Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bell Tolling for The Hip Hop NBA?

Wassup, Y'all!

I feel moved today and I'm going long so hang tight. When I first started this blog I did so by alerting Malone Zone readers to the fact that my value wasn't going to be in breaking the news but rather in interpreting the news through an urban lenz (no need to thank me for that service, y'all. Your peeping the blog is thanks enough). Lately, I've been gathering subtle clues from the media and from the NBA front office that seem to me to be signaling the beginning of the end of what's been called the 'Hip Hop NBA'...

Y'all know - the New Jack NBA culture ushered in by Allen Iverson and other young bucks, which features braids, tats, doo rags, 'shorts' that stop just above the ankles, baggy clothes at game day functions and that ubiqutious hip hop accessory - the ill mannered entourage (the one featuring broke, high school homeys who expect VIP perks at all NBA venues that feature their boy).

Just like in Cali where homeowners can get ridiculous chedder for their 1 BDR, no kitchen or bath fixer-upper in a seller's market, the Hip Hop NBA (HHNBA) crew could pretty much call the shots since they represented the NBA's bread and butter (aka the best basketball talent available). You could feel the northside NBA owners cringing at the culture shock as their no-crust, watercress sandwiches and bottles of 'still' water crossed paths with Fatburgers and Crunk Juice - oh the horror! Lovey - look at his grill! Well this *is* America, y'all and you have to know that America is undeniably a nation run by northsiders, either out in front or behind the scenes. So it's only natural that such power and influence would eventually find a workable solution to the Hip Hop NBA 'problem'.

The other day I read a tight article by Greg Boeck of USA Today that clearly outlines the plan (at least in my conspiratoral mind). He points to a growing pipeline of basketball talent that is far removed from the inner city b-ball havens like NYC's Rucker Park and Oaktown's Mosswood Park. This pipeline has feeders in cities like Treviso, Italy and Barcelona, Spain and it seems, based on the ever increasing number of foreign players (aka 'internationals') in the NBA (a record 18% this season, y'all) that the NBA owners have found the chunk of Kryptonite they've been looking for to dismantle whatever leverage the HHNBA crew thought they had.

To the point, Boeck's essay dropped the following insightful quote:

"NBA teams are realizing it's less risky to draft internationals because they're more coachable, more socialized, have no posses and have not been Americanized," says former college coach George Raveling, Nike's director of global basketball. Raveling's prediction: International players will comprise 50% of the NBA by 2010

"More socialized"? "No posses"? Ouch. You have to know that Old George is only vocalizing what a lot of old school, NBA owners have been thinking. It also can't be denied that the way basketball is taught and learned in Europe and other parts of the world is more pure, fundamental and team based than the freelance, rim bending, bicep kissing, 1 on 5, break-your-boy-down on national TV style favored by the HHNBA crew. I'll be the first to admit, the Euros have skillz and that alone should send a shiver down the spines of the HHNBA crew.

As Boeck points out (and we all watched in road crash fascination) that in recent international matchups featuring NBA stocked teams, those teams finished third at the last Summer Olympics and sixth in the 2002 World Games (granted many big names opted off the national teams but Stevie Wonder could see how team play equalized individual athleticism on the court). Particularly in the last Olympics it was clear that despite the presence of AI on the roster, Team USA had *No Answer* for the funk the foreign clubs were bringing.

Seems to me the tide is turning, y'all - remember that recent dust-up caused by NBA Commissioner David Stern when he instituted a strict dress code for the players? It wasn't like he dreamed that bad boy up all by himself. Among items banned were: T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, shorts, headgear (aka ballcaps with the tag still on and cocked to the side, doo rags, etc.), chains, pendants, medallions worn over clothes (aka no Flava Flav clocks, no pendants with spinning rims, no platinum, iced out, 9 inch Jesus pieces, etc.), no sunglasses indoors (cuz their future's no longer so bright they gotta wear shades). Now don't get it twisted, y'all. I'm not hatin' (truly) but I am a purist and all for looking professional when it's called for so I'm with D-Stern on this one.

It seems that since most NBA players are rich (at least until their entourages sponge it all away from them) they assume they can run the show however they choose. But Chris Rock broke down the actual factuals when he described the difference between being 'rich' and being wealthy'. C-Rock said that Shaq is rich, but the owner who signs his paycheck is wealthy. So the smart player should be wondering what he can do to either 1) become wealthy or 2) keep their owners happy so they can keep being rich. Seems to me that the HHNBA culture runs counter to either of those goals.

I believe it was that wise hip hop sage Kanye West who heard 'em say - 'Nothing's ever promised tomorrow today'. The Hip Hop NBA crew would do well to listen closely to that message and 'never send to know for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee', homey - it tolls for thee.

Can I get a witness?



Friday, April 21, 2006

Venus & Serena : Milk Carton Alert!

Wassup, Y'all!

My how the distracted have fallen. Frequent readers of the Malone Zone may remember my August '05 post about the many irons in the fire Williams sisters have and how their focus on all things non-tennis was beginning to register on the bottom line - in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings and the WTA Tour Money Leaders lists. It appears our wannabe actresses / fashion models / clothing designers / interior designers are now nowhere to be found on the Money list and only semi-disciplined sister Venus is still in the Top 20 rankings, clocking in at a less than stellar 13th (I couldn't even find party-all-the-time sister Serena in the Top 100...) - 2,267 points off the pace of Amelie Mauresmo (who looks like she could qualify on the men's tour as well..)...

Seems our girls have now taken a page from the Anna Kournikova reference guide - "How to market yourself by leveraging professional tennis as a PR machine". I realize that slick Anna actually *never* won a professional tournament, but she sure has a lot of hot pictures orbiting the Internet!! It's a bit more disappointing with the Williams sistas since they're so inspiring to young southside shorty tennis hopefuls but I guess their off-court endeavours can be inspiring too. After all, everybody knows that we could sure use a few more bad TV actresses on UPN...



Thursday, April 20, 2006

Panasonic's packing 103" inches!

Wassup, Y'all!

Yeah, baby! Yeaaaaah!

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't yet caught one of those Austin Powers joints, but I am kinda fond of one of Mike Meyers catch phrases in the movie, especially since it works so well for Panasonic's debut of a 103" High Definition Plasma screen TV...

In my book, you can boil homeboys down into three basic categories: the power tool set which I call Gearheads, the electronic gadget set which I call Techheads and the metrosexual clothing/grooming product set which I call gay Noheads (if you get my meaning...I hear women don't like guys who spend more time in the mirror than they do...). Me? Undoubtedly old Tyrone is a card carrying Techhead so I have to admit that the announcement had me going through all kinds of changes just thinking about the possibilities of owning a home theater with that bad boy as the proverbial 'draws dropper' (as my southside homeys are known to say).

When you start talking about a 103" HD Plasma, every homeboy in the Techhead nation immediately starts thinking about what choice DVDs he could peep on that bad boy that would show off such massive scope (a Nohead on the other hand would be worrying about how much dust that bad boy might collect and whether he needs to invest in another lint brush...). I'm thinking a few action joints like Heat and The Last Samurai, a couple classics like Top Gun and Glory, a little bit of eye candy like Charlie's Angels - Full Throttle and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - maybe Shakira's new 'Hips Don't Lie' music video. *Sigh*

According to the specs, Panasonic's wall buster clocks in at a hefty 400 lbs. so no matter how macho you want to look in front of your girl, you'll either need a couple homeboys to help with the installation or go the complete castration route and get a professional to do it for you (if you ask politely he might even date your girl for you if you're not up to that either...). Regardless, should you be able to pull off getting one of those bad boys, you'll be able to put a temporary halt to the neighbor flexing that always has your shorty rolling her eyes. You know how homeboys do. We're all into comparing our $hit with our boyz. It'd be all like:

Dude, you still packing that 72" over at your crib? Dang homes, you need to get with the times - you know I'm packing that Pana 103", right? That's right - so if you're feeling lonely tonight, that's cuz your girl will be over at my spot watchin' Desperate Housewives with me

That would just be the tip of the iceberg, y'all. Yo Panasonic! Good lookin'out, homey-sans!



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Proof RIP - He Kept it Real...

Wassup, Y'all!

When I first saw the initial reports of D12 rapper Proof's capping in a dingy Detroit nightclub...on Eight Mile Road...at 4:30 am ...I was all like, "Dang, that's tight - wrong place, wrong time'. After all, we know that there can't be a safer place to be than a dingy Detroit nightclub on Eight Mile Road at 4:30 am (unless Charles Barkley is up in that piece). Now as details slowly percolate up, it seems the real reason behind Proof's violent demise was his own temper or his desire to make sure he 'kept it real' and lived up to his thug soldier rap persona...

I know, y'all - no one said most rappers were bright since many of those knuckleheads seem to prefer a dirt nap in the boneyard to doing something positive with the ridiculously lucky breaks they are handed (should they be popular enough to sell some CDs or hook up as part of the entourage of someone who is...).

Pre-school Proof could have been living lavish without working at all. He was in like Flint with his mentor Eminem and with Kim back out on the curb, he likely could have moved into Em's crib and saved a few more ducets off the fat stack he was sponging. But nooooooooo, Pre-School Proof had to be all brody and start some static in a dingy Detroit nightclub on Eight Mile Road at 4:30 am. The end result - one to the dome, two to the chest and a dirt nap. Dang - hate it when that happens.

Now I did catch a bit of Fade To Black - the Jay-Z documentary about his 'last' concert and it only points to the fact that if you use the sense God gave you, you can parlay your good fortune into more good fortune. Jay-Z, Diddy, y'all know the tune. Seems to be a pretty obvious choice to me - Beyonce...one to the dome, two to the chest and a dirt nap...Beyonce...one to the dome, two to the chest and a dirt nap. Did I mention that most rappers aren't too bright?



Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Never Saw it Coming...

Wassup, Y'all!

Breaking up is easy to do...

I'm trying to pull myself back together after seeing the shocking news that Eminem has filed for divorce from his boo Kim for the second time. This one less than 3 months after marrying old girl again. *Sigh* I have to admit I never saw it coming, y'all. Maa fact, here're nine other nuggets that caught a brother *completely* by surprise...

Pissed off sisters in trouble!

Rep. Cynthia McKinney D-GA claiming racism after refusing to stop for a Capitol Police officer who didn't recognize her because she finally ditches those tired braids for an ill-formed 'fro. Now come on, homegirl! If 98% of southside brothers can't recognize their own shortys if they get their hair wet (northsiders: black hair + perm + water = unintentional afro...) who's gonna blame a northside Capitol Police officer? Ease up, Cyndy and stop selling those wolf tickets everytime things don't go your way! Mighty funny how she dropped a mea culpa when all of her Black Congressional Caucus colleagues took one, giant step back away from old girl...

What kind of job do you have when you have to sneak quietly around to avoid high velocity projectiles from impacting your dome? Special Forces soldier? Nope - try housekeeper for Naomi Campbell. Seems even laid back supermodels can go postal sometimes cuz we all know our girl Naomi is chill like a pill. What could have driven old girl to bounce her cell phone off her housekeeper's bean so badly she needed a couple staples to close the wound? Laying that cotton throw blanket on the couch a little too loud? Missing that one spider web thread in one corner of the kitchen's vaulted ceiling? I'm sure the details will surface now that old girl has been charged with 2nd degree assault. Homeboys - I know she's kinda cute and she has that British accent going on but who in their right mind is going to step out with Naomi? Man, one wrong word and she's mixing up a batch of hot grits to toss on yo a$$ the minute you go to sleep!

It wasn't me...

No jail time
for Debbie Lafave. New math, y'all - cute, young blonde haired, blue eyed teacher + 14 year old hormone crazed boy = 0 years in jail. Wow - now that's what I call gender progress. Seems old girl was able to parlay a claim of being bipolar into a get out of jail free card. Hmmm, I can hear the wheels turning at Catholic parishes all over the country...

Beltway greed poster boy Rep. Tom Delay R-TX has decided to call it a day on his political career. Somehow you knew there were tears behind his bogus smiling mug shot and all that false bravado. He knew the deal but as a good Texan he was just trying to cowboy up and put a little lipstick on that pig he was trying to sell. Anyway, don't cry for him Argentina. The truth is he'll be making millions on the lobby circuit before you can say Jack Abramoff...

Payback's a Be-Yotch...

Nick Lachey is trying to get spousal support. Go 'head, Nick! Get yours, homey! Always good to see a little table turning going on. I remember when Joan Lunden's (former Good Morning America host) househusband went this same route and old girl asked loud and long why he could just get off his lazy a$$ and get a job? I'm sure many homeboys have wondered the same about their ex-spouses, but you didn't hear that from me.

Can I borrow a dollar and your make-up mirror?

Doc Gooden's back in county oranges again y'all. The only question here is where's his cut buddy Robert Downy Jr. Daryl Strawberry? You know neither of these brothers can figure out how to shake those Eightball cravings. Which brings me to another of our southside nation housemates - Whitney Houston. I'm too surprised that after she drop kicked her boo Bobby to the curb that her concerned sister-in-law Tina Brown dropped some unsavory tidbit to The National Enquirer about Whitney's seemingly unbreakable crack habit. Man - and in-laws normally get along so well too...

Money for nothing...

Katie Couric, arguably America's most overpaid and overrated television host is leaving NBC's Today Show for more money the prestigious CBS Evening News anchor job. I'm not hatin', y'all I'm just statin' and wondering how this chick ever became worth $15 million a year. In the pantheon of foine shorty news anchors, I believe Katie ranked a meager 0.025 on the Malone Zone Shorty Damn Meter. Clearly I wasn't consulted on this move but I wish her well as she vanishes into that obscure ratings black hole known as CBS news. Hmmm, that's kinda poetic...

And finally, after working just a little over 19 days this year, Congress goes back on break for Easter and only plans to work 2 weeks in April and only 97 days for the entire year in Washington. I'm all for those boyz mandating that type of work schedule for the rest of the American people (or at least GW's work schedule). You have to admire that crew though - they really know how to balance work and family life while pulling in over six figures a year from their day jobs. It's like Eddie Murphy said in The Distinguished Gentleman - working in CONgress is the biggest con in the world.

Hey, just in case y'all don't hear from me for a few - do me a favor and check the manifest down at Guantanamo from time to time...