Monday, 29 April 2013

GARY PAYTON Feature-PAYTON IN FULL

The Glove Is On For The Hall.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

This year there is about to be a lot of chatter down the halls of basketball fame. This time the talk won't be trash though. A true 90's legend and one of the greatest Point Guards of all time is about to be enshrined by Naismith alongside N.Y. legend Bernard King in this years Hall of Fame. Welcome to basketball immortality Gary Payton. You've sure earned it. Talking the talk, and dribbling the dribble all the way to an incredible, successful career.

A player for our generation. Nine times an All-Star, nine times all-defensive along with only Kobe, Jordan and Kevin Garnett. The only P.G. to ever win the 'Defensive Player of the Year' award and one of the only players to ever even cause the greatest of all-time problems. A two time gold medalist who showed the world he was an Olympian as well as one of the NBA's greatest athletes. A skillful and savvy guard. The only thing more slicker than his infamous 'trash talk' was his famous game.

'The Glove' held it down for Supersonic basketball for 13 years. More Seattle than Fraiser Crane, the whole city was listening and watching. Before it was 'goodnight Seattle we lost you' and 'good morning Oklahoma and Kevin Durant and co', Payton was as 90's and Seattle as the Sonics traditional, now throwback jerseys. Laker legend Gail Goodrich said Payton was "probably as complete a guard as there ever was", while Gary's cousin coined the nickname 'The Glove' for his smothering defensive ability. "You're holding Kevin Johnson like a baseball in a glove" he remarked. This may not be baseball, but when it came to basketball, whether it be one of Phoenix's brightest scorers or money, the ball was Gary's in the end.

Payton in full was one of not only the games greatest true 'guards', but an offensive talent as well as an defensive one. We're not talking about the talk either. He is known as the NBA's highest scoring Point Guards in his prime and is legendary in basketball lore as a purist like Rakim is in hip-hop. Legendary Seattle grunge outfit Pearl Jam may have originally named there band originally after Mookie Blaylock, but when it came to Seattle basketball it was number 20 who rose above them all like the Space Needle. An out of this world talent who woke up his team like coffee and stirred his opposition. Gary Payton holds the Seattle franchise records for points, assists, and steals. Just like the cities sensational sister team, it was always a Storm when Payton played.

Fresh out of Oakland, California, Gary was a star and a 'Sports Illustrated' cover feature during his time at Oregon State University. The 1987 Freshman Of The Year, already belongs in a hall of his own being enshrined in the OSU's Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. With all these accolades it's no wonder Seattle took him with the second overall pick in the first draft of the 1990's. There a true 90's legend was born. A man who almost enjoyed 20 years in the league. Before Blake Griffin and Chris Paul took the basketball worlds attention in Lob City, California there was a 'Sonic Boom' of magnificent, air shattering performances in Seattle. You all thought that was the cities famous rain...but it was reign. As the reignman Shawn Kemp and Payton formed an alley-oop, point/dunk combo for the ages that re-invigorated basketball and would have made the daily dose 24/7 if Youtube was around then. The top ten plays of the week belonged to one of the greatest duo's ever. There was a storm coming and Thunder in Seattle before the city was even stripped of their team, name and colors in favor for Oklahoma.

Even for the 'Sonicless in Seattle' years a retired Payton has been active in supporting his former club. One standpoint was his expression not to have his retired Sonics jersey in the rafters of Oklahoma City. he wants it home in Seattle, where it belongs. That is a good point from a great guard. Working on bringing a team back to his basketball city, Payton was part of the famous documentary 'Sonicsgate' and now his valiant efforts amongst others are giving Seattle it's Sonics franchise back. Sure like no Gary and the team in Oklahoma, it'll never be the same, but we only have to look back to the golden era of the 90's for the good times. A time when Payton was manning the basketball quarterback position like Eli.

Like the number of times Payton cause the greatest player of all time Michael Jordan trouble. The rivalry even stretched to the 1996 Sonics/Chicago Bulls Finals, where in six games The Glove grabbed the bull by the horns and had basketball's Ali on the ropes. Payton boxing clever would get into M.J.'s head with his trash, but get under his skin with his play. Michael may have floated in the air like a butterfly, but Payton stung like a son of a bee. Mike could talk the talk too, but 'The Gloves' 6, 4, 180 pound frame could match up with the G.O.A.T like his words. Jordan's averages almost tailed off by ten against Gary. Sure 27.3 points per game (a great 26 in one of these games, was Jordan's lowest Finals total ever) is still incredible, but when Payton man-handles points away even from the greatest offensive threat the NBA has ever seen you can see why this glove was one of the most smothering and frustrating opponents ever even when he kept his mouth shut.

Gary Dwayne Payton may have never won a ring in Seattle but he sure earned his respect. It was strange to see him leave but in a trade for Ray Allen, Payton found himself in Milwaukee in a small, Point only backcourt with Sam Cassell. The two together had a short but very sweet spell of small basketball skill. Then in one of the craziest offseasons and arguably the birth of superteams, 'The Glove' aligned with 'The Mailman' as Payton and Karl Malone joined Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles with the Lakers. In a Hall Of Fame dynasty extending move the faces of Seattle and Utah basketball, strangely donned purple and gold. It looked good but wasn't all 'showtime' however as the Lakers couldn't get it done against a more complete, champion team in the Detroit Pistons. They tried though and even though a death of a dynasty ensued as Karl, Shaq and even Phil Jackson escaped from L.A., Gary was committed to staying around and making everything work.

Still the truest Point Guard the Lakers had since Magic was traded to L.A's rivals Boston with role player legend Rick Fox for Chris Mihm, Jumaine Jones and Chucy Atkins. This obviously didn't please Payton who was then shipped to Atlanta for former Celtics great Antoine Walker. Still, things weren't working out there either and Payton was released and then returned to Boston. Then G.P. 20 took his talents to South Beach in a reunion with Shaquille O'Neal and also the man he was traded for and then played with in Boston (Antoine Walker) for the Miami Heat. With some crucial contributions and some clutch shots Dwayne Payton helped Dwyane Wade and company to a championship. Giving Gary a well deserved ring that eluded him in Seattle.

The Hall now awaits a man who boasts career averages of 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game. A man who put the city of Seattle and it's Supersonics franchise on his back, not only during his prolific playing career, but also during the dark, dog days of a city that lost his team. A fast talker with a quicker game. One so slick, it was sick enough to cause the greatest player ever displeasure. A man that was not only the face of Seattle and the 90's but one that was the look and that infamous trash talk grin of basketball. This traditional Point Guard helped revolutionise the game with more than his wordplay. Now 'The Glove' will be handed to Naismith, where the Hall Of Fame will hold his memory down forever. When it comes to the 90's golden era of basketball there's nothing like nostalgia and there's no one like Gary.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

2013 NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS PREVIEW BY QUETT WALKER




 
In my previous article, we had a look at the 4 Eastern Conference first round matchups. Let’s continue with a previewof the 4 Western Conference matchups.






Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets

This is going to be a very entertaining series due to the fact that James Harden of the Houston Rockets will be playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that traded him last October. 

The Thunder have gotten better every year since they first qualified for the post season in 2010. After having made the NBA Finals in 2012, the Thunder were picked as the favourite to win the West once again and embark on another trip to the Finals. It definitely shocked the NBA world when the Thunder traded their ‘Sixth Man of the Year’ winner James Harden to the Houston Rockets shortly before the start of the season. Many pundits claimed that this would diminish the Thunder’s performance and sabotage their chances of appearing in the Finals as Kevin Martin, who was acquired in the trade with Houston, doesn’t nearly possess the same intangibles as Harden.

Well it seems as if those thoughts were nothing but nonsense as the Thunder have acquired the best record in the West and are still poised to reach the NBA Finals once again. The maturity and development of Russell Westbrook and the increased level of play from Kevin Durant have the Thunder in prime position to once again battle with the elite teams.

James Harden going to the Houston Rockets franchise was a blessing for a team that cleaned house this past offseason. The Rockets released approximately 9 out of 12 players from last season in hopes of securing a new start. They have started on a positive note by not only acquiring Harden, but signing Jeremy Lin (Linsanity!!!) and Omer Asik. In addition, the improvement of Chandler Parsons and contributions from role players Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks have allowed the Rockets franchise to reach the post season after a 3 year drought.

The Thunder are definitely the better team as they are not only a deeper team with a bigger front court, they have amazing team chemistry as they have been together for the last 3 -4 years. Furthermore, Houston has no answer for Russell Westbrook, since Jeremy Lin is a terrible defender and seems to have lost the spark that propelled him into stardom last season. You also cannot deny the fact that this Houston team lacks playoff experience and it’s a tall order for James Harden to upset this Thunder team during his first playoff series as a starter and star of the team.

Nevertheless, this is going to be an explosive series to watch; one which the Thunder will eventually end up winning.

Thunder win 4 -1 

San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers

This would have been a very entertaining series but given all the injuries to both teams, it will be difficult just having all of the star players present!

The San Antonio Spurs have been a very consistent team to the point where everyone can basically count them as a playoff team every year. This is the 14th consecutive season where the Spurs have won 50+ games and they always seem to achieve this regardless of any injuries or conflicts that may arise on the team.

The Spurs enter this post season without Manu Ginobili, who is recovering from injury, as well as a banged up Tony Parker. However, the Spurs have one of the best players in NBA history in Tim Duncan and although he’s not the same player he used to be, he can still have breakout games when his team needs them.  Very solid role players such as Kawhi Lenoard, Danny Green, Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter help to make the Spurs’ engine run. 

The Spurs have recently released Stephen Jackson and signed Tracy McGrady. At one point during his NBA career, McGrady was considered one of the top players in the NBA, but that was a very long time ago. McGrady’s performance has declined over the years and his recent stint playing in the Chinese league over the last few months may actually help his confidence and performance level. The Spurs will not know exactly what he can bring to the table but they definitely need contributions from T-MAC right away.

The Lakers are always in the limelight of the constant media circus that is in Los Angeles. Great expectations are placed on them every year and this year was no different with the signing of superstar centre Dwight Howard and hall of fame point guard Steve Nash. However the Lakers have been plagued by injuries all season which saw them constantly fighting just to make the playoffs. 

Then in the third to last game of the season, the worst possible scenario for the Lakers occurred. Kobe Bryant injured his Achilles on an attempted drive to the basket. All the Laker fans held their breath fearing the worst as Kobe hobbled off the floor. Then the news came that he injured his Achilles heel and would require season ending surgery and rehabilitation that would prevent him from playing basketball for 6 – 9 months. So now the Lakers enter the post season with an injured Steve Nash and without Kobe Bryant. Ouch!!!

This matchup has lost some of its shine due to the absence of Kobe Bryant but nevertheless the Spurs are still going to have to come out and play a resilient Laker team. Spurs definitely have the advantage at the point guard position and they have a lot more playoff experience. The Spurs are also a defensive minded team which will definitely pose problems for the Lakers. Although the Lakers are bigger up front with Dwight Howard and Paul Gasol, the Spurs have a deeper team and more role players who can contribute to securing a win in the series. Lastly, no Kobe Bryant!!!

Spurs win 4 - 2

Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors

This is going to be a high octane fast paced series as both of these teams like to run up and down the floor. Don’t blink as you may miss something!!

The Denver Nuggets have secured the 3rd seed in the Western Conference after having a fantastic season. Trading for Andre Iguodala in the offseason has sparked an outstanding performance by this Denver team as not only have they won a franchise best 57 games and average 106 points per game (the best in the NBA), but they have only lost 3 games at home all season which makes them only the 11th team to ever achieve this. Furthermore they are the second leading rebounding team in the league at 45 rebounds a game and lead the league in points in the paint. They have been able to do all of this without have a superstar or go-to player on the team.

These accomplishments have put them in a position where they have a chance to advance pass the first round of the playoffs since they last did so 4 years ago.

The Golden State Warriors have also had a good season behind the brilliant play of Stephen Curry and David Lee. Curry’s hot 3 point shooting has not only made him a viable offensive threat but has allowed Golden State to space the floor. Klay Thompson has also emerged a sharp shooter which opponents will have to pay attention to. David Lee is a rebounding machine and has contributed to the Warriors being the 3rd best rebounding team in the league.  

The Warriors are entering the post season for the first since 2007 when they made history by defeating the 1stseeded Dallas Mavericks as an 8th seed in the first round. What is impressive is they have been able to accomplish this without their all star centre Andrew Bogut.

The Denver Nuggets are the team with more chemistry and playoff experience than the Warriors. This will be David Lee’s and Stephen Curry’s first ever playoff experience and their lack of playoff expertise will definitely show. In addition, games in the playoffs tend to be played more in a half court set and result in ‘slowed down, grind it out’ type of games. Both teams are running teams however Denver has the advantage as it is a better defensive team than the Warriors and has better rebounders. The Loss of Danilo Gallinari and the nagging injury to Ty Lawson is a huge blow to Denver however they should still be able to advance to the second round being the deeper and more experienced team and having better role players.

Nuggets win 4 -2

Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzles

This series is a rematch of last year’s first round matchup in which the Clippers edged the Grizzles 4-3.

The Los Angeles Clippers have had a phenomenal season as not only have they won a franchise best 56 games and won a franchise best 17 straight games but they have also clinched their first ever Pacific Division title.

The Clippers have always been considered the Los Angeles Lakers’ younger brother and as a result have been overlooked in terms of a potential destination for players due to their terrible track record. However since acquiring stellar first round draft pick Blake Griffin and signing premier point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers misfortunes have been overturned. They have been able to plug pieces around Paul and Griffin which has allowed them to have the best two seasons so far for the franchise.

The Memphis Grizzles have been knocking on the door of the West elite for the last couple of years now. The midseason Rudy Gay trade convinced many that this would have provided a disruption to the team chemistry and the team would experience a decline in their performance. However Memphis has persevered and is still in a position to threaten the other teams for the title in the West.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are a front court dynamic duo that plays tough defense, rebound and can score. Mike Conley is a solid point guard and Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince can play tough defense on the opposing team’s best wing players. All in all this is a very solid, tough defensive minded team.

The Clippers are an explosive team especially on the fast break. However, the playoffs are all about a half-court situation where the game slows down, the physicality increases and teams are able to make adjustments since it’s a 7 game series. The Clippers don’t perform well in this situation and its in these types of games where Memphis’ speciality lies. As a result Memphis will be able to slow the game down, beat up Clippers in the front court and make them play a half court set. This will minimise the performance of Blake Griffin as the Clippers will have to become too reliant on Chris Paul and thus this will force him to become more of a scorer instead of a player maker since almost no one on the Clippers can get their own shot.

The Grizzles are a defensive team that will surely be seeking revenge from last year’s matchup especially since in Game 1 they allowed the Clippers to win after trailing by 27 points at the start of the 4th quarter.

Grizzles win 4 -2

Friday, 19 April 2013

2013 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS PREVIEW BY QUETT WALKER



       
The NBA playoffs are here!! The NBA playoffs are here!!

After a very exciting season, the teams are set for their first round matchups. Let’s start by previewing the 4 Eastern Conference matchups.


Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks 

Every year there is always a series in the first round that could result in a sweep and this matchup between the Heat and Bucks has the most potential to result in just that.

The Heat have been able to win the season series 3 -1 and although we all know that games in the playoffs and season possess totally different intensities and level of play, the season is a good indicator to see exactly how the two teams fare against each other.

This past season, Miami has achieved the amazing accomplishment of going on a 27 game winning streak, second highest in NBA history. Not only has Lebron James turned into a superhuman freak during this streak but the role players have had to step up on a number of occasions and this has no doubt boosted their confidence and the overall team morale.

The Milwaukee Bucks have not been in the playoffs since 2010 and have returned after having a decent season due to the great guard play of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis and the emergence of centre Larry Sanders. Solid play from power forward Ersan ─░lyasova and the addition of J.J. Redick at the trade deadline in February has ensured that the Bucks have returned to the playoffs. 

Although the Bucks have the better point guard and centre in Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders (two weaknesses of the Heat) and have played Miami very tough during the season, the Heat have the deeper team and more playoff and championship experience. There is absolutely no doubt that Miami will be favoured to win this series as the Bucks just don’t have the talent to deny the Heat entry to the second round. 

Anything less than repeating as NBA champions will be considered a failure for the Miami Heat. 

Miami Heat win 4-0

New York Knicks vs Boston Celtics 

This series will definitely be the most entertaining in the East due to the rivalry of these two teams which dates back to the 1950s. 

The Knicks made their return to the playoffs in 2011 after failing to qualify for 7 straight years. The Celtics swept the Knicks 4-0 in the first round of 2011 playoffs making it the second series sweep for the Knicks as they were also swept in the first round of the 2004 playoffs by the New Jersey Nets.

In both these situations the Knicks were the lower ranked seed. This time around the Knicks are the 2nd seed in the conference Eastern conference. 

Carmelo Anthony has elevated his play to a superstar level which has not only seen him win the scoring champion title this season but also has put his team in a position to advance past the first round since 2000 NBA playoffs. Veterans such as Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler have added leadership and toughness to the team while role players such as JR Smith, Steve Novak and Kenyon Martin make up a solid bench that enables the Knicks to compete with the elite in the league. 

The Boston Celtics possess a wealth of championship swagger and experience that will definitely need to be tapped into if they want to advance in the playoffs, especially with the absence of their All Star point guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics’ performance has been up and down this season but their play has been decent enough for them to make the playoffs. They have veteran leadership in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, good role players in Jason Terry, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley and a potential all-star in Jeff Green who has shown flashes of great play in the second half of the season. 

The Knicks definitely have the deeper and younger team however the Celtics have a more experienced and physical team as their players have been together longer and play more tenacious defense. The Knicks have the edge with this matchup as the ageing legs of Boston and the inconsistent play of Kevin Garnett maybe issues too great for the Celtics to overcome.

We all cannot forget the ‘Honey Nut Cheerios’ debacle at the Garden earlier this year. Allegedly, during a game Kevin Garnett apparently told Carmelo Anthony that his wife LaLa ‘tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios’. This infuriated Carmelo Anthony which threw him off of his game and allowed the Celtics to win that night. That same alleged statement led to Carmelo Anthony attempting to confront Garnett at the team bus outside the arena later that night which resulted in Carmelo Anthony getting a one game suspension from the NBA. There is no doubt this is still in the mind of Anthony and will be extra motivation to beat the Celtics. 

Knicks win 4 - 2

Brooklyn Nets vs Chicago Bulls 

Both of these teams are evenly matched in this series. 

The Brooklyn Nets made one of the biggest splashes with their cash in the offseason by securing Deron Williams to a big contract, resigning Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace and making a trade for Joe Johnson. In addition their centre Brook Lopez has raised his performance this year which saw him earn an all-star berth. The Nets have also done a very good job with surrounding Williams and Lopez with solid role players. As a result the Nets have started off the season very well but slumped a bit until they were able to pick up their performance once they fired Avery Johnson and replaced him with PJ Carlesimo. 

This Brooklyn team is better than a lot of people think.

The biggest questions surrounding the Bulls as they begin their playoff run is whether or not Derrick Rose will make any sort of on court appearance in the playoffs. Chicago has had to weather the storm during the season due to the absence of their superstar point guard and have surprised many at how well they have performed. No one would have expected the Bulls to be seeded 5th in the Eastern conference this season.

Although this Bulls team is not as deep as they were last year, they still have amazing front court in Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, a good point guard in Kirk Hinrich and a spark plug off the bench in Nate Robinson. 

As these two teams are evenly matched, it could really go either way as to who advances to the second round. However the Bulls have more chemistry and cohesion as they have been together longer as a team since most of the players on the Nets have only been assembled this past season. Deron Williams will have an advantage at the point guard position over Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich, unless Derrick Rose comes back. However Brook Lopez will have his hands full up front dealing with Noah and Boozer.

Due to their tenacious defense, the cohesion that exists between the players as a result of their past playoff experience and their tough minded coach, the edge will have to go to the Bulls in this matchup.

Bull wins 4 – 2

Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks

This series is probably the least interesting matchup in the East.

Both of these teams have experienced inconsistent play towards the end of the season. The Indiana Pacers were seeded 2nd a few weeks ago but have dropped to the 3rd seed while the Atlanta Hawks dropped from the 5th seed to the 6th seed.

The Indiana Pacers can attribute their season success to their small forward Paul George who has performed at a level this season that saw him get his first All-star berth. Also Roy Hibbert and David West round out their front court and with their defensive prowess and outstanding offensive abilities they pose a great threat to their opponents’ big men. Other players such as George Hill, Tyler Hansbrough, Lance Stephenson and Gerald Green provide contributions which makes the Pacers a solid team.

The Atlanta Hawks have been in the playoffs for the 6th consecutive year now after being absent for the previous 9 years. The Hawks have managed to reach the second round but have yet to go beyond that. Although this team has achieved some sort of success in the playoffs, they have been gradually declining as they have shown inconsistencies on the defense end and droughts in scoring. This puts doubt into whether this ball club has what it takes to compete with contenders in the eastern conference. 

Their best player is Josh Smith whose talents and athletic ability make it very difficult for other teams to match up against him. Al Horford is an undersized centre but is effective and Jeff Teague is a young talented point guard that has a bright future. Kyle Korver, Devin Harris and Deshawn Stevenson are decent role players but will they have enough to combat against the role players of Indiana. 

The Pacers are younger, more talented and a deeper team than the Atlanta Hawks. They have a bigger front court and the Hawks do not have anyone who can match up against Paul George. Although the Pacers are without Danny Granger due to injury they are still a dangerous team and will most likely still win this series.

Pacers win 4 - 1

Monday, 15 April 2013

THE KOBE SERIES-DEAR KOBE

An Open Letter To Kobe Bryant.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Dear Kobe.

This is for you. Thank you. Now I would love to claim to be your biggest fan but then I would be discrediting the love you receive from all sorts of devoted fans all over the globe. I'm an NBA fan who bleeds purple and gold. One who often wonders which M.J. was the greatest of all time when it came to sports like those who swear by the king of pop (R.I.P.). Still, your closer than you think. The story of my love for this game and your game is a special one. Here it goes...

You grew up in Europe. You know how it is! I sit writing this in an internet cafe in my hometown in England, thinking of how you grew up in Italy dribbling with your hands while everyone else was doing it with their feet. I know you love soccer, but like your first love I love basketball and when it comes to sport I havent looked back since. While everyone else in my country was watching the Premier League my heavy, 2 in the morning eyelids where focussed on basketball and again you know how it is. Television coverage, before cable and League Passes (which not everyone including myself can afford) was seldom. Sure it was Michael Jordan who got me into basketball, him and his Chicago Bulls team, but I never really saw them play until I went to the video libary. He was a legend, you where the reality.

Standing their with that 'fro, that smile and those sunglasses, next to that big fella. Complete with a new stadium and uniform set that shined brighter than the Californian sun in Los Angeles, but not your chances. I saw purple and gold ticker tape fall as you leapt into Shaquille O'Neal's arms on my television set a million miles away. The kid from the small seaside town saw a team that ruled the Pacific do it again three times over before, he had to get a closer look. That's when I made the trip, halfway through my sebatcle year in Toronto, Canada (shout out to the T-Dot, 81 right?!) in 2006. I had a few weeks left before I returned home for Christmas, I was close, but not that close. Still, it didn't matter I made that flight to LAX. What I thought would be just in time to catch the Lakers/Clippers what we here call a derby at STAPLES...but then lost luggae happened and I missed THE game. Still, I got to meet former player Walt McCarty at the airport and strike up a conversation which six years later led to an interview. America and life is crazy.

Still, when I got my things back and went to the heart of the city, the first thing I did with the new day was visit downtown Los Angeles. There after an hour long coach ride I saw the STAPLES Centre for the first time in it's metal and glass flesh and it was like seeing one of America's greatest landmarks for me. In my mind the Hollywood sign couldnt compare. Nothing could. I made my way to the ticket booth and asked what games where playing this week (I already knew), the attendee told me about the 5 games over the week (I had planned it perfectly). He asked me which ones I wanted. I looked at all my saved up cash..."all of them"!

Then I got to see all the dunks, fade-away's, steals and smiles for real. I couldn't take my eyes off the court...and I'm a big Jack Nicholson fan. It was December. Remember you went down with an injury in the week. I thought 'what luck', but then against the odds you came back to beat the San Antonio Spurs, tongue out with the dunk. Just when I saved the best seats in the house for last. What a trip! What a week! You came back. The I did four years later (it felt like home)...and I know you will, 6 or 9 months later. Is this the end? Nah! I mean I know you, I've grown up with you. Father time never. Face time more like. Time to get those iPhone's and Instagram ready. I just feel sorry for the bear.

You see I had to put it all down in writing, like I've done time and time about you. Almost to the point where it's become a little strange (but hey, I'm a sportswriter). 'The Kobe Series' followed 'The Jordan Series' as I tried to hash-tag the range of articles I've wrote about you to spread the love, just like you joining Twitter. You can always 'Count On Kobe'. I can't thank you enough, writing about you on your birthday (the article 'Thirtysomething') got me my first gig with SLAM Magazine's online site. How can I thank you for that? Your passion, fuelled mine and turned it into work and success. Then came Dime Magazine's 'Laker Nation' blog and who knows what next. From speaking to the likes of Scoop Jackson (he has his own letter), James Worthy on Christmas, your boys Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Earl Clark, Kareem Rush, A.C. Green and even the likes of Spike Lee, Tyrese and Vin Diesel. This life is crazy, but it all started with you. The love of my life even see's it, and she prefers her sports with four wheels. It's all love.

"Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise," remember?! Don't hate this I'm not writing this article like this is it. This is no goodbye letter. Six to nine months is a long time and I may have wooried that you may never come back but I know the Kareem rocking chair has to wait. Besides you've just overtaken Wilt when no one thought you could. Who's next? Even the King LeBron knows the throne may be his, but it's not his league yet. You retire when you say you do. As those so called better players get wheelchaired off the court with lesser injurys (ouch!), you rip your achilles apart (it's amost a fitting injury for the player closest to 'God'), make two free-throws and walk off like you where just taking a Gatorade break. Maybe you are.

You've come back from things more flagrant. Won MVP's with a broken nose, become a phantom menace with the mask, showed ESPN this former number 8 is better than 7th place. There's still venom in this Mamba. The Vino is still getting better with age. You shouldn't worry...everyone else should. You're good, matter of fact you're great. That's what makes you legendary. I've got you like Dwight, Pau, Steve and Metta have. I'll see you again, maybe in L.A., and I'll write again and it won't be a history piece. It'll be a piece where you make history. 'The Kobe Series' will still play and you'll still come back with avengance. Besides it's just one more ring you want right? This is no book end. This is the start of the next chapter of your career. The story continues. Now how do you want to write it?

Yours Sincerely,

Tim David Harvey

Monday, 8 April 2013

THE LeBRON SERIES-GAME OF THRONES

Spaldings Will Roll.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Watch the throne, LeBron James took it last year and is sitting in it with all the kings men. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and the rest of the Miami Heat soldiers battling to keep their NBA crown firmly on their heads and the shores of their South Beach talents for not one, not two, not three, but more years. There may be quests from the West and more beasts in the East, but down south looks to be the home of the spirit of Larry O'Brien for the next decade or dynasty. Whatever you want to call it. In this game of thrones, its LeBron James empire.

Sure rocks may be thrown at the throne, like they where witnessed being hurled into billboards in Cleveland. Still even Cavalier efforts and blowout leads are burnt away by LeBron James like the embers of his number 23, wine and gold jersey. Now the champagne and the shine belongs to the number six of the Heat, as he looks to change the game like Julius, just what the good basketball doctor ordered. The man who put up Oscar Robertson numbers in his rookie game, is looking for Kobe and the other 23, M.J. figures in his veteran years. By the time his jersey is retired he'll be standing on the stilts of Wilt and Kareem giant numbers. 100 proof, this scoring machine and Earvin Johnson like all round playmaker is magic.

Whether playing point, shooting, or running the small forward position with the bulk strength of a power player, this guy could run track. With quarterback, strength and vision his trademark, Thor strong hammer dunks almost look like touchdowns. Sorry Thunder, Oklahoma City may have to wait awhile for a championship. Same for you Carmelo and as for all of Kobe's men...right now they look to clipped to be a contending superstar team. Marvel at this, the NBA's leading avenger has formed Voltron and no Kryptonite could stop this superteam from D.C. to Gotham City.

You'd straight have to take this guys head off to stop this Lord Of The Rings like that guy from THAT T.V. show. We aren't advising you do that though, besides critics have tried and failed. In the glow of the kings shining success (that doesn't sleep just like that preacher said) all the brands they try and force on him just meet hot water. With the chosen one forged on his back, a song of fire in his heart and ice in his veins, this warrior will still fight until his Jay-Z throne of the NBA is taken from him and with an Empire State Of Mind that doesn't look to be happening anytime soon. As the chalk is tossed in the air before the ball even does the same, the tip belongs to the crown of the King. When the chalk goes up, the opponents become dust. You don't even have to wait for the final horn.

So saddle up the horses because it's time for battle. The war of the playoffs are on the horizon and you can bet the finals chapter of the 2012/2013 NBA season will belong to the story of MVP. Nobody looks to touch the robe, especially with an army of talent around him who refuse to ride his coat-tails. Like the would be king Wade or the beast that is Bosh. If that big three wasn't enough then there's Battier defending the throne or Mike Miller's bows and Ray Allen shooting Hawkeye arrows like a ray-gun. All of Spo's men, look slicker then Pat Riley's hair. The king isn't afraid to take off his jewels and get down to battling either, not resting on his laurels. Leading his team into battle and fighting through it all like he was still being treated like a pauper.

Now THAT is the deciding factor to why this man is the king. For every Bruce Springsteen there is an Elvis Presley, and for every Michael Jordan there is a LeBron James. This is the American dream and LeBron is lining it without the televised reality show. This is as real as it gets. The lion is uncaged and enraged but regal, awaiting his royal appointment with the crown jewel. The palace that LeBron rebuilt is a fortress and it's going to take a nation of millions to hold back the former public enemy number one. No feast for crows or dance for dragons here. A storm of swords or the winds of winter against the South Beach Heat could not clash with this kings dream of spring. In the church of the wild and in this castle there doesn't look to be a death of a dynasty anytime soon. Long live the king.

DeANDRE JORDAN Feature-OUTKAST

DeAndre Three Stacks.


By TIM DAVID HARVEY

When MVP candidate and leading Point Guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers descends down court he has a lot of options at his disposal if he doesn't feel like scoring himself. To his left you might find leading scorer and 'Sixth Man Of The Year' runner Jamal Crawford, to his right defensive maestro and underrated offensive talent Caron Butler. Then there's the rest of the other former Laker STAPLES on the 'other' side of L.A. (Chris Paul was a Laker for albeit two minutes and about two tweets), guys like Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Ronny Turiaf. Figure in fellows like Eric Bledose, Willie Green and the rest of the 'Tribe Called Bench' on a quest for the ring, or valuable veterans like Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups coming back into play. Then of course there's arguably the most exciting and entertaining offensive dunker and rim rocker around, the monster known as Blake Griffin.

Still sometimes Paul may toss the ball and the alley in the air and find the oop of a guy that looks like he's dunking over entire teams and courts, not just Brandon Knight. A big man with Nike like air taking the wind out of Pistons, opponents sails and sneakers as he soars and scores a simple two made beautiful in the form of an ugly dunk. This signet has become a swan. The former passed up draft pick (35th?!) and bust labeled guy is taking it all out on the critics like his former joked on team is taking it out on Los Angeles and the league. Hyland is taking the high road, no more D-League dunks, no Bakersfield Jam. Just check out the famous three tiers of Hotel Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles across from the STAPLES Centre, which is now just as much the Clippers home as it is the Lakers. Even the spirit of Chick Hearn can see it from his street. They aren't Lakers players up there. It's Chris Paul flanked by Blake Griffin and the other guy cleared for take off in Lob City...DeAndre Jordan.

"incredible physical specimen", <  "not productive",

All together now, even Kobe can see from his Nikes that DeAndre 3000 is no outcast. He belongs here like his Clippers team in the Laker building that now needs to add a Clippers Pacific Division banner to the Shaquille O'Neal's retired jersey and the rest of the purple and gold rafters. Dropping bombs over basketball in this battle of Los Angeles the love that below is now booming like a Speakerbox in this shared collection. This big boy is more than big dunks. A 20 and 10 prototype who raises the spirits more than 'Hey Ya'! Hey young world, shake those polaroid pictures and instagram those iPhone ones. If basketball is beauty then I think I'm in love again.

"defensive potential", < "poor fundamentals",

With a hustlers blood and shutterbug feet in the blood and bruised paint, each royal flush from DeAndre breaks his opponents. Soaring like Jordan, vibrating the rim and slamming like Shaq, Phil Jackson would be proud if he was back in L.A. Sorry Mr. Jackson the Clippers are for real. The won't apologize a thousand times even if they didn't mean to make anyone cry. Just look at the backboard, somethings got to give with the way this guy moves the rim, flip rocking the rock with boom from the tomb. In this war of L.A. with shine blockers on the former shade cool Laker side, Andre's no bust, waking up a former broken Clipperland like a rooster. It's night, night for the catcalls and the Clipperholics former sorrows. These beats by Dre sound good beyond the references.

"incredible upside", < "mediocre footwork",

There's more to this art of storytelling, Laker Hollywood divorce however like there's more to this rebounding and defensive specialists game then top ten dunks and punks 'stank you' very much. Be cool, here's 'Part Two'. A day in the life of DeAndre Jordan is complete with hustle and flow and the hard work that puts his blue collar name in the households of his famous roll call of Hollywood teammates as he rolls with his four brothers in a town that has too many stars and basketball teams. Through all the music, movies and Laker legacy howeverthe mighty D may be the most entertaining. Don't listen to the critics 'vicious lies and dangerous rumors', just watch as this boy ascends and descends from the basket. He's got the shoes for running and the raspberry blowing dunks that do tremendous damage to the naysayers. The apple of the Clippers eye is like a CPU out there, he's that techincally good down the lines.Y'all scared to what this guy can do, as he rises like elevators. Me and you, your mama and your daddy too. They could all get it when the ball is raised to the rim in De's hands as flashbulbs and corn pops courtside.

 "high bust potential",<

We all thought it'd be Dwight Howard or at least Blake Griffin provoking this reaction. It almost makes no sense at all but the whole world is watching another Jordan now when it comes to the peaches. It 'Aint No Thang' for Dre Jordan though and his liberation. So fresh and so clean. Shawn Kemp aggression, with a better attitude. Kenyon Martin rawness with basketball purity. It's almost poetic. How the roses are all for De' here with little for the rest of his star-studded, much loved and talented Clipper side. Still in this players ball it's DeAndre Jordan that has 'git up and got something' and ignited the gasoline of the dreams of the other side of Californian roundball. Last year this excited young kid, in his sweats and warm ups, warmly hugged Blake Griffin on the stars cover shoot for 'Dime' magazine. Now with his star brothers back, the posters and the billboards belong to him and his team. Next come the payoffs and the playoffs. DeAndre will be leading the way. Number one with a dunk.

"freakish athlete",>