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Bring the Noise: Bruce Lee’s Influence on Pop Culture

Few people make as big an impact on society that such a wide array of cultures, generations and lifestyles can identify with their contributions and legacy as Bruce Lee has left on not only America but the entire world. Find me a place, country or scope of society that Bruce Lee has not transitioned into and I will show you a matter not worth perusing. Everywhere we look nearly 40 years since Lee’s death we can find his footprint and inspiration.

If you would like to begin with the most benign and wide range of impact let’s begin right with marketing. Bruce Lee’s image is selling Brisk Ice Tea to a generation of grandchildren that have never seen a Bruce Lee film, yet they all know and recognize his image and needs no introduction. Not only does the Master sell beverages but he helps you make calls too, with a touch of Nokia branding… frankly how Bruce Lee playing ping-pong in his Game of Death yellow and black jumpsuit with a set of nunchuku relates to mobile phone calls I have no idea but the commercial was cleaver no doubt. I could research and list commercials for another 4,000 words but this is not a foray into the marketing strength of his imagery.

Even more than marketing you could write an entire PhD dissertation on the influence of Bruce Lee in modern cinema and that would just be the obvious references. You could argue that the only Kung Fu films not influenced in some way would be those filmed prior to Fist of Fury, I would not argue, but lets look at the more obvious instances of influence.

“The Last Dragon” a Barry Gordy film from the 1980’s that portrayed the young “Bruce” Leroy Green who is pushed to fight for the safety of his family, more than just the character’s name the entire film is an homage to Bruce from the outfits, to the dialogue to the moral. Some critics shun the movie as 80’s teen cinema, but I find few films with the staying power of “the Last Dragon.”

You could look for more obscure films such as “No Retreat, No Surrender” which finds a young bullied martial arts fan running from the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme until the Ghost of Lee comes from his poster to train and inspire the hero to save not only himself but the entire City of Seattle (Bruce’s American Hometown) from mobsters.

But easiest to spot for anyone with interest in the genre would be the many incantations of Bruce Lee imitators that arose after his much too early death in 1973. Actors, or but yet Bruce-impersonators like Bruce Li (Bronson Lee, Bruce Chen, Bruce Lai, Bruce Le, Bruce Lei, Bruce Lie, Bruce Liang (also known as Bruce Leung), Bruce Ly, Bruce Thai, Bruce K.A. Lea, Brute Lee, Myron Bruce Lee, Lee Bruce, and Dragon Lee all graced the covers of VHS films of little quality to cash in on the power of his image. Most famously Bruce Li was chosen as the actor to finish the scenes for Game of Death following Lee’s death before going on to film a laundry list of films such as Fist of Fury II, The Image of Bruce Lee, Fists of Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee’s Secret and many more following until the mid-80s.

While most cultures and age groups have embraced Bruce Lee as an innovator and inspiration, no culture has taken to Bruce Lee like our African-American brethren. Bruce has crossed into so much of black culture that he almost seems like he was born to be black. The 1980s in NYC were crazed with Kung Fu-mania and you could not find a street without young men dressed in Bruce Lee influenced style. While he was not an imitator, Ron Van Clief was deeply influenced by Lee. Clief went from Marine to Police officer, to Actor after meeting Bruce in the 1970s to become the most well know African-American Kung Fu star during its peek. After his acting day ended Clief moved on to stunt coordination and even a stint at training the US Secret Service as well as a more than amazing professional fighting record of 110-8 leaving most opponents scared before the opening bell.

When you consider Bruce Lee in music look no further than hip-hop and his name and image are used almost as frequently as an analogy and one of hip hops biggest names the Wu Tang Clan created there entire style after the Eastern Culture of martial arts.

No place on Earth is out of the reach of Lee’s Legacy, the most famous face of the NBA today Kobe Bryant is a die-hard Bruce fanatic, so much so that his latest line of sneakers was heavily inspired by a combination of Enter the Dragon and Game of Death colorways and the tiger claw scratch.

How deep can it go?  Clothing designs, toys everywhere you turn, video games to this day still use Bruce’s imagery and even iPhone apps that simulate Bruce’s signature howls and screams every time you shake your phone.  Like I said in my opening, find me a corner of God’s Green Earth that is untouched by Lee’s influence and I will show you a place void of life and in need of revitalization.

Lee was not just a famous face, he has become a lifestyle for so many.

Best-to-Worst(Overrated) Sports Movies Ever!

Sports movies are such a volatile species, they need to play on two fronts, appeasing the die hards of said sport versus attracting a selling main stream audience. Playing to hard to one party will sink a film with both audiences, why people even make them is beyond me. But here we go, first the worst counting down followed by the best.

5.  The Longest Yard- Why this is considered a classic is beyond me, and I will call this a two for one and say the remake was just as bad.  Crooks and killers playing football really does not appeal to me, if they did this modern-day reality style Michael Vick could have played the QB role.  Would you be rooting for the inmates at that point?

4. Raging Bull- I have tried numerous time to watch this film, frankly I can’t make it 20 minutes in, what a terrible job.  People will hate me for this choice, but hey it’s my list, if you don’t like it make your own.

3. Any Given Sunday- I don’t believe Al Pacino as a coach anymore than I believe Jamie Foxx as an athlete.  Movie dragged and dragged.

2. Field of Dreams- Stupid film. Waaaah, I wish I could have played catch with my absent father.  What a cop-out to sell as a sports film.

1. A League of Their Own- The only thing worse than Tom Hanks thinking he is a talented actor is Rosie O’Donnell thinking she can act at all.  Hanks should have stuck with quality films like Big or even Forrest Gump.  This movie encompasses all things bad by also dragging in Madonna and the always annoying Jon Lovitz.

Barely missing the bad cut

Fever Pitch- Would have been highly (or lowly) ranked as terrible based on the horrible choice of Jimmy Fallon who is not funny nor an actor.  The only reason it is not on the list is I could not even argue it is a sports film and more than Sudden Death is because it revolves around a sporting event.

For the Love of the Game- This could have been a great baseball movie, and still good be with some editing.  If they could lose the whole “Clear the mechanism” angle the movie would be great, but frankly those 2 total minutes ruin the entire movie.

Slapshot- Once you get past the humor of the Hanson Brothers the movie is really boring.  Hockey has never fared well on film, only sport with a worse track record is basketball.

On to the greatest films and documentaries!


5a. Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby- If  Will Farrell is not considered the funniest actor of his generation I don’t know who could be.  The one liners aplenty make this movie worth the price of admission and it never gets old even with the absolutely ridiculous story line.

5b. Lords of Dogtown- is it about surfing? no it starts off so, but transitions into the birth of skateboarding.  While it spends most of the movie focusing on the relationship of Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta it give birth to our stars of today in Tony Hawk and the X-Games.

4. Bull Durham- How can you not love this film?

3. Dodgeball- Really you say?  Oh my goodness yes.  While it is questionable if dodgeball is a sport you do play it in gym class therefore, I say sport.  The cast of characters is far from good actors but they are funny, even Ben Stiller who I find incredibly annoying.  The appealing part of this film is the quirkiness sof all the Average Joes.

2. Bloodsport- It seems out-of-place,but with MMA as big as it is today arguing that the predecessor to UFC is not a sport would be hard pressed.  I would have put “Enter the Dragon” in this spot, but I had a hard time myself believing that movie was more about the tournament then the hunt for the evil Han.

1. Rocky- Any Rocky movie should make a top sports movie list, even the so-called horrible RockyV.  Stallone gets a bad rap as a horrible actor, anyone who thinks so should be reminded to watch Rocky because if you don’t find him genuinely appealing when he is courting Adrian you are a fool.  Rocky is by far the greatest movie to happen to sports and one of the greatest individual films of all time.


5. ESPN Presents Mike Tyson- More of a collection of his fights than anything, but the interviews and pre and post fight commentaries make it a documentary in my view.

4. Tyson- Clearly a documentary and a stunning look at the most interesting man to ever put on gloves.  Never ducking an issue and honest the Tyson is a star even outside the ring.

3. Ali Rap- The reflection of Ali’s greatness on people and society he affected directly and indirectly.  A great film if you have never seen it.

2. Hoop Dreams- The beautiful thing about basketball is that you don’t need money to play.  Every town in America has a basketball hoop.  There are no fields to be tended, equipment to be bought or referees needed.  Chronicles is the story of two NBA hopefuls living their life dribble-to-dribble.  Inner city life is hard but the court gives these boys a place to shine.  Neither are NBA stars today, but they have both moved on to honest lives and succeeded in their own right.

1. Courtship of Rivals- Two of the greatest players ever started as college rivals and continued into their professional careers.  The greatest rivalry in basketballs greatest era.  If you need me to explain Larry Bird and Magic Johnson you should not be reading this post.

Better Holiday For Sports: 4th of July, Christmas or Thanksgiving?

Where does it boil down? The national past time on the Nation’s Birthday, football at the Dawn of the Holiday season or basketball at it’s Pinnacle? Some people would say this is a no contest, but I think there may be some people that disagree, I am one of them and it goes deeper than just sports.

Let’s begin with football. Traditionally for me Thanksgiving has always been the holiday spent with a lot of relatives I only see once a year only to stuff our faces and listen to people promise to catch up more often then just annually in late November. Thanksgiving has always been that holiday I just never really cared for to much. Maybe it is because I don’t care for turkey, or maybe I just don’t like being forced to spend one day of the year with people I don’t see again for another 12 months. Frankly the whole idea of the holiday irritates me, and that stupid parade only makes it worse. But let’s move onto the sport of football and i can sum it up rather easily in 3 points.

  • The Patriots have up until now only participated in 3 Thanksgiving Day games, and one of them I was too young to to enjoy, another they lost, but they did win in 2002 following that miraculous Superbowl.
  • The Detroit Lions are pretty much a mainstay of Turkey Day and that is a guaranteed win for the opponent for the most part, even when Barry was playing they pretty much smelled still, atleast he was a pleasure to watch for 30 carries a game. The other common team while I was in my “developing sports years” was the Dallas Cowboys and they were a guaranteed win during their dynasty years of the 90s. For that sport that prides itself on the “Any Given Sunday” mantra, they sure don’t carry well onto Thursdays.
  • High School football, it is the one day of the year that you can go into a gas station or convenience store to grab that last minute items and people are also looking to scoop those updates on the local high school game. Now I am sure in Texas this is a common occurrence because they love their football regardless of how it is served, not so much here in Massachusetts.

This is the one day that local sports matters when they are not contending for a state title, at least around where I am from. And not to mention that school day prior when you wear that HS football jersey to school and around town that evening you are actually treated like a sports hero regardless if you are the star running back or the 3rd wide-out in the depth chart. I fell into the later, but I mattered for one game a year.

Until recently the NFL hosted 2 games usually Detroit in one game and many other times Dallas hosting the other. About four years ago it was expanded to 4 games, but honestly it has done little to get the Patriots into the game even following their dominance of the early part of the decade. But this is not about the Pats being snubbed. Football for many is a sport that usually can be watched regardless of who is on each side of the ball. For me unless it is New England I usually have absolutely no interest, NCAA is a bit of a different story.

Too sum it up, the NFL fumbles on the Day of Thanks.

We can briefly look at MLB and how they approach 4th of July, they don’t. If it doesn’t fall on a travel day everyone plays like usual. They really embrace the opportunity to do something special, which is why I watch the hot dog eating contest.

Christmas is a different story all together. No matter how bad your year has gone there is nothing like white snow and Christmas cheer to put a smile on your face. I know some people feel the holiday is watered down, but I personally love everything about the Christmas season.

The day starts bright and early with presents, you are never to old to enjoy a gift no matter how small and insignificant it happens to be, unless you are Ebenezer Scrooge a gift makes your heart warm. Even the gathering of guests is manageable, as it is usually much shorter than Thanksgiving because people usually have other places to go. Top it off that Christmas Dinner is held to a more intimate familiar group of people that you usually you see regularly, because unless you are loaded buying gifts for those “Thanksgiving-type” family members it would get awfully expensive. But this is not about presents and house guests, this is about the gift of basketball.

The NBA has it down, they plan Christmas Day like the NFL plans Monday Night Football. They put their biggest teams, with the biggest stars and they line them up nicely to entertain the Country from noon to midnight, if you are EST if you are PST it is more like sun up to sun down. While the NFL seems to have a pool of teams for Thanksgiving no matter how good or bad that play on Thanksgiving when their rotation comes up. The NBA takes it season by season and focuses their biggest draws and puts forth the best match ups possible.

  • I love the Celtics(obviously), and watching them face Orlando in a playoff rematch will be nothing short of brutal with the elbows and swats from Dwight Howard and deeks and dimes from Rajon Rondo.
  • Besides just Boston, who won’t watch the Heat try to prove themselves against LA, I think even Boston will have Kobe’s back on Christmas, I know I will.
  • How about Carmelo battle Durant down in the post?
  • The opening is a bit weak with the Bull likely slaughtering the Knicks, but let’s see how this new NYK lineup meshes before we write them off.
  • And the night cap of Portland v Golden State could look weak but you are pitting a top offense of run and gun against one of the best defenses. I personally look forward to seeing how that pans out.
  • But look at the line up of stars from these four games: Rondo, Pierce, KG, Howard, Kobe, LBJ, Wade, Boozer, Amar’e, Carmelo, Rose, Durant, and maybe Oden just to name a few. The pulled out their biggest stars and made the most of their marquee time for a National Day of Hoops.

Now the Celtics don’t always make it, nor do the Lakers and Knicks, the NBA’s biggest markets. Instead the NBA intelligently selects games we crave, not just blindly selecting teams because historically they have played on a certain day. I mean really, who wants to watch teams in a rebuilding faze take a beating on national television with no option to find another game. On that “any given Sunday” at least you can swap to the other network or if you spring for the NFL package a cornucopia of choices. But on their second most popular day to the Superbowl the NFL just gives you Detroit. Way to go.

You may or may not agree, 87% of the US will probably shun me for my opinion, but in my eyes the fire of the Christmas Spirit burns much brighter for the NBA than does that of the wilting feathers of Tom Turkey and the NFL, and we won’t even consider what MLB is wasting in their midsts of marketing genius.

When this holiday season arrives you may find yourself agreeing with this post even if you don’t today.

Follow Jamie Canu @ObiWanCanubi

The 11 AMAZING Events of the 2010-11 Season That I Guarantee* Will Blow Your Mind

*By reading this you understand that I guarantee nothing because I am neither a psychic nor a svengali that can influence any change of the NBA season. Frankly if I get any of these right I will be exceptionally proud of myself, not only that I will be a better predictor of hoops then that so called network ESPNonourcredibility… say it allowed enough times and you will get it. See, wasn’t really that funny now was it, but I got you to waste 3 minutes that you will never-ever get back. Now you didn’t come here to read this blabber, you came here to read a list, so here is your list, enjoy.

1. Allen Iverson will be MVP… After heading east and signing with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of China and teaming up with Starbury and Rashad McCants to create a Big 3 of the CBA and starting the dynasty that will take them to a record 7 straight CBA titles.

2. Mikhail Prokhorov’s connection to organized crime will become apparent when he begins to force those in debt to him to “work” off their services within the Nets organization and Vlade Divac comes back for on last hurrah as center for NJ down the stretch. On a positive note they will draw so many fouls they will hit a winning streak that leads them into the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference

3. Ron Artest has his title, this season he will bring the noise to the Staples Center and he bigins to personally supply Hennessy to the fans at half-time.

4. Delonte West will be the most chanted name in the NBA this season and he won’t even be on a roster. ESPN will drop court-audio to all broadcast Heat games due to what they call “distracting vuvuzelas” and hire THX to mix in background sound. It will be discovered when someone accidentally hits the “Tie-Fighter Fly By” button. (I may actually get this one right.)

5. The countdown to the Summer of Carmelo will never come to fruition because of Utah’s trade deadline day deal will make them the most ridiculously powerful team in the West resulting in Jerry Buss yelling, “no fair.”

6. Joakim Noah and Chris Bosh will finish 1st and 2nd in the new reality contest search for the most handsome NBA bigman. Following the event judge Stevie Wonder will admit that his first choice was Gheorghe Muresan but he was ineligible due to his non-roster status.

7. Sam Cassell will host the event.

8. The Nets will trade for Tony Parker, not for playing talent but for Jay-Z’s record label after his newest album debuts at #1 on the Billboard charts. Shawn Carter will be quoted as saying, “You gotta keep your competition on the payroll.” Unfortunately for the Spurs they get Kanye in the deal.

9. Following a critical failed free throw attempt, teammate Chauncey Billups will tell shooter Sheldon Williams that they would have been better off letting Williams wife take the shot. Williams will have no retort because Billups is right.

10. Tracy McGrady will be so desperate to sign he will partner with Woot!.com to find an employer. Of course they will list his services on Sellout.Woot! and he will just never get the call, even with free shipping.

11. Big Baby Glen Davis wins “So You Think You Can Dance?” and through a suggestion from judge Paula Abdul begins a new endeavour with the Boston Celtics to revamp the dance squad moves. Jim Rome gets mouthy and jealous and challenges Baby to a dance-off.

Follow me on Twitter @ObiWanCanubi

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