“Michael Jordan: The Life” by Roland Lazenby

As a avid fan of sports and non-fiction literature, I have read about give or take seven sports biographies/autobiographies in my lifetime, three of them about my favorite athlete and role model of all-time, Michael Jordan.

But the fourth one I just completed is nothing like the other three nor is it like any book I have ever read, it’s the best work of literature I have EVER laid my eyes on.

“Michael Jordan: The Life”, by Roland Lazenby epitomizes greatness in the sense of great literature thanks to excellent writing by Lazenby, as well as the subject matter being Michael Jordan, who is not only the greatest basketball player ever, but one of the greatest athletes ever.

Jordan’s career was beyond fascinating, it was magically mysterious. Everything about him, his athletic prowess, his personal life, his psychological mentality, his marketing influence, his drive, everything just puts me in awe because there’s not just one aspect that makes him great, there’s a multitude.

IMG_0214aEach of those aspects plus every little detail about Jordan’s life is mentioned in this book, and as mentioned earlier, if you’re a fan of either Jordan, NBA or literature this is a must read. There are countless books on Jordan each detailing various aspects of his life, and one of the great aspects about “Michael Jordan: The Life” is that the context of this book is a combination of every other Jordan book plus more. You also not only learn about Jordan’s life, but learn more about the history of the NBA and Chicago Bulls as well.

Lazenby provides a detailed perspective and accurate honest insight about Jordan that you’ve never seen before through the media or all the other Jordan books and narratives. While Lazenby doesn’t have all the answers to the popular mysteries and conspiracies related to Jordan’s career, such as the flu game, his father’s death, his gambling issues, the questions of whether he decided to play baseball or if then NBA commissioner David Stern secretly wanted him out of the NBA, just everything you ever wondered about Jordan’s career, Lazenby covers by using anecdotes and facts, which allows us to draw our own clues.

Lazenby begins this journey by taking us to Cape Fear River in Pender County, North Carolina 72 years before Jordan was born, where he narrates the birth and life of Jordan’s great-grandfather Dawson Hand, detailing Jordan’s ancestral life and how they shaped Jordan’s life. Then slowly we get to Jordan’s parents’ lives and the birth of Jordan’s siblings Deloris and James before transitioning to Jordan’s birth in Brooklyn.

IMG_0142My personal favorite section of the book has to do with Michael’s genuine passion for visiting ill children who had a last wish and doing everything and anything he can possibly do in his power to make them happy. What’s inspiring about this is Jordan wished to keep all this hidden from the public.

Its a humbling and a cool chilling feeling knowing that I am one of those kids who Jordan reached out to knowing how big of a fan I was of his when I was ill and still to this day he is one of my biggest role models.

I was also really interested on the sections I did not know about Michael, such as his Public Relations Nike trip to Europe in Summer of

IMG_02131990 as well as the chapter about Jordan’s father’s murder. Jordan was caught up in a couple of controversies in the Summer of 1990. The first one was in relation to Nike’s PR spat with Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH and the other was a racially charged controversy where he was asked to endorse the campaign of Harvey Grant, as Lazenby states, Grant was an African American Democrat who was trying to pry the hardline conservative Jesse Helms out of his US Senate seat representing North Carolina.

Even though Michael didn’t want to go on the trip, Sonny Vaccaro, the Godfather of Nike at the time, was one person Jordan listened to and he was able to convince Jordan on going on the trip. The most intriguing part for me about this whole trip was how Lazenby lays out IMG_0212and describes the trip.

This was my first time reading Lazenby’s work, but most certainly won’t be the last. He has written about 60 sports non-fiction books, which most consist of basketball and football. Three of those include books on Jordan, with the most recent being “Michael Jordan: The Life.” Lazenby received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Military Institute and his master’s degree from Hollins University. Lazenby has also taught various classes at Virginia Tech University and Radford University.

Lazenby has covered Jordan since the early 90s and has shown an interest in him since his early playing days.

“Michael Jordan saved my life once,” Lazenby. “It was during the 1995 playoffs, Chicago vs. Charlotte, after a practice at the arena in Charlotte. He was walking out of the building with a group of reporters following. Walking backwards, I was leading the pack, with my tape recorder in his face, interviewing as we walked. I was a foot from walking off the loading dock at the back of the arena, about a 10 foot fall onto concrete, when he reached out and grabbed my arm to stop me from going over the edge. So when I say that I have an interest in Jordan, I mean it.”

MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE
Author: Roland Lazenby
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 672

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Song of the week: “The World’s Greatest” dedicated to all graduates

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The reason I chose this song for this week is because during the week, many college students are graduating and there is no better emotion and/or feeling running through your mind when you walk across that stage than “I made it! I’m the world’s greatest!”

Congrats to everyone graduating today and this week, including my close family and friends! Yall made it man!!!!

First college football game marks an unbeatable experience

PHOTO: Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, and Joshua Pulumbarit, _____, next to UH Legacy statue of Shasta the UH mascot at Photo taken at at UH vs. Navy game at TDECU Stadium. Photo courtesy of Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor.

Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, and Joshua Pulumbarit, Lab Technician at Marathon Petroleum Corporation, next to UH Legacy statue of Shasta the UH mascot at Photo taken at at UH vs. Navy game at TDECU Stadium. Photo courtesy of Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor.

This past Thanksgiving weekend I went to my very first college football game, the University of Houston (UH) vs. Navy game at TDECU Stadium. The experience was way more than what I expected at the game. Being able to attend this game at the new stadium, I was able to check off a couple activities off of my bucket list, which includes attending a college football game and checking out different stadiums.

From the moment my friend and I drove in to the parking lot, the atmosphere was buzzing with Cougar pride. There were fans of both teams tailgating everywhere you looked. Not only were they in the parking lot but they were on the grass too. After hanging out in my friend’s GMC Sierra for a little while soaking in the tailgating action, we began our journey to the stadium.

As we reached the stadium, I was in awe as I looked around the giant 40,000-seat stadium. As I was gazing in amazement, I spotted a couple of monumental statues, which included one of legendary UH coach Bill Yeoman and the other was Shasta, the UH mascot. I had to take a picture with both of them, including one with my friend for a memory of our first game at TDECU Stadium.

PHOTO: Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, with statue of Bill Yeoman. Photo by Joshua Pulumbarit, Lab Technician at Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, with statue of Bill Yeoman. Photo by Joshua Pulumbarit, Lab Technician at Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

It was getting close to game time so we circled the stadium to get to the gate. We were finally in our seat when I saw a the most beautiful sights ever at a sporting event: the majority of the stadium was covered in red, (which is the best color ever and also my favorite color) and you have a view of the gorgeous Houston skyline. Even though the majority of the stadium was red, unfortunately the whole left side of our section was filled with Navy fans. Basically we were sitting next to the opponent’s fans, but that didn’t matter because the home crowd obviously overpowered them.

The best part of the game occurred when the “Star Spangled Banner” was being performed followed by fireworks. This marked the the official beginning of the game and it was kickoff time. Things were underway at TDECU Stadium.

For approximately the next three hours I was witnessing an incredible college football game. From elusive running to incredible catches to trick plays and an electric atmosphere, this game had everything.

Navy was led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who holds the record for FBS all-

PHOTO: Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, with UH Legacy statue of Shasta, the UH mascot. Photo by Joshua Pulumbarit, Lab Technician at Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

Raj Sheth, The Signal Assistant Editor, with UH Legacy statue of Shasta, the UH mascot. Photo by Joshua Pulumbarit, Lab Technician at Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

time rushing touchdowns with 83 and counting. I heard he was fast and he could run, but before this game, I had never seen a Navy game so I had never watched Reynolds play. Man, I was amazed! From the first play that Navy ran in the game, it was a play-action fake with Reynolds running for 52-yards. That was about the only explosive play on the ground for Reynolds because the rest of the game Tom Herman’s crew held him in check. Reynolds did manage to throw for 312-yards and a score a touchdown as well as rush for 84-yards with a four-yard touchdown. UH’s electric offense with Greg Ward Jr. under center was too much for Navy to handle as the Coogs scored 52 points and won by a margin of three touchdowns.

The best play of the day, and arguably a top play of the season for the Cougars, came from receiver Demarcus Ayers who made a SICK one-handed, leaping 62-yard touchdown catch. You can even say he “Nuk’d” it.

The halftime performance by the Cougar Marching Band did not disappoint as well as they performed Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” and also formed a peace sign on the field. The performance of “Born In The USA” was perfect timing because on the way to and from the game my friend and I listened to the entire album “Born In The U.S.A.” without having any idea they were going to perform that song.

PHOTO: UH Cougar Marching Band performs Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." during halftime of UH vs. Navy. Photo by The Signal Assistant Editor Raj Sheth.

UH Cougar Marching Band performs Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” during halftime of UH vs. Navy. Photo by The Signal Assistant Editor Raj Sheth.

The only aspects I wish were different about this game were the weather. I wish it was nicer instead of it being cloudy and gloomy. Also I wish I would have been at my seat during the moment of silence for legendary Cougar Head Basketball Coach Guy V. Lewis, who passed away on Thanksgiving at the age of 93.

 

 

Overall, my first college football game experience was more than a success. It was as usual, another sporting event I won’t forget.

 

Dwight Howard responds to reports about him being unhappy in Houston

On Tuesday, Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) reported that Houston Rockets Center Dwight Howard was unhappy with his role of being second fiddle to alpha dog James Harden and he predicted Howard would be traded to the Miami Heat for Center Hassan Whiteside. Rockets fans immediately panicked and asked me if this was true.

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Not reading or hearing about the report at the time, I told a couple people my opinion that the report is false.

Around the same time I found out about the report, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweeted there is nothing to speculation linking Whiteside to Dwight Howard or DeMarcus Cousins.

During the post game interview session after the Rockets 107-97 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Howard was asked about the report. His response?

“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything,” Howard said. “People make up lies and rumors. That’s never been my focus. I’m trying to get these guys to play better and get myself to play better.”

 

“People are going to say what they got to say to get a story out. People are always going to come up with some rumor and lies. That’s what it is. I can’t focus on that. And I don’t want my teammates to focus on that.”

So, here’s your answer Rockets fans, from the man himself. Now whether you want him traded or not, or believe if he will be traded, that’s a whole different discussion.

But for now, we know one thing (as we all should’ve known), Dwight Howard is not unhappy with his role or his teammates.

2015 NFL playoff-clinching scenarios

Here are your 2015 NFL playoff-clinching scenarios heading in to week 17:

AFC:

SEED                 TEAM                                DIVISION        RECORD
1.                        New England                        East                 12-3
2.                        Denver                                 West                11-4
3.                        Cincinnati                             North                11-4
4.                        Houston                               South                8-7
5.                        Kansas City                         West                 10-5
6.                        N.Y. Jets                             East                   10-5

STILL ALIVE:
7.                      Pittsburgh                             North                 9-6
10.                    Indianapolis                          South                7-8

ELIMINATED:
8.                     Oakland                                West                 7-8
9.                     Buffalo                                   East                  7-8
11.                  Jacksonville                           South                5-10
12.                  Miami                                      East                  5-10
13.                  Baltimore                                North                5-10
14.                 San Diego                             West                 4-11
15.                  Cleveland                              North                3-12
16.                  Tennessee                           South                 3-12

CLINCHED:

New England Patriots: AFC East + first-round bye
Cincinnati Bengals: AFC North
Denver Broncos: Playoff berth
Kansas City: Playoff berth

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1. NE win or tie OR
2. DEN loss or tie

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers

Denver clinches AFC West division with:

1. DEN win or tie OR
2. KC loss or tie

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:

1. CIN win OR
2. DEN tie + CIN loss or tie OR
3. KC loss or tie + CIN loss

Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1. DEN win + NE loss

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with:

1. CIN win + DEN loss or tie OR
2. CIN tie + DEN loss OR
3. DEN loss + KC win

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders

Kansas City clinches AFC West division with:

1. KC win + DEN loss

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

New York Jets clinch a playoff berth with:

1. NYJ win or tie OR
2. PIT loss or tie

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:

1. PIT win + NYJ loss

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston clinches AFC South division with:

1. HOU win or tie OR
2. IND loss or tie OR
3. HOU clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over IND or clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over IND

Houston clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over IND if one of the following teams wins or ties: CIN, NE, NO, NYJ, SD.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans

Indianapolis clinches AFC South division with:

1. IND win + HOU loss + IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU.

IND ties HOU in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU if BOTH of the following occurs:

1. All of the following teams win: ATL, BAL, BUF, DEN, MIA
2. OAK win or tie + PIT win or tie as long as both teams don’t tie

NFC

SEED                 TEAM                                DIVISION        RECORD
1.                         Carolina                            South                   14-1
2.                         Arizona                             West                    13-2
3.                         Green Bay                        North                    10-5
4.                         Washington                      East                      8-7
5.                         Minnesota                        North                     10-5
6.                         Seattle                             West                      9-6

ELIMINATED:
7.                        Atlanta                         South                      8-7  
8.                        St. Louis                       West                      7-8
9.                        Detroit                           North                      6-9
10.                      Tampa Bay                   South                      6-9
11.                      New Orleans               South                       6-9
12.                      Chicago                      North                        6-9
13.                      Philadelphia                East                          6-9
14.                      N.Y. Giants                 East                         6-9
15.                     San Francisco             West                        4-11
16.                     Dallas                          East                          4-11

CLINCHED:

Carolina Panthers: NFC South + first-round bye
Arizona Cardinals: NFC West + first-round bye
Green Bay: playoff berth
Seattle: playoff berth
Minnesota: playoff berth

Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Bucs

Carolina clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with

1. CAR win or tie OR
2. ARI loss or tie

Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks

Arizona clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1. ARI win + CAR loss

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Green Bay clinches NFC North division with:

1. GB win or tie

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

Minnesota clinches NFC North division with:

1. MIN win

*information obtained from ESPN and CBS Sports

ROOT SPORTS announces expansion to broadcast Rockets games

On Wednesday, Houston Rockets fans residing across Central and Southwest Texas regions received exciting news as ROOT SPORTS announced a 200,000 household expansion, which are now in the Houston Rockets TV Broadcast Territory and will be able to receive Rockets coverage.

With permission from the NBA, ROOT SPORTS will now be able to make Rockets games available to 400 additional ZIP codes in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Rockets fans in the Austin, San Antonio, Laredo, Waco-Temple-Bryan, Shreveport, Corpus Christi, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and San Angelo areas will now be able to watch the games.

Northern areas that will now be able to broadcast games include Austin suburbs, Round Rock, Georgetown, Pflugerville, Temple, Belton, Killeen, Manor, Bastrop, Leander, Del Rio, Gatesville, Copperas Cove, Lampasas, Salado, Lorena, McGregor, Marlin, Taylor, Mason, Jarrell and San Saba.

For a complete list of ZIP codes that now have Rockets coverage available through ROOT SPORTS, visit http://www.rootsports.com/RocketsTerritory/

ROOT SPORTS is currently available on DIRECTV, AT&T U-Verse, XFINITY and other cable providers. For complete channel listings, visit http://southwest.rootsports.com/alternate-channel-listings/.