Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nkosi's Haven: Bringing a Little Light

Vanessa on a previous visit to Nkosi's Haven.
  ***Note*** I have made several updates in the last few days to have the most accurate information available. Updates can be found below in bold text! Thanks SO much. ~ Sabrina

  Recently, though the wonders of the internet, and more-specifically, Twitter, I have come into contact with a pretty awesome group of chicks. Through countless exchanges of under 140-character banter, we have somehow gotten to know one another, and genuinely care about what is happening in each others lives. Even though many of us have not yet met, I would consider them very good friends of mine.

  Somewhere along the line, the conversations turned productive, and the team looked get into charity work. In February of 2012, a large group of them, joined/led by actress Vanessa Marcil, are going to South Africa to volunteer at Nkosi's Haven. Nkosi's is a shelter for mothers and their children infected with HIV/AIDS, and resulting AIDS orphans.

  The shelter, opened in 1999 by Gail Johnson, was founded with the idea of caring for the mother AND her child. Gail named it after the son she adopted, Nkosi, an AIDS orphan himself. Neither Nkosi nor Gail wanted another mother and child to be separated due to an HIV/AIDS diagnosis. They also wanted people infected with HIV/AIDS to be cared for without discrimination or prejudice. This is the premise under which Nkosi's Haven operates. Please watch the short video below about Gail and Nkosi Johnson, and Nkosi's Haven:

  ***One thing our team wants is every child, mother, and caretaker to have a new pair of pajamas upon their visit this Spring. It's something so small, yet so meaningful. Vanessa, herself, is working to get as many pairs of organic feety pajamas made. 

  She and her team are making it 'easy' to help get each of these kids a new pair of pajamas: buy one pair for a loved one in your family, and a second pair is donated to an AIDS orphan at Nkosi's. Our goal is to have 10,000 pairs of pajamas ordered. The cost of the pajamas will be $29.99. So for that amount, you will get one pair for a child close to your heart, while a second pair goes to a child at Nkosi's!

  To get on the wait list for pajamas, email: Itsokaytobe@babygagoo.com and you'll receive a follow up email about how to participate (or you can contact me as well, and I'll pass along your interest). This is a great option, and something I hope you all will consider! Sizes go up to youth size 10. 

  As of yesterday, December 8th, we had just over 6,000 orders received. So we still have lots of work to do for these kids! As we continue to work on logistics, email to get on the wait list, and hold on to your money for the time being! Please pass along this information to your friends and family if you think they might be interested!***
One of the kiddos at Nkosi's - photo by Vanessa.
  Obviously, their visit to Nkosi's lies smack dab in the middle of my basketball season here in France, so I will be unable to visit Nkosi's with the rest of the team. But I want to contribute in some way. And that's where I need your help! I need fundraising/supply collecting ideas, and I need to spread the word! Sure, I can write a check, and call it a day. But there are more ways to help than just opening up your pocketbook. There are supplies, clothes, shoes, etc...that need to be collected.

  If you are interested in helping, or have clothes/shoes/supplies that you are willing to donate, please let me know! OR, if you have a great IDEA for raising awareness, and spreading the word, feel free to share it with me. I'm terrible with coming up with ideas like that, so I hope to hear some suggestions from you all! Cash donations can be made directly, here: Donate to Nkosi's Haven

  If you are not comfortable donating to the children of Nkosi's, and feel a donation to a cause a little closer to home is more appropriate, I have great respect for that. In that case, Vanessa and team are also working with Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Children. Since 1977, Sojourn has provided battered women and their children a safe place to regroup, rebuild, and reestablish their lives. Cash donations can be made for Sojourn at: Donate to Sojourn

  OR, if neither of these options interest you there is ALWAYS a local organization in your community that could use a donation! It doesn't matter where things are donated, just that people in need are being helped!

Again, from a previous visit.
  No amount is too small, and no item is too trivial. It all adds up, and it all counts. All clothing items, shoes, slippers, art supplies, first aid supplies, vitamins, tooth paste, bed linens, toys, you name it, and we're collecting it! As we continue to work on logistics, if you are interesting in contributing, again, please contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or email!

  For me, it is extremely difficult to fathom the struggles that the mothers and children of Nkosi's and Sojourn go through daily. I can say I am lucky/blessed to have been born where I was born, and been given the opportunities at life that I have been given. We are so far removed from many of these things: HIV/AIDS, poverty, abuse, etc...but the reality is that these things are an everyday occurrence for a great deal of people around the world.

  Along with a great group of new friends, I'm hoping that this small effort, in turn, goes a long way and brings a little more light into these kids' lives.

gagoovmg@gmail.com  - Email for information about pajamas!!!
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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Days When the Shot Isn't Falling

CU vs. UNC - 2003 NCAA Tournament.

  One thing I have always prided myself on as a basketball player is the ability to be a multi-dimensional player. Being one-dimensional just won't cut it. There are too many facets of the game to ONLY be good, or productive, at one of them. The players I respect and admire the most have ALWAYS been the players that can impact a game in more than one way.

  We all know that the part of the game that gets the most shine, the most publicity, is the ability to put the ball in the bucket. That's a no-brainer. Everyone wants their name in the headlines as the top scorer. But the reality is, what happens when that shot's not falling? No matter how much you practice, and how good a shooter you are, you WILL have those days! So when that game comes, do you find a way to contribute in other areas, or do you become an ineffective player?
2009 - Germany.
  For me, that game happened on Saturday versus Limoges. I got open shot after open shot, and didn't knock down nearly enough of them. Sure, it's frustrating! But you can get frustrated with yourself and quit playing, or you can dig down and play even harder. Grab rebounds, get some steals, create open shots for your teammates. The game doesn't end on the offensive side of the ball!

2009 - Germany.
  I think that is the process of maturing as a basketball player as well. You can't pout when you miss shots. I know I still become furious with myself for missing shots. But the difference between me now, and 5-10 years ago, is now I don't let it affect the rest of my game. I work even harder to positively impact the game in other ways.

  Actually, I think it's kind of fun. How you can literally dominate the game without necessarily scoring. No, I don't think it's fun when you can't hit the broadside of a barn. But what I mean, is it's fun to find other ways to be a dominant force.

2008 - Sweden.
  Think about your favorite player. What do they do on the court that draws your admiration? We all know Michael Jordan was an incredible scorer. But he also wasn't afraid to mix it up defensively, hit the boards, or find an open teammate for an easy bucket.

2007 - Poland.
  On the women's side, the same can be said for Tamika Catchings. She's been a player I have admired since I was in high school. She plays incredibly hard, and absolutely fills the stat sheet. That's something I've always tried to emulate.

  You can't be a one-dimensional player and make it very far in this game.

   My team had a great win versus Limoges on Saturday. Winning by 20-plus points, for our second blow-out win in a row at home. Even when I missed more shots than I thought I should, I managed to walk off the court happy with the way I played. Yeah, I felt I could have played better (but I always feel that way), and shot the ball better. But because I dug down I found other ways to contribute, I still was proud of the way I played.

  That's one of the things I love about basketball: there are so many ways to affect a game, or even one specific play. There is not one thing that makes you a player. It's the combination of all the things you can do, that makes you standout. There's always a way to make an impact on the court, you just have to find it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving in Europe

Thanksgiving w/the Wildcats in Germany. What a feast! 2009.

  Spending Thanksgiving in Europe is always a strange thing. It's really the only major holiday I spend overseas that is not celebrated by my European 'hosts'.

  You wake up Thursday morning, knowing it's a very special day at home, where friends and family put their lives on pause, only to go on with your normal day-to-day routine in Europe.

  I've never had a feeling of missing out, or sadness on Thanksgiving. But when you're not around family and friends, you realize exactly what makes the holidays important.

  Thanksgiving is just like any other day, when you're not able to spend it with your loved ones. It's probably the day I think about home the most: what my family's doing, where they are, when they're getting ready to sit down for that special meal. There's nothing like Thanksgiving dinner with your family: the atmosphere, the company, the togetherness, and of course the food.

  The one thing you can try to duplicate is the food. I try to 'celebrate' Thanksgiving in Europe with a special meal whenever I can. Some years I have succeeded more than others.

Checking the turkey - tough work in the kitchen!
Scrambled Eggs for Dinner 
  My first Thanksgiving in Europe nine years ago surely wasn't one to phone home about. I remember having scrambled eggs as my Thanksgiving dinner in Como. Pathetic, I know. I've since stepped up my Turkey Day cooking game.

  I don't necessarily celebrate the food aspect of Thanksgiving every year. It depends on the people around me too. If there are other Americans I know nearby, or if there's a group that's excited about celebrating the American holiday with me, I'm happy to cook and have a wonderful meal with them. You can't exactly cook a turkey dinner for yourself (or I guess you can, but that's not something I would look forward to).

  To me, Thanksgiving is just as much about the people you are with as it is about the the food you are enjoying. 

Find Other Americans!
2 Germans, a Swede, and an American enjoying T'giving together!
  In years past, I've gone to an American-owned restaurant in Milano for some turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I've gone to an American's home with other teammates for a Thanksgiving dinner in Poland. There have been years when I don't do anything in particular too. Sometimes my schedule doesn't allow it, and sometimes there's no one else in town that share my excitement for stuffing themselves with tasty food.

My First Real Turkey Day Abroad
  The first time I cooked a full-fledged Thanksgiving dinner was when I was in Germany in 2009. We had a large group of Americans in Wolfenbüttel, so we wanted to do something special. My roommate, Steph, and I decided we would cook for everyone, our German teammates included. All in all, we had at least 13 people.

We had so much food, there was no where to actually EAT! - 2009
  Once our morning practice was over, we went home and spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. I had to use our other teammate, Jeza's oven because our stove wasn't big enough to handle all the food. It was stressful, and a ton of work, but it was also a great time. I loved how everyone enjoyed the food we worked so hard on, and it was one of my most-memorable Thanksgivings ever.

2012 Edition
  This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my friends V and Bruno here in Dunkerque. V and I went to college together at Colorado. She hadn't enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner since moving back home to France nine years ago. And Bruno had his first Thanksgiving ever. So I was excited to cook for them, and enjoy their company.

  Our dinner Wednesday night (couldn't fit it in on Thursday because I had practice!) consisted of turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and dressing. Not a huge Thanksgiving spread, but it did the trick!

Thanksgiving 2011 with V & Bruno in France.
  I've decided it's not Thanksgiving unless it's a little stressful. At some point during the day, I always have a little panic attack that we won't have any food to eat.

  In Europe, it's always difficult to find all of the ingredients you need at the store. Another issue is getting everything cooked in time using a kitchen/oven that is a little undersized (by American standards, anyway). But everything has always turned out great, I've just had to get a little creative at times!

Connect With Family
  Thanksgiving night this year was relatively the same for me as it would have been if I were home in Oregon. Thanks to the internet, that is. I got to talk to and see my family (some of them anyway) via Skype. And of course I watched a little football. That's the beauty of the internet: it's ability to make the world much smaller than it actually is.

Great company to go along with great food!
  Whether I celebrate with a turkey dinner or not, Thanksgiving is always the perfect time to really think about the things you are grateful for! The good health of family and friends is always at the top of my list. And also how lucky I am to have each of them (you!) in my life. And of course, I am so thankful to be able to continue to play basketball for a living, and have all the wonderful experiences I'm blessed with everyday.

  I try not to take any of it for granted.

  I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Now let the madness of the Holiday season begin!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Afternoon in Bruges

V and I on the boat tour!

  Two Sundays ago, my friend V and I ventured 70 kilometers east to the Belgian city of Bruges. I thought I had previously been there years earlier, but was mistaken.

  This was going to be my first visit to one of the 'Venices of the North', as it is commonly referred to, and I was excited.

  For me, it's always great to get out and have a change of scenery. It's easy to get stuck in the day-to-day routine of: practice, practice, practice, practice, game; that you forget to enjoy where you are, and see the different sights and cities that are nearby. So going to Bruges was an opportunity to do just that!

  We left a beautiful, sunny day in Dunkerque, so we were hopeful that we would also have nice weather in Bruges. But as we approached the city, a heavy layer of fog hung over us. It was going to be a cold, dreary day! But we weren't about to let that hold us back. We would just need a few more stops for some hot chocolate and coffee, that's all!

City Center.
  Usually this is all I do when I go to a new city for the first time: walk, eat, walk some more, then eat some more. And this trip was really no different.

  By the time we got to Bruges, found a place to park, and walked to the city center, it was time for some lunch! We kept our eyes peeled for a cute little 'tea room'. Someplace we could have a nice, inexpensive lunch, along with some coffee.

  After winding through much of the city, we finally found our spot -- Mamma & Co! I had an awesome focaccia, and a quiche with spinach, ham, and cheese. I had to save a little room for dessert because as you might know, Belgian chocolate is some of the best in the world.

'The Venice of the North'
   The Bruges city center still has much of it's medieval architecture in tact, along with the city wall that surrounds the historical center.

  As of 2000, the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I've said it many times before, but my favorite thing to do it just walk through places like this. I'm not necessarily a museum-goer, so I like to enjoy city on foot, and take in the vibe from the people and the buildings.

  We did decide to do one touristy thing while we were in Bruges, we went on a boat tour! With all those canals, how could we not! The great thing about the boat tour was that is was a way to see a lot of the city, and also get a little bit of information about its history (if we listened close enough to our guide). I took a short video along the way, and was careful not to drop my phone in the water (though that was a tough task, given how cold my hands got)! Enjoy:

  One thing you immediately notice about Bruges is the number of chocolateries you find in the city. They're more common than Starbucks in Seattle. Walking past the shops with their open doors, you just had to close your eyes and smell.

  The aroma coming from each chocolate shop was incredible. I wish there was a way to record the scent so you all could experience it. I tried two different truffles (one mocha and one coconut flavored), and they were both amazing. They melted in your mouth. Definitely the best tasting chocolate I've ever had.

You should smell the chocolatey goodness!
The most-amazing truffles ever!

   Another thing Bruges (and Belgium) is known for is their beer. Sadly (for you beer drinkers of the world), I don't enjoy the taste of beer. So you can't rely on me to be your Belgian beer critic (chocolates, yes; coffee, yes; candy, yes, beer, no!).

The wall of beer.
  One last bit of information about Bruges, is that the Friet Museum is located there as well. That's right, the french fry museum! You see, french fries did not originate in France, but in Belgium! So to get the whole story about how fries came to be, you can check out the Friet Museum in Bruges.

Grote Markt.
  The day in Bruges was a great one. Wonderful food, coffee, chocolate, sights, and company. It was a much-needed break for me from my day-to-day routine in Dunkerque. And what an awesome way for me to re-charge the batteries. I can say I'm pretty lucky to have that as an option!

  Hopefully that trip to Bruges was not my last. I definitely hope to go back in the Spring when the weather is clear. There were some things we simply couldn't see because of the fog. Only next time, we'll tour the city via Segway, or
horse and carriage.

  Anyone else been to Bruges? Tell me about your visit!

More pictures from Bruges...

Streets of Bruges.
Typical architecture of the north -- with the stair-step roof -- along with the year built.
Mmmm cupcakes.
Foccacia from Mamma & Co.
City Center with Belfort behind.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, Monday...

Yesterday on the beach.

   Ah yes, the Monday morning blahs. After a long weekend, that included sleeping on a bus two consecutive nights (while playing a game in between - a game we lost by the way), my Monday morning blahs are at an all time high. I'm sure you know the feeling, don't feel like doing much of anything, right? Lucky for me, this Monday morning, I don't have to do much of anything.

  So I put on a pot of coffee, and am trying to get my week figured out. My week of blogging. My week of practices/workouts. My trips to see the physio (20+ hours on the bus wrecked my back, and remember that ankle 'sprain' I had back in August?? Well, that's still giving me issues...). And it's Thanksgiving this week, so I'm trying to figure out our menu!

  I know, I know, all pressing matters, but everything's relative, remember?!?!

Laveyron guard driving to the hoop.
  Quick road trip recap for those who are interested. DMBC Dunkerque played against Laveyron on Saturday night. Laveyron is located just south of Lyon. So once again, we got to travel from the northernmost city in France (Dunkerque), to almost the southernmost point. We left Friday night, traveled through the night, and arrived in Laveyron just after 7am Saturday morning. The team had a quick breakfast at the hotel, and then all went 'back' to bed for a few hours. After sleeping on and off for roughly four to five hours on the bus, that two hour nap was an absolute must!

  Sorry to say we lost our game by 11 points. Laveyron had a good team. Two tough inside players, and a solid point guard. Those elements are crucial to having a successful team: a point guard to run the show, and bigs to be an inside presence. No matter where you play, that formula will never change!

  After the loss, it was back to the bus for the ride back to Dunkerque. Since it was dark on both the outgoing and return trips, I can't say I saw anything interesting. I did happen to catch something funny just outside of Lyon though: a nightclub called 'Obama Discotheque'. I have to wonder if the White House knows about that one. ;)

Yesterday's sunset in Dunkerque.
  Usually Mondays are a day my team uses to recover and rejuvenate. To get ready for the upcoming week of practice. After a Saturday game, we always have Sundays off. And then Monday we meet in the afternoon for a weight workout, and do sauna/steam/hot tub (whichever your preference). I think it's a nice routine. It helps you ease back into practice, and get your body ready to train hard another week.

  This week however, we got an extra day off and didn't have a formal team workout today. So I'm using it to plan my week! Or is that just an excuse to not do anything?

  How do you battle a case of the Mondays?

  Now, back to my Thanksgiving menu...


Friday, November 18, 2011

Why the Farm Bill Deserves Our Attention

Food Democracy Now!
  Every five years, Congress restructures the Farm Bill. And it's up for renewal in 2012. Now before you tune out and move on, consider this: if you eat food, the Farm Bill deserves your attention.

  The term 'Farm Bill' downplays the influence it has on all of our lives. It has much more to do with each of our everyday lives than we might think. Sure, it's an important piece of legislation that greatly affects farmers, but also impacts food consumers from the countryside to big cities, and everywhere in between. Some people suggest it should be renamed the 'Food and Farm Bill'.

  Now what exactly is the Farm Bill? It is a collection of legislative food and farm acts that is renewed every five years. The last time it was enacted, in 2008, the Farm Bill represented $284 billion of the federal budget at that time. It,
"sets priorities and provides funding for everything from crop subsidies, farmland preservation, international food aid and exports, nutrition entitlements (such as food stamps), lending to farms, rural infrastructure investment, research, forest protection and restoration, energy promotion (think bio-fuels and ethanol), organic agriculture, livestock, crop insurance and disaster assistance, and commodities trading."
So as you can see, the Farm Bill is a pretty wide-spread umbrella. It isn't just about farms and farming.

  Usually, writing a new farm bill takes about a year or so. Stakeholders from all facets of the food supply are given opportunity to have their voice heard, by providing testimony to House and Senate Agricultural Committees. The funding and direction of the bill is put together after all information is considered, and finally the bill is voted on by both legislative bodies. That's how the democratic process should work, right?

  So what makes the 2012 version of the Farm Bill so different? Well, it appears that legislators are trying to rush the Farm Bill though using a secret committee that is out of the public eye. This is all somewhat tied to the 2011 Budget crisis where a Super Committee was assigned the task of cutting $1.3 Trillion from the budget by the fall.

  The Super Committee tasked the Agricultural Committee to propose $23 billion in cuts to the Farm Bill legislation. Just four committee members are meeting behind closed doors to decide on those cuts, thus stealing any chance for reform to occur in regards to local, organic and healthy food until the next Farm Bill comes up in 2017.

  We all know that if this legislation is allowed to be written without the influence from the people, lobbyists and Big Agriculture will win out (or have I just become that cynical??). And the interests of companies like Monsanto, Cargill, and ADM will continue to be protected, further damaging our food system/supply.

  We can't allow that to happen.

  If we want any progress to be made within our food supply, the time is now. We can't wait until 2017. If we can, we want the government to cut farm subsidies for the 'big farm' and enact agriculture reforms that would create jobs, clean up the environment, strengthen sustainable local food systems and make healthy food available to everyone.

  That all starts with writing an open and fair Farm Bill.

  So what can we do? Go to Kill the Secret Farm Bill and let the members of the Agricultural Committee know, we want our voice heard in regard to the Farm Bill!

  Long story short, we can't cut corners on this legislative process. The Food Bill is a discussion that needs to be in the public. After all, this is a Congress that just declared pizza a vegetable. I think they've proven they need a little assistance where food is concerned.

  Have a great weekend! ~ Sabrina


Kill the Secret Farm Bill (Food Democracy Now)
Stop the Secret Farm Bill 
The Secret Farm Bill
Why the Farm Bill Matters

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday Celebrations

My bday party in Germany with Billi ,Tinki & Nina. We went bowling.

  This week, I was reminded of yet another difference between living in the U.S. and Euro-living.

  Small cultural differences present themselves on a daily basis, but the way birthdays are celebrated here in France (and many of the other European countries I've lived in) are vastly different from how Americans traditionally celebrate their birthdays.

  I first became aware of the differences my first season overseas in Italy. It was one of my teamamtes' birthdays, and as practice was coming to a close, she gathered everyone together to tell us she had brought some food and drinks to have aperitivo after practice.  

  Aperitivo, or appetizers, consisted of small salty pastries, champagne, Coke, and Fanta. We all went to the back room, where everyone sat for a bit, drank a glass of champagne or Coke, had a some snacks, and celebrated our teammate's birthday.

  And again, yesterday, my teammate here in Dunkerque was celebrating her birthday. She did the same. Brought brought lots of small snack foods, along with champagne-like drinks, and cider (only in France it's called apéritif). The whole team gathered in the bar area of our gym for close to an hour to toast Aurelie, and celebrate her birthday.

Aurelie - setting up her apéritif.
  For my non-American readers, a team birthday celebration in the States might go something like this. Before or after practice, the team will gather into a huddle and sing "Happy Birthday" to the day's honoree. That's it.

  The second difference I've noticed is who brings the birthday cake/dessert. In Europe, if it is your birthday, you bring the sweets. In the US, friends and family usually always provide the cake.

  I always think of my mom saying, 'you can't bake your own birthday cake'! In Europe, they might not bake it, but they surely bring it.

  Similarly, if you go out for dinner on your birthday in Europe, it's your treat. My second season in Italy, I was invited to a birthday dinner at an awesome Brazilian restaurant in Milano. The restaurant was incredibly good, but also incredibly expensive. I think it ran about 50 Euros per person. I imagine that was a pretty hefty bill. And I remember thinking that I was entirely too cheap to ever treat my friends to something like that!

  Again, it's the opposite in the States. Many times, a group of friends will take the 'birthday-girl' out for dinner and split the check as part of her gift.

Birthday champagne.
  For my birthday my first season abroad, I did not participate in the Euro-birthday tradition. Maybe I was being a stubborn American. But I just thought it was strange, to bring your own birthday cake, etc. I guess I thought it was your day, not everyone elses, so you should be treated to something special.

  At some point between years one and two in Italy, my mindset changed. For my second birthday in Italy, I followed suit with the Italian tradition. I brought the champagne and the treats. And I have to say it was really nice. It was a nice feeling to take a moment out and share something special because of your day. Instead of others taking the initiative to celebrate, it is YOU taking the initiative to celebrate your special day.

  The aperitivo/apéritif tradition is something I've grown to enjoy (on both sides: giving and receiving): to take some time to appreciate your teammate/friend, and celebrate her birthday in a small way.

  I can't say I prefer one tradition over the other, but I think it's interesting how different birthday celebrations can be. Don't worry, there is one tradition I've found to be universal however. And that's the tradition of birthday presents!

  Is there anything about birthday traditions/celebrations I've missed out on? What's your favorite way to subtly celebrate a birthday?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My 2 Cents on the NBA Lockout

  I know, we're all sick and tired of hearing about the NBA Lockout. Most people hit their limit a while ago. And after yesterday's developments (where the season was seemingly lost when the players decided to decertify their union), I've seen more, "I'm done with the NBA" statements than I can count. But I'm curious about who people are mad at. The owners, or the players? Or maybe fans are just upset in general?

  The common punchline I've seen over and over again since July is: "millionaires arguing with billionaires." And yes, that's a true statement. But my feeling is that folks are holding the players more responsible than owners for the disaster that is the 2011-1012 NBA season. "Shut up and play", right? After reading more 'the players are so greedy' sentiments than I could stand, here I am, hopefully putting a different perspective out there.

  So here are my two cents.

  Admittedly, there are several things about the NBA Lockout that I do not understand. Nor do I care to understand. But here are some things I do know: the owners and players are arguing over revenue sharing (otherwise known as BRI, or Basketball Related Income), aka how much of the gigantic pie ($4 billion pie to be exact) each side should get. And they are arguing over the salary cap; whether it should be a hard cap, soft cap, or flex cap.

  I know I am over-simplifying things. But those are the major issues, and where the snags have been hit.

Deron Williams has been playing in Turkey during the lockout.
  Obviously, I think the lockout stinks. And it's even worse that we're going to lose an entire season of basketball because the millionaires and billionaires couldn't come to a compromise. But I understand where the players are coming from.  And not because I'm a professional basketball player (my situation is NO WHERE near an NBA player's financial situation)!

  Don't forget, this is a LOCKOUT, not a STRIKE. The players want to play, and the owners won't let them. Because the owners made poor business choices in past years (by giving, yes, GIVING huge contracts to players), they are now losing money. So to keep this from happening even further, the owners want to change the rules of the game (change the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement they agreed to in 2005), and potentially take money back from players they were already promised (through their contracts). What's the point of signing a contract if you don't have to carry out the terms of the contract? Again, the problem started with owners doling out HUGE contracts in years past, in my opinion. And now they're regretting it. Bad way to run a business, if you ask me.

  In my opinion, it's not about the money now. It's the principle, and fighting about what is the right thing to do as businessmen. Sure, all we see are millionaire players upset that they might not make as much money. But if the players give into the owners, and take a bad deal now, it shows the owners they can essentially do anything they please, and don't have to honor contracts when they sign them. Take a bad deal now, and each time the CBA needs to be renewed, the owners take more and more of the pie. As it stands, the previous share of the pie was 57-43% for the players. The owners initially offered 47-53%, and that figure has been negotiated up to 51-49%.

Nicolas Batum is playing in his native France during the lockout.
   If it was about the money now, the players would take the deal that is on the table. Take the money now, and play. Remember, they're not getting paid during the lockout! I keep reading about the greedy players, the greedy players... How long is a typical NBA career? I'd say an average career might last 7 or 8 years. Not very long. If they were truly being greedy, they would take the deal (and the money) now, and never even think about the future generations of players. So again, if the players take a bad deal now, it will just continue to get worse for them down the road.

  I do understand how the players receive the brunt of the blame from fans. They are paid more than enough already, aren't they? And lots of other people are affected by a lost season, not just players and owners. People who work at the arenas, etc...have lost their jobs because of the lockout. And in our economy now, we are seeing jobs tougher and tougher to come by.

  But don't forget, the NBA is entertainment. We have overpaid for our entertainment for years. No different than movie stars, baseball players, football players, and so on. They all want a fair shake. That's all I feel the NBA players want too. The owners were hoping the players would give in, and take a bad deal because they we counting on the players wanting the money now!

  Lucky for us, basketball goes on! There are lots of other ways to get your basketball fill: college, high school, Euroleague! How are you going make up for the missed NBA season?