Greatness In Two Leagues: WSL X NBA

Many years ago, there was a Surfline article comparing Kelly and Kobe. Not the comparison I made, but still cool to see surf media try to branch out.

There are really only 2 sports I follow closely. First, and probably the easier one to guess, is surfing. It’s been the sport and lifestyle my existence has revolved around and something I have known since the beginning of my life. I follow the sport in all realms-competition, trending surfers, the next big things, and anything else you can think of. I work in the industry, which also helps keep me pretty tapped into the latest and greatest. But the other sport I tend to enjoy watching and try to follow a bit is basketball. Now, it’s definitely not at the level of surfing. In surfing, I watch events from the QS and tune in when I can. This would almost be the equivalent of watching a G league event (at least at the QS1000s). But I do watch a decent chunk of hoops and do like to follow the NBA. There are so many great players (much like surfing) that it’s just enjoyable to watch no matter who’s on the court (with slight exceptions). 

I feel like I recall seeing this exact article, but last Saturday as I was milling around my house I got the idea stuck in my head. Let’s compare some of my favorite or most iconic surfers to those in the NBA. It’s pretty easy to draw comparisons in the sphere of elite athletes, as no matter how different the activity could be, the mindset and work ethic stays the same. Read below if you enjoy surfing, basketball, the NBA, the WSL, or none of it and just want to read some recent words from me.

2 GOATS- MICHAEL JORDAN AND KELLY SLATER

I could go into detail about the accolades of both of these athletes-but I don’t think I really need to. If you’ve had an ounce of interest in either sport of basketball or surfing-these are the two household names. Although their accolades are slightly different (Kelly being the leader by a mile of most world titles-Jordan not having the most titles but putting on crazy performances), the way they transcended the sport and have become larger than life is what puts them at GOAT status. Jordan blitzed the field on the court and then built one of the largest shoe empires in the world. Kelly was the first surfer to mingle with superstar status, collect the most world titles and wins ever, and still competes to this day at a high level. To me, their greatest of all time status is undeniable. 

2 PROLIFIC PLAYERS- KOBE BRYANT AND ANDY IRONS

On first glance, you may think this comparison might be linked to the fact that we lost both of these legends of the sport at an earlier age than we might have liked (both due to very different circumstances). As tragic of an ending both of these suffered, I think the thing that really puts these two icons in the world of comparison is how they performed in their respective jerseys. Andy and Kobe were both killers. No matter how nice they might have been outside competition or how close of friends they were with their opponent-when it was game time all bets were off. Raw talent mixed with this undeniable will to win made these two legends challenge some of the best athletes in their sport and come out on top. Both had an insane reign of dominance during some of the golden eras of their respective sports, and won’t be forgotten as they etched their names into the history books of surfing and basketball. 

THE GOATS OF THE PRESENT-LEBRON JAMES AND JOHN FLORENCE 

If you took a poll of 100 surfers and 100 basketball players and asked them who has been the most dominant player and surfer in the last couple years-you’d probably get ¾’s of the answer to sound like this: Lebron James and John John Florence. While it’s hard to compare the household nameness since basketball has a much broader audience-you’d be hard pressed to meet a surfer who doesn’t have JJF in their top 5. Both are super likeable and have put on jaw dropping performances over the last couple of seasons. While Lebron has more competition success, John John is no slouch and has dropped some of the gnarliest freesurf clips and insane, full production movies of recent memory. As well as becoming a back to back world champion-which is no easy feat in the world of surfing. . At the start of the WSL and NBA season, no matter what’s going on in either league, one question is always posed: Can they win another?

UNDENIABLE ABILITY (WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT) KEVIN DURANT AND GABRIEL MEDINA

In every sport, some off the field (or court [or surf]) antics can really make fans have a bitter taste in their mouth. I can’t think of two more perfect people in their respective sports for this than Kevin Durant and Gabriel Medina. Medina has been heralded as one of the greatest competitors since Kelly Slater. Some seasons, NBA analysts will claim Durant is the best player in the NBA. Both have less than ideal ways they have gotten to their championships-but you would have to be a casual fan or in denial to not believe these two are not some of the best in the sport. Whether you like it or not KD and Medina are here to stay and push the sport like the people before them did. 

THE BEST TO NEVER WIN THE CHIP- ALLEN IVERSON AND TAJ BURROW

Always the bridesmaid, but never the bride. These two are heralded as absolute legends of the sport, but will always have a chink in their armor of never winning a championship. Most fans can overlook it for the sheer impact both these athletes have had on their sport, but you have to think that it’s gotta hurt that both have gotten so close but never tasted the number one spot. 

X FACTOR THAT DOESN’T TRANSLATE TO WINS- RUSSEL WESTBROOK AND JULIAN WILSON

Much like the two above, Julian Wilson and Russell Westbrook have explosive styles during their time of play. Heralded to both be future champions, things just haven’t worked out. Julian has gotten so close he could taste it, Russell has almost made it many times. Both have put out crazy highlight reels and stats in their careers, but these accolades and numbers have not equaled a championship-yet. Julian has tapped out, but with Russell’s new teammates, I think his time is now. 

CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE- TIM DUNCAN AND MICK FANNING

The players favorite players. It seems like a lot of the current crop of top 10 surfers would cite Mick as one of their favorite surfers-thanks to a combo of solid foundational technique and competitive prowess. To be honest, I’m not sure how Tim Duncan’s peers viewed him, but the bond he had with his team and coach led him to 5 championships, all from pure fundamentals and a keen understanding of the game of basketball. Like the title says-these two just produced consistent excellence throughout the length of their careers. 

THE GREAT WITH ONLY 1 CHIP- DIRK NOWITSKI AND PARKO

One is better than none. Two top level performers of the 2010s and both retiring around the same time, Parko and Dirk both were considered masters at their strong suits in the sport-but the elusive world championship win had eluded both for a large chunk of their career. There are plenty of players that never win a championship, but the willpower of both Dirk and Parko is what drove them both to their maiden victory. Funnily enough-Parko would end up defeating Kelly Slater to earn his world title, while Dirk and his team defeated the red hot Miami Heat-led by Lebron James.

More Kobe. The time he spoke with the USA Surfing Association in leading up to the Olympics.

Under the Influence (4 substances)

If you happened to read the initial post on this sight, you have a decent idea of how my last couple months have gone and what type of person I am tailored to in a professional setting. Lets back peddle a little. As a follow-up to the last piece, I think talking about how I’ve became the person you see on socials or in person can be attributed to the things you see daily and what you associate yourself with. Obviously there are things that are very concrete related to how I act and present myself (my family and upbringing). But in this digital age we live in, we can really get involved and learn things from people you may never have the chance to meet or see on the daily.

Open up Instagram and your feed at any given moment can be cluttered with all different sorts of things. From a meme to a sports highlight to a supermodels post, anything can pop up in no particular order (well, I guess the algorithm is a thing) and give you a sensory overload. This can be amplified if you have lots of diverse interest and also follow a large amount of people. My feed tends to go a little something like this: surf photos and clips, GQ posts, tattoos, memes, sports clips, skateboarding shots, the list goes on as you can tell. I follow a lot more people than companies, as I think you can take more out of this rather than buying into a company’s style and sense of direction. I would be blatantly lying if I denied using certain accounts for things from technique in surfing to picking out an outfit for Coachella. Whether it’s friends I don’t live near or celebrities, I draw influence from Instagram daily.

On top of all this, we have a whole universe of video content on YouTube we can also tap into. We find bite sized clips on the gram but some videos really can get a person of interest to open up, whether in the form of a day in the life, vlog, interview, or podcast. This is something no one should take for granted. Everyone on this earth has an attribute someone might find attractive, and listening to master of these certain traits can better help expand the mind. A great example of this is the HBO special The Shop. (Click the image to be taken to the episode featuring drake in full you have some time to kill, it also features the like of Victor Oladipo and Elena Delle Donne)

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Before the Internet, this would be the equivalent of sitting in on a conversation with Michael Jordan, The Beatles (I’m not saying drake is equivalent to them, but he did just break their record of having top 10 billboard songs), and a business mogul of equivalence to Maverick Carter (I can’t give a solid example on this one). There are also other top tier athletes and cultural icons that speak on the show, but Bron Bron and Drake alone scream excellence. Listen carefully and you might end up with a nice little take away.

No matter what how you chop it up, outside influence is ever apparent in the society we live in today. So much so one can be paid to be an “influencer”, as in just posting things relative to their image. This is an interesting entity to me, as most influencers are essentially flexing wealth, followers, or physical appearance. While many people have inspired me, direct influence is apparent in a handful of personalities I deeply enjoy. Here is a brief breakdown that I think reflects me as a person and gives a snapshot of genres I like to explore on the daily.

ASAP ROCKY

I write to hip-hop music. I drive to hip-hop music. I lift weights to hip-hop. I wait until 9pm every Thursday to see the new hip-hop releases. While music in general is a large part of my existence and I listen to all genres (except country), I would say 90% of the time hip-hop is blasting through my speakers. I could probably write a whole post on just my hip-hop artist preferences in general. However, if I had to boil it down to one artist I play the most, it would go to ASAP Rocky. It started in 2011 when I first heard “Peso.” Fast forward to 2018, ASAP dropped him long awaited album “TESTING” that would receive mixed reviews. This, tied into his ventures into fashion, is the reasoning why he has had influence on me. Rocky has been known to be a trendsetter and often swims against the grain, combining forward thinking with a keen sense of style. Rocky was one of the first to utilize his music presence to travel into other genres, and do so very successfully. ASAP Rocky showed you aren’t confined to borders of profession and how you can use following to help support outside endeavors.

KELLY SLATER

King Kelly. The greatest surfer to ever live no matter how you splice it. Kelly’s dominance has spanned over 20 years with close to no signs of slowing down. He also just happened to create the world’s most perfect artificial wave. All of this aside, one thing Kelly is crowned with and often overlooked is his extreme health regimens and diets. Kelly was one of the first action sports athletes to cross train and really bring the aspect of going to the gym to help perfect your craft. This has been apparent in popular sports since their beginning, but has been seen as taboo in the action sports world. However, when people finally starting connecting the dots between Kelly’s age and peak performances, people started jumping on the health train. While Kelly is only a surfer, it would be foolish to think snowboarders and skateboarders alike did not catch wind of his success and get inspired to get in the gym and get a stricter diet. In 2018, all action sports athletes of the highest-level cross train and pay attention to what they put into their body. All thanks to Kelly.

DYLAN REIDER

Dylan was a skateboarder by profession, and by far one of the most influential and stylish of the generation. His influence and overall respect from his peers is immeasurable. Dylan passed in the month of October back in 2016, but has lived on in skateboarding and will forever. Dylan channeled his style and outside passions in a similar sense to ASAP, branching out from skateboarding and modeling for companies such as DKNY. Funny enough, he would be in an ad campaign along side ASAP and also Cara Delevingne. Largely scrutinized for the way he dressed and also coming out with a signature shoe that resembled more of a dress shoe silhouette than a skate shoe, Dylan did not care what people had to say. His skating did the talking. Dylan knew he didn’t want to be defined just by skateboarding and broke boundaries none had really explored in the industry before. And his video parts are highly regarded as some of the best skateboarding in recent years. Dylan’s style on and off the skateboard has directly influenced many, including myself.

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FRIENDS

Guilty by association is something I learned very early on in life. The people you hang out with directly influences your image and also curates you to act certain ways and mesh with your peers. All throughout my life I have had very diverse friends groups, and all of which have taught me important lessons. From my quiet upbringing back east to my current living situation in Southern California, passionate people achieving their best person always have surrounded me. This has always deeply inspired me both on a professional and moral standpoint to achieve my best person and never give up on a dream. From entrepreneurs to athletes and everything in between, let me use this moment to thank everyone that has spent time with me and rubbed off a little bit of themselves on me.

Outside influence is everywhere and ever more apparent the more the online world advances. We can get inside information at the click of the button in little to no time, and really has destroyed privacy in general, making your private world very public. Whether this is for better or worse, it is here to stay. You can either use it as an advantage or let it be a disadvantage to you. The world is in the palm of you hand (literally, just unlock your iPhone).