Best Ever…

Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers - Game Four

We always want to debate some frivolous topic, like who’s the best running back to ever play football, or who’s the best rapper ever.

At the same time in such dubious arguments, we find the need to craft the statistics that favor the athlete or musician that we have a bias for.

In the Jordan vs Lebron argument, Jordan fans will instantly gravitate to the statistic of 6-0 in the finals (for Jordan) vs 3-5 (for Lebron).

The biggest flaw in this argument is that we’re in an era of the “super-team.” The couple of comparable teams in the Jordan era was the 85-88 Celtics, which featured four Hall of Famers (Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton and Robert Parish).

A fair subjective analysis is that Jordan faced tougher road to get to the finals than Lebron, whilst Lebron faced tougher finals match-ups. Which likely explains why Lebron has made it to the finals 8 times (and counting) to Jordan’s 6 finals’ appearances.

Points-per-game, assists and other stats really doesn’t mean much when comparing legends, because they faced different competition. It’s truly incomparable. Lebron never faced guys like Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson, and Jordan never faced guys like James Harden and Kevin Durant.

We’re talking about different players, from different era’s, different competition, different sets of rules, and so on and so forth. Plus we’re ignoring the greatness of players like Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, and so on.

Stop the petty ridiculous arguments, and just enjoy the greatness. Nobody can objectively say one is better than another. You just can’t; so stop it. I’m talking to you Michael Greenberg and all the pundits that are being paid to do an objective opinion whilst displaying obvious biases.

Ten to fifteen years from now people will be arguing these same arguments for/against the next big star that’s dominating the league.

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Never Giving Up

Life isn’t easy; for a lack of a better word, life is a bitch. Depression can simply eat you from the inside out.

My journey took me from in the middle of my first semester of my Sr. Year of college to homelessness. There’s nobody to blame for my downward spiral but myself. This journey to rock bottom has also been an incredibly humbling experience as well.

It has taken me across country, where I got to visit some amazing sites; such as, Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, the Rocky Mountains, and deserts. It has also taken me to the psych ward, twice.

Me blaming myself for the journey isn’t exactly beating myself up (which is a symptom of depression), I’m simply taking accountability for my actions. I’ve hurt many people that I hold dearly in my heart, especially my grandmother and uncle. Although they have forgiven me, I may never forgive myself.

The journey also took me into an intensive mental health program, where I acquired the tools to help prevent depression from ever taking a firm grip of my life again; however, if it does return, it’s up to me to use the tools given to me. There’s no guarantee that apply such tools when depression punches me in the face.

My course of action will be signing up for a Peer Support Specialist certification class, sometime this week. This class will take place in August. What it will do is allow me to help others that are battling depression. The number one thing I’ve learned, for me at least, is when I’m helping others, I’m ultimately helping myself, with this battle.

It’s not an easy battle to have. The thoughts of suicide are scary thoughts. I don’t wish suicidal ideations on anybody.

Once I get established in my peer support role, I’ll finish my political science degree. I’m two semesters away. I’m far too close to the finish line to not finish it. It’s just going to take me longer than I anticipated two years ago.

I just need to get my life on track first, AND I WILL!

WWE Desperately Needs Competition

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Just imaging 1990’s WCW and picture Stunning Steven Austin not having a viable alternative to WCW.

Now imagine 1980’s wrestling and all of the major stars, like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Randy Savage, and Nick Bockwinkle, all in the same company with no alternative, and I didn’t even mention the up-and-coming stars like Jerry Lawler, Magnam TA, Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Lex Luger, Roddy Piper, the Von Erichs,Curt Henning (Mr. Perfect), and Ric Rude.

Many wrestlers, especially in the second list, would’ve gotten lost in the shuffle, and many others would’ve never gotten their careers to the peak that it did.

The 1980’s had WWF; NWA, and their individual territories; and the AWA as the places for wrestlers to go as alternatives to their current situation. If someone like Lex Luger would’ve failed in the AWA, he could’ve went to NWA Mid-Atlantic and thrive.

Now, let’s examine today’s state of wrestling in the United States:

It’s pretty much the WWE, and that’s it.

Sure there’s TNA and ROH, but neither garner close to the amount of money and viewership as the WWE, and is perceived as a step-down if a wrestler, from the WWE, ends up in one of those two promotions.

If Steve Austin failed in today’s WWE, he would’ve likely ended up in one of the independent indie promotions, his career would never skyrocket to superstardom, even if his gimmick had a tremendous change that changed the game in TNA or ROH, he would’ve likely been brought back to the WWE, and got lost in the shuffle.

That’s exactly what’s happening to wrestlers in today’s WWE.

A viable alternative wouldn’t guarantee Cody Rhodes, Sheamus, Cesaro, Wade Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio success, but different writers- with a different vision- could at least have a chance to reinvent themselves.

A viable alternative could also prevent wrestlers from the need to go to Japan to get themselves a following, like a Kenny Omega.

Then let’s examine NXT:

It has a roster consisting of viable names like Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, Nakamura, and so on.

Just these slew of names alone combined with names like Kurt Angle and Adam Pearce (from ROH) plus the Hardy brothers could potentially be a roster deep enough to jump start a company to compete with the WWE from a talent standpoint. It’s just lacking a star from the WWE to give it credibility, such as a Randy Orton (whom also has had some misuse over the past few years).

The average professional sport (NFL, NBA or MLB) doesn’t have a true competitor, but what it does have is nearly thirty or more teams for players to bounce from, if they’re feeling misused or paid enough, so why can’t wrestlers have that same luxury.

Competition is a great thing. It forces each other to produce better products for their fans to watch. The WWE desperately needs it, due to it’s stale state, as well as individual wrestlers that are getting lost in the shuffle.

 

 

 

 

An Old Dinosaur that’s Still Walking Amongst Us: the NWA

Good vs Evil; Face vs Heel; and fan favorites vs wrestlers that fans love to hate is what wrestling provides every Monday Night on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Raw.

But I’m not here to talk about the WWE.

There was a time when the NWA was the king of the wrestling world, which was home to stars like Lou Thesz, Harley Race and Ric Flair.

During that era of wresting, wrestling was broken into several territories. These territories had hand-shake agreements not to wrestle and broadcast in each other’s territories.

Unfortunately, the dawn of the cable television era changed everything. It allowed Vince McMahon Jr. (WWF) and Jim Crockett Jr. (Mid Atlantic/Georgia Championship Wrestling) to build empires in the 80’s. In 1988 Jim Crockett was bought out by Ted Turner, creating WCW; thus putting an end to the NWA as we knew it.

The NWA is still around with small Independent promotions; such as, Vendetta Pro (California/Nevada), Smoky Mountain (eastern Tennessee) and Mid-South (western Tennessee) anchoring the NWA today.

Everything runs in cycles, and the NWA is on a twenty-five year downturn. The question is, will the NWA ever return to it’s former glory; and what will it take to get from where it is currently to back on top of the wrestling world?

Currently, the major problem is bulk of wrestling fans doesn’t know that the NWA is still in existence.

The NWA has an On Demand featuring classic matches from the Paul Boeshe library (Houston territory). It’s an OK revenue generator, but it can always be better, in terms of creating revenue. The content is tremendous; it features matches like Andre the Giant vs Harley Race, and so on.

What the On Demand truly lacks is current content; such as, every major championship should be featured on On Demand within 48 hours of a match. This would accomplish several things: 1: it allows the matches to be reviewed; 2: it allows for fans across the United States to watch these matches; 3: due to writers’ reviews, it allows for fans, that doesn’t know the NWA is still in existence to subscribe to On Demand; 4: it introduces the older fans to the new product and the newer fans to the older product.

Now this doesn’t mean that fans will start pouring in to buy NWA On Demand; however, it’s a start in the right direction.

The NWA needs to have a weekly Podcast promoting it’s current stars and upcoming events. Again, this doesn’t mean that fans will start pouring into events and buying merchandise.

Producing an NWA iPPV could go a long way towards generating revenue needed for getting the necessary equipment for television.

Television is mandatory; however, this is the toughest bridge to cross.

Getting on television will require content, or some sort of plan for syndication.

What I would ultimately do is chop up three to five matches, from across the alliance a week, and put it onto YouTube. Then look for sponsors to help generate revenue.

The other route could potentially be buying a warehouse and making it into a wrestling studio. This way they could fly wrestlers in, and knock out four episodes in a single night and ship the content to networks, or even Netflix.

There always is pride when a local guy makes it to the WWE or NJPW, but wouldn’t be even more special if that local guy from Smoky Mountain or Vendetta Pro headline a NWA event that is seen by millions on Pay Per View.

It may never become the king of wrestling again, but a man can dream, right?

Fan Revolt: The Ultimate Pitting

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Ever since it was reported that former Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was extended an offer, the Pitt Panther fan base erupted like a Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption, and rightfully so.

In 17 seasons at Vanderbilt, he amassed an overall record of 332-220 with a 138-142 record in a subpar SEC. Plus, in those 17 seasons, he only developed two NBA players.

His best season was the 2011/12 season when Vanderbilt went 25-11 (10-6) winning the SEC regular season title and the conference tournament and only reaching the round of 32.

And it gets worse, his teams only reached the Sweet 16 twice, and regularly got bounced in the first three rounds.

Let’s go a step further, when AD Scott Barnes stated that he was a more fan friendly style of play and a high character guy, Stallings is everything but that. His offensive style is even more bland than Dixon’s, plus he was taped threatening to kill a player during a handshake line.

The vitriol aimed at Barnes and Stallings’ direction is certainly warranted, and it’s not only fans claiming that this is a terrible (potential) hire, local and national media are chiming in.

It’s gotten to the point that Pitt fans would rather see assistant coach, and former player, Brandon Knight get hired (whom Pitt fans wanted no parts of 24 hours ago due to his inexperience).

Perhaps this is only a knee-jerk reaction, but fans are revolting and threatening to not purchase season tickets. Money is the lifeblood of any collegiate program; therefore, hopefully Barnes is listening to the people screaming with pitchforks and having their tar & feathers ready.

The only adjective I can thing of for this situation is “ugly!”

Ugly it is!

The Road to Rebuilding Myself

road-to-recoveryFighting this depression battle isn’t  a fun battle. I’ve been prone to isolate myself from the world around me and vicariously live my life on the internet. In a way the internet has kept me sane. There has been a great amount of people in my social network (that has become real life friends) that has helped me along in this process of rebuilding myself.

Being suicidal and wondering how you reached such a low isn’t a fun place to be. The the fight in me has certainly begun; I realized if I’m no longer here, who is going to be there for my grandmother on a daily basis? I can’t lie to the world surrounding me that knows about about my current state, since my last blog I have had those thoughts a few times between now and then.

With that said, the last blog lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders and I ultimately feel like I’m on the right path. I’ve chatted with my Reverend from my childhood church and showed him this blog.

He definitely gave me words of encouragement and such.

The New Year couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It’s definitely a time to put a close to what’s been happening and looking ahead towards my future, and it’s a bright future at that. I’m a year away from earning my degree in Political Science, and I still have aspirations to go law school.

I feel as if I’m on the right path to being back to me again. I have to reach out to my friends when I’m feeling low. I know I have a great circle of friends and an even better family. I realize that the struggle isn’t over, just yet. And I still have a long road in front of me.

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” Barbara de Angelis

I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas holiday and has an amazing New Year!

*note: I tried reaching out to the female I mentioned in the last blog. She ignored my texts and such. I believe that it’s a lost cause and I’ve done all that I could do to throw water under that bridge. It’s unfortunate that she’ll forever believe that I’m an asshole.*

 

The Road to Depression

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This will be a 2 part series starting with The Road to Depression and finishing with The Road to Recovery. This is deeply personal and is a view of the world through my eyes.

I don’t want to completely blame my childhood for my experiences as an adult, but those experiences molded me into the person I am today. My parents weren’t god awful parents. They ensured food was on the table, cloths were on my brother and I’s back, and there was a roof over our heads. They were there for my brother as he did his duties for the high school band, and were chaperons for the band as well as school dances.

My step-father (adopted-father) worked as an over-the-road truck driver and my mother worked odd jobs like in Sears, McDonalds, and as a gas station attendant, and sometimes she worked two of those jobs at the same time. Due to them living busy lives, it was really up to me to ensure my brother and I did our homework and our daily chores.

Granted that’s a macro-view of our lives and some would say, “what’s the problem here?” I get that. I really do.

The thing is, when they were home, they constantly argued with each other and anytime myself or my brother had issues, those issues were very much ignored; therefore, I had to come up with my own ways to vent out my frustrations as a youth. One of those outlets was writing poetry, but as time went on, I simply just bottled in my frustrations with life and think they’d just go away.

After high school I moved to Florida and tried to do the college thing. It wasn’t that effective, and my grandfather talked me into joining the Navy.

My time in the Navy was very good, although I did experience times of depression as I missed my friends in Pittsburgh and hearing about some childhood friends passing away. I think a lot of my issues of depression could’ve been avoided if I knew how to reach out for help; I felt if I was disregarded as a kid the same thing would happen as an adult.

Fast-forwarding to today: For the past month, or two, I’ve been in a deep depression. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for me me falling into the pits of darkness. I had a few things go down these past few years, from my mom passing away to my step-dad passing away (this year), and simply being frustrated with my life in general. I’m thirty-three with no wife, no kids, or even in a relationship that’s heading in that direction. Plus with me attending Pitt and driving to and from there, I’m dealing with being completely out of money. Then adding in those factors, I dealt with some car issues, a tube busting, and needing new tires.

Because of my depression, I pushed away a good girl. I practically treated her like shit (for a lack of better words). I reacted the wrong way and literally left her at the arena Pitt plays their hoops games in (Peterson Event Center). I felt awful for letting my personal life just push her away.

In-between the car issues and that occasion where I left that girl hanging, I self medicated via the usage of alcohol. I went to the point of completely blowing off my classes simply to “drink the pain away.” I knew I was doing wrong and felt guilty about it. It wasn’t until Thursday that I had my “wake-up-call” and I reached the darkest point of my life. I contemplated suicide and actually thought of the means of how I’d carry it out.

It was that moment that scared me. I hit up some friends in a group chat on Facebook and let them know what’s going on. All of them in the chat has been really supportive. From there I wrote a generic message on my Facebook wall and had tons of people reach out in support. It will be a long road to fixing myself. Since then I’ve been alcohol free and I’m started to reacquire an appetite. I will be myself again, it’s going to be a long road, but then again, me writing this has already lifted some of the burden off of my chest. Also I plan on getting counseling as soon as I can. I do need to learn how to be more open about my issues, and not letting things get to this dark place. The light is getting brighter, but yet it’s so far away.

(Note: to the woman I left at the Peterson Event Center, I hope you understand I was in a dark place and find a way to forgive me for what I did.)

Joe Niklas

Twitter: @JoeNiklas