East Coastin’ Part 2

I’ve now been in New Jersey for a month. I’m gonna be honest with you. I probably spent 20 hours a day inside the hotel during the week. The other four hours were spent in the gym. After reading both of my Patterson books in the first few days, I needed something more to do. First, it was watching different episodes of The Hills After Show online. I even watch “An American Tale”… twice. I know the songs “Never Say Never” and “Somewhere Out There” by heart now. Then, it was onto other various things on MTV.com such as casting and what not. I figure if they have a “True Life: I Live in a Hotel” or something like that, I should be a shoe in. Now it’s time to recap the whole month in one post. So what if it’s a long post… deal with it. 

Anyways, one day I was just laying around, staring out at the NYC skyline, when I remembered how fun xbox 360 used to be. I remembered the good times xbox and I used to have. I kind of felt like it was an ex-girlfriend who gave me the “it’s not you it’s me” line. It just gave me 3 red lights, peaced, and never came back. Well, I decided that enough was enough. I decided to take action and get my girl back. 

I went online and found a ton of results on XBOX 360 and the 3RLOD (three red lights of death). As it turns out, the 3RLOD is a ridiculously common thing with the 360. Lucky for me there were plenty of tutorials on how to fix that bad boy. There were many schools of thought on the 3RLOD, many of which dealt with cooling and heat sink issues. I basically read a couple tutorials, selected the one for me, and got to work. Considering the fact that I used to build PCs from components, I felt that I could get the job done. 

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As you can see, I took my box completely apart. What you see is the motherboard outside of the casing with the DVD drive and fans removed. In the first photo you also see all the tools that I bought from the Secaucus, New Jersey Home Depot, a blueberry muffin, some packages of mustard, and a coke. The muffin came in handy during the hard work as there was quite a bit of trial and error. I like muffins. If you dont like a good blueberry muffin you dont like rainbows, sunshine, smiling babies…. you dont like anything. 

So, I actually had to go back to home depot about 3 times to get the correct parts to do this. The hotel actually has a shuttle that takes me about a quarter mile away from home depot, where I get out and walk the rest of the way, then wait 2 hours for the shuttle to come back and pick me up. Over the course of 3 days, I spent about 6 hours waiting for shuttles to pick me up from the waiting spot. 

Well, after I finally got it all right, I put my box back together and turned on some guitar hero 2… 

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I dont know if you can see it, but that little green light used to be 3ROLD. It is now a glowing green symbol of hard work, freedom, and entertainment. I played guitar hero for about an hour, then I shuttled back over to best buy and picked up Halo 3 and Madden 08. I havent played guitar hero again, and I barely opened the halo box. What I have done is played a full season of Madden with The Titans and Vince Young. I also beat Sean Williams repeatedly last night. After 4 straight losses, you would think he’d understand that I am simply better than him, but he hasnt. Point is, my weekdays were now filled with blissful, Madden 08 joy. Maybe I’l start Halo soon, but who knows? 

Weekdays taken care of, I headed out to Manhattan and Brooklyn on the weekends to get my fill of the NYC lifestyle. One of the things I have started doing is watching college football at a bar on saturdays. Now, there is a reason for this. 3 weeks ago, I was invited by some friends to watch the Chargers vs. Bears game at a local bar. Turns out the bar was a Chicago Bears fan bar or something. I was in the mix with a hundred Bears fans who literally cussed me out when I jumped up in excitement. The next week, we were looking for a place to watch some college football and we walked into a Notre Dame fan bar. Not wanting to see grown men cry, we left and ended up at a Auburn fan bar. Finally I decided to find out where the #3 Cal fans go to watch the Bears play. Turns out there is a bar on 19th and 1st ave. in Manhattan where the Cal Alumni Association of New York gets together to watch the bears. I have now been there 2 weeks in a row. 

Game days at M.J. Armstrong’s Bar. 

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After the Oregon game, I went with my boys B-Walk and Clayton down to world trade center ground zero. You cant see much down there, but thats the point. The hole in the middle of the financial district is pretty ricoddamndiculous.  

The sign says “Reflect”. I did just that. I got reminded of why it’s scary to live in New York. Just a week before I was standing in front of the Waldorf Astoria hotel, trying to hail a cab in the midst of hundreds of police, secret service, and firemen. I guess the UN Summit requires a high amount of security. All it means to me is that I was too close to the danger. When I noticed what was going on with all the police and whatnot, I stopped waiting for a cab. I jogged a couple blocks away and started waiting there… further away from the kaboom. 

After visiting ground zero, I went to go meet up with my boy Steve Panawek at my other boy Adam Duritz’s house. 

I know what youre thinking: “Adam Duritz is your boy?” Yes he is. 10% because I played at Cal and he is a Cal fan. 90% because he already knows it’s boom tho. I asked him if he would be a part of my next video (should I choose to make one) and he said he was mad that he wasnt in the second one. Then I asked him where the bathroom was and he said “Use the rockstar bathroom down to the left.” Let me tell you first and foremost, I have never taken photos of another man’s bathroom, and I dont intend to do it again, but sometimes you gotta do it: 

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I couldnt help but get a picture of what a 7X platinum plaque really looks like… and half the time this one smells like human feces because it’s in his guest bathroom of all places. 

Enough of the nonsense. I have been out here for a month playing basketball too. Ive seen all kinds of guys come and go. Matt Frieje? Gone. Mateen Cleaves? Here all month. It’s funny because way back in January, I went on my blog and said Mateen Cleaves had a rather large head, among other things. Now, he is one of my favorite guys around here, although I don’t see him fitting into a Yankees Cap anytime soon. 

As the month went on, more and more guys started coming back from their summer places and showing up at the gym. I knew that a day would come where I would see J Kidd. I had a talk with my man Clayton about it a couple weeks ago. I told him that I was just gonna let the whole cousin thing go. I told him that I was sure Jason had enough family and friends without another random guy trying to claim things. Clay said that I should start a conversation based around the fact that we both attended Cal, and that from there, it would be a lot easier to lead into family business. Well, one day, I was walking through the training room and there Jason was. He was just sitting around relaxing. I kind of froze up so I kept walking as if to give the impression that I was used to seeing a big time guy like him all the time. Right then he says hi to me. I say hi back and keep it moving. 

I was almost out the door when the trainer, who was seated next to him said “So what’s this about you two being cousins?” 

Jason looked up at him and said “What? What are you talking about?” 

Oh no, I thought. Bad timing. No introduction, no Cal conversation starter, just a confused J Kidd looking at me for an explanation. 

“Oh umm yea, I guess we are supposed to be related,” I said. The classic downplay. “I was told we were cousins or something like that. I mean, thats what my grandfather said. So, I mean, we could be. Who knows?” 

“Ok well what’s his name?” 

He wasn’t supposed to ask any questions. This was not going well on my end. 

“Clarence Kidd,” I answered with a shaky tone. 

“Ok. Where is he out of?” 

More questions. 

“Shreveport Louisiana. Like I said, you never know, right?” 

“Yea, you never know.” 

I rushed out awkwardly. I was just completely unprepared to deal with the matter. He just showed up that day out of the blue. I went back into the locker room and sent Clay a text letting him know that Plans A and B had gone awry. I informed him of Plan C and the under-sell I used due to my lack of preparation. Clay informed me that there would be plenty of opportunities to not look like an idiot in front of him. 

The first of those opportunities was actually the very next day. We had a coaches versus players softball game at Yankees stadium. Thats right, Yankees stadium. 

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The stadium, the legends, me, and my Nets softball jersey 

Anyways, before the game, it became clear that some basketball players were never meant to swing a bat or wear a glove. I wont name names. In any case, since I have a solid baseball track record (ENC Little League Champ, ‘96), I played first base. Before I went over there, J Kidd asked me if I could catch. I let him know that I could, of course. He was playing short stop, meaning I would be counted on to get the job done. 

When we got up to bat for the first time, Jason set up the order with guys he could count on at the top of the order. I was somewhere around 8th in the lineup. 6 RBI later, everyone knew that I had skills. 

Up by one run with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, there was a hard ground ball hit right at Eddie GIll who was playing second. He fielded it, stepped on second, and threw the double play ball right to my open glove. It popped right out and both runners were safe. Sussman, who was working the PA, says to the whole stadium “Are you gonna put that in the blog?” 

I could tell that everyone was now beginning to second guess my little league ability. What people failed to realize was that the ball was huge and the gloves were way too small and not broken in. First base may have been the toughest position to play. 

Next batter rips one down the left field line…just foul. Real coddamn close. Next pitch he hits a hard ground ball up the middle. J Kidd runs about 20 feet and fields the ball while running left. Still running, he hurls the ball towards me and I can tell its gonna be a bang bang play. Suddenly, I realize that the ball is about to bounce about 4 feet in front of me. I stretch out as far as I can, reach my glove, and I feel the ball hit my glove as I whip my arm back up. I look at the glove and the ball is in there… just barely. Game time. How do you spell redemption? R-O-D. Take that Sussman. I hear J Kidd say something about a Cal connection. Although it was just softball, it was something more at that moment. It was a couple cousins making plays at Yankess stadium. Just call him Jeter. Call me Pujols. Call us the Cal connection (his words not mine). 

After the game, workouts continued as usual. R Jeff showed his face, Vince Carter started coming in, everybody was getting in good work. 

I talked with my mom on the phone the other day and she was asking a lot of motherly questions. She asked me “Does that boy Carter know that you have his shoe autographed?” 

“No mom.” 

“Well are you gonna tell him?” 

“NO MOM.” 

“Well wouldn’t it be funny if you did?” 

“Mom, I gotta go.” 

I felt like she was being ridiculous. Well, wouldnt you know it? Next day I am taking the sticker off the inside of my practice shorts. Vince, who sits right next to me in the locker room (or in my chair if he feels like it, who am I to tell him to move?), tells me that I can just rip the whole tag right off. I rip the tag off easily and give a look that says “Impressive”. He then says “Hey, ten years.” 

“Ten years? You havent been in the league 10 years,” I say to him. 

“This is my tenth year. Yea, year number ten.” 

“Haha thats funny beca-” 

He cut me off. 

“No, I don’t want to know what you were doing ten years ago,” he said laughing. 

“It’s not that, it’s just… I have had your shoe autographed in my room since I was 14. I remember when i got it. I was so happy. I was like ‘Man…VC wears these? Awesome.’” 

“You got them as a gift?” 

“Yea. It was like the best day I had that whole year. You have been making dreams come true for 10 years now I guess.” 

“Well just call me Make-A-Wish then.” 

I guess my mom was right. I brought it up and we both got a laugh. But it is crazy to think about sometimes. I have 3 autographs in my house that matter: Tiger Woods on my junior high ID card, Kareem Abdul Jabbar on a basketball, and Vince Carter on a shoe. When I play miniature golf with Tiger, maybe we will have a similar talk. 

…And then there’s Jamaal Magloire. The thing about him, what makes him blog worthy I should say, is that he is just like Lil John. No, he doesn’t have dreadlocks. No, he doesnt rap (to my knowledge). No, he is not from the ATL. Actually, he is probably nothing like Lil John. He is actually more like Dave Chappelles version of LIl John. If you have ever seen “A Moment in the Life of Lil John”, then you know that Lil John talks with the utmost clarity, calm, and annunciation most of the time, but every now and then he gets crunk and goes “YEEAAAHHHH”, “WHAATTTTT?”, or “OOOKAAAAYYYY!”. Basically there are two sides to him. The first time I played on the same court as Jamaal, I noticed that he is kind of a wild man. He plays like a beast, but that aint the half. He literally yells out different words depending on the situation kind of the way Lil John does. He was yelling and grunting and causing a scene. Immediately after the game, he walked over to me and said, in the most perfect english I may have ever heard, “Hello. My name is Jamaal. Aren’t you so excited for the upcoming season? That’s when the money comes.” 

I was astonished. I was thinking that there is no way this is the same guy. Its like seeing the incredible hulk turn back into Bruce Banner. This guy is so animated that you dont even have to watch the game to know whats going on. He gives his own play by play. I have composed a short list of these sounds/sayings and what they mean: 

1. “HEEEEEYYYYYYYYY!” 

When you hear this, it means that he was just fouled, probably while attempting a shot. 

2. “NOOOOOOOOOO!” 

This means he has just blocked a shot. 

3. “MIIINNNNNNNEEEE! 

Sounds similar to the seagulls from “finding nemo”. You hear this when he grabs a rebound. 

4. “YESSS!” 

He is open. Get him the coddamn ball. 

Now, he can combine these as well. For example: if you hear “NOO MIINNEE” it means he blocked a shot and rebounded it. You get what I’m saying? 

Onto other things… The new Ping Pong power rankings are out. Now that everyone is around, here is how the guys who wield the paddle fare: 

1. John Zisa (BBall Operations Assistant) 

2. Jumaine Jones 

3. Eddie Gill 

4. Bostjan Nachbar 

5. Gary (Equipment Guy) 

6. Rod Benson 

7. Sean Williams 

8. Vince Carter 

I have a lot of potential to move up in the rankings, but I have too many unforced errors. My 7’3” wingspan helps me cover a lot of ground, but my backhand is still too weak to compete. I would actually be at the bottom of the list seeing how Vince has yet to play, but since he walks by everyday and makes comments about my game, I have ranked him below me. Until he steps up and accepts my challenge, he has nothing to say to me. 

Well, training camp has officially started. It was cool on media to see my name on a real NBA jersey. 

better than ordering one on NBA.com 

After the media hype was over, it was time to get to work. Coach Frank has basically given me more information to learn in 2 days than I have ever had in my life. Hes a funny guy off the court, but once that ball goes up, its all bout the bidness. It’s kind of like taking a summer school class where you have to learn a year worth of info in 4 weeks… if that class was Molecular Toxicology. Unlike the veterans, the hardest part for me is not physical, it’s mental. Not unlike any other camp guy, I’ve been yelled at, and I’ve been congratulated. As the week goes on, I have to get the yells down and the pats on the back up. 

The fact of the matter is, the guys at this level are all great at something. Smart, fast, hardworking, athletic… something. After my first two days of my first training camp, it becomes easier to see the areas that I excel at at this level, and the things I have to work on and get better. It’s much more black and white to me now. 

My Agent, Bill, and I talked about this at length a couple weeks ago. He told me about the process and how it all works. We may have talked for like 20-30 minutes. I dont think we have ever talked that long on the phone. It showed me that he has my best interest at heart. I think he may have been a bit worried because some other guys call me and try to sway me to sign with them and go to europe, but if theres one thing I know, its loyalty. I’m all about the entree and not the sides haha. Anyways, my point is that Bill had some foresight into my camp experience and let me know how these things go. He told me to stick with it regardless what happens here, and that I will be successful regardless. To quote him: “When you make it, we are gonna get you a lot of money. You just gotta make it.” I like the sound of that Bill. 

Speaking of Bill… today Bill Parcells was there watching us practice. Mann its so tight seeing and meeting people you respect so much on a daily basis. I hit a jumper and I remember thinking “Big Tuna saw me knock down the J, sweet.” I then wondered what I would say if I had a chance to talk to him. I realized that the questions I have were already asked… 

Lastly, I want to go back to Sussman. You may know him from a little blog on the front page of NJnets.com. It’s called “Sussman Sez”. The first day I was at the Nets facility, he walks up to me and sez “George Benson! We need to go 1 on 1 in blogging.” Since then I have been looking at his blog. It would be cool to go 1 on 1 with him, but I just don’t think it’s fair. I mean you can actually UNDERSTAND mine. Why? Because I don’t write in stream of consciousness. What is stream of consciousness? Wikipedia says “Stream of consciousness is a literary technique that seeks to portray an individual’s point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her sensory reactions to external occurrences.” In other words, I have no idea what Sussman is trying to say. Suss, if you wanna go 1 on 1, you have to play fair and make sure I can process what exactly is going on in your head baby! 

If you read Sussman Sez, let me know if which blog you prefer. I will be keeping tally. 

Also, there is an open practice on Saturday, if you’re there, say hi. If not, send me birthday presents on Oct 10th. I have the same birthday as Brett Favre… thats how I know Im destined for greatness. 

Long post, I know, but hey… you read it right?

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