Justifying Foolishness


Bling Circus

If I stitched my last name and my lucky number to the back of a mesh shirt and tried to sell it, I’d probably rake in a nickel — if I’m lucky, and if the buyer is shirtless.

Meanwhile, I try to find a Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose jersey on short notice, and I end up disbursing $119.89 at a store nearly an hour away from campus. At the Bling Circus on Hillhurst Avenue, to be exact.

Spending $120 is outrageous, right? Authentic NBA jerseys typically cost anywhere ranging from $50 to $300-plus. Any decent, rational person would call shenanigans.

If that’s true, I don’t agree with rational people.

I can justify paying $120 for a jersey, just as I can justify people spending thousands on courtside tickets or me waiting five hours to shake Michael Jordan’s hand (in my dreams).

The jersey material, the paper ticket and the face-to-face meeting are all worth so much more in context than out of it. Replace them with a Marc Jacobs coat, a One-Direction concert ticket and a meet-and-greet with Oprah Winfrey, and you’re comparing apples to oranges.

No, I am not a diehard Bulls fan. I don’t worship D Rose. And I’m not crazy (well, that’s debatable). This jersey may not be the one that Rose wears in his games, and on an objectified level, it has no direct correlation to the player.

However, sports are not meant to be objectified. The jersey I bought stands for more than a beatified baller whose jersey was the second-best selling worldwide during the 2012-13 season.

Rather, it tells the story of a comeback in the making. It bares the name of a man who grew up in Chicago, the youngest of three, in a single-parent household.

A couple summers ago in Jerusalem, I paid a small Palestinian boy 15 sheqels, the equivalent of about five bucks, for five cheap wooden flutes. As one of the last people to board our bus, I was teased about falling for the kid’s tourist trap. Regardless of whether it was a tourist trap or if he really did give the money to his family, something in my gut told me there was more to him than met the eye.

If you can follow my train of thought, that’s how I also view sports and how I view the NBA. It’s not solely a league based on making mad stacks. There’s a backstory to every player; there’s history to every gym.

When I choose to rep a player, I look at more than the stats of the name on the back and the number of banners hung by the name on the front.

Speaking of banners, Doc Rivers ordering the covering of the Lakers’ at the Staples Center during Clipper home games is absolutely ridiculous.

Every single sports announcer I’ve heard has politely agreed with Coach Doc, saying that it is a good move to heighten team morale.

If the 16 Lakers’ banners hanging in the rafters isn’t enough incentive to win games, I don’t know what else could motivate the Clippers.

Plus, covering up champ swag with a giant Jared Dudley  just doesn’t sound right.

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

Walt and MJ rule their games

Sports, Television

Call it a beau geste.

Since Sunday, I’ve read dozens of Breaking Bad reviews, a handful of them creating parallels to the sports world. Dave Zirin of “The Nation” thoroughly and brilliantly compared Walter White to Lance Armstrong.

My NBA-minded perspective is a drop in the bucket. It’s a somewhat empty gesture in terms of the weight it holds, but a gesture nonetheless to a legendary television series.

Drug kingpin Walter White grew into an untouchable, invincible, god-like character. He floated above everyone else, sending Neo-Nazi hit men to solve his problems for him. He doesn’t sound like the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with, yet at the same time you still revere Mr. White, regardless of the sketchiness morality-wise.

Out of the crop of NBA players past and present, to represent Walt I chose the greatest to ever play the game (not LeBron James, not Kobe Bryant): Michael Jordan.

Like Walter White, MJ earned his way to the top. As Walt evolved into an intimidating meth cook from a high school chemistry teacher, MJ evolved into the G.O.A.T. of the NBA after being knocked to the lowly JV squad his sophomore year of high school.

Walt forever glared at Elliot Schwartz, who essentially stole his multi-million dollar idea in Grey Matter industries. MJ envied the sophomore rival who took his Varsity team spot.

Then, there are the branding similarities. Michael Jordan developed the undying Jordan line, as Walter White developed his signature pure blue meth.

Both of them even had sidekicks who served as their shadows. Scottie Pippen backed MJ, and Jesse Pinkman did the same for Walt. Both Pippen and Pinkman kick ass toward the end. But unfortunately for Pippen, it hurt his image as he barely escaped charges for allegedly pushing a man in a Malibu restaurant fight in August, leaving the man unconscious. For Jesse, it was in light of a sweet revenge as he laid a beat down on Todd Alquist.

Jordan and White were clever and calculated in their movements. Post-retirement, MJ admitted he would take shots at players when he knew the refs weren’t looking. As for Walt, he managed to sneak around behind his DEA officer brother-in-law’s back for ages.

Now step back and appreciate the hero-to-villain plot lines that make up their lives. Neither of them rounded out their careers loved by all, and their arrogance tainted their personas (see MJ hall of fame speech and how many victims Walt terrorized).

Despite the flaws and imperfections, Walt and MJ are cemented as bona fide legends in their respective games. Everyone dons the classic Bulls apparel as a nod to MJ, and as for Walt, have you seen how many people walk around in Heisenberg shirts?

As sports fans still thrive off reliving Jordan’s epic moments, I’d like to think T.V. fans will be sitting on the edge of their seats replaying Breaking Bad episodes in 20 years.

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

Note: “kick ass” was edited to “kick butt” for print publication — the Graphic stays classy