Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why Waves??

Three and a half years had passed since I joined BITS-Pilani Goa Campus. My last day as a BITS Student in Goa was passing by as I sat on the beach in Baga. A friend sat beside me (Chummi), one who I'd worked with for Waves on many an occasion. Somehow in our quiet reflection we remembered our times at Waves. I had already in the past mentioned how it would be a dream come true to be able to one day help Waves from the outside, and this came up for discussion. In that discussion, he brought up how he felt that now it all seemed so pointless, so fruitless. He asked me, what is it that entices you so much? Why Waves?

It was a question that I'd have thought would have an obvious answer. But right there at that moment I had none. Why Waves? Really what was so special about that festival? Was it the amount of fun I had working for it? No not a strong enough reason to explain the attachment. Was it the joy I got from seeing the festival grow? Well, maybe, but usually such strong bonds are formed when there is a selfish reason involved. This isn't one. So what was it?

I spent the next day thinking about it. Why Waves, why waves, why waves?? Why I hated quark was an easy one to answer. Quark always seemed to do everything possible to make life difficult for those of us organising Waves. (Especially when they refused to shift quark to the 1st sem, forcing us to; thereby making sure we had to fight rain every damn time). My liking of Spree also had a good solid selfish reason attached to it. I love basketball. Seeing a platform where excellent teams compete is something that's well worth it. Which once again brings me back to "WHY WAVES"??

What is it about something that makes us feel so deeply attached that we struggle to ever break free. What is it about Waves that holds me so tight, and yet I have no logical explanation as to why it is so. No logical explanation. There is none. I would be the first one to admit that. Yet, I worked and fell in love with the festival. I know deep down Waves may never be a Mood Indigo, or a Saarang. But Waves for some odd, illogical, unexplainable, undecipherable reason, will always be my beloved WAVES. Don't ask why, what if or anything else. It is what it is. In the words of Rajnikant in the movie (FAIL) Baba, "Ghatam Ghatam".
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Rise and soon-to-be fall of LeBron James

LeBron James entered the NBA with the whole basketball world paying attention. He signed a Nike contract before he played a single minute. He was (and unfortunately still is) revered by the championship starved city of Cleveland and his home town of Akron. Was LeBron James worth the hype? Yes definitely. Being in India there's not a lot of basketball you get to see, but I was fortunate to watch LeBron destroy the Pistons single handedly in 2007. Since then I have been a massive LeBron fan. But that ended in Game 5 of the series between Cleveland and Boston. Fame, money and the reverence people have for him have collectively gone to his head. He is no longer a basketball player but a businessman. But who is to blame ??

First LeBron himself at some level should be blamed. He let people close to him and the fame go to his head and now he seems to have something to prove through this free agency. I have watched Kobe Bryant a lot and have always found him to be a player who tries to do too much on his own and for that I am not a big fan of his. But there is a man who will never quit on a time no matter the situation or the scoreline, and that is something that earns respect. In game 5 LeBron stopped playing. Period. He can give a variety of excuses but he simply quit on a team that had a good chance of making it. Where he would usually pick up a rebound and tear down the court, he would slow the pace and hand it to Williams or West. Where he would normally crash the boards looking for every loose ball, he left it to his big man. Where he would drive to the hoop looking for the foul, he settled for a series of bad shots which he knew he was missing all night. Yes, coack Mike Brown has always been shaky when it comes to offense. But this loss happened solely because LeBron refused to show up. An off day can be forgiven, but lack of effort must not.

However, I will not pin the blame entirely on LeBron. The Cavaliers franchise and the NBA as a whole has had a role in this transformation of LeBron as well. The Knocks should have been disciplined for their shameless obsession with LeBron. Explain this to me, Mark Cuban jokes about how he'd sign LeBron in a jiffy and gets fined, but the Knicks play out 2 years of rubbish in the hopes of landing LeBron and get away with it? What in the world does the commissioner Stern think he's doing? In an effort to combat this the Cavaliers management and the fans were forced catered to his every whim and fancy. In the fear of losing their franchise player, the management indulged him where they should have disciplined him and reminded him he represented their franchise till 2010. Ability isn't enough to win Championships and the franchise should have taught their star this lesson. They did not.

Yes the city of Cleveland is desperate for a championship. But the way LeBron quit on the Cavaliers during game 5, fans can be rest assured a championship is not coming their way anytime soon. Not with that attitude. The Magic 3-0 down in the conference finals, refused to go down without a fight, and tried to comeback into it. LeBron was ahead, yet gave up. What does that say about his attitude? Championships are not guaranteed. Every other day I hear some NBA commentator/expert say that LeBron is too talented to go without a championship. Karl Malone and John Stockton were an incredible duo. How many championships? NIL. Few years ago, Gilbert Arenas was the talk of the NBA. Today, he'll be lucky if a team picks him to play. Vince Carter folded in the playoffs despite at one point of time being a much talked about player. This list can go on and on. No one is guaranteed a championship. LeBron must learn that lesson. He had a better chance this year than he will ever have.

To the Clevelanders, I have never been to Cleveland yet over the last few years I have grown a soft spot for your desperation for a title. But in that desperation I urge you not to overlook the fact that Cleveland has no apparent meaning to your star. All he cares about are himself, his close "associates", his family and more than anything his money. If he does leave, do not feel upset or betrayed. Instead, rejoice hat you have gotten rid of a man who has no heart and no desire other than being rich and famous. Rebuilding will probably be hard should LeBron leave, but it will be better than watching LeBron quit the way he did.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Story of a Sporting Hero

A bead of sweat trickled down his face, but it did not bother him. 1 hour 47 minutes ago he had entered the arena. 57minutes and 57 seconds of putting his body on the line had passed tonight. But it didn't bother him in the least. He had been doing this almost every alternate night for 9 whole months. His legs felt like they would fall out from under him. But playing through pain was something he had learnt when he was a child.

Standing at a height of barely six feet he was amongst the shortest players on the battlefield. And now hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath, he appeared even smaller in comparison. He looked up at his opponents and then his team-mates. All of them were tired, yet more determined than ever before, because this was it. This was the final showdown. As he looked up, the season flashed before his eyes.

It had started badly for them, losing thirteen of their first seventeen games. But a firing from the coach turned it all around. He remembered it like it was yesterday. The reigning champions had arrived, and slaughtered them. It was a brutal loss, one that would be etched in his memory forever. He had been in this league for almost six years now and yet he had never been beaten so badly. He remember the coach's quiet look of anger that day, and when he went home he watched on the telly as one expert after another told him their team was finished. The next morning the coach lambasted the team for the lack of effort. But that wasn't all. After practise he had been pulled aside. He was told that he was a disgrace, that he was a pathetic leader, that he would never ever win the championship. He remembered every single word, each one that had pierced his heart like a dagger. That night before he slept he promised himself that he would never ever let his coach or his team down again.

Then came the revival. Experts were looking for a hand of God. Suddenly, he had picked up his game. His numbers were up by almost double, and he began playing like a man possessed. And as they began winning game after game, his confidence began rubbing off on his team-mates. But while his team-mates celebrated every shot, every win, he would not. All he could think abouth those six words - "you will never win the championship".

The season went past and what was initially a 4-13 record ended 56-26. The world was talking about him. The number six on his back was adorning many young children's backs as well. Tens of thousands of fans' happiness ebbed and flowed with the points he scored. The time for the "Most Valuable Player" award came. To absolutely no one's surprise, he won unanimously. He still remembered the words he spoke when he was handed the award. "I'd like to thank everybody in my team, my family and my fans for their support. But I promise you, that I'm not done yet. I will not rest, until we have the championshiop in our hands in front of you." Those words were played and relayed all across the world.

The playoffs began and they swept past the first two opponents with ease. And while, his team-mates celebrated he just waited. He knew the next two weeks of his life was what he had lived for. All his life he had wanted to be in the Conference finals, and then the finals. Here was his chance. But then, disaster struck. Two minutes into the first game of the conference finals, a hard foul had forced him to land on his knee. Badly twisted, doctors had told him he was done for the season. He had spent that night, alone in the hospital room, crying himself to sleep. He watched his team lose the first three games of the series and looked likely to be swept. Without him, the team was lost and bereft of the energy that had brought them thus far. His doctor had warned him that playing in the next two weeks could ruin his knee for the rest of his career. He could walk, but had not tried running at his doctor's orders. But the night of the third loss he made a decision. He would man up and play through every ounce of pain. He decided that he could not lie there and leave his team-mates high and dry. He would be able to live with not playing again. But he would not be able to live with coming so close and ending so far. His coach was shocked to see him at practise, but saw the passion and desire in his eyes. He knew there would be no convincing him. The comeback that followed was one of epic proportions, one that will be talked of for all eternity. No team had ever come back from 3 games down, but with him and his bad knee inspiring him and his team they fought hard and fulled off victory after victory. Soon the conference title was theirs and yet, he would not celebrate. His mind was focussed on only one thing. And nothing could shake his focus.

The first six games of the finals came and went. The home team in each game clinching the win. The series was very close. All games being won by a combined 12 points. Thw world was watching in awe. Their opponents were the reigning champions, the team that had humiliated them at the season's beginning. But he would not be denied. The three games they had won had been unbelievable. They kept coming back from ridiculously bad positions and kept fighting their way to victory. Tonight was no different. They had been 30 points down at half-time. The commentators insisted the game was dead and buried. The dressing room had been quiet when he entered. The coach looked mournfully up at him. What followed was something that had never happened before. Before his coach could utter a word, he began talking. He spoke to each team-mate about how important he was. He reminded them of how they had made a habit of beating the odds. And then he said, "You are my team. I refuse to let you down. When we step out, I want you to be the most confident set of people there can be. We are not leaving this arena without that trophy." His coach was stunned. Normally he was a very quiet player who kept to himself focussing on the task at hand. But he had evolved. He couldn't keep the smile from emerging. Six years, and finally this young man had become the leader. Shot after shot fell in as the commentators were beside themselves in shock and awe. Steal after steal, block after block and suddenly they had tied the game. Overtime led to another tie. And now 4 minutes and 57 seconds later, there they were. Scores tied. They had the inbound. There was only time for one shot this period. Everyone knew who would take it. But would he make it? If he didn't they would be out there for five more minutes. If he did he would have what he had wanted so badly.

The whistles of the referees sounded. He knew the play like the back of his hand. His team-mates, his coach, the fans were all nervous, but not he. He knew he would make it. This would be his moment. Those three seconds felt like an eternity. He ran, caught the ball and shot. An audible gasp echoed around him as the crowd held their breath. And like bomb the crowd went from silence to hysteria. He had made it. His team-mates were all over him. And finally, after a long long season, he smiled as a tear rolled down his cheek. His coach was watching, smiling proudly, like a father would at his son. As he lifted the trophy with his coach, he felt a huge weight slide off his shoulders, and he enjoyed every last second of it.
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Togo Banned by CAF for two ACN's!! What gives

About two weeks ago, The Togo national team was travelling in the Angolan province of Cabinda toward the African Cup of Nations tournament, when they were ambushed by a group of terrorists/insurgents/separatists. An assistant coach, the bus driver were killed and a few injuries also resulted. So understandably the Togolese team withdrew from the ACN. Now the CAF has banned them for the next two tournaments. That has got singularly be the most absurd and insensitive decision in the history of all sports.

Last year a bus carrying the Sri Lankan National cricket team was attacked in Lahore and they pulled out of their tour. Did anyone question them? No, of course not. They were SHOT AT!! I do believe that that calls for some allowance when it comes to withdrawing from sport events.

Imagine if this had been the FIFA World Cup and a non-African (read European/North American) team had been attacked. Would this be the decision taken by FIFA. NO!!! Firstly, I'm sure the World Cup would have been called off and the western "powers" would have begun a "war on terrorism" there as well.

This decision to ban Togo is a shame on humanity and should be withdrawn immediately along with the resignation of the obviously idiotic CAF president!
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