Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Legacy of Baron Davis

Baron Davis.  BD.  Doom Dizzle.  Like most people El Guapo had a few heroes growing up, whether they were close family members, celebrities or even athletes.  Baron Davis was one of those heroes.  Now, those not old enough might not know who this man is but take it from someone who lived through the Baron Davis Era, he was really good.  Baron Davis' adventure begins in Los Angeles, South Central to be exact.  Baron played ball for Crossroads, a prestigious high school in Santa Monica, where he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and was selected to play in the McDonald's All American High School Basketball Game.  So he was pretty good in high school.  (All that was just paraphrased from his Wikipedia page.)  He stayed local and ended up playing college ball at UCLA.  He was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (back when it was still Pac-10) and declared for the draft after his sophomore year.  So he was pretty good at this basketball thing.

So from 1999 to 2005 Davis spent the beginning of his career with the Hornets (both Charlotte and New Orleans.)  Baron was a special kind of point guard; he was big and strong and could post up smaller guards but at the same time was quick and had a handle.  He was a natural scorer and an extremely creative passer.  He was less a traditional point guard, but rather an athletic scoring point guard.  Baron even competed in the slam dunk contest one year.  (He lost.)  The dude led the Hornets to the playoffs a couple times and was selected to the All-Star game twice, albeit once he was a replacement for the injured Vince Carter.  Baron was good enough to make the All NBA Third Team as well.  His problem however was that he couldn't stay on the floor.  As athletic as he was he continually suffered injuries in the latter years of his stint with the Hornets.  So in 2005 Baron Davis was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis (right?) and a new stage in Baron's career began.

(He'll be back)

At this point of time my Warriors weren't very good.  Mike Montgomery was our head coach; Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy Jr. were our second and third best players.  But we had J-Rich, who I've mentioned is my favorite player of all time.  When I first heard about the trade for Baron Davis I can admit to not knowing a whole lot about him.  So I asked my dad if he was good.  His response was, "Yeah.  He's one of the top 3 point guards in the league."  I still haven't forgotten those exact words.  Now was this declaration true?  We'll get back to this.  What I did know after the end of that season was that Jason Richardson and Baron Davis were made for each other.  One an athletic point guard with superior passing skills and the ability to get to the rim, the other a freakishly athletic two-guard who could jump out the gym (no Dominique) and knock down threes.  The Warriors still weren't very good, but at least I could always be excited about watching them play.  But Baron brought something else to the table that was missing.  Two things actually.  Number one, he was a leader.  Jason Richardson was never quite the leader that Baron was.  Richardson could help the team win games, but Baron could take control of the game.  Number two, Baron was clutch.  (Really.)  J-Rich had hit his share of game winners and could knock down shots when it counted, but Baron is who I trusted with the ball when the game on the line.  He wasn't just the most clutch player on our roster, I'd say he was one of the most clutch in the league.  There was something about the ball in Baron's hands with less than 10 seconds on the clock that just felt safe.

(Love the Pirates theme song with the mix!)

However, after his first one and a half seasons with the Warriors, Baron couldn't get the Warriors to the promised land, which was basically the playoffs.  I remember Jason Richardson promised the fans that the Warriors were going to make the playoffs the following season after a disappointing '06 season; nobody believed him.  Yet the '06-'07 was a special season.  We had Don Nelson take over as coach, we traded away Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, Monta Ellis emerged as a dependable scoring option and we had a gang filled with lovable losers ready to take the Warriors to the playoffs.  But there was one leader throughout this magical campaign, and his name rhymed with Karen Mavis.  (It's Baron Davis.)  Sometimes he would rock the high knee socks, sometimes he wouldn't.  Sometimes he had the headband going, other times he left it home.  But what remained constant was his high energy game, his leadership, his beard and his ability to hit the big shot.  It was a tumultuous season, to say the least, with all the injuries, especially to Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, but the Warriors made a push and made it to the playoffs.  What you have to understand was that the last time this happened was 1994 and I was one year old.  This was like the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, obviously on a much smaller scale.  (We made the playoffs, the Red Sox won the title; our playoff drought was 13 years, their championship drought was 86 years.)  But still.  That year was an ensemble effort with everyone doing their part, but it was Baron who showed up to play hero, both in the regular season and the playoffs.

That exciting playoff run was capped off with a (successful) dunk over Kirilenko in the second round of the playoffs versus the Utah Jazz.  I remember watching the game from my living room.  The Warriors had blown the game open and Baron had been having little trouble getting to the rim.  You knew where he was going as he turned the corner.  As he picked up speed I could see Andrei Kirikenko in the corner ready to meet him at the basket.  I knew this wasn't gonna end well for AK-47, but what happened completely stopped my heart.  I saw Baron rise up and then I saw AK-47 rise up and the next thing I heard was a "Bam!"  My eyes saw Baron ram the basketball down the basket while a good, yet obviously foolish, defender was left to be the victim.  My mind kept playing the dunk over and over again until I was rewarded with a replay.  That was the moment you could be proud to don the Warriors jersey.  You could put that poster up on your bedroom wall.  It was imprinted into our memory banks; we'll never forget it, Baron will never forget it, Kirilenko will definitely never forget it.


The next season Jason Richardson was traded, which was a huge bummer for me.  I was shocked and it took me a while to get over it.  But Baron stayed being Baron, and somehow even better.  Yes, Monta and Captain Jack also stepped up, but Boom Dizzle was still our leader.  He still pushed the ball and executed Nellie ball perfectly.  His passes were still on point.  He was still one of the top point guards in the league.  He could still hit that turn around shot.  He could still juke his defender and then fade away.  He could still get to the rim.  And when we needed him most, in the clutch, he was there.  He was even able to stay on the floor for 82 games.  (Got his knees working and shit!)  If there was any season he deserved to make the All-Star team as a Warrior, it was this one.  The Warriors were even better than the year before, but even after winning 48 games the Warriors failed to make the playoffs in the super tough Western Conference.  (You know whose fault is that?  David Stern!)  No worries though, we have some good players, a great coach and Baron will be back next year to take us to the playoffs again.

(You know who it was going to)

Wrong!  Wrong!  That didn't happen.  Instead Boom Dizzle opted out of his last year of the contract and left the Warriors.  Worst of all, he went to the Clippers!  (The fucking Clippers!  Pre-Blake fucking Griffin Clippers?!?)  It was our version of LeBron's decision, again, obviously on a smaller scale.  An era had ended.  Al Harrington wanted to leave, Monta Ellis would fuck up his ankle in a moped accident (dumbass!) and Stephen Jackson was our best player by default.  I felt betrayed, yet I didn't burn my jersey like some idiots.  (Talking to you Ohio!)  Baron spent the next three years in Los Angeles, never quite playing the basketball he played in Oakland, nor taking the Clippers to the playoffs.  He got to enjoy one year of Blake Griffin, the highlight of that year being allowed to throw a basketball out of a Kia at the Slam Dunk Contest so Blake Griffin can jump over the hood and dick riders can say he jumped over a car.  But that's neither here nor there.  I booed when he came into town but eventually my bitterness turned into pity.  I wasn't liking what was happening to Baron.  He deserved much more than his body and teams were giving him.  He went to a LeBron-less Cleveland next and soon was relocated to the Knicks, probably the best team he was on since '08, where he backed up Jason Kidd who was the back up for Raymond Felton.  That's not the way you want your hero to go out.  After that the next time I saw him he was on NBATV before last year's playoffs talking about how great the crowd is in Oakland.  After the Donald Sterling fiasco I read some article about how Baron Davis personally felt discriminated in his interaction with Sterling.

(Told you he'd be back)

That brings us to this last Sunday.  My co-worker, his friends and I went to see some Drew League basketball.  If you don't know what Drew League is, it's a summer basketball league in South LA sponsored by Nike at Drew High School.  Sometimes notable basketball players show up to play.  On Sunday I got to see Nick (Swaggy P) Young, the player formerly known as Ron Artest and Terrence Ross, just to name a few.  But then I saw a familiar face with a familiar beard.  Baron Davis was in the building and he was going to suit up and play some ball.  The first thing I noticed while his team was doing lay-up lines was how much weight he put on.  Baron was never really keen on staying in shape, especially the during the latter years of his career, but Baron looked straight up fat.  (I remember meeting Baron before one of the games during his Golden State years and asking for an autograph.  I got to meet the guy who I tried to emulate on the court!  Even in my excitement I could notice that this basketball demon was a little on the pudgy side.)  If I didn't know any better I'd think he was just someone's dad who thinks he's still got it.  (Talking to you Dad!)  I wasn't even sure if he was going to start.  "Baron can't go out like that!," I told my co-worker.  But he did start and I was curious to see how he was going to do.  I expected he would run the point for a while, get tired and sit down.  (You know, fat people stuff.)

(Old Man Davis)

Wrong!  Wrong!  (These are happy "wrongs"!)  When I tell you Baron still has it, I mean Baron still has it!  No, he wasn't as fast as before and no, he wasn't dunking on people.  But even in his fat suit he was still unguardable.  His jumpshot never left and neither have his handles.  Terrence Ross tried locking him down and Baron just shot over him.  Metta World Peace tried putting the clamps on Baron and Baron shook him with those crossovers.  Baron was making wrap-around passes, quick cross over and fade-aways and I was having flashbacks.  There was a moment in the game when Baron's team was up 9.  Metta World Peace hit a three to cut the lead to 6 and then his team scored again cutting the lead to 4.  It was the 4th quarter and we were approaching the last minute of the game.  It was Boom Dizzle time.  Baron dribbled the ball down the left side of the court and started to post up his defender at the perimeter.  He turns around and fades away behind the three point line... buries it!  Next possession, the exact same play.  Baron turns around and fades away from behind the arc... dagger!  Moments later the game was over.  Everyone was wowed by Baron's performance but I had seen it before.  It was just like watching him with the Warriors, except with closer seats.  I went home and immediately started looking up old YouTube clips.  I ended up learning that he was trying to get back in the league.  My mind started to do gymnastics and picture Baron donning the number 5 for the Warriors once more, backing up Steph Curry and putting on a show.  I know that's not happening, but a guy can dream, right?

(Hol' up!  Lemme catch my breathe!)

So was Baron Davis ever an elite player, so much so that my dad's "top 3 point guards in the league" comment was warranted?  Let's find out.  I used basketball-reference.com to do some research.  (I cite my sources because I'm a college student and shit.)  We're gonna look at two seasons in Davis' career.  1) the '03-'04 season which was his best as a Hornet 2) the '07-'08 season which I would argue was his best as a Warrior.  I'm going to compare his stats with other top point guards in the league in each respective season.

  Baron Davis-             22.9 ppg; 7.5 apg; 4.3 rpg; 2.4 spg; 39% FG%; 32% 3P%
 Stephon Marbury-      20.2 ppg; 8.9 apg; 3.2 rpg; 1.6 spg; 43% FG%; 32% 3P%
Jason Kidd-                 15.5 ppg; 9.2 apg; 6.4 rpg; 1.8 spg; 38% FG%; 32% 3P%
Sam Cassell-               19.8 ppg; 7.3 apg; 3.8 rpg; 1.3 spg; 49% FG%; 40% 3P%
Steve Nash-                 14.5 ppg; 8.8 apg; 3.0 rpg; 0.9 spg; 47% FG%; 40% 3P%

Verdict: Jason Kidd was without a doubt the best point guard in the league at the time.  He lead the league in assists per game, was the best player on a good New Jersey team was was 1st team All-NBA.  After that though you can definitely make the case that Baron was a top 3 point guard in the league.

Baron Davis-              21.8 ppg; 7.6 apg; 4.7 rpg; 2.3 spg; 43% FG%; 33% 3P%
Chris Paul-                 21.1 ppg; 11.6 apg; 4.0 rpg; 2.7 spg; 49% FG%; 37% 3P%
Steve Nash-                16.9 ppg; 11.1 apg; 3.5 rpg; 0.7 spg; 50% FG%; 47% 3P%
Deron Williams-         18.8 ppg; 10.5 apg; 3.0 rpg; 1.1 spg; 50% FG%; 40% 3P%
Jason Kidd-                10.8 ppg; 10.1 apg; 7.5 rpg; 1.7 spg; 39% FG%; 39% 3P%

Verdict: As much as I hate to say this, Chris Paul was the best point guard in time at this point in time.  He led the league in assists and win shares and led his team through a great regular season, but not very far in the playoffs.  (As usual.)  After that you could try to squeeze Baron behind Steve Nash at number 3, but Deron Williams wouldn't be a bad choice.

(The glory days)

So there you have it!  Baron Davis was a good point guard who played for the Warriors, lead them to the playoffs, dunked over a Russian (?) dude, left the franchise in ruins, had his body betray him (much like he betrayed a certain young boy), retired, got fat and started lighting up a summer basketball league in Los Angeles.  I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed reminiscing.  Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ELGUAPO3 for Twitter and @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME for the 'Gram.  I took the liberty of leaving you a Baron Davis YouTube mix for you enjoyment.  (Note: for you guys who spend the time to create YouTube mixes of our favorite players, you da real MVPs.)  Enjoy your summer and stay Guapo out there!  (Especially you Baron.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dawn of The Planet of the Apes Review

Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition on Infinite Wisdom.  I am your host El Guapo, or as I'm better known south of the border, El Guapo.  Over the weekend I had the pleasure of catching the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  I was really excited to write my review but seeing as the World Cup was yesterday I didn't want to release a blog post that would be dwarfed by all the World Cup news.  It's like announcing you lost your tooth at a funeral.  For some reason people just won't care.  (Yeah Mom!)  Also I was to busy watching the game/sulking after the game to even write.  But I'm here now so let's get this bad boy going.

Very well written screenplay by the writers.  As I've said before, you need to have a solid plot in order to avoid being a Michael Bay movie.  (Had this movie been directed by Bay, there probably would have been more explosions, less meaningful dialogue, less character development and complexity, and there would definitely have been a young attractive girl.)  The plot was complex but easy to follow.  The movie had a message and the story kept you interested.  The people who wrote this screenplay also wrote Rise of the Planet of the Apes so I wasn't surprised about how well this was written.  (I praised the writers in my review of Godzilla.)  Also, seeing as the same people are writing Jurassic World I'm pretty damn excited.  This is how you do sci-fi movies!

If anything this movie is about the characters and their relationships.  Yeah, we could talk about the human characters but the real stars were the apes.  It's about the relationships between the apes and the relationships between two different "peoples".  Once you're watching the movie you forget that you're watching two apes talk to each other in sign language.  You see a father talking wisdom to his son.  You forget that you're seeing an intelligent chimp and a human trying to communicate each other, you instead see two different people trying to establish trust.  Of course there's always someone to fuck things up for everybody.  In the human camp, it's a nervous guy who breaks ape/human trust  because he lets fear get the best of him.  On the apes side it's Koba, the right hand man (chimp) of Caesar, whom we all remember from the first film.  Here's the interesting thing about this movie: there's really no truly evil villain.  Follow me on this one.  As bad as all of Koba's actions are, he thinks he's doing what's best for his "people".  He gets power hungry and all that shit in the process, but I really think he had good-ish intentions.  He endured tough experiences with humans and therefore was never able to trust them.  (But to be real, Koba did some really fucked up things.  Don't worry, no spoilers!)  And like I said when I reviewed Godzilla, it makes for a better sci-fi movie when there's less focus on a romance.  On a side note, how adorable was Maurice!?!  I might name my first born child after the orangutan.

Obviously with these types of movies you really want to emphasize on things like CGI and battle scenes and what not.  This one is a no-brainer.  Great stuff.  Battle sequences were on point, whether it was ape on ape or ape on human.  (That sounded dirty.)  The apes looked really good and it all helped in the process of forgetting you were seeing talking apes.  This was CGI done right with so much attention to detail.  It makes you wonder why so many sci-fi movies cheap out on the CGI bill.  It's like a burger joint cheaping out on the meat and getting discount patties.  Dawn is exactly what you want to see if you're looking for a great adventure/sci-fi movie to escape the dull world.  And more.

The Verdict
So it's pretty obvious this was a film I enjoyed.  The movie started good and as time went on escalated to its great status.  It was about 30 minutes in when I stopped thinking, "This is a pretty good movie."  It was then my mind went, "Damn, this movie is amazing!"  I didn't have super high expectations as I did with Godzilla.  But Dawn really delivered.  Being that these two movies are in the same genre I have to compare them.  While Godzilla is probably the film I was most excited for, I have to fair and give the nod to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  So seeing as I gave Godzilla a Guapisimo for a sci-fi/adventure movie, I have to do the same for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Thank you for reading this review.  Follow me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Have a great day and stay Guapo out there!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The History of Hating LeBron (Update: I'm Coming Home)

So the Finals came and went.  Free agency came around.  LeBron asked for the max.  He narrowed it down to Cleveland or Miami.  He made a decision.  Let's see how that affected LeBron's public image timeline in this updated version of a month old blog.

(2003-'04) That's the Guy They're Talking About?
Even in high school people at ESPN and other sportswriters were saying LeBron was gonna be THAT dude.  They were calling him the "Next Michael Jordan".  Up until this point in my life the only Michael Jordan I knew and had seen played for the Wizards.  But I knew about Air Jordan by the way my dad and my uncle talked about him.  Old heads said MJ was the greatest of all time.  The only vintage MJ I saw were in those NBA Entertainment cassettes my dad kept.  But this LeBron guy was the next Michael so I had to pay attention.  If you ever read my Greatest Draft Classes blog post you know the draft LeBron came out of was stacked with talent.  Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Melo came out of the same draft and LeBron James was the best of the bunch.

('04-'06) He's Coming to Town!
We were all witnesses.  I looked forward to these games.  My Warriors weren't that good at this time (never stopped me from coming to the games anyway) so it was almost a forgone conclusion what the outcome would be, but everyone wanted to see LeBron.  He was amazing.  He could jump out the gym, no Migos.  He could attack the basket and slam it home with authority.  He could chase you on a fast break and swat your lay-up from behind.  He could get triple-doubles and do it in an exciting way.  He was the big show during Christmas games and All-Star games.  It was fun to watch him in the playoffs because there was no pressure...yet.  Just witnesses.

('06-'07) Coming Soon
This season shouldn't have happened in hindsight and I'll tell you why.  The Cavs (just LeBron) finally beat the Pistons and faced the Pistons and faced the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals in 2007.  The Cavs basically had LeBron and a couple of role players and were swept in the Finals.  What this really did was set the bar high for King James.  He made the Finals and it was now time for him to win a ring.  It didn't matter if he didn't have the supporting cast necessary cast for the job, it was time for him to earn his MJ comparison.  We were no longer witnesses; we were judges.

('07-2010) Kobe or LeBron?
That was the question.  Before LeBron could tackle the greatest basketball player of all time he had to dethrone the current king of the NBA, Kobe Bryant.  If you asked people who was better between the two you'd get mixed responses.  Laker fans said Kobe no matter what.  (And they foolishly still do.)  But for everyone else it was kind of a toss up, but the hardware went to Kobe.  I would make the case for King James, 70% because I hated Kobe and the Lakers and 30% because I sincerely felt LeBron had a more complete game.  During this period Kobe went for 61 points in Madison Square Garden which LeBron followed up with a 50 point triple double in the same building.  In '08 Kobe was MVP and returned to the Finals where the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics.  The following two years LeBron was MVP but failed to make the Finals.  Kobe on the other hand won two more rings.  We never got the Kobe/LeBron matchup we wanted, but the bigger issue was LeBron still had no rings, no real supporting cast (fat/old Shaq doesn't count), no respectable coach and to top it all off his teammate Delonte West was fucking his mother.  (Maybe?)  We all had our eyes on him.  He was at a crossroads.

('10-'11) The Decision
In case you don't know how this infamous event played out here's a quick recap.  LeBron was an unrestricted free agent.  He could stay in Cleveland and be a hero.  He could go to a big city like New York or Miami.  Wherever he went he was going to be with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  Instead of just signing with a team and being done with it, LeBron decided to hold a one hour special called "The Decision" where he told the world he was, and I quote, "Taking my talents to South Beach."  That just rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially Cavs fans.  People in Cleveland burned his jerseys.  Suddenly the player who could do anything had lots of holes in his game.  He had no reliable shot.  He didn't have the killer instinct to win him a title.  In crunch time he went cold.  I found myself making a case for Kobe over James out of spite.  (That's when you know you've fucked up.)  I referred to the Heat as D-Wade's team.  So when the Heat made the finals against the Dallas Maverick I relished in the fact that King James floundered and Miami lost.  We were no longer judging him; we were scrutinizing him.  Some were just hating him.

('11-'12) About Damn Time
I'm about 80% 70% 60% sure this is the year we all started to make fun of this guy's hairline.  What I do know for sure is this is the year LeBron James won his first NBA title.  It was during the short NBA lockout season that King James recaptured his MVP.  He caught a few lucky breaks with Derrick Rose going down.  He faced Boston the last season the Big 4 would ever play together.  He competed in the Finals against a young Thunder team and won in 5 games.  LeBron finally shook off the perception that he had no killer instinct.  He was finally able to say he performed when it mattered most.  He could finally say he was a champion.  Even those who were rooting against him, including myself, couldn't help but feel relived.  But none more relieved than the man himself.  This also marks the beginning of a LeBron/KD rivalry, but what really mattered is LeBron James could finally breathe.

('12- '14) KD or LeBron?
Kevin Durant is now what LeBron was years ago.  Kevin Durant is chasing the rings LeBron has.  LeBron is trying to build on his dynasty.  Since they met in the Finals here's what's happened: LeBron unanimously won the MVP race in 2013 and led the Heat back to the Finals.  Kevin Durant looked poised to meet him there but and injury to Russell Westbrook sent the Thunder home early in the Conference Semi-Finals.  Meanwhile King James faced the San Antonio Spurs and thanks to LeBron's headband falling off and a timely clutch three pointer from Ray Allen the Heat won in 7.  This year Kevin Durant played the best basketball of his career and won the MVP award and wrote a tear jerking speech.  The Heat breezed by a really weak Eastern Conference and made it to the finals for a fourth straight time.  The Thunder faced a really tough Western Conference and eventually lost to the Spurs.  Hopefully we will one day get to see James and Durant in the Finals again but for now Durant will keep chasing him.  LeBron on the other hand doesn't really have anyone to chase that's still in the league.  The man he's chasing retired over a decade ago.  I love KD, even if Lil B doesn't, but I know James is the best player in the league and will be for a while.

So as we prepare for Game 1 of the NBA Finals tomorrow here's what I have to say:  I don't hate LeBron.  Whatever ill feeling I had towards him died a while back.  On a basketball level I really do respect him.  So when it comes to this series I want the Heat to win and this is why.  I'm jealous of my dad and uncle.  I'm jealous of the way they talk about the basketball they saw.  I missed out on Magic, Larry and Michael.  I caught the end of Shaq.  I saw the better half of Kobe.  But LeBron is a player I grew up watching whether I liked him or not.  I want to tell my kids of the basketball I saw.  I want to tell the youngsters in my neighborhood that I saw one of basketball's greats three-peat.  I don't think it will happen though.  The Spurs are seeking revenge after last year's Finals and they are better a year later with younger players improving and the addition of Marco Belinelli.  The Heat are worse than last year with the exception of LeBron James and (I hate to say this) Chris Bosh.  My prediction is the Spurs will win in 6, but I hope that's not the case.  But it doesn't matter to me who wins.  I just want to watch some damn good basketball.

('14-Present) I Guess We Go Home Now
Because of the Heat's inability to not be like Cleveland got themselves demolished in the Finals, LeBron decided to go back to Cleveland.  Understand that the Heat looked like a European league team playing against the Dream Team.  (Ironic because the Spurs were made up almost entirely of foreign players.  Kawhi Leonard got himself Finals MVP, Boris Diaw played like he was 80 lbs lighter and Tim Duncan assured his spot one notch above Kobe Bryant on the All Time Players list.  On the other hand Bosh was a non-factor, Dwyane Wade surgically injected his body with old man juice, Mario Chalmers was trying to break the record for the highest negative number reached on the +/- stat sheet and LeBron realized, as we did too, that this era for the Heat and LeBron was over.  LeBron opted out of his contract and it seemed like the only two names in consideration were the Cavs and the Heat.  Pat Riley delivered a speech at a press conference about how tough it is to win a title and that you have to be a man about it.  LeBron kept the world waiting, then finally, the news dropped like a hammer.  I remember where I was when they announced Michael Jackson was dead, I remember where I was when LeBron made his first "Decision," and I remember where I was this morning when the announcement was made.  I was eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and the first words out of my mouth were, "WHAT!?!?!"  I was shocked, even as I had seen it coming.

A lot of bitter Cavs fans were elated that the hero that abandoned them had come back.  Heat fans reacted to the news like the Cavs did 4 years ago, even though they don't actually care about basketball.  This was a smart move when you think about it.  This gives LeBron a chance to redeem and prove himself in the only place he should even bother trying to do so, his home.  It was also a smart basketball decision; the Heat weren't going to be able to bring the Big 3 back and bring in a good supporting cast and the Cavs have young talented players that could be good for the future.  By the way, that meme with Kobe with the caption "I never left" is complete bullshit.  I remember for a fact that Kobe requested to be traded several times earlier in his career.  (Laker fans have selective memory.)  I'm not defending LeBron, but y'all be dick-riding Kobe too much.  I digress.  LeBron's career is almost definitely ending in Cleveland.  His career has taken an interesting road so far and it will be exciting to see how it ends.

Follow El Guapo on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I'm coming up with more shit over the next few weeks so keep your eyes glued to the computer.  Let's enjoy these Finals and stay Guapo out there!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Road to Infinite Wisdom/ 2 Years (and 1 Month) Anniversary of Guapo Knows All

Hello everyone and welcome to a special edition of Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo's Brain.  I am of course the well known, critically acclaimed writer, El Guapo.  Today marks two years (and a month) since I've embarked on this journey through pen, paper and internet.  (Full disclaimer: I totally forgot when the actual two years anniversary came around until a few days after.)  During this time I look back and I'm shocked that A) I'm still doing this and B) people are still reading.  It makes me mushy in the heart to know I have supporters reading the shit that pops into my head, no matter where they come from.  But when did this really start and how was this project conceived?  I sat in my comfortable couch filled with holes, pasta sauce stains and ash and searched deep in my memory banks as far as I could remember.  The easy answer is that Infinite Wisdom started on June 6th, 2012.  I could also say it started the day I emerged from my mother's womb, a young baby destined for greatness.  But instead I'll walk you through a journey that really started my junior year in high school.  (Warning: I might/will ramble on what seems is nothing and probably is nothing.)

The setting is St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, Ms. Honey's classroom during collaboration.  What you have to understand is that my Junior year was a very big year for me.  I got my braces off, I got my license and a whole bunch of other stuff.  But mostly it was a time of internal chaos.  Like most people I was still trying to discover who I was, something I'm still working on to this day.  But on that day I was fucking around in collaboration, a period of time before school was over set aside so students can go to see teachers for extra help or get started on homework.  Suddenly Monina came and sat down in front of me.  Now, Monina was a girl in my class who I had a thing for back in Freshman year.  After making a fool of myself as a young lad, by this time I could consider Mo as a friend.  Monina asked me to help out with Proud to Be A Pilot Week, which is essentially like Spirit Week, but we already had a Spirit Week as well.  (So like Spirit Week the Prequel.)  Each class had to do a skit that went with the theme of the week.  That year the theme of P2BAP was movies and my class had Comedy.  So Mo, being part of my class' student government, asked me to rap the Kevin G rap from Mean Girls.  I would be by myself with just a microphone and so initially I was hesitant.  I wasn't a rapper and the only reason I was chosen was because I looked Indian.  I wasn't even the first choice.  (The first choice was Omar, one of my best friends/Indian looking Mexican guy.)  But the opportunity to do something for the class, especially considering we had almost no class spirit save for a few people, was too big to pass up.  I decided to do it.

Over the next few weeks I watched the video of the rap over and over again, memorizing all the words, getting myself ready to possibly make a fool of myself.  I remember the moments leading up to the performance.  Somebody from CLT (student government) handed me a microphone and told me to wait for the cue.  That's basically all I had to go with.  I remember the moment I got my cue I didn't want to do it anymore.  I wanted to turn around and give someone the microphone.  I wasn't even sure I remembered the lyrics anymore.  I had done speeches before in front of the school but nothing like this.  But I ran forward into the gym.  As I ran out I looked out at the students in the bleachers and the judges at the end of the gym.  "Yo! Yo! Yo!" I started with everyone's eyes on me.  I started the rap and just like practice every word found its way out of my lips and into the mic.  I could feel the energy from the crowd as I pressed forward through the rap.  All the jitters and nervousness was gone.  All there was left was joy and excitement.  If you asked me to do this rap again today I probably could.  As I finished the rap I put my hands in the air and I heard a roar from the bleachers.  Strutting out of the gym, my hands still in the air, I looked around to see my peers clapping and cheering.  There is no feeling quite like that one.  At the end of it I was relieved and thankful I had made it through.  But that feeling of knowing you did something that entertained people and the instant gratification of hearing those cheers was an addictive one, a feeling I wanted to hear again.  (So what does the Kevin G rap have to do with writing a blog?)  I'm getting to that.  (Side note: A few students recorded the performance but I do not remember who and so I cannot provide the footage.)

My mind jumped to a place oozing with confidence.  It was time I started my rap career, I thought.  I took up the moniker El Guapo (I actually came up with the name a year prior) and started a Facebook group called Mario's Rap of the Day where I would basically write down a few bars for other people to see.  As time went on the raps got longer.  I had a journal where I wrote down songs and rhymes I came up with.  Eventually I realized I could get more personal in my journal and it almost served as therapy where I could write my emotions down on pen and paper and then let it go.  Through tough times and bittersweet times I would turn to my journal to let everything out.  Senior year I became friends with three guys I hadn't been that close to years prior, AJ, Mykah and Corbin.  I have KAIROS to thank for bringing me to these guys.  (KAIROS was the Senior retreat.)  During our time together we really got to know each other in a personal way.  Corbin was in my retreat group, Mykah was my roommate and AJ would come visit us and we would talk the night away about all this different shit.  AJ was a very talented producer.  He would play his beats in my Prob and Stats class and Billy, Dyer, myself and whoever would take turns freestyling over AJ's beats.  Corbin was also producing and would play his shit for us as well.  Mykah was just starting producing at the time but he, like myself, enjoyed writing.  I remember being able to talk to these guys about a lot of things during that year and the summer, but we really liked talking about creating.  Mykah was really into writing fiction.  He showed me a bunch of his writing for me to read and evaluate.  He was a good writer but he did more for me in those evaluations than I could for him.  I loved reading his stories and I loved it so much it got me to thinking about when I used to write fiction as a kid.  I came up with this superhero called Dino-Man when I was a kid.  He was half man, half dinosaur.  (Best. Superhero. Ever!)  By this time my little dream of becoming a rapper had died down but my love of writing was rising faster than ever.  I really have those three guys to thank for it.  (And since I'm throwing out Thank You's like newspaper I want to also thank Mia for helping me realize that writing poems to express my feelings was good for me.)

Also during my Senior year I started a series of VLOGs.  I'm not proud of them but they did lead to the eventual creating of my regular blog.  In these VLOGs I basically went on rants about Snuggies and did a Top 15 on the best beards in history.  So just to recap at this point I had a VLOG, I was writing poetry as an outlet and I had rediscovered my love of fiction writing.  (You're still rambling about nothing!)  I'm getting to the point soon!  So during the first semester of my Freshman year in college I came up with a story about a ghost who goes to college with his best friends.  My second semester I returned home and attended Chabot College where I took a creative writing course.  This was one of my favorite courses of all time as it gave me a chance to share my stories with other people and have these people share theirs.  Writing had become something I did almost non-stop.  Whether I was writing in my journal, or writing one of my stories I almost always had a pen in my hand or my hand racing around a keyboard.  So it was June of that year that I decided to try my hand at blogging.  It would be just like my VLOG except I wouldn't have to keep cutting and the focus could be more on my writing than anything.  And on June 6th 2012 I wrote and released the very first post of Infinite Wisdom where I told everyone who I was and what I was here to do.

The reaction was a surprise to me.  Slowly but surely people had started coming up to me or messaging me telling me they had read my blog and that they enjoyed it.  I remember visiting my old high school once and Corbin coming up to me to tell me he had read my shit.  The support I got from my friends and (eventually) my family was overwhelming.  I enjoyed what I was doing and so did other people.  So I had to keep going and keep going I did.  Today my blog is stronger than ever.  I still feel the support from my readers and I'm always shocked that even one person took the time to read this.  Even my old Math teacher from elementary school, Mr. Chaky reads my blog.  I don't think I'll stop anytime soon.  I still write poetry from time to time and I still write fiction when I can.  I've continued to write my story about the ghost in college but have also written other stories I hope will find your way soon.  I've even written with my best friend Omar.  I took a journalism class my Sophomore year in college to perfect my craft.  (Still not perfect.)  I don't plan on making this a profession.  I want this to be pure fun.  Writing has been such an important part of my life the last couple of years and I'm just glad you've been here to witness it.  Did I ramble on about nothing until the cows came home?  Absolutely.  I'm not a technically skilled writer.  I'm just someone with a voice that needs an audience.

Follow me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Thank you for reading my blog and stay Guapo out there!