So y'all really don't want to watch Cavs v. Warriors Part IV, huh? I know everyone is tired of seeing the same teams in the Finals every year. I know it's predictable. I know that everyone who said Kevin Durant going to the Warriors made them unbeatable. I know that everyone who made fun of us basketball nerds for actually believing that any other outcome besides this one was possible was right all along. I know all of that. BUT, now I'm just saying... What if the Cleveland Cavaliers win?
Would you then be intrigued? Would you be happy with the NBA again? I understand that many people don't want the Warriors or Lebron to win. But if the Cavs were able to pull it off, it would be historic and you would forever remember it similar to two years ago.
We all can remember where we were when we watched Game 7 of that NBA Finals. I was at my in-laws house, which happens to be full of Warriors fans, and I was wearing my Lebron James Miami Floridians jersey. Probably wasn't my smartest move, but luckily they love me so we moved past it pretty quickly.
If the Warriors win in 4 or 5, which seems inevitable, I'm sure none of us are going to care or even remember it vividly 5-10 years from now. But lets just say the Cavs push it to a Game 7, where we know that anything can happen when you have Lebron James. Especially with the season he is having, we do not know which levels he can possibly reach but it seems as if there is no ceiling for this guy. I'm pretty sure that would be incredibly memorable considering the circumstances.
The Warriors are heavily favored, as they should be.
But have we put too much doubt into how much Lebron is actually capable of? Have we gotten as far as just to assume he is going to lose every time he gets to the Finals? I could understand the argument, but I won't buy into it. The guy is having one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the game. He is averaging a triple-double for the entire postseason so far. He has scored the most points ever in a single postseason while heading into the NBA Finals. There are no limits.
But Anthony, they have to play against the Warriors and they have Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. playing a significant amount of minutes. They have no chance.
Fair point, but maybe that's exactly what the Cavs need in this rivalry. Maybe they need some fresh legs who have yet to play in this series. A few guys who are just going to be going 100 miles an hour everytime they're on the court, getting every loose ball, every rebound, contributing whenever they can with passes from Lebron. Those young guys will have plenty of opportunities, and they just may shine.
Ok, but how are the Cavs supposed to defend the Warriors shooting? It's impossible.
We saw in the second half of Game 7, when Kevin Durant and Steph Curry get hot, your team is toast. But thats the thing, it took them 7 games against James Harden and Chris Paul (kinda). Do we really think Lebron is not capable of doing what that duo did by himself?
But the Warriors also have Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and possibly Finals MVP Andre Iguodala.
Well... ok well the Cavs have Jeff Green who was drafted just three spots after Kevin Durant in their draft and he had open heart surgery and he's still playing even after doctors were unsure of his playing future. So you never know. And maybe Kevin Love's concussion knocked his talent back to his Minnesota Timberwolves days. You never know.
Alright dude, now you're just literally trying to convince yourself that this is possible. You're an idiot. The Warriors ain't losing!
Nah, you right. They might as well not even play the games. But I guess they have to for like money and viewers and commercials. So we'll just sit back and watch what happens even though we already know, right?
My wife's favorite thing to say to me whenever I talk about basketball is "You dickride Lebron." So, this is partially for her, just so she can always be like "You literally wrote about Lebron James and how great he is, dickrider." I'll take that L if I have to, I think its pretty funny actually. And y'all can say what y'all want, but it's the NBA Finals I know y'all watching. Y'all can't fool me. Cavs in 7
Very few times in your life, you will run into people who will make a lasting impact on you and your perception on the world. They may not always be the person you expect. In this case, it was a young hispanic kid who used his humor to get through every minute of every day. Not to say he never took anything seriously, but... well yeah he pretty much never took anything seriously. Which was inspirational for me to be around, because sometimes shit just really ain't that serious.
Skateboarder - Photographer - Comedian - Cat Lover - Great Human
The first time I met Ricardo Aparicio was at his niece's birthday party, I think he was like 15 or 16 years old. He was a pretty funny kid, but I was closer to his older brother at the time who I worked with. His brother went on and got a job somewhere else, and Ricardo ended up working with me. The thing that stood out to me was his ability to make me genuinely laugh. Most of the time at work I just laugh at people's stupid ass jokes because I feel obligated too. But this kid was really fucking hilarious, even when he wasn't trying to be. He lightened up every situation, no matter how stressful work got.
As he has gotten older, it has been fun to watch him continue to be himself and make an impact on others. I know he's probably reading this like "This doesn't describe me at all, I'm just a normal ass dude." But it's a front he puts on, he really is a nice guy with good intentions and cares about others I don't care what he says. When I started this series of interviews, I knew Ricardo was someone who would be a fun read for y'all.
How it all started
Ricardo is a young 24 year old who was born and raised in Salida, California. Through the years, I have heard people talk a lot of shit about the people from the Modesto/Salida/Ceres area. But honestly, some of the most unique people I have ever met are from there. The diversity this area offers allows the people to connect with people of all races, backgrounds, and classes.
Being the youngest of all his siblings helped shape him into the man he is today, kinda. When I asked him what it was like, he said "As the youngest you’re kind of house bitch aha I’ll tell you what, I am so good at watching people play video games." It's pretty funny imagining him just sitting there never being allowed to play, but that's how it works when you're the youngest. He still has family there for him, even if they probably made him feel like he never belonged and that he should just find a new family. (That's sarcasm, but he gets it)
The power of skateboarding
As a young kid, he fell in love with skateboarding. It all started with video games ironically, he would play Tony Hawk Pro Skater with his best bud Devin. He specifically remembered a time when he was walking home and saw some older kids skateboarding in real life, and he used his knowledge he got from the game to help him sound cool and seek acceptance. He never viewed skateboarding as something that was tangible, but he would soon find out how much it could change his life.
Skateboarding created characteristics within Ricardo that would mold a carefree kid into a compulsive worker. He would spend hours trying to perfect tricks on his board, never stopping until he felt that he had succeeded. It reminded me of the traits of Kobe Bryant, just an unbelievable amount of time dedicated to perfecting his craft until it was right to him.
But one of the things that stood out to me was his use of the word "brotherhood." He treated the people he would hang out and skate with as his second family. Just learning how to navigate through life as a young kid, and trying to talk to girls which I'm sure he probably failed at multiple times. He has since improved his game, and that is an inspiration. It shows anything is truly possible. But seriously, his building of relationships and just learning how to grind out there in the streets gave him an edge that allowed him to be successful in any atmosphere.
I asked Ricardo who some of his biggest influencers in skateboarding and life were and his answer was simple, yet insightful. He said "In life, I am not sure. Just anyone who I've ever met that were themselves. I really like people." If you've ever met Ricardo, you know he really means that, and that shit is deeper than even he realizes. The day and age we live in, people glorify famous people like they are god-like figures or are viewed as role models, when in reality it's the everyday people who go through the same bullshit we have to go through everyday that are the true role models.
He has created a platform to share with the world his vision of skateboarding. Whether it's him behind the camera getting some dope ass photos or videos, or him gripping a brand new board, or him writing about some dope kids he's met at the park. His website has inspired me to grind harder, and his photos give us an insight to how intricate this sport really is. Droid is just the beginning for Ricardo, and the world will soon know that it is more than just about skateboarding, it's about life.
Just like in many sports, you can find something relatable from skateboarding and show how it translates to the real world. Ricardo was able to find the words to describe it when he said, "Trial and error. It starts creating patience. It forces you to really take in self-awareness and think about what you got to do yourself to get the result you need." Practice makes perfect. It may not make you into the greatest at whatever it is that you're doing, but it'll definitely help you master your craft and perform at your highest potential. Failure is just a lesson, it's what we do after failure that defines us.
Being a part of a community is vital in how we change the future of our country and how we influence the youth. Ricardo has been a part of a group that has been building a skatepark in Woodland to create a new place for people to skateboard and just hang out. I remember him always telling him about skating in vacant parking lots, downtown on weekends, and other random spots that he probably wasn't supposed to be skating at. So to hear that he is doing something for the future of skateboarding, and for the kids who need a place to chill is pretty dope.
His website is an escape from reality. It allows the viewer to see a side of skateboarding they may not be accustomed too. A view through the lens has given us a glimpse into what is like to build a skatepark, and the challenges that come with it. It takes an entire community to come together for a project, and Ricardo is an important piece to that puzzle.
The thing that caught my attention most from our interview was when I asked him how the sport of skateboarding could help build a better future for the youth. Instead of giving me some fluffy bullshit answer, he was straight-forward and honest.
Well what if it isn’t? The thing about skateboarding is that, it’s not like karate
This kid just gets it, that’s the best way I can describe it. He understands that life is complex, and sometimes it's better to see things as they are instead of trying to sugar coat everything. He never takes things too seriously, yet he knows how serious everything he does is. He helped me realize a few things about myself throughout my time knowing him, and I needed to share it with you all.
The only way to get through this bullshit we call life is to laugh through it all. Not to say it's all one big joke, but I mean Donald Trump is our president for Christ's sake, that's the biggest joke of them all. Ricardo is better than Donald Trump, and if you ever get the chance to have a conversation with him and you disagree with that then you're just a douche.
If you would like to read the full transcript of our conversation, read below!
My wife and I went to a concert the other night in San Diego where we stayed at an AirBNB for the night. The host asked us who we were going to see. So we tell her The Glitch Mob, and she asks us "Oh are they more of an underground band?" And we actually had to pause and think about it like "Um yeah I guess you could say that." I bring this up because I haven't heard people refer to music as "underground" in a long time.
It used to be so much harder to be able to go out and search for music that interested you. I remember when I was a kid, we would just pretty much buy the CD of whatever popular artist we liked. But now with social media and music sharing services, we can easily access the music that we can relate to. It is truly a beautiful thing.
Released March 31, 2017
The self-titled debut from Phantoms is over a year old now, and is only growing in popularity since it's release. I had never heard of these guys until my wife and I went to a Chromeo concert recently where they opened for the Canadian funk duo. This duo came with energy and a passion for music and performing and totally killed their set. They made people listen, whether we knew who they were or not. Their performance left me both impressed, and surprised that I went this long without hearing about these guys.
So in case you don't know who they are, I am here to share with you this dope ass album they dropped. With 25 thousand followers on Instagram, they are just starting to sizzle onto the scene by taking their show nationwide. The duo is composed of two former actors who realized that music was their true calling. Their acting history only adds to realization of why performing came so easy to these guys, it's what they've done for years. Only this time, it's on a different stage.
They came out to a banger called "Been Here Before." We were just stranding around pretty much waiting for Chromeo to perform, and the beat infiltrated our bodies and forced us to start dancing. I had no idea what was going on, I was looking around like "Damn, this whole place lit rn." They let the beat ride and it instantly turned into one huge party. The song was perfect to come out to, because it let us know that this moment doesn't feel new to them. Like they were born for it.
You had my attention
From the moment our eyes met
Don’t know where we left it
But you left me and I’m selfish
You shot me a look
That's all it took to reel me in
How could I forget?
I didn’t expect to see you again
And it feels like
I've been here before
The album is a constant flood of positive vibes mixed in with the feeling of a warm summer pool party. And the way they performed it on stage made it feel like the party was never going to end. With songs like "Just a Feeling" and "Throw it in the Fire" put your entire existence on another planet where gravity does not exist. It leaves you with a cleansing feeling that will put your mind at ease and remind you how to have fun in life.
This album left me realizing something very important, staying true to yourself. These guys can be compared to groups like Zhu, Disclosure, or Flume. But what sets them apart is their ability to be unique and transparent, like many respected artists. I fully encourage that you go and listen to Phantoms no matter what mood you're in, I guarantee it will put you in the right state of mind and remind you what makes you unique.
They got bars tho...
So here we are, finally at the team who is actually going to win the NBA Finals. I gave 18 fan bases a chance to see what it would have to look like for their team to hoist the championship trophy. For the last 15 years, the city of Houston has been the odd city out in the basketball world. The Dallas Mavericks had Dirk Nowitzki and took down the Big 3 in Miami. The San Antonio Spurs have been awesome, and I don’t think I really need to describe it any further than that. But now, it’s the Rockets time to launch themselves into NBA history.
The Houston Rockets made a big move in the offseason to acquire future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. It was a a great, and also confounding move. James Harden became the starting point guard under the new Mike D’antoni system, so trading for another top point guard was either going to be incredibly great or blow up in their face. And throughout the entire season, it worked out for some beautiful basketball. They maintained the best record in basketball and had some great wins over the top teams, including a couple of great victories over the Golden State Warriors.
The narrative on the Houston Rockets last season was that they didn’t play defense, and for the most part that was pretty true. The funniest thing about D’antoni’s system of playing at an extremely high pace and shooting as many three pointers as possible, is that he was a defensive minded player back when he played. But he has a deep understanding of how the game has changed and how the best teams in the NBA right now are the ones that put offense first.
But with the acquisition of guys like Chris Paul, Gerald Green, and PJ Tucker, the team’s entire mentality has changed. They have made a living on the defensive end, and have dominated teams on both ends of the floor. They were 5th in the NBA in steals per game and 8th in points per game allowed. And with their dedication to making more three pointers than any other team in the NBA, they also were 7th in opponents three point percentage, continuously forcing teams to take tough shots. Clint Capela was huge for them all season as he led the team in blocks and put his team 10th in the NBA in defensive rebounds per game.
But all of that is only possible because of how great their offense is. They were 1st in the NBA in points per game per 100 possessions. They forced opponents to foul them over 20 times per game leading them to 25 free throws per game. They were 1st in the NBA in offensive rating, thanks to their efficient play. James Harden was the best player in the NBA all season, and even though Lebron James was great as well, there really isn’t a debate who MVP should be.
The first round against the Minnesota Timberwolves was a breeze as they played their game and won the series in 5 games. They currently hold a 3-1 lead over the Utah Jazz, and will close it out in Game 5 at home. They have proved that their style of play that worked all season can translate to the playoffs against top level opponents. They have been on a collision course to face off against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. And with both team up 3-1 in their series, it looks like they will be facing off soon.
The Rockets won the season series against the Warriors 2-1 but unfortunately those games don’t count now. But they do count for the mental gap that they needed to overcome to be able to play the Warriors at their best. The biggest obstacle that teams have faced over the last 4 years against the Warriors has been getting over the fact that they are not as good on paper as them, but this Rockets team is deep and is full of confidence. The Warriors shot the highest three point percentage in the NBA, but they didn’t play the Rockets defense every night. The versatility that the Rockets roster offers will force the Warriors to take tough shots, and although they will make plenty of them, the Rockets will as well.
Kevin Durant and James Harden will have the duty of guarding each other for most of the series, and it will make for great plays on both ends of the floor for these guys. Support players such as Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Nene will be huge against the Warriors bench who isn't as good as it once was. Chris Paul will finally do his duty as the defensive captain and will be able to contain Steph Curry. I’m not saying he’ll shut him down, I’m saying he won’t allow him to have any exploding performances. The Rockets will prove that it is their defense that separates them from the Warriors and their homecourt advantage will be huge as they will win Game 7 at home and catapult themselves into the NBA Finals.
Getting past the Golden State Warriors will be more than enough confidence for them on their way to winning the championship. They will face off against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It will only be a series because Lebron James will continue to be unbelievable, but the depth of the Rockets will prove to be too much for the Cavaliers. The terrible defensive play from the Cavaliers will only look worse against the high scoring offense of the Rockets.
James Harden will prove to the world why he is deserving of being mentioned as one of the top three players in the world. His Finals MVP performance will be incredible and Adidas will finally have their champion they’ve been so desperately needing. The Houston Rockets will win the NBA Finals in 7 games, and none of this was fabricated. This will be the truth.
James Harden could cook One Minute Rice in 59 seconds…
In the final moments of Game 5 in the NBA Finals, the Warriors players didn't look as excited as any other championship team I've ever seen. Outside of Kevin Durant being in shock, mostly everyone on the court looked as if they had expected this to happen, and it did. I could easily write this article in one sentence. The Golden State Warriors will win the NBA Finals because they are the Golden State Warriors. But we'll get a little more in depth than that.
After the championship, my friend Sam and I decided to go to the parade to see what was poppin'. It was pretty cool, Northern California getting together to celebrate another championship for Oakland . . . in the city of San Francisco. The Golden State Warriors recently announced that they will not be changing their name back to the San Francisco Warriors even after they move to SF. I get it, they are a global name now and they need to maintain that marketing aspect. I'm not so sure how the people of Oakland are going to take it, but I guess we'll see in a few years.
The Warriors took it easy for most of the season, and still had the third best record in the NBA and were the highest scoring team. Doing all this without Steph Curry for most of the season is still remarkable. To be able to maintain this high level of play for about 5 years now is unmatched among current teams in the NBA. Their first round matchup put them up against one of the best organizations in the San Antonio Spurs. With Kawhi Leonard chilling in New York while 41 year old Manu Ginobili and Lamarcus Aldrige were doing all they could to will their team to a single victory, the Warriors were just beginning to hit their stride.
Winning a playoff series in 5 games without the second best player in the world is incredible, and now that Curry is back I don't see how you stop this team. The New Orleans Pelicans will be doing all they can in this series just to not get swept. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have been great in the two games so far but they have still resulted in losses. The Pelicans give up the second most points per game in the NBA, but they are also the third highest scoring team. But if this series is going to be full of shootouts, you can't bet against the Warriors. The Warriors have the highest three point percentage thanks to Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and even Nick Young at times. Already being up 2-0 in the series the Warriors have no chance of losing 4 out of the next 6. They will win in 5 games and will have plenty of rest for the Western Conference Finals.
The Houston Rockets just lost their first home game of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz, but they will bounce back as they have all season and set themselves up with the matchup that we've all been waiting for. At full strength, these are by far the two best teams in the NBA. This will essentially be the real NBA Finals. They may be the two highest scoring teams, but they are both great on defense as well. The Warriors are 3rd in opponents field goal percentage and the Rockets are 6th in opponents points per game. But having the best defensive player in the world in Draymond Green is the difference maker in this series. Green can guard anyone on the floor from Chris Paul to Clint Capela, and his presence will make it tough on the Rockets.
It will come down to the play of the superstars from each team. James Harden has been the MVP from the beginning of the season until the end, and he is actually averaging more points per game in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. But Steph Curry will remind the world why he was the unanimous MVP just two years ago, and why he is the second best player in the world. The Rockets will disappoint and will prove all of the doubters right. The Warriors will continue their dominance in the West and will reach their 4th straight Finals after a crazy 7 games series.
Guess what y'all?? It's the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors for the championship! Again! Sorry peoples, but thats the only way it can happen. The Cavaliers have been terrible defensively all season, and the inexperienced roster will get cooked by the Warriors. With the lack of depth on this Warriors team, the rotations will be far fewer than they were in the regular season and their superstars will shine. But one bench player will dominate, as Andre Iguodala will do what he once did to the Cavaliers just three years ago. The Warriors lead the league in assists per game, and with the shooters they have, this will only be heightened against a bad defense in the Cavaliers.
Of course, Lebron will do what he does but once again it won't be enough. It'll pretty much be exactly the same as last year, Warriors will win in 5 games and absolutely nobody will be surprised and maybe the Warriors players will care even less. Steph Curry will finally get his Finals MVP and will solidify himself as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. Keep it lit Oakland, they're only gonna be here for a little while longer.
I once said that I thought a different point guard from Oakland was better than Steph, I had to admit I was wrong...
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.