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.

4 recommended reads from my 2021 reading list

The ever-growing collection: if you can’t see the title I haven’t read it yet. With only one left, I’m gonna need some more books soon.

If you happened to read my last post (shame on you if you have not), you’ll remember me referencing reading quite a bit. This cannibalizes my writing time, but to hone your craft of combining words, reading is the tried and true practice. Read all sorts of different books. Read all sorts of writing styles. Fiction. Non-fiction. First person. Third person. You get the idea. 

I like to think I might have some books on the shelf that those who read this blog might enjoy. Some recommendations from friends. Some I found on my own. All sorts of literature crammed together spine to spine. I decided to tee up a couple books you might want to consider opening: 

RAW by LAMONT HAWKINS

(https://www.amazon.com/Raw-My-Journey-into-Wu-Tang/dp/1250191173/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=raw+lamont&qid=1628609529&sr=8-1)

For my rap fans and biography junkies. This tells the tale of Lamont “U God” Hawkins, a kid growing up in Staten Island that would help create one of the most famous rap groups in history: the Wu Tang Clan. It’s just one of those books once you pick it up it is hard to put down. Also, you might feel a little extra fortunate about your upbringing-not having to deal with some of the same struggles Lamont dealt with.

(ALSO READ: LENNY KRAVITZ LET LOVE RULE– A similar tale of a star’s rise to success.)

THE ART OF RESILIENCE by ROSS EDGLEY

(https://www.amazon.com/Art-Resilience-Strategies-Unbreakable-Mind/dp/0008356939/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=ross+edgley&qid=1628609711&sr=8-2)

I picked this book up after hearing Ross talk on a podcast during one of my workdays. Here’s the skinny- the guy swam around Great Britain. You can only imagine the amount of problems one can run into while swimming 1780 miles at sea. A great story about never giving up and doing the unthinkable.

(ALSO READ: DAVID GOGGINS CAN’T HURT ME– Another strong minded individual [and much more known than Edgley].)

EGO IS THE ENEMY by RYAN HOLIDAY

(https://www.amazon.com/Ego-Enemy-Ryan-Holiday/dp/1591847818/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ego+is+the+enemy&qid=1628609782&sr=8-1)

Everyone’s head inflates a little at some point in their life. Ryan explains the many benefits of putting hard-headedness to the side and embracing the underdog role. There’s a big difference between ego and confidence-and this book helps draw the line. 

(ALSO READ: RYAN HOLIDAY THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY– Kinda the sequel to ego is the enemy, it again hones in on perspective and the best way to embrace challenges.)

7 SPIRITUAL LAWS by DEEPAK CHOPRA

(https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Spiritual-Laws-Success-Fulfillment/dp/1878424114/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=7+spiritual+laws+deepak&qid=1628609841&sr=8-3)

One of my favorite books on my bookshelf. A quick, easy read that you can tailor to whatever situation in life you may find yourself. Read it quickly-read it often.

(ALSO READ: DEEPAK CHOPRA 7 SPIRITUAL LAWS AGAIN- It’s one of those books worth revisiting after a little time has gone by.)

Back to sharpening the blade

Hey-it’s been a little while. Personally, it feels like it’s been a really long time. But if you scroll down to the next chronological post after this one, you’ll see it’s only been a handful of months. Nonetheless, the frequency in which my writing passages were being created started dwindling exponentially since my last post (damn that sentence sounds exquisite). Prior to writing this one on July twentieth, they had actually been non-existent. 

It’s not because I stopped writing in my career-I still definitely did that rather often. And it hasn’t stopped. I probably write close to everyday, but for a paycheck rather than personal growth or enjoyment. It was a pretty rigid routine-work Monday through Friday and then be as far away from the laptop (and especially writing) for the duration of the weekend. This sounds a little concerning, but it’s not like I gave up on knowledge gaining pursuits as a whole. They say to be a good writer you have to read, and I had been reading a shit ton. My bookshelf is within arm’s distance of my desk, so let’s see if I can get a rough estimate of books read…turns out my memory isn’t that sharp and with the amount of books on the shelf I got confused as to the time I read some. Upon referencing my amazon purchase history, it looks like the number is fifteen. So around 2 books a month. Some long, some short. But you get the picture.

So it’s a Tuesday morning (now Thursday) before I plug into work-I chose not to surf as we have been on a swell bender and the waves looked average at best (there probably were a couple fun ones). But nonetheless, here we are. Back to tapping the keys for enjoyment. And it’s not that I do not enjoy writing for work-it’s awesome. But for me, it is much harder. Right now I am literally just taking the shotgun blast of ideas in my head about this post and putting them into the google doc. Much less thought goes into these posts, and I write them in my character and tone, which isn’t too hard to create as it’s me. 

Alright time to wrap this up (as I could ramble on for paragraphs)-I’m back. Keep your eyes peeled for new word spewings from me, all in due time. 

A GREAT WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY: BREAKING ROUTINE

In the normal 9-5 world, the weekend is the holy grail. Sundays turn into Mondays, and after Monday we are already wondering where the weekend is. Saturday and Sunday’s offer most an open slate for whatever they wish to do. Whether that be have some fun, better yourself, socialize, or have some me time, there is an infinite amount of choices you can make to spend your weekend. At least for me, they are pretty predictable in a sense: there will most likely be surfing each morning, potentially a workout and a run, and the nights of recent have been hanging out with my roommates and other acquaintances. Soon enough, the nights will be occupied with debauchery and suds. I can’t tell you how long this has been my routine. Sure, throughout my career work has been on the weekends in my retail days. But this really didn’t alter my schedule. It was everything I said above, all for the most part in my local neighborhood, and any open space was consumed with some of my activities I liked- reading, writing, making beats, watching videos, sunbathing etc. 

Sometimes we need to switch it up though. It might seem hard to believe, but sometimes I don’t want to surf. I do it every morning so you could see how some days I just want to do something different (obviously this is when the waves are small or look less desirable, because my fomo for waves is still strong as ever). Take some time off and start the day a different way. You see, I think everyone needs to practice this. We often get stuck in such a rut of monotony that we don’t even notice. And a lot of times it’s not really a bad thing to be stuck in a routine. Sometimes it feels good to have that familiarity. But oftentimes I believe you gotta switch it up sooner or later. Somethings gotta go different, even if you are seriously invested in whatever you are doing. Everyone needs a break.

First thing you can do is change the activity list. It’s always nice to try something new or do something you don’t do as often as before. Whether this activity is taxing or not is up to you. Don’t read a ton? Take a morning to eat some words before breakfast. Haven’t worked out in a while? Get the body moving and see if you get hooked again. Always eat out? Try and cook every meal for fun. Just try and shock your body and mind with something you don’t do often. This is really easy and doesn’t require much effort. You can also change the setting of where you are. Spend some time with yourself and keep it low for a weekend. It’s a pretty good way to reset and feel fresh if you have been taxed. I feel like I have spoken to this subject before, but just breaking routine is a great way to spend a day off. It might be not as comfortable or regular as your normal routine, but that’s the best part. The shock. Kind of like the first dip of an ice bath. 

Whatever, wherever, or however you plan to spend that weekend: don’t’ fret. There are plenty more in the year, and it’s not like they really go away. If you spend the weekend how you usually do that’s just fine. But at least acknowledge the idea of something new.

THE RAGER RETURNS: MOTM3

If you have been a fan of hip hop for the past decade or so, the name Kid Cudi does not strike you as a new gen rapper or a new face on the scene. Albeit he has “Kid” in his name and could easily be confused with another “Lil”, he is far from that. His first project, “A Kid Named Cudi” features some classic Cudder cuts that introduce you to his style and was an initial mark that Cudi would be a breath of fresh air in the rap/hip-hop genre. Following this project is what most would call his magnum opus: “Man on the Moon”. This would feature platinum hits like Day N Nite as well as Pursuit of Happiness. Cudi had arrived and been here to stay since this release in 2009.

Fast-forward to 2020 and we’ve heard a lot from Cudi (maybe almost too much), most recently was the Kanye-collaborated Kids See Ghosts, which received much acclaim. In between, Cudi had released Man on the Moon II in the early 2010s, delivering the classic Cudi sound we have come to know and love. But since then, it’s been peaks and valleys for most Cudi fans. WZRD, Satellite Flight, Indicud, etc.. share eclectic sounds and not your classic Man on the Moon Cudi. Some loved it, most hated it. Cudi was expanding his sound and trying new things, something most great artists do at some point during their career.

But with 2020 being a lock from quarantine and Scott having some extra time on his hands, he got to work. In the middle of the year we were teased with the trilogy to the Man on the Moon saga, and on December 11th we were blessed with a new Cudi project. Safe to say everyone was uber excited. Most didn’t know what to expect- since the only times they had heard Cudi recently were on the Kanye collab tape and on his #1 single this year The Scotts which featured the help of Travis Scott. So what would we get from Kid Cudi for Man on the Moon 3? All we could do is wait and hope.

Exactly what we were anticipating is what arrived in December. See the thing is, Man on the Moon 1 & 2 have the distinct Cudi sound- catchy hooks, half happy half sad, hum assisted, sneaky-bar-filled music we have come to love from Cudder. The intro of MOTM3 features a sound from the second man on the Moon album, and it feels like there wasn’t a 10 year gap that had starved the fans of the series. One of my favorite cuts, Tequila shots, plays next, and boy did I get excited when this song started. Cudi is back. I don’t want to deep dive into every track, as I want you to hear it for yourself. When I finished the album, I was very happy and content with Cudi. It made me revisit his old work, which is also still very pleasurable to listen to. He has truly lasted the test of time and has left his mark on the music scene in many genres.

But let’s focus on the new, and not dwell in the past. There are for sure some pretty classic sounding Cudi tracks, as well as some that feature more of Scott proving his rap chops. The main thing that I believe sets apart this project from the past 2 is just how much modern influence is involved in it. Enlisting his normal producers, he also tapped upon Take A Day Trip to help with production, who has made songs with everyone from Lil Nas X to Big Sean to Dua Lipa and so on. You can tell that the songs feature the classic Cudi sounds but often have modern takes like hard hitting bass and hi-hats. Also, this is the first time we really hear Cudi ad-lib on some tracks, a staple in modern hip-hop. But I think this is enough words and thoughts- if you haven’t listened yet, I suggest running it top to bottom, no skips, no shuffle. If that seems out of your wheelhouse, check out my favorites below. You won’t be disappointed.