Thursday, 29 December 2011

BOOK REVIEW: JERRY WEST-WEST BY WEST, MY CHARMED, TORMENTED LIFE


4/5

Going West.

What else can we say about Jerry West? A Los Angeles Laker champion and legend as a player and a general manager, immortalised in bronze for an overdue statue this year. Olympic champion and one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. The man is the image of the logo of the NBA for heaven's sake...he is a basketball God. What more can you say than that? Or what more can be said about this man than Roland Lazenby's incredible read 'Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon'? Well how about some words from the man himself? A shy, at times troubled man who isn't one for interviews, press conferences or even events honoring him. What more do we need now than some words from the horses mouth?

So one of the Lakers greatest knight's finally opens up with Jonathan Coleman for the magnificent, moving memoir 'West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life'. A book that covers everything from the highest of Mr. West's highs to the lowest of his lows on and off the basketball court. Recounts of a classic career that saw Gold on the national and international stage, a bevvy of legendary teammates and associates and a reputation for being one of the best closers in the game are detailed here.

Relationships with Laker legends like Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry Buss, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the lack of one with Phil Jackson are detailed here. As our his relationship with Bill Russell and the Lakers bitter, storied rival the Boston Celtics who ignited the competitive fire by beating them six time in one decade. Extended testimony's from his closest friends and players, plus his dream team, dream game are also thrown in for different and interesting measures.

Still it's when Jerry details the facts about his personal life that things become more open and revealing. A private and sensitive side that should truly be explored if your read this book and not this review. Jerry tells his story best with humble honesty and touching tenderness. The guy said to have a regular Joe name could almost change it to Frank Forthright. The silhouette of the NBA comes out from the shadows to shed some light on his troubles and in a way helps illuminate the darkness of fellow depression sufferers. Jerry shows fellow sufferers that you can live with the mental affliction...and live happily too. It's an important lesson learnt throughout Jerry's life and this book. It's a bold and brave move which Jerry executes as precisely and perfectly as one of his buzzer-beating shots.

The Big Shot player doesn't clutch for sympathy or fish for compliments, instead he inspires with his profound, poignant look at the fragility of life and the strength of one's character. Mr. Clutch will have you in his grasp in a one-sitting, page-turning read. This is a influential portrait and as this pro confesses over some pros he remains even in retirement the consummate professional. One of the greatest finishes of all-time yet again sends a shiver down our spine with a big play that leaves everyone better off for it. Once again Mr. West finds his range and strikes the right chord. The man that won a championship, a gold medal and brought 'Showtime' and Shaq and Kobe to L.A. scores one of his biggest and most significant hits yet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

I WOULDN'T BET AGAINST KOBE BRYANT


Would you?

By Tim David Harvey

So the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to cool off the Miami Heat with their own big-three this offseason.

So they were supposed to acquire both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for a few pieces in order to lasso the Dallas Mavericks and take revenge for the champion’s knockout sweep of them this past playoffs, while taking back Larry O'Brien.

Then David Stern happened.

Then a nixed CP3 trade happened as the commissioner wanted to keep the New Orleans Hornets together. Still Chris Paul ended up heading to Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre anyway...for the Los Angeles Clippers?

Then the rumour mill was whirling with news that Dwight Howard was still going to be traded...but to the New Jersey Nets!?

If that wasn't bad enough, the Lakers/New Orleans trade may have been blocked but you can't take back hurt feelings and an offended Lamar Odom demanded a move. So the Lakers sent their most versatile player and threat to the team that swept them and their biggest new rival the Dallas Mavericks!? For practically nothing?!

Now the Lakers are left with a depleted, disgruntled frontline featuring trade bait Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (who are still incredible players, but probably can't help but feel little loyalty), some out of shape World Peace, no real Point Guard, and according to some critics no real chance.

If that wasn't enough remember that Phil Jackson and his Zen are somewhere between Montana and some rumours of New York.

Still, I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant!

I wouldn't bet against the greatest player in the league and the greatest player ever not named Michael. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant can still wait like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, for Kobe is still the player to beat. Until he unlaces them Kobe will run this basketball game from a player perspective. You can't retire that. He is still that good. Sure he's older but he's nowhere near done. He's nowhere near M.J.'s level yes, but he's also nowhere near Floor Jordan's level when he was at the Washington Wizards...and Mike was still schooling cats then. Kobe's got his hops back; his killer-instinct is still intact and as for that Maverick sweep? Number 24 is out for revenge.

Kobe's walked off opposing team’s floors before, head-down, looking purple, with opposing team coloured ticker-tape falling down in someone else's celebration. They said he was done back then in Boston, but then he made twice as nice on some championship rings 'sans' Shaq. No wonder O'Neal calls him the greatest Laker ever. Back when they played together Shaq called Kobe his 'idol'. Hate it or love it, Bryant is still the poster boy of the NBA. He hasn't just built walls...he's knocked them down. Only Jordan in his prime has Kobe's skill, will, or killer instinct. At the end of the game, two down with two on the clock, who else do you want to have the ball (apart from Derek Fisher behind the arc of course). It's no contest. If there's a way to win, Kobe will find it.

This season is going to be one of the hardest for the Black Mamba but he's still got venom. This is personal. Its got nothing to do with the sad news of his divorce (that's his private life...respect that). Its got nothing to do with the endorsements, hyperdunks, critics, lockout, all the talk, blogs and bull$£* that comes with the great hype and build up of the world’s greatest league. Its to do with how the game has played out and by the end who has put the ball in the basket more times. At the end of it all, after it's all said and done who else do we need to talk about? That's Kobe's bread and butter. That's Kobe's job. That's Kobe's forte. That's Kobe. That's all you need to know.

I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant...would you?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

NO SIXTH SENSE-WHY THE LAKERS SHOULDN'T HAVE GIVEN UP LAMAR ODOM


A Seventh Sin.

By Tim David Harvey

In what seems like an NBA minute, Lamar Odom has gone from throwing elbows at the Dallas Mavericks to possibly throwing champagne, championship party with them next season. After almost joining Pau Gasol in a 'Sternly' nixed package deal that would have brought Chris Paul to Lakerland, Lamar Odom is now taking his understandably hurt feelings and his Kardashian down to Texas. Sure the former Laker champion will have to watch the team that swept him receive their championship rings that could have been his to begin his Christmas Day and new season but still, the Lakers loss looks like Dallas and their new Mavericks gain.

After a horrible end to a disappointing season the bright lights of L.A. didn’t have many bright spots in their 2010/2011 defending champion year. Except for the consistency of Lamar Odom and his own victorious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award however. It has been clear for many years that this microwave, bench warmer deserves more credit and it's almost a given that he'll be an all-star in no time. It's the next logical step. The Hollywood smooth, reality star, big-game, big-name sharer already has star power to go with some Magic fundamentals. We're talking about THE Magic, as in Earvin Johnson. This is no illusion.

Sure calling Lamar Odom one of the greatest players in the league is a bit of a hater-ready overstatement, but he sure is one of the greatest talents this league has to offer and a one of a kind great. Put it this way coming off the bench he was the Lakers ace in the hole. They should have never dealt one of their best hands. Put it another way, you don't deal the leagues most versatile player to its most versatile team. Especially when that team is one that swept and knocked you out of championship contention. Now not only do the new NBA champions have Larry O'Brien on their side, they also have a motivated, angry Lamar Odom on their side. You can call this a rivalry now and guess who has the advantage?

This is more potent a power move then when the Lakers looked to keep their enemies closer by signing Dallas' bench hot-rod J.J. Barea. The Lamar Odom move actually happened and is more of a big-name, big-game changer. Like James Worthy, Jaamal Wilkes and other smooth, versatile big-forwards before him Lamar Odom will always go down as a Laker champion and great, but what an awful shame his legacy was cut short. Now as L.O. looks to continue his champagne campaign via American Airlines, the Lakers nation can't help but feel grounded by losing one of their brightest and best personalities and players.

Sure if Lamar Odom was shipped away to gain Chris Paul and championship leverage than maybe this could be easier for the Lakers fans to swallow, but even that trade with Pau Gasol seemed to leave the Lakers depleted. David Stern was right it was unfair. It almost seemed like the Lakers were giving up too much and two players too many. Then with the commissioners collapse of the trade the Lakers were left with some collateral damage to their cohesiveness. Because of hurt feelings the baited trade left in Lamar Odom a new trade was demanded at his request to be cast-out. Now the Lakers have lost him for practically nothing but a draft pick. OK, this opens up the cap space and doors for Dwight Howard but surely the Lakers could have amnestied someone else to help keep their roster in shape.

Losing Odom not only loses the Lakers versatility, it also narrows their playing field...or their floor to be more specific. Lamar's all-round game opened up the Lakers, offence, playbook and court in a way like no other. Now he's gone the Lakers are a Bynum or a Gasol away from losing a formidable frontline. Sure Dwight Howard may bring the perfect smiles back to Hollywood, but Odom's loss clearly reveals that this team needs more work done. It's not just about one guy and this sixth man really backed his team up to the core. There's no 'I' in 'team' or 'championship' and now there's no 'L.O.' in 'Los Angeles'. Gone are his career close 14.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds from last year to go with his career highs in three-point (.382) and field goal (.530) percentages. Also gone, beyond statistics are his above average all-round game, his scoring, passing, range and long limbs that reach all sort off off-ball fundamentals and facets. Also his class, charisma and great locker room presence will be sorely missed.

As he enters the halls that Mark Cuban built however Odom brings more dimensions to a team that has more than a geometry class. Odom's numbers may go down in the talent pool lassoed by the Mavericks, but his productivity and intangible output. His championship experience, both on the winning and losing end will be as valuable a commodity as his inspiring character and positivity now mixed with a new tonic of motivational revenge. Odom was exactly the player that the Lakers needed to take their squad from a Kobe show to an ensemble piece back when he was traded for Shaq. He even went from easing the Lakers post-Shaq hurt to proving that in the long run it was the more worthwhile move, but is it now? Now that those 2006 school adverts mocking him getting traded again have come true, Odom may be exactly the player this new winning Dallas team needs to help them towards their own dynasty.

Sure the Lakers are far from out of contention, just like Lamar they have a new motivation to win. Add a D12 or a CP3 and the numbers may add up to initialing some new success for these new Lakers. It’s just a real shame that a man that stuck by them and helped them along the way will not continue down the road with the purple and gold. Yes the Lakers can go on without Lamar Odom, but you can be sure they'll never be able to replace him.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

BIRD WATCHING


Larry's legendary plays "beyond" the arc.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Bird Watching-Larry's Legendary Plays "Beyond" the Arc

Larry Bird really did fly during his time with the Boston Celtics in the NBA. From behind the arc to down the floor, when Larry let the ball loose the Celtics would soar. Larry's legend never met a ball he wouldn't dive for or hoist in the air. That's why he is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.

Still the French Lick was more than just a guy that was tasty with the 3-ball. Bird's highlights rise higher than just one play. That's why his No. 33 is in the rafters of the Boston Garden.

So let's look beyond the arc (but in a different way) and study some videotape to see for ourselves just how good he really was at all aspects of the game. Here are some favourite plays that are just hallmark beautiful basketball. The only rule here is no 3-pointer in the NBA before 1979. Let's take it a little inside. Roll film.

HONARABLE MENTION

Back in his prime Larry made too many legendary plays he was just too much, like when:

Playing the passing lanes against the Washington Bullets like a wizard Larry stole and loaded up a two handed dunk that shot down the D.C. squad.

Back in Washington a behind the back bullet pass found 'Tiny' Nate Archibald for the layup ... this New York playground legend was normally the giver not the receiver.

How about some more playground antics with Nate? Against the Pistons Larry once stole the ball and kept it inbounds by flicking it behind his back and head to Tiny Archibald who led the break and then returned the ball's favour to Larry for the two-handed flush.

Or how about when Bird posterized Caldwell Jones? He really flew and made peoples walls with that one.

Larry's always one to look after the ball and this normally results in him not looking after himself in the process. Whether it's falling into the stands or the blood, sweat and tears Bird will give anything to get the ball. Like his save and struggle for the ball against the Cavs, were it looked like he was struggling for a gun while taking a shot from some advertisement boards.

Still nothing compares to what comes next. Here's the "top 5." Run V.T.

5. BIRD TO PARISH



The Larry, Robert tandem worked so well together that "Bird to Parish" almost became a catchphrase for Celtic commentators. You may as well have pulled a cord out of the announcers backs every time Robert Parish pulled out some offence from a Larry Bird, behind-the-back, no-look or over the shoulder pass.

This between the legs beauty took Jack Sikma and his Milwaukee Bucks by surprise in the 1987 Eastern Conference Semi-finals. It should have come as no surprise as Larry was the master of this passing craft not named Earvin. He'd either wait until his defender would bite or pass out of incredible angels anyway, flicking the ball behind his head with his own "Magic." Here Larry's nutmeg leads to a perfect strike at the bucket by "big dunk" Rob.

4. SHOWING THE LAKERS SOME SHOWTIME MAGIC



When he came into the league, critics called Larry Bird slow. So how come it looks like he's running track here as he paces the break and leaves the Lakers in Hollywood as he and Robert Parish work the give and go once again at home in Boston during the NBA Finals?

This Game 7 statement was hammered home with rapid ferocity. The Garden erupted as Bird's aerial game bloomed and wilted the "Showtime" boys from L.A. Larry's play was so fast and furious that the rock didn't know what hit it. It looked like Larry was going to run out the gym or rip the rim off. If this was college game the Celtics would be cutting down the nets as Bird got his revenge on Johnson running his Lakers out the gym. Even Magic has to give it up on this video.

3. BACK OF THE BACKBOARD



Larry may have spent his career side by side in competition with Magic, but he had a few tricks to his trade to. Like this trick shot pulled out the bag. It's not just the likes of M.J. and Dr. J that can pull off shots like this. Larry belongs to this exclusive class with this behind the glass gem.

This no glass, touch of class was in a class of its own, going beyond the basketball playbooks, the physic textbooks and once again showing that when it comes to the art of shooting Larry takes everyone to school. This play against the Rockets really soared, nobody can dispute that Larry scored. Before he fell out of bounds, Bird kept it in play and in the net.

2. MID-AIR SWITCH.



More problems for Houston here with another touch of basketball wizardry out of Larry's bag of tricks. No wonder this is one of the NBA's greatest Playoff moments and the greatest play Red Auerbach said he ever saw. This jaw-dropping play could even cause the legendary coach to lose some ash off his iconic cigar. This smoking play was drawn up by the basketball Gods.

Larry may have missed at first but like Tracy McGrady's off the backboard All-Star dunk two decades later it all looked like an elaborate assist. Grabbing the rebound on the run and channelled Jordan and Julius once again by switching the ball between his hands in mid-air to avoid going out of bounds. Keeping the ball in play in sequence resulted in another beautiful play as Larry finger-rolled the peach to its home in the basket, a, la George Gervin. This truly was the stuff of legends.

1. STEALING VICTORY



Bird's hawk-eye focus was more gripping then anyone's in the crunch. Larry's basketball I.Q. made it look like he wasn't even thinking ... but he really was, one "Magic" step ahead of the rest. He made this play look like Isiah Thomas passed it to him. In the pivotal seconds of a crucial Eastern Conference Finals clash between the Detroit Pistons and legend's Celtics.

The Pistons had the last possession and play until Larry stole Thomas' inbounds pass, stopped his deflection from heading out of bounds, stopped again for a split-second that seemed liked an eternity, used that I.Q. and savvy "before the play" happens vision to reset the offence and then found Dennis Johnson for the game-winning lay-up. Like this perfect play Larry's legacy is another reason the NBA is referred to as 'where amazing happens'.It doesn't get much better than this.

COURTSIDE CONNECTION


Top 5 Celebrity Fans.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Who says celebrities are fake? NBA T.V. catch glimpses of Hollywood's finest in the NBA stages around America, and they may love the game as much as we do. Still, how do we separate the real from the fake?

Famous or otherwise, every die-hard sports fan needs to be appreciated, from Bruce Willis to all the extras.

This is the definitive list of the most devoted famous fans.

HONOURABLE MENTION

From Billy Crystal (who got closer still by playing a referee in the film Forget Paris) to Michael Keaton and Sylvester Stallone to Andy Garcia, some of Hollywood's oldest basketball fans have held court for decades.

Speaking of Laker fans, Leonardo DiCaprio is so devoted he could soon take Departed co-star Jack Nicholson's courtside seat as well as his acting throne.

You can almost always find Denzel Washington courtside—"Cap on, brim bent, Denzel, every time," like rapper Drake says.

You can find Drake himself, his Young Money mentor, Lil' Wayne, and a whole host of hip-hop heavyweight, hoop heads who are never too far from the action. Rap moguls Diddy and Jermaine Dupri are all business when it comes to basketball.

Other musicians rock with basketball too. Who can forget the Lakers-mad Red Hot Chili Peppers, who once wrote a song called "Magic Johnson" and even performed a "Salute To Kareem".

When they're not working in their respective fields, sport stars Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, David Beckham and others turn into fans.

Chris Rock and Larry David always like to raise a few laughs, even if it's at the referees' or players' expense.

Also who could forget how much the Kardashians keep up with basketball?

They do so as much as the most famous and important basketball fan, President Barack Obama.

5. EVA LONGORIA

Forget the Matt Barnes rumours or how things ended with Tony Parker. That has nothing to do with how Eva keeps it more real than most fans with her love for this game.

From wearing all the jerseys to hanging out with all the stars, like the Beckhams or Jamie Foxx, the Desperate Housewives star attends for more than show. You can tell she's a true fan by the way she talks the talk about how the NBA walks the walk.

Plus, she's by far the best looking thing courtside, sometimes taking attention off what happens on court.

You can't doubt her devotion, the only question that remains is: where will we see her seated once the new season rolls around?

4. JAY-Z

It doesn't get much better than courtside season tickets, right? WRONG! Jay-Z doesn't just watch his favourite team—he owns them.

He's done more than that, too. He used to just take Beyonce (who deserves an honourable fan mention) to every game, now he's taken his New Jersey Nets to all sorts of places. Brooklyn, to be exact.

Jay-Z has gone from being a major rapper to a major player in this basketball business, making major moves like taking his favourite team to the borough he grew up in.

Jay-Z's "Empire State Of Mind" shows he really does "Run This Town."

3. JIMMY GOLDSTEIN

How about Goldstein? A guy who has become a celebrity because of how many games he attends, and his strange outfits show how this NBA fan's wardrobe is really "where amazing happens." Jimmy's even made Lil' Wayne lyrics and probably could sell the hip-hop star a better seat or two.

From his fedora to his leather pants, you can find Goldstein outfitted at most games. He's a Lakers season ticket holder since the days of Wilt Chamberlain, and his house is even better than the Stilt's former home. I guess letting his house be filmed in movies like The Big Lebowski, real estate or whatever he does for work really does pay.

This guy flies around America like his name is Tony Stark during the playoffs to catch three games in a day and even goes to Clippers games. Now, that's dedication from a true iron man fan.

2. JACK NICHOLSON

Heeeeere's Johnny! If you don't know that Mr. Nicholson is fond of Mr. Laker, then you don't know Jack.

The sight of the legendary actor in his iconic shades at Staples Centre is one that the binoculars focus in on nearly as much as the players. The courtside seat that Jack built needs to have a statue there one day.

Jack Nicholson is in the game like EA Sports—every game and season, arguing with referees and cheering on players. The Hollywood heavyweight even works his films around his schedule...his Lakers schedule. Jack even travels to other cities to catch his beloved purple and gold.

Back in the eighties, he was in Boston more than when he filmed The Departed. The fans love him so much that even the Celtics made a playful T-shirt about him during one of the playoffs.

Nicholson wears the Lakers name with pride every time he plants himself down in his bleacher. They say fans are the extension of a team. Forget Lamar Odom for a second, Jack Nicholson is the Los Angeles Lakers' sixth man.

1. SPIKE LEE

The image of Spike Lee courtside at Madison Square Garden is almost iconic as the man himself. From trash talking with Reggie Miller to high fiving Patrick Ewing, from throwing his Larry Johnson L's up to throwing his hands in the air and burying his face when Jordan came to town and buried his team, Spike's been there for his New York Knicks.

Watching the games like he directs his movies, this focused fan is like a coach out there. If he did take the helm, he could write the happy ending these 'Bockers deserve.

But Lee looks even more like a player, draped in a jersey and so much other Knicks gear as if he was trying to sell merchandise.

Lee has stepped away from the Knicks to film Kobe Bryant at Staples for the documentary Kobe Doin' Work, a player who, like Mike, has repeatedly slaughtered Spike's beloved Knicks.

How's that for dedication to the game?

Spike may have spent some time with the purple and gold, but he knows to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. Spike Lee bleeds orange and blue through and through.

The back of this director's courtside chair should read "Spike." It's his.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER



(This article was meant to serve as an interview with Cedric Ceballos, but following his recent ill-health we post this to tribute and wish him the best. get well soon champ.)

Open your eyes to someone who really sees the game for what it is.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

All eyes are open and on the one man with his eyes closed. A man holding court on his own, decked out in purple on the decked out hardwood. Players and fans alike are pointing and whispering something like; 'he can't do it'! Before more doubt is shed the man starts running like he's heard the starters gun for the 100 metres, cradling the peach awkwardly and carefully like it was a full bucket of water. It all looks a little too awkward or party pinyata like until the man begins to soar. Part M.J/Dr. J, part American eagle outfitted in a black bandanna. What seems like a thousand camera flashbulbs pop, while the same number of mouths drop. SLAM DUNK! The man lands back down to earth with a chorus of champion cheers, while pulling the blindfold off his eyes. All Cedric Ceballos sees behind a sea of white teeth is nothing but tens.

Cedric Ceballos was a Slam Dunk winner for that legendary dunk, but this former star player of the NBA was much more than that. Can you count to 50? Ced can too, but with buckets. Hitting them high with more than his space jams, joining the half-Wilt, half-century and over club before he hit his 30's. He was part of the elite class of the 90's, arguably the greatest decade of NBA history. An academy of diversely talented players who would have been kings in another time, but like princes they were overshadowed by Michael.Ced could dunk like Mike, score like his fellow number 23 in some games and before his mid-nighties Lakers gave way to the next one in Kobe Bryant he was a potent scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers. He would have made for a great, much-needed then third shooting option behind Shaq and said Jordan mark two. His wonderful, aerially amazing wing game developed with the association's change towards that style of play.

With a 'tache and high-top fade this prototype basketball player defined the nighties and the changing of the guard...literally. Playing like a 2 at the small forward position, opening up the game like he did the court. L.A., Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas and Miami were all shown that this man from Hawaii was more than a journeyman. Hapoel Tel Aviv, BC Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody, San Miguel Beermen and the ABA also benefited from all the talent of this all star. Ceballos saw it all and did it all and made a damn good career out of it.Still they took a man who once hit 50 like his name was Ghostface, two positions lower in the draft. Well like most late picks he made other teams realise they shouldn't have passed him up...early. Waking fans up with his dunks, leaving opponents sleeping on defence. Still Ceballos was more than just the wow factor of dunks and microwave plays (much love to Vinne Johnson), he had much more cooking.

Take off the blindfold and plug into youtube to spark off nostalgia and you can see that Ceballos could score like a pro. Leading the league in Field Goal Percentage in 92/93 with 57.6%. This Sun burnt brighter than his doubters, with a vibrancy that matched the jersey's he rocked in Arizona and California. In Los Angeles he even led all Lakers during the 1994/95 season with an average of 21.7 per, he really was an option. A year later, the second round was again on him as he led the Lakers with 21.2 per, including that career high game, which was the first time a Laker had hit 50 in 20 years. That was before James Worthy and that was before Kareem. That's truly magic, when you realise these legends had their offence served to them on a plate by the tricks of Earvin Johnson's trade. When he was hot, Cedric cooled teams off and put games in refrigerators faster than Chick could call it. Not only did he take Hearn's 'slam-dunk' phrase and own it, he gave his own name definition as well.

Today Cedric is ever the entertainer, still bringing a smile to peoples faces almost bigger than his. The Phoenix Suns passed the mic back to this player/rapper as he became the teams in-arena emcee in 2004, whilst also making the rounds on city radio and on the internet via his webcast, 'Nothin' but Net'. Of course a man who once released a hit single with West-Coast rap legend Warren G. ('Flow On') to go along with an album (' B-Ball's Best Kept Secret') was a natural at moving the crowd even when he wasn't regulating opponents. Following some assistant jobs Cedric this year has been playing with the 'USA Legends'. Forget the 'World All-Star Classic' this former player is making dates and moves like a Globetrotter. From the scoring to the showboating this man charms the crowd with his infectious character and irresistible charisma. Ceballos put in an MVP performance this June as his legends beat the Malaysian NBL All Star, despite Ced' lending his talents along with a Malaysian jersey to play for the opponents for a few minutes.

That's Cedric for your willing to play with anybody, or do anything just to entertain you. This guy is all-time, dedicated to the game and putting a smile on peoples faces in the name of fun. Seriously speaking though, Cedric still played like a pro, but one that wasn't afraid to let his love for the game and his moment show. After all isn't that what sport is all about? Anyone who disagrees can put the blindfold back on. In his NBA career Ceballos opened eyes and made those who loved the game look at Basketball his way, the entertaining way. He still does that today. Can you see?

NBA LOCKOUT: NO GAMES, NO GOLD

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

It's a lockout. So, just when we thought the NBA season would finally begin, now it looks even more likely that there will be no NBA season this year at all. So what does this really mean apart from fewer games, less hope, more waiting, more players flocking overseas and more of the NBA being 'where nothing happens'?

This means Team USA won't be winning the Gold Medal in the 2012 Olympics.

Yep, London's calling and everyone but the NBA seem to be listening. If the National Basketball Association of America doesn't heed the call of the regular season soon, then first place, silver or bronze in next year's Olympic Games in London will look less likely the more the Twitter hash-tag "#noNBA" becomes a certainty.

The NBA has already shot itself in the sneaker by not having another game in England's capital this year, and just to think over this last year they've had two regular season games and a Los Angeles Lakers exhibition. Even with the forthcoming games, there's nothing quite like the NBA.
Another competitive exhibition would have been the perfect precursor to the Olympic games, increasing ticket sales and league passes. I thought it was about good business? I guess there really is nothing quite like the NBA.

We already know this lockout means more than three percent of BRI and the players and the owners. Fans and people's jobs are at stake, and basketball-wise this really does mean more than the NBA too. This lockout will undoubtedly effect how the American players play in next year's Olympics.

Put it this way: if there's no season, then players' form and continuity will be seriously effected. Sure, the time off will help these guys rest up better, but extended fishing trips never did the LA Clippers any good, plus pile on the extra stress of wondering when there next runs going to come from and how many of these players will be "in the game" come summer 2012?

This isn't EA sports; even the legends can't play like a video game all the time. They can't be switched on and off. Players need regular practice, in-game practice with and against the guys they'll be playing with and against. Sure, these days top players have so many other things going on that they will remain in shape and ready to go. It's not like Team USA are going to have a bunch of Shawn Kemps show up for camp, but maybe they'll have a few Antoine Walkers.

Even if the NBA season does play out, there's going to be a Stern-guaranteed 82 games and playoffs that could result in players becoming worn out, run down and too tired to light a flame in the Olympics. What happens if the Olympics start a day or two after the last game of the NBA Finals? Jet-lag, that's what. This delayed season needs to be cleared for take off before everything becomes canceled across the board.

OK, training abroad has its Olympic perks too. Now FIBA has cleared NBA players to make that lost money overseas, more playing time will help keep things fresh. Still, there's no place like home. Even if the American players can gain more of an insight into how other international teams and players play for their own national sides scouting report there are still problems. The increasing talented pool of foreign NBA players will flock overseas to play too, most going home.

Take Pau and Marc Gasol, for example. The Gasol brothers are fast becoming the most talented family unit in worldwide sports. Laker fans can only dream of what it would be like if these two Gasols gassed up their team instead of being traded for each other, but now they could actually see what it would be like.

If Spain's two favourite sons return to Barcelona to play together this season, then you'll have them joining forces and aligning with potential national side teammates and playing against even more in what you could basically call a season-long practice. Add a returning Ricky Rubio to the mix (he sure picked his time to finally come to Minnesota) and it'll all be over. Spain may as well move the World Cup aside and leave some room in their trophy cabinet.

It's no secret from Europe to Asia and even Australia that international basketball competition has been and continues to get better. Now, with this lockout, the more fellow countrymen play together the more cohesive they get, with the added bonus of being able to get more hands-on experience playing top American players. The stronger the continuity amongst fellow countrymen overseas, the weaker it will be for America and their chances, unless the league rolls the dice one more time.

That's why it's vital for American basketball to get back on track and on court before track and field becomes the only ground for medals in the Olympics. We've seen America drop the baton before; we can't see the NBA drop the ball on this one. Everyone expects gold. That's everyone in the U.S., that is.

If the NBA continues to be locked out, America may have to except something else, and they won't be able to use a game-clock, nightmare dream team or asterisk on this one. Team USA can still win and win big, but the flame might be fading as the NBA fans its games away from the supporters and players. Now who's going to carry the torch?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

LA LAKERS-TOP 5 STAR PLAYER CAMEO'S


Many NBA legends have graced the Los Angeles Lakers hardwood from the Forum to the STAPLES Centre. From Wilt to Shaq, Magic to Kobe, Mikan to Kareem and West to Gasol. Still, other stars have made cameo appearances for the purple and gold and we're not talking about Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio or the rest of Hollywood's finest. We're talking about the star, Hall of Fame players who have briefly passed through the Lakers locker rooms over their and the Lake Show's storied careers. So who is the best of the rest?

Who's A Star?

So who makes the cut? OK, here's the criteria. This is a list of the greatest NBA star players that have played for the Lakers briefly. We aren't looking at any purple and gold jersey's being raised to the rafters here. This is a list of the top legends that either played for L.A. for a short amount of time (23 games is enough), in a limited role (like a 'Sixth Man' position), or in the twilight of their careers (see above). This list gives a nod to those who may have made their hall of fame bread and butter elsewhere but still spread their NBA legacy with some time in the locker's of the Lakers.

Honarble Mention.

Honourable mentions must go out to more brief Laker players who we're legends in the NBA.

ADRIAN DANTLEY spent some of his early years showing the Lakers the potential that would lead to four straight seasons of 30 plus points per-game in the league. Laker purists will debate whether Dant' should of been given up for the Silk of Jaamal Wilkes for 'Showtime' reminiscent years to come.

SPENCER HAYWOOD was a bull in the ABA and had the big, built frontcout numbers to match in the NBA, but his career faded too soon and his time in L.A. came too late. If Michael Jordan was the Hulk Hogan of the league in the nighties.

MITCH RICHMOND was 'The Rock'. His playing time in his sole season with L.A. was chipped away but he was still solid. He earned a ring and the gracious last bucket of the Lakers championship and his career from Phil Jackson's gratitude.

JIM JACKSON was a scoring machine but he needed more time for more buckets in a solitary season that was much like Richmond's.

HORACE GRANT, goggles and all was one of the Chicago Bulls and the NBA's greatest defenders and field goal percentiles, that's why Phil Jackson put up with the injuries to employ Horace's services for another ring in 2001.

DEREK HARPER and RON HARPER shared more than a last name, they where two of the late eighties/nighties greatest, most underrated backcourt players and big-time team contributors.

ORLANDO WOOLRIDGE showed Chicago some air before Jordan laced them up and even showed another M.J. (Magic) some tricks of the 'Showtime' trade.

MAURICE LUCAS was a true talent and a true individual for every team he played for including the Lake Show. He was a genuine professional which makes his loss last year that much sadder. Rest in peace.

Number 5. DENNIS RODMAN

Dennis Rodman got ahead of himself when he selected his Laker jersey number as 72, he would never reach that number of games with this club, or a full season. In fact Dennis only recorded the same number on his former-teammate Jordan's jersey in games for L.A. Still Dennis made an impression even in just 23 games. The rebounding machine never bored us matching his hair colour to his jersey and bringing flamboyance and enthusiasm with his one of a kind personality. He missed practices but it got worse as he was waived goodbye only to send Dallas off the rails. Asking for his number to be '69' or '007' really was asking too much and that was goodbye to Rodman's career. Still the facts or the Hall this year couldn't deny the sheer talent of one of the greatest rebounders, big-men, defensive players and champions of all-time. Dennis didn't need 23 to show the Lakers that on-court he still caught more than just attention.

Number 4. CONNIE HAWKINS

What happened to Connie Hawkins career was criminal. A point shaving scandal led to years being razor-cut off his career. This man was supposed to figuratively and literally be in the same league as Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Instead this great ended up having to wait his turn behind these two legends to play for the Lakers. Still this didn't stop the Hawk's own legend from soaring, dunking and rising like a Phoenix during his one of the best-ever time with the Suns. Still the unfair charges burnt him and charged it all to the good of the game also. The only time Connie should have been embarrassed was when acoustic singer Paul Simon beat him on one-one-one on 'Saturday Night Live'. Besides that this ABA and NYC playground icon should have held court on the NBA before 28, but another court put his sneakers in concrete.

Number 3. BOB McADOO

Mac's All-Star, all-legend career saw him be a superstar journeyman in the NBA and his career travels even took him to Italy for seven years. Wherever Bob laid his hat, he laid down baskets too making scoring his home. By the time McAdoo landed in L.A. he was in the Sixth Man territory of his career. Still like Lamar Odom this big man was huge for the star-studded Lakers in fitting their fingers with two-more championship rings. Mac wasn't just a fan-favourite he was loved by Magic and all his teammates in the showtime hat. Bob brought as much positivity as he I'd buckets to the Lakers. The contagious enthusiasm over-flowed making him a vital energy piece to the core of showtimes gold rush.

Number 2. GARY PAYTON

'The Glove' fit the Lakers well, even if it was for just a year. Even if the Kobe, Karl, Shaq and Gary, 'Dream Team', 'L.A. Beatles' combo only performed for one sold-out year, it was still something special and started a revolution of a transaction movement in the NBA that still results in major decisions to this day. Let's not talk trash, G.P. brought more than his mouth to the Lakers superstar clinic. The Lakers dream dynasty may have been stopped by the motoring Pistons of Detroit but in manning the Lakers offence Payton still had a good year ending the teams tired, years in the making quest for a true Point Guard (no offence to Derek Fisher's incredible performances). Gary still played like an All-Star with his trademark tougher than leather, glove defence to go with his middle of the range offensive set and his skills in service. As the Lakers took silver that year Payton was one of their best floormen even making up the big numbers and plays when Shaq and Malone we're injured our Kobe was off the floor and on a different court. Even in the Shaq/Kobe break-up and eventual 'death of a dynasty' Payton stood by the Lakers and the problems by pledging unity and another year. Although not many others followed suit and Gary was then dealt to Boston to eventually end up reunited with Shaq in Miami this was another hallmark moment from a Hall of Fame career. Just like his Seattle days this is why Gary Payton is a basketball legend of supersonic proportions.

Number 1. KARL MALONE

The Mailman's final NBA delivery with the Lakers may have ended with a fractured friendship with Kobe and an even worse knee, but it was all love, healthy and happy to begin with. As Malone joined Gary Payton and history by holding a surfboard for the ultimate Californian beach boy party the good vibrations were clear. Malone manned the Power Forward boards in L.A. While surfing above the Western Conference waves of competition. Sure the Malone, Payton, O'Neal and Bryant foursome was incredible but the frontcout tandem of the 'Diesel' and the 'Mailman' was a monster. With the type of fire and fuel that could gas up and burn any opponent, all whilst making deliveries that even the top twin tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan couldn't handle. The muscle-bound Malone was so fit, it was thought this younger than his years player could perform ahead of his time. If only it wasn't for him going down on one knee with an engagement of injury and matrimony of retirement.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

LET'S GO LAKERS


7 Bold Predictions for the 2011/2012 Season.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

(Originally published by 'Bleacher Report' http://bleacherreport.com/articles/923103-los-angeles-lakers-7-bold-predictions-for-the-2011-12-season-if-it-ever-starts)

The locked out NBA is a mess right now.

The knocked-out, 2010 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers aren't looking their prettiest either, from losing their throne, their zen and possibly (like every other team) their season.

Still, if we actually do end up having a season this year, what will be made of one of the NBA's most popular franchises?

1. Mike Brown Will Make the Lake Show Run

OK, so Phil Jackson may have walked to the dismay and despair of many Lakers fans, but they must accept that Mike Brown is running things...and run things he will.

He's still receiving ringing, welcoming endorsements from Snoop Dogg (via Twitter) to Kobe Bryant (finally). Here's why: This former coach of the year almost took the wine and gold of Cleveland to champagne and championship gold, all whilst bringing the best out of LeBron. Now that's a real Cavalier.

This former Cleveland Brown will run his players like this was the NFL, opening up doors, lanes and roster spots for the slashers like Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks. Everyone will get some burn and, of course, Kobe will thrive. Now if only he can convince Shannon Brown to come back.

2. World Peace Will Outsell Kobe

Ron Artest, excuse me, Metta World Peace's popularity is bigger than ever right now. How big? Well, put it this way: Fans are flocking to and not from their seats when he's in arenas these days.

Everything is on the up and up, from Metta's mental peace of mind to his extra-curricular activities (from 'Dancing With The Stars' to even more comedy). So surely once the lockout ends and the league and its business opens back up, Metta's new jerseys will sell with the best of them.

This isn't like keeping up with Artest's number changes. The new vests adorned with Metta's new, court-approved (legal and hardwood) surname will be a favorite for collectors and statement makers worldwide.

Everyone's going to want 'World Peace' on the back of their jerseys. Besides, hasn't everyone already bought their Kobe uniforms?

3. The Gasol Brothers Will Battle Like Spanish Bulls

Pau Gasol, for a decade now, has been one of the best European talents, if not best all-around players, in the league. But since the Beijing Olympics almost four years back, his international teammate, fellow countryman and younger brother has crept up on him in the family competition ranks.

Marc Gasol was actually a Lakers draft choice who was involved in the blockbuster Pau power trade and now Marc is making his mark on a Memphis Grizzlies team that showed the San Antonio Spurs and the league's best that they are no joke.

Lakers fans can only imagine how good it would be to have the two brothers side by side in the purple and gold frontcourt. Wonder is all they can do now, however, as Marc and Memphis are growing into contenders for the future. This could make for some incredible, 'where amazing happens' playoff battles between the Gasol boys and some great NBA side-stories.

This, of course, is lockout pending. These brothers could end up teammates again back in Spain and although that would be good to see, we have the Olympics for that. These two bullfighters belong back in the NBA ring.

4. Derek Fisher Will Save L.A. Right After Saving the League in the Clutch

The NBA is in big trouble right now and the only man who can save it is the only man who can save the Lakers. No we're not talking about Robert Horry.

We're talking about 'the Fish that saved L.A.,' 'Mr. 0.4,' 'Mr. Big Shot 2.' We're talking about Derek Fisher.

Sure 0.0 has ticked on the regular season clock and now games are being cancelled like bad TV shows. So who's watching and who's going to do something about this? Derek that's who.

The president of the NBA Players Association is looking to do the right thing and elect change. If anyone can do it he can. He has a good relationship with his peers and owners alike and we're confident he can salvage some of the season. Just in time for him to hit some clutch buckets that will help keep the Lakers going too.

5. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom Will Star

Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are already big in L.A. even without Kareems or Kardashians in their corners. One of the last true centers and last year's 'Sixth Man of the Year' are even more popular beyond the Lakers.

This could be the breakout year where both guys breakdown more doors and not in the form of trading places for Dwight Howard. Drew's knee as well as the lockout will be a factor, but that aside, Bynum could further develop into one of the best players in the league, not just one of the best centers.

Even though he's got a lot of guys like Kobe standing in his spotlight, he's got the post skills to be one of the greats of this game.

Speaking of skills, the Earvin 'Magic' Johnson like all-around play of Lamar Odom should finally see him achieve All-Star status. Sure, people have been saying this for years, while Lamar even shaved it into his head, but by the looks and the awards of things, the Association is starting to recognize. It's time for the overdue to come true. This deserves to be a career year for two real stars.

6. The Walton's Family Legacy Will Follow a Similar Trend

The Walton family is too nice to finish last. Still, recent reports have surfaced that Lakers favourite Luke Walton may retire due to a list of ailments longer than his father's range of vocabulary. Sound familiar? Luke's dad Bill's career was also cut short by injury. Now, like father like son, another promising, skillful player could be lost to nostalgia, and what could have been.

Soon Lakers fans may be screaming 'Noooo' instead of 'Luuuuke'. It really will sound like boo's if one of the Lakers family fond members has to divorce himself from the game.

Still, no matter the time spent on court, just like Daddy, this Lakers son's talent will always speak for itself. Also, the precision, perfect passer was already looking to take his smarts to coaching during the lockout.

Now that could make for one hell of a second career. His father knows that hanging up the sneakers doesn't mean lacing up your career.

7. Fans Will Finally Get What They Want as Kobe vs. LeBron Will Go to the Finals

Dirk and Dallas may have shown L.A., Miami and the rest of the league who the real Mavericks are last season, but don't think that this has cooled things off in Florida and California.

The anticipation of a Kobe/LeBron NBA Finals matchup is heating up. The fans are ready like the Nike puppet commercials, but who's pulling the strings? Rumors floated around last year that the NBA was bored with the idea of another Lakers/Celtics classic storied clash, but what about the ultimate post-Jordan battle for the throne.

It doesn't matter that, even though Kobe's the greatest since M.J., LeBron's the better player these days. James will not truly be crowned King until he climbs ladders above the Mamba.

The debate to who's best will not be settled until one ultimately wins by beating the other. That's why we need a Lakers vs. Heat, Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals whilst we still can.

It will happen. You think Kobe's going to lay down after last season? So the question is: Who will come out victorious?

To answer that you will just have to wait and see.

Monday, 31 October 2011

FRESH OUT THE BOX: FOOT LOCKER-HOUSE OF HOOPS, London, England.


'Fresh Out The Box' is a new feature that looks at kicks, clothing, shops and everything accessorizing to Basketball.

Who says the city of London, England knows nothing about the sport of Basketball? Luol Deng, one of the Chicago Bulls and the NBA's best players was raised here, while the city hosts an official NBA game a year (if not two (lockouts pending)). This town has even built an incredible bball stadium for next years 2012 Olympic Games. Still when this Lemon Meringue like arena is torn down by pitch forks and what not after closing ceremony other peach and basket traditions will still stand in London.

One being the House Of Hoops tucked underneath Bond Street's Foot Locker. Lace up your sneaks because this place isn't too far a walk from the big top attraction of London that is Oxford Circus. This place is definitely worth a look and shop for hoop heads. There aren't too many of these exclusive Nike temple, 'House Of Hoops' (Paris, Barcelona and America hold a few) and there aren't too many as good as this. Upstairs in this big Foot Locker is plenty of great things, even some of those NBA jersey's that are cheaper but less authentic than your swingman favourites. Still it's down the escalator where court is held.

For Basketball fans it may as well be a stairway to heaven as this underground, exclusive homage to hoops is a haven for all purists away from the Football and other sports not Basketball dominated U.K. Scene. Decked out in mahogany like a Eric B. & Rakim or Fugees classic this place really is a hardwood classic with all the latest and greatest trainers, T-shirts and other apparel that is current and collectible from Kobe tee's to the new LeBron's.

It's all here and known by the friendly staff that are as polite as they are in the game like EA. This coolly lit place even has some great d├ęcor in the form of murals of the greats from Kobe to M.J. It all just looks so right and everyone's been here. Snoop Dogg, LeBron, Deron, even Ashton Kutcher...excuse me Kyle Korver. Now if it's good enough for them, it's certainly the place to be. In the game and in the house in the name of hoops, Foot Locker's sister store has it on lock. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

THE FINALS FIX


Recapping this years NBA Finals for those lockout blues.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

GAME 1: MIAMI HEAT 92-84 DALLAS MAVERICKS

Basketball's promised land made good on it's guarantee to expect amazing last night as the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks started what looks to be a thrilling end to an incredible season. Still the series isn't over yet even though Miami took control and a one-zip lead. 24 points from the King and a 92-84 win sealed the first NBA Finals win for LeBron James. "Feels good because it's the first game and we played well as a team,'' 'Bron told press postgame,"We've got a lot of work to do. ... That's one in the books. We're excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.'' Wade had 22 points, while Dirk Nowitzki had 27, but his Mavericks team had their lowest point output in this years playoffs on a postseason low 37%. Still Miami also looked a little weak offensively. 39 percent shooting being their second-worst number for that category in the playoffs.

After the game Dirk was upbeat with the press and his teams chances saying; "You can't get down with a loss. You've got to come back strong on Thursday. I've said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you're the road team, you're happy with a split. So we've got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don't want to go home down 0-2.'' As LeBron and Wade closed the game out like a pair of superheroes, nicknames of 'Batman & Robin' began re-surfacing by word of mouth and Tweet. Wade was instrumental also flashing inspiration into his teammates before the tip with cries of, "Don't say, 'I wish I woulda.'" If the Heat continue this passion and play they'll have nothing to regret.

GAME 2: MIAMI HEAT 93-95 DALLAS MAVERICKS

And then it was all tied. The Dallas Mavericks proved it doesn't matter which American Airlines arena they are in as they are heading back home to Dallas with an advantage in this already epic Finals series. Dirk, his bum left hand and the down-and-almost-out Dallas Mavericks rallied from 15 down to beat the Heat 95-93 in Miami. "You can just sense it in us that we weren't going to give up, we were going to be resilient,'' bench heater Jason Terry told press afterwards. "Definitely a huge comeback for us and we never gave up, and that was big,'' Dirk said following his 24 points and last 9 points of the Mavericks through his injury pain. Wade had 36 for Miami while LeBron played the Robin role last night with 20, still without the 'W' it meant little. Dallas where too big for them in the final quarter as they go forth to Texas with a clean slate.

The consistent star Shawn Marion had 20 and said it best post-game, "The game is over when the final buzzer rings.'' Maybe this comment and Mavs win was fuelled by their dislike of Wade and James early celebrations when Dwyane flashed the goose neck on a follow through after a big three. Dallas didn't like this horse-play but the King insists he and his men weren't acting like animals. "There was no celebration at all, I was excited about the fact that he hit a big shot and we went up 15.'' This fun Miami team are just having fun in this entertaining series they don't need Samuel L. Jackson's 'Coach Carter' to teach them a lesson but perhaps they need a new set of X and O's for Game 3. Sunday and Dallas awaits.

GAME 3: DALLAS MAVERICKS 86-88 MIAMI HEAT

After two games there was nothing between them. After three only two points separated them. With the series standing at 1-1, you knew these two tied-together teams where going to suffer a bad break-up to determine which side where to take command of this series. It was Miami however who owned the other American Airlines Arena in Dallas like it was their own, with an emotional final few seconds that broke these Maverick hearts...hard. Thanks to some forward thinking from Bosh's clutch jumper to Haslem's D on Dirk, the Heat burnt Dallas, 88-86 at the buzzer to ring out a 2-1 series lead. D-Wade doubled up with 29 points and 11 rebounds calling the game a "total win" for his team. LeBron also had 17, while an Udonis pestered Nowitzki had 34 for the man-handled Maverick's who went cold to the Heat's fire in the fourth. The Heat have set the tone and temperature with a huge away win in the D that takes away Dallas' home-court advantage. To boot Miami really look to have made their stamp on the series as ever since the playoffs 2-3-2 was introduced in 1985 all the teams who have won Game 3 in the Finals have eventually won the Championship. The odds are stacked in Miami's favour.

Looks like the Heat have already got revenge for Dallas' big win in Miami. With both teams still looking evenly matched and drawing blood however, (see Chris Bosh's eye (he'll be fine by the way)) just like the Lakers/Celtics last year this is already one hell of a series. These competitive, none clear-cut series' make for some great, guessing and none dynasty-routine-formality basketball. Still Miami's Wade knows his pick and prediction for the 'chip; " I believe in this team. If anyone can do it, I believe we can.'' "Emotional game, fought back, and to fall short at the end is tough,'' lamented Dirk Nowitzki who's last second passes and shots where disrupted by a passionately screaming Haslem who is definitely, well and truly back. Miami right now are looking magnificent but still Dallas aren't looking defeated. They just need a little something extra. As Kidd said best; "We have to have somebody step up besides Dirk." This aint child's play. This is the NBA Finals. Chess not checkers. Now we anticipate the Maverick's next move. Check.

GAME 4: DALLAS MAVERICKS 86-83 MIAMI HEAT

Game 4 is always a pivotal game in a Finals or Playoff series, whether the games are heading towards a clean sweep or standing at 2-1. A 2-1 lead or trail leads to a crucial fourth game. Now NBA Finals favourites Miami Heat led the Dallas Mavericks two games to one with hopes to keep this series under five games like the rest of their playoffs record. Win and they would have Dallas by the Mavericks and an elimination Game 5. Still Dirk and his boys had other ideas, as they made the tie and this thing a series with a 86-83 win spurred by a 29-1 run in the fourth quarter led by an ailing but never failing Nowitzki who had 10 of his 21 to close out the game and the Heat. "Just battle it out,'' was Dirk's game-plan as he was coming down with injury and flu. "This is the finals. You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team. So that's what I did," and boy did he, laying up in the clutch and laying down Miami with it all laid out on the floor. Everyone marvelled at Dirk's own 'flu game' (even though it still wasn't as cold as Jordan's). "The average person, you know, has sick days and battling 100-something, it's just tough to get out of bed,'' Tyson Chandler remarked with astonishment. "This guy is playing against the best athletes in the world.''

One of the best athletes in the world was having an unhealthy night however as Miami's LeBron James only managed 8 points, a playoff low that ended a run of 433 consecutive games in double figures. Now that's a lot of regular seasons and deep playoff runs. Despite having 9 rebounds and 7 assists James was his harshest critic giving the press and himself these choice words; "I've got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively.'' Still Wade had 32 and Bosh 24 points. The Heat know now however that the series is wide open. "This series is a jump ball,'' coach Erik Spoelstra of the Heat theorised. "These guys live for these type of moments. It's about execution and disposition in the fourth quarter, being able to close out. We have a golden opportunity in the next game.''

The Heat better make good on their opportunity and strike gold looking for that Larry O'Brien shine as there wasn't many silver linings to take from this game. Still that doesn't mean the clouds have cleared for Dallas, both teams still look like they have the ability to reign supreme. It was a good job the Mavs got this game under their belt as no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit. Now with the series level whoever takes the next crucial game will set the tone for the end of the series, putting the other on the elimination ropes with only a game left for the championship after that. It will be huge if the Maverick's do this in Dallas as they have never lead this finals series, still the Miami Heat look to regain the tempo and control of this tight series as the final game/s will be played out in South Beach. Who will win isn't the biggest question, the main one is will this epic go the full seven games?

GAME 5: DALLAS MAVERICKS 112-103 MIAMI HEAT

Those in South Beach working on printing T-shirts and putting balloons in the Florida American Airlines Arena better stop what they're doing. The Heat are heading back to Miami on the brink of elimination and not on the cusp of a championship as everyone wearing white, except the Dallas Mavericks thought. Winning 112-103 the Dallas Mavs and their deafening arena silenced everyone wearing Miami colours, painting the series with numbers of 3 games to 2. If Game 4 was pivotal, then Game 5 was crucial as it was Dallas who took the lead and control of the series for the first time in the Finals. That very fact could very well be a determining, defining factor in this series. Sure this series is going back to Miami for the final game(s), but the Mavericks have a two game cushion to win the championship and haven't taken advantage of comfort before (see Lakers; Los Angeles). The Mavericks have also shown that home-court advantage isn't much of a factor as they look to finish and cool off the Heat in South Beach.

We said that the Heat's chance was to keep it under 5 games but if this series went to 7 then nobody could close out Dallas. This is because these Maverick's have the play through anything (it aint 'Noringski' it's 'NoQuitzki'), one-of-the-best-to-ever-do-it (championship or not, it's time we all recognised) Dirk Nowitzki and his Game 5 29 points. It's also because Miami don't have 'Mr 4th Quarter', Jason Terry who welcomed Miami to a rain storm in buckets to finish off the game. His 21 points, to go along with his 'partner in pine', super-sub Jose Barea's 17 points showed Miami that the Mavs microwaves had the real heat. With Dallas shooting the three-point lights out they showed that if they shoot like this nobody can beat them, in any period.

It gets worse for Miami as the story coming out of Dallas is not 'who shot J.R.'? But who took LeBron'? His form has been up and down and in and out of the line-up as much as Dwyane Wade who has injured his hip after colliding with Brian Cardinal. Still mark these words and any coming out of Miami. LeBron, Dwyane and the Heat are far from done and this series is far from over. "There's really nothing to celebrate," Dirk told press. Jason Terry and the Mavs shouldn't pop the 'Dallas' on their jersey's yet. An 'American Airlines' jet plane is going to take them to Miami, where it's the Heats court. Standby.

GAME 6: DALLAS MAVERICKS 105-95 MIAMI HEAT

'Dear Dirk', you and Dallas are out 2011 NBA Champion. 'Congrats Mavs'. Your not just the top trends on Twitter, your also starting a new one in this league. Fashioning victory from the basic fabrics of a good all round team game. Now that's the way things should be. Now that's Basketball. It was a tightly crammed 6 games between the East and West's best teams in the NBA but I guess in the end Dallas studied harder for the Finals. Not that Miami's incredible team didn't work hard and play well together but in the end those Mavericks cooled down the Heat in their 'White Hot' American Airlines Arena. Finally exorcising their 2006 demons, the Mavericks avenged that years Finals loss to Wade and the Heat by flipping the script and writing them off, beating them five years later. "I really still can't believe it," the MVP of the Finals; Dirk Nowitzki told press as his 21 points helped his Texan team triumph. Jason Terry had a huge 27 points along with Dirk as the only surviving Maverick from the '06 heartbreak. "We got vindication," Terry remarked proving that revenge is a dish to him on the perimeter, best served with his hot, off the bench, microwave streak shooting. Following their respective performances, Dirk goes down as one of the NBA's best all-time players, now becoming a winner, while Jason will go down in history as a Playoff legend, a-la-Derek Fisher.

This meeting with the NBA's good Ol' friend Larry (O'Brien not Bird, (but Dirk's certainly familiar to the latter also)) marks and inscribes the first-time Dallas have had their names etched on an NBA Championship trophy. It also rings the first championship band for valuable veteran and star-player Jason Kidd, who has been so near but so far before and now has no intentions of retiring his big, amazing, 38 year old contributions. Miami however, have had a magnificent year as the boss of Florida-like Rick Ross-despite critical comments and falling short on their championship promise. In their last stand, LeBron James had 21 points, while Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and D-Wade tallied 17 for the winding down East champs and Finals runner up. After his Cleveland chance in 2007, this Finals also registers the second time LeBron James reached the promised land only to break, but still there is no need to worry. Dirk and Dallas have been here before on the losing end, they know all too well what it's like. It just takes time and patience to grow a champion. This is only this new Heat teams first year of conception and they've already become a contender. As Lil' Wayne once said, "don't worry LeBron, get em' next year". This saying from Weezy's 2009 song about Kobe Bryant really has meaning now. Still despite Miami's best efforts it was the Mavericks who really "earned" this one as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can attest. "We worked so hard and so long for it," Nowitzki added making it clear that he had a whole team full of MVP's, from Chandler to Barea.

The Maverick, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle also called his band of brothers "a true team", adding "This is an old bunch. We don't run fast or jump high. These guys had each other's backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas." Now this terrific, Texan town won't just be celebrated for Football. As this basketball team has really tipped their way to the top of this association ever since Mark Cuban came in and took the stetson off the team logo. Now the devout Maverick fan and outrageously dedicated owner can never be doubted for his heart and dedication to the team he supports and owns with everything he has. "I could care less about the Heat," Cuban told press ready to light up his own victory cigar. This year marked an incredible year for NBA Basketball with an incredible bunch of evenly matched teams. From last years champion Los Angeles Lakers to the regular season leading San Antonio Spurs. This was all capped off by a blood, for blood, bucket, for bucket, back-and-forth, evenly matched Finals. If some things went the other way it could have very well have been a Miami hot -streak, leading to a big-three championship parade, but alas as LeBron lamented, "right now isn't the time." Even Dallas coach Rick Carlisle knows how close it was and how competitive his competition was stating; "Their time will come." Still everyone knows that as Carlisle continued; "But now, it's our time". Dallas have set the clock and moved the hands of basketball time to their present direction. You know what time it is. Time to say congratulations to the champs. Well done 'Big D'. Dirk and Dallas have done it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

DVD REVIEW: JUST WRIGHT


3/5

PG, 100 Minutes. Starring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, James Pickens Jr, Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier, Laz Alonso, Mehcad Brooks, Michael Landes, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Rashard Lewis. Director: Sanaa Hamri

Two Hip-Hop legends act 'Wright'.

Queen Latifah and Common have made a name for themselves in music and movies over the years. Latifah became one of the first female rap superstars with albums like 'All Hail The Queen' in the 80's and she's been acting for decades. Common has cemented his reputation as one of the best socially conscious rappers around today with albums like 'Be' and 'Finding Forever'. He has also forged himself a decent film career over the last couple of years with credits including 'American Gangster', 'Terminator Salvation' and much more. After years of hard work in both fields the Queen and the man with Common Sense take the lead in a romantic comedy that is 'Forget Paris' meets 'Love & Basketball'.

Back when Common was younger he used to be the kid that mopped up sweat at Chicago Bulls games well in 'Just Wright' Common gets even closer to the stars, living (at least while filming) every rappers dream of becoming an NBA player. Common even holds his own as Scott McKnight even if it does look like he had a little 'assist' on those dunks. This really does seem like a dream world however as the New Jersey Nets in this movie are a contender. Someone should call owner Jay-Z because truthfully he'd like a baller like Common Sense.

So McKnight is the talk of New York, New Jersey and the NBA. Every player wants to play like him and every woman wants to play with him including Latifah's physical therapist Deborah Wright and her cousin played by Mrs. Robin Thicke, Paula Patton (who really looks and sounds like she could be related to Alicia Keys). After a game Latifah and Common hit it off in a petrol station, but after a party it's Patton who makes her mark on the ballplayer and they start a relationship. Months later McKnight goes down with a potentially career ending knee injury and some of the love for this All-Star becomes all-sour and turns to doubt. After Patton has her worries and concerns (especially concerning McKnights 'amazing' new personal trainer, where she doesn't want amazing to happen) she asks for her cousins to step in and from there it seems that Wright was just what the doctor ordered.

This film is as sharp as these rappers skills on the microphone. The movie catches New York in summer as perfectly as 'Hitch' did further making this film a feel good affair of sorts. It looks as cool as a behind the back pass and the supporting cast are a slam dunk. From 'Greys Anatomy' favourite James Pickens Jr to Phylicia Rashad aka Clair Huxtable (you've gotta love that 'Cosby Show' nostalgia) to Pam Grier (It looks like it's been a long time since 'Foxy Brown'). There are even great cameo appearances from a host of NBA players including the made for camera Dwight Howard and Miami Heat leading man Dwyane Wade. The stars of the NBA prove they can read lines as good as they can read plays and they also help ensure the basketball action is as authentic as it's ever been on screen (even if most of the other players are extras with questionable names like 'Taller').

Lil Bow Wows performance in 'Like Mike' has to bow down to the exceptional performance of fellow MC Common who shows he can read screens as good as he can read lines and write rhymes. Let's not forget the star of this show Queen Latifah however who further expands her impressive filmography further than her discography. Overall this film is feel good, funny, exciting, romantic and a winner complete with a soundtrack that hits the high score. 'Just Wright' lives up to it's name it goes down like the third bowl of porridge. A hot movie that makes a steal of a Friday night. TIM DAVID HARVEY

Friday, 21 October 2011

MR. INTERNATIONAL


All Around The Kob'.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY.

It all revolves around Kob'. Everything does. The future of the NBA, the future of basketball in the world. Who's watching and who's not. It all turns with Kobe Bryant. ESPN recently ranked him number 7 on a list of top players but surely we can take it higher than that? This man means more than that.

Right now Kobe is more than just big in Japan. From being made in China to showing his heart in Seoul this Summer's tour of Asia took him to another continent, but took his status and stock out this world. Now in November Kobe could follow his dreams and the footsteps of his father Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant and play in Italy.

Now what could this mean? Sure European side Virtus Bologna have not signed Kobe this month but that doesn't mean they won't, just like the fact that the NBA owners and players may meet again this week but that doesn't mean the lockout will be resolved...does it? This Christmas its very likely there won't be any NBA TV under our tree and that makes it even more likely that Kobe will be saying 'ciao' to California for the holidays.

Kobe could make Virtus Bologna, virtually the biggest team in the world if he suits up for them, but the shirts and ties of the NBA will still make money off of this. The more international exposure the biggest Basketball league in the world gets then the more fans from around the globe they'll draw in. Still what Kobe does for ball in Italy could be the biggest thing anyone's done for that country since the top sportsmen that are more accustomed to kicking the ball have.

Kobe could 'Bend it like Beckham' and change the game like his fellow L.A. friend did but in the opposite direction. Making Basketball more popular in the Soccer dominated Europe like David made Soccer more popular in a Basketball first America. Kobe already made more Asian Basketball fans like his name was Yao Ming and now the rest of the world is his for the taking. This could be his making.

His popularity is better than ever, despite the ESPN rank and until LeBron rips the rings off his finger he is the greatest player in the league for all sorts of reasons. The NBA may make more money off him when he becomes exported (and in some ways exploited) abroad but as the owners look shallow in this lockout Bryant will be the more genuinely better off for it.

Think about it the Black Mamba is even digging deeper into his pockets to lend money to his fellow players and peers during this trying time. Now that's no snake. That's a man building ladders while the board plays games. It's clear Bryant's in it for more than the money. He really loves this game. As the NBA becomes a place where nothing happens, Kobe shows us amazing and that this game of basketball right now is his.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

MR. BIG SHOT


Bob's greatest hits.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

"Clutch means me getting it done". Robert Horry.

Houston Rockets vs Orlando Magic (June 11, 1995-NBA Finals, Game 3)

The ball is inbounded to Hakeem Olaujawon deep in the post, screens are being set, late fourth quarter nerves are running and Shaq is trying to stop dreams from coming true, giving Houston more problems than Apollo 13. Still it's Hakeem and the Rocket's lucky day as the centre finds a teammate behind the arc with a trademark, beautiful pass. The player receiving the ball hits for three over top D man Horace Grant, fogging his goggles and making the home Houston fans rub their eyes with disbelief, making the Magic disappear with an ace in the hole play pulled from his bag of tricks. It's a dagger basket by a young Robert Horry.

They left him open to shoot all day. They didn't think he had what it took. They doubted him. They disregarded him. The former Alabama standout who played in the shadow of Latrell Sprewell brought it all to the light however with a shot that sank like the sun at dusk. Years before he helped Shaq drink championship champagne he made him taste bitter defeat. Before he made everything in his career right, he proved everyone wrong. While everyone though he was just a Will Smith lookalike with a Fresh Prince fade he threw the competition out the door like Jazzy Jeff. ARGH! Opposing fans would scream as all their hopes and dreams were in for a rude-Robert awakening. The number 2-5 was a man that made Houston's second five so strong, but after two big shots and two championship ring Horry was on the move further Northwest. Although his time in Phoenix, wasn't his best (especially with Danny Ainge) Rob never threw the towel in, he kept playing hard until Hollywood called with a script idea that was about to re-write history.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Philadelphia 76ers (June 10, 2001-NBA Finals, Game 3)

With the NBA Finals tied at one game apiece there is not much between the Goliath Los Angeles Lakers and the David, underdog, Philadelphia 76ers. There isn't even any love, definitely no brotherly love in Philly for hometown boy Kobe Bryant as he dribbles the ball up court to a chorus of boos. The ball ends up in the hands of his assistant on-court Brian Shaw who quarterbacks a great heave to Robert Horry in the corner, who is all alone (Aaron Mckie is too late to reach the Laker jersey in the corner, almost as late as he was to eventually don one in the twilight of his career). Horry hoists up his third triple of the game and as it hits twine and parquet. Rob breaks the back of the Sixers, and silences the fans pumping his fists with the passion that's just left the First Union crowd. This is his time, this is his moment. This is his game.

The Lakers gave up serious swingman talent Cedric Ceballos in order to get Robert, but in return Horry answered the call and gave everything he had to a team that became more with his addition. He had to give up the number 25 because of retired Laker legend Gail Goodrich, but Horry's legacy in La, La, Lakerland may one day result in his number 5 jersey being raised to the rafters too. This player played his part and role in Hollywood better than most stars but this was no act, Bob was the genuine article. This fourth quarter moment maker was not lazy at other moments in the game. He just liked to wait for the last scene to draw the final curtain...and boy did he draw. This Western assassin had a lot of bullets in his gun. Give him just a second to aim a shot and...BANG!

Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trailblazers (April 28, 2002-Western Conference First Round, Game 3)

We're in the Rose Garden and the Los Angeles Lakers are about to be pricked by the blooming, blazing hometown Portland team out in Oregon. So Bryant sets a trail driving against the self-dubbed 'Kobe-Stopper' Ruben Patterson, taking him and what seems like the rest of the Trailblazers side into the paint. He furiously kicks the ball out to the three-point line on his right to Robert Horry who calmly catches the peach, sets it on it's seams, rises and drains the clutch three with just two seconds left like he had all the time in the world.

Three years, three trophies and three-balls aplenty Horry kept repeating like episodes of 'Scrubs' on 'Comedy Central'. He drained a game-clinching three-pointer in at least one game in four straight playoff series over the course of the Lakers three-peat campaigns. He really did change the game. Shaq and Kobe may have been the out of this world superstars, but every leading man needs his best supporting actor and the award went to Robert Horry. Along with Rick Fox he formed a forward tandem for the dynasty ages and he played his classic clutch role to the basket along with Derek Fisher, the Fish that continues to save L.A. to this day. Clutch three after clutch free. Who says it doesn't rain in Southern California? When Horry poured, L.A. reigned.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Sacramento Kings (May 26, 2002-Western Conference Finals, Game 4)

In one of the most fiercely competitive series in NBA Playoff history there's nothing between the Californian Kings and Lakers in this bitter clash for the Western throne. Kobe's on the drive again but he cant find the twine from the baseline. The rebound falls to Shaq but his putback needs a mulligan and is put and tipped away by Vlade Divac and the rim. The loose ball bounces away from everybody and outside the arc to no other then Robert Horry for a straight ahead, straight forward three which is classic Horry and vintage NBA history.

Former Laker Vlade Divac must have been real jealous as he dismissed Horry's latest triumph as a "lucky shot", but there is no 'Cheap Shot Bob' here. Vlade needed to "read a paper" or the history books or something. Read all about it. Time and time again Robert Horry's being doing it and coming up big when needed. Hitting three's with a Reggie Miller purity meeting M.J. clutch. Still in 2003 when the Lakers were looking to go forth with a fourth championship the San Antonio Spurs and a 25 point deficit got in the way during the Western Conference Semi-finals. Horry was in a familiar position as the Lakers rallied back from a blow-out looking to close-out the Spurs in Texas, but something just wasn't clicking. Horry drew his long-range gun and fired but his shot was in and out like Kevin Kline in the nighties. As the buzzer sounded the Lakers hadn't just lost the championship to the San Antonio Spurs, this was the beginning of the end as they also lost their 'Mr. Fourth Quarter' to their Western Conference and championship rivals.

San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons (June 19, 2005-NBA Finals, Game 5)

The clocks winding down, we are in clutch territory yet again but this time Robert Horry's role is to make the inbound pass. Has he been taken out the equation? He passes to Manu Ginoboli on the left hand, three-point side, who pivots around his defender and passes back to Bobby who's been left open by Rasheed Wallace. Brent Barry can see the smirk on 'Big Shot Bob's' face; "your going to leave me open"? It's all good. Corner pocket, 'Mr. Big Shot', Robert Horry three, San An victory, sorry Chauncey.

Still even though the jersey changed to the black and white of the Lakers rivals fans didn't have to expect anything new. It was the same ole 'Big Shot Bob' in San Antonio from the Detroit Pistons to 38 out of 85 threes made in the 2005 playoffs. Horry even dunked and checked his way to victory showing that even in his latter career he'd always go hard for the sweet taste of victory. Horry made it a record seven championships for his career becoming the eighth wonder of the Basketball world and a top ten all-time clutch player...if not top five, or top three. Bird, Jordan and he...sorry Kobe. With the three Robert Horry put up more numbers than most legends would dream of...and he did it all from the bench.

The statistics and rings speak and count for themselves. The Hall should make way. Fame? Horry was infamous in a town where celebrities ran the courtside as well as the baseline. For the record Robert is one of only nine players in NBA history to have won seven or more championships in the NBA. Out of these nine of a kind guys he's the only one who did not play on the 1960s Celtics, this Laker legend is in a generation and class of his own, joining his 2000 champion team-mate John Salley as the only other player to win championships with three different NBA teams.

He may have not started games, but he sure did finish them. Carrying his team and family name with pride. Robert's arc of talent extended from behind the line as he also became the first NBA player in history 100 steals, 100 blocked shots and 100 threes in one season. Still, speaking of more big three's his seven in '97 against Utah made for the most three-point field goals made in a game without a miss. He's even outdone the greatest players of all-time. Fellow Laker alumni and all-time points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is now second in playoff games played behind Horry. Now if you thought that was big the record for the number of three-pointers in an NBA Finals doesn't belong to Michael Jordan's 42 anymore, it belongs to Robert Horry's 53. Could the greatest Sixth Man of all-time be the greatest clutch player in NBA history? Time will tell like the reviews of the record but one things for sure, there is nobody like Robert Horry, no substitute. When talking about the greats people may not start with Robert, but they sure will finish with him. Like at the end of the game at the end of the day its all about Horry. The rafters and the Hall is waiting, here's hoping the NBA doesn't leave it to the last minute, they're not experts at that like he is. Hands down, seconds out, nobody did it like him. Three, two, one...none.

"That's just Robert man". Kobe Bryant.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

MONEYBALL


Money makes the basketball go round.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

In Brad Pitt's latest classic film, 'Moneyball' it's all about numbers...and baseball. Before a big game the franchise owner he plays tells Jonah Hill's character to text him the play-by-play. As the kid from 'Superbad' looks confused the forever young actor replies; "I never watch the games". Can the same these days be said about NBA owners? OK that was a swipe and an unfair one at that. We know owners do and if they don't it's because they have too much on their plate, but this money debate on whether these millionaires and billionaires are eating enough is leaving the fans full and fed up. Especially with these fans from waiters to lawyers being the ones who serve these millionaires and billionaires with the cheese that brings these guys the cheddar.

Once again it's the players, fans and those working behind the scenes and below the pay-grades that are getting ripped off, while the fat-cats are having the last laugh and cigar. There may not even be any celebratory champagne next year at this rate if a payoff is not made before the playoffs. David Stern is even playing the role of the Grinch, all but cancelling Christmas. Bar humbug to basketball this year right? Camp didn't look so good this year, with no training days like a DVD collection with no Denzel. It's not a good look. We're waving goodbye to the preseason and the first fortnight of the regular due to irregularities and somebody not being forthright. Right now this weekend when top players should be getting ready LeBron James is in Liverpool, England with his part owned football club, while Kobe is probably digging in his deeper than the 'Bat-Cave' wallet to help more of his peers out, both these things being a financial concern. At the going rate between Italian offers to Jellybean Bryant's son and British jerseys making 'World Peace' statements, more stars may flock over the pond to swim in opportunity instead of sink in lockout blues. Deron Williams is already struggling out in Turkey. Who's next before thanksgiving?

Is this lockout the case of the owners being sharks or should the players bite and "bow down" like Hall of Fame legend and lockout survivor Dennis Rodman has suggested? Sure if the players did they could play now, but they have rights too it's like Kevin Durant said the players aren't the one's stopping play. This isn't the first time the powers that be have stopped the ball from bouncing the fans way. From league passes only available for the well off, to worse off teams getting as much coverage as playboy centrefolds. The lesser teams really have nothing too, as teams like New York and the Lakers thrive, franchises like New Jersey and the Clippers will struggle to survive, just thank the basketball God's for Blake Griffin.

Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre almost made way for another Kings franchise and we aren't talking about hockey. The Maloof brothers are acting all aloof and taking their Kings franchise out of Sacramento. I guess this loyal city really will have to die-hard, perhaps more fans we're needed as well as more cowbell. The Kings look to go back to their royal roots as they look to head across California for the 2012-2013 season. Locked out of Sacramento, Los Angeles and Orange County were on the cards but now it looks like the Anaheim Royal's will be the new identity of another dead franchise.

It's another case of a stolen team and city. Sure it's great when a new town gets a new team for it's fan base, but what of the old home? It's that old girlfriend syndrome. Those 'Save Our Sonics' pleas didn't mean a thing. Seattle may have the former champion Storm in the WNBA, but they lost it all with their beloved Sonics. The people of Seattle still miss their team and the good days like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. They miss it like they miss their band Nirvana and Kurt, or their sitcom 'Fraiser', but is anyone listening? The franchise said goodbye to Seattle as they headed to Oklahoma with new fans, colours and a name. As much as we love the new, exciting Thunder team led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and it's city, the owners basically jacked the Seattle Sonics players. It's a whole new franchise just the same team. They should have really started from scratch, if they wanted to steal players they should have had an expansion draft like the Charlotte Bobcats. All this Seattle sorrow started with a Starbucks owner who built a success on two cups but obviously doesn't give two f#$@% about the Sonics. The only green he was thinking about was the green belonging to his company or bank account, leaving Oklahoma and the fans in Seattle blue.

This isn't the first time this has happened...obviously. Money makes the basketball world go round...and therefore makes its teams relocate around the U.S. more than a journeyman...word and respect to Joe Smith. Sure sometimes it happens for the best, the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans, segued to Oklahoma during the disaster and the great cities of Charlotte and Oklahoma were rewarded with other teams (although the latter was at Seattle's expense in more ways than one) while the Hornets helped gave the forgotten New Orleans hope that those in power didn't (politics as usual). Still teams are changing arenas nearly as much as players are changing lockers. The Sixers have just been sold, who knows if they'll remain in Philadelphia or leave like the Fresh Prince. What's at stake in Philly? There's a lot of food for thought, but who's really thinking about the team?

This kind of thing hasn't been happening for year, it's been happening for decades. Think about it. Utah isn't famous for Jazz (New Orleans have lost a team before), have you ever seen a grizzly bear in Memphis? There's more chance of catching a glimpse of Elvis. After losing Vancouver, Canada now only have one team in the NBA; the sole franchise outside the U.S. I guess those Great Britain and China aspirations have been put on hold along with the season during this lockout, there won't be any international games this year, let alone domestic ones. Now if Toronto don't get much better, don't be surprised if Canada's only NBA team gets absorbed back into the States as right now on and off the court they'd probably far better in the new Canadian Basketball League. A nation could lose two NBA franchises in the end while the city of Los Angeles and one arena almost gained three, this is getting ridiculous.

You see what this all comes down to is love and respect. Love for the game and respect for the fans. This lack of has been happening for as long as loyalists and purists wish they could forget. At the end of the day love is more important than money. This is deeper then supermodels with old rich men draped frailly over their arms. As corny as it sounds if owners opened their hearts more than they closed their chequebooks we'd have something worth fighting for. The NBA needs to take a leaf out the NFL's playbook, as this sports league ended their lockout in time for the very first down. This is a league who still have great fan communities all around the world, like the champion Green Bay Packers instead of a hated team like the feel of the Miami Heat outside of the talents of South Beach. This is a league that recently mourned the loss of revered and beloved Raiders owner Al Davis, while in the NBA many Lakers fans were calling for Jerry Buss' head after the Shaq situation until the Pau Gasol trade brought the glory and smiles back to the Lake Show. Where's the love more apparent? On the famous Hollywood streets or in a little corner in Wisconsin? Could the money hungry owners keep a franchise there, when anything outside of California doesn't really sell? Sure we're in a world-wide financial repression, but right now we're in a basketball depression too.

It should all be about the game but the only ones getting played are the fans. The league needs more owners that are loved because of who they are, not just because there the greatest ball player and rapper of all-time. Sure MJ and Jay-Z are doing a great job (even if the Nets really are going to have some 'New Jersey's' as they are about to leave the Meadowlands and another NBA city, but hey Brooklyn's not too far) but more need to follow suit and realise that the National Basketball Association is ruled by more than the lapels and ties. It's ran by the one's who wear the jerseys honouring the logo on the courts and in the stands. Even King James dropped 'Business LeBron' because he was tired of being a puppet, now his commercial success is based on him managing himself. Now how's that for a decision?

The owners need to really look at their players and see how much they're worth, even if they play overseas and bring in more interest and revenue, it's the players who will be doing this and lining their owners pockets despite the lockout. It's a win, win situation for the owners so maybe it's time they yielded and helped out the one's at a loss. They need to look after more than number one, before nobodies watching. Most NBA courts get turned to ice rinks when the basketball's not on. Between hockey, football and Hollywood giving Baseball some shine (let alone international sport and basketball) the focus is zooming out of David Stern's Basketball league. It's in the NBA's best interests to keep going...literally. I thought this was the league we're amazing happens. We're all witnesses right now...but for what?