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Tell Ovechkin I’m Sorry

Alexander Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin (Photo credit: davidkosmos)

Done? Me done? With Ovechkin? I don’t think so.  I admit, I was mad at him for his lackadaisical attitude on the ice and it drove me to write that I was done wearing his jersey in public.  I was disappointed in him as he would have been if the situation was reversed.

Soon after writing my blog, ‘Tell Ovechkin I’m Done’,  The Great 8 went on fire!  Six goals and 3 assists in the last five games!  Maybe he follows my blog…  He also got the attention of the league, so much that he was named the week’s first star!  Now that’s my boy!

I watched him play the first of back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Jets.  He was nothing like the ‘drag-my-ass-around’ Ovechkin that I saw in his first game in the city.  He had fire and purpose.   I was happy.  Welcome back sir!

When asked about his turnaround, Ovechkin had this to say:

“I just try to do my best,” Ovechkin said.

“Right now I’m scoring goals and I’m the king of the world. And a couple weeks ago I was almost in the toilet. So maybe you just forget to flush me.”

Sounds like the old Ovie I once knew!  The line ‘I’m king of the world…’ reminds me of my other hero, the great Muhammad Ali.

Good luck Ovie!  Keep on rolling and I’ll keep on wearing that jersey.  If you are not done, then I’m not done, son.

Interestingly,  Oveckin is fourth in the league for goals, (5 less than leader, Stamkos) and his total points are good enough for 10th.  Pretty decent.


Tell Ovechkin I’m Done!

P1060226I loved the guy.  He reminded me so much of my other hero, Muhammad Ali.  Brash, energetic and in-your-face type of guy.  Watching him play made my heart beat faster.  He was like a wizard with the puck.  He would do anything to get it into the opposition’s net.  He was my type of guy.  Sidney who?  That wimp couldn’t hold a candle to the Great 8, Ovie.

Then just like that, without warning, it seemed like the wheels fell off the Ovechkin train.  The first season it happened, the excuses were many.  He was playing hurt.  The team had changed to a more defensive style of hockey.  The next season with a new coach with a different system still did not get the train back on track.  Was I witnessing the premature decline of my hero?  Did he peak too soon? I didn’t know what to think.  Fast forward to present day.

About a week ago, I went to see the shell of the Great 8 play the Winnipeg Jets.  I was focused on him as I wanted to see if I could notice anything different.  I did.  Well what I saw was troubling.  As his teammates practiced, Ovie stretched.  And stretched some more.  Then he went back on the bench to take care of his laces that suddenly needed attention.  Then he came back over the boards and stretched some more.  He took a shot with no real enthusiasm then tested the boards by bumping against it.  The captain Ovechkin was the laziest man on the ice!

When his team came out to start the game, Ovechkin made a beeline for the bench and was the first and only player sitting as his teammates made a warmup lap.  (Oh, he was also the first to leave the ice after the initial warmup).  Something seemed wrong.  I had the impression that Ovie did not want to be playing hockey.  His body language screamed that he’d rather be doing something else than play hockey.  Probably rather be spending time with his tennis player girlfriend, Maria Kirilenko.  Whatever it was, it had taken an immense toll on the man many considered to be the next big thing in hockey.  Gone was the brash kid who knocked over any player who dared to stand in his way.  A couple of games ago, he attempted to throw a hip check at an opposing player entering his zone.  He then backed off at the last second and allowed the player to go in and eventually set up a goal.  The player who scored ‘the goal’ while sliding on his backside and many other highlight reel goals have left the building, folks.  The player who was considered by many, including yours truly, to be better than Crosby, is now not even worthy of tying The Kid’s laces.  Comparing him to Sidney is an insult to Crosby.  Heck, comparing him to Malkin, Hossa, and a lot of other players who are playing their hearts out night after night, is insulting.

So tell Ovechkin that I’m done.  I can no longer be seen wearing his jersey, once my prized possession.  I can be tolerate and even appreciate it if a player tries hard but fails due to lack of talent but a player who gives up on his team and his teammates, I can’t support.  I am not comfortable wearing Ovechkin’s jersey anymore.  In fact I’m done, son.


Saving Ali’s Life

This morning Ali was floundering.  Actually he was more than floundering, he was dragging ass, literally.  He had been like this for a couple of days now but me, being busy and a bit selfish, ignored him.  I walked by him thinking to myself, ‘I must do something about Ali before he dies.  He needs my attention.’

Ali wasn’t eating.  He was lying there barely moving.  This morning as I got ready for work, my heart broke that the little guy could barely look at me.  After four years, we had developed a unique friendship.  Words were unnecessary.  We could look at each other for what seemed like hours without a word between us.  My gold-fish and I.

So after a few days of ignoring him, I decided to take immediate action this morning.  Looking at him, I doubted he would have made it through the day.   The plastic plant that was in his bowl had some black stuff all over it and the stuff floated around his water.  I transferred him to a pot and gave his bowl a thorough cleaning, disposing of the fake plant and the fake rocks I had in there.  Ali would have a bit more space to roam now.

When I finally put him back into his glass house, Ali was himself in minutes.  darting here and there and eating like a starving blogger.  My day was made.  I didn’t just save a life, I saved Ali’s life.


Remembering Ali

Cover of "King of the World"

King of the World

I remember it well, just as if it was yesterday, although I was only ten years old back then.  I felt it coming weeks in advance. My uncle, who I lived with at the time, talked about it almost daily.  The adults in my neighborhood discussed it with passion and excitement in their voices.  I didn’t know what to expect but like Alice in Wonderland, I grew curiouser and curiouser.

Muhammad Ali The Greatest was set to fight Foreman.  That’s what all the hype was about, rightly so, as this Ali was going to fight four men!  Well at least that what my naive mind thought as I had never heard anyone called ‘Foreman’ before and I knew nothing about boxing.  And yes, I was a bit slow on the uptake.

The fight couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, it found my uncle and I sitting in front of a small black and white television.  Back in those days, it was the biggest television I had ever seen, even though it was only a 13 inch.  There were no pay-per view and we had just the one channel but I guess the fight was broadcast to all the networks as we were able to watch in on our one-channel television.  Oh the good old days…

I didn’t know what to expect but the hype was contagious.  I could feel something epic was about to happen but I had no clue what it was.  I didn’t have to wait long.  As I watched, a procession made its way to the ring.  It was Ali!  He was surrounded by policemen and his team.  He smiled at the crowd and looked very relaxed.  Ali entered the ring and immediately started bouncing and shadow boxing. He did the famed Ali shuffle as he waited for his opponent to show up.

Then a brute of man walked into the ring.  The big brutish looking guy was announced as George Foreman.  It didn’t take me long to make the connection and correction, although Foreman could have passed for four men.  His arms were like black steel and he looked ready to inflict pain on whoever was brave enough to step into the square ropes with him.  Foreman didn’t smile and I hated him right away as he reminded me of the bullies in my school.  Ali bomaye!

My first fight was epic indeed.  I had no idea what I was watching but my uncle and I wanted Ali to win.  My uncle was in a frenzy.  He kept jumping up and throwing punches in the air while yelling, “Hit him! Yes! Hit him!  Knock him out!” It didn’t seem like a nice thing to say but as long as my guy Ali was doing the hitting I was alright with it.  I doubted if there was a bigger fan of The Greatest that night. I was like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  For years after that night, I saw his round baby face dripping with sweat, pointing at me from the television and telling me ‘I am the Greatest! I am King Of The World!’  I never doubted him in the least.

The fight was not an easy win for Ali. My uncle and I thought he was done when he laid back onto the ropes and took punishing hooks to the body.  We learned later that it was part of Ali’s plan and was called ‘The Rope-A-Dope’ and designed to wear the big bully out. It worked.  Foreman was dead tired in the later rounds and wasn’t able to make the count after falling to a combination from Ali.  The Greatest, The King came through once again.  Beating the odds like he always did.

That night, I never knew that this Ali had also defied the odds prior to this fight and taken the boxing title away from a boxing legend named Sonny Liston.  I never knew that this man had traded all that boxing had giving him, fame and fortune, to take a stand against something he didn’t believe in.  The Vietnam war.  His response to his being drafted, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger.’ and “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?are forever etched in my memory.   For his refusal to fight, he was subsequently arrested, stripped of his title and suspended.

After being away from boxing for three and a half years, Ali returned and soon reclaimed his throne as the King.  The Rumble In The Jungle was the fight that gave him his crown back.  The Greatest was still The Greatest.

After that fight, I was hooked on boxing as I wanted to see more of Ali. I wanted to see his flash, hear his taunting poems, his boasts, his predictions, I wanted more Ali.  As I learned who he was beyond his pugilistic skills, I liked and respected him even more.

Although ravaged by Parkinson, Ali is still The King to me.  His face no longer baby smooth and boyishly handsome but now aged and etched with visible signs of the disease.   I do not look at him with sadness or pangs of pity.  I still see before me, the man who made me believe.  The man who defied odds. The man who I wanted to be like.  The Greatest.

I hoped that one day, fate or destiny would have given me a chance to meet Ali but sadly, yesterday, Friday June 3rd, 2016, the man, the legend, the myth, the one they called The Greatest, floated away like a butterfly, he had lost his bee sting.  Rest in peace, Ali.  I will always remember you!

Edited from my original post written March 26th 2012

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