Sunday Talk is finally here and I'm extremely excited about this new space and happy that you have taken the time to share it with us.
I had the opportunity to chat with Brian George, who in his 9-to-5, is known as the witty and charismatic president and CEO of lottery kingpin Supreme Ventures Limited. However, very little is known of this Trini's love for, knowledge of and involvement in sports.
From Ali to Bolt, Brian - a lifelong New York Jets fan, weighs in and lets out a few secrets as well. For instance, I bet you didn't know that he was, as he puts it, a 'Sub-11' sprinter in high school. Anyway, let's talk!
André Lowe: OK Brian, why don't you start by telling us what teams or individuals you supported or continue to support?
Brian George: Well the NFL and NBA are two of my primary sports. From the NFL, I grew up in New York, so I am primarily a suffering Jets fan in the NFL. I went to University in New Orleans, so secondarily, I'm a Saints fan and, more recently, because of the RG3 (Robert Griffin III) phenomenon, I watch the Redskins, but I typically find myself being passionate about the Jets and the Saints. Then I tend to be passionate about teams that have individuals that I find have admirable qualities. So, in the case of Washington I like RG3 and I tend to be a 49ers fan this year because I am a fan of Randy Moss and support any team that he is on.
AL: That sounds like 'Wagonist' behaviour to me. You are not allowed to have so many teams and favourite players. Pfft ... anyway, what about the NBA?
BG: (Laughs) I'm a (New York) Knicks fan, I knew a lot of the players back in the day but I enjoyed what Kareem and Magic did. They were magical for the league. I think that Kevin Durant right now is magical for the league.
I think Lebron (James) has grown up. He paid a high price for his immaturity but I think he has learnt from that and I believe that many persons who were Lebron haters have turned around and are now Lebron supporters. Kobe (Bryant) is another example of somebody that I hated when he was younger, but I have admired him since he has got older.
AL: I can still say that I don't like Kobe. Anyway, you consider yourself a Jets fan, so how would you play out the Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez quarterback circus going into next season?
BG: I would dump them both. Tim Tebow is a media phenomenon and I respect the fact that he was a great college quarterback. In the case of Mark Sanchez, I don't think he has a head for the game; I think he chokes a lot. We need a quarterback who won't bend in crunch time and I don't think either of them has the skills.
AL: Fair enough. OK some NBA now. The Knicks started well and looked like they could go all the way. Do you think they can be real threats to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference?
BG: I think they are missing a player. Carmelo (Anthony) is doing well and there is (Amare) Stoudemire, but I think that the Knicks are missing a centre, I don't think any team has won the NBA without a solid centre.
AL: Well, it could be said that the Miami Heat won it all last year without a classic centre.
BG: Well, it depends on what you call a centre because don't forget that (Chris) Bosh is a centre. What has happened at centre is that guys like Chris Bosh; at 7' tall (Correction: 6', 11", but we'll let it slide this time), are now being considered as forwards.
AL: (Alert: Corny lottery joke) I wouldn't 'bet' money on you actually being good at any sport at this point, but let's roll back the years and correct me if I'm wrong, but do you play any sport these days?
AL: High school, college?
AG: Both actually, now you're gonna let me reveal some stuff. I actually ran track in high school. I won't say I was great, but I will say I was pretty good. If I was great you would have probably heard about me anyway (laughs).
I never ran a sub-10 but I ran a sub-11 if that counts. In high school, I was a track person, the 100m and 200m; also in college, where I also played basketball for the JV (Junior Varsity) team.
I played (American) football as a running back in high school and college, before I realised that the quantum leap between high school and college was so wide. I remember the story of a 235-lb linebacker hitting me and I remember lying down there - it was certainly a 'WTF moment', but I remember lying on my back thinking this wasn't for me.
AL: That's actually funny. Let's say though you had a chance to be any sportsman for a day, who would that be?
BG: That's an interesting one (taps table). Certainly not Lance Armstrong. That's a very interesting question though; I'll think about it and come back to that one.
AL: Sure, no problem. OK, so what is your ultimate sporting dream? Is there a team you would like to see play or a stadium that you would like to experience?
BG: Not really, it's a funny thing because with the advent of plasma TVs, LED TVs and instant replays, I find it more interesting to watch at home and I really hate to be in crowds of ignorant people when it comes to sport. But I've seen the Knicks in Madison Square Gardens ...
AL: But have you ever been to the Edward Seaga Sports Complex in Tivoli Gardens? That is a true experience.
BG: (Laughs) I will put that on my bucket list then.
AL: As a Trini by birth and a Jamaican by adoption, I will have to test your allegiance, I promise we won't deport you if we don't like your responses. I will name the sport and you will tell me which country is better at it.
Let's start with an easy one, track and field.
BG: Well, that's easy, but not from a historic perspective. It's easy to say that Jamaica is dominating in track and field, but I would say that the first Olympic 100m gold medal that was won by a Trinidadian ...
AL: Wait, what the hell? Are you trying to negotiate for a tie?
BG: No, (laughs) it's OK, Jamaica wins that one.
BG: I mean, come on. All I'll say is, it comes down to a guy with a similar first name to mine (Brian Lara).
AL: Well, there is a guy whose first name is similar to your surname that would have something to say about that.
BG: Ha! George Headley ... yea. I would say that individually Jamaica has produced more individuals of outstanding calibre when it comes to cricket, but we shine the brightest. I would give that a tie.
BG: That's the one sport I would probably claim the most ignorance about. Because I grew up in North America, I tended to be more oriented to North American sport. Well, we probably had the greatest football administrator in Jack Warner, can I use him (laughs)? Let's face it, whatever you want to say, if it wasn't for Jack, CONCACAF would not have the voice it has, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago would not have gone to the World Cup. But certainly, the fact that Jamaica won a game at the World Cup, and the fact that I love my wife (who is Jamaican), I will give it to Jamaica.
AL: Now Muhammad Ali, Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Pele, Maradona, Babe Ruth; who do you consider to be the greatest sportsman of all time?
BG: That's interesting because when you asked me who I would like to be for a day, I would have said Mohammed Ali. I think that, in terms of the complexity of an individual, Ali is the most complex and domineering individual in the world of sport, both in terms of his stand against the war and the fact that he was Muslim and that he was willing to put his career on the line for something he believed in. I tend to judge athletes on how they change the game or the world around them and I think that Ali was a transformative individual and so I would have to go with him. His influence was great; people give in to the hype and don't understand the social significance that he had.
AL: Ali certainly transcended social boundaries. Let's change the tone a bit and test your musical taste. If you ever get the gig to play as the disc jock at the National Stadium at a Reggae Boyz game, let's say they need to win this one to go to the World Cup, which song would you play to rally the team as they make their way on to the field?
BG: Hahahaha! You are something else. Probably not a Caribbean song, We are the champions by Queen is what I would play (breaks into singing).
AL: I see ... OK, maybe a dancehall remix perhaps. By the way, we know the sports betting game JustBet is a Supreme Ventures product, do you think you can provide some odds for the next Gleaner sports desk vs Gleaner news/entertainment desks football game? We call it the real El Clasico (laughs).
BG: Well, at least this is internal to The Gleaner and I don't have to get into the banter with The Gleaner vs (Bleep ... laughs).
AL: ... Let's not even go there, but I am going to put you on the spot. Between Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt, who is your favourite sprinter?
BG: I think Usain Bolt is a transformational individual, not just because he runs fast. I think Blake is a phenomenal talent, but Usain Bolt has done what no other track-and-field person has done and I'm not just talking about running fast, so definitely Bolt.
AL: How has sports influenced your own development?
BG: Well, you can't lead until you learn how to follow, so understanding (that) being a part of a team and (subjectting) yourself to a coach is a critical part of what sports teaches you. Also, understanding your role and leadership as you grow, sports embodies these things.
I don't think there is anything that I can think of that I do, other than parenting that is not driven by some of my sports experiences. I have dealt with injuries, I have dealt with setbacks and back-stabbing, all of those things happen in sports and give you a perspective.
AL: So there it is. I must say a big thank you to Brian George for being our first guest and let's see who joins us next week for a little chat.
Sports Quote of the Day: "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is" - Vince Lombardi.
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