Showing posts with label LL Cool J. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LL Cool J. Show all posts

7/22/10

"Basketball Beyond The Floor"

If you are in pre-school or primary grades, have young nieces or nephews, sons or daughters, are a fan of hip hop or just want a break from heavy reading, today's edition of 'Basketball Beyond the Floor' is for you. As promised, we will be discussing And the Winner Is...by LL. Cool J, Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah and Long Shot - Never too small to dream BIG by NBA All-Star Chris Paul. Most children's books like these for this age level are designed to build the confidence of young athletes, to keep trying and never give up. A pretty standard theme and sometimes over used, so I was a little skeptical doing research on and reading these books. To ensure I covered all angles, I enlisted the help of some 5 or 6 year-olds on my street (age level appropriate to these books). Each came with mixed reviews but my young helpers were able to tell me a quick summary of the plot and main characters so it was clear each book did it's job to communicate their respective themes. Let's dive in.

And the Winner is....By LL. Cool J.

One of the reasons I choose this particular book and the two others we will be discussing today, is they were actually written by the people they claim to be written by. Sometimes, books for this age level with celebrities attached, focus on the star quality before the content. If I was grading LL. Cool J's first attempt at children's literature on my own, I would say he is borderline in this area. However, my young book reviewers had this to say about the hip hop author:

- "Music was good"
- "Liked the pictures"
- "I liked how it said 'I never give up', you shouldn't give up and always keep trying"
- "I didn't like when he (LL. Cool J plays himself to act out both sides) was acting mean"
- "Too fast".

The book came with a CD of LL. Cool J telling the story through rapping. Other than the direction at the beginning to turn to page one, it was hard to follow for someone who can't read because he moves at a brisk pace. But the concept was an interesting attempt by Scholastic Inc. to try something new. This book comes from a "Hip Kid Hop" line of picture books with CD singles. Entertaining for young ones and with an important theme of winning and loosing gracefully - enjoyed fully with some adult assistance.

Queen of the Scene By Queen Latifah

This is another children's book which comes with a CD to supposedly enhance the reading experience. There was no direction and unless you can read and are quick to follow the words, the story is not really absorbed properly by the young reader on their own. After LL. Cool J's fast paced pep talk, I let a 6 year-old who is proficient at reading attempt the book on her own and she found it hard to follow. This is not too say the book isn't worth your time. It totally is - especially for young girls. The illustrations are fantastic and come from the same illustrator as Long Shot, Frank Morrision. On the first page, the main character is flying high off the ground to slam the ball a la Lisa Leslie or LeBron-esqe. I like the way it is written because it shows girls can be confident and talented and stand up for themselves: "So girl, take pride - Even if at first you fall - Keep giving it another try. The Queen in you walks tall". Confident, but not cocky - there's a difference: "If you are standing on the sidelines, 'cause you don't have heart, then get yourself right back in there.." or "In any sandbox I go to - Nobody can be mean". Queen Latifah is involved in many charities that help empower children and be the best they can be. I recommend every young girl own a copy of this book or at least read it.

Long Shot - Never too small to dream BIG by Chris Paul

This is the best book out of the three as far as basketball content goes. Like most kids in the Jordan era, Chris Paul begins the book with his dreams of playing like MJ but laments on his size and wonders how he's going to get past it. I love how he refers to his grandfather as 'Papa Chilly' (the kids in my group did, too) who gives Paul this advice: "...you can't make yourself taller, but you can get faster and stronger...work harder than everyone else out on the court and your size won't matter". I think this is a little better and more realistic advice to give to a young athlete than telling them they can be like MJ. Sure, with hard work and perseverance you can be MJ but what if your height (like with Chris Paul) leaves you with more to work at to get there. There is nothing wrong with telling a child to strive for an A+ or win a basketball game because let's face it, we don't step on a court or go to school with the intention to loose or fail. But as we all know sometimes we have to loose because the other team is better or we tackled a subject we are not familiar with. This book accomplishes this. The message is good for parents and children alike since it shows how family support is important and how cheering rather than applying pressure on our kids is our role at our niece/nephew/grandchild's/child's game. I got the book from the library to read and research for this piece but I ended up buying it for my nephew who is turning one years old soon. Shhhh.

Flick Pick of the Week

James the dinoblogger is going to laugh but the movie I want you to watch this weekend is Space Jam starring Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny (with Billy West as the voice of Bugs) and the rest the Looney Tunes characters. I love this movie not only because of the basketball theme but for the amount of cameos from NBA players and Hollywood personalities. It really grabs the attention of the young viewer with the crazy storyline: MJ leaves basketball to pursue baseball (ironic given he tried that in real life) but he returns to help the Looney Tunes challenge the Nerdlucks. Funny for the adults to watch even if it's at NBA players like Charles Barkley thinking they can act. Very entertaining.

Next Thursday, we will be discussing Don't let the Lipstick Fool You by Lisa Leslie, recently retired from the L.A. Sparks of the WNBA. I am in the middle of it now and already I know I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley much less defend her on the court. I have followed her career from start to finish and even now as I am reading her book, I am learning new things from behind the scenes of her life getting to the WNBA, the Olympics and more. The title will really make you laugh when you read it. Happy reading and see you on Tuesday for another serving of Jiggly Bits.

7/20/10

"Jiggly Bits"

There are many teams in the NBA who are swimming in the pool of free-agency-free-for-all- summer-of-uncertainty. And whether you choose to dive in and make sense of everything with a clear head, you will notice there are a few teams who may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Though some of you may not be a fan of the way some of these decisions have been made, it appears the dust has settled and most are prepared to move on. There are three teams which stand out for me right now: the Utah Jazz; the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. James the Dinoblogger touched on the Matt Barnes 2 year deal with the Raptors worth about 9 million, so let's tap into the teams I just mentioned.

The Bell is ringing in Utah

The Utah Jazz need to get jazzed about something after the departure of free agent Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls. So when Raja Bell signed with the Utah Jazz, two things went through my mind. One, what does Kobe think of this? Two, what about Bell's wrist? Bell's deal with the Jazz is worth 10 million over three years and according to Bell, he got a good deal and he's happy. Someone who may not be happy is Kobe Bryant. He's been reportedly pushing for Raja Bell to join the Lakers believe it or not and I don't blame him. Bell is a solid defender and by him joining the 'Lake Show', that would help Kobe keep the preverbial saying true: keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. These two aren't the best of friends but at least if they were on the same team, Kobe wouldn't have to worry about Bell defending him.

This is where I become a little concerned. Raja Bell has played for 6 different teams and during this time averaged more than 10 points a game. Last season he was with Golden State and Charlotte but only played six games due to his having wrist surgery. While he says he's fully recovered, a strong wrist is imperative to making baskets and being effective. Let's hope two times a charm for the Jazz with Raja Bell because like the Cavs, they don't need anymore drama.

The Sun is rising in Phoenix

The Phoenix Suns are expected to make a huge announcement Tuesday naming the team's new President of Basketball Operations. As I write this, it hasn't been made official but there is wide speculation agent Lon Babby will take on the role. As you may or may not know, he represents Hedo Turkoglu who just signed with Phoenix and formerly represented Josh Childress who also recently signed with Phoenix. Further, he represents the Suns' Grant Hill, San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Boston's Ray Allen. He has a wealth of experience to bring to the job since he's also represented baseball players and was a lawyer for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Redskins of the NFL. This obviously means Duncan and Allen are without representation if Lon Babby takes on the new role in Phoenix since how could he build and represent a team while being looking out for the opposition's interests, too. Steve Kerr stepped down after this season ended for Phoenix to return to being an NBA analyst for TNT. While he says he enjoyed his role as President of Basketball Operations for the Phoenix Suns, he expressed a need to be near family. The Suns is another team who needs to be excited about something after Amare Stoudemire turned down the Suns to sign with the Knicks. I wonder what Steve Nash is thinking about right now......

"Play to your strengths" - George Shrinks

You love watching cartoons, admit it. In a recent interview on NBA TV, Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach, Byron Scott breaks down the elements of his team and how they will come together once the 2010-2011 NBA season starts. I couldn't help but think of the episode of George Shrinks when George takes over his friend's seemingly hopeless hockey team, breaks down their weaknesses and gets them to play to their strengths. Coach Shrinks only got his team to one goal and they ended up loosing but the point remains: when things seem hopeless, break everything down into manageable parts, start rebuilding team confidence and the success will come later. Coach Scott believes JJ Hickson will be the Cavs' staring power forward and may be looking to spread out the team's current experience and talent. He is in the speculation stages right now but also sees Antawn Jamison as being more effective coming off the bench. (Interesting considering he was selected in the first round, fourth overall, of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Raptors. Then remember how Toronto traded him to Golden State for -wait for it- draft rights to Vince Carter and cash before the regular season even started. Some Raptors fans may now say the cash in that deal would have been fine. But I digress).

Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert seems to keeping his "inside words" inside now. In another statement to fans, he says thanks to all the loyal Cavs fans who offered to pay down the debt he owes to the NBA for his comments made concerning LeBron's departure to the Miami Heat. He is going to pay down the fine himself, his says. Really? As if he would take money from fans in the first place. We all know someone like this, "Oh look at me. Feel sorry for me that the big bad NBA gave me a fine for going too far with my comments". Puleeze. I really hope this isn't a case of the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" because I know other owners in the NBA are watching. Look at what the Cavs agreed to for Lebron:

- a sign and trade deal with Miami to acquire the rights to 5 future draft picks and received a traded player exception for LeBron
- Cleveland now owns 2 of Miami's 1st round picks starting in 2013 to 2017 with the Heat's 2012 second round pick from New Orleans AND the future second round pick Miami acquired from Oaklahoma
- Cleveland will also have the right to swap 2012 first round picks with the Heat.

Amazing right? I hope Gilbert is happy now and this episode of 'jumping up and down and stomping our feet to get our way' is behind us. I also hope owners of other NBA teams don't think they are are allowed to play like that either.


Basketball Beyond the Floor

Remember to join me on the DNB this Thursday when we will be dedicating a special edition of "Basketball Beyond on the Floor" to Kid Raptor and all young fans of the NBA and the game of basketball. We will be discussing works from Chris Paul of the NBA, Queen Latifah and LL. Cool J. Happy reading and see you on Thursday.