“Sports don’t matter.”

Sports

Why Sports Are Worth Caring About

SPORTS

They hit me in the gut:

The people who discount sports as silly games that adults play for loads of cash. I’ve heard people say sports aren’t important and that they’re pointless. I’ve heard people say sports are so easy to cover (“Just go to a few games and write about it — that’s it!”). And that hurts me. Personally.

Granted, sports is not life and death. In fact, I’ll admit it often is pure entertainment. Eighty-five percent of the time, sports is not hard news. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

1) The Story Lines

Take, for instance, the 2014 NCAA Championship game featuring No. 7-seeded UConn and No. 8-seeded Kentucky. From that sentence in itself, it’s obvious the two teams left standing at the end clawed their way to Texas. UConn’s fresh-faced, recently retired NBA-er coach, Kevin Ollie, notched a place in history as only the second coach to win an NCAA championship in a first tourney go-around. As a whole, the UConn team became the first ever No. 7-seed to win in the finals. Tales of ordinary people fighting against all odds — and winning — come alive in the sports world. They inspire generations of kids to ball it up in driveways and plaster posters of athletes on their bedroom walls. Sports matter.

Malibu High in a huddle after losing 52-13 to Grace Brethren on Nov. 8.

Malibu High in a huddle after losing 52-13 to Grace Brethren on Nov. 8.

2) The Attitude

Before starting an internship, during November and December of 2013 I held a brief stint as a freelancer for a local Malibu paper in which I mainly covered Malibu High School sports. Malibu High is a small school. Their website says the graduating senior class is just shy of 200 kids. So naturally, their sports teams play in the smaller leagues, and sometimes they struggle quite a bit. The first assignment the editor gave me was to cover the last football game of the year. The team had not won a single game. Expectations were low, however, when I got there, under the lights of the Moorpark Community College stadium, the atmosphere was electric. Parents paced the sidelines, and teammates loudly and proudly jumped around, cheering each other on. Malibu led 21-13 at one point. They lost 52-13, but they led at one point. Those boys could’ve easily been rolled over. Imagine losing game after game. Instead they barreled out swinging with a “no quit” attitude, as the coach said after the game. Sports matter.

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Hilarious meme brought to my attention by courtesy of Whitney Irick

3) #DontBeADerek

On the same night of the 2014 NCAA Championship game, a UConn RA named “Derek” sent out an email to students in his dorm that quickly flew around the Twittersphere. In it, he compares cheering for men’s UConn basketball to cheering for laundry. Additionally, he ends by saying, “Have fun, but not too much fun.” Whether or not the email was intended to be sarcastic is beside the point. The point is that sports are chock full of guts and glory. Sports are talent and heart and hard work and dedication all wrapped into games on fields and courts. If you’re blind to the impact that sports have on society, then your name might as well be Derek.

If you’re not a “sports person,” I encourage you to go out and enjoy a game: baseball, volleyball, basketball, football, tennis, soccer and the list goes on. Even if you don’t know the rules, talk to some fans, read about the players, look into the stories. If you’re looking for a place to start, try this piece (if this doesn’t tug at your heart strings, I’m not sure what will).

Give sports a shot. I promise it will be worth it.

Last place Lakers teach life lessons

Life, Sports

What the purple and gold have taught me about humility and motivation

SPORTS

Sweet strokes and demoralizing dunks dazzled fans at Staples Center on March 7. And yet, as delicious as that sounds, the game was anything but appetizing. The Clippers furiously ripped apart the last-place Lakers in a 48-point blowout.

To put it nicely, the Lakers have had a rough season. They lost, regained and then lost again their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant. Then, the rest of their roster dropped like flies due to injuries and illnesses.

As I’ve proclaimed on Twitter, the Lakers are dead. The season isn’t over however, they still have 18 more games. With the Lakers in this foreign state, I’m going to take this opportunity to use the ragtag team as a metaphor for life.

The Lakers have fallen from grace. In the span of five years, they have gone from championship winners to playoff contenders to irrelevancy. The franchise demands nothing less than perfection, and the fall has been long and hard.

Watching the purple and gold flailing has highlighted a key facet in my mind: the importance of humility. When the fans start filing out and people stop tuning in, hiding in the locker room is not an option. When the front office conducts trade talks behind your back, throwing tantrums is not acceptable. There are no excuses.

The best choice of action for the Lakers in this situation is for them to swallow their pride and ride out the storm. The team lacks talent, which means even a maximum effort could result in a loss.

Likewise, life presents similar scenarios. Days turn into struggles, people double cross you and even personal victories can feel tainted by a sour season. Oftentimes, the jabs that hurt the most are the invisible ones: the barely audible whispers on the sidelines and the glare of empty seats.

All hope feels lost, but there is a bright spot. Being knocked down to such a low point is a vehement reminder to never take anything for granted. Championship success should be celebrated tastefully rather than brashly. Treat teammates and competitors with respect because who knows what will happen a decade from now.

An individual currently overlooked could end up a superstar in five years’ time. Humility can translate into tactful motivation. Kobe tweeted a “thank you” to the Clippers for beating down on his team after the embarrassing loss, then in a Power 106 radio interview said, “Revenge is sweet and it’s quick.” Kobe has been knocked down in the past (and successfully bounced back up), and I’m inclined to reverentially follow his lead — to ascend the persistent haters and use futile positions as fuel to work harder to improve.

Granted, the Black Mamba earned his keep through 17 years in the NBA, and as a junior in college, I haven’t tasted anything close to that amount of success. And although I played on an awful high school basketball team, I can’t say I’ve experienced the raw disappointment of a nationally televised 48-point home court loss.

What I can do is relate and remember: At the end of a fruitless season or upon completing a strenuous challenge, the humility learned and motivation gained is invaluable.

As published in the Pepperdine University student-publication, the Graphic.

Lakeshow: The Sweet Taste of … Defeat

Sports

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Matthew 20:16 (NIV) says, “So the last will be first and the first will be last.”

Unfortunately, that’s in the Bible and doesn’t directly apply to the NBA. The Lakers sit dead last in the Western Conference, while the Thunder are first. On Sunday, March 9, they meet for what should be a blowout.

On Tuesday night facing the 76ers, OKC was scary. And I’m not just talking like Kevin Durant dropping a cool 40 per usual. Durant finished the third quarter with 42 points. Westbrook notched a TRIPLE DOUBLE (13 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) in three quarters — 20 minutes and 17 seconds of playing time to be exact. Neither stepped foot on the court in the fourth as the Thunder beat down Philadelphia, 125-92.

If the Lakers want to beat OKC, they’ll need a miracle. But I could be wrong, since they somehow scrapped together a victory over the Blazers on the road on Monday. But then again, I could be right. They’ve fumbled leads and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory numerous times this season.

Who do you think will win the blockbuster David vs. Goliath battle on ABC Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (if it’s even fair to call it that)? Tweet your thoughts at me or comment below: @AlyshaTsuji

Future of LA NBA teams up in the air

Sports

Los Angeles NBA fans slogged through the summer. I wasn’t one of them. I was the one girl in the restaurant in Torrance, Calif., getting dirty looks while rooting for the Miami Heat to win Game 7.

To explain myself before you start throwing rocks at me, I switched fandoms when Kobe and Shaq had their fallout in 2004.

But that’s beside the point.

As much as I don’t like Kobe, I wouldn’t wish an Achilles injury on my worst enemy. At 35 years old, the Black Mamba does not deserve to end his career on some fluke injury against Golden State. Any player with his track record deserves to retire on his own terms.

If the word on the street is true, and Kobe isn’t just saving face by telling NBA.com that he’s “shattering” his recovery time, then the Lakers have a shot at a decent 2014 postseason run.

With Jordan Farmar back on the roster, the addition of the height of Chris Kaman and the good riddance of prima donna Dwight Howard, it’ll be interesting to see what tone coach Mike D’Antoni sets. Laker fans accept nothing short of a championship.

Another change to note is the amnesty of Metta World Peace who is flying across the country to perform under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. The absence of his lock-down defense and wacky, often unpredictable personality will be missed.

He had some kind words to say when a TMZ reporter asked if he thought the Lakers would make the playoffs. He confidently said they’d reach the finals and then said: “The Western Conference is going to be so easy for Kobe when he comes back. Kobe will probably average 30.”

The Clippers could try to push the Lakers off the Staples Center throne, but after their disappointing first-round playoff exit — as much as I hate to say it — I’d say that ship has sailed.

Their only chance lies in whether or not legendary coach Doc Rivers can inspire the team’s talented roster.

The brief NBA Western Conference 2013-14 season overview is this: it all depends on how soon the Black Mamba can get back on the court.

On the east coast, the major, long-awaited, drawn-out, still questionable return is that of Derrick Rose with his torn ACL. Either he’s scared to go full-throttle again, which is understandable, or he’s preparing to bust out an incredible MVP season comeback.

Even if D-Rose starts dropping 50-point games, he’ll eventually have to face the wellestablished Heat. Ever since LeBron took his talents to South Beach they’ve had a target on their backs, and of course that target keeps growing larger as the banners in the American Airlines Arena continue to multiply, not one, not two, not three …

In other League news, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd retired in June. Hill will most likely slide into a game announcer slash anchor role, and Kidd is the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, partially owned by Jay Z. SLAM reported that crossover legend Allen Iverson will retire, and former long-time Laker Derek Fisher also announced he would be done at the end of this season.

As published in the Pepperdine student publication, the Graphic.

“Make something rhyme with Potato, like some say Yo” – @MettaWorldPeace

Sports

metta-world-peace-kobe-bryant-elite-daily

Metta World Peace. Need I say more? Basketball brawler to model citizen. Okay, maybe not “model citizen,” but close. How close?

This year he published a children’s book titled, “Metta’s Bedtime Stories” with the motive to “show everyone that you can always have a better day tomorrow, if you have a hopeful heart and keep positive thoughts.” He has also made appearances on “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “Sesame Street.” He has been a champion role model in raising mental health awareness, and he is an NBA champion (2010). He auctioned off his ring, and raised over $500k to benefit the Xcel University charity. And a portion of his book proceeds will go to Xcel University and The Artest Foundation, both non-profits dedicated to helping kids with mental illnesses.

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But the thing is, he hasn’t always been Mr. Perfect—in fact, he was quite the opposite. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the “Malice at the Palace.” Remember that time a fan in Michigan chucked a beer in the face of Ron Artest who then stormed the bleachers and knocked the guy out? His teammates Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal and Ben Wallace charged up after him. The benches nearly cleared, and heavy handed consequences were laid down to players and fans. The most notable being that The League suspended Artest for the remainder of the season, totaling 86 games including 13 playoff appearances.

He did a Q&A shortly after, and when asked, “Why did you punch the shit out of the guy?” he answered with this:

“He fucking disrespected me. Ain’t nobody gonna do that to me. I’m Ron Motherfucking Artest baby. I got an image to create [sic].”

Backtracking to the headline of this post, how does Ron Artest—fresh-faced and picking fights—turn into Metta World Peace? That don’t rhyme.

I like to say it all started with a chance. In 2009, the Lakers traded Trevor Ariza (who the team arguably wouldn’t have won a ring that year without) for Artest (who had a huge beef with Kobe Bryant the duration of the Lakers-Rockets playoff matchup). The Lakers were able to see past Artest’s unpredictable past, and instead value him for his lock-down defense. Post-trade, Artest said it would be different with purple and gold on. To say that it was different is an understatement.

His four-year stint with the Lakers included his first championship ring, the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and a name change. Suddenly, instead of “Ron Motherfucking Artest,” he transformed into mental health activist, Metta World Peace. And all it took was a trip to the City of Angels.

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Now  matured World Peace is returning home to New York to don blue and orange under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Though I will say that even though Metta has grown-up, he is not any less entertaining, just take a glance at his Twitter feed and you’ll know exactly what I mean. All I gotta say is I want to thank my hood, I want to thank my psychiatrist and I GOT WHEATIES.

Metta, it’s sad to see you leave Los Angeles. The interviews were priceless. You brought an unmistakable, one-of-a-kind flare to the purple and gold. I know they’ll treat you well out there in NY, keep doing good and keep dreaming crazy.