Thursday, 20 December 2012

THE JORDAN SERIES-45

The Sequel

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Previously On 'The Jordan Series'...

(From 'MONEY'-BALL)

(1994) Every son wants to make his father proud...and Mike will have done that before he even picked up a basketball, let alone a club. Still the man who sticks his tongue out at the basket to emulate James R. Jordan, Sr at work followed his father’s dream of him playing baseball. That's all that needs to be said. That's all that matters. This was no round of rounders. This dedication was deeper than the 'Boys & Girls' club in his father’s name. Like Magic's tears for his dad in his MVP speech this was a public display of beautiful affection. It didn't matter what anybody else said because Mike father was looking down and smiling. Michael Jordan was a real baseball player.

But then...

1 Year Later.

"I'M BACK"!-M.J.

The greatest basketball player of all-time Michael Jordan was back. Out of retirement Mr. 23...or not as he seemed to you and me. What's in a number you ask. Chance? Luck? Ask fellow Jordan luminaries Kobe Bryant and LeBron James who switched their jersey numbers the other way around from 8 to 24 (almost like Mike) and 23 (exactly like Mike) to 6 respectively. Tell the rafter and the history books, Michael Jordan himself had a different figure on the back of his vest for a minute too.

"When I came back I didn't want to play with the last number my father had seen me wear. Because he wasn't around. I thought of my return as a new beginning."-Michael Jordan From 'For The Love Of The Game'.

You can call it the ultimate collectors item now for hoop heads or anyone looking to get rich and unable to catch that sneaking Air Jordan train. The same number Mike wore in high school and his brother Larry wore in varsity. The same number hew wore as he swung around with baseball during the curve of his one year retirement with the Birmingham Barons. Two numbers that when added together make his Team USA Olympic jersey number of 9. The gold.

4+5=9

45. You can see it at the dunking closing credits of 'Space Jam', as Jordan makes his return to basketball after beating a team of Ewing, Barkley, Muggsy, Bradley and Grandmama mutated space aliens with Bugs Bunny, Bill Murray and co. After Mike did that and played and perfected his baseball swing, riding the buses of the minor league sport in a valiant show of honor in the name of his father. 'Space Jam' may have been fake but in baseball Mike was the real deal earning his place beyond his name to just have the number 45 on his back. Then after a grounded stint and an out of this world movie he truly came back, for the love of the game. 45, for the love of his family.

Still although the jersey change looked cool and had a lot of affectionate tribute behind it, it seemed to bring a little bit of bad luck. It just didn't feel the same without seeing 23 back in action completely. Although the jersey was retired and in the United Centre ceiling during Mike's late season return some wanted it brought down. Mike looked up to the rafters of his 23 banner moment but he also looked up to his brother so 45 fit. Plus take that 45 to 55 and witness a double nickel performance against the New York Knicks at Jordan's mecca of Madison Square Garden that caught everybody including John Starks (again...nah we take that back, Starks has put up with enough) off guard. Spike Lee knows nobody can mess with his main man Michael Jordan...noooobooody. With a boom, the Nike fresh king of basketball shook the room and finally everyone could see Jordan scoring like Will Smith wanted. Independence Day wasn't the biggest return to hit the world in 1996.

This Knick legend came off a game where Mike clutched at the talons of the Atlanta Hawks and hit a game winning basket. The struggling Bulls now made a 13-4 charge for the postseason and Scottie Pippen finally had the help the sidekick had given his leader for years. Still the Eastern Conference Finals and the massive Rookie road block of Shaquille O'Neal and his Orlando Magic kingdom was too much for the corvette of Jordan and his Chi-town engine. At the end of Game 1, Nick Anderson (a man who should not boast about the clutch) strip, stole the ball from Mr. 45, which led to a game winning basket for Orlando. He then made the comment that the greatest "didn't look like the old Michael Jordan". Well, that was all he needed. 23 came down and 31 points per where put up for the rest of the series.

Chicago may have lost to Orlando that series but next year they came back to avenge that once, twice, three times a Larry O'Brien as Jordan showed he wasn't just the player of old, the present and history making legendary legacy. While Nick Anderson threw free throws off the rim, Mike threw champagne and cigar smoke around the locker room. Championships reigned like his exhausted tears of joy. Number 23 was truly back still in the storied career of Michael Jordan forty-five still represents something. 45 went on record like a Gaslight Anthem song and ignited sales for a chorus of fans.

It represents a heartfelt dedication and valiant play in the face of calloused, bloody hands and unconditioned hooping in the rigors of a long baseball season that resulted in a full calendar year of sports work. Just because he's the greatest sometimes people don't just realize how much work and effort Michael Jordan put in. 45 represents that. It still represents great play and a cult moment in his career. It represents the return that everyone thought would happen or at least wished for. The return B.J. Armstrong kept asking about at practice like the army of reporters who just got a perfectly polite 'pardon me' from Michael Jordan as their quotable soundbite. The return that the fans about to sell-out the arenas and the kids wanting to keep their posters on their walls hoped for. The return Scoop Jackson wrote 'The Last Testament' for, R. Kelly sung 'I Believe I Can Fly' for and President Bill Clinton press conference asked for. The return of the king, the Lord of the Rings, the NBA's savior, the God of basketball. The G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan's encore was one everybody was waiting for.

"When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5 / It ain't to play games with you / It's to aim at you"-Jay-Z

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

THE JORDAN SERIES-MICHAEL JORDAN & R. KELLY Feature-90's CHICAGO

The Chicago Crossover Connection.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

"You love to hear the story again and again, about these young brothers from the city of wind"-Common.

Two men from the Windy City believed they could fly

Let's take it back. There's nothing like nostalgia. Back in time. Back across the pond from America to an 11 year old boy whose American dreams where oceans of time and opportunities away in the mid nineties of his childhood and the golden era. There he is with a cassette tape in the deck of his boombox waiting for his favorite song to come on the radio again. "I just don't know she's just got that vibe" the public announcement says as he hits record, hoping that the radio D.J. wont talk over the end of his perfectly captured song. Late that same night in a screwdriver panic the reels of the tape are turned frantically round after the overplayed tape gets chewed up in the deck. Not a creature is stirring, there is only the silence of this kid not trying to wake his parents and the glow of the television in our company. But boy does it glow. It may be the middle of the night in England, but in America it's primetime and All-Star weekend for this sport of basketball that seems as theatrical as it is exciting. With volume muted, emphatic player announcements, a dominating figure of assured, silent swagger and legendary legacy making greatness runs across the screen and court. A number 23 is blazed across his chest. Who is this guy? What is this game? In a mid-nineties, mid-February this kid fell in love with the sport of basketball.

Fast forward almost fifteen years and this mid-twenties man is back in the U.S.A. like he was Springsteen born there. Traveling and living the dream his childhood and adolescence promised. Finally after all this time he gets to visit Chicago, climb the Willis Tower, see the city and go back once more less than a year later. Even before his second visit to the second city, this place feels fondly familiar from the t-shirts with Bulls on to the radios and what they play all day. It reminds him of a childhood time. Destiny, where he was meant to be. A place that showed him just what life, the world and dreams are made of. What he always wanted. They say there's nothing like your first love. This kid fell in love with the game of basketball and the man that dominated it. This man fell in love with urban soul and the sounds ruled by the R in R&B. Two men that not only defined the good old decade days of the nineties but also represented the Windy City of Chicago and put this major American market that some see behind New York and Los Angeles on all sorts of maps.

Before Kanye West showed in the new millennium that Chicago, Common and Twista where a major force in music someone else carried the ghetto blasting torch. Before Chicago showed it was the true Gotham City for Christopher Nolan's Batman, and the late, great Heath Ledger's Joker and Christian Bale's Bat duked it out on the same road that 'The Untouchables' made iconic, someone in crisp, collectible sneakers ran the streets, like that jumpman commercial across the rising bridge over the legendary Lake Michigan. Before Derrick Rose and the changing of the guard gave the Bulls and this city it's new hope and charge, going West like Kanye in the middle of America there was a man who cemented his status across the whole world like he did outside the United Centre in the concrete immortality of a statue. Before 'The Chicago Fire' and 'The Chicago Code' hit the screens, two men dominated the tube, like Clooney's 'E.R.' or the noisy, clanging, sweeping of the overground L trains did the city. Just like Snoop and Dre, Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Kobe did for Los Angeles, or De Niro and everyone else did for New York, two men did for Chicago. Just like stars of 'Philadelphia' Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks did for movies that decade, these men did for music and sports in the 1990's.

One man followed in the footsteps of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Al Green and Stevie Wonder. The other Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, David Thompson and Magic Johnson. One would pave the way for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The other Usher, Ne-Yo and Tyrese to go along with many more inspired by both men. A legion of followers that would make Twitter look like bird seed. These two men of course being Michael Jordan and R. Kelly. One homegrown and one from Brooklyn, New York who put the air back into Chicago and illuminated the second city skies like the Chicago theatre at night, with towering talents taller then any skyscraper, dominating newspaper headlines, rave reviews and the word of mouth of everyone's lips. Two men that took their respective games and shared city across the whole world, not just America. Needless to say New York and the Knicks and Los Angeles and Hollywood where jealous. In the defining, golden era of music and basketball in the nineties, Michael and Robert where king on the same throne. From above the rim to down in the studio and the last shot to endless songs produced. Everyone was watching like Spike Lee, Scoop Jackson was writing. I was listening. The Grammy's and MVP's kept coming with the soaring record sales and scores. As did the gold championship trophies and platinum plaques.

Then one guy with a carrots and big ears would bring them together like the river that ran through their city. When Michael Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Bill Murray and more to take on some giant aliens in the blockbuster movie 'Space Jam', Michael truly proved he was out of this world, in a 'Roger Rabbit' classic that framed his talents on the big-screen. Fellow Chi-town hero R. Kelly provided the perfect number for Mr. 23 to rise to. 'I Believe I Can Fly' gave air to the films soundtrack and the films moving first late night, back-yard, father and son scene. It also touched the sky for the two men giving the R his biggest and most recognized epic, hit, as he spread his wings. It even drew some of the attention off Seal's fellow big blockbuster track 'Fly Like An Eagle' for the movie. Michael Jordan wasn't the first M.J. R. Kelly wrote for as the king of R&B wrote 'You Are Not Alone' (and recovered it for a 'Love Letter' tribute to the late, great) for the king of pop, Michael Jackson, who also got down and danced with Michael Jordan for the 'Jam' video. Together Chi-town's finest did it again in a crowning moment that showed that in the nineties the world of entertainment was Mike and Rob's...but that wasn't all folks.

If they could see it, these too could surely be it. Michael Jordan won a three-peat with the Chicago Bulls, while R. Kelly started his own trilogy of success with the classic '12 Play' albums (before adding an unrleased 'Fourth Quarter' edition that hit like Mike in the last period of play). Michael scooped up more championships and awards by the double, while with the classic 'R', Kelly released an epic double album that included so many records like 'Home Alone', 'If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time', 'When A Woman's Fed Up', his Space Jam big-score and his own record for Batman ('Gotham City'). There was even a duet with Celine Dion on there (the heaven sent 'I'm Your Angel'). One had Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc and Phil Jackson. The other the Trackmasters and more hits then an entire genres worth. One rebranded Jive and modern soul music. The other revolutionized Nike and sports marketing. From Kelly's self-titled collection, to Jordan's self-assured performances these two danced and shrugged their way to success. No matter if they had the flu or other problems not much could stop this dynamic duo.

The two men are Chicago like a deep dish pizza, the crust of the city. They reminded us of something but revolutionized their games. It must have been the shoes or the "oh, oh, ooohs". Even when they took different routes they showed they weren't playing. We saw nothing wrong with their bumps and grinds, even if some peoples minds where telling them no. Michael Jordan made his late father proud when he picked up sticks and played baseball for a year, while R. Kelly teamed up with fellow urban music king and the M.J. of rap Jay-Z and held his own on the collaborative 'Best Of Both Worlds' album. You can't trap these guys is closets or lockouts. Michael Jordan was the closest thing the sports world witnessed to Muhammad Ali, R. Kelly wrote 'The Worlds Greatest' song (that and the haunting 'Hold On') for the Will Smith 'Ali' movie, both men went to the Olympics too. The nineties was their moment, beyond their respective professions or the city of Chicago. They where icons then. Legends now.

The nineties was truly Michael Jordan and R. Kelly's time it was like they where born in it, even though the sixties debuted them to the world. Still the new millennium still showed the former North Carolina and Public Announcement alumni where here to stay in legacy and legend. Michael Jordan came out of retirement again for the Washington Wizards, showing he could still play with the Kobe's and the T-Mac's all whilst incredibly donating his entire playing salary to the September 11th relief fund. Whilst R. Kelly stuck his key back in the 'Ignition' and spun in a new direction, remixing his career and giving us some of his best, new records harking back to the music of decades gone by with 'Chocolate Factory' and 'Happy People'. Stepping back on court and in the name of love these greats still showed the new school an entertainment education.

Today Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcat franchise and is even prepared to lace them up to help this young team practice. These days Kelly is still making hits, taking his revolutionary sound back to the good old days of soul as his 'Love Letter' and latest 'Write Me Back' can reply. 'When A Woman Loves' is the mans best song in years, while Mike is still inspiring and influencing generations. That's what happens when your legends, the legacy just goes on and the city of Chicago will never forget it's leading men. This city was built on rhythm and basketball. It'll blow forever through the Windy Cities memory. Michael made the moments, while Robert provided the soundtrack. Music and Basketball was their forte. The 1990's their definition and the city...theirs.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

RON HARPER Feature-THE 'RON

The Previous Jordan.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

THE CLEVELAND SHOW

With the eight pick, in the first round of the 1986 NBA Draft the Cleveland Cavaliers select Ron Harper from the university of Miami. The hottest star out of Dayton, Ohio, 6 foot 6 and 185 pounds. A man who performed a backwards LeBron of sorts and took his talents from Miami to Cleveland, Ohio. A swinging, guard/forward combo who was on point but also could shoot. A two time MAC player of the year who ended up becoming a five time NBA champ. A man whose career championship contributions to Phil Jackson's Chicago Bull and Los Angeles Lakers teams didn't quite do even enough justice to just the player he truly was.

Ask guys like Tracy McGrady or Grant Hill just how career defining injuries are on the meant to be greats. Still just like Grant, Ron fashioned a second-career out of being a valuable veteran with superstar smarts in the second city and the one of angels, and Shaq and Kobe feud demons. Still like Hill and McGrady, the Magic curse in Orlando practically killed Anferene Hardaway's hype of being like Michael Jordan, leaving the rest of Penny's career as spare change, no matter how well it was afforded. Just like Hardaway being the next Mike, Harper was viewed as the one next to Jordan, and in some eyes the only player that could go toe-to-toe with Nike Air, whether it be in the Slam Dunk Contest or on the court.

Yes that same Ron Harper who you saw keeping it lite with Miller in the Lakers double-up celebration in Philly used to be and above the rim guy. Before injuries and slipping on Kenan and Kel's orange soda took the hops out of him like non-alcoholic beer. When Harp was playing in university he was drawing Julius Erving comparisons for his ABA made aerial ability and above amazing averages of 24.3 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, 3.2 steals per game, and 2.4 blocks. A steal in the first round was just what the Cleveland Cavaliers ordered for this star. Way before LeBron the billboards and the throne was Ron's. He was the one. The only one who could touch the hem of the shorts of the greatest, even if he was second Rookie Of The Year to hot-shooter, and fellow Laker twilight star Chuck Person. Not many had "more game then Ron Harper". Former Cav big man and current NASCAR commentator Brad Daughtey recently talked to SLAM magazine about how Ron was the only one who could go round and round with Mike.

THE CHICAGO WAY

"Man thank you so much for getting rid of him" Brad said Mike told him about Ron Harper. In the end Mike wasn't just thankful to no longer be going up against the dynamic defender and tenacious offensive force. After a 22.9 point average, three years of raw but ready hype, a trade to the Clippers for perimeter on point man Danny Ferry and a cruel knee injury that robbed him of his jumps and speed, Ron ended up standing next to Mike as his ally in a Chicago Bulls uniform. From foe to friend, Ron teamed up well with Mike on the greatest return from retirement after a turbulent first season for Harper. The number nine ended up being another great option behind the G.O.A.T, albeit an unsung one.

Michael's incredible, game and sport changing attributes overshadowed everything, even his fellow M.J. King of Pop in some nineties defining moments. Moments that where art like Monet, 'Money' was just that richly talented. Even the superstar sidekick play of Scottie Pippen, the European revolution of Toni Kukoc, the pure three's of household name and face Steve Kerr and the crazy on and off court antics and hairstyles of Dennis Rodman took a back-seat to the back of the jersey that read 23 or 45. Behind all that the quiet, mild-mannered Harper was always going to remain in the shadows somewhat.

Still those banners in the rafters wouldn't be there without Ron Harper's invaluable veteran contributions. Whether on the perimeter offensively or defensively or midrange, his game had that x-factor the Bulls needed. The sort of on and off the ball attributes that some armchair fans ignore but the real purists and coaches know how to draw up. The brilliant ball-handler became a fan-favorite and a crucial championship piece to Phil's playoff puzzle. You can see him in the old parade photo's next to the greatest championship cap and t-shirt on, with a cigar and smile to match. Next to Jordan like he was always meant to be.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

You don't win five championships by accident and the man that with former Lakers Dennis Rodman and Robert Horry as the only consecutive NBA Champion for two different teams has been a part of just under half of the Zen Master, Phil Jackson's 11 championship reign. Like Horace Grant and Dickie Simpkins after him, Ron was one of the former Bull brethren that Jackson managed to mediate over to Hollywood. Still yet again Ron was overshadowed by the star, headline making power of first-name term Shaq and Kobe in Los Angeles and then the amazing role player trio of Robert Horry, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher. Still Phil knew, joking with Ron after their first purple and gold championship win that he could retire after Ron asked him if he could "go home now". Still, he wasn't done, "I'll be back next year" Harp affirmed.

Even with all that however he became another pivotal piece as a veteran force in the Lakers, STAPLES born team that started a dynasty against Indiana and the Philadelphia 76ers like former eighties showtime star A.C. Green who returned to the squad in his fall-career years. The fellow star of three decades back proved in the new millennium could still make major contributions on the floor as well as the locker-room. Kobe Bryant-the only man who could truly draw Michael comparisons today-even calls Harp his 'mentor' and Ron's big buckets and stops where just as helpful to Bryant and O'Neal as the ones by Rick, Robert and Derek. In the playoffs he hit game winners against Portland and blazed averages. Fourth on the team with 10.8 points, second in assists with 3.2 and an average of 1 steal a game for second also in that category. His time in Los Angeles as a Laker was championships better then his one as a Clipper. As he aged he helped others grow.

In one vital clutch and confidence building play against the Sixers in the finals of 2001 Ron, open on the perimeter threw the ball to young, hot-streaking guard Tyronne Lue-who then was recently emasculated by Allen Iverson who stepped over him on a clutch play after Lue was pressurisingly dubbed the 'Iverson Stopper'-who was also wide open. The young player then somewhat nervously gave it up, throwing it back to Harp. Immediately and in frustration Ron launched it back at the youngster as if to say "NO...I said YOU shoot it". Which Lue in turn heeded and drained with confidence and assurance. It speaks volumes of Lue's moment of maturity to not flake again under pressure and make the basket. Still it also defines the man Ron is with his tough love, elder statesmen personality looking out for his teammate and nephew-like figure with a brilliant piece of strict support.

Giving up the glory shot also shows another side of the player Ron Harper. A man that could have been a star but was a born teammate or selfless superstar if you would. A true member of a championship squad. The league misses a guy since his assistant coaching gig with the Detroit Pistons-the team that destroyed his Laker dynasty-wasn't renewed in 2007. The man who overcame so much adversity to help others amazingly will always be one of the NBA's greats. Like all good things we miss form the nineties they just don't make players like Ron Harper anymore.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

LAKER LEGEND SERIES: JAMES WORTHY Feature-HE IS WORTHY

Big Game Worthy.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

"On almost any other team, James Worthy would have been a superstar. He was that good. But because he played for the Lakers, he was always overshadowed by Kareem and me."-Magic Johnson (From The Autobiography 'My Life')

This month the Los Angeles Lakers finally unveiled their overdue immortalization of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in bronze. Near to the new homes of Chick Hearn and Jerry West outside STAPLES, 'Cap's statue stands ahead of Magic Johnson's leading sculpture. But what about the middle? Just look at this articles picture. Yeah, you're too busy looking at the sky-hook and the Magic man, but what about the middle? What about James? Big Game James. James Worthy.

"On court he was poetry in motion, a beautiful player to watch. I can't imagine our famous fast break without him. I provided the break, but James provided the fast."-Magic Johnson (From The Autobiography 'My Life').

The Statue Of Liberty stands proud in the Hudson, looking over New York City and the rest of the United States of America, holding a torch shining bright over the land. But even she isn't tall enough to make a Big Game dunk. Dominique Wilkins was the 'Human Highlight Film' who could even contest the greatest ever, Michael Jordan when it came to slam dunks, but even he wasn't as fundamentally sound as James to be chosen by the Showtime Lakers. With his Statue Of Liberty dunks and his full-court, impressive display of play, James Worthy was the definition of 'Big Game'. He was a superstar.

Still even in that big-name, big-game company James was overshadowed by the greatest passer and greatest scorer in NBA history. Still it takes more than a Snoop Dogg 'Lakers Theme' lyric to prove that "James is so Worthy". Even the late great spoken or written words of Chick Hearn and Jim Murray respectively couldn't quite convey it. The instant replays of the finger-rolls, quick spins and turnaround refrigerator closing jumpers couldn't quite capture it. Magic and Kareem are just those first, household names that will resonate in basketball membranes forever, but read NBA history books centuries from now and Worthy's name will still be there like it is on his jersey up next to the Wilt's and the West's of the rafters.

He belonged to a team like no other. A team who's star shine sometimes had the light taken off them by the sheen of their charismatic coach Pat Riley's slicked back, Gordon Gekko hair. Let alone the Hollywood, celebrity fanbase led by Jack Nicholson courtside, every game. Plus James wasn't for all that L.A. life and star-studded attention. With high-profile teammates like Michael Cooper, A.C. Green and Norm Nikon and larger than life personalities like Byron Scott and Kurt Rambis Worth' was in elite company. Still Jimmy Worthy was closer to the Shows one-two punch then their supporting cast. More Shaq and Kobe, then Fox, Fisher and Horry (despite the big game, clutch heroics).

The star who lived in L.A. but only got close to Hollywood when he played the tallest Klingon in 'Star Trek' was a reserved 6,9 forward with super power. In the golden era of the NBA he was next generation. Taking the above the rim, ABA play of Julius Erving and boldly going to the nineties with it. The 1st pick in the '82 draft racked up the championships (3) with the All-Star selections (7) along with an NBA Finals MVP in 1988 and 142 points off 60% shooting in a Finlas series against Boston where he WASN'T named Most Valuable. Overshadowed by another man in goggles, Jabbar. Johnson was right, James was THAT good. Maybe those who couldn't see had fog on their lenses. In Basketball sight, Worthy was 20, 20.

Magic may have started fast breaks, but Worthy's style and finesse finished them. The substance behind James big-game made him an all-round player too who deserved more than three NBA third team selections for his career. The NCAA champ and 'Outstanding Player' winner really graduate from college to the league with honors. Making North Carolina proud like his name was Michael and he was heading for Chicago. Who knows if Worthy's above the rim flightplan was destined for somewhere else other than Los Angeles? He could have been an even bigger star or winner, but alas, how can you sniff at a career that has given and achieved so much?

In Lakers lore Worthy is a legend and in overall NBA stakes he is one too. Just because he isn't an M.J. of North Carolina or Los Angeles doesn't mean he's not a star worthy of his own plaque on the NBA walk of fame. The Hall awaits. He'll follow the smooth of Jaamal Wilkes once again and be cemented as another Laker legend for a franchise whose name is even bigger than some of basketballs biggest stars surnames. That right Wilt, Shaq, Kobe and Magic. James Worthy deserves his statue right in the middle of Magic and Kareem too and one day it'll come. Those who don't believe or agree don't know basketball. Sure number 42 may have not won without number 33 or 32, but even Johnson and Jabbar know it wouldn't have been the same without James. The man in the middle helped centre the team. Big Game didn't have the biggest name but he was worthy of the biggest stage. How about James?

"James Worthy was Showtime."-Magic Johnson (From The Autobiography 'My Life').

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

THE JORDAN SERIES-'MONEY'-BALL

The Second Career.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Game 1, NBA Finals, 1991.

Michael Jordan rises up with the ball in his hands with grace and beauty. Moving in his 'air' of slow motion like this was another Nike commercial. He lets the ball fly off the seams, with a perfect release. Everyone in Chicago Bull and Portland Trail Blazer uniforms, all the people in rows 'A' to 'nose bleed' and those watching at home and abroad watch as the ball catches the net with a perfect swish as the greatest man to ever play basketball let's the goose-neck hang. Hitting his sixth three-pointer before the first-half even comes to a close, Jordan jogs back down the court, looks at an amazed broadcaster and simply raises his arms and shrugs. I don't know.

But then...

1 Year Later.

It's a hot day out in the park and everybody and their momma are out in force, with caps, dogs and sunglasses and soda to match. All eyes are on the mound as the pitcher throws the ball towards the batter who awkwardly swings and misses. He tries again, the number 45 twisting with tension, but his 6, 6 frame just doesn't seem to look right, as the catcher mitt engulfs the ball to some cruel boos and even crueller cheers. The batter looks down and taps his bat on the ground with a mixture of frustration and focus as he knows this is his last shot. The longest few seconds of his life then turn into a blur as he hears that dreaded sound of the glove again (and we aren't talking about Gary Payton trash talking) and then the embarrassing cry nobody wants to hear "STRIKE THREE, YOU'RE OUT OF HEERE"! Head-down, bat swinging between his legs Michael Jordan walks off the field with doubts and questions in the bleachers. Up in the commentary booth a broadcaster looks down at the field, at a fellow broadcaster, back down to the field and shrugs.

His 39 point, per-minute basis, best Game Score in the history of the NBA Finals since the league merged with the ABA was a distant but fond memory. Something else bigger took its place. On the 6th October 1993 Michael Jordan announced that his desire to play the game had gone and he would be retiring from the game he changed. Michael Jordan then picked up sticks up and set out for a career in minor league Baseball. From the leading the Bulls to riding the bus the sports world was stunned and the NBA...no basketball had lost its greatest player and icon ever. I can't explain it either.

Let's take it back again to September of 2009 as Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Hall Of Fame. During this time I was writing a few articles for SLAM magazines website. To honour his induction I pitched a different idea for a story about Mike. With everybody talking about the same thing or career moments like 'the flu game' (yep, I've done it too) or the last shot I wanted to talk about his 'real last shot' with a look at his time with the Washington Wizards. In a celebratory week many would have opted to ignore his 'floor Jordan', dunk and postseason missing time but it was still a highlight reel worthy time that showed he could still genuinely play this game. More than that it had a more human side of grace and care about the man, especially with the timing of his mid-September hall moment. Little did people know but Mike donated his entire playing salary with Washington to the September 11th relief fund. Maybe one of the biggest and kindest moves he or anyone else in sports has ever made in their career.

Only one other decision in his career echo's the same honest heartfelt and soulful sentiment of this. A decision that shows just how great a person 'Money' is beyond the bullshit of unfathomable fame and millions. Many sneered at Michael Jordan when he tried out for baseball. Many laughed. Others ridiculed him in sports press. Many accused him of taking other, younger players chances. Others said he was making a mockery of the game, trying to just walk in. They fail to realize that this was no movie-making moment. He didn't land on the playing field in a space ship like a scene in 'Space Jam'. His decision may have been treated like LeBron's back in the day but it was both out of this world and down to earth...and Mike didn't care if it was televised.

Like the Spike Lee spot said, "at least he's trying". He didn't care if he rode the bus or the bench. He just wanted to play...and earn his right to play too. That's why he was in the batting cage at dawn, like he was in the gym with the peach and basket at dusk during his time in the air of the second-city skies. He earned his right too, between trying out with the Chicago White Sox. Then batting for the Sox minor league affiliate the Birmingham Barons with an average of .202, to go along with three home runs, 51 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases. He further earned his place by batting .252 for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League. Mike may have struggled at first but then he strived and survived baseball even hitting 7 game winners out the park to show that money was still clutch even when he had a bat instead of a ball in his hand.

"If anyone didn't think I was serious it was because they could not see the blood dripping off my hands or those 6.A.M. batting sessions"-Michael Jordan.

He only retired from his brief foray into the sticks when the dreaded sports enemy of strikes threatened the league and soured his dream. At a time when the league wanted to abuse Mike's celebrity by putting him in the big leagues for show, Michael did the opposite of what he was cruelly accused and awfully criticised for. He chose not to take the place of another player who would have worked hard to earn their deserving spot. It didn't get this real and inspiring until Brad Pitt showed us just what Billy Beane did for the Oakland A's, baseball and the world of sports and business as a whole. 'Moneyball' indeed.

Still why was this move from basketball to baseball his most moving and heartfelt and soulful statement? It wasn't because of his selfless, humble turn from basketball superstar to baseball everyman. It wasn't his pride swallowing, critical endurance either. For the record too, those who couldn't even be bothered to formulate a better verb to describe his career then 'shit' fail to realise that he was actually a good ballplayer. With the Wilson instead of the Spalding Michael may have proved he was a baseball mortal to his basketball God but he is one of the only people to excel in two sports. It wasn't what he did for the baseball world and minor league exposure. It's not the considerate, arrogance at the door way he entered the game.

It's the fact that he did it to honour his father who a year before was horrifically murdered. Every son wants to make his father proud...and Mike will have done that before he even picked up a basketball, let alone a club. Still the man who sticks his tongue out at the basket to emulate James R. Jordan, Sr at work followed his father’s dream of him playing baseball. That's all that needs to be said. That's all that matters. This was no round of rounders. This dedication was deeper than the 'Boys & Girls' club in his father’s name. Like Magic's tears for his dad in his MVP speech this was a public display of beautiful affection. It didn't matter what anybody else said because Mike father was looking down and smiling. Michael Jordan was a real baseball player.

But then...

1 Year Later.

"I'M BACK"!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

LOS ANGELES LAKERS Feature-THE SHOW GOES ON

The Showtime Must Go On.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Opening night and the scene is set in Hollywood. The script is about to be written for the wrote off Los Angeles Lakers. Following the biggest off-season signings since Gary Payton and Karl Malone, Mitch Kupchak this Summer has given the Lakers their best Centre and Point Guard combo since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, their most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe just like Wilt and West. Last night Dwight Howard and Steve Nash assembled like Marvel superheroes to help Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and the one and only Kobe Bryant avenge the hammer of Thor Thunder-strike by the hands of Oklahoma last year.

Hollywood couldn't direct it better. The parade is practically set for downtown L.A. but this franchise knows better than to leave balloons hanging in the rafters. Last night the opening act fell flat too with this team being beaten by the team that knocked them off their last championship pedestal the Dallas Mavericks. All good things must come to those who wait though. It's not the end, even though many critics are already writing off the Lakers along with Mike Brown's resignation letter and Kobe's playing career obituary, even if the Lakers went 8-zip in the preseason but not the way they would have liked. Still Rome wasn't built in a day and championship teams in L.A. aren't built in a game. This is the town where stars are made and broken like reality T.V...just look what they did to Lamar. Still this team was built for years, not 15 minutes. The Showtime must go on, but it's going to take time.
This isn't a be careful what you wish for moment but the Lakers did raise their own bar decades before. The storied franchise changed the game and the legacy of the league with Shaq and Kobe, making it necessary for team to have more than one superstar, no matter the ego or polarization. They took it to the extreme with the Hall Of Fame deliverance of The Mailman and The Glove and now that's why you have big threes and talents in Miami. The Lakers have had to ante up again and with all these stars in L.A. they just have to make sure they shine.

It all begins and ends in the NBA's one Kobe Bryant, but even Batman needed Robin and the Lakers Dark Knight has the support ready to help his city rise. The Lake Show may have lost favorites Odom, Fisher, Bynum and 'Ron Artest' but they've still got Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace to go along with a bench mob of underrated talent like Devin Ebanks, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Jordan Hill led by the next Laker 'Sixth Man Of The Yer', star Antwan Jamison. Still, the two superstar, difference makers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will be the deciding factors between champagne championships or crying commiseration in the eyes of these new Lakers.

Los Angeles looks to take flight this year like LAX thanks to their new alley-oop double act. They could even take 'Lob City' off Clipperland and truly avenge the Chris Paul nixing. Beyond the aesthetics however the Lakers have a pleasing mix of all-round play that looks to make them fundamentally sound. You've all heard about Steve Nash's passing and skill-set and how Dwight Howard out-rebounds, blocks and box's out with the best of them. Well now check you're Los Angeles Times because you're going to read about more.

There's more to contend with when it comes to these championship certified additions. Like Nash's underrated shot or Dwight's disregarded passion. This dynamic duo could really help form one of the Lakers best teams ever, matching up to the eighties babies, or the Shaq, Kobe, Fisher, Fox, Horry three-peat squad. That is as long as Steve's legs and Dwight's contract holds up and lasts. They may have lost their debut, but these two see more than one game. Even more than 82. The Laker Phoenix is rising from the ashes and isn't playing Mickey Mouse games anymore. The Los Angeles Lakers haven't had a Point Guard like this since Earvin. They haven't had a smiling, superstar, making this game fun since Magic. The original M.J. Johnson can see this. You know what's going on. It's Showtime now.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

KYRIE IRVING Feature-THE CLEVELAND SHOW

Sophomore Star.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Two Summers back you know what happened. A billboard fell from grace in Ohio as rocks where witnessing being thrown at it. LeBron James' opened arms no longer embraced Cleveland, they would now hold a talent meeting in South Beach. King James time on the Cavalier throne was dust like the chalk he threw up. Still these days it's not as bad as it seems in the town that Miami forgot. Thanks to the Cavs new family guy 'The Cleveland Show' is still playing despite bad ratings. After his banner 'Rookie Of The Year' there's a new kid in town and he's set to be a sophomore star. You all know the name.

It's Kyrie Irving.

The wine and gold may still taste champagne and see the glimmer of Larry O'Brien one day. Sure they're even a long way from the postseason but one day that could be a matter of months, not years. It's all about the new boy now. That's why Cleveland can give away their most consistent star Antwan Jamison to the Los Angeles Lakers bench. There's a lot more riding on Kyrie. Sure he's no 'Irving Johnson' but he has the magic to be the next great Point Guard in this league. Get a good team around him...and it's showtime.

The kid from Australia has come to the down under basement of the NBA with the ability to take Cleveland to the same high-rises he now lives in looking over his basketball town. The city is his. This number 2 jersey embroided, number one draft choice straight out the amazing alumni of Duke hasn't even turned 21, yet the 6 foot, 3 inch, 191 pound guard is turning heads and towering over the rest already. This writer caught first hand just how much talent he has in the Mecca of Madison Square Garden this March. Against the New York Knicks when he was still 19 this kid even took some of the basketball world and core's gaze off his marked man Jeremy who was at the height of his Lin dynasty.

Read all about it in the New York Times and start spreading the news like Sinatra because there's a new dynasty about to be wrote by the Jersey boy who grew up just outside of the city. Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose have to make way for the next great point maker. There will be a changing of the guard once Irving reaches his prime. Kyrie will play like Kane and lynch his opponents like he's playing video games. It all sounds better than Lana Del Ray...looks good too. It all looks better than you think, like the simple straight forward uniforms. This team-like Denver for 'Melo and Houston for Yao-changed their whole identity and color scheme when they drafted LeBron and now he's gone from the burned jersey's to the personnel and physical changes they've truly moved on.

Even though it's hard to move on from a guy that's given them so much and should still be appreciated for that. The number 23 was thought to have a Jordan like career as a Cavalier but instead a bad break up ensued and it was all over television like a Kardashian. You didn't have to keep up to see all the private matters aired out in public. The reaction was like a bull in a china shop. Still now the Cavs have licked their wounds with a new steed that could lead the charge to the precious hardware. The trophy cabinets remain empty just like when 'Bron was here, but there's still room. There's still time.

It's Kyrie Irving's time now. The 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per, the ten games with 20 points or more in his first 20 appearances, scoring 32 against the New Jersey Net team he supported as a kid with the 21 points in one fourth quarter and the 117 out of 120 top rookie votes are the digits that express it all. Uncle 'Drew is ready to take it to the max like Pepsi and handle the rock and his future in Cleveland in the NBA for years to come, palm injury permitting. As long as the dreaded sophomore slump doesn't jinx him it all looks good for Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers...so long as no more decisions are made. Irving's already shown he's a great player in his first term and he's no rookie no more. It's time to show his career, his city and his company just how great he can be.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

PLAYER FOR PLAYER-THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS


Party Of Five.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

To begin last seasons lockout shortened campaign the Lakers one minute had Chris Paul and the best backcourt this league might have ever seen. Then in less time then it takes to send a Tweet wrote 'WoW' the Lakers deluxe deal was nixed by David Stern which then resulted in CP3 ending up in the STAPLES Centre of Los Angeles but for the wrong team. If that wasn't bad enough a disgruntled Lamar Odom took his most consistent 'Sixth Man' play and his hurt feelings away from L.A., only to return this offseason-like everyone-expected but again for the wrong STAPLES side. With two of the Lakers one-time potential big pieces fitting in Clipperland the Lakers looked to rebound like no other after a disastrous last season (that goes without saying) that saw a second round exit to Western Conference champions the Oklahoma City Thunder and their old playoff friend Derek Fisher.

If you thought the signing of Canadian, Point Guard legend Steve Nash from the Suns was a great way for this Phoenix to rise from the Chris Paul 'what could have been' ashes, then this team really bounced back when they acquired the leagues greatest rebounder and centre of attention Dwight Howard in a trade with Andrew Bynum. What's more and better they still got to keep Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace as they picked up many more great pieces like Antwan Jamison, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks. And of course there's that guy named Kobe too. There may be Heat in Miami but the sun looks to shine in California next June too with signs of reign. Let's take an in-depth look at the Lakers starting five and their new Sixth Man for good measure.

POINT GUARD-STEVE NASH

With all due respect to the Harper's, Nick Van Exel, the clutch legend of Derek Fisher and the recent hard work of Ramon Sessions (good luck in Cleveland, thank you) the Point Guard position in L.A. hasn't looked this magical since Earvin Johnson was lobbing to Kareem. Now with number 10 and 12 the Lakers are a few notches away from having this generations 32 and 33. Steve Nash may be 38 but there's still some maple syrup in those old legs and he pushes 40 with multiple MVP's and countless perfect passes to go along with an underrated shot and a heralded toughness (see the Robert Horry shot) that makes him one of the all-round greatest Point Guards of all-time. Now with the first move that takes these redux Lakers forward, Nash leads the way for this great new team. The Manning's couldn't even field a better Basketball quarterback.

SHOOTING GUARD-KOBE BRYANT

It doesn't matter if the Lakers sign two future Hall of Famers in one offseason (see Payton, Gary and Malone, Karl) it all begins and ends with Kobe Bryant. From Shaquille O'Neal to Dwight Howard by way of Andrew Bynum we all know who the real Superman is. This man of steel has been though it all. The critics wrote him off but he inscribed another classic chapter to his Laker legacy. ESPN ranked him as the seventh best player in the league last year, but Kobe gave a number one season. They said he had no clutch but in the last seconds when it all comes to it only a Horry, a Miller or a Bird has his killer-instinct. Just like Michael Jordan there is no one like him. That's how close he is. You can't stop him. Even Dwyane Wade broke his nose in the February love of the supposedly friendly All-Star game. Even that did no good as Kobe strapped on the Rip Hamilton face-mask and took his revenge out on the league, killing opponents like the phantom menace. In the war of stars only the greatest legend wins and now with a new legacy ahead of him the empire looks to strike back.

SMALL FORWARD-METTA WORLD PEACE

Ron Artest changed his name to World Peace to begin last season and then ended it by elbowing James Harden during the war of the Thunder. Still let's not throw 'bow's at the most eccentric and greatest jersey sporter since World B. Free. For better or worse Metta makes statements and as a worked out Twitter pic can attest, the artist formerly known as Artest knows how to make a comeback, just look at the shots he took which gave the Lakers their last championship. When it comes to the basketball court this successful rapper knows how to hit. Besides no matter the change or old Ron, Ron habits, Metta World Peace will always remain one of the greatest defensive players in the NBA and that is an extra element that LeBron James and the rest of the league will find hard to handle.

POWER FORWARD-PAU GASOL

It's time to show those soft labels a hard place. If anyone doubts Pau Gasol then they should take a look at the sweat soaked, down but not out Spanish star sitting silently sideline-like a dejected Patrick Ewing in the Knick killer nighties-as the nation he carried lost the Gold Medal to the United States in London for this years Olympic Games. As Kobe led the commiseration condolences as Team USA congratulated Pau's heart you could see the soul of the man bared as he left it all out on the floor. Now the man that survived the Chris Paul nixing and the Dwight Howard trade is here to stay and show that he is still very much a part of the Lakers. Besides Gasol is the last Mitch Kupchak deal that gave the Lakers not one, but two championships. The Lakers have never had a guy like one of the greatest European players of all-time. This man's post skills will take them beyond the postseason. Focus on Dwight now, but Pau is the one with the championships before. Now they both look to shine hereafter.

CENTRE-DWIGHT HOWARD

This is the big one. Straight from the Magic Kingdom this former Orlando, Disneyland star looks to bring his famous smile to the throne Magic Johnson's pearly whites once held. Following in the big footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal superman returns as the Los Angeles Laker times writes one hell of a rebound story. With a heaven sent move the latest Laker big-man God looks to make his legend out of the legacy Andrew Bynum was making once he gets back from his back injury. Dwight Howard looks to start a block party and championship parade in downtown L.A. Now dunking and duking it out with Bryant instead of getting dunked on Dwight gives the Lakers it's best duo since Shaq and Kobe and the only team that could really go sneaker-to-sneaker with the big three and their additional talents in Miami. From the tutoring of 'cap to the jerseys raised to the rafters Dwight Howard looks to be the next Laker great. Let's just hope this championship commitment is a long term deal.

SIXTH MAN-ANTWAN JAMISON

Although the changing of the guards in Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon, the old hands in Steve Blake and Jordan Hill and the developing talents of Devin Ebanks could claim place the real microwave bench player for the Lakers this season will be Antwan Jamison. The only one who could really follow in the off the bench smooth steps of former Sixth Man Of The Year Lamar Odom is a guy who helped pave the way for players like L.O. Not only is Jamison a valuable veteran, he's an all-star talent too and yet another scoring option for the Lake Show. Not only can he swing between a couple of positions, this man also has the inside and outside knowledge of this game on both the offensive and defensive end. The Summer signing between Nash and Howard may have been far from the Lakers biggest but he'll prove to be the x-factor that will help take this team to the finish. Some deals are blockbusters, others are independent successes. In the end it all adds up to the same thing however...winning.

Friday, 28 September 2012

CHERYL MILLER Feature-IT'S MILLER TIME 2


It's Cheryl Miller Time.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

"Cheeeeeryl....CHEEERYL"!

Spike Lee leads the Madison Square Garden, New York chant against Knick villain Reggie Miller as the film director and his audience get under the three-point assassin's skin like he did in return, numerous times. 8 for 9, 18.7, 30 for 30 times before. Still on this night in the Garden of Basketball's Eden it wasn't 'Winning Time' for TNT's Reggie. This was no ESPN special. As Reggie misses shot after shot to Spike's "ice-cooold" cackles the focus is now on NBA TV and Reggie's older sibling Cheryl Miller. The sister who's career cast a shadow over her brothers...that was until he took it all out on the Knicks.

Revenge was sweet for Reggie as the hot-bed of hoops in New York became the place where 'Miller Time' was served on refrigerator ice, with a bitter after-taste for Knickerbocker fans who where left reaching for the Buds. You could see it in Reggie's killer eyes. That cold, hard down-the barrel stare. The same glare he gave, surrounded by his family on draft night as an interviewer said "as long as you bring the same intensity as your sister", as sais sister turned round to see little brothers reaction with a warm, joking smile, as the question was raised about just how good he'd be. Friendly, sibling rivalry at its finest. You see that's just how good Cheryl was. Reggie Miller is one of the greatest NBA players that has or ever will live, especially in the closing moments. Still, even this recent Hall Of Famer had to wait his turn after his sister.

It's Cheryl Miller time.

You see one of the best side-line reporters in the game today isn't someone who got her job because of her famous brother, just like Reggie isn't someone who got his explosive side-line gig thanks to his sisters recommendation. When it comes to the Miller family it's not a case of 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. Instead it's simple and plain and known that Reggie and Cheryl where and are just that good themselves. What one had in on the outside, the other had on the inside. What one did for the men’s game, the other did for the women’s.

It's Cheryl Miller time.

You see even today after all the Candace Parker's, the Diana Taurasi's and the Maya Moore's the women's game is still cruelly disregarded and critically underrated by some. Even the worldwide fame Lisa Leslie brought it as the M.J. of the WNBA has been glossed over by the ignorance of those whose minds are already made up. Still, don't let the lipstick fool you. Before Lisa and before the exposure there was Cheryl. A USC, 32 point and 15 rebound per star who-like Michelle Wie in golf-was good enough to enter the men’s leagues. Nothing but a cruel knee injury could stop this women who unfortunately could only end up coaching (but what an inspiring, influential one she was) in the established WNBA. A woman who still, despite that has done more for the women's game of basketball then the record books or the water-cooler conversations of fans who only think women in basketball belong with skirts and  pom-poms can testify.

It's Cheryl Miller time.

Still you better believe the hype that turned into the promise that is now the legacy of a legend. A legend that made women's basketball and the Miller name a household name before Reggie and the great expectations of the NBA's sister act. The big in height and bold in personality Cheryl used to beat a young Reggie playing hoops in her garden like she bullied opponents with her blocks from school to her basketball graduation. The Hall Of Famer didn't just better her brother sometimes, she also beat Wilt by 5. Cheryl holds the record for 105 points in a single game...and that feat was televised. Still, why does it go ignored somewhat? It's just as legendary as Chamberlain's mysterious three-figures. Before this disregard turns to disrespect it's time we kept it 100 with someone that took over the century mark while she was still trying to hit the top-grade in class.

It's Cheryl Miller time.

Still as she schooled everyone Cheryl showed how she belonged in a class of her own. One that her name, the Hall Of Fame and the words of those who believe and know can't quite justify. Spike knows it, Reggie knows it. The multiple gold medals of the women with the voice for broadcasting and the experience to boot prove it. Revolutionising the women's basketball league like Drazen did for hoops in Europe or Yao did for roundball in Asia, Cheryl changed the game. For that very fact what she has done goes beyond gender or a surname. Like her brother she belongs with the basketball greats and it's all because of her. Now let us chant her name again in celebration and appreciation. "Cheeeeryl...CHEEERYL"!

It's Cheryl Miller time.

Friday, 7 September 2012

HALL OF FAME 2012 Feature-IT'S MILLER TIME


The Greatest Villain Of All-Time.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Let us take you back to the golden era of the 90's. We're just shy of summer and the Big Apple hasn't fallen far from the playoff tree in the winter of the NBA season. We're in New York City at a time where you can see the Empire State clear and Central Park is growing in amazing abundance. We're in the heart of Manhattan, just a few blocks away from the earth's core of Times Square. Like shimmers of electric light there at night, a sea of orange and blue is heading towards Penn Station and the eden of basketball; Madison Square Garden. All those Knickerbocker jerseys running deep and ascending the escalators towards the nosebleeds, live and breathe and die for New York basketball. All the Knick 33's and 3's expect it all, they just didn't figure for the one kid wearing the Indiana Pacers jersey.

It's Miller time!

The number 31 to be specific. Sitting courtside Spike Lee see's it. Who Spike? Who's that bald headed guard owning New York and M.S.G. like it was his own? He sure doesn't look like Jordan but right now it looks like he could toe the out of bounds line with him. This time and tide has a familiar wash for nighties New York no matter the year, but our man isn't Basketball's hero Mike. It's the greatest villain the league has ever seen; Reggie Miller. More of a villain than Vince to Toronto, or Kobe to Shaq in their and the Lakers prime. The Joker of the NBA who played his cards right, going left from the usual poster boy culture of the NBA and therefore a hero in his own right.

It's Miller time!

You just have to love the man some hated. A man who sank daggers into the opposition. A man who stared down Spike Lee and shot down the Knicks. A man who would make choke gestures but would never even cough himself. A man who is only rivaled in clutch by the greatest of all time. A man-who as one of the best ever himself-is rivaled only by former coach Larry Bird, former Finals foe Robert Horry and record breaker Ray Allen in behind the arc last second heroics. A man who lived by the three as others died by his sweet stroke hand. Let the goose neck hang, "this Turkey's done" they would cry as Reggie let fly and put forks in teams and games in refrigerators just as Chick Hearn had the jello cooling.

It's Miller time!

Spike Lee himself (who deserves his own place one day) could almost introduce this Knick killer to the Naismith Hall Of Fame, as Reggie follows recent nighties superstars Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Chris Mullin and of course Jordan down the corridors of basketball greatness joining the smooth as silk Jaamal Wilkes, tough as nails Don Nelson and a class above the rest. Pound for pound (albeit a little scrawny) and 30 for 30 like a classic ESPN documentary, Reggie has earned and deserves his welcome place here. The team destroyer with one hell of a jacket now earns the heavenly feel of those million dollar arms going through the sleeve of the H.O.F. blazer. The man who turned the Market Square Arena into a cattle farm with his perfect precision has found victory once again. The basket was like a magnet to Miller and even though that repelled him from some his master stroke has now attracted him to the master class of basketball today in 2012.

It's Miller time!

The marked man was just that good on the clock, from 24 seconds to 48 minutes in 82 games until the final Finals buzzer rang out. Catching fire like 'The Hunger Games' sequel this 'dark knight' of the league owned this 'battle royale' with avengance and now it's his year. Now the it's time for the master of seconds and he can have all the time in the world to make his speech. Then again this man's said more in fewer, more precious moments before. Let's go back to nighties New York and turn the clock back to 18.7.

It's Miller time!

We're in the Mecca, it's '95 and Indiana are down 6. Reggie takes the inbounds pass off presenter Mark Jackson and drills the three, before then stealing the inbounds pass off Knick Anthony Mason and dribbling behind the arc for another three-ball drilling. Then after two clutch free-throws Reggie Miller won the game for Indiana, 107-105 in less than 10 seconds. 8 for 8, pound for pound this guy was just that epicly good and that's why he's one of the greatest of the greatest. The waning seconds was his time and that's what makes all of these 24 hours his day.

It's Miller time!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

CHRIS DUHON-THE BACK-UP PLAN


Duhon, (That Thing).

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

The Los Angeles Lakers have been trying to make a point for their quarterback guard position ever since the magic of Earvin Johnson no longer had tricks up his sleeve and behind his back for the Forum. The Lakers have made some great points, but have been missing that true Point Guard, since the greatest they or the NBA have ever seen stopped running Showtime. From Nick Van-Exel's handles to Smush Parker's turnovers and Ron Harper's age to Ramon Sessions or youth they've tried. Or from Derek Fisher's clutch at brilliance, to Hall Of Famer Gary Payton's short trip down the corridors of STAPLES their has been a wealth of talent. David Stern even eighty-sixed the great Chris Paul out of the Lakers locker room and into the Clippers one last season. But now with their second biggest acquisition this Summer the Lakers finally have the best P.G. since the M.J. named Johnson, in Steve Nash.

The Lakers future looks to be run by the aging, fine wine brilliance of the 38 year old Canadian, but their biggest addition this Summer-Dwight Howard-looks to bare more fruit than just youth and a BIG, centre of attention, legacy making future. You know everyone's been talking about Dwight, so much that even Nash feels like an afterthought. Still, despite this blockbuster signing its the little things that's going to make this Kobe, Dwight, Pau, Steve and Metta World Peace team win the war. It's the battling bench players-like the "other" signing of Antwan Jamison-that will bolster this bold new teams championship front.

You only have to look closer at the Dwight Howard deal to see a real x-factor joining fellow, eager-to-impress newbies Jodie Meeks and Earl Clark. Joining Dwight in Lakerland, coming straight from Orlando's Disneyland is Chris Duhon, a true Point Guard with a real future as a STAPLES staple. The Lakers may now have the best backcourt in the league, but it's also the oldest. Meeks has got Kobe, but once the maple syrup in Steve Nash's legs goes sour the Lakers luckily have someone pure to back him up. The team has already lost it's young raw talent in Sessions, and three-point hit-man Steve Blake is a super sub but Chris Duhon could bring the comfort and stability for well balances stretches for the Lake Show.

The 30 year old Duke standout has impressed in Chicago, New York and Orlando but in L.A. it's time for this college star to shine in the big leagues with all the tools to make it, it's time for Duhon to do good on his trade. The Lakers would do good to not move this deal maker. He's a keeper, a sleeper. A chess piece that could spread the floor, handling the ball and opposition like pawns. If given a chance this former formidable Freshman and Louisiana Mr. Basketball could show the NBA what he and his cousin Jarrett Jack showed the NCAA.

You can't pass up on this assist man who holds the Knicks record for 22 in a game. The passing guard can get buckets as well as deliver them. Diligent on both ends of the floor and a true professional it's up to Duhon, along with Jamison, Meeks and Jordan Hill to make this Lakers B-team make the A grade, their star-studded starting five sets. With the college class, New York game and primetime experience of a true player, Chris Duhon really is something off the bench. Steve Nash isn't the only true point the Lakers finally acquired. You know what they say; you wait forever and then two come along at once.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

LAKER LEGACY


The Central Core Of L.A.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Dwight Howard's summer move from the Magic Kingdom to the next chapter of Laker legacy looks to cement his legend as the next great big-man at the centre of attention for Hollywood and the NBA's most famous team the Los Angeles Lakers. Let's take a look at those who came before him in the tales of the storied franchise.

GEORGE MIKAN

Number 99 was basketball's first superstar and once more gave 100% to every game he played in. Before Shaq, before Kobe, before Magic, before Kareem, before Wilt and West and even before Los Angeles Mikan was the first great for the Minneapolis Lakers. Taller and stronger than the rest shot blocking and rebounding where made famous by George as the championships and awards where raised in his honor. Complete with Buddy Holly glasses Mikan's ambidextrous hook shot really was a spectacle, dominating before Kareem's goggles came out of the fog of the sky. That was the day. "Without 99, there is no me", Shaquille O'Neal said when offering to pay for the late, great Mikan's funeral. The basketball league may not have looked after him the same but George sure illustrated sport like the cover with Kareem and O'Neal.

WILT CHAMBERLAIN

He had the tallest house on the Hollywood hills giving him a view of the stars like no one else. He was L.A's biggest star himself. He claims to have had record numbers of lovers that could match his statistical breaking numbers in points and rebounds. He scored 100 points in a single game...A SINGLE game. He averaged 50's like change for a hundred too, which afforded him more respect. He dominated everyone but Bill Russell and he is the leagues greatest offensive force ever...even over Michael Jordan. Some consider him the true G.O.A.T. Others know he is the biggest basketball player of all time in some other ways. He never fouled out in his career and even if he was controversial he never sold out his constant effort and consistent master-class of roundball dominance. Take a tour round his old home and look out of the window of the ceiling and you just may see the Big Dipper out there with the rest of the stars.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

Wilt Chamberlain may hold the record for the most points in a single game but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has recorded more career points than anybody. Catch him with your 81 if you can Kobe, 'Cap's number one. With the best shot in the history of the game. The unstoppable, unguardable sky-hook, sunk everyone and spread the floor as much as his pass happy Magic teammate Earvin Johnson. Number 33, together with number 32 formed arguably the greatest Laker duo ever and you can best believe Shaq and Kobe and Chamberlain and West can argue their point. Still behind those famous goggles revealed a man that saw the game like no one else. The author of his own legend this man wrote his career the right way, going toe-to-toe with anybody even Bruce Lee. Kareem's legacy still lasts today he tutored another big man great in Andrew Byum and now he's in charge of taking the next Laker legend to banner worthy certification. It takes a champion to make a champion...and an overdue statue too.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

The Lakers are immortalising Kareem in bronze next year and they certainly need to do the same to the largest personality they or the NBA have ever seen too. Until then a jersey retirement will do. Through all the championships, certified rap albums, MVP's, movies, break up and make ups with Kobe the original Superman will finally soar to the rafters with George, Wilt, Kareem and championship banners he put there. Before Dwight Howard donned the cape, Shaquille O'Neal grew it out his back. The most dominant ever crushed them all with Kobe (see Portland, San Antonio, Indiana, Philadelphia, New Jersey etc) and despite breaking through in Orlando like Howard the Lakers was his true kingdom. Shaq may have sat on the throne in Miami but he became a king in California. Hollywood's greatest personality didn't quite have a time like he did in L.A. and the city of the worlds biggest stars and ballplayers never saw anyone like him...and they never will.

DWIGHT HOWARD

Now it's Dwight Howard's turn as Superman returns to L.A. for a sequel with Kobe. Will it be better than the original? Who knows but with Kareem's lessons learned the man who has followed the same trade path as Jabbar, Chamberlain and O'Neal looks for greatness as he comes to one of the greatest teams NBA has or has ever seen. With Kobe, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash by his side Dwight Howard has all the right men by his side to create the next great Laker team for the next generation. It's the second coming of Magic-via Orlando-complete with the same huge smile. He's already proved he's the leagues best centre in Florida, with all due respect to Andrew Bynum (and of course fellow big great and greatest European Pau Gasol) who has already shown the Lakers have had a young big-man great (a championship certified winner too) who's followed in the footsteps of legend. Now like slapping a sticker to a backboard Dwight is looking to soar to the rafters himself with a more permanent legacy. This is his and the Lakers time. The big-man legend lives on.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

DWIGHT HOWARD Feature-COMMERCIAL SUCCESS


All Day I Dream About Success.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

(To conclude our 'Dwight Howard Trilogy' here is an idea for an Adidas commercial starring Superman).

The commercial begins with the rumbling of thunder over flickering lights of a downtown Los Angeles skyline at night. Through the window of a closed T.V. and electrical store we see the many stacked television sets in the window flickering on and off between having their own picture to making a complete image of footage via all the T.V. screens stacked next to each other. The screens go from static to an image of Wilt Chamberlain spinning and dunking in a L.A. Lakers uniform.

Meanwhile in a phone booth a man in a suit and glasses is talking on a phone. The voice on the other line says; "Many are called, but few are chosen". We switch back to the T.V. store where the television sets are now playing back-to-back images of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky-hook. Back to the booth, the man who fills the entire phone booth rubs his temple as the voice on the other end continues; "can you weather the storm? Can you overcome the Heat?."

Back to the television store and we see an image of Kobe Bryant throwing a lob pass to Shaquille O'Neal for a dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers, before the footage flips to Kobe and Shaq staring each other down in opposing uniforms. We switch back to the phone booth where the man on the phone has his hand pressed against the glass as the voice on the other line asks; "can you come back"?

Thunder cracks and we switch to see the televisions and surrounding lights go out. Back again we hear and see footsteps run out of the phone booth and then take off. Left behind in the phone booth is a full suit, glasses drop to the ground and smash. An earthquake like rumble spreads through downtown as birds fly away in fright. A child playing with a toy airplane in the back-seat of a car stops and looks out as something hurtles past at supersonic speed.

Rushing past the electrical store the televisions flicker between static and footage of a Lakers parade. We cut to L.A's landmark Hotel Figueroa where the three tiered building displays pictures of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal shining like three stripes. A stream of purple and gold zooms past at full speed. We follow the stream as it zip-lines through the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles before soaring to the sky between two.

We then see the sky from the top of the two sky scrapers and between the darkness appears some gold and what looks like a basketball hoop. We hear the flapping of a cape as a basketball shoots up and is followed by an outstretched hand. We see the man from the phone booth as Dwight Howard, donning a Lakers uniform and draped in a purple and gold cape flying upwards after the ball.

It's almost in his reach as a newspaper with the headline 'What's happened to the Lakers?' and one with the headline 'Where is Dwight Howard'? along with what appears to be Mickey Mouse ears fall behind him. As Howard gets higher he cocks his hand back and smiles as the gold light shines on his face as his hand makes contact with the ball. The theme to Superman begins to play and get louder. As his cape flaps violently and he begins to slow down, he looks to dunk while disappearing into the gold light which fills the screen.

We switch to a shot of the Los Angeles skyline as the clouds disperse and the lights of the city including the STAPLES Centre come on in a sharp burst. The headline reads; 'Superman Returns' and then 'Impossible Is Nothing' before the Adidas logo appears.

Monday, 20 August 2012

DWIGHT HOWARD Trilogy Feature Special-SUPERMAN



SUPERMAN RETURNS

Howard's End.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Big news out of Orlando, coming to Los Angeles. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a Superman trade! It's official like confirmed couples after three months of dating. Dwight Howard is finally a Los Angeles Lakers via a four team trade. A Hollywood blockbuster by way of Bynum heading to Philadelphia with the Magic's Jason Richardson and Olympian Andre Igudola moving out of Philly like the Fresh Prince and joining Team USA teammate and former annual trade topic Carmelo Anthony's former Denver team. What do Orlando get in all this you ask? Well they get to be the new Charlotte Bobcats, receiving Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and forward Maurice Harkless from the Sixers and first round draft projections from the three other teams. Laker fans prayed to the basketball God's and David Stern not to nix this one. The Chris Paul veto still hurts the legendary Laker legacy, just ask Khloe or Lamar.

Those Laker fans who thought their only excitement this week would be via Kobe Bryant finally showing that fire in the Olympics via six huge threes against Australia will be ignited by this news. Howard's end of being the latest LeBron and Carmelo big name trade rumour see's Superman's return in Hollywood. This is more exciting than next years 'Man Of Steel' movie being overseen by legendary 'Dark Knight' director Christopher Nolan. Mitch Kupchack is in the chair on this one and he's pulled off another genius Gasol move (all whilst keeping Pau in the process) in what seems like his way of making up to the Laker organization his missed time as a player due to injury in the eighties. It really is showtime now and even if none of the parties want to admit this Kobe has his Shaq mark two as Superman returns to the show and the biggest stage in basketball in la, la, Lakerland.

This is Kobe's best one-two punch since the man of steel and this reboot looks to fight and kick it with the biggest of threes and teams. A maturing Oklahoma Thunder and Danny Ocean-esque growing Miami Heat be warned. There's a storm coming and it's about to heat up in Southern California. This move and Mitch's other master chess decisions this offseason more than make up for the loss of Andrew Bynum and other championship alumni Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher. Although these family guys will be always be missed like LeBron's Cleveland show the new Laker team reboots instead of rebuilds, while the old hands will be shook and thanked for their time with a lasting legacy of gratitude.

Playoff hero Derek Fisher will always go down as one of the greatest clutch players in Lakers history right there with Jerry West. While former 'Sixth Man Of The Year' Lamar Odom will be considered one of the Lakers best star players off the bench. Just like this, no matter what happens, Andrew Bynum will always go down as one of the Lakers big man greats for a team that has just added Dwight Howard to the elite big man class list that includes Shaq, Wilt, Kareem and Mikan. Plus with Jason Richardson and an already impressive playoff team, Bynum looks to add another classic chapter to the legendary Philadelphia 76ers franchise that has the best young talent in this whole National Basketball Association. This player and his team have more than a future as you can expect the Sixers to be right there chasing Miami in the playoffs, just like you can expect Bynum to be lacing the Lakers with a little payback. Who know the kids already close in a few years he could be better than the guy they traded him for.

Still how does Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard sound? Now the biggest catch of the offseason has been reeled into Tinseltown from Disneyworld, there won't be any Mickey Mouse games now. The Dwightmare is over and a dream team has awoken as the Olympics are about to come to an end. The former biggest Summer signing for the Lakers Steve Nash joins Kobe Bryant in the best (albeit oldest) backcourt in the L. With a reformed rebuilt Metta World Peace looking to bring his second name to the court and finally ditch the Ron, Ron alias the Lakers frontline looks strong too.

Especially with the biggest, muscular and boldest addition to the frontcourt. After Pau Gasol and the tricks of his skilled trade beat Dwight Howard and his former Magic in the 2009 finals the two foes become friends now see themselves aligning for more championships down the line. With Dwight's strength and Pau's skill the paint looks to be decorated with the best big man game the world can offer. With All-Star certified sub-signing Antawn Jamison leading a group of reserves that include Steve Blake, the re-acquired sensation Jordan Hill and the added brilliant bonus of Chris Duhon from this deal, the Lakers bench will give them anything but splinters. Mike Brown had one hell of a team to run now and even when Kobe and Nash finally unlace and hang up their sneakers there's still a future. It's all Dwight now.

SUPERMAN 2

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

The city was safe more than a decade back. A man of steel with an L on his chest and an S on his arm saved the day like a God for the city of angels. With Thor like strength and Hulk aggression this avenger got his revenge on all those who tried to put him or his city down. In the Metropolis of the STAPLES centre the original man of steel flew from the Mickey Mouse land of the Orlando Magic and showed real super powers in Los Angeles. Soaring with his team through championships straight to the banner laden rafters. The only thing missing was a cape.

Shaquille O'Neal really was Superman.

Still whether it be Kryptonite or Kobe even superheroes leave and as the original Superman flew to the sun of Florida to restore his power, taking his talents to South Beach like his former Cleveland running mate and Miami Heat king LeBron James. Even though the Lakers still had their own hero to marvel at in Kobe Bryant playing the opposite Batman role, the people of the city of Los Angeles through Corvettes and brick walls and All-Star reunions wondered if Superman would ever return.

Then almost ten years later and gone, rumblings of rumors started amongst the skyscrapers of Tinseltown. Could it be? Was that a sighting? Questions where raised. Months passed and passed again. Brooklyn, New York looked like the right home for a superhero but then...dun, dun, duh, the people looked up to the sky one more time. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It's him...just only different. It's Superman. Same flight plan from Disneyworld to Hollywood ditching the Mickey Mouse ears for a purple and gold cape. He's back to save the day and Kobe. Complete with Clark Kent glasses a press conference confirmed it. Dust off the cape and just like Jay said; "take off the blazer,loosen up the tie, step inside the booth Superman is alive". Kingdom come, the Lakers are far from done. King James needs to watch the throne as the crown may be passed to a new prince.

His name is Dwight Howard.

The headlines rose higher than the skyscrapers or billboard. Read all about it as the new man of steel looks to takeover the planet daily and rise with The Dark Knight. This is no Christopher Nolan direction however it's all Mitch Kupchak. Coming from Orlando just like Earvin Johnson said complete with a Magic smile this star is gleaming, and shining. Beaming from ear to ear, starring from city to city. Team to team you can't stop the new Justice League now. Even the Avengers in Miami may need some assembly required.

Spanish hero Pau Gasol, ambassador of World Peace, Metta and running man Steve Nash are right there to help the hero of Los Angeles with Superman because of course everything goes through the one, Kobe Bryant. Still in forming the best one-two punch since his last dynamic duo Kobe has his Shaq 2 in the return of Superman. With Howard soaring and flying-like he did when he stuck a sticker of his face to a backboard-the man who will one day put his name up high next to Wilt and Kareem's is about to engrave the city of Lakers with a championship legacy. With opponents bouncing off his chest like bullets, with a laser eye on a ring, Dwight Howard is on his own quest for a piece. He's stepped back into the phone box, ready to transform the game. Now watch him fly. Superman is back.

COMMERCIAL SUCCESS

All Day I Dream About Success.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

(Here is an idea for an Adidas commercial starring Superman).

The commercial begins with the rumbling of thunder over flickering lights of a downtown Los Angeles skyline at night. Through the window of a closed T.V. and electrical store we see the many stacked television sets in the window flickering on and off between having their own picture to making a complete image of footage via all the T.V. screens stacked next to each other. The screens go from static to an image of Wilt Chamberlain spinning and dunking in a L.A. Lakers uniform.

Meanwhile in a phone booth a man in a suit and glasses is talking on a phone. The voice on the other line says; "Many are called, but few are chosen". We switch back to the T.V. store where the television sets are now playing back-to-back images of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky-hook. Back to the booth, the man who fills the entire phone booth rubs his temple as the voice on the other end continues; "can you weather the storm? Can you overcome the Heat?."

Back to the television store and we see an image of Kobe Bryant throwing a lob pass to Shaquille O'Neal for a dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers, before the footage flips to Kobe and Shaq staring each other down in opposing uniforms. We switch back to the phone booth where the man on the phone has his hand pressed against the glass as the voice on the other line asks; "can you come back"?

Thunder cracks and we switch to see the televisions and surrounding lights go out. Back again we hear and see footsteps run out of the phone booth and then take off. Left behind in the phone booth is a full suit, glasses drop to the ground and smash. An earthquake like rumble spreads through downtown as birds fly away in fright. A child playing with a toy airplane in the back-seat of a car stops and looks out as something hurtles past at supersonic speed.

Rushing past the electrical store the televisions flicker between static and footage of a Lakers parade. We cut to L.A's landmark Hotel Figueroa where the three tiered building displays pictures of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal shining like three stripes. A stream of purple and gold zooms past at full speed. We follow the stream as it zip-lines through the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles before soaring to the sky between two.

We then see the sky from the top of the two sky scrapers and between the darkness appears some gold and what looks like a basketball hoop. We hear the flapping of a cape as a basketball shoots up and is followed by an outstretched hand. We see the man from the phone booth as Dwight Howard, donning a Lakers uniform and draped in a purple and gold cape flying upwards after the ball.

It's almost in his reach as a newspaper with the headline 'What's happened to the Lakers?' and one with the headline 'Where is Dwight Howard'? along with what appears to be Mickey Mouse ears fall behind him. As Howard gets higher he cocks his hand back and smiles as the gold light shines on his face as his hand makes contact with the ball. The theme to Superman begins to play and get louder. As his cape flaps violently and he begins to slow down, he looks to dunk while disappearing into the gold light which fills the screen.

We switch to a shot of the Los Angeles skyline as the clouds disperse and the lights of the city including the STAPLES Centre come on in a sharp burst. The headline reads; 'Superman Returns' and then 'Impossible Is Nothing' before the Adidas logo appears.

DWIGHT HOWARD Feature-SUPERMAN 2


Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Illustration By: ALAN FLETCHER


The city was safe more than a decade back. A man of steel with an L on his chest and an S on his arm saved the day like a God for the city of angels. With Thor like strength and Hulk aggression this avenger got his revenge on all those who tried to put him or his city down. In the Metropolis of the STAPLES centre the original man of steel flew from the Mickey Mouse land of the Orlando Magic and showed real super powers in Los Angeles. Soaring with his team through championships straight to the banner laden rafters. The only thing missing was a cape.

Shaquille O'Neal really was Superman.

Still whether it be Kryptonite or Kobe even superheroes leave and as the original Superman flew to the sun of Florida to restore his power, taking his talents to South Beach like his former Cleveland running mate and Miami Heat king LeBron James. Even though the Lakers still had their own hero to marvel at in Kobe Bryant playing the opposite Batman role, the people of the city of Los Angeles through Corvettes and brick walls and All-Star reunions wondered if Superman would ever return.

Then almost ten years later and gone, rumblings of rumors started amongst the skyscrapers of Tinseltown. Could it be? Was that a sighting? Questions where raised. Months passed and passed again. Brooklyn, New York looked like the right home for a superhero but then...dun, dun, duh, the people looked up to the sky one more time. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It's him...just only different. It's Superman. Same flight plan from Disneyworld to Hollywood ditching the Mickey Mouse ears for a purple and gold cape. He's back to save the day and Kobe. Complete with Clark Kent glasses a press conference confirmed it. Dust off the cape and just like Jay said; "take off the blazer,loosen up the tie, step inside the booth Superman is alive". Kingdom come, the Lakers are far from done. King James needs to watch the throne as the crown may be passed to a new prince.

His name is Dwight Howard.

The headlines rose higher than the skyscrapers or billboard. Read all about it as the new man of steel looks to takeover the planet daily and rise with The Dark Knight. This is no Christopher Nolan direction however it's all Mitch Kupchak. Coming from Orlando just like Earvin Johnson said complete with a Magic smile this star is gleaming, and shining. Beaming from ear to ear, starring from city to city. Team to team you can't stop the new Justice League now. Even the Avengers in Miami may need some assembly required.

Spanish hero Pau Gasol, ambassador of World Peace, Metta and running man Steve Nash are right there to help the hero of Los Angeles with Superman because of course everything goes through the one, Kobe Bryant. Still in forming the best one-two punch since his last dynamic duo Kobe has his Shaq 2 in the return of Superman. With Howard soaring and flying-like he did when he stuck a sticker of his face to a backboard-the man who will one day put his name up high next to Wilt and Kareem's is about to engrave the city of Lakers with a championship legacy. With opponents bouncing off his chest like bullets, with a laser eye on a ring, Dwight Howard is on his own quest for a piece. He's stepped back into the phone box, ready to transform the game. Now watch him fly. Superman is back.