Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Like Father, Like Gun.


Twas just a couple of nights before Christmas and all through the house two creatures where stirring. That's the kind of thing that happened on those road tripping, nineties nights where the Curry household would be awaiting the return of the man of the house just in time for Christmas. Maybe young Seth is on the console, playing the latest NBA Live as his proud pop on the CPU, hitting three pointer after three pointer that's also getting nailed outside as young Stephen shoots at the hoop above the garage, emulating his father with a commentators voice-over in his head as company. These kids will do this all night, until their mother calls Stephen to come inside and Seth to shut off that game, not because it's bedtime, but because daddy's on T.V. From the teal of the Charlotte Hornets to the cold of Canada's Toronto Raptors, Dell Curry crafted quite the career beyond the three point arc as a Cavalier in Cleveland, making Jazz in Utah and earning Bucks in Milwaukee. Dell's first name may be a little old-school for this iPad generation, but like a computer this man was amazingly automatic from 3. Now giving the NBA a pure shooting trifecta for the ages, he'll be as proud as punch to see his boy Seth Curry earn himself an NBA contract with former Vancouver team the Memphis Grizzlies just in time for Christmas. Now as for his other son...that's a whole different matter all together.

With the hierarchy of the NBA becoming as powerful and predicable as the alpha-dog of LeBron James and with Kobe Bryant's legendary years coming to a close like the dying era of the big man, NBA fans need that extra guy to root for. A player that shows this league is more than just Point Guards and slashers. A guy that reminds you of the golden era of the 90's and even his dad, just tuned and turned up to an on fire NBA Jam level just without the dunk and over-sized head. So hot like the human torch of the 'Fantastic Four' you can't help but marvel at this terrific three flame thrower. As hot as his second-name and the man that brought him into this world, when it comes to the three-point shot Stephen Curry can take anybody out. Talent doesn't skip a generation here, it just gets purer in its shot. Any critic or opponent that doubts is in for a baptism of fire. This is a guy that could shoot Ray Allen into retirement. Forget about a competition at All-Star weekend, Stephen Curry wins contests every night. Those cocky celebrations are warranted. It hasn't looked this confident since Larry Bird didn't even take off his warm-ups. It hasn't been this clutch since Reggie Miller. From Madison Square Garden to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco all hoop-heads want to flock to the other side of the bridge to Oakland see this kid. In Golden State it hasn't looked this Californian bright since Baron Davis dunked over Andrei Kirlienko and the Utah Jazz's upset playoff hopes, or since Run TMC hit the billboards to the tune of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond (a curly haired young Steph once sat next to the Rock on his dads lap courtside) and Chris Mullin (no stranger to downtown himself). Now it doesn't matter about Monta Ellis or any of the other eras that didn't quite pan out in a flash. It's looking as good in 'The City' as those tram throwbacks or Rick Barry's shot at the spotlight, without the awkward granny style.

With a true Warrior leading them into battle this baby-faced assassin is ready to make things truly Golden in this state. With promising young power talent like hash-tag bredrin Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes and proven veterans like former young-gun great Jermaine O'Neal this team is stacked with stats. With big talents Andrew Bogut and David Lee leading the way in the frontcourt and Andre Iguodola finishing the breaks that Steph makes with a number one, bullet dunk this Western powerhouse can truly contend. Even with the ageing but amazing San Antonio Spurs, this team can make it to the final dance and not just because it's what a Rick Fox says. Miami and San Antonio fans aside, it's thought that we may have an all blue and gold Golden State Warriors/Indiana Pacers final. Who would have thought that just a couple of seasons again? Now the two most improving and surprising teams could give the National Basketball Association a brand, new era of needed refreshment. That's how strong Steph Curry's super shot is. With all guns blazing he can make these G.S.W's find their mark past the postseason and into the Finals fortunes. This number 30 could really be the next 30 for 30 documentary maker from ESPN to NBA TV highlights that are making his arc of triumphs as exciting as the most damaging dunks. Even the LeBron show takes an aside and this is a man whose throwing down lob passes on Christmas like next years December 25th came early. As for Curry, he's got more under the tree too, especially in the rebounds, assists and steals categories. He's a completer player, but it's that shooting that touches home. From the near perfect free throws (a 2011 NBA season leader) to those from outside the arc that look as effortless as if they where being shot unguarded from the charity stripe. Even those pesky long sleeve jerseys can't hinder this mans range. No complaints he just roles them up and goes to work and it all looks as good as the massive center circle logo that adorns the jersey of a man who will one day belong in the rafters with the banners he hopes to raise.

272 that's the benchmark right now. The NBA record for most three-pointers in a season that Stephen Curry recorded just this last year. Who knows what's next this season and beyond for the man who only has himself to beat? If a team wants to live and die by the three then they can count their life on Curry. He'll burn other teams like his meals namesake the morning after, for a different kind of hangover like those sinful 7 teams that it took to pick him in the 2009 draft. It all seems like yesterday he was here but this 25 year old has brought the winds of change to the NBA each time he tussles the twine and his opponents hair like his shot and shimmy. Back in his collegiate career when it came to points this guy was second only to Kevin Durant. Now today in this league of their own it's up for debate whether this is the case now, or point in fact whether this 'can't miss kid' is that close to the King. If anyone's throwing rocks at the throne, it should be the man with the best arm. When it comes to the Mecca of Basketball, he trails only the greatest Michael Jordan and next best Kobe Bryant in points against the Knicks as his 54 points included 11 three-pointers for the third-best record amount of outside shots. Coach and N.Y.C born and 'Bocker bred Mark Jackson couldn't be prouder, he knew what it was like to play this kid as an actual child. With all these accomplishments it certainly more than lives up to the great player his proud father was and is certainly something that would be hard for anyone to look up to. Who knows what it'll be like if this Curry births some more Basketball kids. Still, the other Curry sports players in this family know how to handle the ball too, like volleyball sister spiker Sydel and mother Sonya Curry. Youngest Seth Curry is a great player in his own right with his own shot, despite his Golden State time not making the brotherly connection last like the Smith's in New York, like the J. Collins twins periods of separation. It was in college where this kid made his mark at Duke, honoring his brother with the number 30, but making his own name above that known and proud.

He earned his redshirt for the Blue Devils when top Point Kyrie Irving went out with an injury. Guarding his position Seth stepped it up to the tune of 17 points in just over 20 minutes on over 50% shooting. Following those 22 minutes he recorded another 22 points games later, before upping his career high to 31 against Santa Clara. Obviously a guy that can fill it up quickly like a gas station attendant this guy had the fire to gain a road-stop contract this August with the Golden State Warriors off his own name and not his brothers. Still, with no guarantees the kid was waived and his future didn't pan out like J.R's brother Chris. He still logged some time as a Warrior, a Santa Cruz one in the D-League where statistical outputs of 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.58 steals. A good enough 12 game development for the Memphis Grizzlies to claw him away this December 1st. Now who knows what's next, maybe he'll make those Golden State Warriors regret them letting him go. Maybe a few nice match-ups with big bro for family to watch or in a Basketball God's dream perhaps a team-up reunion for the ultimate splash brothers. Now that would be as sweet as their shot because like their volleyball girls, these Curry boys know Basketball. Let's get them back together. Still, right now in the Curry house it's Stephen that's the strongest, but all of this came from his fathers handed down recipe of success. Wardell Stephen Curry the second shares more with his three tiered father than his actual name. As young Curry took Stephen as his government, his dad-who shortened his moniker to Dell-made his name from long-range, long before his kid hit his first winning shot. A range that seems born in a bond of pure blood. Just to think it began with a broken wrist. Forced to shoot with one hand instead of two, Curry's shooting form was confirmed correct with a snipers accuracy. The kind of accuracy that took him from no three-point line during his college time at Virginia Tech to so many triples he once became the NBA's Sixth Man Of The Year as well as it's 3 point percentage leader.

Who wouldn't want to bring this top soaring, scorching, scoring marksman off the bench for a real hot streaking Vinnie Johnson "microwave" nuclear ignition? The kind of off the pine onto the hardwood proud player who inspired the like of clutch king Robert Horry, King Bobby Jackson and jet fueled Jason Terry. It was his on-point precision shot that made him this much of an option and it's the bread with extra butter that gave him a career and a food on table life to a family that continues with the ball handling careers of all the hot-handed Curry siblings. The same soft safe, offensive hands that where a lock and steal on defense. Curry has the second all time total points for V-Tech and would probably have more and even lead if the three point range was accounted for. Lead, like he does with all time steals for his alma-mater, earning his place in Virginia's sports Hall Of Fame. The kind of palm power that piloted his and his sons career to the ranks of being more than just about that one shot that takes them to the big time. Still, when clutch comes to clutch it's all about the three and how much more it was for these two-guards. It's little wonder that career Charlotte Hornets legend Dell stepped down from his Bobcats Assistant Coaching job to attend more of his sons games. This was more than just pride and support. This father wanted to see history in the making in one of the best players and shots this league has ever seen. Something he couldn't see in himself when he was too busy actually doing it and putting in work downtown in any city he represented that even precious time with his kids was taken away. It's all made up for now though in something from himself that he can now see in his first-born and his first-rate career first hand. His legend that his son makes in the legacy of his own career. It doesn't get much prouder or honorable than that. This Christmas the oldest Curry will be called in to stop what he's doing to watch both his boys play the game on the same television they idolized their father growing up. This is no computer game and even though the basket outside collects snow and ice this fall there's no rust, because in the Curry house hoops are still hot.

Sunday, 22 December 2013


Here is an unedited look at my very first print publication for 'Basketball Buzz' magazine of Canada. Thank you so much to Edilson J. Silva and the team for making this happen and here's to the rise of Basketball in Canada.


Somewhere in Canada hip-hop all-star Drake will be popping champagne and celebrating the success of his latest and one of his greatest albums, 'Nothing Was The Same', proving he really is here after starting from the bottom. Meanwhile across town, somewhere in Toronto the Canadian city and their rising from almost certain extinction Raptor franchise will be celebrating the history they will make in February of 2016, where they will be the first city and country outside of the United States Of America to hold the illustrious NBA All-Star game. Sometime later on both parties will join together to celebrate the coronation of rapper Drake becoming the global ambassador of his city and Canada's remaining NBA franchise. If you thought it couldn't get much bigger than that for Canadian basketball then you obviously need to read a paper or something like Vlade Divac. There's more Toronto stars to read all about than the billboard and broadsheet blockbuster players.

Somewhere in Ontario before all the celebrating was happening in the city a young man was netting basket after basket in a quiet gym. Putting in first-hand work and determined to be the last to leave, even after the lights have made their exit. It won't be long before the J.J experience is filling gymnasiums and illuminating lights everywhere. If you thought the league couldn't use yet another Jackson, then think again as this Justin is about to be a household name like Timberlake or 'Thriller'. Jackson is just that exciting and his enticing references justified. This runner, gunner, who believes he excels at "getting the ball in transition" and "up the floor quickly" is set to rip down college nets and one day breeze through the NBA draft and who knows what else. Stop, wait, right now with his sneakers on the ground of the wood floor, the only hall Justin Jackson is concerned with right now is the corridors of his high school. That's how focussed this kid is on living his life right now, telling kids to "make sure your school work is intact", whilst doing the Spike Lee right thing himself. Still even in this moment, this 16 year old owns his alumni's trophy cabinet with a polished game and a physical and mental side that makes him look and seem, calender years older...and this kid isn't even in his prime yet. The man who's basketball I.Q. is through the roof, will face more tests in this life but right now we have no idea how tall this guys Sistine Chapel potential ceiling-yet alone height-will be. Pop quiz hot shot, how good do you think he'll be when he's already painting perfect plays and strokes of genius by the numbers? He's already walking taller then his listed height, telling us from Vegas, "I didn't think basketball would take me this far".

Well it is and this is far from childs play. "Tough" is the first word Jackson used to describe being away from home, but he is showing the maturity in his life's education as well as the game that's schooling opponents nightly just when they thought class was over. This is more than the potential noise made by Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh in Toronto. This is the promise of someone straight out of Ontario ready to exclaim himself for his country loudly and proudly. No wonder the school Jackson chose was one that featured first and foremost a "track record with a really strong history, especially with Canadians". Attending the north of the border friendly Findlay Prep, ("from the moment you step off the plane it's a family" Justin laments "everyone makes me feel comfortable") the same school as fellow countrymen the San Antonio Spurs' Corey Joesph, Tristan Thompson (whose best advice to J.J is "keep pushing, it helps you more than it hurts you") of Cleveland and another Cavalier talent, coach Andy Johnson couldn't be prouder of his top talent. "He's a great kid" coach told the Buzz from Vegas, adding "he can play multiple positions and do so many different things, where he helps the team in many different ways". The 6 foot 7 wing has been known to pull his teams out of 30 point deficits in just a quarter of an hour, showing his pinpoint passes are just as good as his man-child, towering offence. As Johnson sees and tells it Jackson "doesn't have to take many dribbles or shots to be an effective player...his versatility is such a great weapon". The "mismatch problem" is also been known to score 17 against gold medallists USA in the FIBA U-17 World Championships, as well as averaging 11.2 points and 6 rebounds for Canada. No wonder he's received collegiate attention from everyone from Wake Forest to Ohio State and Baylor to Michigan. Still here's the Scoop on Jackson, to settle this college is the last thing on J's mind as he tells is "I'm still young, I'm not looking for colleges right now". His basketball ethics are in the right place to like his attitude to study. When he's not hitting the books, he's hitting the boards stating "the main goal is the championship at the end of the year".

As Coach tells it, "Canada basketball is definitely on the rise" and the next generations climb is helped by the hands of the man who is "getting use to the different cultures" between Canada and their neighbours, heading due south like that mountie in that T.V. show with the wolf. Jackson believes in his country "the talent is just booming', but a lot of credit belongs to him despite his humble modesty believing that "it's an honour just to be named in the category of such good players" that have made their way from Canada to the NBA, by way of Findlay prep. "They have set the tone for us", he adds in tribute, "(they) just make us want to go that much harder". Now, somewhere in America, Canadian hope Anthony Bennett will try to prove and show the Cleveland Cavaliers and the rest of the NBA that he's the next LeBron James for the wine and gold, champagne chasing generation, working as much as Jay-Z raps about Billy Ray's girl twerking. Still, as Bennett looks to leave his heart on the court like his soprano namesake Tony did in San Francisco, there is another Canuck, who looks to be the next Bennett. Or better yet his own player who one day kids that share his halls can look up to and want a piece of like his upcoming fame. Looking to do for his city, country and game what Steve Nash did on a global scale. The world is already day it could be his. This is not just an illusion, for all action Jackson the tricks of this guys trade being inspired by Earvin Johnson, otherwise known as Magic. Just imagine ladies and gentleman if this Class of 2016 prospect ended up being drafted by the Toronto Raptors for the ultimate Canadian All-Star dream year fantasy come true. That would certainly cross the T and dot the eye of the city. All lenses but no tints are fixed on this star pupil and visionary Point Guard for the forthcoming semester. J.J's good times have only just begun.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


Second City, Second Comeback.


"You kept the fire burning/And you kept hope alive/And when my soul was falling/You helped me to survive/And you led the way/Encouraged me to take that leap of faith". R. Kelly-'Leap Of Faith'.

Chicago M.C. Common knows this game like his own one, that's just how he 'be'. He used to sweep the sweat off the United Center court when Michael Jordan was doing his greatest of all-time thing. He was just that close to the greatest ballers Chi-city has ever birthed or seen ('Open my eyes/yes sir this is what I'm made for/to go hard in the paint like D.Wade or...") like he was the rappers like Kanye West. Still it's going to take more than one day for Lonnie Lynn to make sense out of this. Even with the shout outs for the "nice" man of his city this is the basketball s#$* Mr. Kardashian doesn't like like Kris Humpries. I guess it really is a cruel winter if you live in the city of wind. Legendary Basketball scribe Bethlehem Shoals say's "he can't go out like this". THE Chicago sportswriter Scoop Jackson is probably too hurt and upset too put anything down. Movie hoops fan Jeremy Piven can't believe it...this can't be serendipity. It's getting real cold in Chicago this December with no relief in time for Christmas or the immediate New Year. This writer himself even feels bad for the over hyped articles he published before his return from last years long injury. Did the former SLAM alumni give him the curse? After my 'Chicago Hope' and 'Chicago Code' entries I was going to leave this be...out of disappointment and maybe even respect. Still following his courageous comeback from a torn ACL in his knee that put him out for the entire 2012/2013 season-coming off some MVP and 'Bron throne ascending dominating years-that cruelly led to a tear in the meniscus of his other knee (what a tragic twist of fickle fate), it's only right we carry in for the man that needs everyone's support to go on. It's only right we finish the trilogy as planned...because it's not over yet. Here we give you and the injured Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose the aptly titled 'Chicago Fire'.

Is this the end? Far from it! Sure the medical drama 'Chicago Hope' may not have lasted like our first piece, but this fireman drama still burns bright like the 'Chicago Code'. Derrick will still be at his cities service come next year...or Kobe Bryant sooner. The air of LeBron James sneakers can breathe a sigh of relief for now but soon the greatest pretender to Michael Jordan's statue outside the center of Chicago will lay his foundations against the king and the greatest in this NBA game of thrones once again. Sure, right now Derrick's knees down denial of play feels like when kids toss each others sneakers over telephone wires but let's not phone it in, Derrick will dial it up and rise up again no matter the frequency. This games his calling and we'll be ready to receive even if we can't have his presence on December 25th. The Thibodeau Bulls still have Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to lead them to the promised land and when they have D-Rose back from his injury hangover they'll be able to do it in an all-star arc two by two. While raw talent like Tony Snell, Marquis Teague are getting fresher with addition of minutes and exposure, with valuable veterans Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed and more. From the concrete of an injury crucified career this Rose will grow, bloom and rise again. Just like the dark knight this superhero will return to the streets of downtown Chicago like the original Gotham City...words to Chi-town singer R. Kelly. The fire rises and will see the city sine bright in the court vision of the star who will give this town it's biggest blockbuster ticket than those two men that believed they could fly and made the city and the 90's there's. Like a pair of Space Jam's Derrick's new tear inducing trainers will still tear down sale stocks again. His Bulls jersey won't be in the bargain basement for long with a reduced price. It'll be number one again...just like him. Don't hold on to your receipt just yet. This is more than just a luxury tax.

This is more than right matter how much this injury hurts. No matter how much it burns like fire, he'll spread his flame again. Remember Derrick Rose is still the future of the franchise, it's not time to pass the buck yet like Milwaukee, even if at least a top Draft Pick may come with all this. Still, its not time for Chicago to throw the towel or games in dishonor of tanking, there's still talent on their side and who knows when Rose will return next to them ready to carry the ball and each other...together like a real team. They'll need to group together like this for the Chicago fire to overcome the voltron of the Miami Heat and arguably the greatest team in the East or even the entire United States of the National Basketball Association in the Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson 'big-three' led Indiana Pacers who are still waiting on the return of their original all-star Danny Granger for a big-four or a trade bait to give them a bigger frontcourt piece. Michael Jordan returned from retirement twice to run Chicagoland and rule the empire of the NBA so Derrick can certainly bounce back from a double dose chilling list downer. The second city will see a second return built off the ruins of two bum knees. He won't go down on this one like an engagement with injury, this will only end in a matrimony with the gold of Larry O'Brien. This is his vow. This is his dedication. He's proven it in more than just his words or hash tag commercials. He's proved it all night in his play, regardless of social media trends, doubt or turning tides of the seas and storms sent from the Basketball God's. They're just testing one of the greatest. They know he's heaven sent. They know his scripture has more engravings then write offs left. The critical doubt may be sold but the game is to be told. Like the preseason and regular precursor before the injury that saw a return to form across the box-score with little rust. Points, rebounds, assists and more statistics blocked the hate and stole the purists heart that's why it broke them that much. Still they'll learn to love again when their man relearns how to return again and play like he never left.

That's right. That's just how it goes in this sport. From the cat-calls to the claws of the critics all of this is used as motivation. The down-treading of injury is used as fuel by the most competitive players to return and rise above even there former selves to be better than ever. Sure there are some limits physically but psychologically there's no better inspiration to prove everyone and even their own self doubt wrong. There's no greater 'in the corner' Ali like comeback story. For every career ending injury there's a Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill or even a Kobe Bryant and of course a Derrick Rose. I mean this is the youngest ever MVP, the only Chicago Bull to meet Maurice Podoloff since M.J. and he is still only 25. There's more than a decade plus of dominance left even if he takes a few years left he can still come back to rule this game and run this town like the Michael Jordan of rap Jay-Z. This will be the blueprint of his red and white career that isn't ready to see the black like a retirement album or alternative jersey. No matter the thorn this Rose still looks that good. Even in the shadow of Mike's Nike Jumpman silhouette, Scottie Pippen proved he was more than a sidekick. More of a Nightwing than a Robin to Jordan's Batman and Derrick Rose will try and show and prove he's more than just second best. With his own legend and legacy to make he look to rise higher than the Willis Tower with no ceiling, like those all glass, no floor observatories. Can you see? It's scary right? On the train of his career above the city Rose will bloom again and turn it around like the cities grid network of the loop, looking to close his viscous injury circle like looper Joesph Gordon-Levitt.  This round 1, first pick is still the number that is embroided across his back and still represents the city and team that is sewn across his front. Like the word 'Hope' tattooed on him, the dedication inked into his heart, the desire embedded in him or the will ingrained in him like the fire burning inside. With 'Sweet Home Chicago' and it's skyline joining his arm he'll never leave his home like the 'Family First' dedication wrote on his heart. As he looks out for everyone, we will too like the angel in ink across his back watching over him and carrying him through this troubled time. There's a plan for this marked 'God's Child'.

A time that is his. Sure some may not see it as mattering or news until he laces them up again, but Derrick Rose's time is now. His road to recovery that we may only see in a 30 second commercial but he'll witness 24 hours a day until he is able to dust the chalk of LeBron and send his billboard time plummeting like rocks throne in Cleveland. Sure we have Kyrie Irving and a whole bunch of youngsters coming through to prove this is their game, but like Chris Paul or Deron Williams you can't over power the purest points and Derrick is part of this holy trinity if not above it. This is a man that tied all-time scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rookie record for playoff in points (36 big ones) while almost taking down another storied piece of the NBA in the defending champion Celtics in his first year. This is a man who turned ankle problems into an All-Star sophomore year and became most valuable and sought after in his third filling up the triple doubles like he was his own big-three. This is the man that's already done so much and has so much left. The match was lit a long time ago and the fire still burns bright through Chicago as he'll represent his city in highlight moments like Vince Vaughn does in Hollywood movies. It's not smoke. Injury can't extinguish this. It just enrages the quiet storm of the calm demeanor-ed but fiercely determined competitor. He's on fire like NBA Jam or his two handers. As the fire spreads those news-rags that wrote off the young Rose will be reduced to ashes in the flames from this kiss from a Rose that will seal the deal like M.J. flying like an eagle. With flame thrower power and a scorching first step back just wait until the injustice of injury is ignited by the illuminating inspiration of where amazing truly happens in the NBA once again in Chicago like 23 was yet to be raised in the rafters. Mike's going to have some more company and championship banners with the new number one however, just you wait and look up to the ceiling and see. Just when you thought it was all over he'll put the world on his back and broad shoulders like S. Carter's 'Kingdom Come'. There's more to write than just player promise eulogies, there's  potential celebratory toasts and speeches to make. There should be more here. There's more to be wrote on the career of Derrick Rose. Words cant quite do it justice. It's not over. It's only just beginning. Like Michael Jordan six-peating as the true 'Lord of the Rings'. One trilogy deserves another for the fellowship. The fire still burns...

To Be Continued...

"I believe in the light that shines and will never die/Oh I believe the fire burns, we stay alive/They will talk about us/Like they talked about the kings before us". John Legend On Common's 'The Believer'.



Friday, 13 December 2013

COURTSIDE COLUMN-The Restricted Free Agent

The NBA: Where Exactly What Happens?

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."-Jason Collins.

Every now and again in this sports and entertainment world we get to do something truly amazing. Especially in the game of Basketball that has broken down many cultural and racial barriers and brought many backgrounds together from the blacktop to the big time. From 'Glory Road' to 'Coach Carter' and countless players and stories more, there's so much inspiration out there it's almost like it was all dreamt up in a Hollywood movie story. That's what happens when real-life transcends the hard times that come with it's test. Inspiration and influence of people taking a stand for themselves and others truly changing the game. Inspiration like Magic Johnson telling the world he was HIV positive and Michael Jordan retiring to play Baseball to honor his late fathers dream of him as a child in beautiful tribute. Inspiration comes from legends and All-Stars to role players playing their part in a team and on everything that makes up the grander scale of things. Guys like John Amaechi write books on it and major British Olympians like diver Tom Daley reaching new depths of inspiration this month and then there's Jason Collins. The first active player in major American sports to announce he's gay, illustrating sports in a 3,000 word powerful, piece for the magazine known for swimsuit bikini issues. In unity for self, team, peers, sport and the world itself it doesn't get much more brave and inspiring, beautiful and influential than this show of solidarity. Still even with this humble man's simple but subtly embracing honesty...some still get it wrong. The first active player to announce he is gay, is yet now inactive. It may not be time to point fingers, but it's certainly not time to fold arms either. Time for the fistfuls of  hate to be unclenched. Is this how the sports world responds for the player that did this for it?

As journalists we have jobs to report the news and as individual writers we have roles to present it in our own opinionated and expressive ways. Some may call for sensationalism but then that doesn't always see the truth. Some have told me as a reviewer and writer that I need to be more critical. Some say to get ahead you've got to step on some toes but I don't always agree. Still, sometimes it can't all be smiles and compliments, you have to scathe those who deserve the scold. Now I'm not on a witch-hunt and I'm not calling out the NBA or excusing any coach, player or personnel that this is them, especially because there are 30 teams...but it's exactly that, there's 30 teams in this league. Come on now. Half a year after the announcement NOT the "incident" of Jason Collins' truly professional stand, not one team has picked up this unrestricted free agent who is free in life but trapped outside his own sport like he was restricted for what reason? Tell me! I'm not pointing fingers at all 30 teams but those who aren't picking up this option can feel my words like a lump in the throat or a shiver down the spine. Those people that are hiding behind their ignorance know I'm talking to them. No team has signed him in all this time, after that one day you think this is a coincidence? No, this is wrong! Jason Collins shouldn't be given a break and a contract of what he said 6 months ago but for what he's done for 12 dependable, veteran years in this league. Those just focusing on the word "gay" should remember the start of the quote; "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center". He should still be that even though he split last season between Boston and Washington as a Celtic and Wizard (for that matter  take a moment or more to Google why he chose the number 98). In a league where the beautiful age of Shaq/Ewing/Hakeem and decades of Kareem/Russell/Wilt big men are dead and gone, the post-post life of the NBA now rests on the broad but shaky shoulders of another regular free-agent Dwight Howard. Without him, whose the best Brook Lopez? With all due respect the wealth of talent at the 5 is diminishing with every 82 and Jason like his twin Jarron was before he retired (he retired...Jason has not, see the difference between the twins?) is one of the last, remaining true players at that position in this game. Another big-man stunted, it's a tragedy to the purists of this game too.

He can board, dunk, block, draw and make fouls and set picks for the best to roll, who wouldn't want this guy? He's a locker-room unifier now in more ways than one. Even a team with the leagues best seven-footer needs a decent back-up and Jason Collins is so much more than that. I could give you a scouting report, play-by-play of how any of the 30 teams in this "association" could use this guy, so why hasn't one made the call? Yeah, there are salaries, caps and all that space, but there's the Lakers, the Knicks and all that Jazz too. Come on now I'm not singling anyone out but someone has to make the stand for Basketball like Jason did beyond it. Why isn't the men's magazine GQ's 'Game Changer of 2013' not in it. He "came out of the closet" as people stupidly say don't pathetically throw him out the locker room. As the pictures and quotes from the article prove it,  he's in "excellent shape". He's done his part now it's time for the teams to do there's. These are "teams" right? If there's an 'I' in team then I'm afraid in some peoples cases its ignorance. He made a stand not seen in any of the four major American sports, its time for the one to not let him fall. I mean some are talking about if he'll ever play again. I'm sorry I didn't realize he was injured...I guess just hurt right? He's got plenty of prime years left. What do you want me to do start a petition? Televise another "decision"? Let's take this guys basketball talents somewhere. You argued when Iveron's attitude or Gilbert Arenas searched locker got some of their best years taken for them so why aren't we calling foul here on the personal flagrant made on the one man who could muscle up with the biggest and best like a true warrior and opponent? Now he's facing his biggest obstacle to the hoop and he shouldn't be. Give him a clear path to the basket...even if he never did that for his opponent. Get it? It's his time...he's ready to go now. He's made his declaration and give him a uniform or not he'll wear his pride on his heart doing the work off-court to help those who need that confidence, but now when it comes to on-court he's made his statement and mark and just wants to play. So this is about Basketball now. Make it about that teams. This is ridiculous as Getty Images only having one official photo of the guy as SLAM magazine can attest. Or their 'Louder Than A Bomb' column showed us...MONTHS ago. Months ago when the time was spare games, not seasons.

We need to see more images of this guy around the basket like the real center he was offensively and on the ignored side of the court. Get it 'ignored'? We're not just defending Jason Collins as man, where flying the flag of his jersey name as a player. I see the tributes and the nice quotes from good guys like Steve Nash, but I don't see 'Collins' in the rafters so why are we retiring his jersey? This guys got more good years least five. Especially with all that rest everyone's been giving him. Despite that he's still sharp like he is sound of mind. The NBA has a lot of years too, licking their wounds of recovery of bad players and role models ruining their reputation, while here lies someone whose made as an amazing stand as Magic did when everyone embraced his retirement in the 90's. This is a league full of teams and players who have made mistakes like everyone has but here lies one way to right them. Like when Tim Hardaway made those comments about Amaechi or when my favorite player (you all know, or can guess who he is) called a ref a "faggot". These ignorant times need to wake and grow up to Collins incredible intentions. What he does in his personal life is exactly that but what it brings to the public is the solidarity that those in life AND Basketball and the sports world hiding need to hear so they can feel more comfortable and assured with those they live and play with they call "brothers". It's time that a modern day culture of cruel insults in the entertainment world need to stand next to instead of in front of. A world where racial and cultural slurs are used so much in popular music that kids think it's "acceptable" to call each other the 'N' word no matter the race. I mean come on, this is bigger than basketball and even Jason Collins right now. I mean the NBA will be celebrating Martin Luther King Jnr day next month with a round of games and you know the real reason behind this and what this great man said and did and what it all meant, not just for black people. I mean this is a sport and a world that once didn't let black people even participate. This is how prejudice it was and how far we've come but in this day and age have we? Jason isn't judging anyone even if this writer might be wrongfully doing so. He's shown the content of the character. Like anyone straight or homosexual, he's more than his sexuality too. Jason Collins is a basketball player that just wants to play and with his talent he has more than his rights. All men are equal right? Right now all this wrong, what they're doing to him and others living in the shadows of appalling. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

"Say "keep within the boundaries if you want to play"/Say "contradiction only makes it harder"/How can I be/What I want to be/When all I want to do is strip away these stilled constraints/And crush this charade/Shred this sad masquerade/I don't need no persuading/I'll trip, fall, pick myself up and/Walk unafraid".-R.E.M. 'Walk Unafraid'.

Saturday, 7 December 2013


The Doctor Is 'It'.


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? A Kobe? A Jordan? No! It's a stethoscope. Some surgical gloves and scrubs. It's a doctor! THE Dr, Dr. J, Julius Erving. Flying through the air with surgical precision all the way to the Baskets noose, remaining in the air longer than a word you just can't guess in this game of hangman. Three letters; the one league that rivaled the NBA, until it was absorbed into it like a local coffee shop brought out by the big bucks (respect to the Seattle Sonics). The red, white and blue ball color and vibrancy of this league like orange, Julius was refreshing with his storm in a teacup play, stirred to a finish with dunks that saw his Converse's stand higher than how far his Afro could be combed. The American Basketball Association should have stood for 'Amazing Basketball Attraction' because even though the league tried to drum up fan and ticket selling excitement by Playboy bunnies and bear fights at half-time (you've seen 'Semi-Pro' those Will Ferrell jokes have a lot of truth in jest) it was it's flagship franchise star that converted  it and the revolution of the outlawed dunk and the range of the three-point lines to the big leagues of broadcast. Before Larry, Magic and then Mike revolutionized the game, the good Doctor changed it. Making his mark in Philadelphia more than just that cameo in the Denzel and Hanks movie (he's the best as Washington says..."the BEST"), bringing vibrancy in living color to the Spectrum like the R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. around the center circle. Inspiring the influence of Allen Iverson to answer the call and cross the game over in Philly again decades later. This was Dr. Erving's prescription, time for another hoops history lesson. Did I ever tell you my Philadelphia story?

Julius Erving recently wrote out his amazing autobiography, simply titled 'Dr. J'. A monumental memoir of a man that lived through the assassinations of M.L.K. and J.F.K and grew up in a racist world to some 'Philadelphia Freedom' played out like that Elton John song. This rocket man bonded the city of brotherly love as he took off from the lay-up line and even though in his life he's experienced some of the lowest of the lows in his career he experienced the highest of the highs every time his sneakers scraped the sky. Turning tragedy into triumph, in his own words you can read all about just how well he did this. Even when there weren't many cameras or spectators to capture all the legendary plays of his ABA legacy. A legacy that took this league to ABC and beyond, simply before it became a numbers game and Julius followed in the sneaker footsteps of his inspiration Connie Hawkins, Elgin Baylor and big, movie-like stars, like Wilt Chamberlain, becoming his own NBA legend. It all started in New York with a kid jumping up and down to see over a window-sill. A kid who dreamed of playing on the parks he viewed from his room, took over them as well as taking off from the concrete of the Rucker to every young boy with a high-top sneakers dream. With one jump he modernized the game. With another he took it to the mainstream. With another jump he became one of the NBA's 50 best players. With another he became one of Sports Illustrated 40 most important athletes of all time in all sports. With one jump he legitimized the dunk and birthed the Slam Dunk competition from the arms length, free-throw line that like Mike Jordan paid homage to in his own contest. With another he became the only player to ever win the Most Valuable Player Award in both the ABA and NBA, as well as a combined three championships, 16 All-Star appearances and 11 team selections including the NBA's 35th and 50 anniversary ones. That's what happens when you amass enough points (30, 026 (24.2 points per game)), rebounds (10, 524 (8.5 rpg)) and steals (2,272 (around 2 per contest)) to have two number 32 and one number 6 jersey raised to the rafters. The later only let down once for Iverson to honor him in the hometown Philly's All-Star Game tribute.

It all started with a jump in high school. Out of Nassau County, N.Y., J. Erving began his Hall Of Fame career down the corridors of Roosevelt High. That's where the good Doctor earned his nickname and the stripes that would thus lead to the stars that soared from his Net to Sixer throwback jerseys. A hardwood classic of a career that helped the embroidery of the legend of not only two leagues but Mitchell & Ness. This baller has legacy everywhere just ask Pee Wee Kirlkland. It was no Pee Wee sports in Roosevelt High though as the doctor and 'the professor' (a name he gave to teammate Leon Saunders, who in turn coined him 'doc') took every one to school, before his college class graduation. At the University Of Massachusetts, the young Doctor nursed his opponents to sleep, enrolling a Wilt, stilt like 32.5 points and 20.2 rebounds per. Only five other guys have had this 20, 20 statistical vision in NCAA history hindsight. Julius was drafted into the ABA in 1971, but finished his degree like he told his mother he would in 1986. His major in that degree? Creative leadership! Coincidence? No! The man who would get to know Miles Davis while playing the game people compare to jazz, treated his art like a beautiful ballet as he gracefully flew through the air and took the power game of a dunk to a finesses point that could skillfully bend and weave around opponents and shot blockers in mid-air. A mix of delicacy and dominance you can see from the scoop lay-up out of bounds from the baseline and the cradle rock that turned one of the best defensive specialists of all time Michael Cooper into a cowering baby, fetus like position which is old and new testament to the spirited superstar that Rucker Park dubbed 'Black Moses' like he really did possess 'Houdini' magic. Earvin Johnson, Isiah Thomas and the one they call greatest of the next golden era generation of the 80's and 90's to now where all inspired by this mans ingenious influence.

The Lakers pass first legend and Larry Bird of the storied Boston Celtics may have turned and tuned every households television set into the game of Basketball but before that Julius Erving helped take a sport divided and perform an opposite Moses on the two polar opposite leagues that would one day merge. Becoming a Squire in Virginia, Julius looked the perfect gentleman suited for the ABA draft in a bow tie and Afro. After the suit and tie came off it was like Superman in a phone booth, suited up in his iconic Nets jersey as he flew to every rim and tore down theirs. Making the Nets a feature in New York, before Jay-Z helped them become one in Brooklyn today via New Jersey, Erving wore the red, white and blue, representing his team, the ball of his league and his country. This was America's association before it went national and from the bang of his dunks to the iceman cold roll of George Gervin's fingers, from the San Antonio Spurs to the Indiana Pacers these boys where big league ready. Artis Gilmore may have beat him to the 'Rookie Of The Year' award and Rick Barry and his future team may have beat him to the finals, but his dunking debut of 27.3 points per game certainly set the tone for Virginia like Pharrell. Erving's production was out of this world like a Neptune too as you couldn't believe how much he became a rock star overnight. Just one eligible year later, Julius almost formed THE definitive big-three that was more talented than South Beach as the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. Still this powerhouse would never be that potent as the Atlanta Hawks wanted to soar with J rights or wrong. Still a dunk, pass duo with behind-the-back legend 'Pistol' Pete Maravich wasn't meant to be either as the legal powers that be in Basketball sent Erving back to the Squires and the ABA after he broke the NBA rules. Never down and out however, this dunker kept it on the up and up as he would still make it to the league, taking a whole team with him.

The New York Nets and Julius Erving went together like pulled-up socks and high top fades. As the Squires without a doctor faced franchise death, the Nets hit absolution with Erving. Defeating the Utah Stars with his jazz like play, as the finals final horn rang, Julius became MVP and ABA champion. It all looked too legitimate, credible and good to ignore. Erving was the truth and his team part of the merger that ended the amazing side-show of the ABA but still gave it new life and legacy in the one sole Jerry West silhouetted league of American Basketball. 34.7 points and another title was all Miss Box Score wrote for Erving, the Nets and the ABA's concluding game in the final 1975/1976 season, as New York beat the Denver Nuggets but at least took them with them to an association that was known for many more storied teams and two in particular; the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers that would later be lead by two particular individuals. As great as they were though they had been watching a seasoned vet who in five seasons of the ABA won two, 'chips, three MVP's and scoring titles and in his last year was the face of the league, being top ten in all statistical categories, points, rebounds, assists, steals blocks and percentages in free throws and three pointers. This was more than All-Star, this was all-legend and all-legacy. No wonder the passion, intensity and pride of the Philadelphia 76ers had their rally-towels waving for Julius. You see, because Erving and the Nets may have made it to the NBA, but they didn't end up staying their together. The Nets where then-like now-playing in Knick town and the Mecca of money they had to play for "invading the territory" of Madison Square Garden was too much to keep their star. The Nets even offered Dr. J's medicine to the Walt Frazier era ending Knicks as compensation. In the worse move in the core of rotten apple franchise history the Knicks turned their rivals and Erving down, not getting another star this huge until a few decades and letters later in Ewing.

This was no sweat for Philly though, who saw more at steak and ponied up $6 mill for the good doctors services. The former number 32 would change his number to 6 to honor this and of course the "Sixers" themselves. The man who became close friends with 80's comedy legend Bill Cosby was no joke with his show on court however, heading toward the eighties with a maturing game that was a cut above his clipped down Afro and more defined like his mustache. The dunks and the dominance remained, but a new savvy, smooth Sade operation to his soulful game gave him and Philadelphia the outside chance to Bird's Celtics and Magic's Lakers in this heaven sent NBA holy trinity. They say the 'Sweet Philly' sound of 'Philadelphia Soul' is lush and funk filled, characterized by sweeping strings and piercing horns. Sounds like Erving's lavish, off the wall, behind the notes, air swooping, buzzer beating game to me. Like The O'Jay's this guy started a train for the people all over the world and like Philly home-girl Jill Scott honoring Michael Jordan it was love in the highest hoops order. In Philly with the ball spread across the floor like cheese, George McGinnis, Caldwell Jones, World B. Free, Doug Collins, the 'Chocolate Thunder' of Darryl Dawkins and Mike Bibby's father Henry formed a steak strong squad, tougher than basketball leather. Before the legacy of Malone, the original 'Black Moses' led Philadelphia. Before the round mound of rebound Charles Barkley ran a power move on the city, the Chuck Taylor ambassador was public hero number one, with a Chuck D narrated documentary. Before Allen Iverson became the 76ers answer in the hip-hop hoop baller generation, the Doc was unquestionable like a Dre "hell yeah" (this good doctor even inspired that N.W.A. rappers name as well as player/coach Glenn 'Doc' Rivers one). His production was just that bombastic. Philly even blasted the great Boston Celtics a couple of times when it came to the crunch. 'Dr. Chapstick' was just that cold in the clutch. So much he became the leagues first big endorsement once the commercial breaks kicked in. Still in one advert, as Julius help us his index finger and told the season ticket buying city of Brotherly love that he owed them one, Billy Cunningham, Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones came to help him deliver that promise. Soon would it be always sunny in Philadelphia?

Dr. J's Basketball and literally brawling fights with Larry legend became so much of a fixture they even inspired a 'One On One: Dr. J vs Larry Bird' video game. Far from electronic arts however in the game the pair's performances where like something CPU assisted. The first half of the NBA's golden era eighties where defined by the storied, spectator drawing Sixers/Celtics rivalry and by the time Julius and his boys made it past the parquet and thought they where plain-sailing against a Kareem, Cap-less Lakers team, a young rookie called Magic Johnson took the captains chair on a flight to Philly. Telling his team to "never fear", whilst taking center stage against the Sixers and winning the championship for his team and his big goggle wearing brother. A few years later and a pair of goggles on a big man for themselves and the Sixers where ready for the promised land. Moses took them there as Malone became the original mailman delivering the Sixers promise as he led his team from the post. Forming a dynamic duo for the ages after all those seasons Julius Erving finally met Larry O'Brien and saw championship gold for the National Basketball Association. In his twilight year, he took the rocking chair retirement tour of the league in tribute at his stats where still stellar, he left on a high passing the staff of the franchise to Moses. Even with the game (which featured criminally underrated and dunk overlooked elite passing and D) and dunks gone his legend and legacy would live on from everyone who took the game higher than the glass ball boys couldn't reach to clean. From dollar-bill high guys like Dominique Wilkins to Vince Carter no contest to today's greatest LeBron James and of course, of all time, Michael Jordan. Taking the previously unsportsmanlike play of a dunk and making it as professional as himself the heir to the dunking throne was the king of role models. He was even the poster-boy, childhood hero of President Barack Obama. Speaking of ears, born and raised in Philadelphia the prince of Bel-Air  Will Smith modelled his life off the original Air Fresh who spent most of his days on the playground. Turning the purists to his poetry, making 'slam' league vernacular. Giving substance to the style, coining the 'Slam Dunk' and personifying it like Chick Hearn. If you read the story of 'Dr. J' to the new generation tonight you may sing them a rock-a-by lullaby of the times he cradled the Coop-a-Loop and every Tom, Dick and Bill Walton in the league, nursing them to a losing sleep. This was no fable, but all legend. The legend of the great doctor that everybody needed. Can you see him now? If you keep watching tonight you may just. As his legacy lasts, he jumps...we rise.

Monday, 2 December 2013


A Simple Game.


Shreds...that's what the Lakers where supposed to be reduced to this year. Like the wrong sort of ticker tape, or commiseration balloons falling to an empty Forum floor after a Celtic celebration. Ripped up like the contract offer for Dwight 'the Houston we have a problem now Rocket' Howard. Ripped off like every Barnes, Jamison and even Chris Paul one-time Laker players wearing Clippers across their Los Angeles jersey. Torn down like the covering of all those championship banners by those same player portraits by the STAPLES neighbors in downtown L.A. Torn up like Kobe's Achilles. Pulled apart like Steve Nash's back and now Pau Gasol's ankle. Tugged apart like every twittering critic or hater. Still it doesn't rain in Southern California for long, the sun of purple and gold shine will come out again. After the darkest day comes the 'Hollywood Nights' and these back in black boys are switching currents like AC/DC, bolting up like Iron Man, with a Robert Downey Jnr/Tony Stark charming charisma for a new 'Showtime'. Looking fresher than their Sunday white's a young mix of raw talent and exciting play is giving reason for Jack Nicholson and the rest of Hollywood to stay in their seats. The same seats critics now need to take. Even with Howard's end long gone like the Bynum, Fisher and Odom glory days and the big three of Kobe, Pau and Steve struggling through injury, this Lake Show lives and dies for more than just the threes of super streaky Steve Blake or the names of the two Jordan's, Hill and Farmar. In killer Cali' in the midst of a purple haze there's four boys shining like the Four Tops. They're there for the Lakers as the team reached out for help. In this millionaire city it all started from nothing...


With zero on the chest of his jersey Nick Young is showing with his numbers that he's worth so much more. With sense after five, even Coach D'Antoni thinks we could be looking at our 'Sixth Man Of The Year'. A guy that thrives in this European style run and gun offence and crosses everybody up with his shots that fade deeper than his sneaker collection and his dunks that jam higher than his baby 'fro. It's that video game play that makes nightly highlights and social media sharing. Swagy P still has that confidence even with the more focused deletion of his Twitter account. The kind of confidence that comes from having Rihanna call your name courtside like a play by play. The kind of play that shines bright like a diamond. Beautiful like his hops in  the sky. Swinging between the big guard and small forward spots after being bounced around the league from Washington and Philadelphia. Here's one Clipper who actually swaps his blue, red and white locker for the real American dream of wearing Lakers purple. They'd love to have him in Lob City, but he's taking flight under the wing of Kobe. Balling like this was the playground but smashing and shushing any Smush Parker inconsistency comparisons. Reminding the fans of the young, promising Ramon Sessions on court. It's all good for the kid in this city, the cousin of the hottest rap star on the planet is about to make Kendrick Lamar proud by being one of the hottest hoopers in California. It's poetic justice and it's a rap. In this second chance season he's adding more first-hand reports to his resume of 43 point career highs and three, threes in less than a minute. With key threes, blocks and dunks to go with that look he's like an NBA Jam player on permanent fire, ready to heat up his team off the bench with a new ignited generation Vinnie Johnson microwave machine. The kid with the tattoos is about to ink even more of a reputation. He's in the right city to become a star, but he can pass too...


The one guy that can finish every perfect play with a punctuated power dunk. This X-Man is about to take over your mind and take the Lakers to the days of future past with his brand new brand of Showtime ball sharper than Wolverine's finger nails. You want to put this guy in the dunk contest with some of his teammates, Sportscentre's already racking up the 10's. This number seven seal is even making die-hard fans forget about the cult classic play of Lamar Odom. There's no sins with the man whose tomahawking any notion that the Lakers are one Kobe and done. He's more than just the highlights however or the funny moments of invading a Nets huddle with Steve Blake. Xavier Henry could just be the next big thing. You remember the Memphis Grizzlies draft day photo, looking and built like a young version of the R&B singer Tank and getting the compliments from the college scouting reports he was ready to roll out his arsenal of offensive weapons. He may be a long way from Kansas now, but he's even further from being waived like fellow Summer league standout Elias Harris. The former SLAM magazine diary keeper has a lot more entries to add to his personal profile in a career that is sports illustrated with dime shots and poster slams ready for an ESPN highlight. He flew and flew against a Pelican and the former New Orleans Hornet even clipped the Los Angeles sister team for a career high. He's not going to always break the bank in scoring, but he'll certainly have a go at the rim. The one thing that keeps X rolling is his energy and enthusiasm that makes not only his dunks consistent but his point production and staff stuffing too. Right now with Kobe out but about to come back on the come up this guy is on, putting down the heavy lifting. Muscling some strong plays and hammer drops. Right now dunk for dunk there's not many that can contest with king Henry...and then after X...


There was Wesley crusher dunk for this next generation and his Johnson and Johnson play that wont guarantee no more tears for the opposition. Looking Tim Duncan worried but playing like an android this kids smarter than your new phone. 'Weside 11' on the west-side has also turned off Twitter to turn up his game to his jersey number, rocking Hollywood like Spinal Tap with every fluid move to the cup. You saw the reverse that pierced Paul and every other Youtube moment set to your latest favorite track. The only thing this former top five draft pick is busting is nets. He knows Phoenix like D'Antoni and Minnesota like the Mikan Lakers where his experience now lies. The former Syracuse Orangemen may be no 'Melo Anthony but his game is anything but calm. His above the rim, dribbling tall attitude makes him seem higher than his 6, 7 stature and his outside range makes him the perfect prototype swingman. He's draining long range bomb shots after short term blast from critics. Wesley Johnson is about to be household like his two-handed offers to the weeknight rundowns. Just catch him on the break if you can, Leo DiCaprio and everyone else in attendance can see just how this former wolf is about to make it Wall Street big. Just check the stat stock. The numbers are rising like the sneakers, it must be the boos that helped this kids mature. Cheers to him can even be heard in bars in Boston now. The former lottery pick is just that ticket now, all he's waiting for is the tape, because anyone betting on W can look for a celebration. In Motown against the Detroit Piston his motor city line of 27 points (on six three-balls), six rebounds, two assists and three steals was pure petroleum for the fast and furious age. That's all-round, all-game and all-star. If you thought this Lakers perfect starting unit left with Metta World Peace, than you're as wrong as war. This young buck goes to battle every night. Biting his opposition as much as his jersey. A jersey that will read Lakers for a long time. He's not the only one they thought weak...


Some may say he has a girls name, but with his game Jodie isn't about to foster anymore criticism. Rocking the Gary Payton 20 and the Kobe physicality if you're sitting in the binocular seats you may be confused at just who's moving below you. Sure it's no Hall Of Famer, but maybe the next great All-Star. Alongside the two dunking dynamos and his fellow former Sixer Young, this 26 and under unit is maturing thanks to this mans precision shot and coast to coast, basement to high-rise flow of play. The world belongs to the strong Meeks who can inherit it all. The former Wildcat that clawed his way to a 54 point record, including a benchmark 10 threes  is taking his point pouring play to the downtown area of L.A. With the franchise faces not making Figueroa, it's up to this man to anchor the team when X, Wes or Nick aren't scorching and scoring under the California sun. Able to go shot for shot with his fellow role players and also impress on the lay-up line this guy really is stepping up for a unit that has more than just four extra uniform options. This gifted player is giving the Lakers much more this Christmas like added sleeves. Up Meeks' cuffs link the tricks of a playbook trade that see more dry erase blue lines drawn to him. He may have been picked 41st in the draft but that number has some similarities to go with it's stupidity. Like the former champion 41, this pure shooter is throwing like Glen Rice. No wonder the Lakers picked up the second year option on the offensive specialist, when he's hot he torches everyone, leading the way and making everything click. With the dedication to defense to match that outstanding output on offence this player makes it all happen. Like the sequel to Star Trek it only seems like yesterday that he came into the league in 2009, but the coaches favorite is now a valuable veteran out of the darkness of doubt. A guy that can show this young core of Nick, Henry and Johnson what this games all about.

Sure it's all about Kobe. The money put up for that marriage for life contract proves that for better for worse. Still, Kobe needs more guns behind his long-range offensive artillery that keeps extending it's scope in his expiring years of play. With Steve Nash headed towards retirement and Pau Gasol towards the bench or block in some critics eyes, the storied, old Lakers have got younger and deeper. What an experience for this raw talent to go through to with the big names sitting in the crowd with the rest of the Hollywood stars too. As talented as this roster is across the board from proven vets like Chris Kaman, to the future promise of guys like Shawne Williams, it's all about four now and their power like those who can't pronounce the name of Marvel's God of Thunder. These guys have the dynamics and depth to now even give Oklahoma a bolt in battle. Far from the West's best the Lakers are a few years and pieces away from contention, but who knows what will happen with a little bit of health from their Kobe. If he utilizes his fab four, we could be looking at Basketball's moneyball unit that plays like the red, white and blue and strikes gold like Brad Pitt, swinging it out the park. It's worth a shot and strike, because just like Kareem Rush and Jannero Pargo stepping it up in the Hall Of Fame critical days of Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, Nick, Xavier, Wesley and Jodie have proven themselves in troubled times for the worlds most famous franchise. You can tell just how much by how often they're seen on the clips of game highlights and this is just a brief introduction. These faces of the future are the latest Earl Clark, Trevor Ariza, Caron Butler, Maurice Evans, Shannon Brown or Marc Gasol draft rights that the Lakers want and need to hold on to. The soul of a team looking for heart, these four tops with similar streaking shooting and slamming styles and hustle plays can't be replaced. Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks are making sure this show goes on before Kobe's Hollywood night debut. Let's hope in this purple and gold light they don't fade to black.