I was a very active basketball blogger for most of 2005 ~ 2013 and when you write and think about basketball as much as I did there’s one guy you write and think about a lot about and that is Kobe Bryant. In and around that period which happened to coincide with the rise of YouTube and social media he would win 5 NBA Championships, numerous all star, nba 1st teams, defensive teams and all sorts of fantastic accolades. As such he wasn’t only on my mind but pretty much anyone who followed sports. Within that period Nike invited me to cover two of his visits in the Philippines the 2nd of which in 2011 was a special event to remember. Fans from all over converged onto BGC and Araneta to catch a glimpse. It was so special even veteran event organizers were stunned at the scale. I wasn’t just jostling for position with local press, there were people from Agency France Press, CNN, Chinese, Indian and Taiwanese press all occupying what little space we had to get a good shot.

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WIItnessing History – LeBron's Manila Visit 2013

Once again I have been very privileged to have been able to see yet another NBA superstar, and this time no less than the biggest star of them all, with 2 rings, 4 MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs, and 2 All-Star MVPs, 2 Olympic golds, 2 Bronze, 1 Fiba gold, current NBA Champion and current MVP LeBron James.


The day started out at Shangrila Makati where all of us media listened to a ten minute interview between him and Boom Gonzales.

Media were unfortunately unable to ask questions ‘due to time constraints’, which was unfortunate not necessarily because I had anything to ask, but because Q&A sessions are almost always a riot. When Kobe came there was a guy who was taking so much time leading up to his question remembering stories of his being a fan of Kareem, Magic and the old Lakers, that I could swear he forgot his question so he ended up rambling about his College days. Continue reading “WIItnessing History – LeBron's Manila Visit 2013”

Summing up the lockout: Players or Owners?

When I first heard about the lockout, I knew it was likely if not sure that there wasn’t going to be a season this year. The primary reason being that if there was anything I knew about the NBA, it’s that it’s run by egos. Not money, certainly not basketball, absolutely not the fans, but egos. Large, enormous and constantly yearning for attention. Not that other organizations aren’t. In fact, what I realized after reading so many books and studying players and teams for years, is that the NBA is like any other organization in that sense. Behind a polished facade and a professional stance are two constantly at odds parties – players and owners – who for years hurl things at one another when their backs are turned with everything they can pick up off the floor.

The battlecry for each party is very ego – driven, and it is summed up by the question: ‘Who is more important, the owner or the players?‘ Players will clearly say they are, because they’re the faces that the fans recognize. The fans will always side with players too, because fans know players, not owners. Owners of course, will always negate that, simply because they are the owners, whose money and initiative it was that started the team and formed the league in the first place. Clearly they are the ones who make the rules, right?

The item used to determine who wins this battle as it often is, is money. Money is quantifiable and has specific value. The problem with money however, is that while it can make you materially rich, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are respected, and in the NBA, everyone yearns for respect (I told you this is about egos, remember?). So what do people who earn lots of money but still do not feel respected do? They try to get more money. This is why rich people seem to have a bottomless need for more and more. Money, as it often is, is mistaken as the balm that soothes the ache that is caused by not getting respect.

Continue reading “Summing up the lockout: Players or Owners?”

The Kobe Experience Part III – 3 of 5 (Now With Far Better Pics)

Outstanding images courtesy of good friend The Blender, whose photo services I am blatantly plugging and whose other work can be found here and here. I’ll be damned if you can find a better sports photographer imho, in particular with skills that allow him to shoot fast sports action in low light. I first wrote about him here. If you need a photog to shoot a basketball game you’d be an IDIOT to hire anyone else trust me.

So anyway let’s continue our journey, from the Manila Pen we then went straight to Gawad Kalinga at Taguig.

Continue reading “The Kobe Experience Part III – 3 of 5 (Now With Far Better Pics)”

Kobe Experience Part III, 2 of 5 (Aka The Dreaded Adobo Question)

Ok taking off from the last post, the next day started with lunch and a 12nn press conference. Fantastic kudos is due the organisers because I still very clearly remember the mayhem of 2007  when the presscon was at a Makati Shangrila ballroom. There were at least 300 ~ 500 press, approximately ten times more than yesterday’s and the moment they opened the doors all hell broke loose and publications like Agency France Press, Kyodo News mixed with local networks rushed to the best spot they could and stayed there despite repeated requests by security and hotel staff to move. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were near scuffles as no one wanted to budge an inch and as a result we were delayed at least an hour. This time however it was smooth as silk. We all fit in Manila Pen’s Conservatory, a relatively small venue and he was in and out within an hour.

Now what follows is an amazing stroke of luck so pay attention. The moment I got into the Conservatory, I opted to plant my laptop on top of one of those circular tables at the side to just type up whatever I could hear of what he says. I already had a good photographer with me so I didn’t have to squeeze with the others and I had no plans of asking him questions since I was sure the other press would at least ask one or two intelligent ones worth publishing (although someone STILL insists on wasting time asking him if he’s tried adobo. WHY IN HELL do we keep asking foreigners to try adobo? It reeks of being unprepared to ask him more relevant questions, and there are many!).

At any rate, here I was busy in front of my laptop when I realized there wasn’t anyone beside me. Security had cordoned the photographers, then I realized why: Kobe was going to pass right in front me on his way towards the stage! The irony was inexplicable. Here I was assuming I’d be the farthest from him, when it turned out he was only going to be an arm’s length away. It occurred to me to try not to call attention to myself so they wouldn’t spot me and kick me out of there so I tried my best to blend in with the hotel’s wallpaper.

So it was all a matter of time until:

The quality of questions varied from the the logical, the expected and the (as a good friend describes it) asinine, in reference to the adobo question. Later on, he was asked the adobo question again at Araneta. If I had a nickel for every time a Pinoy asks a foreigner if he’s had adobo in lieu of more pertinent information I’d have a lot of nickels. We have just GOT to stop asking this question because neither the person asking, the person being asked and especially the reading and watching public really care about this, period.

Some of the more pertinent ones were:

  • Re KD and Rose to play in an exhibition game against Smart Gilas, and that he’s just as clueless about this as everyone, so at the moment let’s just classify that news as ‘rumour’.
  • He considers the game 7 between boston and LA to be the most challenging ever in his career. I remember that game clearly and can still remember the absolute look of anguish and joy in his face when they won. He wasn’t even playing well then and they were saved only by Artest’s heroics.
  • Re lockout: “Its a part of business and that’s what happens to global sports. I just want to see what happens. As players we have a responsibility to our fans.”
  • Asked to define greatness: “There is no way to define greatness. whether you are a doctor or lawyer its all in the preparation. Just preparation.
  • Re knees issue, procedures: “It is what it is, but i feel confident.
  • Re Italian influence: “It gave me a broader view of the world, enabled me to embrace other cultures. I grew up in an Italian school.

And so on.

The sound wasn’t too good where I was and besides the people around me were chatting ceaselessly so that made it all the more harder to write down notes. At any rate I learned a lot of important stuff. Just the quashing of the Kobe + Rose + KD against Smart Gilas rumour was good enough copy.

It was amazing to see how excited everyone was. Even the waiters and hotel staff struggled to concentrate on their work and keep from giggling like little schoolgirls even before he even came in the room. Everyone was so excited and we had all worked ourselves to a tizzy. It was an amazing experience and we we still had 2 more events to cover after this.

I need to wrap this up right now to get on with other work. It looks like I won’t be able to finish this all in 2 posts so I’m assuming I’ll do 5, writing when I can. We’re off to an Iloilo vacay tom (July 15th), so I’ll try to write when I find internet. Later!