Every-Thing Sports

Processing A Tragedy

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There are moments in which most people will never forget where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was waking up from a nap in my man cave because my watch and phone started buzzing. There are times in which you wish things weren't real. This was definitely one of them. My good friend ET texted me and our other good friend Chris on our group message. I saw their names and thought it was about his newborn. When I opened my phone, my heart dropped. I immediately searched for a credible news source to report this was a hoax. Alas, it was real. Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

The Immediate Pain

The first thing I did was pray for his wife Vanessa and their three daughters. I got a text asking me to write something for the website on Kobe's death from Fred and jumped on it. While finding the words to write, I saw that his daughter Gianna and seven others were on the helicopter as well. I literally broke into tears. Gianna was 13 years old. My daughter is the same age. We also have a tight bond over common interests, mainly food/cooking and sports. I couldn't imagine the pain those families were going through. Then I thought about it. I've been here before when my little brother was murdered and my younger cousin died in a motorcycle accident. All that pain of suddenly losing someone so integral to the fabric of your life. I broke down again.

Trying To Understand

After I posted the article, I noticed my kids had found out. They were sad. They weren't distraught, but I could tell it dampered their spirits. We were all trying to understand how? Why? Was this even real? It was very real, and it hurt. I kept looking at my daughter thinking what if? What if that was her and I when we were on the road to go to WrestleMania? What if that was us driving to the store? What if we suddenly passed away in a tragic accident doing something we loved so much? I had to stop. So I started vacuuming the house and cooking. I was going to drive myself crazy.

Reality Sinks In

The Grammy's were on, so was WWE's Royal Rumble. My daughter loves awards shows and pro wrestling. We often will watch both when a pay per view is on at the same time. My two tv setup in my man cave is as much for my ADD as it is for bonding with my kids and not losing sight of any games that may be on. Sitting with her as she talks about the outfits and performances of the Grammy's, as well as the matches at the Rumble was humbling. I thought about Kobe trying to comfort his daughter in those final moments. I also thought about his three daughters and his wife who'll never have the moments I was having. The fact that my son would ask his sister who's performing and who's winning the matches knowing Gianna would never have those moments with her sisters hurt. Knowing those other families would never spend another lazy Sunday after noon with their loved one hurt more.

Coming To Grips

I think the pain everyone is experiencing comes from the kind of person Kobe had become. We saw him as a brash phenom that grew into an NBA superstar who fell from grace but managed to repair his image and retire a beloved hero. There were generations of fans who were deeply hurt by his passing. My mom called to see what I was thinking. She told my my grandfather was in disbelief. My kids were doing okay, but were clearly hurt. My cousin Eric couldn't concentrate while he was at work. My sister in law Taylor was shaken up. My good friend Dedrick was as shocked and shaken up as I was. I'm talking about people aged from their 80's to their teens were all hurt on some level. It was like we lost a family member because we got to know so much about Kobebeing that he came along in the age of the internet and grew to stardom at the advent of social media.

We all process gthings differently. I tend to deal with grief in my own way. This time was different. I needed to write this to get some things out and help myself and others process things. It still hurts. I fight back tears looking at the tributes, videos, pics, and memorials. Whiel Kobe and Gianna were public figures, let's not forget the others who lost their lives. There are multiple families grieving over this tragedy. I hurt for them too because I know what it's like to wake up one day and know that loved one was suddenly taken away never to come back. It's been over 20 years for me and I still can't sleep. Still have bouts of simply not feeling up to putting in any effort towards anything productive. Still fight random fits of anger and anti-social feelings. What keeps me going? Knowing they would want us to keep living. Kobe would always talk about the effort it took to succeed. I think he'd want us to kick each day's ass. My little brother Chris and my younger cousin Vincent were both taken from us way too soon. They both lived life to the fullest everyday. I'm sure they'd agree with Kobe's thought process of doing whatever it takes to make your dreams come true and live life. Give your loved ones their flowers while you can because you may not get that opportunity again. Rest in peace Kobe. Tell Chris and Vincent I love them.

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As is our annual tradition at the NBA all-star break, Couch Slouch looks ahead to the remainder of the season – laced with remarkable perspicacity* – at no additional cost to you, the reader.

Yes, I will provide the acumen of subscription-based The Athletic and the access of pricey NBA League Pass…ALL FOR FREE.

Let's do it!

It used to be, "NBA Action, It's FANtastic." Now it's, "NBA Action, Bombs Away!" For much of NBA history, a basket was worth two points. In 1979, they decided that some baskets – from longer distances – would be three points. Then more recently, some analytic smart alecks figured out that three-point baskets were worth one more point than two-point baskets, so let's just make three-point baskets.

The game has changed.

The Milwaukee Bucks' 7-foot center, Brook Lopez, has taken more three-point shots this season (242) than two-point shots (234). The Dallas Mavericks' Kristaps Porzingis, at 7-foot-3, is the tallest man on the floor, yet he has taken almost as many three-pointers (277) as two-pointers (362).

We have evolved from those Pistons'-Bad-Boys, Pat-Riley-with-the-Knicks 88-85 slugfests of the late 1980s and early '90s to the current-day 128-126 playground skirmishes. The games have gone from rugby matches to the Ice Capades.

The fast-break layup has morphed into the fast-break 23-footer.

There is feasibly a middle ground between 88-85 and 128-126; I don't know what that exact number would be, but I always vote for the middle ground.

Three cheers for Ben Simmons, the three-ball contrarian. The multi-skilled Philadelphia 76ers' point guard will not do what everyone wants him to do – take three-point shots. You know how some kids have a mental block about math? Simmons has a mental block about three-pointers.

In his first two NBA seasons, Simmons did not make a three-pointer, attempting only 17 of them. This season he is two-for-six from beyond the arc.

You be you, Ben, two points at a time.

I stand with Simmons: Years ago, newspaper editors insisted I write longer articles with bigger words. No way, I told them – I write short and I use one-syllable words. And I'm still here.

(* "Perspicacity" is a rare exception.)

If it were up to Gregg Popovich, no one would ever take a 25-foot shot. One of the NBA's greatest coaches ever and one of the most severe critics of three-ball, Popovich is in danger of having two remarkable streaks end: In 22 full seasons of helming the San Antonio Spurs, he has never had a losing record and never missed the postseason.

"I've hated the three for 20 years," Popovich said in 2018. At the moment the Spurs are 28th out of 30 NBA teams in three-point shots made and 29th in three-pointers attempted.

The Spurs are 23-31 – five games out of a playoff spot – and their best chance might be to petition the league for transfer into the Eastern Conference.

As usual, the Eastern Conference should be quarantined. The 19-38 Detroit Pistons have a better chance of making the East playoffs than the 33-22 Oklahoma Thunder and 33-22 Dallas Mavericks have of earning home-court advantage in the West playoffs.

Then again, the Pistons also have a better chance of making the playoffs than Ben Simmons does of ever making another three-point shot.

The Golden State Warriors have gone from penthouse to outhouse, three points at a time. Many folks – I am not among them – are delighted that the Warriors, after five straight NBA Finals appearances with consecutive seasons of 67-15, 73-9, 67-15, 58-24 and 57-25, currently have an NBA-worst 12-43 record.

Enjoy it while you can.

Next season, aside from a core of young talent and the likely No. 1 overall pick in the draft, the Warriors will also have all-star Draymond Green, plus the return of the NBA's greatest three-point-shooting back court ever, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Zion Williamson is the real deal. But he's only taking one three-pointer per game. DO THE MATH, son: 3 > 2.

Ask The Slouch - Special Houston Astros Edition (again)

Q. Is it true that Astros owner Jim Crane has hired Rudy Giuliani to visit Ukraine in search of proof that Hunter Biden was the mastermind behind the sign-stealing fiasco? (Rick LaDuca; Ashburn, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. If the Astros ever hire Bill Belichick and Tom Brady as manager and starting pitcher, respectively, will Rob Manfred preemptively suspend them as repeat cheaters? (Tom Walker; Colonie, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. When MLB adds trash cans to its merchandise list, will they only be available with the Astros logo or will they include all teams with former Astros players/coaches? (David Roberts; Fairfax, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. How much trouble is Carlos Beltran's grandmother in for not providing proper guidance? (Ron Anderson; Lynnwood, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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