unguarded-lenny wilkens with terry pluto (conclusion)

“When you compare players from the fifties and sixties to today’s, you have to remember that we were the best athletes of our time, and we’d presumably benefit from the same advantages today’s players have if we somehow transported forward in time. I know that I would have been as good a player today as I was back in my era, and I believe that would be true of the best of our players from those years. It’s almost comical to think about how little we did to take care of ourselves back then.” (80)

“Players now can’t believe how little we made, or how we had to work in the summers. They’re surprised to hear that we had to worry about a pension plan at all. But that was all part of the almost blue-collar world of the NBA back then.” (105)

“I felt very comfortable with Monsanto. In fact, when the team moved from St.Louis to Atlanta, they offered me a full-time job. For a moment, I considered it, because my final season with the Hawks was probably my hardest in all of pro-basketball.” (109)

“I didn’t have an agent. This was 1960, and no one had an agent. The NBA of 1960 wasn’t considered the meal ticket for an entire family. It was the best basketball league in the world, but few people knew it. The Boston Celtics had one of the greatest teams the world had ever seen, yet they didn’t sell out Boston Garden. Few NBA teams sold out.” (63)

“So here is the situation: The best high-school players are constantly being recruited by summer league coaches, by high-school coaches, by college coaches, by summer camps, and by renegade adults who want to be their agents. None of this is healthy psychologically, nor does it lead to making the kids better players. Too often, they aren’t coached in the fundamentals of the game, because no one wants to get in their faces and tell them what they can’t do. They worship at the shrine of the dunk, which is a symbol of how the game has changed.” (56)

“Who gave him the contract in the first place? The Hawks did. Now they thought the contract was too expensive. The Hawks aren’t the only team to do this, you hear it a lot: A team gives a player a contract, then complains that the guy is being ‘overpaid’. Well, they’re the ones who decided to pay him that much.” (274)

“I wasn’t shocked that Shaq was unaware of my career. I hadn’t played since 1975. Why would players of Shaq’s generation know? It would be nice if they had that sense of history, but most don’t-and I’m not hung up about that.” (258)

“Next, I met with Donald Sterling, the real-estate tycoon who owns the team. He seemed a little distant, not locked in to our interview. I’d asked him if he planned to sign this player or trade that guy, and he’d just look at me and say, ‘Ooh, everybody on this team loves each other.’
The guy had no grasp of what was going on with his own team.” (248)

“I’ve always respected the great Buffalo Bills teams, those same Bills teams that never won a Super Bowl. To many fans and writers, that means they can never be great, never be special: Only champions are great, and everyone else is a loser, or at least falls short. I’ve never believed that. The true measure of a team is how it answers this question: Did they play as well as they possibly could?” (264)

“I could dribble equally well with either hand, and I have Father Mannion and those chairs to thank for that. I smile as I think about those chairs, and I think about all the formal ballhandling drills the kids are doing today. They work fine, but no better than those chairs set up by Father Mannion. When I coached the Cavs and Steve Kerr wanted to improve his ballhandling skills over the summer, that’s what we did-we set up chairs for him to dribble around. Michael Jordan said he did the same thing after his rookie year: He knew he needed work on his dribbling, so he set up chairs in a gym-and went through the drills alone.” (35)

again-i’ve pulled so many that the quotes can talk for themselves. i just want to stress that the people (players and owner) that he’s talked about are still relevant today, and that’s the measure of a true basketball treasure. bigup to all the former point guard coaches (jason kidd, i’m looking at you) and to the true proponents of team ball who not only believe in letting folks earn their props, but to giving them when they are indeed due.

unguarded-lenny wilkens with terry pluto (part too)

“I’m proud of the fact that when I came to new jobs in Cleveland, Atlanta and Seattle (both times), my teams either set or tied franchise records for the most victories in a season. That’s the indication that the team improved while I was there, which is the real job of any coach.” (292)

“The teams that became NBA dynasties all had at least one great player who was the constant, who set the tone, demanded respect from the other players, and was willing to serve as a policeman in the dressing room. In Boston, the great player was Bill Russell. Later, it was Larry Bird. In Los Angeles, it was Magic Johnson. In Chicago, Michael Jordan. When Detroit won their back-to-back titles, the great player was Isiah Thomas.
Those guys were obsessed with winning. To them, winning meant more than money, more than fame, more than life itself. They not only drove themselves, they powered the entire team. They were like Superman, and their teammates knew they had to grab on to that cape or they’d be left behind.
We didn’t have that player. When I took over the Sonics, they’d never had a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a scoring champion, or a Coach of the Year. When we won the title, the whole was far greater than the collection of the parts. In our title season, we had no one in the top ten in scoring…..We were a true share-the-ball, share-the-wealth team.” (187)

“As a player, I was a point guard, so I viewed the game not just from my perspective, but for what was best for the whole team. The coach does the same thing. It also never hurts to have some immediate success. Players are far more willing to sacrifice, to come off the bench, when they look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see that it paid off with a victory.” (168)

“I’ve had a lot of good players in my career, and that’s why I’ve won as many games as I have. But to last as many years as I have in the NBA and to win as many games as I have without players named Russell, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Chamberlain, or Abdul-Jabbar is something that makes me very proud.” (292)

thank you. i mean, sports are all about hurdles, and most teams don’t really have a chance. so why not make the most of it if you’re going to watch and dream bigger? allow ourselves to be inspired by the impossible, instead of stinking up the joint with “reality”? and that unicorn of a team that wins because it’s an actual team-i feel like we’ve been going that way as of late, and my fingers crossed for the most exciting season yet.

unguarded-my forty years surviving in the nba-lenny wilkens with terry pluto

“So I was traded to the worst team in the NBA that played in the worst arena with perhaps the worst fan support. I had a choice: I could pout and perhaps try to force a trade. Or I could make the best of what many would consider a bad situation.” (142)

“He also had some substitution patterns that made no sense, leaving some of our best players on the bench for long stretches in critical parts of the game. His idea of motivation was to write on the blackboard before a big game: IT’S NOT THE DOG IN THE FIGHT THAT COUNTS, IT’S THE FIGHT IN THE DOG.” (125)

“What often happens when a team changes coaches is that players receive an immediate infusion of energy. That’s why so many teams win their first game after bringing in a new coach. The adrenaline doesn’t carry over for long, but for one night, it can really fire up a team.” (165)

“I learned from dealing with Wicks that when a player is truly unhappy, he only makes the other players anxious and easily disgruntled. There’s only one thing you can do: Trade him. Keeping a malcontent around doesn’t make him any better, it just makes the entire situation worse. No matter what you get in return, you benefit from the addition by subtraction.” (151)

“Not getting past the second round of the playoffs was like a bone in all of our throats. It was always there, even when we tried to pretend otherwise. As a coach, the hard part was that the regular season hardly seemed to matter. Ther was virtually no criticism of how we played the first 82 games. Over and over, we heard that the team overachieved. But then we supposedly ‘underachieved’ in the playoffs. That just didn’t seem right.” (272)

“Our rut was we’d win 50 games in the regular season and be near the top of the Central Division, but in the playoffs we’d lose int he second round. The fact that we lost to a more talented team in the second round-or that we never should have won those 50-some games in the regular season…well, none of that mattered.
We were good, but not good enough.” (264)

i got many a chill reading this book this week of the NBA playoff season. i felt like he could’ve been writing about right now, and it’s not a coincidence that this man who had this history in atlanta ended the last chapter of this book just as he was taking the head coach job in toronto. what i would give to hear his opinion of dwayne casey, and any advice he might have to the man. the only thing i really want an answer to is why we’ve been punished for so long seeing james johnson on the bench? i’ve never wanted a trade so badly as i do for this guy if we’re not going to play him.

staying power-this man could do the seminar. there’s so much here-so much history and so much witness. i’ve oft stated that i’ve noticed or aspired to a lenny wilkens‘ record in life-the winningest and losingest. the bottom line squad goal is to always be living and learning, trying and succeeding. what an inspiration to us all.

the boss-dir. ben falcone

“a do-ri-to”

so what if melissa mccarthy plays the same character over and over? that character is amazing. i mean, nobody complains that jennifer aniston does it. or that her boring plain jane face is still gracing “most beautiful people” lists. but hey-white beauty standards. who has the energy to complain about that? i’ll just re-direct my gaze.

and turn a blind ear to the ignorant bitches who say, “um-i feel like i’ve heard more prince since he died than i heard david bowie, and i don’t know if that’s fair…” first of all-you know who’s always complaining about “fairness”? people who have everything. the rest of us have to work six times as hard and actually EARN our lives. second of all, if david bowie was alive-tell me he wouldn’t be the first one to do a prince tribute. and for the hat trick-you notice it because it’s not your everyday experience that a person of colour has such influence on your influences that you never even knew, and it makes you uncomfortable because your racism is showing. like my raptors and the first fourth quarter they decided to win all season just now-get the fuck out of here.

the most important recurring theme of melissa mccarthy‘s movies is how an outsider overcomes childhood rejection to be a hilarious asshole who manages to build a family, against all odds. the insecurities, the abandonment issues, and the triumph is what keeps us coming back, and the co-sign is strong.

duolingo lately: 467 day streak, 5471 lingots
cafes lately: tokyo smoke, tuscana coffee, cygnet coffee, outpost coffee
stamps left to get on my icp: 16
libraries lately: parkdale, annette street, bloor/gladstone
first instrument to be checked out of the library: xylophone
cancon lately: celine dion, saukrates, yamantaka/sonic titan, emmanuel jal

past and pre/sent: hashtag, mood.

“every night”

“heaven knows”

does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? i feel like this eternal chicken-and-egg dictates so many of our opinions. just the other day, i was present for a conversation between someone who obviously hasn’t listened to any of his music (“it’s not about anything, just his massive ego”) and someone who respects him as an artist, doesn’t care for his lyrics and knows me (“we should stop this because angelica looks like she’s about to blow a gasket”).

but then, is that fair? obviously, the person in question had heard at least some of his music, the difference is that she hasn’t been moved by any of it, and is thus probably not open to any of it. i mean, i don’t care what donald trump thinks or says either, and i’m inclined to think that his whole rhetoric is not about anything but his massive ego, either.

(“2020 i’ma run the whole election”).

i think the takeaway here is that life, like art, has levels. i’ve become a kanye apologist by default for much of his career, and i’m mostly ok with that. i truly do think he’s a genius. his genius is not only his music, though at his best- it’s mostly his music. his genius is his ability to inspire the strongest emotions-on all sides of the spectrum. but most of all, his genius is that he knows exactly how to hit the tuning fork to command the exact response that he wants. so, that brings me back to an ultralight beam of awe, and befuddlement as it would appear that i have also just made a case for trump.

whomp whomp.


“diamonds (in the back) and pearls….”

a grown and sexy night of well-dressed adults witnessing commonwealth r&b royalty in a stunning venue uptown?


every show henceforth will be a tribute to prince, as i don’t know/love any artists who are not directly inspired by Him. but that one was church 2 the dawn and we all needed to leave some things on the dancefloor.

shoutout to my co-parents who weren’t there because of the celebration that allowed me to wish “happy birthday, prince” in the morning before the show-it went verrry late and i wouldn’t have been able to babysit.

shoutout to all the lovelies (surprise and otherwise) who i was blessed to hold communion with, it was lovely to see you, and i am comforted to know that those who need to find their way somewhere, will.

to my new friend that i bonded with over cathy dennis-heeeey.

to my oldest and my coldest-i sat at the merch table for a sec, so i know you’re the only one who bought the ivana santilli double-vinyl.

to glenn lewis‘ backup singers-i love you. thank you for bringing the most joy to the stage from the pocket that i’ve seen since stephanie mills‘ back vocalists. i always have a special place in my heart for yous.

the walk up to the venue reminded me of broadway in vancity, and the vibe/venue reminded me of the king’s theatre in brooklyn, so i’m glad for the fact that i get to have all the aspects i love in a city that i really love for all of its own treasures.

i’m glad for the car ride home, not only because it was hellalate (i’ll gripe about the time breakdown of sets some other time), but mostly because of the singalongs and afterglow that is best witnessed together.

to amalia-thank you for telling me about secondhand sunday. i woke up a bit late and was moving a bit slow, and told the barista, “to go please, but i have my own coaster” but i made it to ward 21 and got a few classic albums on cd and the shelving set that will become my queen piece. you have an undeniably unique way of sharing.

i almost didn’t make it on this writing sunday, i’ve been feeling hermity and ate a bunch of random food today (including spicy salmon sushi, swiss cheese crackers, a cream soda and slurpee!, the aforementioned coffee, and a giant slab of lemon custard cake) but i’m just sliding in.


oh-i’m pretty sure lemonade is just foreshadowing another family tour, and my immediate reaction was to kiss my teeth when it was over. but, i was entranced the whole way through. (sigh).

bootcamp throwback-“burn after reading”-august 22th

this one is on an envelope, from the session of the paper prompts. it’s addressed from “You know who. You know from where.” and yells BURN AFTER READING in the address field. here’s what i did with it:

“never put anything in writing-that way, there’s no evidence”.

this was the unsolicited advice that i got from that guy that kept popping up everywhere i looked during my last year of university. serving coffee in the campus bookstore, putting my clothes in a fitting room in a downtown boutique, swooping out from behind a mirror as i blurily examined myself in potentially new frames at the vision mart. a latino muslim, he was newly married in a long-distance relationship with an ismaili, the most intriguing of the sects. he was working all these jobs so that she could buy herself things to make up for his absence. it wasn’t clear why they had to be across the country from each other, but i accept information as it’s given to me, i don’t pry. people have always felt comfortable sharing with me, and i think that dynamic would change if i presented anything other than active listening. i remember walking with him one day from one job to the next, asking him not to smoke his cigarette right at that moment. he denied with indignation and a bird shit on his shoulder just as the word was coming out of his mouth and he cursed god (not spanish allah), but put out the cigarette that hadn’t yet made it to his lips. we all acknowledge in our own way. i was recounting the impending doom of the relationship i was in at the time, also long-distance, with someone who had no idea how to process my newfound elation from gracing a stage, so he chose to deal with it like a pouty child, trying to make me feel guilty for finding pleasure in something that didn’t involve him. there was no explaining that it wasn’t an either/or situation, but this was the same person who would attend a party, not dance, and sulk when i chose to dance, either alone or other people. we all manifest jealousy in our own ways. but back to edan-that’s EDAN, not EDEN, as in, the garden of paradise, but the aural coincidence is still of note. he was volunteering some love advice when his own situation was in shambles, as he had recently been to the bronx and met the woman, a latina muslim, that he wanted to build a tribe with. as a muslim, he rationalized, he could have up to three wives. but his confidence petered off with his voice as even he knew that this probably wouldn’t fly. we all bend the rules in our own way, but there’s always evidence. we can change its form or alter its course, but there will always be proof- somehow. and how must we trust those who we threaten, or are threatened by those we trust to utter such a vulnerable command-not just burn, nor just read, but burn after reading. we never know what will happen, as we all interpret instructions our own way.

i’m totally in love with this and am proud that i brought it all together in 20 minutes or so. woot.

libraries lately: yorkville, annette street, college/shaw, riverdale, runnymede
listening to: joey badass, recent prince (surprisingly love), chris brown x tyga (meh)
restos lately: le petit dejeuner, hanoi 3 seasons
coffee shops lately: gloria, reunion, novo (kensington), fool, redline
coffee shops left on ICP: 22
lingots: 5443
holds left: 37
bookshops lately: another story for vivek shrya’s launch of even this page is white
shoutout to lovely: toronto’s first post office
concert attending right now: omar/ivana santilli/glen lewis