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Day 128 – Staring at The Tube (Sick in Vietnam)

July 9, 2010

Dateline: Sapa hotel room, Vietnam – Friday, July 9, 2010

I spent a good portion of yesterday falling ill. Today, I was ill in earnest. I woke up early but couldn’t be bothered to get up. I spent the day in bed drifting in and out of consciousness with the TV on. It wasn’t pretty.

Now, I know this is dated for Friday, but back in the States, my illness coincided with LeBron’s live Thursday night announcement of the “NBA Apocalypse.” Between that and a bunch of mediocre TV, I have a few observations. With that, allow me to resort to one of my favorite column gimmicks: The Bulleted List. No need for transitions or a coherent narrative or a connecting idea. Easy peasy.

What can I say. I’m sick.

***For the LeBron announcement the TV was stuck on CNN and Larry King Live. Since the old man did the first LeBron post-season interview, I guess he felt obligated to have John Salley, Rick Fox, Steven A. Smith, and some other reporters on to comment on the ongoing announcement. The coverage was terrible. They speculated, they made big deal about the Heat pulling an ad from the local paper welcoming Lebron to Miami, they smiled a lot. I learned nothing. Especially since I was passed out when the announcement—the one piece of real info—was made.

***How does Larry King pull young hot women? The guy is a corpse. His persona isn’t even lively anymore. He seems slow and tired. It can’t be for the money, can it? I mean, don’t these women have to sign a pre-nup? How much can they possibly be getting? Desirable men at least have the decency to focus on what’s important: looks.

***When I came to and learned LeBron was “taking his talents to South Beach” my first thought was, “I’m going to love hating on Miami.” Who’s going to root for this team? I submit that the only people that should are people from Miami.

Miami has no history. This is a team build by (and for) people who love frontrunners. Rooting for frontrunners is un-American. We’re the land of the underdog. We were founded as underdogs. We root for the Bad News Bears, Rocky Balboa, and an effective democracy. There was an uncomfortable period between the end of the Cold War and before 9-11 where we could barely root for ourselves we were so far ahead. If you root for Miami and aren’t from there, you might was well rescind your citizenship and move to France.

***I’m not saying I blame LeBron or Wade or Bosh, mind you. If I were seven years younger, had millions of dollars, could hang out in South Beach with two of my closest buddies who also happened to be millionaires, and also win a couple NBA championships, I’d probably do the same. Probably.

Think about it. These guys are going to rule that town. They’re single, rich, and famous. They’d kill it wherever they went and whoever they were with. Now, they’re all together and going to kill it in South Beach, a locale noted for the high density of hot women. What twenty-something male wouldn’t at least want to see what this would be like. Even the most devout Quaker-Mormon-SDA would at least give himself the chance to ask forgiveness for this later. He might even pay a few million to live this scenario (which is what each of these guys did by opting to get paid less to play together). I’m not saying it was right, but I understand.

***That said, I think James should never be compared to Jordan or Kobe ever again. Throw out The Greatest of All Time. His ceiling is now The Best Second Banana of All Time. The Heat are Wade’s team. Miami is Wade’s town. LeBron is no true alpha dawg. A true alpha would never—I mean NEVER—have traded himself to another alpha dawg’s pack without first shedding some blood to establish dominance.

Kobe, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Russell, they were all the unquestioned leaders of their teams. They knew the importance of team ball (Kobe. . . sometimes). They all gave their teammates their due. But they also put the fear of God in their teammates and drove them to success. They were the force, the engine to their teams’ success.

In Miami, that is and always will be Wade. Not Bosh. Not LeBron. Not Chalmers. It’s Wade. LeBron has submitted to that force.

In fact, unless he and Wade break up, he will always have one less ring than Wade. In that respect, he’s not even Pippen.

***It wasn’t all LeBron on TV. There were also Chinese dramas. These are fascinating because they’re not just dubbed into Vietnamese with the Chinese faintly audible. They’re dubbed with the same woman doing all the characters voices. It’s the equivalent of a book on tape where the reader reads all the dialogue, except the woman here doesn’t act at all. She reads in a flat voice (so far as I can tell).

The Vietnamese people still eat it up. I know this because I’ve seen people crowded around televisions watching ancient Chinese warriors battle for ancient Chinese princesses all around the country. I don’t think there’s an American equivalent.

***ESPN in Vietnam doesn’t have any sound. At least not the voice stuff. You can hear the crowd noise. The sound effects. The music. But no announcers or sportcasters. What’s weirder is that I had the same issue in China last month. Is anyone at ESPN aware that their Asia broadcasts are all screwed up? Or is it possible that it’s meant to be this way? That Asian countries negotiated for the video but not the audio. Who knows

Somehow, this lack of voice sound makes SportsCenter worse while also making it better. Baseball games are about the same (without voice sound it’s like you’re at the game live). Golf, on the other hand, is still just boring.

****Star Sports, an ESPN competitor/collaborator, has been showing the same tennis match all day. I know this because I’ve flipped by the channel a few times and every time some girl named DEV is playing a girl named PAV (I think) and the score is always 40-30 in the first set. This repeated deja vu made me feel more sick.

***All this tennis reminded me that the sport is huge in Asia. It’s on TV all the time. I’ve seen more public tennis courts than I’ve seen basketball courts. I saw more ads featuring tennis stars in Asia than I saw featuring Yao Ming. I guess there’s a reason why nearly every Asian I know took at least one tennis lesson as a kid.

***HBO (and its sister channels) shows some crappy movies overseas. Did you know there was a Behind Enemy Lines sequel set in Columbia that was produced by the WWE? It’s called Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. I kept waiting to pass out while watching this. Of course, my sickness didn’t cooperate and I watched more than I should have. Did I mention my TV didn’t have a remote?

***Lastly, I’m going to enjoy rooting for Kobe to tear the Heat apart in the Finals next year. I’ve always had mixed feelings about my team’s alpha. He’s not easy to live with, but he’s so talented and competitive. Next year, I will feel no ambivalence when the Lakers play the Heat. I will root ten times harder for my team than usual. I can only hope every other non-Miami NBA fan feels the same way. May the Heat feel our Hate.

I love having the NBA equivalent of the Yankees. Considering LeBron’s penchant for donning Yankee gear throughout his career, I think he’s fine with it, too.

GALLERY: Weren’t you paying attention? I was sick. Come back tomorrow

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. sally permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:17 pm

    I live w/a Clevelander. Despite being East Asian, I cannot count the number of times I’ve trash talked to him. Taking your partner’s sports misery and repeatedly shoving his face in it is sweet sweet pleasure. Regardless of the situation, or (in)appropriateness of sports analogies, I will always have “you ain’t got no ring since 1964!” to fall back on.

    • July 17, 2010 1:43 am

      That’s rough. Of course, his pain is eased by the fact that he’s not -living- in Cleavland and is in sunny, happy California instead.

      If you pulled that line in the middle of the fifteenth consecutive bitter winter, I think there might be a homicide.

      • sally permalink
        July 17, 2010 1:06 pm

        Yeah, I have been practicing my swing w/the cast iron skillet.

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