Archive | Basketball

Unique Sports Dribble Specs [Basketball Training Review]

Unique Sports Dribble SpecsRecommendation
The Unique Sports Dribble Specs is worth purchasing. For less than $10, you get an easy to use device that, while unfashionable to wear, makes sure you cannot look at the ball while dribbling. From my experience, this is great for removing your dependency on looking at the ball, and is especially helpful for simulating game time situations.

Background
The Unique Dribble Specs is not specs at all. The black plastic pieces simply block your lower vertical vision so you can’t see the ball. Nonetheless, the Unique Dribble Specs work as intended – they are easy to use and do not cause injuries. I think they’re great to help with a dribble workout. They do, however, hold your sweat from your eyes, so when you take them off, all your collected sweat will drip down on your face when you remove it. Sweat burn in the eyes…

(Note: I initially reviewed the Dribble Specs nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

The Best of City Slam Chicago [Photos]

Ha and I went to City Slam Chicago a couple of weekends ago. It was held at Seward Park, which was also the setting for this Uncle Drew / Kyrie Irving / Pepsi commercial below:

I won’t spoil the winner for you (it will be aired on TV in late July), but here are some of the best photos Ha took of the event, with judges like Doug McDermott of the Chicago Bulls judging.

One last photo of the park with downtown Chicago in the background:

The Real (Secret) Reason why the Warriors Won Game 4 [NBA Finals]

For all the talk about LeBron being tired in Game 4 or Andre Iguodala having a stellar game back in the starting lineup, there’s actually a secret reason why the Cavs weren’t able to conquer the mighty Golden State Warriors. After driving to Cleveland from Chicago, Ha and I had a plan to vex the mighty LeBron: we would visit all his favorite places and curse them. (We thought about driving by his house, but we ran out of time)

For example, here’s the famous LeBron Nike sign in front of Quicken Loans Arena. Ha poops on LeBron!

Nike LeBron Witness Sign

We also went to LeBron’s hometown of Akron to see how he grew up. This is where LeBron went to high school, St. Vincent-St.Mary. Incidentally, I used to really love LeBron and have owned his high school jersey for the last ten years. Nonetheless, Ha poops on LeBron (with her Stephen Curry shirt)!

St.Vincent St.Mary

Both LeBron James and Warriors’ hero Stephen Curry were born at The City Hospital of Akron. Because of that and as this is a hospital, no pooping here. We left the pooping to the newborn babies.

City Hospital of Akron

This is the original Swensons in Akron, LeBron’s favorite place for burgers. It’s a drive-in service spot, and this was the original location.We ate like LeBron (try the Galley Boy), taking away his power for the game!

Swensons

Swensons

Were our tactics successful? You tell me. Game 4, Warriors.

On the way to victory.

My Memories of Coach Jason Rabedeaux [Vietnam, Saigon Heat]

espn_rabadeux01_1600x1000
Last week, I was surprised to see this long form article on ESPN: Former UTEP coach Jason Rabedeaux’s death remains a mystery.

I knew Coach Jason. He lived in my building in Vietnam, and we would either run into each other in the elevator, at the minimart on the ground floor, or during morning swimming sessions on the 25th floor at 7AM – a chat for a minute or two every few weeks. My wife Ha worked with him during the Saigon Heat’s first season, and both of our impressions of him were the same: he was a really friendly guy.

We heard about his death last fall, but I had no idea about the many internal demons haunting him.

Best wishes to Coach in the heavens.

Stephen Curry Team USA Jersey Review (AliExpress, Aimee Smith)

To reward myself for a recent 2nd place (but a cash prize!) finish at an innovation competition at Kellogg, I decided to buy myself a fake jersey. Normally I wouldn’t do this, at least not knowingly (damn you eBay!), but I wanted to look at the process of buying things from AliExpress (an Alibaba company), which helps Chinese vendors sell directly to international consumers. Prior to this, I had been curious about the quality of fake jerseys, and who made the best ones. You can find plenty of reviews of fake jerseys on YouTube, but sub-Reddits like http://www.reddit.com/r/sportsjerseys and http://www.reddit.com/r/basketballjerseys/ are also very useful.

I ended up deciding on a Stephen Curry Nike FIBA 2014 jersey, primarily because as far as I know, it was never sold to the public as Curry is signed to Under Armour. For the seller (there are a number of them), I chose “Aimee Smith”, who has great reviews both online and within the AliExpress storefront – as of my writing this post, she had received feedback from 10,299 people with 99.4% reporting positive transactions. This means about 10,237 people liked “her”, while just 62 people did not. I, for what it’s worth, also liked her.

Before going into the jersey , I’ll talk a bit more about the AliExpress experience:

https://i0.wp.com/style.aliunicorn.com/wimg/buyer/single/standard-definition-logo.png

  • Security: AliExpress is very easy to use – you do not need to worry about credit card security issues, or any other negative fears you may hold about buying from some “random” site in China. AliExpress (and Alibaba) is no random company – they have been doing this a long time, and you will see that in your shopping. AliExpress accepts all major credit cards (American Express, Visa, Mastercard) and also has a clear buyer protection policy. The website is no harder to use (and is likely easier) than any other American site that you like.
  • Responsiveness: It is very easy to ask sellers questions, and Aimee Smith in particular is very responsive. She answered all my questions in less than a day and often, within minutes (keep in mind the different time zones). On eBay, whether you get any responses at all is random based on seller. From my experience, eBay sellers response properly less than 50% of time.
  • Reviews: If you are fairly comfortable buying things on eBay or Amazon 3rd Party sellers, you will be fine on AliExpress. What I especially like about the service is that you can review the specific product from that seller. Thus, I could see what others felt about the specific Curry jersey I was buying from Aimee Smith. This makes sense for AliExpress since their products are not one-off goods (e.g. I only have one to sell, like my limited edition baseball card). This wouldn’t make as much sense for many small volume eBay sellers but it would for some and it would definitely make sense for many Amazon sellers.
  • Shipping / Tracking:  Assuming you get a good seller, AliExpress also does a great job of letting you know the status after you order. Even though you can check your order details on the site, however, the site never sends a detailed receipt via email

If you’re interested in AliExpress, I definitely say try it without fear, but do make sure you check for sellers with strong feedback before doing so, just as you would (I would hope) with purchases from eBay or Amazon 3rd party vendors.

On to the jersey!

I am happy with it. No complaints considering the price and fact that I cannot get (a major incentive to buy fake jerseys is when an authentic version is unavailable) a real one. The Curry jersey cost less than $22 shipped, and I received it in about 2.5 weeks (coming from China, after all) after ordering. If you are interested in fake jerseys, I would not hesitate to get one from Aimee Smith, and all the feedback online I have seen agree.

While I have not worn the jersey to play basketball in, the material is really soft. I am sure it does not have Dri-Fit or any other moisture-wicking technology built-in, but the jersey is light and I could see myself wearing it. In this sense, if you are normally someone who wears t-shirts for athletic wear, I would recommend this as an alternative. I bought a size small (I am 5’6, 140 lbs.) and I feel it was correctly sized.

To get into the details, let’s do a comparison of images from Getty Images,

455063814 455055924a Paul George authentic jersey auction on eBay,

and Nike Store images.clip_image0014clip_image001And for reference, my Stephen Curry Aimee Smith USA Jersey:

I imagine it might be tricky to compare all these images in this kind of vertical-line view, so I’ll summarize what I see as best as I can:

  1. For the USA lettering on the front, the authentic jerseys are flat (almost like a screen print integrated into the jersey material) and the borders around the letters are dark. On the Aimee Smith version, the borders are red, and the lettering is stitched.
  2. I believe the USA badge (on right chest of player above Nike symbol) on the authentics is printed on the jersey, while it is embroidered on the Aimee Smith.
  3. The placement and size of the “4” on the front match Getty images fairly well. There is no FIBA patch on the left clavicle, but some fake sellers have it.

Moving to the back and other components. This time, I will show Getty first, then the Aimee Smith and Paul George authentic alternating different parts.

455160982imageimageimageimageOther than the “4” on the back being too high relative to the Curry name, the back looks pretty good as well. While I could not tell how accurate the lettering was based on the Getty Images photo, comparing the Aimee Smith Curry to the Paul George authentic reveals that the “R” looks pretty close. Again, the Aimee Smith is more of a Swingman jersey in which all letters and numbers are stitched, which is not the case with the authentic. The jock tag at the bottom front of the jersey is much different between the two jerseys, which is also true of the collar tag. Nonetheless, if you had nothing to compare either with, it would be difficult to say that one of them appears fake.

As I mentioned before, the quality of the jersey is excellent – it probably looks no worse than an authentic Obsidian Warriors Swingman alternate jersey I bought from the NBA store a few months ago for 4 times the price. It could have easily sold as an authentic Nike USA swingman and it is likely better than an authentic replica Andre Iguodala Nike USA jersey that I own. I hope this helps, but feel free to ask me questions!