Sunday, December 26, 2010

My New Kicks and it's not quite what you think.....

A few days ago, I saw a mad rush of postings on Facebook with people mentioning the various new pairs of basketball shoes (or kicks for the new generation) that they had picked up, including the Nike Air Jordan 11 Retro shoes that had been released.

Feeling left out, I might as well announce what new pair of shoes arrived at my doorstep this past week. Please take a look at the image below.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud owner of a pair of "Li-Ning BD Doom" Basketball shoes.   For the uninitiated, Li-Ning is a China based sportswear company started by retired and Hall of Fame Chinese gymnast Li-Ning.  The "BD Doom" is the signature shoe of former Golden State Warrior and current Los Angeles Clipper guard Baron Davis.

People may ask why I decided to get a pair of Li-Ning shoes.  There are quite a few reasons why.  First of all, the price was right.  At retail, the price was $100 and I thought that was a little too high for my taste.  The most I had ever spent on a pair of basketball shoe was $95 back around 1994 (Nike CB-34 Air Max's I believe).

However, there was a sale and with a discount code, I was able to knock down the price of the BD Doom to a more reasonable level.  It still wasn't cheap but I thought it worth it to give the shoe a shot.

With the exception of Charles Barkley's shoes in 1994, I've never been a fan of high priced sneakers.  Through the years, I've decided to stay in the $50 to $60 range for basketball shoes. I also generally buy my shoes at discount stores or outlets.  It's a balance between price and performance.  I will also freely admit that I don't care how my shoes look as long as they are comfortable.

The last reason I decided to buy the Li-Ning BD Doom shoe was that I've had a fascination with the Li-Ning brand since I heard about them back around 2006.   I believe I had heard about Li-Ning because the company had signed NBA player (not in league anymore) Damon Jones to wear their shoes.    Yes, it was the same Damon Jones who played briefly with my hometown team, the Golden State Warriors.

What was even more interesting was that Shaquille O'Neal later signed on to Li-Ning as well.  O'Neal was past his prime and with the Heat at the time but the fact that a Chinese company made headway caught my attention.   Unfortunately, none of the shoes that Jones and O'Neal wore were available in the US.  I remember reading at the time that the signings were done to allow Li-Ning to dip their toes in US waters and get a little exposure.

While none of Li-Ning's products were available in the US, they were available in Asia.  I made two trips to China for vacation (Spring 2006 / Fall 2007) and made my searches for Li-Ning products.  In 2006, I ended up with a tank top and shorts.  Alas, I was on a tour and time to shop was somewhat limited.  That was a little disappointing.

However, in 2007, I was on a tour for the first half of my vacation and was out with others self exploring in the second half.  This was the year I got my share of Li-Ning gear.  I picked up a windbreaker jacket and a pair of low top shoes.  The shoes were supposedly were for basketball but to me they looked more like causal lifestyle shoes.   The shoes were marketed toward the Spanish market and the only shoe that had more size (Size 10).  I guess Chinese feet are a little smaller than American feet though I don't think my feet are all that big.  Also, the pricing of Li-Ning shoes were like Nike and Adidas in the US.  There were high end models and lower end models.  However, due to the sizing issues,  I could not pick up a true basketball shoe.

Fast forward to 2010.  Li-Ning has now established a US headquarters, store and web presence.  Baron Davis was signed as an endorser and his shoes are available through Li-Ning, Champs and East Bay.

I might not have been the first to pick up some BD Doom's, but I do certainly count myself as an early supporter of the Li-Ning brand.  I have nothing against Nike or other big brands as I have had plenty of their shoes over the years.  However, I've always been a fan of the underdog.  So now I am a proud owner of a pair of BD Doom's.  I won't be wearing them for a while as I have a couple of pairs of shoes I am wearing that are holding up though they have taken a beating.

There may be some who question why I am getting a pair of shoes from a Chinese company due to quality and/or design issues.  To that I will say that there are more NBA players sponsoring Chinese brands that you might realize.  Baron Davis and Even Turner are with Li-Ning.  Kevin Garnett signed on with Anta and Jason Kidd (among others) are with Peak.

Just with everything in life, keep an open mind.  Try the shoes out and see if they are comfortable.  If you don't like them, that's fine.  But don't believe things people say until you see it for yourself.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What You Want Isn't Always What You Need

It's year end and many folks do a self assessment and review how things went in the current year while prepping for their resolutions for the new year.  I tend to self assess regularly anyway but this is a good time to review a lesson I learned in 2010.

The lesson was: What You Want Isn't Always What You Need

This lesson was taught to me in abundance at my job this year.  After being laid off in April of 2009, I returned to the same job in September of 2009.  Despite having worked at the job previously, there were some underlying issues I knew I had to address (won't talk too much about it here).  I wanted to just do my job and be left alone.  I went about addressing my issues in the way I personally thought best.

Alas, my attempts to address the issues did not prove to be successful and I got a major reality check about eight months ago.   I don't know about anyone else, but when someone tells you that you're not doing your job, it's not exactly an easy thing to swallow.  I went through a few weeks of self pity and wondered what I was going to do.   Fortunately, I had help and a self improvement plan was put into place.

Eight months later, as we close 2010, I can say that I definitely did not WANT to go through my situation at work.  However, it was exactly what I needed.  I learned some valuable lessons both personally and professionally.  I won't say I am perfect at my job now but things have improved dramatically.

The same could be said for many things in our lives.  As I blogged about this previously, I think that having my team winning the league championship was the right time.  All my previous times, I was somewhat selfish in wanting to win the championship.  I think I needed a lesson in humility.  This season, I wanted my team to win the championship because I thought we were one of the best "teams" on court.  I learned that being part of a team AND winning is much more enjoyable.

Keep this mind as we go into 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

52 Games?!?!

Thursday night, I played in my last league basketball game for the 2010 calendar year as my team lost 41-30 in a hard fought game.   Though this was my last game for 2010, this particular league isn't finished as it will restart in a few weeks in January of 2011.

After the game, I got home and decided to do a count of just how many league basketball games I had played in 2010.  My unofficial count?  I played in FIFTY-TWO (52) games in 2010!  That's at least 52 hours spent in gyms around San Francisco, South San Francisco and Oakland just participating in my team's games.  That's not including the many hours I spent watching other teams play before and after my team's games.  This is not including the weekly pick up games I usually play on Saturdays and other occasional days I played basketball.

While the 52 games is a bit of surprise, I have to say I enjoyed every moment of it.  I had a lot to be thankful this year and it's not just because my team won the championship recently.  I had a wide range of experiences.  I had the high of a championship win.  I had another team lose in the championship.  I played on several teams that were average.  I played on a team that lost every game by double digits and went winless.

While losing is never the best experience, I am thankful to be able to get onto the court and play as much as I did in 2010.  I remember back from the years of 1999 to 2001 where I had some tough injuries and didn't play at all for over a year.  I remember wondering if I would ever be able to play basketball again.  Of course I did eventually play again but it took me a while to get back to normal.

In 2010, I can firmly say I am playing like my old self.  I am not as fast or as quick as I used to be.  However, my body can still move and I can play at a reasonable level.  As 2011 rolls around, I hope to enjoy my basketball playing days as much as I did in 2010.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reflections on a Championship Season

It's been a couple of days since my Monday night basketball team won the league championship.  I've gotten a chance to reflect on a couple of things which is noted in the two quotes below:

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination."

If you asked San Francisco Giants fans what they remembered most from the 2010 season, most fans would probably say that winning the championship was their most vivid memory.   However, there will be fans will remember each moment on the journey that got the Giants to the 2010 World Series Championship:
  1. Winning the NL West on the last day of the regular season. 
  2. Brooks Conrad's three errors helping the Giants to win Game 3 of the NLDS and eventually the series
  3. Juan Uribe's home run in Game 6 of the NLCS that gave the Giants the win. 
  4. Edgar Renteria's home run that proved to the game winner in Game 5 of the World Series. 
For my Monday night basketball team, here are some of my favorite moments from the Fall 2010 basketball season:
  1. Game #1 vs. Orange (09/20/10) - Our team's captain was out sick.  I took over the reins and promptly watched our team fall behind 18-2 early to the Orange team.   We were forced to switch up defenses and rallied our way back to an impressive victory. 
  2. Game #6 vs. Black (11/01/10) -  This was our second game against the Black team.  In our first meeting on 09/27/10, Black had taken advantage of the fact that our team hadn't quite jelled yet and beat us.  This time around, we were better prepared and hung tough against Black in the first half.  In the second half, our team went on a shooting spree that completely put the game out of reach.   It was a performance that had to be seen to be believed. 
  3. Playoff Game #1 vs. White (11/29/10) - Our team had beaten White twice previously.  The first time White had four players.  The second time White had five players.  In the playoff game, White actually had seven players so there would be no more excuses.   Both teams played hard but White held a small lead at halftime.  Our team came out a little slow in the second half and White promptly took a 10 point lead.  However, our team responded to the challenge.  Our defense picked up and the offense followed suit as we rallied to win by 11.  
The final destination of winning the championship was great.  But for me personally, the journey was much more fun that just winning the championship.  The chemistry, relationships and memories we built during the season mean more and will last longer than the actual win in the years to come.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven"

This particular quote from the Bible has been one of my favorites for many years.  One of my old high school friends had suggested the quote might fit my personality.  In many ways, I think she was right.

There are many times in our lives that we "want" certain things.  It might be a girlfriend, house, car, job or even a basketball championship.   I have admittedly wanted to win a championship in this particular basketball league for years.   I have to say that I wanted to win for the actual experience itself and not for pride or competitive reasons.  As I mentioned before, I'm the type of guy who likes to get the most out of everything I do.

In a funny way, the timing for my team to win this year was perfect.   In my previous three championship appearances for this league, I was very focused on "winning" but not enjoying the experience.  This past Monday, I played hard but also enjoyed the experience of "just being in the game".  I enjoyed being on the court, on the bench and the camaraderie our team had.

This is not to say that winning the championship wasn't enjoyable.  However, the destination of winning the championship would not have been possible with the journey my teammates and I all took for the past few months.

The final destination was good, the journey was even better and I think the timing for everything was about as perfect as it could have gotten.  For all of this, I give thanks.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Champions! / The Circle Is Complete

My team (Purple) played in our Monday Night Open Basketball League Championship game tonight and defeated Green 52-38 to clinch the title.   Green was missing two of their key offensive players and that definitely gave us an advantage during the game.

Overall, I found the win hugely satisfying on a couple of levels.  On a team level, I couldn't have asked for a better team to play with this season.  Our team is diverse is so many ways.  We range in age from 23 to 52.  We had black, white and Asian players who lived all over the Bay Area (West and East Bay).  Despite all these supposed "differences", the one thing that united us was the game of basketball.  We didn't really have a super star so we had to play as a team and I felt we did that for nearly the entire season.

On a personal level, I feel this win has completed a circle for me.   Back in late 1999 to early 2001, I had a lot of injuries that prevented me from playing basketball for a while.   When I came back from injuries, I wasn't really myself and it took me a long time to mentally get back to playing basketball like I used to.

I remember during the time I was injured and early on when I came back from injury, I was a little envious of guys who were playing and winning the various championships.   I remember wishing that I would get a chance to play for a team that won the championship.

In many ways, my wish was granted as I have now played on five different championship teams and each experience was unique and progressively better:

Spring 2001 -  I was a role player on a team that featured a former professional player from Taiwan.  I played a lot during the regular season but played minimal minutes in the playoffs and did not play at all in the championship.

Summer 2002 - I was injured the whole summer season and did not play while my team went 6-1 during the regular season.   During the playoff and championship games, I was suddenly pressed into duty because of foul trouble.

Summer 2005 - I played the entire season on a dominant team that went 10-0.  I wasn't one of the key guys though I scored 6 out of my team's first 10 points in the playoff game.

Spring 2008 Tournament - My friend and I got asked to play for a team that was formed at the last minute.  The tournament was a mash of young (high school) and adult teams.  Our team beat a couple of high school aged team and an adult team to win the championship.   This was one second ever tournament that I played in and it was an interesting experience to win the title.

Fall 2010 - All the pieces of the past came together tonight.  My team was good but not dominant (5-3 during the regular season).  We didn't have any superstars.  We weren't playing high school kids.  The competition that we played had great players.  Except for small ankle injury that slowed me for a week, I played the entire season and felt like I was contributing heavily.  In addition, this was my first ever championship for this particular league and that is special.

I believe tonight's championship win completes a circle for me in terms of playing basketball.   I'm the type of person that likes to experience different things.  Tonight's experience was one of the best that I've ever had.  If I never win another "championship" in the future, I am content that I have been blessed to have played with my team this season.

What's the future hold for me?  I'm going to keep playing basketball for the near future but with a full eye on just enjoying the game.  Winning is always fun and enjoyable but I'm looking toward what's next in my life.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Reflections on Championship Games Past

It is Saturday evening and it's about 48 hours before my team (Purple) plays in the championship game of our Monday night open basketball league at 7:15 PM.  I figured this is a perfect time to reflect on a previous experience in a basketball championship game.   This would be my first ever basketball championship game during the summer of 1994.

By my count,  Monday night's championship game appearance will be my fourth (Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010) in the particular league I am playing in.  Unfortunately, my teams have not won any of their previous appearances though I am obviously hoping that will change in two days.  In another league I play in, I have played in six championship games (Summer 1994,  Spring 2001, Summer 2002, Summer 2005, Easter 2008 Tournament, Summer 2008) and have won four of them.

In looking back at my first championship game appearance back in 1994, I almost cringe at what I remembered from the experience.  First of all, just making the championship was a surprise.  My team that year was a major underdog in our playoff game but we somehow pulled off the upset to get to the championship game.

The time leading up to the championship game was nerve wracking.  I was 20 years old and hadn't played much organized basketball except for the two seasons (Summer of 1992 and 1993) and some basketball back in 8th grade.

When the day of the championship game arrived, I was a nervous wreck.   If you asked me why, I couldn't give you an exact answer.  However, I would say that perhaps it was similar to a job interview or a first date.  This was definitely something I wanted to go well.

In short, the game did not go well.  The opposing team in the championship game was quite good and gave us a hard time throughout.   My team hung in there but ultimately lost 46-44.  I had a horrid game as I didn't score a point and went 0-5 on the free throw line.  Unlike these days where I play year round, I had to carry the experience of a miserable championship game until the following summer.

Looking back at that 1994 experience today, I see that I put too much stake into the meaning of the championship game.  Winning a championship indeed is a point of pride but not the be all and end all of things.  Unlike professional athletes, the leagues I've played in don't give our trophies or rings.

So even though I have played on 10 championship teams and won four, the only thing I've "won" from the championships is ONE t-shirt.  The rest of the things I've gained is friendships, photos and great memories.   Not to discount the other seasons where I didn't get to the championship, I have great memories of those seasons as well.

As the clock ticks down toward my Monday night championship game, I'm going to do what I regularly do the next few days.  On the day of the game, our team is going to give it their best shot.   Yet at the same time, I am going to fully enjoy the experience.  As I get older, I realize that my days of playing competitive basketball is winding down and it's a great time to appreciate what you have been blessed with.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Championship Bound!

For the better part of nearly 3 months, I've been playing in three basketball leagues.  I play in leagues on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.  The Sunday league didn't go that well as my team went winless in seven games.  The Thursday league hasn't been much better as my team currently has one win in seven games with two left to go.

The saving grace has been my Monday night team.  We finished the regular season with a 5-3 record and the #2 seed in the playoffs.  We squared off in the first round of the league playoffs tonight and rallied to win 75-64.   The win advances us to the league championship next Monday.

I've played tons of league basketball games (some 300+) in the past 18 years.  I've been in every type of game imaginable.  I've played exciting close games that my team has won.  I've also played some bad games where my team has been blown out.

Tonight's game rates as one of more satisfying wins I've ever been part of.  My team played ok in the first half but stumbled badly to start the second half.  We went from being down 4 points to down 10 very early in the second half.   We managed to cut the lead to 6 points with our bench.  The starters came back in and just torched the nets.  The other team was stunned and could not respond as we pulled away for the victory.

The reason that game was satisfying was that we did it as a team.  Our team has one guy who might be considered a star.  The rest of our guys just average players.  In addition, out of the roster of 9 guys, only two guys (27, 23) are under 30 with FOUR guys over 40 (42, 41, 46, 52).

I've learned that chemistry can't be understated which was greatly shown by the San Francisco Giants.  We all get along and pull for each other greatly and that has contributed to our team's success.  We have one more hill to climb next week in the championship game.  I'm confident that our team will continue to play together and give it our best shot next week.  Perhaps some of the San Francisco Giants magic will rub off on my team!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving / Things To Be Thankful For

It's the night before Thanksgiving.  It's a little chilly out in my neck of the woods but fortunately I'm at home and enjoy the warmth of being indoors.

Several years ago, I started a tradition of emailing my friends a list of "Things To Be Thankful For".  This year, I'll expand this to my blogging.  After all, many of us are middle class people have a lot of things that we may take for granted (jobs, families, money, cars, etc).

From my perspective, we shouldn't take these things for granted.   Any things we have could be taken from us at anytime.  We need to appreciate these things more greatly than we do sometimes.

In any case, here's my list of things to be thankful for this year:

  1. Family - This one is an obvious one.  Without family, I wouldn't be there.  Thanks to mom and dad for supporting me in all that I do.  No one's family is perfect including mine but we have to learn to overlook things as we go through our lives. 
  2. Friends - I've gone through plenty of ups and downs throughout my life and every step, I've had good friends to help me through.  Beyond some of my closest friends that I've known for years, I am thankful for everyone that I've met and had a chance to associate with in various activities. 
  3. Job - I was laid off in June of 2008.  I was hired for a job in August of 2008 but was laid off yet again in April of 2009.   I ended up getting rehired at my previous job in September of 2009 and have been there ever since.  When you've been through my situation, you get thankful for the job that you have.  It's not an easy job but I am thankful for the learning and growth opportunities it has presented in my time since I came back. 
  4. Health - I've been fortunate to be healthy in all aspects of my life and hope that continues in the future. 
  5. Basketball - Really, I could put any sport here.  I enjoy being active and sports gives me a workout and I feel like it relives me of any stresses I have in my life.   Sports used to be about winning and sometimes I forget this.  However, after some tough things this week, sports did give me a release and I felt great afterward.  
That's it for this year!  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving everyone! 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Things Happen For A Reason

Thursday evening, I left my work place around 6 PM to head to the East Bay for a basketball game around 7:15 PM or so.   Since traffic is pretty bad around this time, I typically call a friend or two to say hi and chat bit.  It alleviates some of the boredom of sitting in traffic.

For this night, I initially gave a call to someone I'll call "Friend #1".  This person is usually around and we hadn't talked for a while so I thought we could catch up.  However, Friend #1 didn't answer so I left a voice mail and continued on with my commute.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that I should call my coworker back ("Coworker #1").  I had called Coworker #1 around 5 PM to ask them something.  Alas, Coworker #1 was busy at the time and called me back at 5:30 instead.  However, I was busy and missed the call.   I thought about calling Coworker #1 back but ultimately didn't.  I was out of the office already and talking more about work would probably just drive me crazy.  It was around this time that I thought I should give a call to Friend #2 instead.  Friend #2 typically gets off work around this time and would be free for a little bit.

However, I resisted because I assumed Friend #1 would call be back.  However, 20 minutes into my commute (it turned into an 1 hour, 15 minute total commute), Friend #1 still hadn't called back so I figured they were busy.   At this point, I gave up the idea of calling anyone and focused on driving.

Well, a few minutes later, Coworker #1 calls me.  Since I'm still on the road, I talk to them a little bit about their day and asked them the question I had.  We talked for a few minutes before Coworker #1 had to go because he had some family things to talk care of.

Literally minutes after I hang up with Coworker #1, Friend #2 decides to give me a ring.  We again talk for a few minutes about our workday before they have to go.

Lastly, just when I thought no one else would call me (I had put my headset down), Friend #1 calls me back.  Unfortunately, I'm the one a little short on time so we only get in a short conversation before I have to go.

All in all,  it was great that I talked to these people.  I'd had a tough workday Wednesday and stress had been high.  So it was good to get a chance to decompress and talk with some people you know.   I didn't quite realize it when I was originally driving but felt a lot better after talking to these people.

Sometimes, even though things initially might not go your way (Friend #1 not around, doesn't call back right away), don't fret.  It was meant to be that others were around who wanted to talk to you plus Friend #1 got back to me eventually.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

San Francisco Giants - 2010 World Series Champions!

The San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers 3-1 Monday evening to win the 2010 World Series.  The win gave San Francisco it's first ever championship baseball team since the Giants moved to San Francisco over 50 years ago.

I will freely admit that baseball is not my favorite sport.  That distinction belongs to basketball.   However, the first ever professional sports event I attended was a San Francisco Giants game back around 1984 when I was about 10 years old.   I don't remember much about the game itself.  However, I remember that I went to the game because of a promotion the Giants ran.  The Giants were giving free tickets to "top students" who applied.  I asked my parents to help me with the application and next thing you know, I was at the game.

Over the years, I follow the Giants (and the A's as well).  I loved it when the Giants played the A's in the 1989 World Series.   Unfortunately, the A's were the better team that year and the A's swept the Giants in the earthquake interrupted series.  My craziest memory of the 1989 World Series was being at the Polo Fields before the start of game 3.  I had finished running in a cross-country match and was waiting for my other teammates when the earthquake struck at 5:04 PM.

The other moment that stands out is the 2002 World Series.  My friend was able to secure tickets to Game 6 in Anaheim and made the long drive to Southern California to watch the game.  We were thrilled to see the Giants take a 5-0 lead late.  LIke all other fans, we were stunned when the Giants lost 6-5 and then proceeded to lose Game 7 the next night.

However, with the 2010 edition of the San Francisco Giants winning the Series, all of the previous bad memories have been washed away.  I throughly enjoyed this year's Giants team.  They truly lived up to the definition of a "team".  Other Giants teams may have had a little better talent or bigger super stars, but the 2010 Giants probably had some of the biggest hearts ever.

While the previous Giants teams won't get rings, I'm sure all of the former players and others associated with the Giants organization are enjoying the moment.  Congratulations!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Three Point Shooting Point Guard

If you asked any of my long time friends who have played basketball with me over the years, they would not use the words that are contained in the title of this blog posting.

Over the years, I have garnered a reputation as a mid range (15 to 17 foot) jump shooter.  Because of that, I usually play the shooting guard or small forward positions on offense.

However, in the past year or so, I have slowly started to take a more active role in being the primary ball handler and passer.  The main reason for this was that I played on several teams with inexperienced players.   Early on, I tried to play my normal shooting guard and small forward positions.  However, I wasn't playing with my usual teammates and things were not going smoothly.  It just simply made sense for me to take over the ball handling duties and try to facilitate the offense.   It's not that I am a great ball handler or passer.   However, due to my experience (18+ years or playing in leagues), I brought some steadiness that I thought could be helpful.

In fact, this trend continues currently as I play point guard currently for a couple of teams.  Interestingly enough, both teams have not won a game.  Perhaps that tells you something about my point guard skills.

The interesting side effect of playing point guard has been my three point shooting.  Since I spend a good amount of time handling the ball, I don't get to shoot from my usual spots on the court as much.  During a game about a month ago, I decided to put up some three point shots instead.  The league was a friendship league and there weren't many complaints about me putting some shots outside of my usual range.  Interestingly enough, I knocked a couple of them down.

The trend has continued in the friendship league.  From my own unofficial count, I've hit at least two three pointers in the four league games I've played.  Tonight, in my Sunday night league, I added two more three pointers to my total (though I thought one was inside the three point line).

The unofficial count of TEN three pointers made is probably more than I've made in my previous 18 years of playing league basketball.  I simply did not shoot three pointers previously.   My shooting form just didn't seem to be conductive to effectively shooting three pointers.  I could hit shots one or two steps inside the three point line.  Move me back though and the shots would be short.

What's changed?  Nothing that I can point to directly.  The only explanation I can come up with is that I've playing so much basketball (4 times a week) recently so I'm in fairly good shape.  Thus the legs are strong and I can shoot better.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Highly Anticipated Evening of Sports in the Bay Area

For many San Francisco Bay Area sports fan, tomorrow (October 27th, 2010) will be one of the most anticipated days in a long time.  The main attraction will the San Francisco Giants as they play game 1 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers at AT&T Park in San Francisco at 5 PM.  For another subset of fans, the Golden State Warriors will open their season against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena at 7:30 PM.   Almost as an afterthought, the San Jost Sharks (who already started their season a couple of weeks ago) will be playing at home against the New Jersey Devils.

I am admittedly not one of the biggest baseball fans though I followed the Giants throughout the season and was riveted throughout September into the playoffs and now the World Series.   Yet, I am also a huge basketball fan.  Like many Warriors fans, I am happy that the Chris Cohan / Don Nelson era has closed.  While my expectations are low for the Warriors this season, I am eager to see how the team will do under new coach Keith Smart.

As for the Sharks, I throughly enjoyed their playoff run last season and will follow them a lot this season, thought for tomorrow night, they are going to be shoved to the background.

It's gonna be hard to focus on work tomorrow but I will do my best.  Go Giants, Warriors and Sharks!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The conundrum that Jeremy Lin faces..........

(Hadn't blogged too much recently and in the span of 30 minutes, I have done three blog posts on different me MOODY....hahahaha)

The Golden State Warriors have started their preseason and with all the recent changes (new owners, new coaches), there is excitement in the air.  However, to many local and Asian-American fans, there is only one change that matters:  Jeremy Lin.

Lin had a nice game in some garbage time duty against the Clippers Friday evening.  However, according to reports, he struggled mightily (3 turnovers in one minute) against the Kings tonight that he was benched by coach Keith Smart.

Not knowing the specific circumstances of what happened tonight, I can't comment on exactly what happened.  However, one thing I sense is that Lin is pressing to impress in limited minutes he is getting.

In high school and college, Lin had more free rein and tons of opportunity to gain experience and iron out his kinks.  Plus, it was obvious he had the talent to compete at the high school and college levels.  Things are not so clear cut in the NBA.

Many lower tier NBA players ride the pine and gain experience from practice.  Once coaches feel the players are ready for the rigors of the NBA, they start to play more.   I think this will be a BIG adjustment for Lin.  It's hard to go from being a star to a bench warmer.

However, I think Lin is feeling the pressure of his personal expectations and perhaps the fans as well.  I think Lin needs to step back and play within his game in the few minutes that he gets during the preseason. I have a very strong feeling that Lin can play in the NBA.  However, just like his high school and college days, it takes him a while to get adjusted.   After all, Lin is not the strongest of most athletic players out there.  He is an intelligent player who reads situations and adapts.

I think Lin's still reading situations like he used to.  The biggest different is the window of opportunity to execute the right moves can be closed VERY FAST because NBA players are so athletic.  Lin's adjustment is to find counter moves.  We all saw this in summer league, so it shouldn't be a surprise.   Lin can drive by people but help defense in the NBA comes quickly.  That is why Lin tried adding some spin moves during the NBA Summer League with limited success.

Many people have said this may be the biggest challenge for Jeremy Lin ever.  Indeed it will be.  He's never had to face the level of athleticism he will face in the NBA.  This is not something you can just simply practice or train for.  It's hard work and Lin will need to prove that he can play in the NBA.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

San Francisco Giants: National League West Champions 2010!

I had a bit of an interesting day today.  I was scheduled to officiate some youth basketball games from 11 AM to 2 PM near Downtown San Francisco.   Then at 6:30 PM, I was scheduled to play in an adult basketball league a few miles away.   That left me quite a bit of dead time in between.  I could have gone home but my 6:30 PM game was closer to where I was than home.

After I finished officiating at 2 PM, I realized that the gym had the San Francisco Giants / San Diego Padres game on.  This game was a huge one.  It was the final regular season game for both teams.  For San Francisco, it was win or they had to travel to San Diego to play a tiebreaker game.  For San Diego, it was win or go home.

The Giants managed to pull out a 3-0 win and clinch the National League West Championship.  This will the Giants first playoff appearance since 2003.  This reminds of 2002 when there was so much excitement because the Giants made the World Series that year.  The Giants had a great chance to win but unfortunately lost in seven games.  My friend and I actually made a trip to Southern California in 2002 to watch Game 6 and were bitterly disappointed.

In any case, I like the 2010 edition of the San Francisco Giants and have a feeling they might go far.

For the moment, the Giants are basking in the glory of their victory but starting tomorrow, they will need to get back to business.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

During the summer, I had a very busy time with basketball.  Besides my usual Saturday pickup games with friends, I played in a Monday night Friendship league and a more competitive Tuesday night League.   For my old bones, that was plenty of basketball.  It was a little tiring but fun to stay active during the summer.

With the Fall rolling around, I was expecting to have a fairly light basketball schedule.  I would probably play most Saturdays with my friends and play in a Monday night league as I had done for the past few years.

However,  a guy I knew asked if I would be interested in playing in a Sunday evening league.  They were looking for bodies and I volunteered to play.  It might not have been the best choice for my body since it's just more wear and tear on my body.

My rationale was that I wanted to play a little basketball outside of my comfort zone.  After all, I usually played with or against Asian ball players and not much against other ethnicities.  As I was getting older, I probably wasn't going to be playing competitive basketball for too much longer and this might be one last chance to give it a shot.  The last night I had played in a league that was not primarily catered toward Asians (though open to everyone) was back in 1998.

After my team's first two games, we're winless and we're trying to find our chemistry.  It's definitely a different experience that playing in Asian leagues.  The other teams are bigger and the game is played differently.  Asian leagues tend toward fast breaks and outside shots.  This particular Sunday league is going toward more inside play though it's likely because my team is small.

All in all, the point is that we all need to get out of comfort zones sometime.  I'm fortunate that I have enough basketball experience to adapt to different situations.  Though our team has started slow, we'll get better as the season progresses!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Cycle Of Life: The Passing Of Your Parents

Yesterday (Saturday) was a great day.  One of my oldest friends was getting married and I was part of the wedding party.   There was a lot of activities to do and all the people in the wedding party had a terrific time.  While it was definitely a LONG day (got up at 7:30 AM, didn't get home until past midnight), it was well worth the time and energy.

This morning (Sunday), I attended Sunday Services at a friend's church.  This friend had also been at the wedding the night before.  However, to my surprise, my church going friend quietly announced that his dad had passed away after a long battle with liver cancer.  Talk about having major contrasts in emotion.   Just twelve hours earlier, I was happy for my old friend getting married.  Now, I was sad for ANOTHER old friend who's dad passed away.

The announcement wasn't necessarily a huge surprise but it still hit me pretty hard.  I didn't know my friend's dad at all as he lived in Asia.  However, both my parents are getting up there in age and I realized that one day I will have to deal with the same thing.

My friend made a good point during his announcement today.   Everyone has issues with their parents at one point or another in their lives.  Yet, if you take a step back, you will realize that the parents always had your best interests in mind.

Also, my friend made the point that his dad always sacrificed for the sake of him and his sister.  In a way, I believe his dad made one final sacrifice.  As mentioned earlier, the dad had been sick for over a year now.  The dad had been admitted to ICU earlier this week which wasn't a great sign.

Despite indications that things weren't looking good, his dad hung on until earlier today.  I firmly believe my friend's dad knew that there was a joyous occasion happening with our friend's wedding.  Rather than wanting to be a burden, the dad hung on for just a little longer so my friend could enjoy the wedding.  Once the wedding finished up, like a proud parent, the dad decided that his duties during this lifetime were complete.  It was time to move on.

While this is a sad occasion, it is just a normal part of the cycle of life that has happened since the beginning of mankind.  Despite all the advances in technology that has shaped our lives in the past two decades,  the reality is that no technology can make us live forever nor take away the sadness when a loved one passes on.

For myself, even though I have my share of issues with my parents, I will try to appreciate them in their golden years.   I don't know how many years they have left and it is best to enjoy it all that I can.  I hope that you all do the same as well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

You never know when it's your time to go........

Here in the Bay Area, we suffered a tragedy when gas lines exploded Thursday evening and a huge fire engulfed a neighborhood in San Bruno, CA (not far from San Francisco and SF International Airport).   There are some 38 houses destroyed and numerous other houses damaged.

Fortunately, the death toll is relatively low as the count is at four.  The four people killed were all women and ranged in age from 13 years old, 20 years old, 44 years old and 81 years old.   The 13 year old was the daughter of the 44 year old.

However, despite the low death toll, any loss of life weighs on everyone's mind in such tragedies.   As I think about my own life, I haven't had the easiest life.  I've gone through my turmoils at home, in school and at work.   Yet, I'm still alive.  I have a job and I get to enjoy life, whether it be hanging out with friends or playing basketball.

I hope that this tragedy reminds EVERYONE that life is short and we need to enjoy every moment that we can.  Either you or your loved ones may not be here tomorrow and you don't want to have any regrets for things not said or done.  

My prayers and best wishes to everyone affected by the fire.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"They say true friends can go long periods of time without speaking and never question the friendship. These types of friends pick up like they just spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been or how far away they live, and they don't hold grudges. They understand that life is busy, but you will always love them."

This is true for quite a few of my friends, especially one long time college friend.  We go with the ebbs and flows of life.  We may talk often in one week and not for weeks on end.  We each have our own lives but when the mood strikes, we pick up where we left off. 

Alas, one friendship I lost didn't follow this formula.  I'm not sure if I had practiced this quote, if things would have been different.  Regardless, it was a difficult lesson learned. 

Thursday, September 02, 2010

There's Always Something To Remind Me

(Song Reference:  "There's Always Something To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes)

As we all get older, we inevitably start slowing down and have less energy.  This is most evident for those of us who play in sports.  As someone who's played a lot of basketball in my lifetime, I've gone from an energetic young kid in my high school and college years to the grizzled veteran in current times.

However, as a single man with minimal responsibilities in life besides working and paying bills, I have more time to play basketball than my married and attached friends, some of whom also have kids.  I play basketball at least twice a week and sometimes more depending if leagues are going on   Because of this, I remain in reasonable shape compared to some of my friends.

Because I'm in shape, I can still compete with the younger kids on the basketball court occasionally.    I like to surprise the high school and college kids with the fact that I can still play a bit.  However,  while it's good to be confident, there's always something to remind me that I am getting up there in age!

Tonight was one of those nights when I played some pick up basketball.  I was matched with a couple young kids over the course of several pick up games.  One was this mid twenties college kid who played some high school basketball.  I had played against him and his team in league basketball so I was familiar with him and his game.  He was around my height but quicker, faster, stronger and a great shooter.   I could barely stay in front of the guy and his quickness had me off balance all night.  He would either just shoot over me and just drive by me for a layup.  If I could get in front of him, he would lean into me, bump me back and spin the other way.  Overall, this guy was just a beast on offense.    I guess I shouldn't feel too bad as others who tried to stop this kid didn't do that well either.   The only thing I could do was just try to get open on offense and I did hit a few shots when the kid tried to double team one of my team's players.

On the other hand, there was this other guy I had trouble with.  I don't know how old this second guy was but he looked to be also in his mid twenties.  The second guy was nowhere the offensive player the college  kid was.  However, he was quick, energetic and wouldn't stop moving.   He had no difficulty driving by me a few times to the basket.  When he didn't have the ball, he would keep cutting and moving.  With his quickness and jumping ability, I had a tough time keeping him away from the basket.    When I got the ball against the second guy, it was difficult to get any shots.  His quickness allowed him to close on me fast as soon as I got the ball.  I managed to get a few shots off but missed quite a few because I rushed them.

Tonight's pick up games reminded me of the difference between playing with my friends who are my age and people who are younger and more athletic.  With my friends, I feel I can get off shots almost anytime I want.  Since my friends are a little older, defense is a little easier and I don't have to work as hard to get shots on offense.

However, when you play these younger kids, you have to work extra hard on both offense and defense. This extra effort wears on you and my knees and ankle were feeling it tonight.   Plus, when you're playing against quick guys on offense, you need precision passing and timing.  If a pass is off by a split second, you may not be able to get your shot off.  I found this was definitely the case tonight.  I was on the receiving end of passes that were not perfect and I either didn't shoot or missed the shots badly.

All in all, I think I need to stop dreaming that I can hang with these young high school and college kids.  I should stick with people my own age in the future.  It just makes basketball more fun for me!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Evolution of Coach41

Most people know I am a basketball nut. I play at least twice a week (sometimes more) and I officiate a ton of games (though not as much recently). What flies under the radar is that I used to coach youth basketball as well. I coached at my old grammar school from 1988 to 2000 and at another school from 2004 to 2005. Overall, that's 14 years and 228 total games coached at the youth level.

However, when I think back to when I started coaching, I find it amusing that I started coaching one year after I graduated from 8th grade. At this point, I had a grand total of 10 official organized games played under my belt.

With such limited playing (and life) experience, it's not a shock that I wasn't really a great coach in my younger days. Fortunately, like with most things, I had an inclination to improve and have gotten better over the years. Here's a brief look at the evolution of "Coach41":

1st Evolution (1988 to 1994) - With minimal playing experience, I was pretty much the screamer. I didn't know how to teach tactics beyond the basic zone defense and had no clue how to coach offense except to roll the ball out there.

2nd Evolution (1995 to 1997) - Though I wasn't a great coach, my teams were competitive and played some higher level competition during these years.  I realized I couldn't quite stay static and tried to learn more about coaching.   I learned more about basketball defenses including the 2-3 zone, 3-2 zone and using press defenses.  I still had no clue how to coach a set offense, but grasped the concept of fast breaks and got my teams to get up and down the court.   I also started to focus on skill development.  I primarily focused on shooting and a little on rebounding.

3rd Evolution (1998 to 2000) - This was a new chapter for me.  Whereas I had older teams (6th to 8th grade) for the first 10 years, this was the first time I started with younger kids (3rd to 5th grade).   From working with the younger set, I learned to teach the foundation of the game including dribbling, passing, shooting, defense and rebounding.   While it would be great if everyone did everything well, the fact was that some kids were able to some things better than others.

It was from this experience that I began to learn how both identify kid's strengths and also put each kid's talents to the best use in the overall team concept.  After all, if a kid is a good defender, you might as well put them in a position to do something with those skills.  No point in trying to force them to do something they aren't good at.

Patience was something I learned when working with the younger kids.  Though I admit I resorted to my old screamer days a lot when I got frustrated.  After working three years with the kids, I resigned in 2000 because I felt burned out.

4th Evolution (2004 to 2005) - After taking a few years off, I was asked to pick up a team in 2004 that needed a coach.  It was yet another challenge.  It was a combined 7th/8th grade girls team at a school I had never worked at before.  Since the kids didn't know me, I felt I had the burden to prove myself.   It took a little while to get to know my team as we lost our first two games in league but went on a roll before injuries derailed a potential championship season.  My time off allowed me to put to use some of the things I had learned from previous years to good use though.

While the team was fairly skilled, I did do some work on their dribbling and shooting and it helped some players greatly.  But the major thing I learned from this season is that even with a skilled team, you have to put the right pieces together out on the court.  Chemistry is super important and I learned I had a good skill in recognizing the pieces that could play well together.

After the 2004 season ended, I lost the four 8th graders to high school.  For the 2005 season, I had my four remaining players from the year before plus two newbies.   The 2005 year was difficult overall and tested my patience.  With only six players practices were difficult.  Plus, attendance to practices were pretty sparse at times as the kids were ready to graduate.   Despite the obstacles, I learned some perseverance and the team played as well as it could have.

Current Evolution (2005 to Present) -  I have not officially coached a youth game in 5 years.  However, I have continued to learn about basketball via playing in my various adult leagues and officiating.

In fact, I serve as "Captain" in some of the leagues I play in and that means I also serve as the defacto "coach" as well.  While I don't practice with my teams, I still impart some of my coaching experience.  I throw in different zone defenses and even do full court presses, which are rarely seen in adult leagues.  

However, "coaching" in these adult leagues have taught me flexibility.  Some players are extremely flexible and can adapt to what I ask of them.  Some players not quite so flexible and play to the style they are used to.   The main thing I do in these adult leagues is try to fit all the pieces into one cohesive team.  

Sometimes I have been very successful and other times, things have blown up pretty spectacularly.   If there is a major weakness in my coaching, it is that I prefer a team oriented style rather than a superstar oriented team.  My team oriented approach usually keeps me competitive but I sometimes don't win every game without the superstar.   This may be from my experience as a youth coach and sometimes this isn't favored by the guys who play for me.

Alas, that may be my next evolution.  I have to learn to integrate a star into my team oriented approach.  

In the mean time, my return to youth basketball coaching may soon be coming.  My old grammar school is constructing their new school building and gymnasium.  I may return to coach a team just to get in some time at the new facility.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some people shouldn't be driving......

After work Friday, I headed to the mall to walk around a bit. It was less for shopping and more to get a little exercise in. I've been doing the 10,000 step a day program for a while and I go to the mall to stroll around a bit as part of my steps I take during the day.

At the same time, I was talking to a friend of mine. After I had done some walking around, I returned to my car as I continued to talk to my friend. As I sat in my car for a few minutes, I witnessed an interesting sight.

At the particular mall I was at, the parking spots were slanted in the direction you should be driving, though there are no arrows on the ground to direct you. However, if you use some common sense, you usually can figure it out.

Well, there was a lady in a Mercedes driving around. She was already driving in the wrong direction to start with and switched over to another parking lane, still in the wrong direction. She finally switched into the parking lane I was in (still facing the wrong direction) and tried to park. When your car is not in the direction of the parking space, that makes parking a little more difficult but it's not impossible.

Well, the lady tried for a few minutes to spin her car into the right angle to park. I was surprised to see a few minutes later that the lady HAD GIVEN UP and once again was headed down a parking lane in the wrong direction.

She made a turn to go down yet another parking lane in the wrong direction. Up until this point, the lady had been lucky. There had been no cars in any of the lanes she had driven through. Her luck ran out though, as there were TWO cars coming at her. Fortunately, nothing bad happened though I don't think the lady had any clue she was doing a lot of things wrong and endangering herself and others.

The lady finally got a parking spot that she could get into. I was tempted to run over to her and scream: "What the heck were you doing?" I'm sure my friend most have loved me as I commented on the driving abilities of the woman as we talked. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Art of Selling

My full time occupation is serving as a Sales Engineer. My job is a little tough to explain but I help the regular salespeople sell our software solutions to various businesses around the world. I serve as a technical consultant to ensure our solutions meet the needs of the various businesses we talk to.

That being said, this particular job is my first full time job working in a Sales environment. In my previous job, I had some some some pre-sales support but it was only in a part time capacity. For someone who did technical support for many years, adjusting to working in Sales was a bit of a challenge.

However, thanks to some events at work this week, I realized the art of selling could be boiled down to one sentence:

"Selling is the equivalent of slapping lipstick on a pig" (no offense to pigs!!)

It doesn't matter what product or service the salesperson is selling. Their job is make that particular product or service sound like the best thing since sliced bread and tell you why you need it.

I struggled with this for a long time. It has been within the past few months that I have slowly grapsed the art of selling. After all, in our day to day lives, we all sell whether we realize it or not. We sell ourselves when we interview for jobs. We sell ourselves when we date others.

Sales is a tough profession and I give props to all the salespeople in the world. Yes, many people may find salespeople pushy (especially car salespeople). However, understand that salespeople make the majority of their money from commissions from sales. Their lives depend on the sales and they are not afraid of rejection. After all, it is usually the aggressive that succeed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Being the #1 or #2 scorer / player in basketball is not easy.........

A busy summer of basketball concluded for me a couple of weeks ago. I played in two leagues with my friends. One league was a more competitive league where my team went 3-4. The season was up and down. We beat two teams that went to the playoffs but lost to other teams that didn't.

The other league was a friendship league. That league was interesting for several reasons. I knew all of my teammates and that's benefit because I know how they play and can adapt. The flip side is that all my teammates are not the most experienced players. They like to play for exercise but they aren't going to be the most aggressive ones on the court.

The makeup of the team proved to be an interesting challenge for me as the captain. Having low key guys mean't winning and losing weren't big deals (we ended up 2-5 overall). However, I couldn't control the other teams. All the other teams in the league went at us fairly hard. In fact, we got beat badly in our first game by about 20.

It was after this first game, I realized I had to make a change in how I approached this friendship league. I wanted to give my guys a chance to just play but the other teams were just out there to win. I finally decided to just start being more aggressive and shooting more to keep my teams in the games. On my team, I was known as the most experienced player and best shooter.

Playing in the friendship league proved to be an interesting experience. I was not used to being the primary or secondary player / scorer on a team. I'm so used to involving my teammates that jacking up a lot of shots felt a little strange, though that I eventually got over it!

I admittedly got frustrated with how the games went sometime and put up some pretty bad shots. The flip side is that I learned that I can take over games sometime if needed. I just need to be more selective than how I was with the summer friendship league. In addition, I need to incorporate this aspect into my overall game instead of trying to be something I'm not.

In addition, this experience showed me how hard it is to be a leading scorer or player like Kobe, LeBron or Jordan. It takes a lot of practice to perfect your game and in turn requires a special confidence that borders on cockiness to be a superstar player.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life is like shooting a basketball

If there is one thing my friends know me for, it is my passion for basketball. If I'm not playing basketball, I'm officiating, coaching or watching basketball somewhere.

Sometime ago, I wrote on Facebook that I was surprised at my sudden improvement in my basketball shooting, even though I am over 30. Indeed, I have been working on my basketball shooting since I was in 8th grade. Various people (coaches, friends, etc) had commented in my younger days about my shooting mechanics. Some comments involved my release point. Other comments involved my slow release.

I did my best to improve but it wasn't until 2007 when I noticed significant changes. I suddenly discovered my groove and everything started to fall into place. My release point was better. My release was faster. Of course, the shots started falling more often. The best thing though? I was no longer thinking about my shot. Everything was free flowing and natural.

In many ways, life is very much like learning to shoot a basketball. I definitely read many books and tried different ways to shoot a basketball. In life, people go through different jobs, majors and even boyfriends/girlfriends. When you initially try new things like a job, it takes you some time to figure things out. But once you figure it out, you stop thinking about things and just get into your daily groove.

In addition, just like when you shoot a basketball, sometimes you're going to make it and sometimes you may miss. Maybe you end up dating the wrong person. Maybe you choose the wrong major or get into a job that doesn't fit your personality. However, as all basketball players know, if you miss a shot, you eventually will get a chance to shoot again later. When life doesn't quite go your way, don't get discouraged. There will always be another opportunity at some later point.

As smooth as my shooting is going now, I do wish that EVERYTHING in life would go as smoothly. I know that is a bit of a pipe dream, but one can hope. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friends come in many different ways......

Long before the days of of web based Instant Messaging like Yahoo/MSN and sites Facebook, the Internet was composed of text based tools, most of which were based on the Unix platform. There was Pine for email, Tin for Usenet groups and a couple of different communication tools. One was Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was I sparingly used. The other was called "talk". Talk was a Unix based program which allowed you to do Instant Messaging with a user on either the same or a different Unix system.

I used all of these tools during my college days. I used Pine a ton to email my friends. I used Tin to read and post Usenet posting. I used talk a ton as well during those days. My fondest memories are from using talk for I seem to get a lot of random people wanting to talk to me. I talked to many people (mostly girls odd) and they became online pen pals. I talked to a few gals up in Canada and a few at my own school. While I have lost touch with most of the folks from those days, there are a couple of people I email occasionally to say hi.

These days, I don't talk to random strangers online too much like I used to. With so much identity theft and other things, most people are vary of just chatting up strangers in forums or instant messaging.

Yet, that doesn't mean you can't maintain friendships online. With Facebook, it's easier than ever before to keep in touch with folks who you may not see all that often.

However, even before the advent of Facebook, I had managed to maintain a friendship with someone in which communication was strictly via email initially and later by instant messaging. This person was a former co-worker of mine who only worked with me for a few months together.

After they left, we kept in touch via email and migrated to instant messaging later. We have only seen each other once in the past 10+ years (oddly enough not even near where we live). Despite only communicating by email and instant messaging, I count this person as a very good friend.

Lots of friendships are built in different ways and this may be my most unusual. Yet, I appreciate it greatly. After all, for friendships to be maintained, there has to be mutual efforts. The both of us have made efforts and for that I am glad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jack of All Trades / The Ultimate Role Player

(Repost from a Facebook Note I posted a week or so ago)

Back in 2009, I was unemployed for about 5 1/2 months (between April and mid-September). I spent a lot of time looking for a new job but as many people know, it's not easy to spend a full day in front of the computer looking for work.

So I did a ton of different things including writing, working out, reading, and photography. However, one activity that dominated the majority of my time was basketball. I played basketball from 2 to 4 times a week (depending on what I had to do).

At one of the local recreation centers I played at, I got to know a bunch of the regulars. There were a few young guys as well as a few older guys that played as well.

A few of the guys constantly commented that I was "Mr. Fundamental" due to my style of play. If I had the ball, I was generally in the triple-threat position. I generally played within myself and tried to make the right play rather than the fancy play.

Then one time, one of the older guys made an interesting comment to me. He said: "You know, it seems like you don't care who you play with. You let anybody play on your team".

To be honest, I hadn't though much about that before. I simply enjoy playing basketball. Even though everyone likes to win, I don't particular care if I play with a super star team or a super old team.

Then it really occurred to me why I didn't care who I played with. It was because I adjust my game to how my teammates play. Many of the guys playing pick up ball just play and expect their teammates to adjust to them. For me, I try to take the opposite approach. Most of the time, I think it works. Sometimes, you may play with a group of players where you don't mesh no matter how hard you try.

If I played with a team of older (older than me) guys, I may end up guarding some of the other team's faster players (though I am hardly a spring chicken myself). If I played on a smaller team, I might end up guarding the opposing team's big man and focus on grabbing rebounds.

On offense, if I played with young guys, the young guys like to run and slash. I just filled in with my mid-range jumper. If I played with older guys, I may end up handling the ball, distributing and taking the open shots. If I'm on a team that just isn't good and isn't confident, I sometimes do take over the games.

This isn't to make like I am some super star. My overall basketball skill set is pretty average. I would consider myself a Jack of All Trades and a master of none!

I have a decent but not great jumper and it's from 15 to 18 feet. My ball handling is average and not great against pressure. My passing is simple and precise but not fancy. I play better defense off-ball than on ball. But when I play, I try to figure out what my team need's the most and put it to use.

The lesson here is that teamwork can be applied anything you do in life, whether it be school, work or your family and not just sports. I try to be the best teammate I can but when I was younger, I was pretty selfish. As I have gained experience over the years, I realized that I was never as good as I thought. However, I realized I had some skills and experience to put them to good use. It was then that I became a better player and a better teammate.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Living in the great outdoors AKA camping

Got back home a few hours from a long weekend that involved camping and white water rafting. This was my second time camping and my third time rafting. The rafting was fun as always. We went on a Class 3/4 rapid which is tough but not dangerous to beginners or moderately experienced people like me.

On the other hand, camping is not something I was particularly looking forward to. My first experience camping was about some 15 years ago or so. My memories of the experience is just rough nights trying to sleep on the hard ground, getting used to the dirt and dust and the very nasty conditions of the bathroom and shower facilities.

Fortunately, I didn't have to sleep on the hard ground as I was with someone who had an air mattress. The general dirt and dust wasn't too bothersome. After all, I was there to raft and spent most of Saturday wet.

Alas, getting used to the bathroom and shower facilities was not easy. I guess we're all spoiled to some extent to our homes. Having dirty floors, sinks and bugs all over the place is hardly the way you want in your facilities. However, I dealt with it and overall it wasn't that bad.

Overall, camping is a good bonding experience and I don't dislike the experience. It would be great to have better facilities but maybe I'll take a dip in the nearby river next time!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane or the Slow Lane?

From talking to my friends and just reading the news, I see that some people live life to one of two extremes. On one hand, you have people who breeze through life at full speed. They never look at the past and have no regrets over anything that happens.

The positives of living life at full speed is that they never worry about anything. They just do things as they see fit. These people are often confident (if maybe a little cocky or arrogant) that things will go right. Even if things don't go right, they just move on to the next thing.

The negatives are that sometimes these people don't learn from their mistakes. If these people are on the wrong track, then it may be difficult to steer them the right way because they don't stop to think about why things aren't working out.

On the other hand, there are people who do look back at the past but let it be a crutch. These people may have made mistakes which put them in tough situations but they can't get over the mistakes. Or they may have grown up in tough family or social environments and are unable to move past them.

You might say there aren't many positives in looking back but they are. For anyone to improve at anything in life, mistakes have to be made. I can't think of anyone who was able to do something perfect the FIRST TIME.

The negatives for looking back are fairly strong. For people who like to look back and analyze, sometimes when a situations or opportunities arise that need immediate action, these people aren't able to respond in such a quick manner. Thus there may be many missed opportunities in life.

Obviously, the majority of people don't live life to one extreme or the other. We tend to be centered toward the middle. There may be things we breeze right through without thinking about it. There will be other things that we take our time to look back to make an appropriate decision.

My point is that everyone needs to be flexible. Enjoy life but be willing to look back and/or listen to others if things don't seem to be going right. On the other hand, if you tend to look back, don't let previous situations or mistakes cripple your confidence. Every mistake we make will improve us more than we realize.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Welcome / The Power of Carbs!

As I drove home tonight, a thought crossed my mind that I should create a third blog for my personal stuff. After all, I already had two blogs:

Behind the Whistle - My musings on basketball / sports officiating
Through ABC Eyes - My musings on culture, technology and anything else that I thought was interesting

My reasoning for the third blog is that I wanted space to talk about other things more informally.  If I wanted to bitch about my work day, I could do so.  If I wanted to discuss how my basketball team did, I could do so as well.

I thought I should claim the URL "".  Well, upon checking it, it appears I had already claimed the name years ago.  It took me a little while to remember my original login but I figured it out.  Now this blog is merged with all my other blogs!   I will think about whether I want to formalize it into "" later on.  :)

In the meantime, my first blog posting here will be about my basketball game in an adult league I play in.   I was looking forward to playing my game tonight as I was playing a few my good buddies from the opposing team.  Both are teams have been struggling and but our games always get entertaining when we play.

My team played well early and had the lead but lost it halfway through the first half and we were basically behind the rest of the way.  In fact, we were down by 7 points with 2 minutes left but we scrambled back to tie the game at 49-49 on a buzzer beater to send the game to overtime.

My team jumped out early in overtime as we scored the first 7 points and won 57-52.

The interesting part of this was that I played horribly.  I shot extremely poorly from the field and the free throw line.  I was missing short, long, left and right.  Those who know me, I can hit the 15 to 18 foot jumper if left open but tonight was the night to leave me open.   Despite my poor shooting, it wasn't a complete loss as I made a few plays here and there.

I knew I was a little tired from not sleeping well the night before.  However, the thing that killed me was I didn't have much energy.  I generally eat a fairly large lunch but after a weekend of eating a lot I decide to eat a little less today.  I had a feeling that it would hurt me today and it did.   Of course I didn't realize it while I was playing.   It was only after the game that I realized I was pretty hungry and that clued me in as to why I didn't play too well.

Despite my sluggishness, my team managed to win which I am happy.   This is just a good point to everyone who plays sports.  Make sure you get a good (but not a super large) meal before you play.  Drink some water while you're at it.  It will help you be at an optimal level.

It's been a while since I played this poorly and it was a lesson to me that I need to eat a little more than I did today.  My team has one more game next week so I'll have a chance to bounce back!