"If you need help finding your local unemployment office, maybe I can help you Mike..."

"If you need help finding your local unemployment office, maybe I can help you Mike..."

On the eve of the beginning of the NBA’s free agency period, the Detroit Pistons were the first ones to make some noise. But all the hoopla wasn’t about a player.

The Pistons fired first-year coach Michael Curry after a tumultous season that saw them end the regular season below .500 for the first time in nearly a decade and get swept in the first round of the playoffs. The knock on Curry, who spent a season as an assistant under also-pink slipped Flip Saunders, was that he could not garner the same respect that other head coaches around the league too. Curry really lost his squad after he benched Rip Hamilton for Allen Iverson, a move that not only alienated his players, but also the Detroit fanbase. The trade for AI was already heavily criticized, and the benching of Hamilton, who helped lead the Pistons to six straight conference championships, only made the whole deal worse.

So now, heading into the signing period, the Pistons not only need to find some talented free agents, but also someone that can lead the team. Former Detroit coach Doug Collins, who has been a studio analyst for some time now, seems to be a logical choice. Ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson and Bill Laimbeer, who previously coached the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, are also names that are being thrown around. Either way, the Pistons would be well-served to find someone with a little more head coaching experience, someone that can harness the attention and respect of the players, but also make them feel comfortable.

And now with the free agents. Sources league-wide agree that Iverson and headcase Rasheed Wallace will be shown the door, and the chances of re-signing Antonio McDyess seems unlikely. The Pistons need to focus on signing a viable big man. Most pundits say that Ben Gordon is Dumars’ top target, but I’d rather see some frontcourt help. Gordon is a lights-out shooter and a scorer in the clutch, but will he be happy coming off the bench behind Hamilton? Or will Hamilton be benched again in favor of the new guy? We already know that will not go over well. Plus, Gordon lacks the defensive effort that goes with the Pistons’ blue-collar work ethic.

Another good candidate would be Hedo Turkoglu, who most likely helped put a big chunk of change in his pocket by showing off an array of skills during this season’s NBA playoffs. As a big man, Turk can stretch defenses with a solid outside shot and can also run some point-forward. Other options might be Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, Portland forward Channing Frye and … Houston forward Ron Artest.

Ha…for those of you out there who feel that Dumars has lost his ‘midas touch’ constructing the Pistons team, signing Artest would be the feather in your cap, wouldn’t it? Can you imagine? The villain of the Malice at the Palace, one of the biggest headcases in league history?? I don’t think so.

Either way, this should be an interesting summer for the Pistons organization. I have always stood steadfast that Dumars has a plan for all this, even after a lackluster draft last week. Let’s hope I am right…

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June 29, 2009

Is this a date or a job interview?

Is this a date or a job interview?

To me, it seems as though being single and being unemployed are pretty much two birds of the same feather.

If you think about it, the job search is much like the quest for the perfect mate. Your resume’ is like your initial appearance. As much information you can squeeze in on one, two or even three pages of a resume does not tell the whole story of your skills, talents and primary objectives. Same with how you appear to the girl (or guy) you might be after. You can dress down, or dress up, or just simply undress, but there is only so much one can say with that. Whereas they both convey general ideas of what you are about, it’s not quite like getting to know a person, where you can really dig deep into their personality and character and decide whether this person is someone you can see yourself with for an extended period of time.

Or if they are a disgusting creep that needs to be locked up.

(In my experiences, it is usually the latter more often than the former…)

During my job search in the past two weeks, I have sent out dozens of cover letters and resumes to potential ‘suitors’ across the city of Chicago. But no matter how many big words or action statements I can think of, how can anyone really know who I am by written word? Even if I am lucky enough to get a face-to-face interview, I feel as though I am on a first date with a woman. You get dressed up, drive to a strange location, greet the secretary and wait for your hopeful employer to call on you for the meeting, all the while the employees in the office give you the stink eye and stare like you are about to break into their homes and steal their dog.  Much like a date, the employer usually keeps you waiting for a few minutes, similar to sitting by yourself at the table while you wait for your companion to arrive.

(Is that guy eating by himself at this nice restaurant? What a loser…)

Once the meeting begins, you struggle to come up with the right thing to say to some of the most mundane and/or general questions, all the while questioning yourself with every reply. You order a steak, medium-rare. She tells you she is a vegetarian. Oh No!….Your heart races, your hands tremble, your back sweats…

Was that the right thing to say? Am I smiling enough? Is she interested at all?

Should I tell her that I like to collect garbage pail kids??

After your time is up, it is now time for the awkward goodbye. You’re not quite sure if you have made the impression you hoped to make, but you have to make do with the events that have just transpired. Do you get a second interview (date)? Most likely not. She is smiling at you but you can’t tell if its genuine or forced. You say your goodbyes and you get the awkward hug with the ass out and the friend-pat on the back. Ugh…

“We’ll call you if we would like to set up another interview…”

It looks like it’s back to the old drawing board.

Most American people don’t bat an eye at the sport of soccer. Aside from a random game on ESPN 2, the sport gets minmal coverage here. But to the rest of the world, soccer is a way of life. It is easily the most popular and important sport on the ont the planet, where fans riot on behalf of their teams and world leaders jail their country’s soccer stars if they do not meet expectations in regional and global competitions. Whereas the United States dominates, or is at least excessively competitive, in most sports, the Americans are regarded as an after-thought when it comes to soccer. Even after a soild showing during the 1994 World Cup, the first ever Cup hosted in the U.S., we still were yet to be taken seriously by the rest of the world. However, the United States notched an improbable and decisive victory Wednesday by defeating No.-1 ranked Spain, 2-0, in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. It marked the first time the Spanish team was defeated since November 2006. You can also look at this way – it was the first time Spain had been scored on in 451 minutes, since April 1st. Spain was in the midst of an international record 15-game win streak, and had a streak of 35 games without a defeat, tied with Brazil for most ever. The win for the Americans was huge on a global scale. It ranks up there among the greatest wins ever for the team, right along victories in the 1994 World Cup over Colombia and in 2002 against the Brazilians in the 2002 CONCACAF.

As a child, I grew up in a small town that was all but obsessed with soccer. Young kids grew up playing in leagues that fed into strong high school programs. Our high school made it to three straight state championship games, winning one, and most of our town traveled many miles to see the games during the state playoffs. I’m not gonna sit there and tell you I am the biggest fan of the game in a professional sense, but I do take notice and feel pride when the American soccer team does something to help earn its stripes in world competition. A win like this can be compared to a gold medal at the Olympics, and all of us in the U.S. should take notice and feel a sense of entitlement when something like this happens. Up next for the American will most likely be Brazil, which faces host South Africa in Sunday’s other semifinal, a team that beat them in the opening round and will be highly favored. Maybe we can hope for one more red, white and blue miracle victory.

The Windy City in all its glory

The Windy City in all its glory

Life is full of hard decisions. From what to wear, and what to eat, to whether or not you think Stan Van Gundy might in fact actually be Ron Jeremy, every day is filled with constant conundrums. This past week, I made one of the toughest choices of my life when I decided to leave Charleston for Chicago. After spending nearly five years in the Holy City, the itch to move on to attempt to better my life got the best of me and I was forced to scratch it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time in Charleston or that I wasn’t happy with my surroundings. It’s clearly the class of the South, from its thriving tourism industry,endless history and amazing dining and nighlife, to its beaches, swamps, golf courses and of course, women as hot as train smoke. But what made Charleston so tough to leave behind was the amazing people that I encountered and bonded with during my time there. The city itself can be a little closed-minded about certain individuals from certain northern areas of the country and it did take me a few months to crack the shell and get into the inner circles, but once I made connections, I found out how truly wonderful the city and its citizens can be. Being a mecca for the aforementioned traits, people from all over the country flock to this city and make it their home. Its a virtual cornocupia of personalities and characters. I was immediately drawn to that wandering soul spirit that I saw in many of the people I came across in my time there. But as I grew older and started to ‘settle down’, I realized the city lacked any type of career that I might be interested in or would suit me for my near and distant future. Aside from lawyers, doctors, real estate agents and professional f and b’ers, there wasn’t really much to offer the single mid-20s male as far as employment was concerned. I turned my attention back to the North and the thriving metropolis of Chicago. Having grown up in Michigan, I also thought of Chicago as a second home. I can remember my first trip into the Windy City as a young man and being instantly swept up by the constant bustle of activity, the breathtaking skyscrapers and the ability to have whatever you want right at your doorstep. I’ve wanted to live here ever since then, and this seemed to be the time to make that dream happen. With my time in Charleston coming to a close like a sunset over Lake Michigan, and the lure of several family members and close friends who have made Chicago their home offering me their support, it was an easy choice to make. But it also proved to be an extremely difficult one to follow through with. It took me four days just to get the stones to turn in my letter of resignation at work. Leaving was extremely rough both mentally and emotionally, but as I have spent the last 24 hours here in my new home, I feel that the right choice was made, even if it wasn’t the easiest. Many friends and colleagues extended well-wishes and kind thoughts before my departure, but I told most of them this: This is not a good-bye, this is a see you later. So to all my brethern in Charleston I left behind (and to those hot, hot women), take care, God Bless….and….see you later.