Sep 15

Dream Team-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

Sometimes people do not appreciate that just because an athlete has undeniable talent does not mean that they will always reach the pinnacle of success. Take Allen Iverson for example, yes he did amazing things on the basketball court, or as he liked to call it the dance floor, but it takes more than just talent to achieve success. Success is not a solo venture, a person must have a group of people who believe in their abilities, people who will stand by them in good times and bad, and people who will push them to do better, even when the person does not think that is possible.

Iverson, who was enshrined as a member of the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class this past weekend, certainly understands that his journey to success was not a solo venture. During the Hall of Fame Press Conference and Jacket Presentation, Iverson was asked how the team of people around him helped him get to Springfield, Massachusetts and the Basketball Hall of Fame. The person that basketball fans know as “The Answer,” because of his ability to respond to adversity, responded to this question while showing a great amount of emotion saying, “That is the only thing that got me here…”, fighting back tears he continued, “…all my coaches, all my teammates, and all the sacrifices they made to make me a better player.” “Coach Brown…,” referring to Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown who coached Iverson in Philadelphia, “…molded me into an MVP and a Hall of Fame player.”

It’s ironic that Iverson played the majority of his Hall of Fame career in the City of Brotherly Love, because love is what drove Iverson to play at his best every night, meaning his love for the game and the love that fans displayed towards him. Love is one of the most complex emotions that the human body can display. The Philadelphia 76ers’ fans sure showed Iverson a lot of love as he walked up to the podium at Springfield’s Symphony Hall to deliver his Enshrinement Speech. I have been attending the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony for the past six years, I have never heard a louder ovation for an incoming Hall of ‘s Famer as Iverson received. You could see that Iverson was overcome with emotion because of the love that the most misunderstood fans of Philadelphia showed him. As fickle as fans may be at times, athletes are most times driven by fans’ support. Even though fans may not ever get a chance to meet their favorite athletes, whether they know it or not they are definitely a part of an athlete’s success.

When a basketball fan sees or hears the phrase Dream Team, I am sure it invokes thoughts of the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball Team, which included names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and several other Hall of Fame NBA players. People do not realize that we all have a Dream Team, whether they have ever played basketball or not. Our individual Dream Team includes those people who believe in us and guide us toward success.

I know as a journalist I am supposed to write from a neutral perspective, however I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to say thank you to my Dream Team. I may not be able to use a crossover dribble to go by Michael Jordan, and I may not be able to express myself on the dance floor as Iverson did, but I have certainly been fortunate enough to turn some of my dreams into reality. Everyone’s journey to success is different, but there are similar things that must occur in order for a person to succeed. Individuals on a person’s Dream Team must make sacrifices to help that person reach the pinnacle of success. Many people in my life have made numerous sacrifices to help me succeed. I believe Iverson said it perfectly when he said, “They made it so easy for me to believe in myself because I didn’t want to let them down.” I urge everyone to always believe in their abilities, and to never forget to say thank you to your Dream Team!

Jun 28

Hardwood Hero- Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

My plan this morning was to compose another entry in the Orange and Blue Diary, but as I have written in the past, some news takes precedence over other news. Instead of writing about the beloved orange and blue, I feel obligated to write about someone who certainly transcended the game of basketball.

A legend, a competitor, a mentor to many young women, those are just some of the attributes Pat Summitt possessed. The legendary University of Tennessee Head Women’s Basketball Coach who strolled the sidelines for 38 years passed away this morning at the age of 64.

Sure, I can list all of the accomplishments she achieved during her 38 year coaching career in the Volunteer State, and believe me there are many, but as I have written in the past, your legacy is by no means entirely defined by what you accomplish in your career choice, in my opinion your legacy is also defined by the number of people you impact during your time on Earth.

As someone who is entrusted with the task of helping a team of young women achieve their goals on and off the basketball court, I admire Summitt, not only because she was a great coach, but also because of the way she changed the game of basketball. When Summitt was appointed as Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Tennessee in 1974 just two years after Title IX came into law, College Women’s Basketball as a whole was not looked at in the same way as College Men’s Basketball meaning television coverage for a women’s game was nonexistent Decades later, we all enjoyed watching the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball Team’s historic season this past year. Summitt was a self-defined pioneer when it came to fighting for equality in college basketball. As I write this I am watching ESPN listening to numerous heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes humorous stories from different people all of whom Summitt touched during her 64 years on Earth. I view every day as a learning experience, today because of Pat Summitt and the lives she touched I am learning what it truly means to be a great coach.

The next time I watch a burnt orange women’s basketball go through a net, I will certainly think of Summitt. According to Oxford Dictionary, a summitt is the highest point of a mountain, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Summitt, but from what I know, and from what I have heard about her she certainly reached the top of life’s mountain!

Ms. Summitt, you used the platform you were given to help change lives on the hardwood and off, and for that I thank you and admire you. You changed not only the game of basketball, but you changed the world because of what you brought into it. That is what makes you a Hardwood Hero.

May you rest in eternal peace. #PatSummitt

Jun 05

True Legend-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

This morning I was planning on writing a blog about the NBA Finals, but in the profession of journalism there are some stories that without question take precedence over others. Early this morning news came that heaven became a better place, if that Is possible. Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali has begun his second life at the age of 74.

I often write about how professional athletes can and should use the platform they are given as a vehicle to make the world a better place. Yes, Ali is considered perhaps the greatest boxer to ever step into a ring, but I bet if you ask him even today what he wants to be remembered for, just judging how people have talked about him over the years, I think he would want to be remembered as a 2005 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award that can be given to a civilian during peacetime. Who would have thought that Ali’s 56-5 career record in the ring would be the second greatest achievement of his life.

Individuals are taught at a young age to stand up for what they believe in, as well as to not let anyone persuade them to change their beliefs. On April 28 1967, Ali did exactly that when he refused to be inducted into the Armed Forces and serve in the Vietnam War. Regardless of your opinion of his actions, and I am not stating mine when I write this, Ali did not believe in war, and nothing changed his mind even when he was forced to relinquish his Heavyweight Title because of these actions. Think about that for a minute, imagine that you had to relinquish something you worked so hard to obtain because of a choice that you made, I think this would force many people to change their mind and conform with society. We are always taught to be unique, to not change because of other people, and Ali certainly was unique and did not change who he was because of others.

People may not have liked his brash outgoing personality, but how can you not have respect for a man who did whatever he could to make the world a better place. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984, Ali used the platform he was given to help raise money for people with Parkinson’s Disease, even though Ali’s speech was severely impaired because of the progression of Parkinson’s Disease, Ali’s presence at charity events without question helped raise awareness and money for the disease.

People define legacy in different ways, yes, some people might remember Ali because of his outstanding boxing career, while some will remember him because of the fact that he refused to be inducted into the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War, but as someone who was not born during his career, or the Vietnam War, what I will remember most about Ali is the fact that he was so well respected by so many people. That is how I define legacy, awards are great, but with time they collect dust, respect is something that always shines through even after a person begins their second life. Yes, in the coming days there will be tears of sadness shed by people all around the world, but to me that is why Mohammed Ali is a True Legend.

May you rest in peace Mr. Ali.

May 26

Memories-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

There are times in our lives that we just do not forget, the birth of a child, graduating from college, or meeting our favorite celebrity just to name a few. The year 1986 was before my time, but it is a year that I have heard a lot about. What occurred in 1986 you ask, the New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Yes, I know here come the jokes, that was 30 years ago and the last time the Mets won a World Series, you were not even born. Believe me, I have heard them all, but as the Mets celebrate the 30th anniversary of their last World Series Championship this weekend, which is headlined by an on-field ceremony on Saturday, I ask everyone to remember how they felt when their favorite memory occurred, what emotions did you feel at the time, and what emotions are brought back when you think of it years later?

I have been fortunate enough to be part of two championship winning teams in my life, I can tell you I remember everything that happened leading up to and about each championship game. I am sure if you ask a member of the 1986 New York Mets, they would say the same thing. You might be asking yourself where is he going with this, I have written in the past that in every blog that I write I want to teach or remind my readers about something. In this blog, I would like to remind my readers to enjoy those special memories that occur in your life.

I believe people do not spend enough time appreciating special memories, almost like we expect them to happen regularly. Remembering those memories help us get through difficult times, we may not realize it at the time, but most times when we take time to think about what is going on in our lives those memories make us smile when we do not think it is ever going to be possible for us to smile again.

As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend this weekend, I ask all my readers to take a moment to remember those special memories that have occurred in your life, more importantly think about what makes those memories so special. This weekend is a perfect weekend to do this, as we honor those who fought for our freedoms and in turn allowed us to experience those special times in our lives. This may not be a blog directly related to sports, but I think this blog has a very important message in it, one that is forgotten to many times! As I told the girls’ basketball team that I coached this year before every game, CHERISH THE MOMENT, or in this case MEMORY!!!

May 20

Mulligan-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

Mulligan is a term used in golf which defines when a golfer gets a second chance to perform an action. Although this is a term normally used in golf, I would like to use it as I write the next entry in the Orange and Blue Diary. Yesterday in Rise up, I asked all fans of the New York Mets to be patient with Matt Harvey. In the Orange and Blue Diary, I try to be as positive as possible, in yesterday’s entry I also said that last night could have been the night that Harvey had a great start, I must admit to you today that I was completely wrong. Harvey could not have had a worse start, he had the shortest outing of his career only able to get two outs in the second inning before Terry Collins took the baseball out of his hand. Not only was it the shortest outing of his career, but he also allowed the most runs of his career, nine.

There is no other way to describe it Harvey was absolutely awful last night, he did not Rise Up, he did not even get off the ground. His struggles and predictability continued, his Fastball had no zip and was up in the zone, in other words easily hittable, and his Curveball had virtually no break, again meaning easily hittable. I will say the defense behind him was terrible, which made it even more difficult for him to get into any semblance of a rhythm, and gain any sort of confidence, but that is no excuse this is not little league, you do not get a trophy just for trying your best, you MUST get the job done no matter what!

I never thought I would use Matt Harvey and the word liability in the same sentence, but that is exactly what he has become. Who would have thought that the pitcher that started Game 6 of the World Series would ever invoke the name Victor Zambrano, who was a very inconsistent pitcher for the Mets from 2004- 2006, but that is exactly who Harvey reminds me of right now, I shudder at the thought!

There is not much more I can write, as a journalist you try to come up with the words to eloquently describe a situation, I must tell you I am at a loss for words when it comes to this situation! I hope, as I am sure every Mets’ fan does, that Harvey can fix whatever the problem is quickly! Keep the faith Mets’ fans, YA GOTTA BELIEVE!!!

May 19

Rise Up-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

As I expected, the Mets and Nationals split the first two games of their three-game series. After a scintillating performance by Noah Syndergaard on Monday night, where he dominated for seven innings while striking out 10 and walking none, the Mets collection of pitchers last night walked a season high 11 batters. When you give a team like Washington the chance to score multiple runs they rarely miss an opportunity to do so, and that was the case last night.

Dwelling on the past is not the focus of this entry in the Orange and Blue Diary, rather the focus of this entry is to plead with Matt Harvey, also known as the Dark Knight, to finally get back on track and pitch like the fans of the Orange and Blue know he can. Many people have given their opinions on the subject of why Harvey seems to be struggling this year. Keeping that in mind, it is time for me to put my baseball coach hat on and throw my opinion into the ring. I am going to try and simplify my explanation as best I can for those of you who are not baseball fans. I want to paint a picture in all of your heads, imagine that you are having a surprise party for someone and one of the guests coming to the party does not know that the party is a surprise. The guest tells the person who the party is for that he or she will see the person at the party. The surprise is ruined, as much as the person will try to act surprised the day of the party it will just not be the same. Now getting back to Harvey, in my estimation in this early part of the year, his Fastball is the only pitch that has been effective for him. The first time the hitters in the opposing lineup face him they have difficulty adjusting to the speed of his Fastball. The second time they face him they know what is coming, because his Curveball does not have the break it needs to in order to fool them. This is why Harvey struggles in the middle innings, because the opposing team has seen Harvey’s repertoire and they are not fazed by it. In other words, the element of surprise is not there. As much as Harvey tries to throw a Fastball by the opposing hitters, as a pitcher if you only have one effective pitch you can throw you will struggle at any level no matter how fast you throw.

Locating pitches is like painting a picture, if you do not use the right color in the right spot of picture the picture will look different then you envisioned. Likewise, if a pitch is not located correctly it will not have the same effectiveness. This is not something that can always be corrected instantly, sometimes it will take a pitcher a few outings before this will be fixed.

I agree, Harvey has been far from the dominant force we all enjoyed watching last year, but I urge all Mets’ fans to be patient, I know what you are thinking you are crazy, we have been patient long enough, well let me ask you this, if Harvey goes out tonight and pitches the best game he has pitched thus far this season wouldn’t it be worth the wait?

So Mr. Harvey, it is time to live up to your nickname and Rise Up, just as the original Dark Knight would in this situation. LET’S GO METS!!!!

May 17

Nat Swatter-Orange and Blue Diary Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

So Mets’ fans it is that time, that time to swat some Nats! Yes, the Washington Nationals come to Citi Field tonight as the division rivals begin a three game series. As I promised in the first entry of the Orange and Blue Diary, I will give you my thoughts on this early but crucial series with the first-place team in the National League East Division. I know Mets’ fans are a little shell shocked after the Mets were swept away in the Rocky Mountains this past weekend, but I urge fans not to go to crazy about three games in May. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as disappointed and surprised as you were at the outcomes this weekend, but the beauty of baseball is the fact that we can move on from each disappointing game and series very quickly. Make no mistake about it, the Mets did not play well this weekend but the members of the Orange and Blue always seem to rise to the occasion when the Nationals are next on their schedule. Whether you are a fan of the Mets or Nationals or not, these three games should be very special to watch. Yes, I know I mentioned the fact that it is only early May, but when these two teams meet baseball fans see something that is sometimes underappreciated, that is the emotions that the players on both teams display. I ask you to take note of this underappreciated aspect of the game. Daniel Murphy returns to New York tonight for the first time since he signed with Washington in the off-season, Murphy had an amazing postseason which helped propel the Mets to the World Series, and yes he has continued his power surge during the early part of this season, but I believe the Mets middle infield defense has drastically improved with Neil Walker playing second base. Walker has made some amazing plays thus far this season, plays that I believe Murphy would not have made. There is no question the Mets miss Murphy’s bat in their lineup, but I would rather have Walker’s defense then Murphy’s bat. You probably think I am crazy, but let me explain, the Mets are doing everything in their power to protect the arms of their very special pitching staff, Murphy made numerous errors last year, while those errors may not have turned into runs every time, the errors did prolong innings which means that the pitchers had to throw extra, which meant more stress on their arms. So it is now prediction time, I think the Mets will win two out of three games in this series, I think the Mets’ hitting will be dramatically better than it was this weekend. I never worry about their pitching keeping them in the game, I have said this before, and I will say it again, the Mets have the best pitching staff in baseball. Enjoy this series Mets’ fans, LET’S GO METS!!!

Apr 15

Mamba Magic Part Two-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

What exactly is Mamba Magic? Well, like some of the things Bryant did on the basketball court, Mamba Magic is an original phrase that is indescribable. If you really insist on knowing the true meaning of the phrase, I would say it perfectly describes the artistry Bryant displayed over the course of his career.
That is how I described Mamba Magic in Part One; Bryant showed us that artistry one final time last night. Prior to last night’s game I was hoping that Bryant would score 25 to 30 points, while savoring every last moment of his final game. I do not think I am overstating it when I say Bryant surprised us all by scoring 60 points. We all know: Bryant has looked like a shell of his former self this year. I ask you this question, are you surprised that one of the greatest players in NBA history performed at his best during one of the biggest moments of his career?

Some of the critics might say Bryant took 50 shots, my answer to you is this you are right, but let’s not forget the other part of the story, the Lakers were losing by double digits at one time. When a team is losing you want your best player to take a leadership role with the hope that the rest of the team will follow his or her lead. That is exactly what Bryant and the rest of the Lakers did. In every situation a person must look at the positive side of things, especially during a special night like last night. What better way can one of the greatest players to ever play the game say goodbye then to put on the show he put on for every fan last night. I think sometimes people take things for granted, next year when Bryant is not on the court, I believe people will be longing for some Mamba Magic!

There are not many more superlatives I can use, or for that matter words I can write to describe Bryant’s Hall of Fame career. What I can do however is find a song to perfectly describe the game that he had last night. My way by the late great Frank Sinatra, Bryant went out on his own terms, and did it his way.

Mr. Bryant I would like to take this opportunity to one more time say thank you for all that you have done for the game. You have been an amazing ambassador for this great game, and you will be missed. I know you love to write stories; I will be interested to know how you eloquently describe your illustrious career. I know you will paint a great picture for all of us. As I did in Part One, I would like to wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

Apr 13

Mamba Magic-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

This morning, as I stared at the Kobe Bryant poster that hangs on my bedroom wall, I could not help but get emotional. Aside from being known as one of the best players to ever step onto a basketball court, Bryant is also known as “Black Mamba,” which is a type of venomous snake. I am aware that one of the expectations of a journalist is to be unbiased or impartial, but another expectation of a journalist is to provide his or her readers with an interesting and compelling story. In order for me to fulfill the expectation of providing my readers with an interesting and compelling story, I will not be able to be unbiased or impartial in the coming paragraphs.

Bryant and I have never met each other, spoken on the phone, or even corresponded on social media, but over the course of his 20 year career, we have developed a special relationship. Some might ask, “How can you develop a special relationship with someone you have never even spoken to?” My answer to you is simple: I have always dreamed of dunking a basketball like Bryant. Sometimes dreams can be turned into reality, but it was going to be difficult for me to turn this particular dream into a reality. Although I may not have been able to turn this dream into a reality, I did learn a very valuable lesson from this situation. I learned that a person can try to emulate more than just the talents an athlete showcases on the field of play. While most people were admiring Bryant because of his physical talents, I was admiring the intangibles that Bryant possesses, such as his desire, determination, and the unwillingness to let adversity stop him from achieving individual and team goals.

In December, after Bryant announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the season, I wrote a blog entitled Never Easy. In that blog, I wrote about how it is never easy to say goodbye to something that you love. I also commended Bryant for accepting the fact that it was time to write a new chapter in his life. Tonight Bryant’s career comes to a conclusion as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Utah Jazz in their final game of the season. I must be honest, as I write this I am having a difficult time, because I am coming to the realization that I will never be able to watch one of my idols on the court again.

What exactly is Mamba Magic? Well, like some of the things Bryant did on the basketball court, Mamba Magic is an original phrase that is indescribable. If you really insist on knowing the true meaning of the phrase, I would say it perfectly describes the artistry Bryant displayed over the course of his career.

In my final paragraph, as I did in Never Easy, I would like to address Kobe Bean Bryant directly. Mr. Bryant, I believe that music can sometimes explain a situation perfectly. I woke up this morning with the song, Let’s See How Far We’ve Come, by Matchbox 20 resounding in my head. So let’s see how far we’ve come in 20 years. I am sure you read and hear this statement a lot, but I want you to know I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart, you have taught me so many things, not just about basketball, but about life. Watching you from afar, I learned to not let the doubts that people had about my capabilities stop me from achieving my goals. When people questioned whether you would add another championship to your resume for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, to make sure there were no more questions on that subject, you helped the Lakers raise two more Larry O’Brien Trophies in 2009 and 2010. While you and your teammates were winning championships, I was in the process of obtaining a degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers University. Some people questioned whether I would be able to accomplish this lifelong goal because of my physical limitations, just like the people that questioned whether you would add another championship to your Hall of Fame resume. May 19th will mark three years since I graduated from Rutgers, so I guess you can say we were both successful in answering the questions that people had about us. So how far have we come? Well your journey has taken you from Lower Marion High School in Philadelphia to a road that will eventually lead you to 1000 Hall of Fame Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. As for my road, it is still under construction. I want to thank you for all that you taught me during your illustrious career, even though you never realized you had a student in New Jersey. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and I cannot wait until we cross paths in 2021 in Springfield, when your road will officially be completed!

Apr 12

Long Road-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

My fellow Mets’ fans, in this early season entry in the Orange and Blue Diary my message is simple and brief, RELAX! Yes, I know it has been a rough start to the season, but do not forget there are still 156 games left to play. Believe me I am just as shocked as you are that the amazing Mets have been far from amazing thus far. I have been a fan of the orange and blue for a long time, so you know I have seen some very dreadful seasons. Something is telling me that this season is not going to be a dreadful one, I cannot put my finger on what exactly that something is, that is just how I feel.

There is too much talent on this team for me to give up on the 2016 quest for a World Series Championship! Need I remind you of last July, when the offense was futile, and nothing was going right for the Mets. When the calendar turned to August we all know we saw a welcome sight, the Mets playing good baseball! That positive trend continued all the way into November, when very few people thought it could.

So I urge all fans of the orange and blue to stay positive and BELIEVE! Until next entry, LET’S GO METS!!!!

Older posts «

» Newer posts