Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Oh Canada, in mid February of 2016 it'll be almost 10 years since this love story began. Almost a decade since I started my lifes dream and rewoke a Basketball one by taking a years working visa to Canada and laying my sports cap in the great city of Toronto. 10 years since this man who has loved Basketball since he was 10, got to see his first, live Basketball game....well around 15 impulse buys of them to be exact (and that was just in the T-Dot, I took a spur of the moment trip to L.A. during that time too). A kid who previously only got to watch the odd late night T.V. show or pixilated internet video to get close to the game he loved more than his England countries national treasure of football. A kid who grew up playing with and collecting Dinosaur models, albeit with chewed tails, while having 'Jurrasic Park' as his favourite movie and mountie police series 'Due South' as his favourite show was obviously going to be attracted to the Toronto Raptors and the country of Canada. Besides it was almost a Tom Cruise mission to get to live and see all the other NBA teams in neighbouring America.
Still, Canada and it's prime city was the place for me. I was caught up in its Anita Baker rapture. Unfortunatly after coming home for Christmas with every intention to come back, one thing lead to another and my year and life in Canada didn't happen. This was a regret until I realised there was a bigger plan for me and a better life than I could have ever imagined in the love of my life at home years later. A girl who I coincidentally met for the first time just a few months shy of my departure and now today I want to share the rest of my life with, especially a trip back to my second home one day. The best thing to ever happen to me who in the same month this year as I left in '06 is about to embark on a travelling trip and amazing adventure of her own. I couldn't be happier for her and I wish and hope she has a trip 10 times as good as mine. If it was even half as good as mine it would be the best one ever. I stayed close to my old friend Canada and Basketball by writing. It was something I always wanted to do and I started writing reports of games while chowing down on the Loose Moose's awesome fries and split screen sports, for myself, sought of like a guys diary. I picked up the pen once again in the U.K. when I realised the way I could stay close to the game and country I loved but couldn't see was by the art of he creative word.
When you create work yourself thats when oppurtunites happen. Just ask the Marvel that is Clark Gregg's Agent Caulson and the 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D' Avenger series. Opportunities have happened for me via writing from everything and everyone from SLAM magazine to music/movie star Tyrese Gibson and Australian music site Music Feeds and Bleacher Report. I am eternally grateful for everything everyone has done for me and anyone who has taken the time to read just one of my articles. That was no plug though...this is. The one company that has stayed loyal to me over the years is the Canadian site Basketball Buzz and the great help of his founder Edilson Silva. What started as a couple of people and laptops is now growing before your eyes and some big announcements that I can't say but you will know soon. I appreciate everything the site has done for my progression as a writer and even before all that it has just served as a beautiful, wonderful way to stay connected to Canada. It doesn't matter how far away I am, the place will always have a space in my heart and the beat writing for the country helps keep that running strong.
I even had the opportunity to meet another great writer and now great friend in Quett Walker, who is now part of the Buzz team and is worthy of the hype as the next great writer. He may not believe it yet, but you and him will see he really is. He makes me step it up and is the only guy I read regulary that's not named Scoop Jackson (my writing mentor) and the late, legend and greatest to ever write it Jim Murray. I met Q in strange circumstances in his home city of London when he sold me an exhibition ticket to watch my beloved Lakers (hey, no one's perfect) but we connected and stayed in touch by our love for Basketball (he's a Rockets fan and is letting me hear it about Dwight Howard) and the fact that he too knows what it's like to live and love Toronto. The guy misses the city like me, but through his writing the country will never have to miss out on what he has to offer...and that's as factual as his deep and meaningful, introspective and inspired pieces of journalism.
It's a funny old world isn't it? All of this can't just be coincidence. So maybe, just maybe 10 years later all of these wonderful twists and turns of live will head down the epic road that leads to the view of the classic CN tower (oh yeah, I saw it in the background of 'Due South'...I thought that show was set in Chicago? Wink, wink!). I so want to see that view once again, it's been way, way too long. But I can wait. Maybe if me and my girlfriend venture out to the cold of Canada around valentines but for a different reason we'll meet up with the two friends that have kept me connected to this city and my Basketball writing. Maybe it will be meant to be and perfectly fitting that we take in a special game together to mark the occassion. Still, yesterdays good news for Toronto and Canada is bigger than me. It's not about me. It's bigger than all that but still special to me. We are excited for GTA and we aren't talking about the game that's dominating every tweet and status not about the new love or hate Apple update. It's even bigger than the New York Knicks/Nets, battle co-hosting next February. Even bigger than my plan to finally see Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympic games. This is how much it means.
Bigger than the what could have been with country cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady (what a team and legacy they could have made). Bigger than Air Canada or those arena shaking no contest dunks. Bigger than what could have been with the Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns like great team that showed they where no purple Barney dinosaurs (featuring Calderon, Parker, Ford and Jorge the garbage man amongst others) that went so far but so near in the year I went to town in 2006 and could have been better than Vince's time. Decisions, decisions hey?! Bigger than the smile of the friendly ticket tout who saw me and my money approaching each game. Or almost as big as the heart of my good friend Dan Koufis who worked in the Toronto Raptors gift shop during my stay and was great to me (I miss you good buddy). Bigger than Toronto's underground hoops hot-bed that proves it's never too frozen-over cold to lace them up. Bigger than the fact that the Raptors are the only surviving NBA team outside of America, now that the Vancouver Grizzlies are extinct and reborn in Memphis. Right now the biggest thing happening for Toronto 10 years later in 2016 is that they will hold and host the NBA All-Star game of basketballs greatest players. No matter what's been said or happened. I guess some things are meant to be and stay in Toronto. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 23 September 2013
Make Way For The Ram.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Welcome back to the show Kurt, 'Randy The Ram' Rambis. This Summer saw the return of a Los Angeles Laker role playing legend of the 'Showtime' eighties to an assistant coaching position he held during the Phil Jackson era. Now that's a lot of championships. No wonder they wanted this guy back. The hard working legend that could make Mark Madsen or Rony Turiaf's celebratory bench presence, hustle or dunk finishes seem tame was an inspiration to them both and more. The spectacle wearing hipster had his place between the goggles of Kareem and Worthy in the three tiers of downtown L.A.'s Hotel Figueroa which currently is getting some GTA recognition. Looking something like Garth from 'Wayne's World' with a magnificent mullet and setting defensive traps and rebound sets for his enemy like 'Rambo', this guy was cold blooded and blue collar. Exactly what the Showtime Lakers needed against Boston. He played like a Celtic but sweat and bled purple and gold.
The behind the scenes grit and grind to the Hollywood show of Magic, Kareem, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green, this guy was just as integral and inspirational to this golden and purple era of storied Laker and Larry legacy. Whether Bird or O'Brien, better or worse, victory parade wagon or season hearse, Rambis was always there. Those rings belong to him too. With a moustache that would make 'Movember' proud with one twirl he could finish off his man like Christophe Waltz in 'Django Unchained'...and you thought he looked like a dentist....haha! This guy was no Ned Flanders for the Lakers Simpsons yellow, okely dokely? There was a six pack of strength not beer below that T.V. sitcom dads sweater (and from 'Sweet Valley High' to 'Married With Children' this guy has more T.V. acting credits than his Klingon, 'Showtime' teammate James Worthy too). Just ask Kevin McHale, Bill Laimbeer or any of the other eighties hard men of the NBA...or check their bruises, there probably still there. The man with the teacher spectacles could take anyone to school. Laugh at the mullet now.
Now, recently we have argued to Springfield and the ceiling that Michael Cooper deserves his place in the Hall Of Fame and the Lakers retired jersey rafters with his eighties comrade Jaamal Wilkes. Not to knock him but we may never see the 31 up their or the glasses in the trophy cabinet down the hall. Still that doesn't mean Rambis isn't a vital part of Lakers lore. Besides his college alma mata retired his hash-tag 34. Next throwback night someone's got to rock his number and specs for the ultimate hipster eighties Hollywood night. It's just a shame Bill Walton's son has retired. Kurt took the Lakers to hoops nirvana, he came as we was and rocked mainstream Hollywood with his signature style and punctuated play. The man with the horn rimmed glasses helped lead the Lakers championship charge with a stampede of bruising blocks and off-ball, on-point play. The record books may not carry his name, but his trophies are engraved all the same. You can't write off what's already been wrote.
From Terre Haute, Indiana he played bigger than his 6 foot 8, 213 pound listing. From Santa Clara his career afforded more than all the rounds and teams that passed on him before he was picked 58th by the New York Knicks, looking like a familiar N.Y role playing legend of the 60's Phil Jackson and one day having his place next to him in Laker history and on the bench. You see the legend on those cool t-shirts or by fans that dress up like that Kobe heckler from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers video. By the way the billboards held up during his career where a protest to just how good he was in the Lakers banner years. Some may have overlooked the perspired hard work that fogged up glasses, but the real fans saw. In less than a decade with the Lakers that's what he did...he left his purple bruised and gold coronated mark. The Hornets, Suns, Kings and Greece know what we're talking about. Still, Charlotte, Phoenix, Sacramento or Athens have nothing on his time in Los Angeles. Just ask Run-TMC or Dwight Howard, good or bad it doesn't take long to make your mark in the bright light of California.
5.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1 and some change assists may be the average of his career but they have nothing on the four 'chips he helps raised and get off his teammates Celtics harassed shoulders. He may have been a few bucks shy of seven feet but he rose above it all and earned his millions like the tallest man in the room. Once he wrapped that bandana on his head he was Kurt Rambo with an ammunition of tank like strength, rolling over opponent canon fodder drawing first blood. Darrell Rambis was known as Kurt to us, Kyriakos Rambidis to Greece and a nightmare to his opponents who lost possession as well as sleep. You couldn't stop Kurt when he played like a man possessed. The city of angels found their demon to take them through the dark dog days and to the light and gleam of July's trophy. The overachieving underdog got his bone and found his home in a Forum of talent. He caught every ball, word out of Jim Murray (the incredible journalist wordsmith joked that he thought this guys name was 'Loose Ball Rambis' because that's all he heard before his name) and Chick Hearn and every round of applause from those who valued hard, earned teamwork.
No wonder the dirty work will of this man has taken him to the coaching class. Still make no mistake about that old adage of average players making the best coaches, Rambis was a Marvel like Stan Lee, anything but mediocre. Now behind the scenes for a big named Lakers team again he looks to shed that tag and give the new Lake Show as a coach what he did as a player. He already impressed Kevin McHale again at the head of Minnesota now what can he do for a former Minneapolis Lakers team once known for their hard work led by the spectacles of George Mikan? Just think what he could do for Pau Gasol's game. Soft!? Yeah right this guy born in the U.S.A. of the Springsteen American blue jeans, boot strapped strong age was tougher than the rest. Chick Hearn once called this Clark Kent lookalike Superman and with the second Man Of Steel gone this could just be the hero the Lakers need in their Avenger season. Time to step in the booth and loosen up the tie. The only thing missing is Colonel Sanders...or Phil Jackson as he's known...but wait, lets get real here chicken, because behind the Hollywood glamour nothing or nobody works more than Kurt. Adjust your glasses and look for this eighties legend in L.A. once again. Now you remember how to do the hustle right?
Monday, 16 September 2013
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Monday, 9 September 2013
Friday, 6 September 2013
Tracy Murray was all about the three. That's how pure a player he was. Whether wearing number 35, 30, 31, or 3, from behind the arc to down two, the cult fan favourite could clutch wins away from his opponents and into the hands of his team...no matter which team it was. The 6 foot 7, 225 pound player from Los Angeles California had a fresh fade and beard cut of a Long Beach rap star, but on court is where Murray sang and laid it down over the ball to hardwood beats. Serving up his opponents like his Andy namesake in Wimbledon, games where set when the T-Murray match-up threw up the ball at his teams service. The high-school courts of Glendora taught Tracy his basketball education. His incredible 44.3 average led the nations point tally in his senior year as he amassed a grand total of 3,053 high-school points...the highest in the state. Even as a kid, this player was just a points machine. A gunner that could shoot down anybody or net on the basketball floor.
These days Murray helps broadcast for Fox Sports and the UCLA Bruins to keep close to a game he one day wants to coach pernamently. You can hear him talking about the youth and next generation of an alumni he actually is a part of. You can see his team photos in the trophy case as the campus janitor isn't the only one whose been cleaning the glass for awhile. During his time with the blue and yellow, an aspiring Murray scored a swingman perfect complete 18.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG in his basketball statistical averages and was two time Pac-10 all conference (his half and half 50% from three led the Pac too). The UCLA college star who looks like he could be related to Jordan Farmar had a similar path, but his California vacation, took a Texas detour as the San Antonio Spurs selected him 18th overall in the 1992 draft as David Stern put it. As a Spur, Murray could have truly clicked with the admiral David Robinson, but just a week after the draft another port called Murray in.
If you thought that was crazy 'charming' then imagine being traded twice in the same day, but that's what happened to Tracy as he headed to Milwaukee for Dale Ellis and was then dealt up north to Portland for a Trail Blazing career as he was swapped for Alaa Abdelnaby. He found his range and his home in the Midwest Portland trail, blazing the league with his lightening bright three-point explosions. He paced the entire league with a three point percentage of 45.9% in the 1993/1994 season proving he hadn't lost that touch from his step behind the arc at college. The young man matured in the league but still kept that youthful fire when it came down to the embers of the shot or game clock. His shot in Portland was so much of a bullseye it should have come with a Jordan shrug.
A bow-tied, gift-wrapped perfect package of Murray and M.J. like great Clyde Drexler was then delivered and propelled on a glide to the Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe and other shipping costs. A championship ring came in the post season too via a special delivery. The only problem forecasted in Houston was time as Murray only played 25 games before being stole away in the expansion draft by the NBA's new Canada team, the Toronto Raptors. Far from cold or extinct however Murray played his best basketball in the great city of Toronto. His statistical output of 16.2 PPG, 1.6 APG and 4.3 RPG was more than average as this guy proved he could score big and facilitate his court comrades scores. Murray had some rebound mound in him too. It was all looking good for the new raw Raps and their seasoned vet. That was until he was clawed away from the NBA's Jurassic Park by a lucrative contract from the capital city of the United States.
Murray's shot with the Washington Bullets reloaded his career. The tricks of his trade brought change. The D.C. team made a stand against it's cities growing gang and gun culture by getting their Harry Potter on and changing their name to the Washington Wizards with a flick of the wand. Murray had some spells on the court too in the journeymans four year break in White House town. Back in the playoffs since his Portland days his stepped up output of 18.3 PPG, 0.7 APG and 3.0 RPG was really an upgrade from his raw talent spare change numbers with the trail. A embattled half century game in a fight with the Warriors of Golden State proved Murray was not just a big-time scorer, but a big time player. Far from a point gun for hire, Murray is one of only six Washington players ever to hit the big 50 or more. With Wizard great Gilbert Arenas and the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan being in the six-shooter chamber of these Bullets that's some big shot company.
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
I remember in the 90's when as a young 11 year old living in England my only exposure to basketball lied between it being on too late to be allowed to stay up, or on a satellite television feed we just didn't have the dish for. I remember reading about Jordan's retirement and wishing I could have actually seen him play on T.V. beyond 'Space Jam'...let alone for real. I remember taking solace in playing out basketball stories, emulations and dreams via video games, because no one would play Basketball with me outside (and the hoop in the back-yard was broken anyway and school used courts for dodgeball (if you can dodge a basketball, you can dodge the greatest game ever)) let alone talk about the latest issue of XXL (the hoops not hip-hop one...remember the times) with me. I remember the now pathetic pixilated-but at the time great graphics-of NBA Live '96 (I just couldn't wait and save for the next one (which you could probably get now for a matter of pennies)). I remember playing as Grant Hill, because like the missing Jordan he was unstoppable like all the rating sliders where mouse moved to 99. No wonder I copped his Detroit jersey from a thrift shop and asked my friend to pick up his Magic one on a trip to Orlando.