Wednesday, 25 September 2013


My Neighbour Toronto.

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.



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

COURTSIDE COLUMN-Hanging Jerseys & Jackets With Mr. Cooper.

A Coop-A-Loop To The Hall.

This September former Seattle Supersonic, Milwaukee Buck and Los Angeles Laker legend Gary Payton headed an awesome Hall Of Fame class. Now the talk is already on who will fill the corridors of Naismith next year. Right now in Laker nation the debate is whether clutch king and team life saver Robert Horry deserves a place (for the record he better check a newspaper or something). Still, my own candidate to lead the way to Springfield next year like those clouds at the beginning of 'The Simpsons' is a guy I wrote a feature on last week. You can even hear the theme tune choir calling his name..."Miiichael" and Bart writing the line on the blackboard "I shall not forget to induct such a legend like Mike again' again and again. Now do we have room for a couch gag? Sure when I write about a subject at times I get a little feature happy. Just ask Mitch Richmond (this years Hall finalist who needs his own place) or musician/movie star Tyrese (who need his own triple-threat place in an entertainment hall of fame...maybe a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame). Still there is reason behind my article rhyme here.

How is Michael Cooper not in the Hall Of Fame right now? How is his jersey not even raised to the Lakers rafters yet? I mean his great 'Showtime' teammate Jaamal Wilkes was recently honoured with both Basketball history meets immortality statuses so why not Mike? Let's like this more than a Twitter trend, let's sign a petition for the ballot like we wanted a new Batman (and let's give the great Ben Affleck a chance). Ok, sure this guys jersey wouldn't be the first Lakers one you'd buy...even when it comes to 80's Lakers, but just ask Magic Johnson or even Boston Celtic Larry Bird about how much number 21 meant to both the purple and gold and the NBA. That's why he deserves both the rafters and the hall. So why is he being shown ignorance and gallows? Even his coaching career is worthy like big game James. Look at that picture, look at tht face. How you going to leave him out?

The best defender-and I quote-Larry Bird ever faced, needs the NBA to know his place. Does Bruce Bowen deserve to be in the Hall? Does Metta World Peace? Ok, let me ask you this does Ron Artest even? Take M.W.P's best time during the Ron, Ron years, add it with the Kobe stopper Bowen's and you still don't trump Cooper in this trading card game. Just check his huge air time block against that Bullet shot. Oh, and Coop's epic leaps lead to those Coop-A-Loop and slam dunk contest throw downs. The guy could clutch more than a couple of three too. You thought him just a great defender? This Cooper's Basketball talents where limitless like Bradley on his A team. That's how good he looked. There where more silver linings in Pat Riley's playbook than the Magic of Earvin or the hook of Kareem. Take away the fact that he is one of the NBA's greatest defenders ever, you still have one of the Lakers better offensive players of the last three decades. THAT'S how good Cooper is. Wake up from this hangover!

I even went as far to say he deserves his own statue, but before you go carving out the bronze let's set this guys concrete classic career in record book stone. The skinny but muscular player worked so hard once they get his jersey ready for it's banner coronation it'll probably still be soaking in sweat and as for the Hall it's time Magic threw one more Coop-a-loop and made that induction speech. His Laker legacy belongs with NBA's Naismith for his names sake. The numbers don't lie-even if some speak in off-ball half truths-and the championships are certified. His 21 points one finals year is one of the only reasons the Lakers have 20 plus championships. One of Larry O'Brien's belongs to 21, the jersey that belongs upstairs and the name Cooper on the back that belongs down the hall and to the left. Let's make it right. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Here's The Coop.



It's Showtime all over again, like Los Angeles, 1984...and we aren't talking about the Olympics, although this athlete was five rings worthy and won that many championships too. Recently this Summer, Los Angeles Laker legend Michael Cooper saw Michael Jordan and Julius Erving's old hops and raised them another dunk, slamming it home at an event just shy of 60 years old. Almost as old as the Lakers themselves, Cooper proved he still had some offence with that old jam. Way before Ron Artest or Metta World Peace guarded Kobe's house, Coop, the all-round nice-guy and eighties legend like Lionel Richie was running with the Magic on a Commodore classic team, flying away at a zoom speed. This storied player who just about spanned three decades still stands with his lithe, but mighty muscular wingspan as the greatest defender of Los Angeles Lakers (Minneapolis as well) history...and even the NBA too.

Born to play for the Lakers from Los Angeles California, you should expect his number 21 to be raised to the rafters with Shaq, Magic, Kareem, Worthy and the boys sooner than later. Like his Minnesota number-sake Kevin Garnett, Michael was a lean, mean passion play Basketball machine and that's the skinny. Think of Bruce Bowen with more of a legacy. He could have gone play to play with Kobe in his day, at the present moment he's probably teaching him one or two himself. With high-flying and high profile, perimeter prolific players like James Worthy, A.C. Green and Byron Scott and of course Magic and Kareem as teammates, Michael Cooper was like a superstar role player. With out his big plays and intangibles on the other end of the floor the Lakers would have been clutching at straws instead of championships. Remember for every Shaq and Kobe, there's a Rick Fox and Robert Horry.

At a relatively under sized 6, 5 and 170 pounds of pure muscle this guard and forward, switched it up and took it bigger than the characteristics and stats. Now the other teams who passed up on the 60th selection of the third round of the '78 draft out of Pasadena and New Mexico know not to judge a book by its cover...just wait for the autobiography. The Lakers loyalty was returned with a 12 year hard worked NBA service, before one final season of experience in Kobe's territory of Italy for Virtus Roma. Los Angeles strongest son also returned to L.A. Basketball to successfully coach Lisa Leslie, Candace Park and the ignited Sparks franchise of the WNBA for almost a decade, two championships and a Coach of the year honour after time manning and mining the Denver Nuggets. Just another rhyme to the reason that the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 5 time All-Defensive first team man who amassed career totals of 7,729 points, 3,666 assists and 1,033 steals had more attributes than his many accolades.

Michael Cooper is championship certified and his legendary legacy see's him as the only person to win championships as both a player and a coach in the NBA, WNBA and NBA development leagues. Impressed? This is the only guy that could have thrown off legendary Boston Celtic Larry Bird off his signature, pure three-point shot...and you thought Magic was quite the rival. Bird called this guy the best defender that he's ever faced. Cooper's smothering, white on rice, cheap suit, but no cheap shot all-round defence could reduce Larry Legend to Larry David and if that doesn't Curb Your Enthusiasm ask anyone else in the golden 80's era of the league. You don't just have to go to French Lick to hear the war stories or victim accounts for evidence. Opposing players where left looking like hicks to this specialist. The only ones left smiling not in Laker uniforms where Jim Murray, Chick Hearn and of course Pat Riley. Jim would have wrote that you needed to call the police because Mike could have even picked the pockets of the fans in the stands like a Harlem Globetrotter. Chick would have said that Coop would slap the jello in the refridgerator to get it jiggling. Pat wouldn't even have seen anything as slick even looking in the mirror at his hair. You couldn't write, say or coach it better.

This guy was so focussed on locking down and preventing his man from getting through he may as well have run border control. He averaged an across the board stat surf of 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 for the New Mexico Lobos as they won the Western Athletic Conference trophy. The rail-thin Coop then blazed a trail for the NBA like he was playing for Portland and not the Los Angeles Lakers. Across the tracks he won chips in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 as well as making eight all NBA defensive teams. He may not have always had the ball in his hand but the man who could (and still obviously can) dunk and hit the open shot was given the honoured, most important role of guarding the opposing teams best player. The small forward/shooting guard would even man the point if Earvin's Magic called for it. All work and no complaints this perfect employee just rolled up his trademark high knee (hey those eighties short shorts leave little to the imagination) socks and went to work.

That's how you average 8.9 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game and have anyone in the forum cheering "Cooooop" like Luke Walton fabulously. Still an underrated figure of Basketball by Hollywood and Association standards even some hardwood purists forget one of the NBA and Lakers best. Then again this is a franchise, league and day and age that would be criminal enough to leave Gail Goodrich off considered lists. Still Coop's play slams all of that. Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan no problem, Michael would give his everything against them all. Walking the Basketball dribbled walk tall, with Iron Man durability that made this Avengers small frame feel more like the look of an incredible Hulk to Celtic green and any angered Forum foe. The 'Coop-A-Loop' alley-oop fan favourite play and dunk contest worthy finish that played again this Summer was just the offensive icing on a cake that was full of stodgy, sticky defence that bloated the opponents best players and playbook.

This X and O guy definitely owned more than just the definitive defensive side of the floor. Caught out there in the stats, Coop's all-time Lakers top 10 in three-point field goals (428), games played (873), minutes (23,635), steals (1033), blocked shots (523), assists (3,666), defensive rebounds (2,028), offensive rebounds (741) and free throw percentage (.833). Now that's just all-round purple and gold domination for the stats sheets. This guy was a more complete player than people oversaw. He wasn't just about D in his defence, how has he not taken more offence? How is he not one of the Lakers best ever? How does he not have a statue yet...they wouldn't even have to use much stone for those arms and legs. I know Septembers almost at it's end but the Hall Of Fame needs to wake up too. Magic needs to throw another lob for the Coop-A-Loop, this guy belongs in the classic corridor. The trophies he helped earn are already in the cabinet and they're only collecting dust. It's time to clean the glass like he did...along with everything else.

From his savage steals to his terrific threes and his dynamic dunks to his brutal blocks simply put Michael Cooper stopped everyone but his Lakers from winning. After some coaching tenure behind Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Del Harris he proved he was an even bigger legend in this game by leading the women of the National Basketball Association to the promised land of hoops. He even gave the Albuquerque Thunderbirds some go towards a NBDL championship. Who knows what could happen in the next half century? One things for certain is that purple and gold will always run through those tense and taught veins. The moustache, muscle and pulse of Showtime was no side show. This behind the scenes and spotlight hero was the best friend to Magic Johnson's leading man ready to take a bullet and bring the Hollywood movie world to the theatre of the Forum. His Lakers where the biggest box-office championship draw making this guy number one with a dunk...even at 57. Now put him in the top 50. This guy was all-star, all-game, 100%. What more could you ask for?

Monday, 9 September 2013

RUN-TMC (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond & Chris Mullin) Feature-TOUGHER THAN LEATHER

NBA Jam Masters.


They called themselves Run-TMC. Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin's trio was named after hip-hop legends Run-DMC and these heroes where tougher than Basketball leather. It was tricky to deal with this California cult, classic legacy of a group of guys as legendary as the Fab Five in Michigan. These true Warriors of Golden State brought their big three talents to the Gold Coast way before LeBron James made that South Beach decision or Garnett, Pierce and Allen made that Celtic one, or when the Bucks had that original great 90's big three in Milwaukee, antler-headed by 'Bron's hot sharp shooting Heat teammate and king of the three in more ways than one Ray Allen. Decked out in their Adidas with yellow and blue pin-stripes and classic shell suit warm ups, these guys where as hip as their Basketball hops. All that was missing was the bowler hats, turntables and a microphone. Walking and dribbling their way to Basketball supremacy other threes had it good but not like this.

Here we go, these NBA Jam masters where high octane, video game like players once they where unleashed by legendary coach Don Nelson. His brand of 'Nellie Ball' ran and stampeded through the floor like elephants with bounce and beats to the court. If you weren't down with these hardwood kings then you where truly 'illin' like yelling "touchdown" to Dr. J. These three where the perfect medicine for an opponents bad game. Public Enemy laid the bball, b-boy soundtrack but these guys had the game. They where just that good. It was like that and that's the way it was. Now here's the hook. They may haven't have won a championship but they drew a line and sunk the notion that the late eighties/early nineties was only all about big-men and the big three of Magic, Michael and Bird. They proved in this triangle dominated game that big threes could work with cohesivness and class and without Madonna.

All rolled into one this three was a holy trinity of heaven sent players for hoop-heads and player purists. Roots, rap and hoops made these off Alcatraz Golden State guys the kings of the rock. Sucker opponents couldn't hang with this time, they may as well have retired to the sires. The short but sweet group disbanded in 1991 but this once, twice, three times a bball unit like Mills, Phills and Hill recently reformed like the Beatles. This weekend saw the retired legend reunite for Mitch Richmond's brilliant 'M Rock Life' charities anti-bullying, all-star basketball game. With teammates like actor Jamie Foxx, R&B superstar Tank (of Run 'TGT') and NBA greats Gilbert Arenas and Tyson Chandler it was a star studded affair, as well as a worthy cause. Still even with all the Hollywood heavy weight, the feature attraction was 'The Rock' Mitch Richmond and his concrete strong teammates from his Run-GSW days with their set in stone storied legacy.

This Hall of Fame weekend nominees Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway should have joined fellow Oakland legend Gary Payton and the C, Chris Mullin in Springfield (Mullin who call his Golden State tenure with his partners, "the most fun I had playing basketball in my whole life", also believes their jerseys should have been raised to the rafters the same time as his). Still, Mitchell and Timmy will be initialed and initiated too and have their day with Naismith...they just had something much more important to show up for this weekend. Taking a stand against the major issue of bullying, like the high-scoring set did against any opponent, this magnificent collective of TMC took the high-road and showed that these NBA legends care. Last night proved something that 1989 to 1991 did. If only these guys had more time...what could have been. Maybe it was too good to be true, but all good things and that. Still, even though it had to end on court, from throwbacks in uniform and on videotape the memories will never ring out to a final buzzer. They raised hell to the crown royale.

Named by a contest in San Francisco newspaper the Examiner, Run-TMC still sell t-shirts and bobbleheads as well as throwbacks today. Back in the day they sold out games and even had THE Run-D.M.C. perform at a playoff game. This is how much of a following these Peter Pipers had. He may have picked peppers and Run may have rocked rhymes, but TMC changed the game. From the rim of the Pacific these guys cancelled the doubt of a down and out team and took over the world like those aliens against robots in that Idris Elba apocalypse picture. The popularity of these Golden State Warriors rose like San Francisco tram-lines, tracking their success to more than just the other side of that bridge in the city. Just check the jerseys...or the stats. 48 times all three scored 20 or more as they where 30-18 in those contests, upsetting everyone including David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers. Their league high combined average of 72.5 points is the second highest in association history by a 20 point trio. Only Denver's Alex English, Kiki Vandeweghe and Dan Issel Nuggets at 76.7 have mined more.

The gold lied back across the bay however. From Mitch Richmond's rock hard offensive play that even took Michael Jordan to town, to Tim Hardaway crossing over NBA tradition way before Allen Iverson answered the call. A buzz-cut above the rest, Chris Mullin overcame drinking problems to play and shoot everybody under the table with his behind the arc talent. These Olympians reached the highest pedestals and podiums but it all started with their dream team of three. As Don Nelson's trade hand was forced for a centre of attention in a big man era the TMC three became stars in their own individual right. Mitch Richmond became a King in Sacramento and a champion for the Lakers, while Tim Hardaway crossed his talents to South Beach where he became Miami Heat's superstar, while Chris Mullin kept up pace with Indiana almost reaching the Basketball promised land. Still, despite all their solo success nothing shone brighter than their potential and promise in Golden State. They just don't make hip-hop groups like the pioneers of Run-DMC and just like their music namesakes it's a shame the original and fresh Run-TMC aren't playing anymore like the good old days. Even in this weekends highlight reel rewind, sometimes nothing beats the old-school. This has been a Basketball education. Now do the hokey kokey and turn around, because that's what its all about.

Friday, 6 September 2013


Tracing Murray's Career.


Everyone has their heroes who they praise in this game...even if some remain relatively unsung. Through all the great talent that has come, been seen and evolved along with the changing of the ever-developing game there has been a crop of classic players to sift through the cream. Whether it be on your televisions, fantasy leagues or video games the mark of the essence of their ability is made. All kinds of great players have expressed their talent in the association. There's just too many to name or rank. There's your Michael Jordan's and your Mitch Richmond's, your Kobe Bryant's and Latrell Sprewell's and your Tracy McGrady's and Tracy Murray's. In this league they where all stars even if they didn't make mid-February. They still deserve their love like here's another hallmark dedication to one of the games greats.

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 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.

Changing altitudes, Murray's strong attitude withstood another move as he mined some time with the Denver Nuggets. Unlucky for some though after just 13 games, Murray was passed around like basketball currency and found himself back in Toronto just like the good old times. Murray logged the equivalent of a good season or so for the T-Dot Raps before he was out again. The L.A. king returned home and to the STAPLES centre of Los Angeles as he played for the wood-floor team, otherwise known as Hollywood's biggest show. Traded with the draft rights of Kareem Rush for Lindsey Hunter, the purple and gold of the Lakers uniform seemed like the perfect fit and California love for the Los Angeles born and bred basketball pedigree but after one good season he was back in the trade bait dog house again.

Back in Portland for a weeks worth of games, Tracy Murray closed out his NBA career with the team he stared his playing time with. The man who was a victim of the continuity and cohesive effects of being an NBA journeyman (I mean come on he was traded twice in one day), was also guilty of being one of the best of his time. Tracy's journey didn't end with the NBA however as he travelled even further after being released by the New York Knicks without sadly ever playing a game. Panathinaikos Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki of Greece where the names of the foreign teams Murray played for before saying 'au revoir' to his playing days in France. Now with father time in the playbook, Tracy-like any good man-has dedicated his retired life to family, as well as a basketball camp in his old high-school.

You can still see Tracy Murray about and in and around the big stage too. He'll be in attendance for friend and fellow underrated NBA great Mitch Richmond's 'M Rock Life' foundation anti-bullying, all-star charity game. Who knows maybe he'll suit up himself. The analyst with dreams of being a coach has dry-erased some time with the NBA's D-league's Bakersfield Jam too in development of his new dream career. Now how about an and one? Something else too? This Summer he's also joined the streetball leagues coaching the exciting 'Ball Up' basketball squad who are looking to skip to the Lou of the playground legends and take the concrete play of the playground to the hardwood floors of inside public paid and viewed hoops. The cousin of former Clipper Lamond Murray and former Knick and hot-shooter Allan Houston is widening his view on the sport to make it as diverse and complete as his actual game was. The guy who moved around a lot in his career is going all sorts of place post-playing as more doors are opening in retirement following the closing of his locker and hanging up of his sneakers. One of the all-round underrated greats is really making a name for himself and it's clear the guy is always going to be around. This mans journey isn't over yet...and it won't be until he finds an NBA team he's happy to stick with and call home and plays from the sidelines. Expect Tracy Murray to be a household name then.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


M Rocks Life.


It's the twilight of the sweeping 2002 NBA Finals and we're in New Jersey with just seconds on the clock. Phil Jackson calls on a Jordanesque player in Lakers purple and runs a play. The guys even wearing number 23, as he fades away and ices the last shot of the game beautifully and poignantly. The thing is, the game and series and championship was already decided minutes and substitutes ago and that guy with the fade...he 'aint Kobe. "Is this how you thought you'd spend your last season with the Lakers" a reporter for SLAM magazine asks. "Nah" replies the shaking head of former All-Star and 90's swingman legend Mitch Richmond. "Nah"!

This last shot of the Lakers game and Mitch Richmond's NBA career represents so much more than the frustration of injury, retirement ageing or DNP-CD's. It also represents the worthy championship credit of a veteran presence who solidified the bench and provided lessons from a legend to the raw talent and youth of the Lakers potential rich roster. Mitch Richmond finally chased down his ring like the last pea on the plate and as the fork was put in his career, it was a ring worthy of a man that deserved it not only for his classic career, but his lasting impression in his final fling with top flight hoops in Hollywood. Besides he was certainly a slam dunk upgrade from the previous years lost talent of J.R. Rider. Like Aaron McKie, Jim Jackson and other big names and scorers who the Lakers scooped up, but missed out on the big-time, it was more than just the numbers or the minutes and this why Mitch Richmond like others was so much more. His name itself was so much more than all the numbers and teams stitched on to his sweat soaked, hard worked and truly earned jerseys.

That's what it takes to make a legend and one of the greatest players ever in this league, even if some of your prime or playing time is overshadowed by Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant...but hey it doesn't get any better than that. That's why Mitch was one of the best. That's why the 6,5, Rich weighing in at 215 pounds averaged 21 points and 3 and a half assists was a fifth pick pedigree in the first round of the '88 draft. The highest scoring player ever not named to the Naismith Hall Of Fame needs an election day this time next year. He's a six time All-Star as well as a Gold and Bronze medal Olympian from Seoul, Korea to Atlanta, America and a the king of Sacramento Kings, with his number 2 jersey retired by the purple and black and those classic half and half throwbacks. Simply put 'The Rock', Mitch Richmond was gifted with the rock of basketball. The Rock wrestled his way through opponents and teams on a muscled up pain and gain career which saw his fast and furious style motor on to a championship belt, cementing him as one of the storied 90's golden era leagues heavyweights. No's was a knockout.

Back when video game renditions of players where just pixilated promises of future realism, the boxer built Richmond was the real deal like Holyfield. The NBA LIVE 97 cover star was more than a video gamers favourite player option when he was in the real game like EA Sports was electronically. Hardwoods classics was Mitchell Richmond's art like Mitchell & Ness. You can bet his throwback will be a collectors item to the highest bidder as gavels drop and knock in the future. Just take your pick. From Boyd Anderson high of the Lauderdale Lakes, Florida to the collegiate halls of Moberly Area CC and Kansas State University this consensus NCAA All-American was a basketball education to anyone he faced. The rock was rolling like green bottled beer, when he was with Golden State in California as the number 2 in his own big three, RUN T.M.C. Like the 80's hip-hop legends DMC, these hoop stars where the NBA Jam Masters and could really run. All they needed was all black and bowler hats to go with those Adidas sneakers as they dribbled this way to prosperity.

These kings of the rock where tougher than leather as these Warriors aligned for Gold Coast War. The tricky crossover king Tim Hardaway the beastie buzz of Chris Mullin and 'The Rock' himself Mitch Richmond. These legends created a cult Michigan fab five like legacy across the other side of that bridge as the Golden State almost found their gate to the NBA's promised land. From Alcatraz lock down D, to escape artist offensive play, these guys where kings of the rock years before Red Bull pounded the concrete of prisons. You can drink to that. This trio gave the Oakland team, the NBA and notions of the big-three teams wings. The only way you could clip these guys was by keeping newspaper records for your recollection, because even without a championship they are still certified in hardwood history and basketball purists legend. Classic like the old G.S.W jerseys they rose like cable cars in 'The City'. From Mullin's three's to Hardaway's handles and Mitch's all round game. Legendary coach Don Nelson dry erased a set of players that inked their reputations on the NBA like the hoops dedicated tattoo's on their arm...permanently.

Still, as the slasher Richmond was traded to Sacramento his career took no cut. It was all action like Bobby Jackson as the California king laid it all down like a bed for seven stellar seasons. The Rock pounded the hardwood floor of the Arco Arena until every cowbell ringed in the house in his name. Will Ferrell would be proud at how this great guard could make any night live like Saturday. On the throne for the Kings Richmond was seen as one of the purest shooters by the purists, all whilst being a Western Conference All-Star regular and MVP of that game in Phoenix. He also made 'Dream Team III' for Olympic gold in the ATL. Before his post alter-ego Chris Webber was traded for him, Mitch was considered the first star for a Sacramento team established and expanded in 1985 (three years before Mitch's NBA career was born), and one that probably won't see 2015...unless they look from Seattle's space-needle that is.

The sonic speed slasher was spelled to the Washington Wizard for the tricks of a Chris Webber trade and as C-Webb, Vlade, Peja and co almost took the Lakers to task, Rich was afforded his own jobs years before joining L.A. himself and earning his gold. The cousin of NFL player Lardarius Webb still had a great NBA career before playing in the associations Superbowl. The gridiron determination of this passion player took him through some struggles in D.C. and he even got to play with the greatest ever, Michael Jordan before he played with Kobe and of course Shaq for the Phil Jackson three-peat Lakers show. As Mitch dribbled out his closing game and career there was always going to be more after the buzzer sounded. Coaching and analysis can wait because now in retirement M Rock's life has so much more to it.

As a matter of fact Google 'M Rock Life' and you'll see something that is bigger than the game and goes beyond simple fame and celebrity. Mitch's new opponent is bullying and his foundation 'M Rock Life' looks set to lay the groundwork in helping young people who suffer this cruel affliction before it becomes too late. Wrestling with the problem head on Rock Richmond's charity is an organised noise for those who have suffered in silence for too long. Mitch is the sincere spokesman for something that is giving the youth and all those affected a voice. This month sees a celebrity all-star game with NBA and music talent lending a hand to raising awareness. Still, when September ends, Richmond and 'M Rock Life' will wake up more sleeping on an issue that needs more inspiration and influence. Next September the man whose taking it to the school halls needs his own place in NBA's most storied corridor. More than his jersey to the rafters, Mitch needs a hand raised or a glass to toast to his success and strength...just no Dwyane Johnson eyebrows. Even through the struggles of a hard-place 'The Rock' has always prevailed, from his concrete play to his set in stone dedication. Mitch Richmond is still cooking. You thought he was done..."nah"!

COURTSIDE COLUMN-Capping Off The Old Era

Hardwood Classics.

I remember when a Point Guard with a gangsters goatee and bleached blonde hair, shaved his dome and honed his game and made not scoring the cool Magic Johnson trend again for those playing basketball in the park and emulating their and the televisions latest NBA heroes. I remember the man with the boys second name made it all look like childs play, schooling everyone from Chris Childs to Stephon Marbury. Lobbing alley-oops to the Matrix, Shawn Marion and rising like a Sun in Phoenix. I remember the line, "Are you carrying any metallic items on you?" Keys? Dimes?! Yep! Jason Kidd was dropping them, becoming the future and excitement of the new millennium like that Keanu Reeves flick with the pill. What the? Woah! He almost won in New Jersey like he did in Dallas. Now in Brooklyn, from leading the Nets as a player to a head-coach. from the playbook to the dry-erase he could truly guide the New York team with a new jersey to that land he promised with every perfect pass.

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.

I remember the man who came back from a horrific potentially career ending (and certainly dampening) injury, reinvigorating and inventing himself as a valuable veteran player of legend from everyone from the Suns to the Clippers. I remember in Orlando he teamed up with a man who suffered a similar Disneyworld Penny Hardaway cursed fate...and could have been so much more in this duo that a more patient franchise and fan time waited and waited for, but to no avail. It could have been dynamic, as could the one in Houston, Texas with that tall China man, or up North In Canada with that high-flying dunking cousin of his. I remember Mac could have brought Magic to Orlando with Hill, or propelled the Rockets out of this world with Yao. Most disappointingly he and Vince Carter could have taken their dunk contest further in Toronto, waking up the dinosaurs like Jurassic Park. Still instead of Jordan/Pippen 2, we had a pair of Raptors in a lost world who where beaten to the kitchen like Lex and Tim. Still I remember rewinding my VCR so much to show my Formula One fan father that amazing All-Star dunk off the backboard so much that I wore out the videotapes heads like the amazed fans brains. I remember all those points in all those seconds against San Antonio. I remember Tracy McGrady finally got out of the first round as a Spur to close the career.

I remember the smallest guy on the court being the true Goliath on the court even against Shaquille O'Neal and all that Hollywood power. I remember a slippery, pesky little player that stained my Lakers precious, could have been historic clean sweep while stepping over Tyrone Lue and practically stepping on our collective balls. NUTS! I remember the cool headbands, cornrows and sleeves, the baggy jerseys and 80's, Stockton and league rebellion shorts. The Philadelphia soul (with Springsteen's 'Streets' playing) like the good Doctor, with the number 6 jersey tribute in the same T-Mac All-Star game. I remember the tattoo's, especially on the graphically updated NBA Live (so long '96). I remember the crossovers from the courts to the streets, the suits to the sweats. I remember the heart, the passion. The hand to the ear scream. "He.Is.The.Man". I remember the comments. Practice? The DJ Jazzy Jeff/J-Live influenced track that inspired the first ever basketball article I wrote half a decade ago that ended up getting me noticed before published. I remember the bold and brave Allen Iverson got me into this industry and showed me a small-time, small-town overseas basketball fan could make it to the big stage of the Big Apple. How can you even begin to thank that?

I remember it all like it was yesterday, because these 90's to early new millennium greats and legends can't be that old right? Retired? C'mon now! Am I really that old? With all this disbelief the only thing that's for sure is that these guys that represent a after Jordan, before Kobe dominance period of play all deserve their spots in the Naismith Hall Of Fame, one day, one year and one suit after another. Why? Because I could have broke it down statistically for you but as this featured column dictates these guys where worth so much more than that. They where more than brand names or twitter trends, they in their own individual ways where icons with legendary legacies that still run true and inspire too. Reminding us sadly that Kobe's next and after LeBron who do we have left?

Who do we have that really has that individual, golden era to the new millennium character that is no act today? Rock and movie stars still play to the grey and real iconic rappers will stay true in every one of their rhymes (what's up Luda), even having Public Enemy or Run-DMC action figure status. But these true superheroes of the hardwood get old like Hakeem, Ewing and the dying centre position and last only in memory instead of comic-book to big screen adaptations like the Batmen, Supermen and Avengers we marvel at. If only we could watch their talent grow forever along with the Magic's, Birds and M.J's decades gone without missed dunks, playoffs and floor-time. Still the old must make way for the new and that is just life and the humbling and ageing of it. Still here's to Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson. To all of you, there'll never be any others quite like you. Forget the armchair fans who may critique the fall of these guys career for all they rose. What could have been? Let's just be thankful for what was! I remember. TIM DAVID HARVEY.