Monday, August 8, 2016

Hidilyn Diaz and The Story of the Filipina

This is a story of perseverance.

Hidilyn Diaz, was a wild card entry into the 2008 Olympics, chosen by the Philippine Weightlifting Association. It was, for all intents
and purposes, an exposure trip.  She performed creditably.  In 2012, she qualified for the Olympic games by placing 9th in the Continental tournaments.  Despite the obvious improvements, she fails to clear a brave attempt at 118 kgs in the clean and jerk, leaving her out of medal contention.  In 2016, she wins 3 bronze medals in IWF World Weightlifting Championships and qualifies for the Olympics.  A full 12 years of constant competition and she readied herself once more as she strapped on the three stars and a sun. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Duncan Point

So it did happen.

After a particularly surprising beat down loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan has announced his retirement.  There is, of course, sadness all around.  While many have recognized the effects of Father Time has had on even the Big Fundamental, they see one more possible championship run in him; or at the very least, a farewell tour like fellow retiree Kobe Bryant.

Once the initial, violent sadness dissipates, tributes will come in.  Championships will be counted (Duncan won 5 NBA Titles and an Olympic Gold Medal).  Statistics will be analyzed (He is one of only two NBA players to score over 26000 points, grab over 15,000 rebounds and block 3,000 shots). Skills will be revered (He had tremendous footwork and dribbling skills for a big man and an unflappable bank shot).  His humility will be celebrated (Players and coaches alike pick him to be the best teammate and extremely coachable). His loyalty exalted (He is one of only 3 NBA players to retire after playing more than 18 seasons with 1 team).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Kobe and the P Word

Whenever a player retires, or a person passes away, the lure to romanticize their careers and/or lives is strong. I am, however, not a fan of Kobe Bryant, so the lure is not as strong. Yet I caution myself as I write this piece as I want to get this right.  Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s greatest players, will be remembered for a great deal of things; he made sure of that.  The question is, “What will he be most remembered for?”

How about his five NBA Championships?  Perhaps two Olympic gold medals will top your list.  There’s that unsavory incident of a sexual crime allegation in Denver, where he ended up not guilty of a crime, but himself confessing to adultery.  There was also a civil case that followed which was settled quietly. Maybe his Most Valuable Player Award and multiple inclusions in the All NBA lists?  There was his much publicized rift with Shaquille O”Neal which led to Shaq heading to the Heat.  How about Kobe torching the Raptors for 81 points in a single game? Everyone probably still remembers his expletive-filled rant at his teammates and team officials during a public practice session just last year.  I’m sure many would remember his renaissance man qualities, able to conduct press conferences (including his latest one) in English, Spanish and Italian.

If one remembers Kobe for any one of these, or even all of these, they would not be wrong.  They would be incomplete though.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Remember This Story

It was, certainly, a head kick heard around the world.  Holly Holm knocked out erstwhile unbeaten Ronda Rousey to win the UFC World Women's Bantamweight Championship.  As referee Herb Dean stopped the fight, the world reacted with shock, disbelief, inspiration and "I told you so's," but here's the thing.

It's not a story of the perils of living a rockstar life.  Yes, Rousey had movie and commercial shoots, TV guestings and events, but she's always been a strong woman who could multi-task. there was never an occasion where she didn't train enough.  People love to bring out this story to any fighting champion with crossover personality, but there was never an occasion where she didn't train enough.  Rousey is a training junkie. She made weight and didn't look dehydrated.

It's not a story of hubris or good vs evil either.  Yes, Rousey had the scowl, the fighting words, the weigh in snafu and the refusal to touch gloves while Holm was gracious and mostly silent. But to infer that one protagonist is good while the other is bad makes no real observation other than the commenter is a casual fight fan.  Fights are fought outside the ring as much as in it and fighters build and cultivate the personas that help them win.  Holm projects the "I'm silent but I am a killer" vibe; Rousey projects the "I will get on you and destroy you" vibe.  Neither lady is as simple as just the persona they project.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?

Watching Gilas battle China for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship was difficult, almost painful even.  From the pre game and in game shenanigans, partial officiating, to the unruly crowd, to the shots that went in and out, it was a nightmare.  It was the worst case scenario.  It was watching a time bomb count down and any wire you cut results in explosion anyway.  It was like watching your friend or your relative go after something or someone they want when it was clear to you and to them the odds would never be in their favor.  It was like that scene in the Matrix, when the character Switch realized she was going to die because they were betrayed.  “Not like this,” she lamented.

As Gabe Norwood crumpled to the floor from a finger to the eye and the referee just watching the ball go out of bounds, there was really only one question.  

Why do we do this to ourselves?