Sunday, 31 July 2011


The Empires new core of Knick basketball.


New York, in the concrete jungle dreams where made last season. After the months of back and forth, the 'if LeBron can do it', speculation and rumour, this Carmelo Anthony situation ended in a New York minute. That infamous Denver contract offer was left on the table only to pick up coffee rings, but still there was no 'melo yellow and Laker purple, or 'Melowlands' in the Garden state. After all that 'melodrama' Anthony's new jersey would not be a Net one. Instead, last season Carmelo crossed the Hudson to another Garden, becoming an instant classic Knickerbocker. Thus forming a Mecca team for America's most popular sport in the worlds most famous arena. Now entertainment is back on Broadway.

Madison Square Garden has never looked so good, (renovations pending), not recently anyway. Even before the Ewing era that shined with all his sweat, or when talent was Starks. We are talking back when there where players that dressed like pimps and pearls in those old locker rooms. Were talking about championship days, even if it only was one day in the franchise's storied history. Carmelo Anthony brings his top 3 game to the Garden, planting the roots of contention in the Big Apple with core-talent and free-agent pick up Amar'e Stoudemire, proving that the apple of New York basketball is finally fresh with two new picks. This N.Y. team is about to make the competition look like maggots, things might soon become a walk in Central Park for this classic franchise who may now be able to add a legendary era to their legacy.

Sure there is hell of a lot standing in the way of this heaven sent collection of trading card players, this is not a video game. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and most importantly the champion Dallas Mavericks are still NBA reality and royalty. Everything must go through these seasoned, established NBA strong-holds. Still the Knicks have as good a chance as anybody and everybody, including their trend setters the Miami Heat. Now that the critics and the comments have caved a little (thanks in some part to Carmelo) LeBron and his 'superfriends' of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh look to make things like great expectations and predicted promises happen down in South Beach. Still as New York assemble their own 'superfriends' in Manhattan, superhero's are back in NYC like the reboot and return of Spiderman. Now that's something to really marvel at. This web of talent look to really challenge any big three, Miami's, L.A., San An or Celtic.

Still this heated, Knick/Miami rivalry has been re-ignited and intensified for the first-time since the Ewing/Mourning, Georgetown graduated giants era. As the Knicks go from most-improved and playoff bound to direct contenders, it's hard to pick a finalist or a champion for next year from this talented mix. Nothing symbolises this rivalry better then the friendly competition between Carmelo and LeBron. Part of the same '03 draft class of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, these two players came up together and have had mirrored careers, with some opposites however.

Throughout their seven and a half years in the league critics have tried to reflect on who's the better player. When Carmelo came out of college and LeBron high-school the two players have had great battles, from their high-rating match-ups to their various attributes and achievements. Now as they both vie for a ring-playing for rival teams-the debate of who's the best will rage on for the next decade, especially when number 24 is deciding which jersey to retire. Both 'Melo and 'Bron turned basement teams into contenders and now their in the high-rises who knows how much of the sky they'll scrape. It was like this next chapter of the James/Anthony saga was meant to happen, like it was set by the NBA powers that be.

Some may think that the Knicks can't touch Miami or Boston for that matter, but the playing field is as wide as M.C. Hammer pants. The Knicks have a strong inside, out game, as Stoudemire chips away at the paint with his power plays, donut tag destroying dunks and STAT stuffers. As Carmelo takes care of the perimeter and everything between, bridging the gap between the 3's and the 4's of this league he makes the Knicks become a double or triple team nightmare. This isn't a dream. The league hasn't been hit by an inside, out one, two punch as strong as this since two guys named Shaquille and Kobe got it together.

Don't discredit the fact that New York have a three as big as any in the association. Sure all the hype on this trade has been on Anthony-like it has all year-but Chauncey Billups is a real important acquisition too. He may be getting older-and an down-grade in age from Raymond Felton-but Chauncey is still one of the best point guards in the league and a real upgrade for these Knicks. The quiet legend has hit many high-notes in his career, despite being an unsung hero at times. Still Billups has dished his way to a Championship, and set the table with an NBA Finals MVP. It's this type of invaluable experience and selflessness that affords the Knicks to be accounted for title contention. Billups may just be the Rasheed Wallace pickup of his 2003 championship Pistons to these 'bockers. Or Mr. Big Shot may just be the third installment of the Mecca's grand trio.

Still the orange and blue lost some colour in their big transaction, (this was no Pau Gasol trade) including a core of young, promising talent. Italian hot shooter Danilo Gallinari will be missed by the fans and box scores alike, while Felton has proved his worth at the point. Tough and tenacious Wilson Chandler has been a great rising star for the Knicks, as has the Odom versatile but seldom-used Anthony Randolph. The loss of Timofey Mozgov, 3 mill and some draft picks hurts too, but the Knicks still gained a lot in return and also unloaded that killer contract of Eddy Curry. Which N.Y. wanted to get rid of as it was doing criminal damage to their books like Frank Lucas. Still the Knicks may have lost a lot of potential franchise talent, but they've rebounded from losses like this before (see Lee, David) and besides they got their man and with true grit and dedication they where prepared to give everything they had to get him.

Still, in any true trade what the Knicks lost they found in new talent, Mr. Candace Parker, Shelden Williams is yet to show the NBA what he did in college, but time is on the side for this dependable, hard, dirty working back-up. Anthony Carter has been a great backup for Billups in Denver and expect one of the L's best reserves to continue this coming off the pine in the Garden. Renaldo Balkman also returns to the Knicks where his hustle and energy made him a favourite from the coaches to the nose-bleeds. In blockbuster trades it's important when many players come from one team to another to establish familiarity, unity and comfort with each other in a new situation, Balkman is the perfect bridge between old Denver players and current New York ones. Sending Randolph and Curry to Minnesota, the Knicks also gained Corey Brewer. A spark-plug, dunking dynamo that gave N.Y. it's Shannon Brown they tried to get last offseason, but then they released him to get bigger and more experienced and dynamic with Jared Jeffries.

Plus rising rookie and star Landry Fields is still on board, as are Shawne Williams, Roger Mason and bench energiser Ronny Turiaf and all his passion, getting behind and rounding out this brilliant roster. Let's not forget that running this team is one of the leagues best and flashy, brightest coaches Mike D'Antoni. A man who gives this team the experience and flair to run and gun to the top. It doesn't end here though. The future is as bright as the Manhattan skyline on July 4th. This team doesn't have to appeal to lottery picks anymore, they won't be getting any. Free-agents are the ticket now and if Chris Paul gets his wish this team's Empire State reach could scrape the stars. The sky really is the limit as who knows what's next for a team that's achieved the unimaginable and the impossible twice. 'Superfriends 2' isn't just in the works. It's in production. Now who else will be cast in support?

The most valuable franchise in the league are looking even more like a billion dollars hitting the .500 mark for the first time since 2000. This new decade belongs to them. What a difference 365 days make. This time last year the only star power New York had rested on Tracy McGrady's expiring knee and contract. The Knicks were still a joke, turning predicted potential into more broken promises and free-food give-aways to keep fans appetites. Now the MSG faithful are hungry for more as amendments have made this team. Now you can see this team rising even further then their first round playoff exit, especially after 'Melo's debut, game saving 11.4 seconds, in then the teams highest-rating four quarters since M.J.s '95 return at MSG. Now the only things that could stop these rangers is for the roof to cave in with asbestos after a hockey game again. Still that would only postpone the inevitable. Expect more buzzer beaters, sell-outs and wins next season. Whenever that starts.

The only losers now are the fans who decided to buy Mets tickets instead. The only donut's across the street, round the court from Fuse. The only similarity there to these Knicks is the dunkin'. Now Q-Tip's rally cry, 'Go New York' can be sung with pride. Now Kanye West wants a courtside connection. Time to book those Spike Lee seats, instead of imagine how you could trip a referee like Larry David did Shaq because now the Mecca of basketball is the hot ticket once again. As this team graduates to the high-life, 'Ball Players (and) rap stars (will be) addicted to the limelight". You don't want to be left without a seat in the Garden as New York is on the rise. Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Madison Square stand up! N.Y. is the city. Let's hear it for New York.


Devin knows how good he's going to be.


If your unlucky enough to sit so high up in the bleach during Laker games that your nose starts to bleed then you might begin to see things. There goes an athletic wing, around 6 foot 8, or 9. He's got short black hair, stubble but no beard and an assassins stare. Plus he's got speed and style to boot, look familiar? Not only is he fast but he hustles and hard to. Is this 2009? This same player wears a number 3 and stands next to Ron Artest... didn't he? Isn't that Trevor Ariza?


Sorry to report this but one of the Lakers best championship players isn't back but that doesn't matter right now because the guy we've see before us has played almost as well as him in limited minutes, sharing the court with defensive maestros Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. Not to mention the post trio of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum and one guy you may be real familiar with. You know the legend, the MVP, the five time heavyweight champ. This number 3 however, giving his all on both ends of the floor actually goes by the name of Devin Ebanks. You may not know the name, but soon you'll know the game and then the first and last will be household and televised.

In 2009 some weren't sure whether Ron Artest would deliver the same firepower and intensity that Ariza did but Ron, Ron came up big so many times for the Lakers in the playoffs that they had to name him twice. Ron saved the Lakers and the Doberman from the doghouse so many times that they may as well of named him Robert. Still what the Lakers gained in Artest's strength and solidness, they lost in Ariza's speed and spark. Now with last season's draft addition of Devin in the Lakers bank they may finally be able to replace the liability that was missing following Ariza's departure. Ebanks is an asset that may pay off in dividends.

Devin's works hard and his plays are large. Sure Shannon Brown brought the Shan-WOW to this generations 'Showtime' night after night but with more space on the floor now, Ebanks the Lakers have another player who can finish emphatically at the rim and a player they've sorely missed when losing guys like Brown (probably), Ariza or the 'reel' worthy talent of Maurice Evans. Ebanks joins this Laker lay-up line of above the rim, supporting darlings that has been running for years way before the days of Cedric Ceballos or even the smooth silk of Jaamal Wilkes.

Kobe can still get up, but due to his age and evolution of his game he doesn't go to the rim like he once did. Now when he has the floor and it's open Kobe can start the fast break and deflect to a guy like Devin who can finish, closing other teams out. Kobe and Devin already did that last preseason working the open lane so much and driving through like a McDonalds line at peak time. It's in that preseason as well where Devin has been able to show the Lakers his potential in prime playing time. Sure this recent losing Laker season also saw Ebanks lose playoff time-you know big Phil doesn't like playing Rookies-but now he's a sophomore Devin has the chance to show so much more for Mike Brown. Besides 3.1 points per in an average of just over a minute a game isn't half bad, just give him more time.

Even in the garbage time of last preseason Ebanks has been able to shine (thanks to the tarnish of injuries the Lakers have suffered to guys like Kobe, Sasha and Walton) and Devin managed to plaster the 'bust' preseason with some silver linings in the cloud of defeat. Devin averaged 7 points and a shade under 3 and a half boards coming into the light in front of Hollywood. He had 14 in a win against Denver and 10 on a dethroning of the Sacramento Kings. Kobe on top form, or Kobe not on top form, sharing the ball and actually doing something with it with guys like Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Barnes, Blake and Artest is more than impressive, it's impressionable. Just think how much more Devin could grow this Summer if it wasn't for this lockout and cancelled Summer league in Vegas. He could have been a leader, he could have been a standout, it wouldn't have been a gamble on the Lakers part, it would have been a winning hand. Still once the season gets under way this young wing will get another chance to roll the dice and fly.

Sure last season there where rookie mistakes, D-League demotions and sore hands from carrying all those bags but the futures in Ebanks palms. If he earns his stripes in the Lakers nation he's going to give the team another star and state of play en route to a quest for a championship. Ebanks is focused, it won't be long before the cameras are on him. On his quest to prove he belongs on a team with more than six go to guys and his journey to show every other team that passed him up 43 times Devin will show his full potential. Just like Ariza and just like Shannon before, Devin will be called upon to spark plug the Lakers and the Staples Centre crowd off the bench with energy plays. What shouldn't be disconnected however is that just like these two guys his game has so much more to it.

Sure the Youtube highlights will come but as next season wears on and as the playoffs break in these top ten plays in otherwise dull moments will turn into key plays in decisive moments. Just like Ariza for the 2009 champion Lakers or Ebanks will be ready and charged for when the Lakers are overdrawn. Make no mistake if Ebanks unquestionable rise continues through 82 games and 8 weeks he'll be one of the keys to the Lakers success without a doubt. Then he'll be able to stand next to Lamar Odom and Ron Artest and share more than their native Queensbridge upbringings. Let's not front however, with the way he's come up while other Lakers have let down throughout last season it 'aint hard to tell he already deserves to be amongst the centre of attention. Devin has already planted his feet, now it's time for him to fill those sneakers and leave some footprints. So if your sitting up in the Hollywood hill, high rises of the Staples Centre you may want to borrow the binoculars from the guy next to you because that number 3 isn't Trevor Ariza. It's someone else, someone here to stay. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


A Magic moment.


Lets take it back, way back, back into time, to something videotaped earlier. It's Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals and the Los Angeles Lakers lead the Philadelphia 76ers three games to two, but their player of the decade, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has gone down to an ankle injury. In the first five games number 33 averaged his jersey number in points. Still now with the Captain staying in Southern California and not making the trip to Philly, who would replace him and fill his spot? "Never here, E.J. Is here", a young Rookie point guard told his team as as he took a seat in the Captain's chair on the Lakers aeroplane ride to Philadelphia, smiling that soon to be infamous, toothy grin.



Earvin Johnson was determined to show the Lakers, Sixers, the NBA and the whole world his Magic as the 6 foot 9 inch guard known for passing more then shooting was primed to step in at centre and take on Jabbar's scoring load. Still, nobody believed that the Magic man could pull something out the bag. "See you in L.A. for Game 7", Philly fans told the Lakers. Another revolutionary basketball legend saw things differently however. Bill Russell tells us pregame "the pressures on Philadelphia". Meanwhile a smiling Earvin-speaking like a young kid from the country-is humble and ready, telling the press pregame "I enjoy challenges, it's a challenge tonight to see what I can do", before saying hello to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. Everyone is watching this young man, from his family in Lansing to Kareem in L.A. Game on!


Magic doesn't win the battle of the tip but he gets down to war in the paint with Darryl Dawkins proving he's ready. Jaamal Wilkes first basket is smooth as silk, as is his second to open up the game. Philly's Mo' Cheeks then goes coast to coast as Magic's great pass to Cooper comes up short on a basket. Magic is still playing like a point as well as a pivot, hitting from the perimeter. His wizard like tricks putting his opposition in a spell of trouble. Following a great Julius Erving lay-up gets the Philadelphia crowd into it, Magic comes right back at him inside. Then Mike Bibby's dad Henry comes in and scores, facing off with the dominant Lakers (get used to it Bibby family). Magic moves and hooks in the paint doing his best Kareem impression, getting his 'Cap on. Right back on the other end of the floor Erving dunks and hangs to avoid hurting Earv', for the most respectful dunk ever. Then as the first quarter becomes spare change, Magic's rolling hook quietens the Sixers run and the legendary Spectrum crowd.


To open the second chapter Bibby's still so hot from downtown, obviously he's taught his son a few things. As Philly take the lead this looks like their game, but we'll see. To counter Magic makes a three point play after he's fouled on the put back. Then Chones' breakaway dunk brings it back to within 2 as Johnson takes a deserved seat. Timeout. The 76ers are running circles round the Lake Show that could prevent them from receiving rings until Magic brings it back to within two for his 20Th point. The game remains closer then Rosie Gaines, while Dawkins 'Spine-Chiller Supreme' dunk punctuates the last minute of the half, before Magic intercepts the next offence however stopping Dr. J. from doing the same. Then Brad Holland ties it for the third time coming off the bench this quarter for Los Angeles. Good job. Johnson's half-court hook shot at the buzzer however rims out, Earvin's rabbit out the hat magic almost gives the Lakers a lead but we're all tied up at 40 at the half.


Magic starts things off in the third from the baseline. Then his look away pass to Cooper tricks the Sixers, 64-60 Lakers. Magic lays the table and serves Wilkes for the layup, it's Showtime, before it's time as the Houdini of the hardwood is making David Blaine plays. Time for some food for thought for the 76ers as there's a lot at stake in Philly now. Cooper makes it eight in a row since the half and the Philadelphia crowd has no words to go with their teams zero points. Philly and even Bibby are looking cold compared to the hot Magic and Lakers. The pressure cookers on but this game isn't far from the refrigerator. Storming Norm Nikon, crosses quick and rattles in his first field goal of the game, making his point as lead guard. The Lakers then lead by a dozen, while Philly's championship hopes are rotting like bad eggs. This is one of those moments in games where nerves are fried, loose balls are scrambled and clutch plays are poached. It's Magic's set shot however that whisks the home-team further out of shape. That's until the good Doctor comes with the right prescription with back to back buckets. It's still a ballgame. Time for the final act.


Lansberger's rebound dunk off Nikon's missed lay-up puts the Lakers up a perfect 10 after a slow and steady, calm before the storm start to the end of Game 6. Erving's hard dunk gives everyone in Pennsylvania hope as does Bobby Jones defensive block and rebound, but then the Lakers Chones takes the thunder out of Dawkins chocolate. A bitter foul by Darryl on the other end of the floor sends the tough warrior Cooper to the hard-wood. Here comes the drama and the smelling salts. Doctor Julius' medicine is going down as Philly are getting back up into reach of Los Angeles. It's 97-93, with 7:23 to go. In the last five the countdown to the championship should begin, but the 'City of Brotherly Love's' fans don't think its over, jumping up and down like Sly Stallone at the top of those famous steps. Then Magic slows everything down at four, quarterbacking this game and looking for that knockout punch with Philly on the ropes. Cheeks brings it back to five and with 3 minutes to go, this looks to go down to the wire...

...Then a Nixon to Magic collabo play makes a point of guarding the Laker lead as L.A. watches the throne they're about to take. Following this a Magic dunk is an exclamation point to show that the Lakers are going back to Kareem and Los Angeles with the championship. Then the last minute turns into a lay-up line as Wilkes dunks home his 37Th point, its Magic's 42 point, 15 rebounds and 7 assists however that put the Lakers over the edge and on top with the title. This time the rookie that hugged Kareem in the first game of the season like they won it all is embraced by Butch Lee when they finally do. Magic's smile says it all for these Los Angeles kings, 'we are the champions'.


A humble Jerry Buss (dressed more like he'd join Phil Jackson on his ranch) also in his rookie year (as an owner) thanks his team. There's no gel in Pat Riley's hair but he's still as slick as ever ready to take the party back to Hollywood before his real work begins. Still the man of the moment is Magic, and though it was a tough call, NBA and family legend Rick Barry informs an even humbler, almost embarrassed Earvin that he is the Finals MVP, for taking over from Kareem. Pete Vescey said it best "Magic played in Lew of Alcindor" but Earvin said it right, with a salute to Kareem saying, "Big Fella, I did it for you". The Lakers first championship of their incredible eighties was won by a combined effort throughout the series, but in the crucial, deciding game it was number 32, not 33 that sealed the Lakers victory. Earvin 'Magic' Johnson truly gave the league one of it's best moments. Philadelphia in 1980 is where amazing truly happened and history was made, engraved in championship gold and set in NBA stone.


Kobe & LeBron better make way.


Do you believe in David and Goliath stories and legends? You know the kind where a big, strong force is moved by something much smaller? Where a skinny man, shows what's buried deeper inside? The ability to develop and stand next to the big boys of the nation a-la Captain America? Sure in the league of the NBA there are two perennial stars of stars to marvel at; Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Still, however as the debate between who is better rages on, these two corners of the association will have to make room for one more like 'Bron's teammates in South Beach. Right now not much touches the NBA's puppets, except the man who'll be pulling the strings in years time as the next Godfather of the association; Kevin Durant.

Kevin Durant is the future. Now, just like rap's greatest Jay-Z and the late, great Notorious B.I.G. we 'aint saying Durant's better then the leagues two biggest talents, but he's the closest one. LeBron may be the MVP with a valuable team, closer to playing for the NBA's most high award, but Kevin can outscore the King and he and the Thunder may just be able to get to his throne quicker with his lightening, fast play. Kobe may have the rings and the legend, but Kevin's next in line for a championship as he lays the path of his own, unique legacy. Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder almost caught the Lakers two playoffs ago and Kobe can't keep up with Durant's youth much longer. They almost showed this years champion Dallas who the real Mavericks are. Just wait, with franchise partner and one of the strongest points in the league; Russell Westbrook and a great team of players,(from former Celtic Perkins to Africa's Ibaka) coaches and fans behind him behind him there really is a storm coming, with a forecast of 'reign' and we aren't talking about Seattle's Storm. This is Oklahoma's team and time now.

Kevin has taken this former Seattle team from the bargain basements of sale to the top of peoples 'League Pass' expense accounts at super Sonic speed. Motoring this Oklahoma, 'Ford Centre' inhabitants forward with his keys in the ignition. Affecting change like he had shares in Starbucks (they still did the Sonics and the city of Seattle wrong by the way). Waking up a city that missed it's one-year rental Hornets like strong coffee, stinging the notion of a one and done year. This 'Durantula' has climbed up the leagues web, keeping his smooth as silk team right with him as his spindly arms string together all sorts of powerful, hammer-of-Thor dunks for his Thunder team when he runs the break like a gazelle and no one else in the NBA kingdom. The points, wins and newspaper headlines keep on pouring out for Oklahoma City. Special K is more then a basketball serial killer, or scoring machine. He's the complete, franchise player and leader like fellow, former scoring champ Allen Iverson before him. Unquestionably this guy is answering the critics and showing fellow top scorers that 30 points per game is the new 20.

Durant shares more with Kevin Love then a first name. He's part of an exciting breed of next generation players who are going to take the worldwide league to more Magic/Bird, Kobe/LeBron popular heights. He's already proven his global worth, leading the charge in last years World Championships, just wait to see him carry the flag for Team USA in the Olympic Games next year in London. The globe is listening to more then just his brand of headphones. We don't even know this guys ceiling yet, but right now it's looking as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel. The sum of Kevin's part add up to something huge. With some Kob' and 'Bron in him, and the scoring and competitive killer instinct of Mike, this guy really is an heir apparent. Still, however with the addition of a cool, calm, but fire-inside, Tim Duncan demeanour in him and a body and versatility type of a young Kevin Garnett this guys multiplying talents can he'll divide double teams and subtract the opposition. On the whole however-despite the influences-Durant is his own man and a one-of-a-kind player. He is an establishing legend, who is already being the benchmark that younger, drafted players are being compared to and this guys only 22.

This do it all, all-star guy is the kind of player that on his best day could win the 'Slam Dunk', three-point and skills contest at the All-Star weekend. He's already won the quickly defunct game of 'H.O.R.S.E.' showing this top scorer can do more then just outscore everybody, he can shoot from anywhere too. Still Kevin Durant's not concerned with February like jilted lovers and broken hearts. This lone man wants to still be in the heart of NBA partners come late Spring and right now him and his Thunder are in matrimony with Dirk and his dangerous Dallas team for the West and leagues best once Kobe and the Lakers dynasty retires. Then all that will be left is the king and his men and although LeBron James really is the best, Durant will have no problem taking his talents to South Beach and seeing what he can leave with.

It may take a few more years for this man to show the league that the real heat belongs in Oklahoma-besides he has the Texan titans to deal with-but right now one thing is clear, Kevin Durant is here and his legend is here to stay as his legacy continues. We are witnessing someone before his time, take the league by storm. The opposition better stay in doors, K.D.'s got more then a foot in, he's kicking it in like the Notorious one and everyone knows his name. The Thunder's top man has hit the league with a lightening bolt and he's about to strike once again.

See Also




The Incredible Hulk.

By Tim David Harvey.

Blake Griffin had a 'Monster' 2010/2011. Just like fellow Midwest native Kanye West, but no one man should have all that power.

"I shoot the lights out" Bon Iver- Kanye West: Monster

Well, get used to it, Blake does, "trippin' off the power" and making both of Hollywood's teams start studded. It's 'light's out' at STAPLES even when they take off the Laker floor as well. Clipper nation is finally a destination fans want to flock to and future free agents will want to emigrate too. He just makes the game The ball looks like a grapefruit in his hands, just wait for the punch. The defenders look like children, waiting to be schooled. Sound familiar? Blake may just be the most imposing, exciting big man in Los Angeles, (or the league for that matter) ever since Shaq...and he's not a Laker. Sure the Lake Show are glad to have Bynum back on the block but you know they'd love to have Blake deep down in the paint.

"As you run through my jungle all you hear is rumbles" Rick Ross - Kanye West: Monster

Night after night Griffin re-designs the paint with his dunks. He cuts down frontcourt trees like a lumberjack. In fact as beautiful as Chick Hearn's coined phrase is, Blake makes this art-form look so powerful yet beautiful that it should be renamed in his honor. His damaging dunks are like dynamite, SLAM knows this. Sure there's still no one quite like the Magic's Dwight but just look back at what Blake had in his bag of tricks for this years Slam Dunk contest in front of his home crowd at STAPLES. From stopping automobiles in their path, having the belief to fly and channeling Vince Carter all whilst putting an end to Howard's big man, Goliath dunk memories and David Nate Robinson's reign. Every game Blake punishes players with his post up, poster producing, power plays. From Tim Duncan to Timofey Mozgov and Amar'e Stoudemire to Tiago Splitter everybody can get it, with crotch rocked humiliation. In fact the leagues best San Antonio and the most-improved New York have been punished the most, (still everybody has) with countless STAT stuffing, splitting dunks.

Now how about that dunk, that's making the rounds on the youtube top 10's, a regular feature for Blake. You know the one were talking about. The opposition really doesn't and didn't matter however as Blake saw red, sprinting and running the floor like a bull (no it wasn't Chicago). He spun, floated like a butterfly, then dropped the hammer on a dunk that stung like a bee. Muhammad likes to rhyme, and Blake's game is like poetry, he's so agile, whereas all who try and break him down are merely fragile. Side-stepping back down court like Ali, that was no rookie confidence. He believes he's the greatest. It almost looked like this rabid talent was foaming at the mouth, but that was just his gum-shield. He's not the one that needs protection. Timeout. Yet another countless, timeless Blake dunk as this Griffin furthers his young legend. Another frozen moment in the time of NBA history. Where amazing, aerial, acrobatics happen.

"Everybody know I’m a m*********** monster" Kanye West: Monster

Griffin's really is a creature on another level. There's humans, role-player, superstars then monsters like Griffin. He averages as many dunks a game as James Bond averages women a film, but this agent is no secret. More Blake 7 then 007, Griffin is out this world. So advanced like science fiction, but this is fact and the basketball geeks just love it. Like another Griffin, first name Eddie (R.I.P. We miss you) before him, Blake is a young, raw but ready, talented, tall man that the league sorely needs. Like 'Blake Bad', Griffin's got a 'Crazy Heart' and a crazy game to match, with NBA, Oscar worthy performances night after night. Undeniable like Blake Lively, Griffin runs 'The Town' right now, sorry Kobe.

"Cause you will never get on top off this" Kanye West: Monster

Who can guard this guy? Literally, it's nobody. Sorry Dwight, maybe joining the Los Angeles Lakers is the only way you can get close to him. Sorry Garnett, you aint 'Da Kid' no more. Those images you see of Blake dunking around five guys aren't pictures. All the defenders can do is stand-around and look gormless in freeze-frame. Even the leagues best just look like the rest. From action replays, to poster and lap-top wallpapers worldwide, their humiliation is broadcast, but nobodies looking at them, their looking at B. Can't you see?

"Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong/Lochness, Goblin, Ghoul, a zombie with no conscience" Jay-Z- Kanye West: Monster

Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Darryl Dawkins, Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp with a conscience, Blake is as bad as them all and you know I mean as in good. A hybrid of them all, this monster talent surely was crafted in a laboratory, that's why he was gone for 12 months in his real Rookie year. Sure he was a 'Naismith College Player of the Year', 'Oscar Robertson Trophy' and the 'John Wooden Award' winning stud in college, but these are the big leagues and he's no schoolboy. No one with all this power usually has the grace Blake has. His game is eloquent, he can switch it up from monster Shaq-like power to the athletic beauty of a guard. Just check out his pirouette's before he comes out of nowhere and beats everybody like the 'Black Swan'. Now that's a good look. From alley-oops that are going to turn Eric Bledsoe into a star and Eric Gordon into the next Jason Kidd, to off-balance impossible dunks like the one against Portland, Griffin is making everything look so easy. The only hard thing is to try and couple all his plays into weekly 'Top-Ten's'. He needs a separate category for himself and as for the rest of the league, forget about it.

"All I see is these fake f**** with no fangs/Tryna draw blood with my ice cold veins/I smell a massacre/Seems to be the only way to back you b******* up" Jay-Z- Kanye West: Monster

Still, of course the critics have something to say, 'he's this', 'he's not that', but he really is. Blake is more than dunks, and critics even called Shaq one dimensional but that didn't stop him from cutting a few championship shapes. Besides Charles Barkley was right "just wait 'till his game comes together". He's only young and you best believe this mound of rebound legend knows the big man's game more than anybody. He's more then qualified to speak on Griffin's graduating game. Everyone in the league wants a 20 and 10 big man, well Blake is 22.5 and 12.1 and he isn't even a centre. The Clips still have Chris Kaman and Gordon for that playoff matter. Blake is the centre of attention however and the Clippers may have missed the playoffs (just wait a little longer) but they sure stunned their neighbours and former champion Lakers, Fisher buzzer-beater or not, and this writers a Laker lover. With career numbers like 47 points and 14 rebounds, how is this point making, rebound grabbing man not a monster? Critics can't deny him. They should give him the love like they've finally given Minnesota's Kevin because Blake could go for 30-30 one day two. Sure he isn't much of a post-game, quotable, im-presser, but this is a league where people games do the talking. So everyone else can shut up!

"So let me get this straight wait I’m the rookie" Nicki Minaj- Kanye West: Monster

He's the 'Rookie Of the Year', without a doubt. he shadows the opposition. Sure, sure he should be a sophomore, but his only slump came with the injury last year. Now is his time and he's making up for lost pine. No more suit and tie or bench days for Blake. No wonder he's not chilling, showing he can play with the smartest in the league and bench press even the most imposing, dominant, veteran big men. He's the first rook since Allen Iverson to have two 40+ games and you know what that guy did the league. There's more to come as well as Blake looks to change the game and answer the call. Who needs a new version of 'NBA Jam', when you've got the real thing on demand? Blake's on fire and beyond the excitement, hoopla and dunks his talent burns deep. Laker die-hard couldn't even fan his flames, Griffin is making it legitimate for Los Angeles to have two franchises and as for the locked out league, he's saving it. Now that's a superhero we can all marvel at. A hulking talent that's turning the Clippers green with profit. Now only a creature on a whole other, out of this world level could do that.

"Aaahhhh, I’m a m*********** monster!" Nicki Minaj-- Kanye West: Monster

Friday, 29 July 2011


The feelings may be sour yet they still milk him for all he's worth.


Let's look back to last seasons NBA All-Star weekend and most notably, the Slam Dunk contest. Now that was quite a homage piece right? Recognise a couple of dunks? Like when Blake Griffin reached into the jar of honey? Or when a young Toronto Raptor dunking stud by the name of DeRozen put it between his legs? Sound familiar? They look even more so. Hey, I know the contest is clutching for some more creativity and a homage to history is a true gesture to the heroes, but minus the props this looked like the year 2000.

The year the dunk contest returned after a two year hiatus and even longer of a lull hit back Vinsanely by dunk after dunk from above the rim legend Vince Carter. Still these days there is more hate then love for Vince. Sure, it gets even colder when you go up further North to Ontario but still throughout the league words like 'over' and 'finished' are often whispered, but why? As the seasons change in basketball so do the hot and cold perceptions put on certain players by critics and fans alike. Sure Blake Griffin's the man right now and that's terrific, but what of next year? If people start to turn on him then that would just be terrible. This is what happened to Vince, sure he made some ill-advised decisions but he can still play and has been one of the most exciting players and electric scores the league has seen since Michael Jordan.

Sure, sure his cousin Tracy McGrady may have left and eclipsed him and Carter may for years have been living in the shadow of the dawn of the LeBron and 'Melo era, still his time in the sun is far from done. From his incredible Rookie Season, to the revolutionary way he dunked, to his second grounded more focused wind of his career, Vince has been the prince to many Kings throne. Still his place in NBA royalty is shamed by critics. Why is everyone so adamant to get Carter?

Can we not forgive and forget by now? Besides the same Toronto fans who hate claimed they where better off without him, when Chris Bosh was courting in Canada. Another situation that ended similair. So he's a quitter right? Well this same guy hasn't given up one bit over the last few years even after being unfairly bounced around the league as of late. So he's a cry baby then? Well, I see no tears but the reign of dunks he's dropped on the league season after season, from the Youtube's to the playground reenactments. From the windmill to the one handers with all their artistic creativity and athletic craftmanship. This is his legend but his legacy has much more to it then a dunk. Vince Carter can really play.

Sure when Air Canada departed for Newark, New Jersey all that Dr. J, M.J. hype died down. Still that did not mean this player was done. Jumpers knee or not, Vince was still down for the game in a matrimony of talent and desire. Just because people stopped being devoted to him didn't change that. Sure in his last 15.9 point season with the Raptors fans believed his effort was extinct. Sure it wasn't roaring but it was far from fossilised. Besides Carter was injured, plus he was being benched and left out of fourth quarters. What must that do to a franchise guys ego, confidence and motivation. Three things arguably a teams go to guy need to turn that killer instinct into a dead-eye victory (just see Bryant, Kobe).

While the Toronto Raptors where dreaming of an all Canadian, Steve Nash/Jaamal Magloire dynasty Vince felt shut out of the plans. It all seems that the love began to be lost in Carter's dubbed 'Graduation Game'. During the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the eventual East champion, the Philadelphia 76ers, the same day as a crucial Game 7 Vince attended his College graduation. Then at the game with 2.0 seconds left he missed a shot that could of iced the game. There was hell to play, but why so much heat? I know it's frustrating and maybe he could have handled himself better, but a missed shot is just another missed shot and his graduation attendance didn't effect his effort in game. Two seconds are just two seconds after all, what about the other 47 minutes and 58 seconds where he went hard? People don't talk about that. That's the thing about clutch shots no matter who's taking them (even Horry or Mike) you can never be sure until leather twinges twine. Everyone misses shots (see Bryant, Kobe).

As a Jersey boy Vince went through the four seasons as his team went from good to bad in the Meadowlands of the Nets. I witnessed a game against the Wizards in 2007 where Vince went bucket for bucket with Antwan Jamison, (the guy Toronto traded his right for in his Rookie of The Year season). Both guys looked like they could go for career nights as by the half they both had final game like totals. Carter (40+) and the Nets prevailed in the end, 96-92 and although this game was one that was passed over by ones featuring the LeBron's or Kobe's, it just went to prove that great players can always play like themselves of old if you give them half a chance, or half a possession. Carter formed a nice union with Jason Kidd out in the Garden State of New Jersey and although this duo wasn't to last it was one of V.C.'s more steady relationships in his career so far. One that saw a classic couple that with a few more years and team-mates on their side could of flipped the coin and dropped dimes all over the league.

Still just like with Toronto, things must come to an end and as they did Vince saw some time in Dwight's Magic Kingdom. Sure Air Disney's trip wasn't a long haul one, but it still featured some memorable moments and high-scoring games like his 48 point performance. Besides the Nets went 17-20 without Carter, dropping bricks without their sharp scorer. Vince still averaged a decent 16.6 point per game for the Magic and he wasn't even the second trick out their bag. That's top, you have to take your hats off to that.

Still by way of another trade last season Vince has found himself in new territory. Out in Phoenix, Carter is playing on a shaken up Suns team and is sporting a Rick Ross beard. Perhaps he didn't pack his shaver because this team looks to chop and change further, so Vince could be moving on yet again. It would be a shame if this star players career takes more of a journeyman role because with all due respect to valuable veterans, Vince deserves more. No one wants to see 'Air Freight'. If he gets shipped off again he will struggle to find an identity with a team and with all the hate and disregard he's received in his career, identity and familiarity to a ball-club has been something that's plagued him throughout.

It's no matter that he responded to Toronto fans shots, with killer, clutch ones of his own. No matter if he still averages 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists across the board (with 22.9, 5.3 and 4.2 for his career). No matter is he's shown he's one of the best scorers in the L, especially from behind the arc (he's got a playoff record 9 to prove it, he's pure). The doubt and the disregard continues. Sure people can write him off all they like, but the writing is not on the wall, whatever this basketball child's destiny. What's engraved in history is what can't be denied, not what's scrawled in blogs (I know, I know). An eight time All-Star, two times All-NBA. The statistics, the records, the ground-breaking moments, 'Le dunk de la mort'. It's all there, no matter how many people want to brush it aside.

So even if Vince doesn't burn his brightest in Phoenix. Or no one ever bounces a dunk between their legs or puts the ball right through the jar like Winnie the Pooh ever again, Carter's legacy is still apparent...air apparant. It's one of everlasting talent that withstands all the neglect, criticism and hate over the years to show a loyalty, acclaim and love for the game that will never give up or quit. Laugh at him now, but cry later when you miss him and see what he's really achieved, despite what people may say. Yeah he could have been a lot better to Toronto I admit, but a lot of people could have been a hell of a lot better to him, but still it's not too late...yet.

Monday, 25 July 2011


Let the games begin.


Money, money, money. It's always got to be about the money. When did it stop being about the game that we all love? Money talks and also it apparently has the ability to shut things right down. As the NBA owners and players association can't come to terms like a real bad breakup money isn't playing right now and we aren't talking about M.J. The NBA like the NFL is currently locked out and no one can play ball with a Jerry West on their vest right now. It's almost like commissioner David Stern has put a Coach Carter style lock on the gym and all the fans want is to let 'em play. With this lockout lasting as long as either side is prepared to keep their arms folded when will next season start? November? December? Literally next year or season? With this lockout just how bad could things get for the NBA?

What happened to the union? It's all got so bad that even Lakers clutch hero and president of the players association Derek Fisher couldn't even save the day at the last minute, but you best believe he's still working as both sides have a point. Still instead of pointing fingers shouldn't these sides extend their hands and give in to selfish desires for the good of the L as a whole? This is not a game...literally and this may all be about money but don't the players and owners stand to lose even more green without a regular season? From losses in gate receipts to league passes we all miss out. Here's thinking it was all about the Benjamin's. Time for Diddy, Nicholson, Spike Lee and them to find another sport. Haven't we learned from the NFL or is another American sport going to drop the ball? Have we not moved on from the the 98/99 season after all that time? Now if the NBA stays locked out through the fall whoever wins next year will have that fateful, debated asterisk next to what should be a crowning achievement (San Antonio anyone?). Now you know the critics would love it if LeBron and his super Miami team won, any excuse for unreasonable doubt.

Not only do the big stars stand to lose precious zero's off a paycheck there trying to extend other so-called 'regular folks' stand to lose their jobs. From writers to the people who work in the arenas. The NBA has already trimmed 11% of his work-force but they say this severance has nothing to do with this lockout. Yeah right! Sure everyone's rights should be taken into consideration-even those making millions-but if people who are struggling to make ends meet are losing their jobs and livelihood then that's just wrong, plain and simple. So why is it all so complicated? A writer will always try and think of the most profound phrase to describe a situation but this is just stupid. Silly like's lack of rosters and team logos over players faces but then again rights are rights. Speaking of rights all the networks at home or abroad stand to lose out on this world-wide phenomenon's problem and of course who's thinking about the fans? Is anybody out there?

It gets worse when it comes to matters overseas. The NBA over the last decade has crafted an incredible reputation around the world from Yao's revolution in China, to the first overseas regular season games for years in London. As the Ming dynasty carried the flag in the last Olympics in Beijing basketball became even bigger there. Now with next years games taking place in England's capital the league finds itself at a crossroads, taking the path with less hype after being on the road and cusp of it's greatest popularity in Great Britain since the Jordan years. After years of exhibition games and two back-to-back season games this year (to go with other games as part of NBA Europe Live) the NBA now won't officially hit London town again until after the Olympics in 2013. So with that even Luol Deng's torch carrying won't help some of NBA's hype going up in the big smoke.

Still we all know basketball is more then just the NBA and that could prove problematic for the U.S. dream team that's experienced its fair share of nightmares over the years. Sure without a 82 game slog star players will be rested, but then again no play could result in inconsistencies. Practice makes perfect and if NBA stars come into the 2012 Olympics in second-gear they may not have enough fuel to keep up with the worlds greatest. If players come back to the game out of shape like Shawn Kemp or out of focus like J.R. Rider then their dominance on world basketball could be snapped and the cameras will look for new subjects of success. If Team USA fall next year, they won't be able to blame anything but the lockout or themselves. No shot clock violation, no Carlos Arroyo, nothing, Nada.

Still the players of the NBA could follow Brandon Jennings and WNBA star Candace Parker who went overseas to Europe to earn more playing time and experience, keeping everything fresh. Right now deals are being wrote up and some inked. Everything from Ron Artest tweeting about playing for the U.K.'s Cheshire Jets to Kobe Bryant potential teaming up for an incredible backcourt in Turkey with Deron Williams (and we've already got a taste of how good a backcourt like this could be as Kob' combined well with MVP Derrick Rose in an exhibition in Asia). As Europe gives thanks for the talent the NBA could export, world-wide basketball as a whole will get better and better with the influence of world class players.

Still as some players benefit and this lockout proves to be a blessing in disguise for some hoop elements all this could prove even more damaging for American basketball. Not only will the attention be shifted from the National Basketball Association, while so many moves will leave more then just's transaction page in a mess. This refreshing basketball revolution overseas could leave more of a bitter taste in the mouth of personnel back home than the lockout has already fed. Plus if many international NBA stars go back home they could help craft the cohesiveness and consistency needed for their international teams to be ready for 2012 by playing ball back at home with their fellow countrymen. It's threatening enough for U.S. basketball that the world is getting even better and 'Dream Team' games no longer look like Harlem Globetrotter ones. Even playing against their fellow countrymen could serve as high-profile practices for international players and teams.

Look at a country like Spain who are already a basketball powerhouse. Imagine if the Gasol boys returned back home or if the star-studded Ricky Rubio realised his long-awaited move from Barcelona to Minnesota came a year too early. All this experience playing together for longer would be worth the wait in gold...Olympic gold. There would be no silver linings for the U.S. in coming in second place either. The league may have just shot itself and it's home nation's basketball prestige in the sneaker.

Still nothing is guaranteed and even though this lockout could be the best thing for basketball on a whole (even for American exposure) there is so much that could potentially work against NBA and American basketball. Still from the wonderful WNBA to the developing D-League and the incredible, classic college game (which will have a new star shining even brighter now in Austin Rivers) you don't have to look hard to see basketball is still in good shape in the States. You don't even have to walk far to see a playground pickup game with as much passion as the biggest finals match. Still any basketball fan knows it all starts and ends with the biggest stage in basketball and as the association right now still implements a 'no basketball allowed' policy we will have to wait to see just what the NBA really stands for.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


It's going to be hard to keep up with Russell's athletic.


When it comes to the best Point Guard in the NBA a few years ago the talk of the league-from the courts to the schools and the work places to the playgrounds-was between magic men Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Nowadays the water cooler and locker conversations have been re-filled and stacked with barrels of debate between young guns Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose, who already have championship's and MVP's to their names. Still with all this talk on the winners this doesn't render the rest of the points losers. In the talk of the greatest, more then just some breath should be saved for Russell Westbrook. The leagues one-time greatest secret who's game is now speaking volumes.

Turn it up and tune in because Oklahoma City Thunder's number two is focussed on the associations number one goal; winning. This guy is no longer the Robin to Kevin Durant's Batman, forming a one-two punch with the smooth, scoring machine that's ready to take hits at LeBron and Wade, Kobe and Gasol and Carmelo and Stoudemire. It's about to be a dark night for the opposition as this team rises. Westbrook polices the blue and white's with a 'pass first, shoot later', courtesy, professionalism and respect to his team-mates. This All-Star is all-team and box-score with last season averages of 21.9 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per contest. These are the type of statistics that engrave big numbers and names in the annals of sports history. Still Durant's the leading man and his supporting actor knows this, but that doesn't mean Russell can't step in and be the star when the script calls for it. That's why Westbrook has even more plays wrote for him as his clutch plays lead to more happy endings then Adam Sandler flicks. 'Brook's cinematic plays are the reason some Hollywood stars are flocking to the city of Oklahoma to watch real ball.

Basketball is putting this town on the map, and Russell and Kevin are holding the key's as the 'Ford Centre' refuels night after night. With this perfect pair and a strong OKC team featuring big talents like Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and more the one-time Seattle Supersonics really are a different team and it all starts with the franchise's truest Point Guard since Gary Payton. Now the gloves are off. With the Lakers getting older and the San Antonio Spurs getting colder right now the only thing standing in Oklahoma's way is the West and leagues best Dallas Mavericks.

As for Westbrook the only small guard that's more on point then him out in the wild West is the Hornets Chris Paul who may soon turn New Orleans into New York. Still Russ' skill level is a lot closer then those cities even when read on a map. Westbrook's path to being right there with the beasts of the East isn't a long one either. Deron, Derrick and Rajon are about to have some company. This former fourth pick of the draft may be four Points away from being the NBA's best P.G. but with strength like Rose, speed like Rondo, skill like Paul and toughness like Williams, Westbrook shares more with the best then a bright future. Plus his versatile repertoire makes parts of his game better then those above him. Russell has a lot of aces up his sleeve ready to serve his competition. Advantage Westbrook.

This UCLA graduate and Californian college star is making his mark on the league like bruiser and fellow Bruin Kevin Love. Both have strong games primed to leave haters comments weak. A potent force, this former L.A. king is built for the gym and clutch like Lakers guard Derek Fisher and is born to be a serious star like L.A.'s other guard. Kobe better watch out, a shaggy haired, blonde bomber isn't his only concern. This bald, bold guard is ready to shave some years off for the Lakers dominance saying goodbye to a dynasty like Dame while he dashes through the defence.

Russell is quick, strong, hungry and full of talent. Once this raw star overcomes some inconsistencies look for his game to be polished into something pure and then his Oklahoma partner and team will be so much more. The hype has been justified but as for the final result we have no idea what's in store. This number zero really is something, its the competition that is left like nothing. Repping the West harder then his tough game, the forecast of the Thunder's future with Russ calls for 'reign'. The rest of the league won't have an umbrella strong enough when the former Seattle team's storm is in full force. The weather of the league is changing. Let's hope the NBA's ready.

This Long Beach native is the youngest star to come out of that area since Snoop Dogg and now the whole world knows the name of this 22 year old guard. It won't be long before the cheers ring out for Russell like Norm. Right now he's the best young guard in the West bar non. The rest of the league isn't waiting either, as this before-his-time star has arrived to the contender party as early as he arrives to practice to hoist up shots while everyone else is busy playing outside the courts. Rest-assured that Russ is determined to be the last one to leave the gym too. Whether it's in practice gear or championship tee's. Then it'll be him and not his critics with the last word.

See Also


Friday, 22 July 2011


The Lakers will always love B.


This time last year he looked like a lock, but today he's out with the leagues chances of commencing this fall. As Phil Jackson's real last season played off it looked like former player and assistant coach Brian Shaw would take over Jax's mantle to head the Los Angeles Lakers. B. Shaw looked like the reliable, chosen, young apprentice to the Zen master but this isn't the trump empire, or the Jackson one, it's the Buss one. The Lakers family decided to go in a different direction and with that great coach Mike Brown was brought in to keep the Lakers running. There's nothing wrong with a change of heart, but the management should of had one as Brian found out about his unemployment via ESPN. This has left a lot of people frustrated with the Buss's like MTA's on game day. Still despite all this negativity and finger pointing only a thumb can be put up in the direction of Laker legend Brian Shaw and all the positivity he's brought the franchise and the Laker nation with his dedication and devotion.

B's been a legend in two walks of the court, from the sweats to the suits like Nelly, Shaw's wrapped things up pretty nicely in his career. From coming off the bench as one of this generations realest role players, to staying on it as a valued assistant to Phil Jackson. Whether he wore a tie or button up sweat pants Shaw has excelled like Microsoft with his success measured in NBA hardware. Shaw has been in matrimony with five gold rings (three championship rings as a player, two as an assistant) like the fifth day of Christmas and his gifts have been nothing short of a blessing to the hot, Californian Lake Show.

His success on two big stages puts him in the elite legendary Laker company of Pat Riley and Jerry West. The joking swagger at last years ring ceremony to Coldplay's epic 'Fix You' is seriously justified. When it comes to classic, defining moments Brian's contributions are a sure thing. Shaw has defined the Lakers last decade just like long servers Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher and in reality he's been down for as long as Kobe and the new millennium, post-Forum uniforms (check the mid to late nighties dynasty development). The only difference between Brian and most Laker legends is that Shaw's handled the intangibles behind the star-studded scenes. Well it's time that all the hard work this man has put into the Lakers is brought to the limelight. Somebodies got to appreciate this student of the game and servant to his team.

Over time and four quarters Shaw has been the substance behind the greatest show in Hollywood. You don't have to sit as close as Jack Nicholson to see that but still some people look at it like those sitting in the nose-bleeds with binoculars. Time to focus, Shaw's had Kobe's back for years, in his corner and in his ear. From the famous shouting, shot-calling, play-calling, alley-oop at STAPLES to words of private coaching advice during practice sessions in El Segeundo.

Brian's Laker loyalty goes back so deep he even had the big fellas back over a decade of being down. Even when Shaquille O'Neal threw a championship cap on the Larry O'Brien trophy at a Laker victory parade and called it Brian Shaw, the diesel knew that a big, smooth, round dome wasn't the only thing that made Shaw synonymous with the NBA's biggest trophy. All clowning aside, Shaw helped take this Laker circus act to the big tops post Showtime. Shaq-daddy's relationship with his hard working team-mate and brother even went back to the high-top fade days of Magic in Orlando. From team to team the dubbed 'Shawshaq Redemption' led a big man/little man renaissance in the L. Before 'things done changed' and L.A.'s big was more gone then freeman (we see you Notorious) Brian was behind his frontline like any true NBA quarterback.

As important as heralded Laker role legends Glen Rice, Ron Harper, Rick Fox, Robert Horry or even Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw played his role to a tee on one of the greatest Laker teams in history, the team that went for three. Defining the role's of veteran and role-player to the paragraph below the word Brian was the type to do exactly what was required or needed. What more can you ask? What more can we say? From words of wisdom to the stars and youngsters, and old-fashioned plays that work. It was evident that Brian's transition from reading the dry-erase to writing it was going to be an easily orchestrated one, thanks to his Jackson conducted playing. Shaw's knowledge of the game was at such a high-level of basketball I.Q. that he could of been a star if he wanted to. Still the selfless man was all for the good of his team, not self. What more consummates a professional then that?

Brian was happy to lay back in the cut, but when other Lakers where in need of bandaging up by Gary Vitti, Shaw-with no problem-could and did step in , wounding teams with his bruising, clutch plays. Built like a small forward or shooting guard but with his mind on point this man could go toe-to-toe with a lot of the leagues front-running players. Plus he had outstanding offensive skills to go along with his A+ defensive assignments. He was also worthy of big game moments, not passing on a key shot or crucial game-changing assist. When the Lakers reached situation critical, Shaw grabbed the heart paddles to breathe new life into his team, all whilst killing his opponents.

Just ask any real Laker fan or Pacer one who witnessed a big, Brian 3 crucify Reggie Miller and Indiana's championship hopes back in 2000. That shot or moment doesn't feel like over a decade ago and these days Brian looks like he could still play, this is one factor that helps him make a great players coach. Now 11 years after he helped take down the Indiana Pacers he has now been handed the reigns to take over them as head-coach. A well-deserved position that many feel he should have earned in Lakerland but with all due respect to Mike Brown and Indiana (ironically a team he was an assistant at) it's time Shaw purists wished him well and keep up pace, following his new lead at the Pacers. This is Brian's moment, as for the Lakers now it has to be just a great memory.

Sure Shaw would have made an incredible coach here thanks to the great championship years he's put in learning the ropes and how the Lakers left him hanging was a tough break but that all has to be past now. Besides he's really going to manage. Brian was wronged but the right thing to do is focus on the present and his bright future with his new team. One that could see him in the future give Danny Granger and the Indiana Pacers a championship he helped deny them in the past. Unfortunately the Pacers gain will be the Lakers loss but one things for sure even though this closes Brian Shaw's chapter in L.A., the story of his career here will be read as nothing but that of a legendary legacy with the Lakers as a player and coach during his Los Angeles times. So to him; thank you and good luck coach. It's been a great one of a kind run, from a one in a million man.


Ron Artest's Greatest Miss.


Here's the tip.

For all those lockout and post Dallas sweep blues, let's take it back to glory days like Bruce Springsteen and remember the Lakers champion season of 2009-10. Now let me ask you a question? What was the most important shot of that championship season? A beautiful buzzer beater from Derek Fisher that will prove timeless on both ESPN and YouTube? A cute crossover that turned into a terrific turnaround? Maybe it was a swish? A fade away? A Kobe? Perhaps one of those half a dozen or so game-icers with the hottest shots of the year, but most important?


The most important shot of the 2009-10 season was an awful, flat footed, Fred Flintstone clanger in the fading minutes of the 2010 Western Conference Finals. The only way the most important shot of last season read on the stat sheet is when it rattled off the rim, planted a smacker on the glass and then was hugged by a rebounder.

One of the most pivotal scenes in last year's NBA story came from one of its biggest characters. Now, it may have looked like nothing, but it was one of those back against the wall, against the world moments where our hero has to dig for something deeper before they fell harder than Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock in 'The Other Guys.' Our guy in this picture however -- our hero on the big jumbotron screen was Ron Artest.

It's the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns and the sand in the hour glass is falling fast in this game before the series heads back to the Arizona desert. The Lakers are in play and Artest finds space to shoot a two, but he doesn't split that deuce. Instead the ball careens off the rim and is offensively snatched by the grasshopper grasp of Pau Gasol. With everyone focused on the Spaniard and that player with Italian roots, Artest shadows to his left and is open behind the three point line. It seems that nobody cares except for Gasol who serves Ron the butter. As Ron spots up awkwardly, there's almost a collective gasp between players, fans, coaches and commentators. It seems that Ron spent a little too long in the freezer as the shot already looks cold. Now the game's yet to be iced as Ron's feet barely leave the ground while his shot barely makes the rim. With no goose neck for this lame duck attempt Ron backpedals awkwardly like a mummy. This time he won't be the daddy, yet.


Everyone’s wondering what Ron was thinking. Ron was probably remembering at the start of the season when he said that if the Lakers don't win the championship everyone could blame it on him. At that very moment, they were. Marv Albert can't believe it. There's exclamations made but no trademark 'Yes!' The Zen master is not calm. Everyone in the huddle is a little upset. Ron admits with an 'I know, I know' nod that the shot was ill-advised as Phil Jackson asks him, "why?" Then when he looks away Artest pulls one of those awkward faces to himself. One of those 'aaaaakwaaaard' looks. As Ron looks more than a little embarrassed, Lamar Odom nudges Ron and reassures him that everything’s alright. That's that QB love right there. Still everyone's left wondering why the HELL Ron took that shot. Well I'm going to tell you. (Don't worry Ron I got you).

Former Laker come New Jersey Net Jordan Farmar puts it best, "Still, I like that Ron Artest shot." That shot was crucial and counted. It made its mark despite being an X instead of an O. Sometimes things do happen for a reason and I'm not talking about no patronizing, clichéd end of relationship excuse. Just like Jordan, Artest was never scared to take a crucial shot, make or miss, and just like MJ said before, to succeed he had to fail first.

Sometimes one ugly shot deserves another and so came the waning tenths of seconds of the same game. Now Kobe's rocking the pill (someone who should have the ball in his hands during these moments) but even his shot doesn't find rhyme or reason as the Mamba's out of rhythm. So off the iron and back into play the ball goes. Now it seems as if every player on the court and on the bench, plus everyone in the arena and their momma ran for the loose ball like kids in the park chasing a soccer ball. It's Ron who times it right however, in a hare and tortoise situation where Phoenix's Jason Richardson ends up resting under the tree, or in this case the hoop. As Ron's Flintstone fast legs seem to escape him he hoists another awkward shot off balance that banks of the glass. This time, however, it's wet like victory champagne.

As Gold arms rise and purple, Phoenix hearts sink, red illuminates the backboard. The game is a rap like 'My World' and Marv Albert can give his verbal thumbs up. Chick Hearn can look down with pride as the games finally in the fridge, with the series soon to be in the freezer. Now isn't redemption the realest story in the NBA? Ron redeemed himself in less than a few minutes and confirmed that he was the right show stopper for the show time. As the game came to a close Ron and Kobe ended up in each others face in a much different way to that time the year before. LA was back in control and someone great named Ariza was merely an afterthought.

Ron and L.A. both needed that shot. Not just for that game, but the even bigger games that followed. Even Kobe had to throw up air balls before he hit the big time. You sometimes have to hit rock bottom in order to reach the top. The Lakers had that after losing to Boston two years back. Now, when it came to the closer of the Boston-LA Finals in Game 7, the time was Ron's. They say adversity builds character. Well Artest has been through his fair share of adversity and has a lot of character to boot. Ron-Ron ensured that LA saw double and was by far the MVP of the deciding game. His defense and complete play kept LA's throne guarded, and made them the all around champs for another season. Artest even hit a crucial three pointer, similar to the one that bricked against Phoenix, to cement the win.

Phil Jackson may not have told Artest to shoot it (in his mind and Ron's) but his therapist probably did. It may have been ill-advised but in the press conference following the game to Ron it was "whatever." WAP! Obama would be proud. Change had come for a guy who was throwing punches at people the last time he sent the crowd in a frenzy. Number 37 really made Game 7 a thriller. Michael would have been proud too; Tyson, Jordan, Jackson. Then, the Lakers and Artest finally came together in perfect harmony like that autotune on the T-Pain remix Of Artest's 'Champions' track. Although this season hasn't been the same song, once World Peace returns from his world tour in Cheshire or Glasgow, he'll be ready to play again. The next time Gasol grabs a board and sees his frontcourt mate open like the Venice Beach courts on a playoff night, he won't think twice about passing.

Game Over!

Friday, 15 July 2011


Taking the talent to Minneapolis.


Chris, Dwyane and LeBron better watch out. Yeah, yeah we've heard that all before thrown the way at the South Beach elite. An ensemble that really deserved more respect last season for what the Miami Heat achieved. With that being said however-whenever next season starts-the Heat will have to avoid even more glare. Miami may be one hit away from a dynasty and this still may be Dallas town (thanks to the big three ball that is Dirk Nowitzki) but everyone better watch out, there's a new kid on the block and his names Ricky. Coming to America from Spain by way of Minnesota, Ricky Rubio is ready to give the Timberwolves a real bite behind that bark. Now don't let those baby-face looks fool you, when men grow old like this it's no more fun and games and we're about to all see it played out on court. Mr. Rubio has his own big three ready to take everyone to school. Now let's just see how much class they really have. Allow us to introduce to the following.

Meet Michael Beasley...

...they looked at the tats, dreads and tweets and wrote him off but what they didn't see is the inked desire, the growth and character of a one-time raw player, who breathes a fresh air of crazy, tapped potential and discovered talent. With the heart of a lion and a determination of an Iverson, 'Easy Mo' Bease' has been through the hard times. So he's ready to grind it out over 82 or whatever he needs to do to take his team from the bad books to the success stories. Michael's story is one of redemption too, coming back from troubled times to prove the critics and the doubters wrong.

Coming in a trio of great rookie's in 2009 with Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo, Beasley was set to be the next big thing. Now Rose has bloomed to league MVP and Mayo's career has been garnished with success. Still that is not to discredit the career of Bease. He's had his downs and now he's on the up and up, fast becoming one of the leagues prime, perimeter players and outstanding, offensive threats. Speaking of big-three's, Beasley was drafted by Miami to be the future with Dwyane Wade, but once Miami saw now with Bosh and LeBron, Mike's Miami career belonged to the past. Still don't think that a man that was that close to franchise success isn't done. He's still young and even more motivated to prove wrong a Heat team that went cold on him. Forming an incredible trio of his own in Minnesota, Bease's passion and drive may be the x-factor of this team. This cool, Marley laid-back cat may have a monkey on his back, but he's not arrogant enough to have a chip on his shoulder. Just be confident that this young mans future could involve 'chips that lie on the shoulders of Larry O'Brien worthy giants.

Meet Kevin Love...


...he's more then just the NBA's 'Most Improved Player', he's one of the leagues best to. Hate it or second-name him, but expect Kevin's name to be around the NBA for more years and April's to come for more then just award season. Love's a supreme talent with an inside knowledge for the game. The post player really is the centre of attention for the Timberwolves and their opponents scouting reports.

Talking about standing on the shoulders of giants, K. Love stands on the stilts of Chamberlain numbers and don't expect those statistics to wilt. With records of 30 points and 30 rebounds Kevin's court vision is incredible and the man critics called fat has nothing but a whole, well-rounded game. Dominating the paint with a canvas of moves, Love finishes and starts Minnesota breaks with strength in heart, and basketball art. Even when he's prepared to do the dirty, ugly work it makes for the perfect, potentially playoff-bound picture. Simple as, the little routine things he does result in complications for opponents and big things for his home-team. Right now Kevin Love is Minny's best player and as he becomes the leagues best things are only going to get bigger and better for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Meet Ricky Rubio...

...let's hope this kids ready for the 'showbiz'. Not only is Ricky the best young guard, stacked with potential that the Minnesota Timberwolves have had since Stephon Marbury. Not only is he the 'Wolves best draft pick and potential franchise star since Kevin Garnett. Not only is he the greatest, most anticipated international import coming into the league since the Chinese revolution of Yao Ming, he's also the most exciting new, young, 'ready to go' player to grace the league since some kid called LeBron. While James has crafted his big-three in South Beach, one has finally birthed Northwest with the development of Rubio. Rube' really is a gem that was worth the wait. This long overdue joint venture with the Timberwolves was put on hold due to some nurturing in Spain, via basketball powerhouse Barcelona. How funny that Rubio was running rings around the Lakers in the 2009/2010 preseason in the same week his Timberwolves team to be where doing it in London (more on that later) and how ironic that after all these years of playing in Europe, the moment Ricky comes to the NBA is the same time his new peers flock in the opposite direction to find work in Europe as the NBA closes it's doors. One things for sure though once the lockout ends the NBA won't be ready for what Rubio's about to open up with.

An all-round player complete with a skill-set that's beyond just the X's and O's. Now at 20, this kid's still dribbling, but handling the ball better then most. With Soccer speed and a knowledge of the game that can keep up with his athleticism, this guys going to make everyone from Steve Nash to Magic proud. Get the point yet? Now Minnesota have their guard, everyone else will have to protect their house. This young Timberwolve looks to own courts in America like he did hype around the basketball world, living up to his justification. With the slick Ricky running the show in Minnesota, these Timberwolves won't be purring much longer. You'll hear from them everywhere. Now don't sleep, because these 'Wolves can go all night, as their new star's about to wake them up and re-invigorate their brand of basketball. This young prince is going to put Minnesota on the map with a revolution in the game. Get ready for Minnesota's new power generation.

Big-three's are no new new thing. Trifecta's of NBA musketeers have been popular even way before the mid-nighties, Milwaukee days of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and the 'Big Dog', but still there's just something about this triple-threat promise. Minnesota however can make up the numbers beyond their first three options and go to guys. The register of their roster is also present and accounted for in talent and potential. With Darko Miličić finally living up to some of his potential and with insurance in the post from Brad Miller, Minny's big frontline is ready for battle. While Luke Ridnour and Martell Webster are seriously underrated guards and Wesley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver are great young players. Then of course there is this years second pick in the draft, Derrick Williams. Could we be looking at a big four maybe? With Rubio coming late to Minnesota its like Christmas has come early with two, top draft picks.

It's also no wonder this team rejected the rumoured Lakers offer of Lamar Odom for Love, as Anthony Randolph is a versatile as Odom or old-favourite Garnett. This player has the potential to be a top-tier talent and even form a big four. Minnesota may even re-sign Sebastian Telfair and he may even overcome past injuries to discover his 'stand next to LeBron', 'cover boy' potential. Now with all this if you think there's no way these basement dwellers could climb ladders then maybe you should look again, or look at franchises in Oklahoma and Memphis. Minnesota isn't far away.

With three-of-a-kind and a full deck rounding out the rest of the roster it won't be long before these young Minnesota pups become grown, 'reign men'. Sure last year they had the worst record in the league, but that's no reason to write this team off, or even fire impressive, young coach Kurt Rambis (too late). Besides the only way is up and last year Minnesota boasted the most improved player in Love and some of their finest performances against the then reigning champion and the team they share the lakes with in Los Angeles. It won't be long before their holding their own against more of the leagues big boys and top dogs and it'll all be due to these young Wolves and 'Da Kid' of their new generation. The most hotly, highly anticipated NBA bound player of the last half decade. Ricky Rubio is finally here, his team is just about complete and their time is right now. They say big things happen in threes.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


A Chinese democracy in the NBA.


JUNE 26, 2002

It still seems like yesterday. You can almost hear David Stern speak. With the 1st pick in the 2002 Draft the Houston Rockets select Yao Ming. A wide smiled, 7 foot 6 high phenomenon received the news just sitting on a bog-standard chair, in a place in China. No suit, no tie, no table of champagne and well-wishers, he looked like he just came from practice, but either way he was ready to play. The moment looked more like a conversation on Skype than an internationally televised event. It was all too unique, just like Yao.

The world and Yao however were ready for the next Ming dynasty. There hadn't been a number one draft pick this compelling for years (and aside from 'The Chosen One' a year later), there hasn't been one since, how exciting this post-M.J. league became. There where great expectations but also reasonable doubts back on this draft day. Could this guy really chop it up with the huge American bigs? The excitement on the other hand was undeniable; the whole of the NBA was watching and now so was the whole of China.

July 9th, 2011.

Today however it feels more like seven days have passed than more than seven years but as another 'Big' once said 'Things Done Changed'. It was all good just a week ago, or so it seems. Yao's been around for awhile, but it seems that between injuries, shedding 'soft' labels and constant questions we haven't appreciated him for that long. Now just like not knowing what you've got till it's gone a foot injury has called time on Yao before we truly received him in his prime. Joni Mitchell never lies, but here does Yao's career. There may be no official statement from the man himself, or the Houston Rockets (due to the lockout) but despite whatever happens in the NBA this year one things a lock; Yao will not play next season.

So while Yao's chronic foot injury lingers, his decision on whether to retire or not doesn't. He's done. Yao's still however leaves with his career shrouded with questions which somewhat tarnish the shine of what he's already achieved. How good was he really? Is he worthy of the Hall of Fame? Is this really it? This is a shame because just like in the beginning, the end of his career is took an unsure, forced direction. Ming however is much more than the speculation and talk that has come hand in hand with his development in the NBA. He's answered his own questions.

Even though Yao's career is more like Walton's or Sabonis' than Shaq's or Hakeem's what he has done for the sport of basketball, let alone the NBA should never be put in question. Just like Bill and Sabonis, Yao has made a massive impact in what seems like spare time and the idea of what could of been with more time and health is a powerful, legendary notion. Yao birthed a revolution of basketball in China and the rest of Asia. He has inspired kids to pick up a basketball which is one of the most influential things an athlete can ever do for his sport.

His Rockets number 11 jersey is like Jordan's number 23 in China (Although McGrady did outsell him one year). His jersey even makes a 'blink and you'll miss it' cameo appearance in the latest 'Karate Kid' movie, you know it was put in there for respect. Speaking of 'The Karate Kid', Yao may be the biggest cultural icon from China since the legendary Jackie Chan. Even if his story in retrospect seemed like a rushed hour more then a noon and night tale.

Yao made travelling Houston Rockets fans, (national and world-wide) out of people who probably wouldn't choose Houston as their first American holiday destination, (with all due respect to the beautiful city). From commercials, to skyscraper billboards and basketball hoops used on the regular right next to ancient temples, Yao has ushered in change and made basketball a new tradition in his home country China and continent Asia. His inspiration and positive influence has been huge and to be basic about it, this guy has made so much money for his team, league and country. Money talks and what more can you say about all that Yao has earned, not only in his career but also in his young life so far. Still love is more important then money and Yao has helped fuel and fill hard-wood and concrete floors with passionate ballers, making Asia pick-up games as busy as Rucker Park or Venice Beach.

The questions and doubts that cloaked the beginning of Yao's career where soon checked at the door. This boy has come a long way from his 0 point, 2 rebound debut, now proving he more than belongs with career averages of 19.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per-game. Sure he got dunked on by Kobe et al but he didn't get posterized like Shawn Bradley. He gave his good as he got. People remember the block, but Yao was more than a highlight reel, his game was complete, the real thing. It's not just his influence and inspiration that's hall worthy, its his basketball I.Q. and impact too.

Ming would eventually dominate inside, dunking and rebounding with the authority some critics always thought Yao would never command. The only thing soft about this guy’s game is his touch, smooth like some of the greatest. Able to shoot from distance and sky hook with authenticity, Yao channelled and capped everyone from Kareem to Hakeem. It wasn't all a dream after all. Even Yao's post moves where on point and pivot and still probably are today despite the foot. Over the years he has developed some fine footwork courtesy of some 'Dream Shake' tutoring from Olaujawon. The centre's play has garnered nearly as much attention as his massive celebrity has.

Good things always seem to have a habit of ending too soon however and Yao's retirement echo's other short-lived great things associated with his career. Just like the hyped partnerships with Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady which offered some great moments but where taken away before their franchise or number one potential time. Or just like how close his team was to knocking out the eventual champion Lakers in 2009 playoffs. With a strong team featuring Ron Artest, Luis Scola, Von Wafer and many more Houston could have gone all the way. In the end however Yao's foot put a stop to him and his team stepping any further. As Yao was taken to the locker room by trainers he protested and tried to walk back on to the floor. This showed another side of the mild-mannered, quiet warrior that is Yao. A side that is often overlooked and ignored, his heart, passion and desire for the game. This crouching tiger showed his hidden dragon, as this hero proved he was fearless. In those few seconds you didn't need a chest thump or mean mug to see that. The Rockets could have taken off to their first championship. If they had too, Ming would have been the centrepiece of this.

While Shaquille O'Neal was still in his prime Yao showed that he could more than hold his own. At the start of Yao's career he received a lot of hate from fans due to the amount of votes he received from China for the All-Star Game (which would Shaq's previously untouched starting position from the Western Conference team). As the years passed by however and Yao got better the hate turned to love and respect even from Shaq. Once O'Neal went East and both centres started and faced off in the All-Star game it was clear Yao belonged. Before Shaq's best years where behind him and before injuries got the better of Yao these two bigs had some epic duels. It's a shame two of the last 'true' centres in the league (Aside from Dwight and Bynum) couldn't duke it out for longer. Still some epic battles are short and at the same time it's kind of touching and meaningful that they retire together in the same year. As the big man position gets smaller, these huge talents never felt smaller then their size or larger then life prominence.

Yao has also had the honour of representing his country in the Olympics. Today however the chances of him leading the way to London in 2012 are even smaller then the "very small" prospects he predicted last year. Still remember Ming has retired from the NBA not all basketball, he undoubtedly has the passion to pick the ball up again. The talent of Chinese basketball players is growing thanks to Yao and others; however guys like Yi Jianlian or former Laker Sun Yue haven't been enough. The national team lost embarrassingly to Iran in last Summer's Asian championships. Without Yao they are raw and in development, with him the Ming dynasty could result in more competitive basketball from China. This would further enhance Yao's already King like royalty in China but more importantly it would help improve the development of basketball in China and China in basketball even more. Still however it looks more then likely that the 8-ball will see Yao suited up in a tie in the crowd than on the floor in uniform. You never know however and who knows the man with the most influence and inspiration may one day make the best coach for his native land.

Times however have gone all Dylan on us and changed. It's hard to believe Yao is now over 30. Yao once lit the Olympic flame but now before 2012 Yao is stressing the importance of the torch being passed to a new flagship basketball player for China, "I'm 30. As an athlete, I am not the future of China basketball anymore", Yao told the press last year as the Rockets also remain grounded on Yao's situation by recruiting tough centre Brad Miller for insurance. Yao Ming is still a young man however and could play if it wasn't for that foot. Instead of joining the Jordan and Shaq ranks, he stays in the injured trench statues of the Penny Hardaway's and Grant Hill's, Yao like these guys however is still a legend regardless.

Yao may have played his last game as a Houston Rocket and his status and ticket for London, 2012 remains only a hopeful doubt. The fact that can't be doubted however is the unparalleled, positive influence Yao Ming has had on the centre position, the critic’s opinion of Asian basketball players and the influence of basketball in China. Yao is a Hall of Famer because he's given more to this sport then most hometown legends, making it famous in corridors outside the United States. Basketball is big in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and his native China because of him. Plus Yao's play at home and the international level has proved what a good player he is worthy of all the hype and legend. Sometimes we don't need a lockout to show us that the sport of basketball is more then just the massive NBA. It's internationally known and accepted like all major credit cards, making more then money, paying off in dividends of hopes and dreams. Yao's career may be at rest, but he woke up the world. When looking at these factors the one thing that can be removed is...?