Thursday, 28 June 2012
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Oh Canada you're going to love this! The Rock is cooking. The incredibly underrated and beautiful city of Toronto is about to hold a qualifier for one of the most up and coming and stunning basketball tournaments. The Red Bull 'King of the Rock' tournament gives the opportunity for amateur basketball talents to spread their wings and soar above the prison walls of one of California and the worlds most iconic landmarks.
Get down to Sherbourne Common on Saturday, July 7th at 2 p.m to see the Canadian qualifier for a tournament that has 27 countries taking part in their own try-outs. Whoever makes it out of the T-Dot will be awarded a trip to Alcatraz, where the 'King of the Rock' tournament will be held in 'the yard'. 50 years after the inmates left this haunting prison island in the beautiful city of San Francisco the first sports tournament was held here in 2010 and it was basketball that locked it down.
Just ask Clint Eastwood or anybody Alcatraz used to be the place everyone wanted to escape from. Now it's more than tourists or Sean Connery that want to get to 'The Rock'. A whole host of talented ball players with their own rock want to cement their status too. They will all be broken down to one on September 22nd 2012 when the King of the Rock will be crowned. Streetball has never been this tough or tense.
So you think you've got what it takes? Can you see the CN Tower out your window or make the trip? This is your chance. There are 64 spots up for grabs and the Toronto's going to have try-outs. Play hard or go home because this single bracket elimination tournament takes no prisoners...pun intended. You've got 5 minutes...literally as that's how long the one-on-one games take before the winner hops onto the next course and the loser hops the bus. You ready to give your all to the half-court? Men and women aged 16 and over come on down and sign yourself up in the T-Dot because this registration is a first come first served basis. Arrive early to avoid disappointment and show up to hand out your own disappointments to people.
This is one Basketball tournament you don't want to miss. Time to run like DMC. Rajon Rondo is behind it...are you. The Finals and the draft are over now. By way of Toronto all eyes are on the Rock. Even Anthony Davis' and LeBron James'. Are you number one? Can you be king?
Monday, 25 June 2012
By Royal Appointment.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Do you hear that? Shh, shush! Listen...
They've got nothing left to say. The critics and the haters who threw rocks at the throne and billboards in Cleveland. Nothing, nada. Zero, zilch. The King is back and where he belongs, finally atop his throne and with the crown that the young prince was always destined for but at first hesitant to take.
All hail King James.
LeBron James is finally an NBA champion. After making the biggest decision of his life last year his South Beach talents have taken him to the promised land. The Cleveland Cavaliers may be lying in hate but LeBron's moment is no longer lying in wake. Those who said he had no clutch now see him hugging and holding on to Larry O'Brien like a lost love. 'Bron, 'Bron needn't fear. The trophy belongs to him now. It's all written and engraved in the history books. He'll never lose that accreditation. He's certified.
Legends of this game like Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing and many more remained ringless. LeBron after what seems like a career in this league has finally reversed the notion that he would end up the same and at the young age of 26 he's still got plenty of primetime left to decorate the rest of those fingers. He's in his element. Legends of this game like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley may have criticised but it's not there game anymore. It's James' game now. Sure he made a business move, but after shaking off the critics and last years tough, embarrassing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals 'Bron showed he had the heart and soul to get what he truly needed and wanted.
You can't doubt LeBron James loves this game.
Now you can't ignore his legend too, as his legacy has added the defining chapter of his story so many critics writing him off where ready to close. Sure he didn't do it on his own. That's what happens when Basketball Avengers assemble like Voltron. The superfriends really got it together as the power of Chris Bosh and the true original heat champion Dwyane Wade helped the league and finals MVP add the trophy that really separates the basketball men from the boys. 'The Heatles' will reunite next year to try and do it all again and with a great supporting cast and road crew these guys are going to sound good for some time come. Still from Mike Miller's three's to Shane Battier's D these guys all listen to and follow their leader.
And LeBron sure did lead. Shaking off every negative thing that was said in his face or behind his back to stand firm and stronghold his success. From criticising his game to getting too personal about his appearance and personal family life people went too far...but LeBron took it further, took it higher, won the 'chip, brushed the dirt off his shoulder and took the haters down. Now the only one who can make fun of him is Chris Bosh during press time. You have to love that. Check the box-score the stats where huge. Check the play of the week the dunks where dominating. Still all of that pales in comparison to the way LeBron left it all out on the floor and cemented himself as a hardwood classic like Mitchell and Ness.
One day his time here will be a throwback and one of the new millenniums defining performances in the NBA. He beat Kobe...the 'Bron puppet can have a parade now. He beat Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma team that looked like a sure thing. After all the doubts about his fourth quarter desire, LeBron showed love back and played like a real player and professional. He made one of the youngest and most exciting teams look like amateurs. A team that beat last years Maverick champions...and as for Dallas, forget about it. After a lockout almost spoiled the league LeBron locked it down.
The man who brought so much worldwide attention to this Association and it's biggest hype since the Magic/Bird era showed he was worth the attention. Now watch the throne. This man has found the holy grail and holy trinity of NBA success. Now the MVP, Finals MVP and champion is looking to London and the Olympics. A gold medal comes next. Best believe this true athlete deserves another podium. The most exciting, and greatest player since Jordan and Kobe is more than a Heat legend that can now stand next to Alonzo Mouring, Shaquille O'Neal and of course Dwyane Wade. He's one of the greatest players this league has ever seen. If this was ever a question or a doubt then the ring has made the change. LeBron James is now an NBA champion and the crowning achievement of basketball.
The king has taken his throne.
Saturday, 23 June 2012
Where Inspiration Happens.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
In early December 2008 Rodney Rogers was thrown from an ATV he was riding in North Carolina. This terrible accident has resulted in Rodney being paralyzed from the shoulders down. This is a tragic, devastating thing to happen to anybody let alone a former athlete. Just like Parkinson's sufferer Brian Grant, Rogers now has to come to terms with the fact that the same physical gifts and athletic talent that spearheaded a very successful NBA career will no longer be the same. Still, however also just like Brian Grant, Rodney Rogers isn't going to be giving up despite this terrible adversity.
How can we tell this? How about because this man, who clocked out of the NBA after 12 seasons and without the need to earn another penny, did not just sit back and get lazy. He took a job with the Durham's Public Works Department in North Carolina. So after completing his basketball dream Rodney dedicated his time to public service when he didn't have to. Just like Brian Grant this man doesn't give up, he's a warrior too. Michael Balzarano said it best about Rodney's contribution to his new trade, "I didn't even know he had lots of money. He is very friendly, very concerned, very conscientious. We chose him because of his ethics and his attitude. He was highly motivated." Listen to the words Michael uses, 'concerned', 'ethics', 'motivated', this speaks volumes of Rodney's character; these are the characteristics of a true warrior.
Rodney Rogers was no pushover on the NBA court either. Although again like Brian Grant, Rogers was a bit of a journeyman, his career is not defined by the number of teams he played for but by the impact he made and the contributions he gave to the teams he played for. The Nuggets, the Clippers, the Suns, the Celtics, the Nets, the Hornets and the Sixers all benefited greatly from Rodney's presence, even though the Clippers was the only team that Rogers spent more than three years with. This guy was a sparkplug off the bench, a scorer in bunches and a guy that made big plays when his number was called. He was ready to go, shoot and score even straight off the bench just like other invaluable bench mob players of his time including Robert Horry and Walter McCarthy. These priceless contributions did not go unnoticed as during his time in Phoenix Rodney Rogers was named the NBA 'Sixth Man of the Year' in the year 2000.
To put it simply Rodney Rogers made big plays and big things happen to any team he played for. Rogers was part of that 1994, eight seeded Denver Nuggets team who shocked the top seeded Seattle Supersonics by knocking them out of the playoffs, the first time that happened in NBA playoff history. Rodney also that year hit three, three pointers in 9 seconds against the Utah Jazz. These are the plays that epitomize the player he is. He was able to light it up and fill up the scoreboard in seconds. Nine points in as many a second, most bench players burn through nine minutes and barely make a point. Rodney made exclamations.
Years later came the 13.8 points per game, jump-shooting, spark-plug, 'Sixth Man of the Year' time at Phoenix where Rodney would become an NBA household name. Again his contributions where key to his teams successes. This is what has come natural to Rodney throughout his 12 year career. Now though a man who is naturally active, now faces a life where it's going to be almost impossible for him to continue doing the things he's loved and more importantly, even the more routine things in life. Then again if there's one thing we've learnt about Rodney during his basketball and professional career after the NBA it's that he too does not give up.
Let's talk about why...
Q: Rodney, thank you or your time how are you? How is everything with your foundation?
A: I am well and the foundation is moving at a very slow pace, it has been difficult to get others engaged and interested.
Q: Your hard-work and determination is inspiring, especially to fellow sufferers. How important do you feel it is to influence people in this positive way despite the negative circumstances?
A: Very Important! No doubt it is a tough situation to be in, but you have to stay positive and keep moving forward and that is what I want my message to be.
Q: Could you please share with us more about your foundation and what it's involved over the years please?
A: The foundation is still in its baby steps, we still have a few puzzle pieces to put in place and once complete, we will hit the ground running. I want everything to be perfect.
Q: What reassuring words of advice would you give to those also suffering from paralysis?
A: It can be tough at times but you just have to hang in there and make the most of each day because you never know when it will be your last.
Q: Your positive inspiration influences all sorts of people even those suffering from other afflictions. Where do you draw your great strength from?
A: My wife Faye is a blessing that I will forever and always be grateful for.
Q: You recently went back to your college Wake Forest to do a talk. How great was that?
A: Always great to go back to Wake Forest. And I love getting my message out and sharing my story.
Q: Can you share with us some of your favourite memories from your star college career please?
A: Beating Duke and Carolina in the same ACC season.
Q: Shall we talk some NBA? What a career. From Denver to Philadelphia can you share your favourite memories from your pro career please?
A: Winning Sixth Man of the Year and going to the NBA Finals with New Jersey.
Q: It must have been incredible to be a part of that eighth seeded Denver team?
A: It was because we surprised Seattle the number one seed.
Q: I guess Dikembe and his huge smile lying in the court with the ball raised will be etched in your memory forever hey?
A: Yes, because he kept saying over and over that he had a dream that we were going to win. Said it over and over and it came true.
Q: Can you share with us and young ball players what it takes and is like to score 9 points in 9 seconds?
A: 8 Seconds Tim!! (BIG SMILE) Keep working on their jumpers and always be prepared because you never know when you will be called on.
Q: How did it feel to win the prestigious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award? Can you stress how important this position is?
A: Great honor - that position is critical. I feel the sixth man is like a starter and may even play more minutes than the starters. The sixth man is called on to provide a spark or lift or good defensive play when the team needs it.
Q: What do you think of the NBA these days? Who are your favourite players or the ones that remind you of yourself?
A: Love Kevin Durant but I don't see too many of them who remind me of myself. They're too soft (smiles).
Q: What was it like working for the Durham's Public Works Department especially when you didn't have to? How important do you see public service to ones community?
A: Good job that I enjoyed doing. I think it is smart to be prepared for a life after basketball and giving back to your community in any positive way is always a win-win.
Q: Rodney we thank you so much for your time it is greatly appreciated, you are truly an inspiration. Is there anything you would like to share in closing?
A: Thank you for the interview and interest in the foundation, I enjoyed the questions.
Like he said after the accident he didn't go to a nursing home, he insisted "I'm going to my own home". Telling an audience at his former alma-mater Wake Forest Rodney's displayed courage and inspiration throughout all his life's troubles, beginning with his hard childhood and through his latest tragedy. remaining as strong as ever however, Rodney reaffirms, "You just have to keep fighting." Rogers makes what he has counts, he is motivated and he works to better himself and those around him. His situation is truly tragic but to better his life this man WILL find a way. We wish you all the best Rodney.
One thing we know about Rodney is that he wasn't just your average NBA journeyman, role player. He was an exciting, tough, team motivating, big time contributors and warrior for all the ballclub's he played for. True warriors are exactly the same off the basketball court too. True warriors fight, inspire and never give up. True warriors prevail. You are witnessing this.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Like Mike...not quite.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
The next Michael Jordan? Forget that notion. I think we've already found the closest that will ever get to the greatest of all time. So the question remains.
Who's the next Kobe Bryant?
OK. There's nobody quite like Kobe and Bean Bryant is far from giving up. Even if he's approaching his mid-thirties father time is not setting in. Even if he hasn't met Larry O'Brien for two years now he is far from meeting his career maker. He's still an All-Star with a broken nose, an MVP candidate wearing a face mask. The phantom of the NBA, a spirited player with a drive and competitive instinct that outlasts any limits...even critics. Still just like another Magic Laker before him one day he'll have to pass the torch properly to a player that will have the next Jordanesque impact on the league.
The question remains who will step up and take it? LeBron James? Kevin Durant? As both top players have taken their top squads to the title deciding NBA Finals the question of who the next, top great player of this league could be decided here. With one game away from clinching his first ring to change and to finally recede the critics comments-pushing them back further than his hairline-the decision maker himself looks to be the man.
Who else but LeBron James? The back to back MVP and straight out of high-school phenomenon. Who became one of the NBA's biggest rookies and free-agents of all time. Taking more than his talents to South Beach LeBron has left Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony and all the competition behind him. He really is in a league of his own and after all the seasoned doubt and hate the playoffs and it almost seems the Finals belong to him.
Adding a championship will finally write his name in the right history. Once the ring belongs to his fellowship not even Quentin Tarantino will be able to rewrite an engraving. Maybe Robert Rodriquez should make his next commercial about 'Bron. Sure even thought the Kobe/James debate rages on, there seems to be venom running through more than the Mamba's veins. LeBron's rabid at the mouth for a victory and a clutch critic silencer. Just wait until he grabs and gets his fangs into this tournaments trophy. At 0.0 LeBron James will be the man.
That is unless Kevin Durant has something to say...and score about it. The top basket maker of the league is making more than just a point. He is right there with Kobe and LeBron in the Holy Trinity of basketball. Oh come let us adore him as we should praise the talents of a man who is that close to LeBron in being the closest thing the NBA has as the next Kobe Bryant. Slender in frame but strong in game Durant has taken the Oklahoma City Thunder from Seattle to the promised land at Supersonic speed. Even two games down Durant's potential is still a threat. Miami may be heating the Thunder up but beware the eye of the storm.
When it rains it pours and a downpour of Durant points could whet LeBron and his South Beach boys. Sure even when it rains hard in Miami it dries and warms up pretty quickly, the city is still prone for bad weather now and again. Whether they can weather Kevin Durant's Thunder storm is another matter. With hammer or Thor dunks, Iron Man durability, Hawkeye marksmanship and Banner to Hulk like strength this NBA avenger could still be the Captain America of the league and something for the NBA to marvel at. He's not ready for the dark knight yet.
Still who will rise? It's almost like commissioner David Stern is playing Nick Fury with this assembling. With the amazing Kobe Bryant watching from afar like Spiderman are senses tell us this head-to-head battle won't even be over after this season draws to a close. Think of it more like a triple-threat battle for supremacy with Kobe Bryant still alive in it too. Still as for the case of the next Kobe and the next star in the league these two individuals in their own right will have to face the greatest directly. Both Kevin Durant and LeBron James can be accused of doing that already but until they meet again let's see who will win this round. Then we may have found the best man. What will result will be a matrimony of victory. Still, then again it'll just be another engagement. Soon the honeymoon will be over and once again we'll be popping the big question.
Who's the greatest?
(Originally Published in 2011)
The more important choice for LeBron.
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
Have we run out of rocks yet? Are our arms getting more tired than Derek Jeter’s after last innings? It’s time to stop the LeBron bashing now. It’s been old. It's been over a year. Besides it had all been done like the Barenaked Ladies, one week after that infamous ‘decision’ was made, cut, printed and televised. Sure it was a hell of a way to end a partnership and start a new relationship and yeah all those NBA players whether in the locker rooms or in the hall maybe had a point. As did all the journalists, panellists and water cooler experts. Still however just like pining after an ex a year after getting dumped, it’s time to move on. Let's stop the hate, LeBron and his 'superfriends' where only a few games from being something to congratulate. They defied all their critics. Point proven?
Then maybe its time for another. Even though the lockout is halting the next season-meaning all the NBA talk where left with is surrounded by gossip-lets not get caught up with what doesn’t happen on the court. Let’s take it to the floor where another decision LeBron has considered and should make is (generally speaking) of equal importance.
LeBron James also decided that when aligning with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat he was also going to lead this South Beach three. The versatile guard/forward should now look to spend more time next season playing point guard for Miami. Now ‘Bron would make a real good floor general for the Heat despite what people think, or despite even if people are thinking about that at all. To those people, remember its been a year. GET OVER IT!
You see rocks are still being thrown at the throne. ‘We are all witnesses’ to that, billboard or barbecue. Last season LeBron took more Heat than Miami and even the greatest distanced himself somewhat from the King. Speaking of Michael Jordan, with this move to the guard position the point is that LeBron distances himself from MJ too. Sure LeBron still is the closest thing next to a Michael Jordan these days-next to Kobe that is-but as a PG ‘Bron is more suitable for other legendary comparisons. Although Mike handled things well as an off guard.
Sure nobody will ever be ‘Like Mike’ and sure LeBron is very much his own player but what would real talk and enjoyable debate be about legends of this game without head to head comparisons? LeBron is looking to go against all critics and lead instead of follow, actually being unselfish. This is something of Magic, right? Well there have been Earvin comparisons during James’ entire career but we are talking about someone different to Magic Johnson. Besides, they may say LeBron could play all five positions and maybe in the East he could, but against a Western powerhouse like the Lakers in the NBA finals? Nah! You couldn’t see LeBron winning MVP as centre like Magic did spelling Kareem against Philly in the 1980 Finals. As strong as LeBron is, that idea is just for illusions.
LeBron’s latest career move links him more with the ‘other’ Hall of Famer he’s been compared to. This recently made outcast is now more like ‘The Mighty O’, Oscar Robertson. One of basketballs greatest pioneers, in more ways than one. Even from LeBron’s inception, with his rookie debut for Cleveland at the Arco Arena he painted like Leonardo. The canvas being a picture of Oscar greatness. Recording 25 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds and showing Sacramento that there was only one king in the arena that night as the cheers and cowbells rang out for him.
Oscar was a 12 time NBA All-Star and was named to the All-NBA First team 9 times whilst batting at an average tune of 25.7 points, 9.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game. LeBron is on his way to formulating these numbers already averaging 27.8 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds for a career that has already seen six all-star selections and four all first teams. LeBron has even been named league MVP one more time than Oscar but Robertson has one thing in his trophy cabinet that LeBron is yet to polish off, a championship. Now ‘Bron, ‘Bron has joined Bosh and Wade however, the weather forecast looks to change. It’s real sunny in South Beach right now with a chance of ring or even reign. Really the only thing that separates Oscar and LeBron right now is the uncertainty that two teams will be willing to retire two of James’ jerseys.
The 6 foot 5, 220 pound Robertson was big and mighty enough to play both guard positions, which enabled him to put up strong numbers across the board. LeBron is much taller and stronger than Oscar was, which helps him down low rebounding. Now we all know LeBron can score and pass too, but if he takes his NFL esque physique to quarterbacking (and I’m not talking about that State Farm, Cleveland Browns spoof ad either) expect those numbers to be even mightier.
In LeBron’s last season for the Cavs tasting wine and searching for gold he averaged a career high. This career high for the Cleveland Cavaliers was in assists. An average of 8.6 assists a game can not be over turned in the history books and even if his 29.7 points per game diminish due to sharing the ball with superstars it’ll all be for the better. This is because just like Oscar Robertson LeBron James will change the game one more time.
Sure with all this hoopla the LeBron and Kobe comparisons have stopped for the moment and so should the Jordan ones too. Not because James is for better or worse but because his game is more all round. Sure he can kill you but he uses his accomplices more too. LeBron has evolved in the NBA’s big picture with Oscar magic, en route to looking for the NBA academy's greatest reward. Sure ‘Bron’s no look away, behind the back, every time kind of Johnson and even the Kings not regal enough to be the heir to the Cincinnati Royal’s throne, but make no mistake LeBron James is still this good. He is his own man and more importantly to all the doubters out there he’s his own legend. Word to Will Smith.
On a basketball level when LeBron James plays point guard his physical gifts will present his teammates with the opportunity to receive everything they want this year. With LeBron waiting on Bosh and Wade he will serve opponents with a table full of offensive dishes. On a basic level Youtube fans needn’t fear. Now with the D closing on D. Wade and the inside doubling on Bosh, James can still drive to the hoop and find his range. That is if he doesn’t look for Miller, James Jones, Chalmers or any other of the Heat’s many outside threats, because remember LeBron’s versatility isn’t false. He’s a true point guard with a Basketball IQ as smart as Steven Hawking leaving opponents Forrest Gump dumb.
LeBron led his band of Miami brothers last season so it makes sense to put him in the driving seat. After a great inaugral season his superstar team look to drive for another championship, so it's only right LeBron shifts gears. Sure there are clutch, crucial times in a game where a franchise player must take over but that's why James has two more of those guys on his side. Plus if Miami need to switch the kings position they can rotate the squad and what would be more confusing and difficult for other teams to keep up with Wade and James switching and swapping their positions of power? These two kings and their major chess moves would end up making their opponents look like pawns as they try to guard two of the best basketball players on the planet. Now how earth can anybody do that?
So while Miami, run and run who better to lead this new team than the man who spearheaded the development of this refuelled squad in the first place? Now Miami was and is Wade’s team but he is more than willing to step aside in some way. He’s done it before when Miami rubbed the Kazaam lamp for a championship wish from Shaq. Plus Dwyane will be happy to firmly step his sneakers into the shooting guard role, which the point sized guard is more naturally meant for. All LeBron really needs to work on is his grasp of the ball and the offence. A big ask sure but LeBron’s already handled a lot so he can probably manage to not give this task up as well.
Overall whether it’s just for minutes of a quarter or games in a season LeBron is more than capable of steadying the temperature of the Heat offense. Doing this may not produce magic for this ‘other’ Florida team (we see you Orlando) but it sure will give us Oscar moments as LeBron becomes more like the player he was always meant to be and the MVP the league needs to see again. His own man, for his own team. Get the point?
(Originally Published In 2011)
Looking after number one...or in this case number 3.
By Tim David Harvey
LeBron James made league, sports business and hater history by taking his talents to South Beach last Summer, while feeling the love in Florida but catching hell in Cleveland all at the same time. Using the same pen as Chris Bosh, James inked Miami's championship promise and the Heat's future threat. Still there was another big contact signed that very week. Sure it didn't come with a new jersey like the Carmelo Anthony rumors, (he had to wait a little longer to escape to New York) but it came with loyalty and respect. It was all about the big picture of family and the catalyst of adding even more relatives to this portrait. When the name Dwyane Wade was signed on the dotted line, this super-future was certified.
Sure 'The Heatles' would be nothing without their Paul McCartney, but they really wouldn't be s*** without their John Lennon, their founder, Dwyane Wade (and just for the record Chris Bosh is no Ringo Starr). It all begun and could have ended with him. Imagine! Dwyane Wade's wheelchair to stair lift rise back from league purgatory to playoff victory really made Miami more than just a desirable location for holiday makers during Spring break. D was and still is the centrepiece to the birth and rise of this big three. With Wade and the Heat's resurgence the Heat re-tooled to re-try to relive 2006 Championship renaissance. Two players and two regular season months later it all came together as critics arguments fell apart. Now things look even brighter in South Beach as last season saw them being the closest thing to victory outside of Dallas. Now who knows what's next? 'Here Comes The Sun'.
LeBron's decision points where (for some) as unwelcome as George Bush's autobiography. Still as the hate boiled, LeBron's love for the game didn't simmer...neither did his talents. As he led this Miami side, he racked up the triple doubles, 'Player Of The Week' honors and 'Where Amazing Happens' moments. Still as James now relishes this villain role, let's not forget about Miami's original hero in a flash. Their real undisputed leader, a real Larry O'Brien heavyweight already holding a championship belt, already taking shots at Dallas like J.R. A real red-hot superhero to marvel at. "FLASH! AH, AH!"
Until LeBron takes the Heat to places Wade can't it's Dwyane's team. With that being said however, it isn't about rivalry down in the superstar welcome Miami. The hate is left outside like the competition. LeBron and Dwyane (and Chris) will work together for their classics and their dominance like Lennon and McCartney wrote for theirs. It's time for this fantastic Heat three to get their flame on. Voltron doesn't form without all it's components. Kobe isn't scared of anyone, but he certainly isn't afraid of one man. Still years back, the one man who was able to run rings (literally and championship figuratively) around Kobe, season after season, Christmas Day after Christmas Day was Wade. It will be Dwyane's presence two that helps give Miami the gift it really wants. To beat the Lakers and everyone else this year, when last Christmas is permanently in the rear view and next December 25Th is still around six months away.
Sure everyone from blogging critics (except this one) to NBA legends have written James off. From soundbites to rap lyrics, people have bitten and put a wrap on the love for LeBron. Rocks have been thrown at the throne and billboards have come hurtling down like derelict buildings. Still, LeBron isn't the only guy to have been unfairly written off. Chris Bosh knows all too much about this injustice, but that's for another article (look it up. It's here). Dwyane Wade has also felt the lead of the ever changing perspective of a critics pencil. As a matter of fact, so have every player suiting up in the red, white and black. Still, just like his two 'superfriends' Wade's criticism comes with little ground. Look at everything this guy has made up and overcome over the years. From the cellar to a championship, and all the way back down the hill and potentially all the way up again.
'Bron, 'Bron may have the celebrity endorsements, but Jay-Z or no Jay-Hova, Wade has started this new dynasty. LeBron may be the star of stars, but Wade is the recruiter of stars and the saviour of franchises. James may be league MVP, but Dwyane was the best All-Star this year. Just ask a record number of fans in Dallas. LeBron may have the dunks and triple doubles, but so does Wade running the court like 'Ironside', no matter the affliction. From basket, to basket. Offense to defence. Spring sneaker blocks to air-born-again dunks. Circus shots to clutch shots. Wade has a world of talent. He has it all. Strength and speed, vision and savvy, will and unselfishness. A man with star power but a team player also. A true two-guard. Not a shooting guard in a point guards body but a real swingman like the expensive jerseys, classic like 'Mitchell & Ness'. Authentic and real, beyond a champion. See the point?
Sure LeBron may tweet about how "Karma's a b****", but it's the Kings dawg that really is getting what comes around...in a good way two. LeBron can us Twitter to chirp back all he likes, (he's earned it) but it's Dwyane's character, across his NBA history timeline that really has earned him the full capacity of his just deserves. Wade has been through it all. From being a lottery pick on a post-'Mourning' franchise, who really thought they had punched their last ticket, to championship banners. From the downsizing of the big fella, to Pat Riley's slick exit upstairs. From Antoine Walker shaking the law instead of his shimmy, to 'The Glove' finally coming off. Wade's won and lost, saved a lot and paid the cost. Now he's boss. Time to fire back at the hate and trump the young apprentices.
Still, now with new friends, possibilities and hopes, this young fellas time really is now. He was before his time in '06 but now the clock still ticks in his favour. From the power of Bosh to the king's royal decree, Dwyane's next appointment could well be with Larry O'Brien. Sure no trophies for next season (if there even is one) have been engraved yet, but sometimes even the distant future already appears written. From 1 right through to 15, Miami can get it done. Still it's Miami's number trois that is the number one, first and foremost leader of their big three. As this Heat team show no signs of cooling down, the pressure will be on Wade to lead by his previous legacy and example. With everything this guy has done and will do however, the forecast is set for even hotter times in this boiler room of young talent in South Beach. Miami's two biggest purchases of the Summer may be what drives this Heat family to the championship, but still it's Daddy's favourite, Miami son that will have his hands on the steering wheel. Besides, it's Dwyane's world after all.
(Originally Published in 2011)
From CB4 to Number 1.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Three's company, but sometimes a crowd. This is because at times when looking at a group thrice nice we may only think twice and miss one out. Take the Rat Pack for example. Sinatra was king and Dean Martin was every ladies favourite, but what of Sammy Davis Jr? Well even if he was in the shadows, he was still just as good as the rest. Ol' blue eyes was the man but Ol' Sam was effortlessly cool and without him there would be no 'Eee-O Eleven'. That's kind of what it's like with Miami Heat's own Rat Pack. LeBron has to be Sinatra, while South Beach favourite Dwyane Wade is just as good like Dean Martin. This leaves Chris Bosh as Sammy, but just like Junior Bosh is no third wheel and that's as real as the apple juice in Dino's glass.
See now this Miami team are feeling like family this Christmas, it's clear Wade is the leader and 'Bron the decision maker, but Chris is their presence in the post. The extra element and dimension Miami need to take them from contenders to champions and consideration to everyone else's commiseration. Whether he's considered hot or cold, Bosh is still raising the temperature of his game, just like he did when he made Toronto Raptor fans forget about Vince Carter. Sure those cool cornrows, come dreads may have turned into a Wade cut but Bosh's game still looks just as good.
Over the past few years Bosh has belonged to another trio along with Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire. A tandem of frontcourt power players that just look scary in the paint with the way they fly like guards, but dunk like Shaq's. Sure with the rake thin Bosh you may look at Dwight's physique and two handers and then at STAT's and think, NAH! Don't get it twisted however like Bruce Lee, Bosh is all muscle and for strength in plays just check out the dunk he unwrapped on the Lakers last Christmas day above L.A.'s trees. This tough forward thinking player can take the Heat past Amare's Knicks and Dwight's Magic.
Everybody loved Chris in the T-Dot. He carried the team, his city and the country with only one basketball franchise on those spindly shoulders. Sure he had a lot of help and talent in Canada (especially in '06) but not like this. Now in South Beach this former Northern light has to share the ball and the limelight with a Heat legend and one of the best ever. So sure he's going to be a little disregarded like the cold receptions he'll expect back up at the Air Canada Centre but Bosh is still a bright light in all this stardom. Miami's new sheen is not about two and a half men.
The original big three of recent memory was in Milwaukee. Sam Cassell, Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson were huge in the late 90's/early noughties and just like the Buck stopping with Robinson, the Heat are a little colder without their big dog. The 6, 11, 235 pound, worthwhile talent still averaged 18.6 points and 8.20 rebounds per last season. This is huge, especially when he shares the ball with a roster full of talent and two guys who could both hit 40 on any given Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. This guy is no 20 and 10 threat, he's that, and a regular double, double promise. Chris Bosh was also resolute that this new year he'll average 10 boards. Now he's doing everything and still vowing more. He's even got his Shaq on, dishing a 1.9 average at assists and with some Dikembe development on his 0.70 swat average, he could also soon have a block party on defence next season. With this, plus an 0.80 steal average, Chris is also looking to upgrade his D even more.
Wade may be the catalyst and LeBron the top prize, but still the free agent signing of Chris Bosh may be exactly what Miami need to really heat up the league and the history books. After Wade re-signed, it might just have been Bosh's ink that led to LeBron James' decision point. The East is more of a best these days, it's getting taller and better, but still the Miami are right up there next to the Magic in Florida, the new New York Knicks and the old favourite, Boston Irish of the Celtics and their own big three. Miami don't need any tricks or Irish luck however, the reality is even with a shaky, haters love it start, they are as good as the paper they read well on.
Don't look too much into the inconsistency this season as the Heat's talent is one constant that can't be denied. Wade leads this circus with his wild clutch shots, but organised play. While LeBron, is LeBron or some M.J./Magic hybrid, chasing Kobe. Now the final formation of this Voltron, Bosh is a frontcourt force. Bynum, Gasol and Odom better watch out and D up. Following a valiant finals effort against champions Dallas, another potential finals or Lakers/Heat series could look like good tidings next season. With Chris Bosh being that superstar x-factor that could take his new Miami friends to the promised/critically wrote off land, things are looking as open as the plays on Coach Spo's dry erase board. LeBron and Wade are a holy trinity with frontcourt cleric Chris Bosh. This class of '03 look to teach the league and the critics a lesson. Time for school. Wake up!
(Originally Published In 2011)
Kobe & LeBron better make way.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Do you believe in David and Goliath stories and legends? You know the kind where a big, strong force is moved by something much smaller? Where a skinny man, shows what's buried deeper inside? The ability to develop and stand next to the big boys of the nation a-la Captain America? Sure in the league of the NBA there are two perennial stars of stars to marvel at; Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Still, however as the debate between who is better rages on, these two corners of the association will have to make room for one more like 'Bron's teammates in South Beach. Right now not much touches the NBA's puppets, except the man who'll be pulling the strings in years time as the next Godfather of the association; Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant is the future. Now, just like rap's greatest Jay-Z and the late, great Notorious B.I.G. we 'aint saying Durant's better then the leagues two biggest talents, but he's the closest one. LeBron may be the MVP with a valuable team, closer to playing for the NBA's most high award, but Kevin can outscore the King and he and the Thunder may just be able to get to his throne quicker with his lightening, fast play. Kobe may have the rings and the legend, but Kevin's next in line for a championship as he lays the path of his own, unique legacy. Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder almost caught the Lakers two playoffs ago and Kobe can't keep up with Durant's youth much longer. They almost showed this years champion Dallas who the real Mavericks are. Just wait, with franchise partner and one of the strongest points in the league; Russell Westbrook and a great team of players,(from former Celtic Perkins to Africa's Ibaka) coaches and fans behind him behind him there really is a storm coming, with a forecast of 'reign' and we aren't talking about Seattle's Storm. This is Oklahoma's team and time now.
Kevin has taken this former Seattle team from the bargain basements of sale to the top of peoples 'League Pass' expense accounts at super Sonic speed. Motoring this Oklahoma, 'Ford Centre' inhabitants forward with his keys in the ignition. Affecting change like he had shares in Starbucks (they still did the Sonics and the city of Seattle wrong by the way). Waking up a city that missed it's one-year rental Hornets like strong coffee, stinging the notion of a one and done year. This 'Durantula' has climbed up the leagues web, keeping his smooth as silk team right with him as his spindly arms string together all sorts of powerful, hammer-of-Thor dunks for his Thunder team when he runs the break like a gazelle and no one else in the NBA kingdom. The points, wins and newspaper headlines keep on pouring out for Oklahoma City. Special K is more then a basketball serial killer, or scoring machine. He's the complete, franchise player and leader like fellow, former scoring champ Allen Iverson before him. Unquestionably this guy is answering the critics and showing fellow top scorers that 30 points per game is the new 20.
Durant shares more with Kevin Love then a first name. He's part of an exciting breed of next generation players who are going to take the worldwide league to more Magic/Bird, Kobe/LeBron popular heights. He's already proven his global worth, leading the charge in last years World Championships, just wait to see him carry the flag for Team USA in the Olympic Games next year in London. The globe is listening to more then just his brand of headphones. We don't even know this guys ceiling yet, but right now it's looking as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel. The sum of Kevin's part add up to something huge. With some Kob' and 'Bron in him, and the scoring and competitive killer instinct of Mike, this guy really is an heir apparent. Still, however with the addition of a cool, calm, but fire-inside, Tim Duncan demeanour in him and a body and versatility type of a young Kevin Garnett this guys multiplying talents can he'll divide double teams and subtract the opposition. On the whole however-despite the influences-Durant is his own man and a one-of-a-kind player. He is an establishing legend, who is already being the benchmark that younger, drafted players are being compared to and this guys only 22.
This do it all, all-star guy is the kind of player that on his best day could win the 'Slam Dunk', three-point and skills contest at the All-Star weekend. He's already won the quickly defunct game of 'H.O.R.S.E.' showing this top scorer can do more then just outscore everybody, he can shoot from anywhere too. Still Kevin Durant's not concerned with February like jilted lovers and broken hearts. This lone man wants to still be in the heart of NBA partners come late Spring and right now him and his Thunder are in matrimony with Dirk and his dangerous Dallas team for the West and leagues best once Kobe and the Lakers dynasty retires. Then all that will be left is the king and his men and although LeBron James really is the best, Durant will have no problem taking his talents to South Beach and seeing what he can leave with.
It may take a few more years for this man to show the league that the real heat belongs in Oklahoma-besides he has the Texan titans to deal with-but right now one thing is clear, Kevin Durant is here and his legend is here to stay as his legacy continues. We are witnessing someone before his time, take the league by storm. The opposition better stay in doors, K.D.'s got more then a foot in, he's kicking it in like the Notorious one and everyone knows his name. The Thunder's top man has hit the league with a lightening bolt and he's about to strike once again.
(Originally Published In 2011)
It's going to be hard to keep up with Russell's athletic.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
When it comes to the best Point Guard in the NBA a few years ago the talk of the league-from the courts to the schools and the work places to the playgrounds-was between magic men Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Nowadays the water cooler and locker conversations have been re-filled and stacked with barrels of debate between young guns Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose, who already have championship's and MVP's to their names. Still with all this talk on the winners this doesn't render the rest of the points losers. In the talk of the greatest, more then just some breath should be saved for Russell Westbrook. The leagues one-time greatest secret who's game is now speaking volumes.
Turn it up and tune in because Oklahoma City Thunder's number two is focussed on the associations number one goal; winning. This guy is no longer the Robin to Kevin Durant's Batman, forming a one-two punch with the smooth, scoring machine that's ready to take hits at LeBron and Wade, Kobe and Gasol and Carmelo and Stoudemire. It's about to be a dark night for the opposition as this team rises. Westbrook polices the blue and white's with a 'pass first, shoot later', courtesy, professionalism and respect to his team-mates. This All-Star is all-team and box-score with last season averages of 21.9 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per contest. These are the type of statistics that engrave big numbers and names in the annals of sports history. Still Durant's the leading man and his supporting actor knows this, but that doesn't mean Russell can't step in and be the star when the script calls for it. That's why Westbrook has even more plays wrote for him as his clutch plays lead to more happy endings then Adam Sandler flicks. 'Brook's cinematic plays are the reason some Hollywood stars are flocking to the city of Oklahoma to watch real ball.
Basketball is putting this town on the map, and Russell and Kevin are holding the key's as the 'Ford Centre' refuels night after night. With this perfect pair and a strong OKC team featuring big talents like Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and more the one-time Seattle Supersonics really are a different team and it all starts with the franchise's truest Point Guard since Gary Payton. Now the gloves are off. With the Lakers getting older and the San Antonio Spurs getting colder right now the only thing standing in Oklahoma's way is the West and leagues best Dallas Mavericks.
As for Westbrook the only small guard that's more on point then him out in the wild West is the Hornets Chris Paul who may soon turn New Orleans into New York. Still Russ' skill level is a lot closer then those cities even when read on a map. Westbrook's path to being right there with the beasts of the East isn't a long one either. Deron, Derrick and Rajon are about to have some company. This former fourth pick of the draft may be four Points away from being the NBA's best P.G. but with strength like Rose, speed like Rondo, skill like Paul and toughness like Williams, Westbrook shares more with the best then a bright future. Plus his versatile repertoire makes parts of his game better then those above him. Russell has a lot of aces up his sleeve ready to serve his competition. Advantage Westbrook.
This UCLA graduate and Californian college star is making his mark on the league like bruiser and fellow Bruin Kevin Love. Both have strong games primed to leave haters comments weak. A potent force, this former L.A. king is built for the gym and clutch like Lakers guard Derek Fisher and is born to be a serious star like L.A.'s other guard. Kobe better watch out, a shaggy haired, blonde bomber isn't his only concern. This bald, bold guard is ready to shave some years off for the Lakers dominance saying goodbye to a dynasty like Dame while he dashes through the defence.
Russell is quick, strong, hungry and full of talent. Once this raw star overcomes some inconsistencies look for his game to be polished into something pure and then his Oklahoma partner and team will be so much more. The hype has been justified but as for the final result we have no idea what's in store. This number zero really is something, its the competition that is left like nothing. Repping the West harder then his tough game, the forecast of the Thunder's future with Russ calls for 'reign'. The rest of the league won't have an umbrella strong enough when the former Seattle team's storm is in full force. The weather of the league is changing. Let's hope the NBA's ready.
This Long Beach native is the youngest star to come out of that area since Snoop Dogg and now the whole world knows the name of this 22 year old guard. It won't be long before the cheers ring out for Russell like Norm. Right now he's the best young guard in the West bar non. The rest of the league isn't waiting either, as this before-his-time star has arrived to the contender party as early as he arrives to practice to hoist up shots while everyone else is busy playing outside the courts. Rest-assured that Russ is determined to be the last one to leave the gym too. Whether it's in practice gear or championship tee's. Then it'll be him and not his critics with the last word.
Monday, 18 June 2012
Now how about this for some face time?
Forget father time. The young All-Star's tried to knock veteran legend Kobe Bryant down, concuss him and break his nose yet he still came back with avengance. Strapping on the Rip Hamilton face mask and showing the cities of America that his great game was far from R.I.P. Looking deadly in the M.F. Doom, phantom mask. The Mamba has recently become even more of a menace to the rest of the NBA.
Just call him 'The Phantom Menace'.
In these star wars in this basketball league Obi Wan Kobe is cutting through opponents like he had two Lightsabres. The superhero of the NBA really has looked the part. Just wait until someone comes out with an action figure, or comic-book for Bean's escapades. Robert Rodriguez may have to film another commercial. Are Kanye and Bruce busy?
Probably because right now everyone is watching the Doberman snarl and battle through the pain and "sauna" like heat of the face-mask that Bulls guard Hamilton may wear for caution and luck, but Kobe can't wait to get rid of.
Still it's making his drive and overall game that much more insane. Crazy with a 'V' for vendetta, he's leaving his mark like Zorro, like LeBron seasons before him. They've super-imposed Kobe's face over Gerard Butler, as the man leads his troubled Laker team with the strength of 300 hundred men, silencing the opposition like lambs with a Hannibal Lecter killer instinct. Even switching to the black mask, to show he really is the lone-ranger out in the Wild West.
Even after Miami Heat great Dwyane Wade tried to cool Kobe down with a hard, blood-letting foul at All-Star, the All-Legend Bryant then surpassed the greatest ever Michael Jordan in All-Star points, as his 20 after regulation gave him a mid-February total of 264. The man may have been written off this year but he really belongs in the company of the best.
Following this the Masked Mamba posted his third straight 30 point game as he and his Lake Show exacted revenge over a fouled out Wade and his Miami team with a 93-83 win in L.A. Which was a true Hollywood story for this superhero avenger. Now that really is something to marvel at. Sure 'The Dark Knight' of the Los Angeles Lakers may have fallen in D.C. and Detroit but this hot Heat beating was a major chess move as Kobe and his board took down LeBron's men. King exposed...checkmate.
No rivals indeed...at least for now. Kobe stung the Hornets last night with 33 points, said thank you very much to Memphis with 34 and had another winning game with 26 against storied rivals Boston. The man's making more history, even the Lakes old home in Minneapolis saw a 30 plus pouring. What a great tale this is to tell.
This has become one interesting side-story. It's more than just a trend on Twitter. Even Chris Paul is following suit in Clipperland (OK he is injured too). Sure just like we have no idea what's going on with trades in Lakerland, we have little clue to when Kobe will reveal himself from behind the mask, but what we do know is that behind a disguise or not the real, heroic Kobe will always come to light and it's looking to be even more unpredictably legendary by the game.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
By QUETT WALKER
Now that the NHL Stanley Cup winners have been decided, it’s the NBA’s turn to crown a new champion given that the reigning champions the Dallas Mavericks have been ousted in the first round of the playoffs. On Tuesday night the National Basketball Association 2012 Finals begin, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat jostling to be the NBA’s last team standing in this final round of 7 game series.
Let’s start by previewing the different positions for both teams.
Point Guards: Russell Westbrook vs Mario Chalmers
Russell Westbrook is a very explosive shooting guard playing the point guard position. At 6’3’’ and 187lbs, his athleticism, quickness and ability to drive to the rim will definitely be a great challenge to the slower Mario Chalmers. Even though Westbrook possesses these traits, he’s known to be a bit reckless with the ball from time to time by trying to do too much thus contributing to an abundance of turnovers. However he has managed to play with a bit more control and this has tremendously decreased his turnovers during these playoffs.
Mario Chalmers has played solid throughout these playoffs but more so as a role player especially since Chris Bosh has been suffering from the injury bug. After Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, he has been consistent offensively while defensively he has been constantly abused by quicker guards during these playoffs (see Rajon Rondo).
Although both players are shooting 44% for the playoffs, given Westbrook’s quickness, athleticism, his advantage on the fast break and Mario Chalmer’s defensive inefficiencies, he should easily dominate this match up.
Shooting Guards: Thabo Sefolosha vs Dwyane Wade
Although I think Sefolosha will be guarding Lebron James most of this series, he is the starting shooting guard for OKC and therefore will be matched up against Dwayne Wade on the roster. Thabo’s speciality is his defensive prowess on and off the ball. Given is massive 7’5’’ wingspan, his defensive persistence and his balance offensive skills, this makes him a good overall product to combat against the explosiveness of Dwyane Wade and Lebron James during this series.
Dwyane Wade is the second best shooting guard in the NBA (behind Kobe Bryant of course). His quickness, ability to change direction on the drop of a dime, and his will to get to the basket at any time will no doubt entertain the massive audience that will tune in to watch the Finals this year. His stoic demeanour and his championship poise will definitely help the Heat to be a more focused basketball team this year.
Although Thabo Sefolosha’s length may slow Wade down a bit, expect big things from Wade this time around especially after the Heat’s disappointing performance in last year’s Finals.
Small Forwards: Kevin Durant vs Lebron James
This is the match up that the NBA fans across the world have been waiting to see, as for the first time since 1998, the NBA Finals will feature the top two finishers in the MVP race. Since Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls defeated Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz in 1998, the NBA Finals will have MVP Lebron James and MVP runner up Kevin Durant going toe to toe for their chance to win their first ever ring.
Kevin Durant definitely has the advantage with his perimeter shooting in the playoffs (36% vs James’ 28% according to NBA.com) and his ability to knock down clutch shots. At 6’10’’ KD has an advantage in height and length against James and therefore will allow him to see over the defence and get his shot off a bit more. One disadvantage with Durant is he sometimes fall into a state of unselfishness and therefore does not command the ball enough which limits his shot attempts and thus disrupts his offensive rhythm. In addition he can be taken out of his game by smaller more physical defenders in the post so expect Shane Battier to guard Kevin Durant for most of this series.
Lebron James is definitely a physical specimen and this allows him to be a force to be reckoned with. James is a better post player, rebounder (10 per game to KD’s 8 per game according to NBA.com), passer and defender and can drive to the rim any time he so chooses. James’ only downfall is his penchant for disappearing in the final minutes of pivotal games. If you had a chance to watch any of the NBA Finals last year, you may have seen James come up short in the closing moments of the final 4 games. This has led to constant ridicule and mocking of James’ ability to have any sort of impact on a game in the Final 2 minutes. Let’s be honest, James possesses too much talent not to be a factor in any games period! Let’s hope James has channelled all of the energy and learned from last year as he is definitely the key as to whether Miami will take the chip this year.
Although both players are shooting 50% from the field during the playoffs, Durant has shown to be the better clutch player.
Power Forwards: Serge Ibaka vs Udonis Haslem
Serge Ibaka has definitely improved his overall play especially on the defensive end as indicated by his second place finish in this year’s defensive player of the year voting. Averaging 3 blocks a game during the playoffs, Serge Ibaka is a force in the middle for any opposing players even anticipating a trip to the rim. Although most of his blocks come off the weak side from help defences, he is still a decent one on one defender and he can hit an open jumper (or several as indicated by his perfect 11-11 performance from the field in Game 4 against the Spurs in the Western conference Finals). However Ibaka is only averaging 6 rebounds a game for the playoffs according to NBA.com. This needs to improve as OKC will definitely have to dominate against Miami’s small front court line up to win this series.
Udonis Haslem is known as a good solid player and a physical warrior on the basketball court. Udonis and Dwayne Wade are the only remaining players from the Heat team that won the championship in 2006 and therefore he knows what it takes to win. He is a better spot up shooter and rebounder than Serge Ibaka and has more experience on the big stage but lacks the size and quickness to compete against Ibaka.
Both of these guys are physical on the basketball court but given the younger legs of Ibaka and the 2 inch height advantage, Udonis is essentially a small forward playing in the power forward position.
Look for this matchup to definitely be a physical one.
Centres: Kendrick Perkins vs Joel Anthony
Besides his intimidating scowl, Kendrick Perkins brings physical toughness and a defensive presence of mind to the table in this series. After his many years playing alongside the Boston ‘Big 3’, or ‘Big 4’ with the inclusion of Rajon Rondo, this has equipped Perkins with the necessary skills to be a good low post defender. Here again we have a player who has valuable championship experience and who know what it takes to win. Although he has lost 35 lbs coming into the season, unfortunately injuries have stilled managed to slow Perkins down and thus makes him a bit flat footed and sluggish around the basket.
Joel Anthony is energetic, quick jumping player who is definitely undersized for this position. His erratic shooting and lapses on defence makes him a half decent role player at best.
Anthony will have trouble boxing out the bigger and more aggressive Perkins who is use to guarding bigger and more athletic centres such as Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. As a result Perkins shouldn’t have any trouble keeping Anthony off of the boards or denying Anthony a plethora of points in this series.
Supporting Cast: OKC vs Miami
The biggest concern for Miami regarding OKC supporting cast is the slowing down of James Harden. Here is a player that can be in the starting line-up for any team in the NBA but has embraced his role as a bench player. As the unanimous winner of the 6th man of the year award this season, James Harden has single handedly taken over a few games in the playoffs that have propelled the Thunder to be triumphant in those games. Miami is going to have its work cut out for them trying to guard Harden who will be able to slash to the basket in this series due to the absence of a low post shot blocker. Look for Harden to be the X factor in this series.
Also OKC has Nick Collison who is a decent rebounder and a terrific hustle player who doesn’t take plays off. He will not hesitate for a second to sacrifice his body by throwing it into the way of an opposing offensive player to draw a charge. Derrick Fisher brings leadership to OKC and is a proven champion and clutch shooter with the 5 championship rings he has received from his years with the Lakers. Daequan Cook is a terrific 3-pointer shooter who will spread the floor for OKC while Nazr Mohammed is another big body that OKC can put on the floor to play against Miami’s already depleted front court.
Miami’s bench is atrocious with the only decent players being the injured Chris Bosh and Shane Battier. Miami should worry as Chris Bosh is not 100% with the abdominal injury he suffered in the second round of the Eastern conference playoffs. Although this will be Bosh’s 4th game back from injury, he has managed to average 12 points and 7 rebounds (according to NBA.com) in these 3 games which may provide a bright spark to the Heat bench.
Shane Battier’s performance has been inconsistent since he was brought in as a defensive specialist to guard the opposing team’s best players. Shane’s performance against Kevin Durant will be key as he will need to bring a high calibre level of defence and dig deep into his bags of tricks to slow down Durant and other players on OKC.
While James Jones and Mike Miller were brought in to utilize their sharpshooting skills to spread the floor and punish the defence, we have rarely seen a sighting of these two during the playoffs. Norris Cole’s performance has diminished significantly from the start of the season and is strongly exhibiting signs of the rookie that he is in these playoffs.
Overall, OKC’sbench is bigger, more athletic and deeper than the bench of Miami.
Even though Miami has 2 of the top 5 players in the league in Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, they don’t have much of everything else besides an injured Chris Bosh and a somewhat reliable Shane Battier. OKC is a deeper team boasting the 6th Man of the year off the bench (James Harden) who will not hesitate to try and dismantle the Heat and put doubts into their minds. OKC will definitely use their size in the front court to dominate the Miami Heat and Russell Westbrook’s ability to get to the rim and maintain the tempo of the game will be crucial in this matchup.
Each team will also need to limit their turnovers as OKC are at their most dangerous on the fast break while Lebron and Dwayne have made teams pay with their superb transition offense and ferocious, rim rattling dunks.
However, each team will only go as far as their superstars take them, in this case Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Although James is blessed with amazing talent and is a strong and physical player, the fact remains he is yet to wash away the label of being a choker on the big stage that is the NBA Finals. OKC has arguably the best clutch player in Kevin Durant which has been proven with his game winning shots during the previous series with the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs and seems more likely to continue into the Finals.
Also the fact remains that the home team of games 3,4 & 5 in the Finals has not been able to win all three games since the Miami Heat did it in 2006. This statistic doesn’t bode well for Miami with them being the host team and we very well know that OKC is capable of winning on the road as they have done it in all of their previous series so this concept is very possible. We do however know that Miami will need to win on the road if they are to take the chip this year.
So is it going to be Durant or James who leads their team over the finish line and to the NBA championship?
Based on ability to perform in the clutch when everything is on the line, it seems as if the edge will go to Kevin Durant.
Result: OKC wins 4-2
Monday, 11 June 2012
(Originally published by SLAMonline on (09/25/09). Article In original Format)
At 31, Kobe has plenty more playing years ahead.
by Tim David Harvey
The Lakers faithful didn’t need to take down the party decorations from Magic’s half century celebration last week, because this weekend Kobe Bryant turned 31. No big thing right? Haven’t you learned by now? This is Kobe Bryant were talking about, nothing about this man is insignificant. So, shamelessly, yes, this is reason to take another look at the most penned-about subject in basketball…
30′s the new 20
I’m on fire still
These young boys is like fire drills
False alarms, the next don
He ain’t got it, on to the next one. –Jay-Z, 30 Something
I know its hard to believe but the Black Mamba, MVP, Mr. 81, Kobe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant turned 31 years of age. I’m not trying to make you feel old, Kobe, but that ‘fro was a long time ago. So many happy returns to No. 24, and that’s that right? Or is now the apt time to talk about this man’s age?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to cynically write about the diminishing years and skills of an athlete in his 30s. This is no swan-song, no winter of a legends pro-career. Besides, age sometimes really is like Aaliyah told us. Just ask Kobe’s former Batman, Shaquille O’Neal, who last season stepped in the rejuvenating machine and showed no signs of slowing down. Or Dikembe Mutombo who may have now retired but literally defied age for years chasing Robert Parish’s longevity.
Kobe’s only beginning his 30s and, by those aforementioned standards, could be here for a very long time still. That being said, we cannot escape time and in the constant Kobe Bryant versus LeBron James debate. One thing’s for certain, injuries aside, we’ve got many more years to see how good LeBron will get. And we most definitely won’t be able to enjoy another decade of Kobe Bryant, let alone another 13 record-breaking, highlight-filled years we’ve already been blessed with.
Many accolades and milestones cemented these 13 years of ‘Where Amazing Happens’ moments. Also strengthening his legend is the career average of 25 points per and the 11 All-Star selections. As recent as this June Kobe claimed what had been eluding him for many years, another NBA championship. This his fourth but his first without being fueled by The Diesel. For Kobe Bryant this really is a turning point and even the most casual of barcalounger, NBA fans can see this. How fitting is this turning point to come when the Kobe is in the beginning of his 30s? Even Kobe admitted it himself when he changed his famous No. 8 to 24 a couple of years back. Bryant dubbed it “evolution” for the second half of his career.
Take a look at the evolution of his game and you can see the change. No. 8 won championships with Shaquille O’Neal and primarily wowed crowds with his fast break dunks, style and athleticism. Don’t get me wrong No. 8 was still the makings of a legend and arguably the best basketball player on the planet. But take a look at No. 24, still wowing the crowd with dunks, athleticism and style like No. 8 all whilst taking the game a little bit slower. When I say slower I don’t mean in the sense that his mind’s writing checks his legs can’t cash anymore, but that he’s beginning to see the game more like Magic Johnson. He’s seeing plays before they develop, seeing the game as chess not checkers.
Think about the advantages of seeing and taking the game slower, think about what Magic did without taking more than a couple of shots — he dominated. It’s plain and simple. If you can see the game and play the game slower, you yourself can control the game; this breeds wins, which birth championships. When you’re at Kobe Bryant’s standards and see the game at a different level you don’t just take shots, you have time to find your shot. With this in mind No. 24 has also begun to pass, defer and, most importantly, trust his teammates. This makes his Lakers squad that much more efficient and, more importantly, more dangerous. The trust thing works both ways. Once the Lakers powers-that-be brought in the necessary personnel, No. 24 was more comfortable and happy. Kobe put it best: He was “no longer going to war with butter knives.” A good general has to lead his soldiers, however, and that’s what Kobe’s done en route to what amounted to the first championship for most of his teammates.
Take a look at how he helped young players like Shannon Brown develop or how his trust bought the best out of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. The art of passing, the missing aspect from Kobe’s game for years, finally came to him. The way Kobe now makes teammates that only a couple years back he’d ridicule on hidden camera better will begin to bring Kobe comparisons to Magic Johnson as well as Michael Jordan. As if that wasn’t enough the self dubbed ‘Doberman’ muzzled his critics even further by not just trusting his teammates but coaching them too. Take a look at many of the Lakers huddles from the Playoffs and Finals and observe Phil Jackson taking a back seat while a passionate, focused Kobe takes the whiteboard. Don’t for a second think that the Zen Master’s got soft on us. He’s letting Kobe do exactly what he should: spreading his wings and widening his gaze. Now that’s a true MVP.
If Kobe continues like this for his remaining playing years, the difference between the Kobe Bryant in his 20s and the Kobe Bryant in his 30s will become more obvious. You think that winning that one championship and proving he could do it without Shaquille O’Neal was enough?
“I want to be the best, simple and plain.” –Kobe Bryant
Think again. Kobe’s not done, and he’s got plenty of years left to show us how good he can get and how far he can take his team. His fourth championship officially puts a stamp on the beginning of the second part of his career, or should I say reign (sorry, King). You see, Kobe may have more playing years in the bank than he does at his disposal, however, this isn’t Bryant’s Black Album, this is his Volume 2, The Life and Times of K. Bryant.
Think for a second what more Kobe can do and prove to the never satisfied critics. Expect more stoic, pregame faces and postgame interviews because this dude is focused. First thing’s first — everyone will be wondering whether Kobe can repeat. On the other hand, Kobe will be confident his team can repeat. Bar injuries and cohesiveness issues, you can expect Kobe to collect rings with as much tenacity as that little blue hedgehog. He’s definitely got the key components to do it — Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Gasol, Odom and Andrew Bynum. Also with this summer’s addition of Ron Artest, the Lakers aren’t just going to be impossible to stop, there going to be impossible to get through. The most important part is No. 24 himself. As long as he’s healthy, focused and driven (and he’s always guaranteed to be two of these things), we’ve still got a good five years to enjoy or worry about Kobe Bryant, whether or not he slows down. Can Kobe lead a dynasty without Shaq?
Would you bet against him?
There are other areas Kobe Bryant in his second part of his career can look toward. If Mike Krzyzewski never ends up coming to L.A., then Kobe can count on reuniting with him one more time in 2012 at the next Olympic Games in London. When you’re the best, world domination is never far out your sight. Kobe’s become a true champion of worldwide basketball once already, and if he resurrects the Doberman again for one or maybe two more Olympic games he will further bolster his basketball legacy. With Bryant’s recent development and maturation, can you think of anyone better to lead a team of young talent against the best the world has to offer again?
If the second part of Kobe’s career could be forecast in one word, it would be ‘unselfishness.’ For team and country sounds better. This doesn’t mean that, in cementing his legend, Kobe can’t go after personal goals. Remember, this man hit 81 points in a game against the Raptors. Give him a hot night against the Bobcats, and you reckon he could beat Wilt’s record? Speaking of Wilt, even if breaking his record is the furthest thing from Kobe’s mind, his status as an all-time Los Angeles Laker isn’t. When his jersey (whether it be number 8 or 24) rises to the rafters, where will Kobe be considered next to those other Laker legends? Think about it, he’s going against arguably the most dominant player of all time; a player who leads every player ever in scoring, patenting a specific shot to call his own; a player who redefined his position and the game’s position itself; and a player who is the NBA’s logo. Still when you put Kobe Bryant’s name next to Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Jerry West there really isn’t a great deal in it. Kobe’s hungry for records, accolades and rings and the man himself is as appealing as any NBA legend. Think about all he could do and become in his remaining years. One thing’s for sure: He will continue to climb the list of greatest players of all time, and his name will always be on people’s lips when they debate the greats.
No matter how this second part of the Mamba’s career pans out there will always be the same comparisons. The first comparison will be the constant debate of who today is better: this year’s MVP LeBron James or this year’s champion Kobe Bryant. As Kobe gets older and LeBron’s legend and achievements grow, critics will have their say, but let’s put it to rest for the moment. LeBron’s still yet to achieve what Kobe has and who would you start a team with tomorrow? The best individual player or the champion?
The other comparison doesn’t even need to be mentioned or should I say it’s over-mentioned. You knew it already; you can’t escape an article about Kobe Bryant’s career without Michael Jordan’s name being mentioned. Understand when Kobe was growing up, he was dribbling and sticking his tongue out like MJ and not moon walking and grabbing his crotch like the other MJ. Idol worshiping aside, Kobe’s career is his own. What No. 23 did in his career was Michael Jordan’s legacy and what No. 24 will do in the rest of his career is Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Obviously the similarities are present, such as the tutoring of Phil Jackson, the growth, the maturity and of course how they think and play the game. But if you want to get excited about a Bryant-Jordan comparison, think of how much his ‘Airness’ did in his 30s and then think of all that this similarly talented, like-minded, refuse-to-lose competitor can do in his 30s. Just make sure to remember that Kobe’s done so much in his already legendary career. He can be considered one of the best today, after just turning 31.
Kobe Bryant is in elite company with the other athletes of today who are in consideration as the best ever in their respective fields. The Tiger Woods, Roger Federers and Usain Bolts of the world. But look at what Kobe’s already done and could do and leave the LeBron, Jordan and other greats comparisons aside for a minute. His talent is his talent, his legend is his to own and even if his years at the top are numbered, we’ve seen a lot, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.
Never take a day off
Catch you at the top of the key and get a J off
Tongue out like 23
Even 23 gotta love how I do me
–Lil’ Wayne, Kobe Bryant
Sunday, 10 June 2012
How Many Days Are Coming?
What does early June mean to you? That last exam? The end of school or college maybe? A couple of weeks from that holiday you've been working towards all year? It could be anything but what does early June mean to an NBA player?
It means the final destination of the year for two NBA teams out of sixteen who endured the tough, long season and a play hard or go home playoff campaign. It means that one of these two teams will write their names in the NBA history books where the other team will merely remain an afterthought. It's about the NBA Finals and it will end with the champion team reaping all the glory and the success that every team worked hard for but that only one team can obtain.
It means more than the commercials, no matter how hot they are. It's truly amazing. It means more than the sneakers, no matter how nice those hyperdunks may be. It means more than all the big trades and news stories that dominate the 82 game long season instead of just being a sidebar. It means more than the state of the art, awe inspiring arenas, coupled with the money made off merchandise and the concessions, although there's not much that beats a Friday night big game with a brew and your closest. It means more than the emphatic player introductions, fireworks and in game entertainment, although that does get you fired up. It means more then the cheerleaders, although they do look real nice. It means more than the celebrities in the Jack Nicholson seats, dominating the first rows, although there's not much cooler than seeing Larry David sitting next to Spike Lee.
It means more than the expensive suits, and grown up, dress code envelope pushing fashions of the players arriving to the game. It even means more than the multi-million dollar endorsement deals and recession defying bidding wars for advertising space between timeouts. IT MEANS MORE THEN THE LOCKOUT! It even means more than any single player gracing the court that night. With all respect to the elite superstars of the league. It means more than almost every home fan wearing the same players jersey, this is all about every player on the floor and on the bench giving their all-as one-for a common goal. This is because what all it comes down too is the game itself, which for the majority of players, coaches and personnel will be the biggest game of their lives.
It's deeper then the midseason grind of a 10 game road trip. Its more vivid then the dream of a kid emulating a Jordan buzzer beater on the streets, his friend by his side assuming the role of the commentator, line for line like it was an infamous quote from a movie. For the two teams that make it you may have come close and tasted it before, but now you have first class reservations. It doesn't matter how long you've dreamed and waited for this moment you better be ready, because its here now.
No matter what happened this season, no matter how many games previously you won or lost it doesn't matter. No matter which journalist wrote you off or which pundit championed you it doesn’t matter as its all about now. It's all about the next four to seven games. It's about every second from the tip to the buzzer. It's about every loose ball, every hustle, steal, charge, foul, free throw and every point whether made on the scoreboard or on the tone of the series. It's about the game as strategic as chess and as unpredictable and free as Jazz (word to Utah). It's about your heart, your enthusiasm your drive. It's all about how much you really want to win, because if your desires not as strong as your opponents then you simply wont win.
It's all about your chance to go down in history, it's all about those 'amazing' moments. It's all about Magic's junior sky-hook or his playing centre and leading his team to the 'chip in the absence of Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Its all about “Who caught it?”, “Havlicek”! It's about warriors of the game like Willis Reed carrying his team on one leg. It's all about playing hard and prevailing over Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the Detroit Pistons who fight so tough. It's all about balloons falling on your floor with no one there to celebrate because you tempted fate to much in the face of Celtic pride.
It's about defying expectations, breaking rules, going against the grain. It's about not caring that no team has come back from a deficit of so many games, because your not going home tonight. It's about being wrote off completely and ignoring all put downs. It's when a strong team and unit defeats and almost sweeps a team with four Hall of Famer's on it. It's about every game counting. It's all about David beating Goliath at least once, draining it from deep whilst stepping over Tyronn Lue. It's about after a decade of never touching glory crying tears of joy one year to not one year later sitting in a suit and watching your team being eliminated. It's all about worst to first, best to least.
It's about Larry O'Brien, its about those fingers on your hands waiting for those rings. It's all about the same dream you had as a kid. It's all about working on your dream all day long and then bouncing your worn out Spalding against a poster of Larry Bird when it got too dark and cold to play outside. It's that dream that you would of spent all day as a kid chasing if it wasn't for knowing if you didn't respond to the next time your mum called you inside there would be hell to pay. It's about what means the world to you, what gets you out the bed, to the gym, to the court or just even what gets you to subscribe to the NBA League pass. Then again this is just basketball right? After all this is just the NBA Finals, just what you've been waiting all year to watch and just what the two teams have been waiting their whole lives for to play.
Monday, 4 June 2012
One Man To Rule Them All.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy.
A lot of Boston legends have graced the Celtic parquet.
LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan.
A lot of competitors have found success in the NBA but none have won as much as the storied Boston Celtics and their biggest of big men. The dominant force who like Magic didn't even need to score a point. The wizard of defence. The undisputed, heavyweight, 11 time NBA champion. The Gandalf of basketball. The Lord of the Rings.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
The man could score but that wasn't his forte. He could get angry, but his hulking strong game was more to the Celtic green than that. Russell fit the bill of the real, unselfish superstar, defending the basket and starting the offensive play that would lead to the breaks for his teammates who would all become superstars thanks to their captain.
Before Bird flew in the Garden, Russell helped it bloom by tending to and looking after it. Bill blocked like it was a party, worked hard like this was no fun and when the job was over he deserved the celebration more than anybody. As over-zealous balloons fell in a Forum of defeat, before K.G. handed it to the Lakers, Russell was the big ticket and the ticker tape of success. The NBA championship ring belongs to him.
THE TWO TOWERS
Even standing next to and against the 100 point strong dominance of Wilt Chamberlain for decades Bill Russell reigned supreme. Standing taller and in front of his adversary in wins and championships. Before the pre and post millennium, two tower days of San Antonio's David Robinson and Tim Duncan aligned together to beat Shaq, the NBA's most dominant was said to be 'The Stilt' Chamberlain but Bill made him truly wilt. The Big Dipper took all sorts of dunks and shots at Bill Russell but the gentleman of basketball left him with the biggest, bitter taste of defeat.
Just like any other player back then and until now in the arena of victory Bill Russell owned and beat them all. A gladiator in the coliseum of wins this Lord of The Rings ran out of fingers for all his accomplishments. Just check the palms. Anyone else's attempt to overcome him has and will be more than a handful. Yes! Even Michael Jordan. When it comes to Bill Russell, 'you shall not pass'.
THE RETURN OF THE KING
Still the rejection king is actually a man who extends a hand. That's what happens when you overcome playing in a racist time to become the ultimate teammate and leader, changing the game and the times in one swat of the basketball and prejudice. The man who's grey beard makes him look more like basketball legend by the day is still very much a part of the storied Boston Celtics chapters of royalty.
By appointment he mentored Kevin Garnett's ushered era into the big three and championship certification. After years of hurt and losing pain for 'Da Kid' in Minnesota, Garnett's alliance with wings Ray Allen and Paul Pierce wasn't complete without another big man by his side. It doesn't get much bigger than Bill Russell. Sitting down for arguably the best interviews NBA TV has ever done Bill told Kevin that he was going to win a championship and if he didn't he was going to give him one of his rings anyway. Kevin Garnett was speechless and need we say anymore? As Garnett then took that inspiration and ran and won with it the Boston Celtics where taken back to the rafters. The rafters where nothing stands taller and prouder than Bill Russell's achievements.
Saturday, 2 June 2012
Orlando was magic.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
52 is no age. On May 31st the Lakers family lost one of its fondest members after his long battle with heart disease.
Rest in peace Orlando Woolridge.
Orlando was more than flash dunker. He was more than the guy with the cool name who was a journeyman that never played for the Magic but played alongside Earvin. He was a truly great player and let's remember him as such.
Born in Louisiana Woolridge took his college game to Notre Dame and the Cinderella halls of the Final Four, where March Madness and teammate (and future fellow Piston in Detroit) Bill Laimbeer got to see just how crazy his dunks where. Although Orlando never cut down nets he did hold the scissors and the fall away jumper that snipped Virginia's 28 game winning streak in 1981.
The pros and the Bulls followed, where Woolridge was drafted by Chicago together with some kid named Jordan. Together the two dunk contest darlings, wowed lay-up lines with their athletic slams and highlight worthy reeled off dunks. This number 6 draft choice showed he was much more than his jersey number of zero. From nothing to everything, Wool' really showed the association he was truly something. 'Ridge and Michael Jordan in their rookie years showed their gifts where more than above the rim as the downed a combined 51 points per average.
This 22.9 point average from the open floor specialist led to him being courted by the Nets, but just like Brooklyn he wasn't in a New Jersey for long. His Hollywood skill and bright light dunks where worthy of more 'Showtime' so in the late eighties he joined the greatest show on earth with Magic Johnson and the purple and golden era Los Angeles Lakers.
Boy did Orlando bring a show to California too. The scoring off the bench and the defensive assignments is what helped him make the grade as an option but the freestyle, freewheeling, alley-oop dunks where what brought his teammates and Jack Nicholson led fans off their seats with his stand-up play. Magic (who yesterday expressed sadness over his teammate and friends death) and the Lakers loved Orlando and Woolridge loved them right back once telling press "I just love it when we go up in the transition game, up and down the court, Magic looking for the open guy ... That's the way I love playing."
It was all love and it all played out over a top two seasons of sensational basketball work which culminated in a league ranked fifth field goal percentage (55.6%) in the last season of the eighties and first of the nighties. It was clear that this video star player had substance too, but still beyond the statistics Orlando was a great player off the ball and in the locker room. His presence in L.A. and the cities and country that followed (Denver, (a career high, league-leading scoring year) Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Benetton Treviso and Buckler Bologna of Italy) earned him a great professional and personal reputation that saw him slam home a second career in basketball after playing.
The former microwave bench-warmer heated up the sidelines when he returned to purple and gold Los Angeles to coach the WNBA's Sparks in the late nighties before becoming in charge of the Rhino's of Arizona and the ABA to close out the first decade of the new millennium. This player/coaches basketball resume read like a winning application The cousin of Hall Of Famer Willis Reed deserves his own place in NBA legacy for being one of those underrated spark-plug guys that electrified both his teams and crowds. Woolridge helped both his squads and the ratings of the NBA win over in a time where basketball's popularity was finally rising due to the tricks of Magic's trade. Orlando more than played his part in carrying the torch too and in his passing we should not overlook or disregard all the little things he's done that proved to be so big.
Thank you Orlando and take care. Rest peacefully.