Thursday, 29 December 2011
What else can we say about Jerry West? A Los Angeles Laker champion and legend as a player and a general manager, immortalised in bronze for an overdue statue this year. Olympic champion and one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. The man is the image of the logo of the NBA for heaven's sake...he is a basketball God. What more can you say than that? Or what more can be said about this man than Roland Lazenby's incredible read 'Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon'? Well how about some words from the man himself? A shy, at times troubled man who isn't one for interviews, press conferences or even events honoring him. What more do we need now than some words from the horses mouth?
So one of the Lakers greatest knight's finally opens up with Jonathan Coleman for the magnificent, moving memoir 'West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life'. A book that covers everything from the highest of Mr. West's highs to the lowest of his lows on and off the basketball court. Recounts of a classic career that saw Gold on the national and international stage, a bevvy of legendary teammates and associates and a reputation for being one of the best closers in the game are detailed here.
Relationships with Laker legends like Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry Buss, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the lack of one with Phil Jackson are detailed here. As our his relationship with Bill Russell and the Lakers bitter, storied rival the Boston Celtics who ignited the competitive fire by beating them six time in one decade. Extended testimony's from his closest friends and players, plus his dream team, dream game are also thrown in for different and interesting measures.
Still it's when Jerry details the facts about his personal life that things become more open and revealing. A private and sensitive side that should truly be explored if your read this book and not this review. Jerry tells his story best with humble honesty and touching tenderness. The guy said to have a regular Joe name could almost change it to Frank Forthright. The silhouette of the NBA comes out from the shadows to shed some light on his troubles and in a way helps illuminate the darkness of fellow depression sufferers. Jerry shows fellow sufferers that you can live with the mental affliction...and live happily too. It's an important lesson learnt throughout Jerry's life and this book. It's a bold and brave move which Jerry executes as precisely and perfectly as one of his buzzer-beating shots.
The Big Shot player doesn't clutch for sympathy or fish for compliments, instead he inspires with his profound, poignant look at the fragility of life and the strength of one's character. Mr. Clutch will have you in his grasp in a one-sitting, page-turning read. This is a influential portrait and as this pro confesses over some pros he remains even in retirement the consummate professional. One of the greatest finishes of all-time yet again sends a shiver down our spine with a big play that leaves everyone better off for it. Once again Mr. West finds his range and strikes the right chord. The man that won a championship, a gold medal and brought 'Showtime' and Shaq and Kobe to L.A. scores one of his biggest and most significant hits yet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
By Tim David Harvey
So the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to cool off the Miami Heat with their own big-three this offseason.
So they were supposed to acquire both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for a few pieces in order to lasso the Dallas Mavericks and take revenge for the champion’s knockout sweep of them this past playoffs, while taking back Larry O'Brien.
Then David Stern happened.
Then a nixed CP3 trade happened as the commissioner wanted to keep the New Orleans Hornets together. Still Chris Paul ended up heading to Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre anyway...for the Los Angeles Clippers?
Then the rumour mill was whirling with news that Dwight Howard was still going to be traded...but to the New Jersey Nets!?
If that wasn't bad enough, the Lakers/New Orleans trade may have been blocked but you can't take back hurt feelings and an offended Lamar Odom demanded a move. So the Lakers sent their most versatile player and threat to the team that swept them and their biggest new rival the Dallas Mavericks!? For practically nothing?!
Now the Lakers are left with a depleted, disgruntled frontline featuring trade bait Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (who are still incredible players, but probably can't help but feel little loyalty), some out of shape World Peace, no real Point Guard, and according to some critics no real chance.
If that wasn't enough remember that Phil Jackson and his Zen are somewhere between Montana and some rumours of New York.
Still, I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant!
I wouldn't bet against the greatest player in the league and the greatest player ever not named Michael. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant can still wait like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, for Kobe is still the player to beat. Until he unlaces them Kobe will run this basketball game from a player perspective. You can't retire that. He is still that good. Sure he's older but he's nowhere near done. He's nowhere near M.J.'s level yes, but he's also nowhere near Floor Jordan's level when he was at the Washington Wizards...and Mike was still schooling cats then. Kobe's got his hops back; his killer-instinct is still intact and as for that Maverick sweep? Number 24 is out for revenge.
Kobe's walked off opposing team’s floors before, head-down, looking purple, with opposing team coloured ticker-tape falling down in someone else's celebration. They said he was done back then in Boston, but then he made twice as nice on some championship rings 'sans' Shaq. No wonder O'Neal calls him the greatest Laker ever. Back when they played together Shaq called Kobe his 'idol'. Hate it or love it, Bryant is still the poster boy of the NBA. He hasn't just built walls...he's knocked them down. Only Jordan in his prime has Kobe's skill, will, or killer instinct. At the end of the game, two down with two on the clock, who else do you want to have the ball (apart from Derek Fisher behind the arc of course). It's no contest. If there's a way to win, Kobe will find it.
This season is going to be one of the hardest for the Black Mamba but he's still got venom. This is personal. Its got nothing to do with the sad news of his divorce (that's his private life...respect that). Its got nothing to do with the endorsements, hyperdunks, critics, lockout, all the talk, blogs and bull$£* that comes with the great hype and build up of the world’s greatest league. Its to do with how the game has played out and by the end who has put the ball in the basket more times. At the end of it all, after it's all said and done who else do we need to talk about? That's Kobe's bread and butter. That's Kobe's job. That's Kobe's forte. That's Kobe. That's all you need to know.
I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant...would you?
Sunday, 11 December 2011
A Seventh Sin.
By Tim David Harvey
In what seems like an NBA minute, Lamar Odom has gone from throwing elbows at the Dallas Mavericks to possibly throwing champagne, championship party with them next season. After almost joining Pau Gasol in a 'Sternly' nixed package deal that would have brought Chris Paul to Lakerland, Lamar Odom is now taking his understandably hurt feelings and his Kardashian down to Texas. Sure the former Laker champion will have to watch the team that swept him receive their championship rings that could have been his to begin his Christmas Day and new season but still, the Lakers loss looks like Dallas and their new Mavericks gain.
After a horrible end to a disappointing season the bright lights of L.A. didn’t have many bright spots in their 2010/2011 defending champion year. Except for the consistency of Lamar Odom and his own victorious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award however. It has been clear for many years that this microwave, bench warmer deserves more credit and it's almost a given that he'll be an all-star in no time. It's the next logical step. The Hollywood smooth, reality star, big-game, big-name sharer already has star power to go with some Magic fundamentals. We're talking about THE Magic, as in Earvin Johnson. This is no illusion.
Sure calling Lamar Odom one of the greatest players in the league is a bit of a hater-ready overstatement, but he sure is one of the greatest talents this league has to offer and a one of a kind great. Put it this way coming off the bench he was the Lakers ace in the hole. They should have never dealt one of their best hands. Put it another way, you don't deal the leagues most versatile player to its most versatile team. Especially when that team is one that swept and knocked you out of championship contention. Now not only do the new NBA champions have Larry O'Brien on their side, they also have a motivated, angry Lamar Odom on their side. You can call this a rivalry now and guess who has the advantage?
This is more potent a power move then when the Lakers looked to keep their enemies closer by signing Dallas' bench hot-rod J.J. Barea. The Lamar Odom move actually happened and is more of a big-name, big-game changer. Like James Worthy, Jaamal Wilkes and other smooth, versatile big-forwards before him Lamar Odom will always go down as a Laker champion and great, but what an awful shame his legacy was cut short. Now as L.O. looks to continue his champagne campaign via American Airlines, the Lakers nation can't help but feel grounded by losing one of their brightest and best personalities and players.
Sure if Lamar Odom was shipped away to gain Chris Paul and championship leverage than maybe this could be easier for the Lakers fans to swallow, but even that trade with Pau Gasol seemed to leave the Lakers depleted. David Stern was right it was unfair. It almost seemed like the Lakers were giving up too much and two players too many. Then with the commissioners collapse of the trade the Lakers were left with some collateral damage to their cohesiveness. Because of hurt feelings the baited trade left in Lamar Odom a new trade was demanded at his request to be cast-out. Now the Lakers have lost him for practically nothing but a draft pick. OK, this opens up the cap space and doors for Dwight Howard but surely the Lakers could have amnestied someone else to help keep their roster in shape.
Losing Odom not only loses the Lakers versatility, it also narrows their playing field...or their floor to be more specific. Lamar's all-round game opened up the Lakers, offence, playbook and court in a way like no other. Now he's gone the Lakers are a Bynum or a Gasol away from losing a formidable frontline. Sure Dwight Howard may bring the perfect smiles back to Hollywood, but Odom's loss clearly reveals that this team needs more work done. It's not just about one guy and this sixth man really backed his team up to the core. There's no 'I' in 'team' or 'championship' and now there's no 'L.O.' in 'Los Angeles'. Gone are his career close 14.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds from last year to go with his career highs in three-point (.382) and field goal (.530) percentages. Also gone, beyond statistics are his above average all-round game, his scoring, passing, range and long limbs that reach all sort off off-ball fundamentals and facets. Also his class, charisma and great locker room presence will be sorely missed.
As he enters the halls that Mark Cuban built however Odom brings more dimensions to a team that has more than a geometry class. Odom's numbers may go down in the talent pool lassoed by the Mavericks, but his productivity and intangible output. His championship experience, both on the winning and losing end will be as valuable a commodity as his inspiring character and positivity now mixed with a new tonic of motivational revenge. Odom was exactly the player that the Lakers needed to take their squad from a Kobe show to an ensemble piece back when he was traded for Shaq. He even went from easing the Lakers post-Shaq hurt to proving that in the long run it was the more worthwhile move, but is it now? Now that those 2006 school adverts mocking him getting traded again have come true, Odom may be exactly the player this new winning Dallas team needs to help them towards their own dynasty.
Sure the Lakers are far from out of contention, just like Lamar they have a new motivation to win. Add a D12 or a CP3 and the numbers may add up to initialing some new success for these new Lakers. It’s just a real shame that a man that stuck by them and helped them along the way will not continue down the road with the purple and gold. Yes the Lakers can go on without Lamar Odom, but you can be sure they'll never be able to replace him.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Larry's legendary plays "beyond" the arc.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Bird Watching-Larry's Legendary Plays "Beyond" the Arc
Larry Bird really did fly during his time with the Boston Celtics in the NBA. From behind the arc to down the floor, when Larry let the ball loose the Celtics would soar. Larry's legend never met a ball he wouldn't dive for or hoist in the air. That's why he is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.
Still the French Lick was more than just a guy that was tasty with the 3-ball. Bird's highlights rise higher than just one play. That's why his No. 33 is in the rafters of the Boston Garden.
So let's look beyond the arc (but in a different way) and study some videotape to see for ourselves just how good he really was at all aspects of the game. Here are some favourite plays that are just hallmark beautiful basketball. The only rule here is no 3-pointer in the NBA before 1979. Let's take it a little inside. Roll film.
Back in his prime Larry made too many legendary plays he was just too much, like when:
Playing the passing lanes against the Washington Bullets like a wizard Larry stole and loaded up a two handed dunk that shot down the D.C. squad.
Back in Washington a behind the back bullet pass found 'Tiny' Nate Archibald for the layup ... this New York playground legend was normally the giver not the receiver.
How about some more playground antics with Nate? Against the Pistons Larry once stole the ball and kept it inbounds by flicking it behind his back and head to Tiny Archibald who led the break and then returned the ball's favour to Larry for the two-handed flush.
Or how about when Bird posterized Caldwell Jones? He really flew and made peoples walls with that one.
Larry's always one to look after the ball and this normally results in him not looking after himself in the process. Whether it's falling into the stands or the blood, sweat and tears Bird will give anything to get the ball. Like his save and struggle for the ball against the Cavs, were it looked like he was struggling for a gun while taking a shot from some advertisement boards.
Still nothing compares to what comes next. Here's the "top 5." Run V.T.
5. BIRD TO PARISH
The Larry, Robert tandem worked so well together that "Bird to Parish" almost became a catchphrase for Celtic commentators. You may as well have pulled a cord out of the announcers backs every time Robert Parish pulled out some offence from a Larry Bird, behind-the-back, no-look or over the shoulder pass.
This between the legs beauty took Jack Sikma and his Milwaukee Bucks by surprise in the 1987 Eastern Conference Semi-finals. It should have come as no surprise as Larry was the master of this passing craft not named Earvin. He'd either wait until his defender would bite or pass out of incredible angels anyway, flicking the ball behind his head with his own "Magic." Here Larry's nutmeg leads to a perfect strike at the bucket by "big dunk" Rob.
4. SHOWING THE LAKERS SOME SHOWTIME MAGIC
When he came into the league, critics called Larry Bird slow. So how come it looks like he's running track here as he paces the break and leaves the Lakers in Hollywood as he and Robert Parish work the give and go once again at home in Boston during the NBA Finals?
This Game 7 statement was hammered home with rapid ferocity. The Garden erupted as Bird's aerial game bloomed and wilted the "Showtime" boys from L.A. Larry's play was so fast and furious that the rock didn't know what hit it. It looked like Larry was going to run out the gym or rip the rim off. If this was college game the Celtics would be cutting down the nets as Bird got his revenge on Johnson running his Lakers out the gym. Even Magic has to give it up on this video.
3. BACK OF THE BACKBOARD
Larry may have spent his career side by side in competition with Magic, but he had a few tricks to his trade to. Like this trick shot pulled out the bag. It's not just the likes of M.J. and Dr. J that can pull off shots like this. Larry belongs to this exclusive class with this behind the glass gem.
This no glass, touch of class was in a class of its own, going beyond the basketball playbooks, the physic textbooks and once again showing that when it comes to the art of shooting Larry takes everyone to school. This play against the Rockets really soared, nobody can dispute that Larry scored. Before he fell out of bounds, Bird kept it in play and in the net.
2. MID-AIR SWITCH.
More problems for Houston here with another touch of basketball wizardry out of Larry's bag of tricks. No wonder this is one of the NBA's greatest Playoff moments and the greatest play Red Auerbach said he ever saw. This jaw-dropping play could even cause the legendary coach to lose some ash off his iconic cigar. This smoking play was drawn up by the basketball Gods.
Larry may have missed at first but like Tracy McGrady's off the backboard All-Star dunk two decades later it all looked like an elaborate assist. Grabbing the rebound on the run and channelled Jordan and Julius once again by switching the ball between his hands in mid-air to avoid going out of bounds. Keeping the ball in play in sequence resulted in another beautiful play as Larry finger-rolled the peach to its home in the basket, a, la George Gervin. This truly was the stuff of legends.
1. STEALING VICTORY
Bird's hawk-eye focus was more gripping then anyone's in the crunch. Larry's basketball I.Q. made it look like he wasn't even thinking ... but he really was, one "Magic" step ahead of the rest. He made this play look like Isiah Thomas passed it to him. In the pivotal seconds of a crucial Eastern Conference Finals clash between the Detroit Pistons and legend's Celtics.
The Pistons had the last possession and play until Larry stole Thomas' inbounds pass, stopped his deflection from heading out of bounds, stopped again for a split-second that seemed liked an eternity, used that I.Q. and savvy "before the play" happens vision to reset the offence and then found Dennis Johnson for the game-winning lay-up. Like this perfect play Larry's legacy is another reason the NBA is referred to as 'where amazing happens'.It doesn't get much better than this.
Top 5 Celebrity Fans.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Who says celebrities are fake? NBA T.V. catch glimpses of Hollywood's finest in the NBA stages around America, and they may love the game as much as we do. Still, how do we separate the real from the fake?
Famous or otherwise, every die-hard sports fan needs to be appreciated, from Bruce Willis to all the extras.
This is the definitive list of the most devoted famous fans.
From Billy Crystal (who got closer still by playing a referee in the film Forget Paris) to Michael Keaton and Sylvester Stallone to Andy Garcia, some of Hollywood's oldest basketball fans have held court for decades.
Speaking of Laker fans, Leonardo DiCaprio is so devoted he could soon take Departed co-star Jack Nicholson's courtside seat as well as his acting throne.
You can almost always find Denzel Washington courtside—"Cap on, brim bent, Denzel, every time," like rapper Drake says.
You can find Drake himself, his Young Money mentor, Lil' Wayne, and a whole host of hip-hop heavyweight, hoop heads who are never too far from the action. Rap moguls Diddy and Jermaine Dupri are all business when it comes to basketball.
Other musicians rock with basketball too. Who can forget the Lakers-mad Red Hot Chili Peppers, who once wrote a song called "Magic Johnson" and even performed a "Salute To Kareem".
When they're not working in their respective fields, sport stars Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, David Beckham and others turn into fans.
Chris Rock and Larry David always like to raise a few laughs, even if it's at the referees' or players' expense.
Also who could forget how much the Kardashians keep up with basketball?
They do so as much as the most famous and important basketball fan, President Barack Obama.
5. EVA LONGORIA
Forget the Matt Barnes rumours or how things ended with Tony Parker. That has nothing to do with how Eva keeps it more real than most fans with her love for this game.
From wearing all the jerseys to hanging out with all the stars, like the Beckhams or Jamie Foxx, the Desperate Housewives star attends for more than show. You can tell she's a true fan by the way she talks the talk about how the NBA walks the walk.
Plus, she's by far the best looking thing courtside, sometimes taking attention off what happens on court.
You can't doubt her devotion, the only question that remains is: where will we see her seated once the new season rolls around?
It doesn't get much better than courtside season tickets, right? WRONG! Jay-Z doesn't just watch his favourite team—he owns them.
He's done more than that, too. He used to just take Beyonce (who deserves an honourable fan mention) to every game, now he's taken his New Jersey Nets to all sorts of places. Brooklyn, to be exact.
Jay-Z has gone from being a major rapper to a major player in this basketball business, making major moves like taking his favourite team to the borough he grew up in.
Jay-Z's "Empire State Of Mind" shows he really does "Run This Town."
3. JIMMY GOLDSTEIN
How about Goldstein? A guy who has become a celebrity because of how many games he attends, and his strange outfits show how this NBA fan's wardrobe is really "where amazing happens." Jimmy's even made Lil' Wayne lyrics and probably could sell the hip-hop star a better seat or two.
From his fedora to his leather pants, you can find Goldstein outfitted at most games. He's a Lakers season ticket holder since the days of Wilt Chamberlain, and his house is even better than the Stilt's former home. I guess letting his house be filmed in movies like The Big Lebowski, real estate or whatever he does for work really does pay.
This guy flies around America like his name is Tony Stark during the playoffs to catch three games in a day and even goes to Clippers games. Now, that's dedication from a true iron man fan.
2. JACK NICHOLSON
Heeeeere's Johnny! If you don't know that Mr. Nicholson is fond of Mr. Laker, then you don't know Jack.
The sight of the legendary actor in his iconic shades at Staples Centre is one that the binoculars focus in on nearly as much as the players. The courtside seat that Jack built needs to have a statue there one day.
Jack Nicholson is in the game like EA Sports—every game and season, arguing with referees and cheering on players. The Hollywood heavyweight even works his films around his schedule...his Lakers schedule. Jack even travels to other cities to catch his beloved purple and gold.
Back in the eighties, he was in Boston more than when he filmed The Departed. The fans love him so much that even the Celtics made a playful T-shirt about him during one of the playoffs.
Nicholson wears the Lakers name with pride every time he plants himself down in his bleacher. They say fans are the extension of a team. Forget Lamar Odom for a second, Jack Nicholson is the Los Angeles Lakers' sixth man.
1. SPIKE LEE
The image of Spike Lee courtside at Madison Square Garden is almost iconic as the man himself. From trash talking with Reggie Miller to high fiving Patrick Ewing, from throwing his Larry Johnson L's up to throwing his hands in the air and burying his face when Jordan came to town and buried his team, Spike's been there for his New York Knicks.
Watching the games like he directs his movies, this focused fan is like a coach out there. If he did take the helm, he could write the happy ending these 'Bockers deserve.
But Lee looks even more like a player, draped in a jersey and so much other Knicks gear as if he was trying to sell merchandise.
Lee has stepped away from the Knicks to film Kobe Bryant at Staples for the documentary Kobe Doin' Work, a player who, like Mike, has repeatedly slaughtered Spike's beloved Knicks.
How's that for dedication to the game?
Spike may have spent some time with the purple and gold, but he knows to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. Spike Lee bleeds orange and blue through and through.
The back of this director's courtside chair should read "Spike." It's his.