Is Andrew Luck a better prospect than Cam Newton?


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The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been around since 1946 and though it presently maintains the same title, the game played under its jurisdiction has changed drastically through the years. A litany of rule changes has altered the  game’s original premises, identity, and strategies. This new version of the sport is far different from how it was initially played. It lacks aggressiveness, as well as a spirit of competition that most athletes and fans truly appreciated and respected from its earlier edition. It’s possible that a few of these amendments were created with intent to improve the game, but the timing and effects of some changes lead to a more plausible outcome. In fact, it’s almost comical how the more noteworthy and memorable changes clearly work to the disadvantage of the leagues more athletic players, who more often than not, are black. Two of these changes specifically, force me to believe the NBA is trying to eliminate the many advantages of “athleticism” while allowing less athletic players to have stronger roles. Through these actions, it is apparent this association has an inherent plan to make white players (or any other race) more valuable commodities in its league, than the black players who’ve dominated it for so long.

The first and most notable refinement was the inclusion of the 3 point shot. It’s addition in 1979 definitely changed the identity of basketball. The three pointer allows long range shooters to be more valuable assets to a team than any other player, as their shots have more value. So basically, a game that had been played in a league for 33 years, changed a rule to make specific assets more valuable. The NBA also had 33 years of observations to determine and decide which player traits rendered more importance before they implemented this rule. As displayed everyday in NBA basketball games, they decided that the outside shooter needed to be more valuable than the inside scorer. In those 33 years used to make that observation, it was apparent that the white players were typically better outside shooters and the black players were better drivers and scored points closer to the hoop, because of their athleticism. So after years of careful observation, one attribute was made more valuable while the other stayed the same. Why weren’t both outside shooting and athleticism rewarded?  To keep the game fair, it’s more reasonable to increase rewards for both attributes not just one, unless there was a purpose or plan in place. If a longer distance shot deserves more reward because of its difficulty shouldn’t scoring in the paint be equally adjusted. You tell me which one is a harder shot. Any middle school basketball player, afraid of contact, can hoist up a 3 pointer and luckily make it 2 or 3 times out of 10, but how many of those same middle schoolers can dunk. If you’re reading this article, just think logically, is there a better chance for you personally to dunk a ball or score in the paint of an NBA game versus 7-foot tall players or shooting a three pointer versus the shorter players with more space. Unless Shaq is reading this, I expect you understand and accept my point.

The timing of the 3 point rule’s addition provides even more evidence supporting my claims. The shot had been apart of other leagues including the ABL and the ABA more than 18 years prior to the NBA including it. Both leagues had permanently adopted the 3 point shot in their constitutions, so it wasn’t a new idea. But in 1979, after Larry Bird had just entered the league and Magic Johnson was en route, the NBA decided to include the 3 point shot to reward outside shooters. These two were the most prolific collegiate players to ever enter the NBA draft. Magic was black and Bird was white. Bird’s best attribute was his amazing outside shooting, so mysteriously the NBA opted to include the 3 point shot that year. In my eyes, the NBA wanted to make Larry Bird more valuable in its league than Magic or any of its other players, who weren’t typically outside shooters. And so they did, Bird’s 3-point prowess garnered enough success to help him and the 3-point shot alter the game as we know it.

The addition of the zone defense is the other adjustment the NBA included that supports my belief. The zone defense was allowed for the first time in the NBA during the 2001-2002 seasons. The zone’s objective has always been to assist both teams and players who lack the athletic ability to guard faster and stronger opponents. Again, this was not an idea that was newly introduced. It had been apart of the NCAA and lower levels of the sport for years. But in 1999, the NBA’s commissioner began to want a more global game. He made many public statements promoting a mass inclusion of foreign players and supporters. The foreign players were previously not included in NBA basketball because they weren’t good enough to create their own shot, defend, or rebound with the NBA’s overly athletic players. Now suddenly there has been an influx of them, not as lower tier specialty players either, but instant stars. So the addition of the zone was again a slight to more athletic players, which conversely upgraded the less athletic players.

So comparatively speaking, imagine racing against your best friend for 10 years. You guys have created a point system that rewards distance running and sprinting accordingly. You’re a better sprinter and he/she is a better long distance runner. Would it seem weird if your friend implemented a rule change so long distance could have more value? Wouldn’t you suggest that sprinting gain an equal reward as its counterpart. Again this just seems logical. The game had already been created with rules. So rule changes should enhance the overall game not just specific traits. The game of Chess wouldn’t change its rules to help some players to appear more valuable . It’s rules are standard and set. If a great chess player preferred to use pawns more, the game of chess wouldn’t adjust its rules to make pawns have the maneuverability of Knights too. That player will have to find ways to win with his pawn strategy or he just will lose, and consequently won’t be great.

So this new watered down version of basketball, which is constantly aired on our television airways, may be entertaining to many viewers but it hasn’t fooled me one bit. I know a scam when I see one. The media, NBA officials, and some die-hard fans can promote, sell, and accept these changes. They can suggest the reinforcements were made to enhance the game, but I’m not going for the “okey doke”. If the NBA truly wanted to improve this game they’d create a better definition of a foul. Not one player, coach, or fan can clearly state its definition but its the most important rule in the game. Even the game’s officials get lost in translation of that rule. So if not for enhancement what other reasons are left?  This country hasn’t had a history of creating rules so that all men were created equal and given a fair and equal opportunity to flourish or excel.  So why would I believe one of its most popular sports leagues would, I don’t.  But I’d prefer the NBA be a little more direct. Wouldn’t it have been clearer and easier for the league to just say every black man’s shot is worth 1 point and every shot from anyone else is worth 3 points, that way the game could mimic life in this country.

The Clipper Organization

Just when you thought there wasn’t much more the Los Angeles Clippers Organization could do to embarrass their brand, their owners, supporters, and their local community, they stoop even lower. The teams recent fallout with Super-fan Darrell Bailey adds more shame to a long list of illogical and negligent management decisions inherently designed to push all fans away.
For years, the Clippers have been a laughing stock in the professional basketball ranks. They’ve achieved merely two playoff appearances with just one winning season in the last 20 years. Their owner, Donald Sterling, managed the team without any of the passion or zeal displayed by most other professional sports teams’ owners. The team never created any excitement in the local or national media, nor did they work to acquire the mega stars typically present on winning rosters. The fan base was always low and for a while it was like the Clippers preferred to lose. This organization needed a complete makeover to erase its ugly past.
Since 2009, the team began to make some changes for the better. With the additions of not one but two superstars, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers were finally looking like an organization that cared. And not only cared about winning but also about providing its fans with a product worth supporting. It was the implementing and initiation of a culture change.
Unfortunately, all optimism was erased on February 29th, when the LA Times reported that the Clipper Organization asked Darrell Bailey, also known as Clipper Darrell (the teams biggest and maybe only vocal fan over the last 20 years) to drop their name.

The message below was posted on Mr. Bailey’s website later on the 29th expressing his disbelief…

“It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!!
I have been a season ticket holder for over a decade and a FAN for over 15 years and have dedicated a major part of my life to support the Clipper organization and it’s players no matter what the season’s outcome. Over the years (400 home games) I have gone to great lengths to show my appreciation and loyalty in my attire, the car I drive and in my very own home. I’ve taken seriously the mantra of being “Clipper Darrell” in performing community service, mentoring young children and my participation in outreach programs. I’ve appreciated the struggles of the team to overcome obstacles as I’ve done in my life. I felt vindicated for all the years we as Clipper fans have gone through trials and tribulations and NOW we have a team that can win it all. Yesterday was the hardest day of my life, I felt powerless as a fan, as I was stripped of my identity however, no one can take away my heart and the love I have for my team!

This news was fairly shocking because Clipper Darrell was a constant fixture at Clipper home games. Not only did he wear flamboyant team colors in support, but he’d dance and cheer louder than any other fans at the stadium. His appearances on the big screen at the arena were legendary. He’d start chants for the entire uninspired crowd to follow or he’d gyrate step by step with the teams cheerleaders as they performed a dance routine. His moves were almost perfectly in-synch with theirs, as if he practiced at home the night before. The kids loved him, and his energy was undeniable even for a stadium that had more seats empty than filled. It was rather refreshing to think someone sincerely supported an underdog.

But the Clippers didn’t care about his loyalty. Nor did they care about what the community and other fans might think if they turned their backs on him. Just like the twenty lousy years passed, their management reacted like deer in headlights, with no rhyme or reason. Who loses their number one fan now, after he’s endured all the bad seasons? Anyone with a heart should see the err in this behavior. This isn’t just a bad decision, its a heartless act. One that makes stomachs turn and faces scowl with disgust. With their history, they had no room for a mistake of this magnitude. The Clippers are almost like a husband who divorces his wife of 20 years after their startup business flourishes. She has their 4th child and he calls her fat then leaves her for a 19 year old grad student. Terrible, yes, but on top of that the Clippers Organization wouldn’t want to see their kids or pay child support either. It’s really hard to love a person like that. There’s a clear undeniable message being sent to all Clipper fans, something specifically about Clipper Darrell doesn’t represent the Clipper Organization, especially now. Maybe it did slightly before but now it doesn’t. Could it be Darrell’s ethnicity? Team Owner, Donald Sterling, has had a history of trouble with the minority community in LA. In 2009, Sterling paid $2.725 million to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit, in which Justice Department lawyers presented evidence that the Sterlings made statements “indicating that African Americans and Hispanics were not desirable tenants”. Maybe African Americans and Hispanics aren’t “desirable” representatives for a winning organization in his eyes. But the problem goes beyond skin color discrimination. A martian deserves better treatment. Clipper Darrell’s undying support, loyalty, and fervor were never a good representation of the Clipper Brand, probably because the Brand illustrates no understanding of those concepts.

After the separation was publicized, The Clippers released a response to the media, which was more concerned on placing fault rather than mending fences.

“The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. He has never been an employee or representative of the Clippers organization, and therefore cannot be terminated. The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.”
“We have had multiple conversations with him concerning his inappropriate use of the Clippers’ team name and trademark for his own unmonitored commercial gain. We have spoken to him repeatedly about his desire to make public appearances in ways which improperly suggest that he is officially affiliated with our organization. In all cases and over a long period of time, he has consistently rejected our efforts to operate in consultation. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off the Clippers.”
There’s no compassion for Darrell. The extremely callous tone was an automatic deterrent. But saying Clipper Darrell isn’t really a fan of the Clippers but a fan of what he can make off the Clippers, just sucks, like vacuums. I mean really, how much do super fans make? Darrell said through 10 years of appearances, he’s earned approximately $7,500 total. That’s very little money for a guy who’s spent over $10,000 to customize his BMW into a Clipper-Mobile! These weren’t the encouraging words requisite from an organization needing to reconcile with the local community, or one who’s learned from prior mistakes. What’s next? Maybe Mr. Sterling will kidnap some of his own players to ransom some contract money back to help upgrade the luxury seats. Whatever the case, the Clippers have proven time and time again they’re capable of cutting well below any standard of quality set for a professional team.

The Other Madden Curse

Video gamers and sports fans have all heard of the infamous “Madden Curse”. It’s a well broadcasted myth which suggests players chosen to be the face on the cover of the most popular sports-video game ever, John Madden Football, will consequently go on to have an injury plagued season the next year. Well, there’s been another Madden Curse much less publicized, Madden’s curse of the Black Quarterback. What’s the  Madden curse of the Black Quarterback you ask? Well its simple, between the years of 1993 to about 2010, no matter their performance in real football, Madden’s recreated versions of black quarterbacks have passing abilities more comparable to a 3rd string junior college running back than a proven pro quarterback.  They can’t complete easy passes, miss wide open receivers by  like 10 yards,  nor can they maintain methodical drives. Pro bowl receivers even have difficulty catching their passes. If any quarterback was this bad, he wouldn’t have gotten an NFL tryout, heck he couldn’t start for a little league team. Oh, and you can forget having a quality passing attack for one full game of Madden, let alone an entire season with a black quarterback.

I know it sounds ridiculous to profess racism in a video game, but isn’t it even more senseless that a game included society’s stereotypes and bias’. Or worse, that established ignorance can sustain itself for such a long period of time, and is strong enough to transcend the boundaries of video games. Some might believe I’m arguing the concept of running quarterbacks compared to drop-back quarterbacks, than the racial issue I’ve claimed. To an extent, yes, maybe a little but almost all black quarterbacks are running quarterbacks. The terms running quarterback and drop back quarterback, especially between 1993-2010, were almost synonymous with the terms, black quarterback and white quarterback. The NFL, the media, our society, and Madden’s video game, all worked together to ensure the black quarterback/running quarterback notion, was represented as a failure. And I believe it was done with intent to preserve the image of the white quarterback/drop-back quarterback as the face of the sport.

Now to be fair, the game uses each quarterbacks completion percentage from the prior season as its primary determinant for the attribute “passing accuracy”. Completion percentage is probably the most logical choice for determining accuracy for a quarterback on a video game, even though at times the most accurate pro quarterbacks have low completion percentages. My problem is in the translation. Accuracy for quarterbacks is pivotal, but the importance placed on that attribute and how it effects the abilities of the quarterbacks on the game, doesn’t translate or mimic the actual NFL game it was designed to replicate. Accuracy can’t measure play sustainability, toughness, and/or in game awareness, all which are necessary to assist in pass completions. The game does measure a quarterbacks awareness, but it is more focused on position responsibility, as in coverage  recognition.   The common sense decision making or decision making under pressure and in small spaces, the knowledge of personal capabilities and simple athleticism,  we see quarterbacks display on Sunday’s are a few of the other factors necessary in completing passes.

Often on the game, I’ve had to choose “white” rookie quarterbacks or below average journeymen to replace proven veteran black quarterbacks for my team to be offensively productive. The white rookie quarterbacks would be novice level players who’ve never completed a pass in the NFL, but Madden pre-determined them to be quality players on the game as they fit into the stereotypical media quarterback perceptions. However, those same supposed “accurate” quarterbacks, actually couldn’t complete passes or command an NFL offense in real football. I watched on Sunday’s and they didn’t complete lots of passes. Overall they repeatedly failed in the quarterback position, though drafted to play for a team which commonly was built to highlight their abilities. In fact, the media for years has been relatively reluctant to report the high numbers of white quarterbacks who were selected high in the draft (often the first overall pick) but turned out to be busts. Is accuracy one of the more important traits for a quarterback, of course it is especially in the NFL, but any quarterback starting for an NFL franchise has to be reasonably accurate. The Madden video game supported stereotypes of black quarterbacks, implemented them into the game, and upheld them for years.

The games portrayal of black quarterbacks mirrors a popular media perception much more than the actual in-game reality.  For years, the media characterized the black quarterback as merely an athlete, incapable of mastering the quarterback position. However, the truth is black quarterbacks completed passes in spite of the many factors working against them. Team owners didn’t typically see black quarterbacks as the prototypical face to represent an organization, so their teams didn’t add personnel to accentuate their attributes or build systems that fit their skill sets. This definitely wasn’t the case for most white quarterbacks.  Nonetheless, black quarterbacks were still fairly efficient in games. For example, NFL quarterback Vince Young, definitely lacks some of the fundamentals expected from an NFL quarterback. He doesn’t possess the perfect throwing motion and does miss on some of the more difficult passing tree routes, but in game, he could complete 5 yard slants, quick outs, and flair passes to running backs quite often. I’ve seen him lead his team to victory multiple times, with the pass as his weapon of choice. But on Madden, Vince Young was more like an average running back playing the quarterback position. He was incapable of completing the passes I’ve seen him complete fairly often in NFL football games. I mean every other pass was off target. I often thought, man I hope Vince Young doesn’t play this game, cause he’ll probably cry afterwards. Vince was the first name that came to mind, but year after year I’ve been frustrated throwing 5 yard outs into the crowd or quick slants 13 yards off course, with black quarterbacks. I’d eventually cave in every year and choose a white quarterback so my team could be good.

Is there research to prove this new Madden Curse? Yes, of course there is.  Am I gonna go back to research and compare accuracy ratings of one black quarterback to some white quarterback, NO(though I could), its easier than that. I’ve purchased and played the game every year since 1993 on multiple gaming systems, I don’t need anymore proof than that. I do believe this will change on the game as more black quarterbacks are given opportunities to play the position. They’ve already exceeded any and all expectations while disproving the many stereotypes, so the media will have to evaluate them more fairly at some point. Madden will most likely follow the media’s lead again and also begin to present the black quarterback as a viable option for the position. However, this doesn’t change what I’ve witnessed, and had to endure over the years.  The frustration, the anger, the ignorance, the pain caused by this one game. So say what you want, My Madden Curse is real. That other curse, well, I’m still up in the air on that one.

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