The Gospel of Smoov

Free of obstructed views and fair-weathered opinions

9/11: 20 Years Later

Even though we lost our two front teeth, don’t forget to smile.

Lemon Andersen, poet

How has time flown by so fast?

The World Trade Center in New York City (Korab Collection of the Library of Congress)

It still feels like yesterday when I was finishing my first-period Religion class on my third day of high school. Right before the bell was supposed to ring, we heard over the speakers that the first plane flew into the World Trade Center. Shock and confusion filled our classroom, as well as the entire school. A plane crashed into WTC? That can’t be. This has to be a joke. It certainly wasn’t what you expected to hear from your principal early in the morning.

Then the second plane hit. Then the first tower collapsed. Then the second tower after that. Later, we heard about the hijacked planes crashing in Washington, D.C. and Ohio.

It felt like a bad dream. Hell, it still feels like a bad dream just thinking and writing about it now.

I remember a bunch of us being ushered into the cafeteria, not knowing what would happen next. Were other landmarks in danger? Would someone try to break into the school and try to take us out? Were our loved ones safe and sound, out of harm’s way? It’s tough not to have these thoughts when an attack of this magnitude takes place. It was extra tough for me, being that I was not only starting high school but I was also easily the youngest student by far. And now terrorists want to tear down New York City? The entire United States?

Talk about wanting to throw the whole thing away!

I was lucky and blessed to not lose anybody in the attacks. But I cannot begin to understand the grief of so many people who suffered great loss, both on that day and the years since. I think a lot about the impact 9/11 had on everybody, immediate and otherwise. The innocent lives that were lost. The first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure everyone’s safety. The lives that were affected by the heinous war that resulted from that day. The way New Yorkers came together as one to pull each other through the dark days in the aftermath. I’ve always said that the terrorists that hijacked those four planes tried to break our spirit, but all they did was strengthen our resolve and bring this country together — even for just a small moment in time.

Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about where they were when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy were assassinated. Or when the Challenger blew up on live TV. 9/11 is that moment for me. It was that chilling, shocking moment where I remember exactly where I was when it occurred. I was old enough to understand exactly what was going on. I had a pit in my stomach because I knew life wouldn’t be the same.

My childhood — my innocence — died that day.

But what arose from this tragedy was hope. Hope that we as a nation can continue to heal. Hope that we can rise above the bullshit. Hope that the victims continue to be present not only through their loved ones, but through all of us as a people. Hope that the good in the world will continue to outshine the bad, no matter how rough life gets.

A sight to behold

Hope is what got us through these last 20 years. And it’s hope that will keep us pushing towards a better future.



It took a year and a half for me to start writing on this blog again. Who knew it would take a week after that to be a Lead Writer on a website?

That’s right. Today I published my first article as the New York Knicks Lead Writer for Double G Sports. For those that don’t know, Double G Sports is a sports website that specializes in news throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. I’m very excited that they’ve given me the opportunity to showcase my writing skills. I’m not getting paid for it, but it’s a great way for me to get my name out there and show the world how good of a writer I believe I am.

There will certainly be more to come as I anticipate a very interesting season from the Knicks, and I hope you all get the chance to check out my stuff!

Patience? Yes, Patience

Like any other Knicks fan coming into this offseason, I had big expectations in regards to potential moves that Phil Jackson would make to improve the team. It’s in our nature to hope for a big splash in free agency, embedded in our DNA to be excited about drafting the next young superstar in the NBA Draft. Hell, we feel spoiled at times because of all the incompetence we’ve suffered through for the last 15 seasons. With a high draft pick and bundles of cash to spend, you couldn’t blame us for salivating over the prospect of flanking Carmelo Anthony with the most elite basketball talent available.

Instead, we’ve gotten the exact opposite. No flashy names. No large, crippling contracts. In a summer where everybody and their mother is getting a maximum-value deal, New York has played it safe by bringing in the right role players. Only Robin Lopez (4 years, $54 million) received big money from the Knicks this offseason, and even that deal seems like a bargain compared to what other frontcourt players will earn. He, along with Aaron Afflalo (2 years, $16 million), Derrick Williams (2 years, $10 million) and Kyle O’Quinn (4 years, $16 million in a sign-and-trade), provide the Knicks with players who will do nothing more than play their game and not do too much on the court. Let’s not forget about the Draft, where Phil went with the biggest high risk/high reward talent in Kristaps Porzingis and traded for Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

It’s been a great breath of fresh air to see the Knicks’ braintrust change course in building a team. It shows that Jackson has really been paying attention to how the Knicks operated over the years and wants to put an end to the ineptitude. He’s always understood that TEAMS win championships no matter how talented your best player is. I’d even go as far as to say that Phil doesn’t really concern himself with what Melo might want in this rebuilding process. Newsday’s Al Iannazzone touched on this idea in an article yesterday:

Phil Jackson hasn’t spoken with Carmelo Anthony since he revamped the Knicks’ roster and doesn’t seem concerned about his franchise player’s patience level.

Jackson doesn’t know if he has assembled a playoff team, and that might not sit well with Anthony, who is 31 and coming off knee surgery.

“We’re a team sport,” Jackson said Monday night. “When we’re putting a team together, that’s our first priority — how do we make a team that works together? That’s the important aspect. How this all comes together is still a mystery for us. We’ve got five months to kind of get into it here.

“Obviously, Carmelo is a guy that is a premier player, we understand that. But it’s a team game. And it has to fit together.”

Jackson reiterated that it was by design that the Knicks didn’t go star hunting. “I don’t look at basketball that way,” he said. “That’s what we’ve done over the years in New York. That’s not what I’m doing. We’re going after solid players that will step into vacuums and play ball, and if we have a system that we play basketball together with, that will all work out.”

It’s about damn time!

For all the Knicks fans out there who may not be overly excited with rebuilding, I merely ask that you trust Phil Jackson. He’s won 11 rings as a coach for a reason, and it certainly wasn’t by relying solely on one elite player. There are some really solid players coming into the fold at MSG this season, and they will definitely bring brighter days to the Garden.

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 570 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Daddy Issues?

I am forever grateful that I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother has been nothing short of spectacular, the rock in my life. Although I wondered what life would be like with my father more involved, I have learned so much about being a parent from my mom and plan to be the best parent I can be when I start my own family. So imagine the rage flowing through my body when I read the following quote from CBS Sports columnist Scott Miller regarding Alex Rodriguez returning to the Yankees last night:

Nobody has been more disingenuous than this mutt. Maybe it’s his mammoth insecurity complex. Maybe it’s his enormous capacity for self-delusion. Maybe it’s daddy issues for a man who was raised by a single mother.

Daddy issues? DADDY ISSUES?

Stupidity and subjectivity are nothing new in journalism. We see it every hour of every day. Most of the time I can shrug it off. But Miller’s quote hit home for me. I take a lot of pride in being from a single-parent household, and to see someone look down on it as if it’s something to be ashamed of bothers me. Like myself, I’m sure A-Rod is proud of his upbringing. I’m also certain that he used it as motivation to be the best player and person he could be.

Scott Miller’s comments were horribly irresponsible, and CBS Sports was just as irresponsible in approving the article. Unless he knows Rodriguez personally, he was completely off-base in bringing his mother into this take-down piece. I’m willing to bet that Miller knows numerous people who are products of single-parent homes and not one of them suffered from “daddy issues.” So who the hell is he to even bring that up as a possibility for someone he most likely only knows professionally?

I saw the quote as nothing more than a lazy attempt to further slander Alex Rodriguez’ name. And it was absolutely infuriating to read, more so than the Jason Whitlock piece I read a few weeks ago regarding Jay-Z becoming a sports agent. Let this be a lesson to all sportswriters, current and future: no matter a person’s transgressions or your personal feelings on said person, no one deserves to have their upbringing questioned. NO ONE.

Do I Threaten You?

In light of the “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, I’ve decided to reblog the post I wrote last year regarding the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Regardless of your opinions on the verdict itself, I hope you realize that nobody deserves to be killed solely on their appearance. NOBODY.

The Gospel of Smoov

The following post is dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin, the young brother who was gunned down in Florida over a month ago. Racially motivated of not, there was no need for this young man to lose his life on the basis of looking suspicious.

Do I threaten you?

Do I make you scared for your personal safety?

Do you see me and expect to get robbed or raped?

Do you question how my parents raised me?

If you saw me walking on the same street as you, would you run the other way? If you were across the street, would you call the cops on me?

If I made room for you to sit next to me on the bus or train, would you rather stand?

If I walked into your store, would you deny me service?

If I was hailing a cab, would you drive past me?

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Taking In The Sights

I’ve spent all 25 years of my life in New York City. Like most natives, I go out of my way to avoid many of the city’s tourist attractions. But every now and then it’s nice to enjoy the beauties of these attractions.

That’s exactly what I did on Wednesday when I took my first walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a fantastic view all around and a much-needed walk. I think if I lived near downtown Brooklyn or TriBeCa I’d walk across the bridge every day. I got some nice pictures while walking across, and I hope you enjoy them.








Ode to My Lady

Today is a special day for me, as I celebrate my one-year anniversary with my girlfriend. I wish she wasn’t almost 3,000 miles away, but I know that our love is measured by more than just distance.

Can we run away together and be isolated from the world, just the two of us?

Each time I see your name on my phone, I yearn for your touch even more.

Cold … warm … rain … snow … nothing will slow down the passion we share for one another.

Even through our rough patches, our love remains strong and bring us closer as a couple.

Like the morning sun, you always brighten up my day when I’m down.

I am so happy to have you in my life, and cannot imagine where I’d be without you.

All I want is for us to wake up in each others’ arms and whisper sweet nothings to our ears.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

As I’m sure all the baseball fans out there know, spring training kicks off this week. The Yankees’ pitchers and catchers

Welcome home!

Welcome home!

officially reported to Tampa today to prepare for the 2013 season. Few things compare to hearing the sounds of balls pounding into gloves and cracking off wooden bats as the teams workout in sunny Florida and Arizona to get ready for the grueling 162-game schedule over the course of six months. It’s days like today that make the following announcement worthwhile:

161st & River is back!

Yes, the one-stop website for all your Yankees news that my good friend Sean O’Leary created in 2008 has returned to the web … and we’re coming with a vengeance. In addition to providing you with the top headlines from those paid to write and report on the Yankees we’ll also be creating our own content through the site blog, providing a tweet stream for any instant news & updates, and moderating our discussion forums allowing users to vent about almost anything they wish. It’s easily integrated with Facebook and Twitter, so you have the option to sign in with either account or you can register with an e-mail address.

161st and River was the website that really kicked off my foray into blogging and I plan on being an active part of its return, much like I was dating back to our humble beginnings in 2006 as a Facebook group, as a forum moderator and site blogger. The site is currently slated for an official launch on Opening Day; Sean is presently looking for people to blog, moderate forums and help out with site maintenance. If you’d like to help out in any way, hit us up on Facebook and Twitter.

Hopefully I’ll see you guys at 161st & River!

New York Groove

(Belated) Happy New Year!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Linsanity. I remember that day last year like it was yesterday: NYC was already hyped enough for the Giants playing in the Super Bowl the next day after another improbable playoff run. The Knicks were desperate for a spark, having lost the first two games of a rare back-to-back-to-back set (thanks, lockout). I was offered a free ticket from my friend Jessica to sit in one of the suites at MSG for what would be my only Knicks game that season. I knew that Jeremy Lin would put in work that night, but I never expected 25 points and 7 assists against All-Star guard Deron Williams. And I certainly didn’t expect him to go on the run that he went on throughout the month of February.

But damn, was it fun to watch.

I bring this up today because the excitement that Lin brought to the Knicks last season has carried over to this season. Although he took his talents to Houston, the Knicks are playing their best ball in over a decade. The three-headed PG monster of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni has been fantastic in controlling the pace. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are in beast mode following their Olympic run over the summer. Steve Novak and J.R. Smith have been lethal off the bench. And Amar’e Stoudemire has come back with a vengeance and taken the Knicks’ depth to another level. Y’all still wanna trade him?

I know football season is over now, and spring training is right around the corner. But with the way the Knicks have been playing basketball, I’ve got my eyes on a team who is going to be dangerous come playoff time and possibly make a long run into June. The buzz doesn’t happen without the emergence of an undrafted guard out of Harvard.

Thanks, Jeremy Lin, for rejuvenating the New York Knicks.