatically improved his ability to find his teammates for a score. Russell Westbrook's assist totals fell, but his scoring averages rose. James Harden, the sixth man of the year, took a giant step towards stardom this season. OKC features a slew of valuable role players, including the NBA's shot blocking leader, Serge Ibaka.

The playoff run:
Miami coasted past a beat up New York Knicks team. In Game 1 against the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers, Bosh went down with an abdominal strain. Miami dropped the next two games are trailed the underdog Pacers 2-1. Wade, who had been playing sluggishly in the series, came alive and with the help of James, Miami took the series, 4-2. Home teams prevailed in the first four games against the veteran Boston Celtics. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett carried the Celtics. Boston took Game 5 in Miami and the press wrote Miami's obituary. But impressive victories with Bosh back in the lineup in Games 6 & 7 brought Miami to the Finals.

Oklahoma City cruised by the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, 4-0. The Thunder lost only one game to the Los Angeles Lakers. Westbrook played fantastically in both series. The Thunder trailed the San Antonio Spurs 2-0 after two road games. The OKC crowd helped the role players reach their potential and the Thunder took two games at home. A surprising Game 5 win in San Antonio set the stage for a home win in Game 6.

Miami should take a competitive five game series. Durant is going to have trouble finding someone to guard. If Miami goes big and plays Joel Anthony or Udonis Haslem, Durant will likely have to guard Wade and James. If Miami goes small, Durant could guard Battier, but then Ibaka will have to guard, and stay close to, Bosh. That will hurt the Thunder's shot blocking ability.

Miami is coming into the Finals with every intention of winning. After the Game 7 win against the Celtics, Miami was business-like. When the Thunder clinched a spot in the Finals, they celebrated as if they had won the championship. Though James has struggled in his two previous Finals experiences, he is playing at the top of his game right now. But the Heat tend to put up lemons every once in a while. The challenge will be to stay focused throughout.

The Thunder really seemed pleased to be in the Finals. But, they have the best crowd in the league and homecourt advantage. If they can play with more consistent energy than the Heat, the Thunder will have a shot to win the first all-weather Finals.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Path

The foundation for self-improvement is in developing inner peace, confidence, self-respect, self- love, or any other way to explain that phenomenon. I am trying to develop that sense by appreciating and embrace the beauty of each moment. What is eternity but an infinite series of nows?

I am also developing the belief that everything will always work out for the best, though it may not work out the way I want them to. That will help me not to focus on what I desire in my life at present.

Then, I will be able to be less judgmental of others and not allow trivial things to bother me. I often get upset when people do not act in society's best interest, no matter how minute the offense might be. I have decided to focus on living according to my perceptions of what is best for society as an example rather than scolding others.

I have come to realize the importance of life experience, especially when lessons are actively drawn from those experiences. I know that I have learned much in my life, but the older I am, the more I realize how little I know. I am learning to accept that.

It is all a process.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Manny Pacquiao Gets Ripped Off

I am in the camp who thought Juan Manuel Marquez deserved to win his third fight with Manny Pacquiao. I had the fight 9-3 for Marquez. But what happened tonight was far more shocking. Pacquiao, the name guy, the money man, was thoroughly ripped off.

Bradley threw more punches according to Compubox. If you look back, almost every recent bad decision has gone to the fighter who threw more punches. Judges seem not to consider punches landed or the power of the punches.

Pacquaio landed more. His punches rocked Bradley in a fairly consistent manner. Bradley wasn't able to move Pacquiao back with his shots.

Body language in the corner can also be an important window into how the fighters think they are doing. Bradley's trainer, Joel Diaz, constantly had to physically lift his fighter's head, because Bradley seemed discouraged. Pacquiao appeared confident. His trainer, Freddie Roach, advised Manny to close the show and knock him out in the 12th.

Personally, I thought Bradley won two rounds. At most, I could see him winning three. I can't believe two judges gave Bradley seven rounds and the other gave him five. Bradley showed a ton of heart and will, but even he was surprised he won. When asked, he told Max Kellerman that he'd have to go back and watch the tape to see if he won. When have you heard a boxer who thought he deserved to win a fight say that?

It's sad to see a decision such as this. I want boxing to become popular in the U.S. again, but when things like this happen, I feel disheartened.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Coup

Friends! Three years of tyranny ends tonight! We have overthrown the Dear and Fearless Leader and, in the process, liberated our nation from his dictatorial and arbitrary rule. A new dawn is upon us.

Our list of grievances is long. The Dear and Fearless Leader stole an election, provoked and eventually went to war with Tajikistan, gave us all genital warts, forced us to buy his terrible book, and changed our nation's currency to chest hair just to name a few.

We need new leadership. That's why I, your former Minister of Defense and the Interior, the Feared and Peerless Leader will lead a cabal of military chiefs until we are ready for fair and free elections. We will not commit the sins of my brother, the Dear and Fearless Leader. We renounce his corruption, dictatorship, and nepotism.

We support capitalism, democracy, and freedom. We will not antagonize the world, as did my brother. We will act as partners with the rest of the world. Privatization of the economy, elections, and laws granting our countrymen liberty will come as fast as is humanly possible.

I understand our people want justice. But we must show compassion for my brother. Yes, he led us down a dark alley. But we must not revisit the sins of the past and, instead, we must focus on the future. We can make our nation great. Follow our lead and we will all enjoy the fruit of prosperity!

Today's decrees
The military junta, led by the Feared and Peerless Leader, now runs our great land.

The Dear and Fearless Leader will be granted a pardon and will be asked to leave our nation.