Rivers’ Rant: Bubba-Chuck, Earl & Me. Me and the boy A.I. got more in common than just ballin’ and rhymin’

AIDMX

I’m back like a rebel causing trouble, an assassin kicking ass on the double. And there’s not a muthafucka alive that’s gonna stop me, so fuck you and your punk ass posse.

Basketball and hip-hop go together like PB&J. No player/artist comparison displays that better than the astounding careers of Allen Iverson and DMX.

You’ve probably never thought about how similar the two are.

  • Both are great among stiff competition
  • Careers blew up in 1998
  • Both could’ve been so much more of not for personal demons

nas quote

In the 90’s hip-hop and basketball had finally surpassed their older counterparts like rock, football and baseball, in the cool department with the teen demographic. Hip-hop was our religion and the court was church. The Source and SLAM magazines were holy books. You were shunned if you didn’t know who was on the McDonald’s all-star team or the latest hip hop quotable.

I first heard DMX on the underground classic ‘Time’s Up’ by Mic Geronimo. He was featured on the song along with Jay Z and Ja Rule. Of course it was a banger, but I didn’t hear anything special in him.

When 2Pac and Biggie were tragically taken away it left a giant hole in the game. A lot of fans were like ‘OH SHIT, WHAT WE GONE DO NOW?!’ Sure things survived, but the only people moving units was Em, Pimp Juice and Jay. Dope as they may be, they just didn’t have the ruggedness or sincerity of 2Pac. They could make hits just nothing that touched the soul.

There were more Pac pretenders than contenders. Take ya pick from Lil Zane to Lil Wayne with more bandanas than shirts and more tattoos than talent. Then there was X.

‘Stay out dark/ Cause if I catch you when the sun is down/ run it clown…’

4, 3, 2, 1 came with four lyrical titans, Red and Mef, Canibus, LL and DARK MAN X. Everybody on that song was fire. It’s probably better known for the Canibus and LL beef, ok it’s only known for that, but for most people that was their first time hearing DMX. The others spoke about their skills and metaphorically hurting you, but not X, he said he was gonna rob you if he saw you once it got dark and you believed him. He went on to release two highly aggressive singles that had everybody barking.

x

Allen Iverson came in like a whirlwind breaking the ankles of guards and disrespectfully dunking on centers. Like X he was featured on a hood classic that was Georgetown University with the great John Thompson and the not so great Othello Harrington. At the time Othello was the highest rated high school player of all time and was recruited to be the next great big man from Georgetown, but ended up being just alright. Harrington had a nice left hand, but came to the Rockets and wasn’t shit, but I digress. The Hoyas had recently added a kente cloth-like pattern to the jerseys and by the power of Alonzo Mourning they were cool again.

Allen Iverson was the first guard to be given the green light and boy did he use it. At first he played to the beat of Elder Thompson’s drum then in year three… RELEASE THE KRAKEN! The loss to North Carolina must’ve made John take it to streets and let little Allen takeover. When they got to the dance Hoyas were the sexy pick to win it all. They spanked the first round opponent, but it was their second round foe, The Texas Tech Red Raiders, where it got personal.

I’ve been posterized once in my life and it was by Gracen Avril, an all American McDonald all-star. You don’t know the amount of joy I felt as Bubba Chuck just destroyed him and the Red Raiders. Every time he scored on him it felt like I scored. The most memorable moment was in the final minutes of the game. The camera panned to the sideline and caught none other than Gracen Avril crying like a baby. I know I’m being Petty Riley, but it was at that very moment Iverson became my favorite player.

chuck in philly

It wasn’t until 1998 when these two guys really took over. Allen Iverson fresh off shaking the shit out of Jordan,  won the first of his three straight scoring titles and made cornrows and tattoos a prerequisite for urban basketballers. DMX dropped his first of three platinum records with two in ‘98 alone becoming the first hip hop artist to do so. It looked as if both guys were primed to take over the game only to be out shined by their more business minded monsters with clear cut plans for greatness, Kobe and Jay Z.

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL HAVE RUINED MY LIFE…

Addiction: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)
: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something.

Both of these greats suffered tremendous losses and setbacks because of addiction. I would be here all day trying to document and recount each crazy ass headline involving these two but fuck it. DMX once slept under a table at a charity event for underprivileged kids due to “exhaustion” and no matter what Bubba-Chuck momma said the rumors of him being drunk with a pistol dragging his woman, who may or may not had on clothes, down the street never quite went away.

x evolution

For all the money they made they both were constantly dogged by rumors of being broke and close to rock bottom, but who knows? We talking about some game dogs that we loved for their pride, the giant size chips on their shoulders and the size of the fight in them. It’s been said that Allen has a mean nest egg he has to live to 65 before he can touch. He’s also doing something with Ice Cube so there is hope yet. DMX on the other hand looks pretty bad. He’s become the crackhead uncle of hip-hop. I have faith that he’ll come around and shock us with that Rudolph the red nose reindeer Christmas album. As for Gracen Avril. He’s a productive member of society and a great father. Currently training his young son to dunk on some words writing ass nigga like me.

Peace and harmony, Rivers

Is the Texans OL as bad as everyone is saying?

     So we finally get the QB this town has needed for 15 years. How do we keep another David Carr situation from happening. Say what you will about Osweiler, and I’m as glad to see him gone as the next guy, but he never stood a chance behind that OL last season. No QB did. Maybe if you just signed Carlen Isles, and went 100% Wildcat. Carlen IslesIs the NFL ready to bring back the veer? No. So, we gotta resolve the OL issues, to give Miller a better shot, and give Watson (or Savage, or Weeden, that’s another discussion entirely, but I personally am 100% Watson from day one) time to run an offense.

     Which brings us to the meat of the issue; Who is the starting 5 OL for the Houston Texans on opening day? This picture is easiest told by who ISN’T going to be there. Starting RT Derek Newton. newton injury

This hurts doubly since he’s basically Duane Brown’s backup / replacement. Let’s be real… is Duane Brown still Duane Brown? He’d better be. But there’s now a giant vacancy at RT that will need to be addressed. It appears that the Texans are going to be counting on Journeyman tackle Breno Giacomini, formerly of the Jets, Seahawks, and Patriots. He seems fairly solid, if he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. At least it’s a body to fill the hole…

Let’s keep going. Nick Martin? Greg Mancz? There must not be a lot of confidence in either if they took Kyle Fuller from Baylor. Although, rumor has it he can play Guard too, he’s got the size for it. He has the long and lean build, with longer arms that suits the Pats / BoB offense. But 7th rounders aren’t going to step in and compete opening day. I guess you gotta consider C to be either Martin or Mancz, and we won’t know all that soon. But either way, that’s not a position of strength at this point. And a new QB is going to need consistency from the Center position. This is an issue they’re going to have to coach their way out of. Let’s move on to guard. Jeff Allen, they’ve put the money in him. Too bad his run blocking is atrocious. And Sua Filo, isn’t much better. I want to see these guys grow and solidify. I’d like to think that the work is already done from a personnel perspective. But it’s not.

Is there any legit feeling that the second unit has a shot yet? Can Kendall Lamm fill that vacancy at Tackle? Will rookie Julie’n Davenport be the day 1 starter? Julie'N Davenport     Is either of them the short term, or long term answer? Seems like the front office is going with yes. And there may be a bit of a history of that. Let’s take a look back at 2012. The Texans weren’t too bad that year, and the right side of the line was Ben Jones and Derek Newton. I miss Chris Meyers too guys. But I’m starting to think that maybe things aren’t as bleak as last year might have portrayed. There’s a bit of a fallacy in looking too focused at a unit in strictly names and numbers. These guys, whoever they are, are going to need to function as a unit, more than anything else. That’s where I see the guts of the issue. It’s easy to say the OL played bad, or graded out poorly. Any fool can see that. But HOW? That’s where the coaching challenge is going to come in. We all like to play fantasy GM and hire and fire guys hypothetically all the time. But here’s a dose of reality. We’ve got the guys that we’ve got, and this is what has to make a team. There’s a good OL in there somewhere.

My answer is this. Mike Devlin, you’re on the hot seat. Come strong, or else. It may not be an ideal group of guys. And there’s certainly some issues to overcome. But there’s not really any big time help in the veteran free agent market, and I can’t imagine they’re going to be making any more trades, unless they’re getting draft picks back for 2018. You got who you got. One aging, solid LT, and a lot of question marks. The plus side is, you’ve got some pretty solid blocking TE’s, and a fullback to help out. And let’s be real, D’Onta Foreman was a best available pick, more than intentional. Maybe that shoulda been an OT. But that’s not how Rick Smith saw it, and I think in a longer term view, he’s probably right. Besides, Foreman can lay down a block too. And he was almost 20 pounds leaner at combine than playing weight. This is a man to be taken seriously. I’m not in the habit of giving Rick Smith credit. I’m also probably still just giddy that we got Deshaun Watson. But I’m really pretty happy with day 2 of the draft from Rick Smith too. It says that he’s confident that Mike Devlin can solve the OL puzzle this year. In the end, time will tell. Mike Devlin, you’re on the clock.

H-Town Wolverine

Introducing our newest Contributor…H-Town Wolverine

What’s the good word young World?  It’s ya boy 12 and I wanna introduce and welcome an old friend of mine to the Corner store and our fam(you the readers).  He goes by the name of the H-Town Wolverine and he’ll be providing articles from his unique perspective, just like all of the rest of the Corner Store contributors.  I asked him to shoot me few points about himself that I can pass along to the crew(you the readers), and this is what he sent me…

  • 39 year old white male, network engineer by day, rabid sports fan by night. Former Baseball Player, Former Student Trainer, Jackhammer of all trades, and one stubborn bastard…
  • – Teams –

o Any and ALL things Michigan Wolverines

o Big Ten Conference

o Houston Astros

o Houston Texans

o Houston Rockets

o Houston Dynamo

o Can we get a Hockey Franchise in Houston already?

  • – Favorite Quotes:

o “I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t celebrate major holidays. I’m a jackhammer. “- Jim Harbaugh

o “Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” – Jim Harbaugh

o “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.” – Rudy Tomjanovich

o “1, 2, 3, NUT CHECK!!!” -Fab Five

Who U Got In The All Time NFL Draft’s 1st Round?

Greetings to my young world. As always ya boy 12 is loitering at The Corner Store and I’m knocking down a cold craft brew. Had some time to kill and I guess I haven’t got the draft out of my system so I decided to put together the 1st round of an all-time NFL draft. This was off the top of my dome so there are some all-time greats that I didn’t put on here. Also I wanted to pick some badasses from different eras.

What really intrigues me is attempting to guess who will get left out of the 1st round.  So pick your top 32. If u don’t have the time to put them in order then pick who doesn’t get picked in the 1st. If you really got time then I’d like to see you pretend that these players are coming out of college and entering the 2017 draft.  Use this year’s post trades team order and pick for each team in the first. Let me see what you come up with. Here are the players.

Bo Jackson
Prime
Barry Sanders
Jim Brown
Tom Brady
John Elway
Joe Montana
Julius Peppers
Reggie White
Bruce Smith
JJ Watt
Jerry Rice
Randy Moss
Anthony Muñoz
Orlando Pace
Willie Roaf
Lawrence Taylor
Ray Lewis
Dick Butkus
Emmit Smith
Brett Favre
Warren Moon
Flozel Adams
Sean Taylor
Ed Reed
Charles Woodson
Andre Johnson
Mean Joe Green
Dan Marino
Randall Cunningham
Bruce Mathews
Peyton Manning
Ronnie Lott
Earl Campbell
Darell Revis
Sweetness
Terell Owens
John Riggins
Mike Singletary

I know I butchered some of the names but F It. I got a buzz and don’t feel like googling their names. U know which I’m talking about.

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Does The Sports Media Intentionally Promote The Narrative of The Absentee Black Father?

Young World, Young World, oh my Young World!  I’m greeting you from my favorite place on Planet Earth, The Corner Store.  I feel like the God YHWH of the Bible when it was written that he rested after putting in all of that work.  I’ve been digging in deep in regards to taking in some NFL draft coverage over the last week.  The draft was held in Philly, Pa from April 27-29 and as usual I treated it like a three day vacation from the real world cuz I can do that.

My primary mission was to see who my beloved Houston Texans were gonna add to the mix in order to help us get over the hump(Patriots) and stay competitive for the foreseeable future.  I must say that I was pretty krunk about the additions of Former Clemson QB Deshaun “National Champ” Watson in the 1st round and the 2,000 yard rusher from the University of Hook’em Horns(Texas), and Houston/Galveston area(Texas-City) native D’onta Foreman.  I didn’t know much about the other picks, but I watched their highlights and looked over the player profiles provided by two of my most trusted draft resources in Lance Zierlein and Jayson Braddock.

deshaun-watson1

d'onta

It would seem that we Texans fans have a lot to look forward to.  I believe with the acquisition of Watson, somebody has finally put a stopper at the base of our proverbial revolving door at the quarterback position.  All I have to say about that, and I’m sure that many a Texans fan will agree, is “Bout damn time!  This young man is going to do some special things in the NFL and I’m glad that he’s going to be doing it for my city’s franchise.

Many of you may have heard about Watson’s upbringing and it’s not much different than plenty of other young men that were drafted by the professional sports leagues in the US.  He was raised by a single mother in a rough area, but in contrast from most other stories, his family was blessed to receive a home that was presented to them by former NFL and Florida St Seminole(Go Noles) running back Warrick Dunn.

I sat through most of the draft and one story line became all too familiar.  Many of these young men, especially the black ones, didn’t have their father’s in their lives.  I’m not going to go into all of the social commentary on why I believe that is, and it’s nothing new since we hear the same narrative every draft season, but for whatever reason it just touched me enough this time around that I wanted to speak on it.

I decided to go at it from a different angle this time.  Today’s media is all about the click and I can’t explain why, but the clickers are drawn to the negative.  Even if it’s a feel good story like Watson’s that tells the tale of a young man that overcame all of the adversity he faced to become a highly coveted target in the 2017 NFL draft, it sometimes seems that the selling point isn’t that they conquered the issue.  It seems to me that sometimes the press wants to sensationalize the issue itself.

I’m actually starting to wonder if the majority of these athletes really did grow up without fathers in their lives or is that the only story line that the mic holders want put out?  It’s like they seek out the brothers that came from a broken home so that they can spin that angle.  I’m not saying that they make up these stories, or that they twist the words of the athletes in question, but I just feel like they seek out the hardship stories so that they can have a better story to report.

It may seem innocent, but if that’s all that, or most of what they are reporting then it leaves the viewing audience believing that growing up without a father is just part of being an African American.  Same way as when I was growing up, I thought everyone in Africa looked like the starving children in Ethiopia on those commercials who were being swarmed by flies and obviously suffering from malnutrition because that’s all I saw on TV about Africa.  That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve met dozens of Ethiopians and none of them look or have lived like that. I’ve met native born Africans from different parts of the continent and none of them have ever been starving like those commercials led me to believe.  True there are people starving in certain parts of Africa, but there are people starving in the 3rd Ward of Houston, Tx.  No one can paint the entire country of America as a nation of starving people because there is a pocket of the population that can’t enjoy a meal at their leisure.

I mean, I haven’t heard a lot about the quarterback that was selected by the Chiefs two slots before Watson’s name was called by my Texans(still krunk), Patrick Mahomes II.  He was raised by a black father who happened to be a professional baseball pitcher.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been articles written about Mahomes II hanging at the major league parks with his pops and there will continue to be mentions of it. I even found a quote from Kansascity.com about some jewels that the elder Mahomes dropped on his namesake.

“He gives me advice about how he transitioned into becoming a pro athlete and the work that you actually have to put into it,” Mahomes II said. “Not a lot of people see that when you’re growing up. You don’t get to see that people really have to work hard to become as good as they are. So, for me seeing that as a young age as I’ve grown up, has shown me that I have to work just as hard to get to that level.”

That’s a shining example of a Black father passing vital information onto his son.  All the stories aren’t heartbreaks and headaches.  It may just be me being sensitive, but I don’t see as much eagerness to push out stories of black fathers and sons building the kinds of bonds that result in boys growing into responsible young men.

So I’ll post a few of these positive images just to balance out all of the absentee black father imagery.

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tiger-woods-parents-lg-58497a9b5f9b58dccc9e3443
You probably recognize most of the athletes in these photos, but there’s probably one that you don’t. The black and white picture on the left is Texans wide out Jaelen Strong with his late father “Big” John Rankin.
Here’s an interview from houstontexans.com of the latest Texans 4th round pick Juile’n Davenport.  He spoke about how spending time with his father kept him on the right path.
One of my favorite sports talk radio shows is Sports Talk 790s In The Trenches hosted by former NFL players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu. I’ve heard N.D. speak on occasion about how his father stressed education and staying upright as a man. So I took it upon myself to reach out to brotha Kalu and ask him how his father influenced his direction and how much did it mean to him to have a father in his​ corner; especially during draft time. Here is his response.
“Man, words can’t express how much of an impact my father has had in my life.  Regarding the draft it was huge because it was such an emotional roller coaster.  Though we see so many great black men who only had their mother’s influence, for me I needed that man to teach me daily what it means to be a man through his words and actions.  I see on so many occasions when black men struggle or don’t get “their way” female like tendencies surface.  One minute I’m being told I could go as high as the 3rd round and then the next minute I’m seeing guys I knew I could out play getting their names called before mine.  Though disappointed, I still would just think about how good it was going to feel making a final roster and my dad’s words etched into my brain telling me that if I’m good enough, it won’t matter where I was drafted. Seeing how proud he was when Ray Rhodes of the Philadelphia Eagles called him and asked to speak to his son in the 5th round made all the gassers, Oklahoma drills and Bull in the Rings worth it!”
I appreciate N.D. for bringing the Trenches to the Corner Store for a few ticks and laying it down honestly like that.  Those are the type of stories that rarely see the light of day.
 Lastly I’d like to post a quote from the aforementioned, and pictured, D’onta Foremen talking about the warm moment he and his father shared when they found out that their favorite team, the Houston Texans, had drafted him in round 3 of the 2017 NFL draft.  This quote is also taken from HoustonTexans.com’s lead writer Deepi Sidhu.
“He was just smiling and saying he was so proud of me,” Foreman said. “It was pretty emotional for him, for all of us honestly – for me being drafted was a dream come true – but for me to be able to be a Texan, his favorite team, is crazy. I’m ready to get to work. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great journey.”
Unfortunately there are too many stories of young black children growing up without their fathers.  I’m not interested in making any excuses or psychoanalyzing it at the moment.  I just want to say that we as black men in general have to get on the good foot and stay active in the lives of our children.  I’m absolutely positive that there are thousands of stories of us that take up the necessary time with our children, but it never makes a headline.
I’ll be the first to say that my father, my grandfather, my uncles, my older male cousins, some of my big homies, and some of my OGs played major roles in steering me in the right direction.  My goal is to do the same for my Suns, daughters, nieces, nephews, and the other ‘Lil homies that I come across on a daily basis. I’m certain someone will point out that the picture of Shaq is with his step father Phil so in essence his father wasn’t there either. I beg to differ. His father is the MAN that’s smiling right next to him. I commend a MAN who raises another man’s child when that man isn’t MAN enough to carry out his responsibility.
I’m not Elijah Muhammad or Farrakhan, but I agree when they say that it’s up to us to tighten up our own backstroke.  If there’s no pool in the hood then we need to pool our resources and build a pool.
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