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In Any Avent

Posted by doktakra on October 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

With no NBA Summer League or preseason games on tap, I’ve resorted to honoring players’ birthdays on Twitter with some of their best (or worst) highlights or cheesy commercials. Since New Jersey native and NBA journeyman Anthony Avent was born on October 18, I’ve decided to commemorate him with the story of how I met him 16 years ago.

As a kid, there was nothing I loved more about summer than going to my camp in Union, NJ. I didn’t care about arts-and-crafts projects, swimming classes or field trips to the mall – all I ever wanted to do was sneak out to play basketball with anyone who’d happen to be on the courts.


On occasion, random NBA role players who lived in the area, including former New Jersey Nets Tate George and Chris Gatling, dropped by the facility to practice during the offseason. Most of the time, they’d quietly work out with a trainer on a side basket and bolt before any eager campers would catch wind of the fact that NBA players were in the building.


One day, when my friends and I were about to play a quick pick-up game, we noticed a freakishly tall, muscular player stretching on the sidelines. Since the Shaquille O’Neal and “Penny” Hardaway-led Orlando Magic were one of the league’s most popular and televised teams, I quickly recognized that it was backup forward Anthony Avent.


We watched as he picked up a ball and began shooting from just outside the three-point line on the right baseline. Swish. Swish. Swish. We stood in awe as Avent made all but one out of a dozen long-range bombs and moved on to shoot from the top of the key with the same results. It would’ve been incredible had we been watching a shooting clinic put on by Steve Kerr or Reggie Miller, but Anthony Avent? I would’ve never expected him to have been so accurate at the time, and looking at his statistics now, Avent’s NBA career field goal percentage (40.3%) is actually the eighth-worst for a big man in the last 50 years (minimum 300 games played). Yet, there he was, drilling hundreds of uncontested 25-foot jumpers as if they were lay-ups.


I considered myself to be a good basketball player at time, and despite being a five-foot tall Jewish kid with glasses so think they would’ve made Steve Urkel blush, I dreamed of making it to the NBA. But seeing a fringe player like Avent effortlessly knock down shots made me realize just how extremely talented even the so-called worst professionals truly are.


When Avent finished practicing after making what seemed like a thousand baskets, I gathered the nerve to approach him to challenge him to a shooting contest.


“Mr. Avent, um, can I play with you?”


He turned to me, chuckled, and shook his head. “Nah, I don’t get down like that.”


My friends broke out in laughter before I even realized that Avent made an immature, and in hindsight, very inappropriate joke at my expense. I felt like I’d just been humiliatingly turned down by the girl I liked at a middle school dance (which also happened that year, by the way).


His questionable sense of humor aside, Avent turned out to be very pleasant, signing my Kings hat that’s still sitting somewhere in my parents’ attic (funny enough, he’d briefly play for Sacramento a few years later). I don’t remember if I ever did get my chance to exact revenge by beating him in a game of HORSE or if that was just a daydream. I just know that from that day forward, I vowed to become a better shooter than Avent and work even harder on making it to the NBA (still working on that one) and make sure to use better wording when challenging someone to a basketball game.


Happy 42nd birthday, Anthony.

Euro Tripping

Posted by doktakra on July 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM Comments comments (2)

If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything here in two months, it's not just because I've been lazy (though that's certainly a part of it). In between covering the NBA Draft and several other Sacramento Kings-related events -- I've actually written 13 NBA articles in the last two months -- Michelle and I were also out of the country for two weeks in early June.  We traveled through Germany and England, and I've finally found the time and motivation to bring you some stories, random observations, and anecdotes from our trip.  Though if you want to skip straight to the photo album, I won't blame you one bit. 

 

Wedding in Bavaria

 

 


Instead of a "Just Married" sign, the bride and groom had a Star Trek starship and a Spock figurine on the hood of their card.  Considering that Michelle and I met at a sports bloggers' happy-hour, I'm really in no position to pass any judgement here.


During the wedding, several guests competed to see who could crow the loudest, which is apparently some kind of German tradition.  The winner then had to stand up and crow at the top of his lungs once an hour, and buy dinner for the bride and groom each time he'd forget.  I don't get it either, but you'd better believe Michelle and I will be holding some kind of equally-awesome contest to get people to do funny things at our wedding.


Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

  


The castle itself is amazingly beautiful, though, as we were constantly reminded, incomplete because King Ludwig II and his psychiatrist mysteriously drowned in a nearby lake during construction (there should really be a movie about this).  If I didn't have an irrational fear of stairs, especially narrow ones atop gigantic rocks, I probably would've enjoyed the hike down the scenic path above a waterfall a little more (many more pictures in the album).


Tour of Munich


Since we were there a month ago, neither of us remembers exactly what we saw from the bus.  I've captioned most of the photos as, "something on our tour of Munich" -- very helpful and informative, I know.

  


From what I do remember, on the left is The Glockenspiel (I love the sound of German), which has chimes, bells, and moving figures that re-enact some kind of very long story, in the Marienplatz city center; in the middle is the fantastic view (and I don't mean just us) from the top of the Olympic Tower; and on the right, you'll find Michelle posing like Athena the Goddess in Nymphenburg Palace.


The Beer and Food

 

 


Yep, nothing like getting beer served by the liter.  Did I finish it?  Not even close.  Did it get me a just tad tipsy?  Perhaps...and mine was actually half-lemonade.

 

Of course, Germany is extremely pro-vegetarian -- just look at all of those ripe tomatoes next to the globs of cured meat!  My typical dinner consisted of four pretzels and this zucchini schnitzel that tastes as good as it looks (which is surprisingly awesome).

 

Kings of Germany

 

 


Perhaps the highlight of the trip (at least for me) came during our walk through in the English Gardens, which, confusingly enough, is in Munich and contains the Chinese Garden (above). We stopped to watch a drum circle in the park, and noticed a familiar sight.  Yep, one of the drummers was wearing a vintage Sacramento Kings jacket.  I mean, honestly, of all teams and in all places, what are the odds of this happening?


Petting Zoo in Bavaria

   


My other favorite part was the petting zoo, where sheep, goats, llamas, and pigs walk around freely and eat out of your hand.  We tried to get the baby goat's attention, but he clearly wasn't interested in what I had to offer him (that's him dissing me by walking away in the background).


And amongst the crowd of pigs on the right, of course, is the infamous, overanxious one that bit Michelle, who then tried to convince me to eat bacon to defend her honor...

Quick Views of London

   

 

We spent a few days doing some of the touristy things in London, all of which were fun but none of which are all that exciting to discuss in much detail.  Let's just go through these from left to right: standing in front of Buckingham Palace after the changing of the guard; the view from the London Eye (basically an enormous Ferris wheel); and outside of the Tower of London. 

 

 

  

 

Michelle and her friend Phil rocked American flag capes during the United States vs. England World Cup game. I figured no one would pick a fight with Phil because he's 12 feet tall or Michelle because she's so cute, but I stayed out of the patriotic displays for my own safety. U-S-A!

 

Also, I Tweeted this at the time, but it's worth mentioning again -- this was in the men's room at one of the London pubs, and doesn't cease to make me laugh.

 

And finally, we have Michelle looking beautiful at Kensington Gardens, and me, doing what I do best after an exhausting two weeks.

Winning Time

Posted by doktakra on April 2, 2010 at 2:12 PM Comments comments (2)

I'm on a Twitter trivia roll.  After winning a Tyreke Evans bobblehead from the Sacramento Kings earlier in the week, I won yesterday's contest to assist New York Knicks legend John Starks during his appearance at the NBA Store.  As I've stated many times, I am an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge.


When I arrived at the store, the attendants quickly suited me up in Zipway gear from head to toe.  What is Zipway, you ask?  Well, Starks wasn't there to just chat with the fans, but to promote his own athletic apparel company, which claims that you can rip off your pants in 0.3 seconds.  I, for one, am in full support of anything that speeds up the removal of my clothing.  I competed against Starks and another contestant in a "zip-off," and although, I shockingly wasn't quite as fast or coordinated as a former professional athlete, I received a pity prize won a $25 gift card (too bad Zipway doesn't make any Kings apparel, John).

 

I took a picture with Starks -- unfortunately, I only had my my crappy cell phone camera -- and also received a personalized signed picture of "The Dunk" (it's in my hand, if you look closely).  I briefly talked with him about the epic battles with his arch-nemesis Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in the mid-'90's, which he called "fun" and "good times."  I asked him about being a one-time teammate of Mitch Richmond, my favorite player, way back in the day on the Golden State Warriors.


"We came up together (in 1988),"  Starks told me. " Mitch is a great guy -- one of the best you'll meet."


I then shot around on the center basketball hoop -- if you've never been to the store, there's a regulation half-court shooting area in the middle of the lower level -- where Starks signed autographs and greeted the fans, as hundreds of other people looked on from the upper floor.  A few contestants then entered a free throw shooting contest, and I rebounded their misses and passed the ball back to Starks.  During intermissions, he and I alternated taking shots.


It's probably the closest I'll ever come to feeling like an NBA player, and I didn't even embarrass myself too badly despite not touching a basketball since last summer -- no turnovers, three straight mid-range jumpers at one point, and only one ugly airball.


Hey, it's better than going 2-for-18, right?

Back For the First Time

Posted by doktakra on September 21, 2009 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been a Sacramento Kings fan for 15 years, and in a little over three months, I will finally step inside the confines of Arco Arena to see my team play on its home court.  The greatest girlfriend in the world is accompanying me on a trip to Los Angeles to watch the Kings get crushed play hard against the hated-rival Lakers at the Staples Center on January 1, and then take on the Mavericks at home the following night.  I already bought Michelle a purple Kings t-shirt, and the over/under on the amount of money I'll drop at the team shop currently stands at $750.


In the meantime, recently-hired Sacramento head coach Paul Westphal took some time to answer fans' questions on the Kings' Full Court Press Blog, and I was fortunate enough to make it into his mailbag.

 Alex K. As it stands now, the Kings don't have a true backup center behind Spencer Hawes. Do you envision playing more small-ball with Jason Thompson and Sean May at the five this season, or are we likely to see another trade or signing before the season begins?

 paulwestphal Alex-Right now, the way that our roster is constituted, we do not have a lot of tall centers. Spencer Hawes certainly qualifies as a legitimate NBA 7-footer. And Jason Thompson has size. We have Kenny Thomas who had shown us that he also can defend the low post better than anyone else on our roster, but he is a little short to play center. There is also Sean May as an option. Those guys are the primary options to give us some minutes at that position. Whenever Spencer is not at center, then I guess we will be playing small ball, if that is what you want to call it.

So there we have it. As much as the thought of seeing Kenny Thomas play big minutes when I finally make it out to Sac-town horrifies me to no end, at the very least, it beats my last New Year's, when my ex-roommate caught the flu and I stayed home instead of going to a friend's party. Ah, good times.

Don't Dream It's Over: Part IV

Posted by doktakra on May 20, 2009 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (1)

A bird pooped on me as I walked home yesterday, and I took at as a sign.  It was the day of the NBA Draft Lottery, where Sacramento had the best odds of getting on the Blake Griffin Express, and I needed all the luck I could get. I took my throwback Kings jerseys out of the closet and laid them out across my bed, hoping to create a positive vibe. But I knew it wasn't happening from the moment I saw Chris Webber's nervous smile seconds before the results were announced.  The Kings had a 50% chance of getting one of the first two picks, and ended up drawing number four. 


I didn't want to talk about it today and ignored the NBA headlines.  But when I finally let out my frustration, I made it into the Bill Simmons' ESPN Chat for the third time in my life (see here and here).  Witness my favorite sportswriter crushing my dreams:  

Alex K. (NYC): So a Webber-led Kings team came up short when it mattered most...again. As a Sac fan, it pains me to no end to write this. PLEASE tell me there's hope.


 Bill Simmons: (12:57 PM ET ) (Searching for something positive to say)

Shockingly, I don't feel any better.  Okay, maybe a little.

It Was All A Dream: Part III

Posted by doktakra on June 3, 2008 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been on fire getting into ESPN chats as of late -- if you ever tried to get a question answered, then you know it's not all that easy.  Witness my second-ever response from none other than the Sports Guy -- arguably the best sports writer of my generation -- in his chat this week (my first Q&A can be found here).  The best part is the way I smoothly snuck in that I was a Kings fan. The worst part is the harsh reality of his answer.

Alex K. (New York): My Laker friends are already using the dreaded "dynasty" word...is there any hope for the rest of the league?? As a Kings fan, I'm prepared to light myself on fire...

SportsNation Bill Simmons: I will say that LA is in much better position for the next 6-7 years than Boston. In my opinion, the Celtics will never have a better chance to win the title than right now. For LA, they get Ariza and Bynum back next year, plus their midlevel exception... I mean, that might be a 72-win team next year. If you're beating them, it has to happen this year.

Bad times for Laker-haters like me, apparently.  My next goal is to get Simmons, notorious for his dislike of the WNBA, to answer a question about Candace Parker and my newfound fanhood of women's sports -- now that would be an accomplishment.  What, did you think I'd go a whole entry without mentioning her?

All The Places I've Been

Posted by doktakra on May 20, 2008 at 12:19 PM Comments comments (5)

I'll be the first to admit that I've Googled some strange things...things I'm not particularly proud of....things I would deny I ever wanted to know.  With that in mind, one of my favorite features of this site, is the incoming visitor tracker.  Without further ado, I will now break down the recent Google searches that found my site.

I've been wondering about this for a while now -- who is Googling "doktakra?"  If you know my name already, then why wouldn't you just put the ".com" at the end and come straight to the site?   I don't get that, and if you're one of these people, kindly enlighten me.  Anyways, I expect hits for my standard subject matter -- anything dealing with the Kings, hip-hop, and television, as well as any of the random musicians and celebrities that I discuss.  So, searches for "The Office," "Michael Scott," "Hugh Laurie," and "The Wire" make sense; as do ones for A Tribe Called Quest lyrics and 2Pac albums.  I'm not sure why so many people are looking for pictures of Jamie Lynn Sigler now (has she done anything since The Sopranos went off the air??), but I guess she's famous enough, and I've mentioned her in a few places here.  A good number people stumbled upon my site looking for images of relatively obscure Kings players (Lionel Simmons, Ronnie Price, Doug Christie), probably because those searches don't get many results....so it's good that I was able to actually help someone find what he or she wanted.

Then there are the weird ones...  I don't even want to say what one person searched for and inexplicably got my site, but let's just say that it has to do with, um, solitary lewd sexual activity....but so much worse.  Of all the odd, random hits, that one easily takes the cake...we will never speak of this again. 


Of course, a sizable section of my site is devoted to my favorite girl:  the one and only Candace Parker.  After her amazing WNBA debut with the Los Angeles Sparks (34 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists!), I fully expected more incoming traffic than usual.  But this particular influx of activity was not what I had in mind:

May 19 9:05pm candace parker nude pics
May 19 3:09am candice parker naked
May 18 6:50pm candace parker nude
May 18 3:26pm sheldon williams candace parker
May 18 11:56am candace parker
May 17 9:56pm is candace parker a virgin
May 17 8:18pm candace parker nude pics
May 17 8:16pm candace parker and sheldon williams
May 17 4:08pm candace parker nude
May 17 2:26pm candace parker naked
May 17 10:13am candace parker pictures

Note that some of these were actually done during the game on Saturday afternoon!  Is the thought process here, "hmm....she's hot.  I want to see her naked?"  How dare you objectify Candace like that!  I'm ashamed of you people, and I don't want you coming back ever again.  Do you see her as another Lindsay Lohan or Kim Kardashian, walking around with no underwear, posing topless in magazines, and "accidentally" leaking a sex tape?  Candace is a classy, educated young woman who plays basketball for a living and does things the right way.  I was actually starting to get pissed off, until I noticed the sixth search down from the top: "is candace parker a virgin."  I can't even get mad at this person -- that's high comedy.  What would you do with this information?  If she is, do you think you have a shot at being her first?  I don't know the answer to your question for a fact -- you'd have to ask Shelden Williams for that -- but here's a hint:  she's a beautiful, 22-year-old who is now engaged....um, does that help?  And did you expect her to hold a press conference to address the subject of her virginity like Britney Spears (or Justine Chapin, for that matter)?  Wow....just wow...and I thought I needed help. 

The point is, if you found this page through any of these searches, I hope you got your answer.  Anyone searching for sports, celebrity news, hip-hop, etc. -- I do what I can.  To the rest of you -- do all of us a favor and stop embarassing yourself and degrading Candace, and all women, with this crap.  Just remember that I know who you are from your IP address... 

Watermelon

Posted by doktakra on August 9, 2007 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (0)
  • Only three weeks until Hayden Panettiere turns 18!  I know it doesn't really matter, but it'll make me feel a little less dirty when I fantasize about her.  I understand if your opinion of me has gone down a notch or two.  How old is Michelle Wie again?

  • I was actually planning to be in California all of last week for Mike Bibby's basketball camp.  Yeah, it would have been challenging getting around 'cow-town' Sacramento by myself (I'm the only Kings fan I know), but that would have been far outweighed by having the chance to meet and be on the same court as some of my favorite players.  Unfortunately, my boss wouldn't let me take off a full week...so I just looked at pictures online.  Wait, why did I put this as a positive?

  • Finally, my best celebrity sighting in a while:  I saw Larry David riding his bike in midtown the other week.  I probably wouldn't have even noticed, but he hit a curb and yelped something distinctly Larry David-like.  He was all decked out in orange from head to toe, including a very ugly hat.  Once again, I felt you needed to know that.

Life Goal Accomplished

Posted by doktakra on January 11, 2007 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Every time ESPN hosts a live chat with an athlete or columnist, I'm ceaselessly typing and submitting questions, desperately hoping to see my name on the screen. Today was the first time I was able to successfully have none other than ESPN's Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, give me an answer.  Here it is in its entirety, in case the link doesn't work:

Alex K. (New York): What are the odds of Isiah signing Chris Webber to a multi-year deal?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: off the board in Vegas. cannot be wagered.

While it wasn't the lengthiest or funniest answer, it was still cool to see, and proves that I am indeed capable of anything if I put my mind to it. Or maybe that if I keep persisting and re-posting something 50 times, it's bound to work sooner or later.


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