The “Dog”in You


A few years ago, a high school senior that I coached in Atlanta, Georgia was being recruited by an NAIA school in South Carolina for basketball. I drove the kid out to the school on an official visit so he could meet the coaches, see the campus and get a little workout with the team. As I sat in the room with a few of the college basketball coaches and answered questions about how they could land this recruit, I thought it would be wise to increase my knowledge of the game since it was my first year with a clipboard in my hand. I asked the seasoned head coach of that school a series of coaching related questions. He answered the best he could, and then he got really serious when he told me what he needed on his roster.

He loved shooters, defenders, and unselfish guys, but most of all he needed dogs. “Is this kid a dog?”air bud dog

He inquired firmly and I wasn’t totally sure how to answer. I said that he had displayed spurts of “dogness” and “dogicity.”  They chuckled…but since I was still in student mode, I fired a question back at him: if a player isn’t a dog, can you inject some canine in him? He swiftly replied no. He said, “But if there’s some dog deep down inside him…I can find it.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s used in sports to define a relentless player that has a killer instinct and competitive nature that doesn’t involve backing down. Dogs don’t believe in excuses, they love to be challenged, and they exhibit supreme confidence because they train just as hard as they play. It’s deeper than being a superb talent or having a will to win. Canines are carnivorous beings that will slay their own flesh and blood on a playing field to obtain victory. Think Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett. Michael Jordan had a cutthroat spirit that carried over into the golf course, the gambling arena, and the boardroom. He made up self-victimizing lies in his head before games so he could be angry at his opponents.jordan1 Nowadays you see guys like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, and maybe even Draymond Green just to name a few that have a kill-switch that they hit when it’s time to destroy an adversary.

Of course during my own self-reflection I thought about this seemingly natural trait and wondered if I was one of those people with the deep down dog buried within. Shamefully, I attempt to motivate youngsters on the court with a whistle around my neck using encouraging words, but at times, I envy the potential-filled position they are in. And as much as I sarcastically scold someone for “not wanting it” bad enough, I feel like I am speaking to the 15-year-old version of myself at times. I want to tell these students that their coach didn’t play with an edge in high school, he wasn’t a killer, and he knows what it’s like to think he’s really good, but never reach his full potential. Who wants to hear that story as motivation? Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Kobe,

This was written before Kobe’s retirement announcement. Had I known this would be his final season, I may have approached this letter differently. But I think it still fits…check it out.

Let me preface this by saying I am a huge Kobe Bryant fanatic. This didn’t just start a few years, months, or days ago…I’ve been watching the dude since 1995 when I was still in high school. I heard about Kobe Bryant when he was a junior at Lower Merion and of course I was skeptical. Then I saw some footage of him and I officially became a hater. I was a year older than him and he was making headlines for talking about being NBA ready.


A year later I was away at junior college in Iowa watching the McDonald’s All-American game and I was jealous because Ed Cota from Brooklyn got to play in that game on Kobe’s team and I foolishly thought because I played against Ed that maybe I was good enough to be there. I wasn’t. Watching Kobe go through warm-ups and seeing the way he carried himself during that game, I told everyone that he was next up. I didn’t know for sure but I saw a dude that had a true mission that transcended some silly high school all-star game and loaning his talents to the collegiate world for a year so they could capitalize off his greatness. He was focused on being the next Jordan. Let me rephrase that, he was determined to be better than Jordan. He even told Michael that he could beat him once he arrived in the league.


Dear Mr. Bryant,

I know that I am a stranger to you. I’ve read Mad Game, watched every documentary that told a piece of your story, I even bought your expensive shoes a few times and that still gives me no right to address you directly. But last week I watched you compete against the Golden State Warriors while they were on a quest to break a record for being undefeated to begin a basketball season. They were successful and easily skated to a 40-point blowout and no one was surprised. The Lakers look like a college team when it comes to their cohesiveness and fire. Maybe Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell can’t play in your enormous shadow. Or could it be that the talent on the young team isn’t what we thought it was? I won’t go as far as to say that you guys should have drafted Mudiay or Okafor, but I feel like if you had a killer on your team, you could sniff him out and crown him. lakers

But this isn’t about those dudes, this is about what I witnessed the other night. Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Ramble #30 “Fan”Tasy Sports

My team didn’t win the Super Bowl. Let me rephrase that, my team wasn’t in the Super Bowl.
Come to think about it, I don’t have a team at all. And I just came to that realization this morning. I don’t play fantasy sports, not because they aren’t cool but because I don’t have friends to explain how they work or to compete with. No! Don’t feel bad now and invite me into your league. I’ll forget that I’m playing and lose terribly and then you will have wasted your precious time.

And it’s not because I’m busy or anything, I’m just bad with doing anything daily that’s not eating or cleaning myself.

With that said, all these years of my life I’ve been rooting for the Giants, hoping North Carolina’s basketball team wins, blah blah, blah and for what?

Being a fan of a professional sports team gets you absolutely nowhere. The only outcome is continuous disappointment. If it’s your college alma mater or your kid’s soccer squad, I say go hard, but losing your lunch over some millionaires that don’t know you or need you is too much.

Sure I was happy the Lakers won 2 years in a row, but now I’m all worried they won’t win again. And you know who doesn’t care? The Lakers.

I don’t have stock options; I’m not related to anyone on the team, I’m not even from LA. And yet here I am, watching avidly, calling myself a fan. A fan of a team isn’t like being a fan of an artist.

If Chris Brown was to hit another woman, chances are he would lose fans, they would buy less records, stop coming to his shows, and hurt his career directly.

If Kobe allegedly rapes another woman, he’ll get backlash, a loud boo here and there…hell he may even lose an endorsement or 2 but people will still go to the games. His jersey would still sell, he wins no matter what.

And his paycheck won’t get altered. He gets a salary. I’m a fan of someone with a job. And he’s not even the only person responsible for the team winning. At least if I’m a Tiger Woods fan, it’s all on him if he loses. Team sports have a lot of folks to blame. The more people down with you, the more finger pointing.

Imagine being on a football team and you play defense and you’re on the sideline when some wide receiver drops an open pass that could’ve won the game. I would be pissed. How pissed can you be sitting in your living room watching though? Do I have the same right? It’s entertainment isn’t it? For the fans?

Don’t believe that, fans don’t get anything but fanship. No key chains, no mini-trophies. When we fill out census forms, they should ask you for your favorite teams. And when they win a title, you should receive a bonus check in the mail for $25 or something. Or a free ticket to next year’s game, or season 2 of random TV shows like Bones or House or Dexter even. The show should definitely have 1 word, and the 2nd season would make you have to get the 1st season. This would have nothing to do with your team but this is what should happen. Cross marketing.

What if you were a fan of the Bulls in the 90’s and had to wait like a decade and a half later for them to be contenders again? Just admit you liked Jordan and give up on them already. It’s ok. Or maybe you liked the Knicks back when Patrick Ewing and his coco bread kneepads were dominating.

In 2011 you can be a fan again. But that took entirely too long, Pat’s son is a college grad. People were Cavaliers fans just last year, now they’re sending death threats to Lebron and throwing out racial slurs.
If you think about it, people are upset at a dude for changing companies. I thought he was a punk too but now I see the error in my judgment.
If someone leaves Mr. Pibb to go work for Pepsi, can you really be upset? Some of you don’t even know who Mr. Pibb is.
They were burning his jersey in Cleveland. That’s like a Sprint worker burning my old bill because I switched to TMobile and I took my number. That is kind of disrespectful on my part but I don’t think it’s that serious to want to kill me.

Recently, my favorite old lady greeter at Wal-Mart left and I thought she re-retired, but I heard she went to Costco. I was like, “I don’t have a Costco card. I can’t root for you.” But I didn’t burn her old apron.

It crossed my mind but I didn’t. Look all I’m saying is continue to be a fan if you want to, go to games, spend $40 on food and drink while you’re there, argue with your friends about statistics, google those stats while you’re out on your smart(ass)phone, wear team colors, make songs, lose bets, and think nothing of it.

Or change teams every season when the playoffs roll around like I’m about to do, and when you’re at next year’s Super Bowl house party or this year’s March Madness shindig, be sure to go pee when the action’s happening and not during a quiet commercial. You’re welcome.