Sunday, 28 December 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Arise! Now tell me, what does it take to be a king in this city? The city where concrete dreams are made from playgrounds of heaven. N.Y. City. The entertainment core and neon hub of the whole waking and watching world. The city that 24/7 never gets any rest. Why? Because one king told us, "sleep is the cousin of death". That wise man went by the name Nasir and even dethroned the Carter that was watching his podium with a weapon of 'Ether' to get the crown. A crown once held in this town by the legendary likes of Rakim. But that's another game. This one?! Names like Frazier, Earl, Pee Wee and Ewing have all staked their claim. Just like the young prince Carmelo under the watchful eye of a visionary hoops, world leader in the Zen Master. Even outsiders travel from miles around to this Mecca to prove their mettle for the gold crowns jewels. They've been enshrined in other towns, but here have to prove that they can make it anywhere, because they made it here. Legends to the throne like Michael, Kobe and of course the king James. Guys who make this Garden their Eden. Still there was one Adam on the eve of his breakout was even closer to Madison Square than those laying their hat for home in the Hotel Pennsylvania for a week. In his bite of Big Apple, Manhattan fame, a man born into basketball like his borough of Brooklyn was such a King of New York like Chris Walken, Larry Fishburne or Wes Snipes, even the back of his number 30 jersey told you so. His name, Bernard.
This king was born under a star in Brooklyn, raised in the high school halls of Fort Hamilton and at 6,7 and 205 pounds this kid was a power player prototype. Bernie spent his college years in Tennessee like he was trying to cut an album, before making the draft. With the seventh pick in the first round of the 1977 NBA draft, Bernard King was selected to shake hands by a Net team that would eventually move from New Jersey back to their big city home, by way of where there new star was born, just over three decades and thirty years later. So Bernard was an original New York king before he even tried Knickerbocker orange in the Big Apple, even if this Net team relocated from N.Y.C to a new Garden State just a few months after his selection. Just a coach ride away from the bright lights in the Meadowlands. Still gleaming in the golden era of a sports association, this King would still get his time to shine in Magic and Bird's time. Rapping in a Converse commercial too and showing and proving more than his words where weapons. Because for the King, the Weapons could do, "just about anything"! The quick release of this rookie led to Net gains and records of all sorts being broke before headlines could print at a 24.2 per clip. Bridging the gap between the Julius Erving's and Drazen Petrovic's of Net legacy, Bernard was the next King in line (just like the brother of King, Albert. Who would one day make it playing for some of the same NBA teams). Why they gave him up beggars the belief of their trademark bad luck. This guy was a superstar in blue collar clothing. He helped epitomise this Springsteen town and sidekick of Gotham. Still he wouldn't be Bruce boss or Batman here. Instead a short lake of salt for some Jazz pieces in Utah and some Warrior battles across the Golden Gate Bridge for Oakland's Golden State and a 'Comeback Player Of The Year' award went down before this boy from the B.K. finally crossed the Brooklyn Bridge back to where his hoops home belonged.
New York, New York called their son and saint Bernard back for a second time, hitting his and hoops peak popularity and trademark time in the mid-eighties. This guy was posing as the one, true King in a crown and robe decades before that infamous LeBron playing card SLAM cover was on deck. Still the inspiration was set like a sword in the stone for a face and a franchise of the big league that couldn't be in more matrimony with each other. It was a marriage made in Rucker Park heaven. Both where underrated, hard-working, overlooked outsiders who earned their place in the worlds most famous arena as M.S.G's main attraction. Even if the losses went up and down like Wall Street stock their lone wolf refused to let the red riding apple become rotten, on this raging bulls punch pulling watch. Who else but a four time All-Star who once led the league with 32.2 points per game on above average to take this team and town to the promised land? Sure after the 90's and the growing nostalgia of now, those die-hard with a vengeful frustration Knick fans talk more about Ewing and 'Melo, hell even Stoudemire and Starks. But no one. NO ONE! Captured the city quite like this since the day Clyde the Glyde finally hung up his warm-ups for a mink coat. All-NBA twice over. The first since '64 to have consecutive 50 point games. One in San Antonio, the next truly at the Reunion Arena again for another point on the Texas triangle in Dallas. Then a signature, Christmas day, tree lighting up 60 a season later, joining an elite NBA club of ten. They called it 'Miracle On 33rd Street'. Those King red robes may as well have been the coat of St Nick for Bernard. This dude had more buckets than the guy who cleaned the windows of the Empire State Building. And this King scaled all the skyscrapers in this seven foot and story land higher than Kong. Now you know why he's in the hall. This guy was in his own corridor!
So who was mopping the floor the day he slipped? You can talk to the Penny Hardaway's and Antonio McDyess' all you want about knee injuries ruining superstardom and the legacy of legends. They even tried to bring it all back in New York too. But nothing can. Nothing can take away what cruel fate has and when that fickle finger turned its hand towards old Bernie and knocked, the heir to the throne would no longer see a kingdom of Knickerbocker glory in Madison Square. NBA's death in cowards clothing came like a curse to this gifted young athlete, but he refused to have his career epitaph written in stone, let alone engraved in critics ink. After colliding with the Kansas City Kings' Reggie Theus, Knick King's knee diagnosis was a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It didn't look good. He would miss a full years work, but never again return to that epic explosiveness that kept no fan, home or away in their seats...no matter how much they paid for them. One of the associations most amazing athletes with his power shorted, much like a Knick STAT stuffer of today. Still, King refused to leave his rotting apple career to the maggots, averaging 27.7 in his first six game back before the Knicks waived goodbye, telling the man who had so much going for him and them that he wouldn't make the final cut for the new season. So off to the capital it was for a career comeback exclamation. For the Washington Bullets, King shot and shot and proved he still had rounds in his gun and old wizard tricks up his sleeve as he returned to his All-Star status and proved more than the points he left on the board. Then he returned home to close out his career, by way of the New Jersey team that drafted him for his last games, before the haunting muscle memories of that knee injury put his career down for the good of all it brought us. Still in those final moments, from the island of Manhattan, on nights where the Mecca felt quiet, you could still hear chants from the Meadowlands of the Garden State for New York's one, true king. Arise.
Friday, 26 December 2014
TIM DAVID HARVEY
"I perform like Mike/Any one, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson"-Notorious B.I.G. (Puff Daddy-Victory)
1990. When the clock struck 0.00 on January the 1st, leaving the eighties behind like mullets and Miami Vice rolled up suit sleeves, we where in for one hell of a heaven sent 10 years. The decade was dominated by a golden era in all things entertainment. From movies to music and sport to everything in between it even inspired and holds influence on what we see and hear today, a few days away from hitting 0.00 on a decade and a half of 15 unbelievable years into the new millennium. Sure whatever age and era you belong to you'll claim there was no time like your time, but even 70's and 80's babies know there was nothing like the nostalgic 90's. A time dinosaurs ruled the Hollywood world and Buzz Lightyear was the biggest selling, hottest off the shelf toy to find under your tree at Christmas. Now this year what's on T.V. this December 25th? 'Toy Story'! And what is one of the biggest and most anticipated movies of next year? The new 'Jurassic Park'! Go figure! Now through all the major moves and big blockbusters of a decade that illuminated more than Times Square, there where two men who defined this age, theirs and everything else around them and the years that came before and after them. One silhouette spun and worked his feet like the greatest dancer you've ever seen. The other left everyone around him falling at his feet as he hit the deck. One hit the high notes as the other soared and scored. The first one jumping into the silhouette of a man holding a basketball like the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The second leaving everyone stunned as he took one small step for man and a giant leap for music-kind as he moonwalked away from them.
The King of Pop. The King of the Rock. Michael and M.J. M.J. and Mike. Two of the greatest of all-time. Especially in entertainment. As for their loves of basketball and music. They didn't just change the game...they transcended it. Cultural phenomenon's. Global icons. If Mars really attacked like 'Independence Day' then we would have had to take them to two of our leaders. Two who we'll never see anyone quite like. Never duplicated. The original, genuine articles. Every newspaper read their name, front and back. Radios and television sets you couldn't escape them if you where tuned in. Imagine if the internet was as much an influence then as it is now. Social media may be the age now, but back then it was their time. Dominant isn't even the word for this decade they devastated...in the most delightful way. One with a number 23. The other with a silver glove. They both moved like nothing you've seen before. One across the floor like he was walking on the same air the other flew through. They where both so big in music and sport they had to come together and collaborate. For themselves they even made movies. From 'Space Jam' to 'Moonwalker'. They both had famous friends that they could count on, from Chris Tucker to Spike Lee's Mars Blackmon. Even R. Kelly bridged their mainstream gap between the city of Chicago and music. Showing Jackson that he wasn't alone and proving the belief that Jordan could fly. Still nobody took it higher than these guys. As all the people, still to this day trying to imitate from the streetball to the corner can almost authentically attest. These perfect pairs best moments still play today like retirement and death was just the end of a movie. Their golden eras still shine. Even their records break records. Others may come. From Prince to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Bruno Mars. But none are chosen quite like this.
Before their time came the wonder years. When Michael Jordan was a boy he was swinging baseball bats with his father as well as hanging from rims (eventually Jordan would retire from basketball for a year to pursue his late fathers dream of him playing baseball to honour him after his death). Meanwhile a young Michael Jackson was singing with his brothers in Jackson 5 to the tune of 'Rocky Robin' and their own animated, television show. Becoming a megastar already behind tracks like 'I Want You Back' and his youthful matured and poignantly haunting rendition of 'Aint No Sunshine' that still resonates today. As little Mike, Tito and co grew into the maturing Jackson's they blamed it on the boogie as everybody could feel it from the Four Tops to the Commodores. As these guys graduated so did the other Michael after years of the Baby Blue in North Carolina. Years that saw him earn the tar on the heels of his sneakers by hitting game winners and the buzz of the hype that came from high school and would continue after the NBA draft where this new school guy began educating everybody starting with Sam Bowie. The eighties where this pairs coming out party. Where they'd show the whole world exactly what they had more in store of. In fact this was their decade too...especially for one of the Michael's. Jordan was busy winning dunk contests, whether during All-Star weekend or not. All whilst showing the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson and the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird that there was a new kid in town. Even hitting an incredible 63 youthful points in the legendary Boston Garden against one of the storied Celtics most successful and dominant teams of all time. No wonder the legend of Larry called number 23, "God disguised as Michael Jordan". Meanwhile music where treating the other M.J. like the second coming. After his 1979 breakout this guy was truly 'Off The Wall', not stopping 'till he got enough. Michael and Quincy Jones helped score the best and most successful pop album of all time in 'Thriller', while Jordan was making those on court. Only nine tracks, but with classic songs like 'Wanna Be Startin' Something', 'Beat It', 'Billie Jean', 'Human Nature' and that title track and THAT video who needs more with some of the biggest songs of all time. Even the crazy controversy surrounding his black to white skin colour change couldn't stop this megastar on 'Bad', as 'The Way You Make Me Feel', 'Liberian Girl', 'Another Part Of Me', 'Man In The Mirror', 'I Just Cant Stop Loving You', 'Smooth Criminal' and 'Leave Me Alone' added more greatest hits to the vault with another classic album for the record. As Jacko was leaning forward, Jordan was making everyone else lean back.
Then came the 1990's. This was their time. With sneakers and C.D.'s selling out of stores worldwide. Michael Jackson may have only released two albums this decade...but boy where they two albums. Besides 'Thriller' and 'Bad' where still selling like they came out yesterday. Still 'Dangerous' was the 'Jam'. Songs like 'Give In To Me', 'Who Is It', 'Why You Want To Trip On Me' and the socially conscious 'Heal The World' (a trait this singer is underrated for) where gravitating and groundbreaking. But it was his Statue Of Liberty moment to the Slash riff of that song where Michael proved he and we shouldn't care if you're 'Black and White' in the transitional video for the game changing, MTV age legend. Plus with Laker legend Magic Johnson in the video of 'Remember The Time' along with comedian Eddie Murphy dressed as phaeroes Michael showed he knew hoops like any other M.J. fan. Meanwhile Michael Jordan was taking the torch from Magic and his Showtime Lakers and switching the ball mid -air to score. Running through points totals and titles with a shrug as he stampeded the Chicago Bulls to their first championship and then three-peat. Ball in hand, victory cigar in the other. Smiling with legendary Zen coach Phil Jackson who was the Quincy Jones to his own thriller production. But then, following the tragic murder of his father, the greatest player to ever play basketball stepped away from the game at the peak of his powers. But then this is where 'History' would be made...'Past, Present and Future'. Screaming into a budget and record breaking video with Janet Jackson out of space one minute and walking around the streets of Rio with Spike Lee the next for 'We Don't Care About Us' Michael was back. Making records with everyone from the Notorious B.I.G. ('This Time Around') and even basketball player Shaquille O'Neal ('2 Bad'), who was probably just thankful another M.J. wasn't torturing him on court. Covering the Beatles ('Come Together') and signing R. Kelly songs ('You Are Not Alone) this historic feat had it all. Even a beautiful 'Stranger In Moscow' and a Christmas number one, record breaking, call to climate change 'Earth Song' (he told you). This album was bigger than the statue of him taken down London's River Thames in Tower Bridge separating promotion. Meanwhile in Chicago, just when they where thinking about erecting a classic statue in M.J.'s honour, Michael came back too, to the tune of three more championships shared with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and all capped off by one more last shot that was a true history, storybook ending.
Still their collective stories weren't without some dark chapters. From gambling addiction to allegations of sexual abuse that still hang like the worst cloud. Also it seemed like when the 90's came to a new millennium close so did the windows of their prime. Still in 2001, Michael Jordan came out of retirement again, this time for the Washington Wizards, donating his entire playing salary valiantly to the 9/11 relief fund. Around the same time Michael Jackson came back with the album 'Invincible', his worst selling one at that time proved not to live up to its name but had strong standouts like 'You Rock My World', 'Break Of Dawn' and 'Cry', just like the 'Blood On The Dancefloor' remix album had with the likes of 'Ghost' and 'Morphine'. Jordan wasn't so invincible either, showing the coming to 40 age and legs of a man heading towards one last retirement. But believe us for both of them the magic was still there in more than just a few spells of their trucks of the trade. Just like their inspiration is today to the new school of Kevin Durant's and Ne-Yo's. Its a legend and legacy that always lasts. Michael Jordan is still making basketball moves as the majority owner of the buzzing Charlotte Hornets ballclub and he's doing a Spalding job while even years after his tragic death Michael Jackson is proving that this isn't it. Another new album ('XSCAPE') came out this year and brought with it one of his newest and biggest hits from the demo floor with the dance floor fond 'Love Never Felt So Good' featuring another prodigy of his legacy, Justin Timberlake. All the inspiration and influence that still lasts beyond this day all cumulated in a classic collaboration of Aerosmith and Run-DMC, rock and rap, wall and barrier breaking standards to begin their 90's. As a basketball flew through a glass window into a factory where M.J. was dancing he threw it back, buildings across to a nearby gym for a no-look swish. Michael Jordan couldn't believe it, like the no-look back heel. Then as the two came together for some one-on-one, Jordan schooled and tricked Jackson on court for some fun and games before Michael showed the other how it was done on his wood deck, teaching him how to really 'Jam' and dance in this video. It's not too hard. Just look. As the two dance into the faded out shadows of this lights out number its a poignant moment for the two power players of a generation and game changing time. M.J. and Michael, the last names are of little consequence to the initials they engraved on their games. As these two silhouettes strut and slide across the floor, many will remember their master moves for many moons to come. Now that's the jam.
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Last Christmas, LeBron's heart was in South Beach as his Miami Heat team visited Los Angeles and cooled off the L.A. Lakers in California. King James unwrapped so many Hollywood highlight worthy, hard-hitting jams that he almost hulk ripped out of those Christmas day sleeved jerseys with more Banner induced rage than the hate they incited. This year and this time tomorrow you'll know him by the first name that reads underneath his old number 23 on the back of his new special Christmas Day jersey. Still the front of this logo jersey reads something different from last year altogether and we're not talking about another Adidas festive themed special that's a cracker. For the crest across the chest of this icon belongs to Cleveland like this homecoming king does once again. Last Christmas if we told you this you'd have either thought the fools of April had come early or you where in the ghosts of seasons past. But, alas no! Its a wonderful life hey Ohio? Bron's new search for championship champagne is back with the wine and gold and this Christmas tomorrow another reunion will happen like families heading home for a feast as LeBron takes his team back to South Beach. As Dwyane Wade urges the Heat faithful to not throw rocks and boos at the throne one big three will meet an old one. Just another royal appointment that shows you the throne doesn't just belong to the king of the castle but all his men too. Lets look at all the young princes who have served their king.
St Vincent-St Mary
Maverick Carter, Romeo Travis. These are names made famous by being synonymous with the King James. Despite sounding like celebrity ballers all in themselves. The movie star status may not be there, but the rock star life of millionaires are for the kids that helped this young prince stay humble in the face of hardwood Hollywood before he became the one and true king. Back then a teen names LeBron was illustrated in this sport as the chosen one and inbetween magazine covers and slams, network coverage and top ten plays of the week this guy was the man before he even became one. It wasn't just his 'Entourage' that we're getting that Jeremy Piven type love. The saints of Vincent and Mary found new, reborn spirit under the chosen one and their green and gold decorated his holding of court as now some of hoops hallowed, hallmark colours. This new 'Irish' now as timeless as the old English inked like scrolls on the shoulders of the man who carried his hometown of Akron, Ohio up on there. An Irish that proved they could throw punches with even Notre Dame traditions with this guy carrying them on his back. From allies on and off court like Willie McGee, to father and son dynamics like coach Dru Joyce II and his playing son the third it was all family. It was all testimony like LeBron and his boys autobiography, the first chapter of his classic career that already was made for the hall when he left the high schools ones in 2003. You can see it in the movie documentary and hear it in the big name, Drake, Lil' Wayne, Kanye West and Eminem game soundtrack forever. He was already attracting the greats. This was truly more than a game. They say high-school days are the best of your life and this is where this king made his.
Carter's maverick decision to televise LeBron's announcement to take his talents to South Beach brought in the millions, but the actual choice was a championship one that brought rings with the changes. From long-term Heat legends like Udonis Haslem to NBA icons like Ray Allen many came and followed the chosen king into battle. Still there where two men standing either side of the throne that ensured this king sat on top of the world as it spun like a basketball. When these guys got it together they may as well have been the Globetrotters, because even if they didn't have the ball on a string they certainly had their opponent on one. With a championship already certified this may have already been Dwyane Wade's team, but even Flash had to make way for Superman in the Justice League and in the NBA one boy did this number 3 run alongside the new number one as voltron formed the biggest three of all of basketball. 'Bron may have come all the way from a home in Ohio, but taking the number 1 jersey Bosh made it to South Beach all the way from Canada. Toronto to be exact as this Raptor entered the kitchen to cook heat and prove he wasn't extinct. Now decisions have been gone back home on this big-man is getting even bigger, no matter how many write him or his team off. A team and city that is now Wade's world again, back in a rejuvenated Flash back to the wonder years of nostalgia. Add Luol Deng to this new top three and some extra Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts to the arsenal and there is enough firepower here for the Heat to take their own shots at the throne.
Still, there's no place like home and tapping his red sneakers together the king knows this at home in his old manor with all his aids around him. When this leader of the new school first tasted wine from the gold challice he was advised by men much older than he was. From reliable veterans like Zydrunus Ilgauskas to legends of the crown like Shaquille O'Neal, the daddy if this basketball game of thrones. Still despite all the years and peers when the king decided to leave his castle the townspeople would never be the same. Throwing rocks at the tributes to him hung outside his palace of The Q, whilst burning his old robes to the embers of the past. Even his name tasted as bitter as the seawater in Miami, on the shores of South Beach that would bring a tide of championship change to the king as his old home would remain washed up after being set adrift with no memory bliss. Still redemption is a funny thing by royal appointment and with the return of the one to his kingdom of The Land it was all good and love again like nothing even happened. So much has though. There's even more Love with the arrival of another beach boy in Kevin, a big, big man upgrade in this big three and rebounding story. Then of course there's another special K that will one day find his way on to the front of a cereal box as you read all about him on the back at your breakfast table. From all the number ones that came in the lottery chances of a town that lost their one that got away, Kyrie Irving was the ticket and the man that still gets to lead this place to the promised land from the quarterbacking of the point guard position. Still with all this Wade and Bosh upgraded talent and a stellar squad that reads Miami familiar and NBA fond and well like Mike Miller and Shawn Marion, there's a lot more to this royal family then a few lucky family members. You don't have to witness a new Nike commercial to see everyone's behind this king with their hands stretched out to his, reaching for the same gold as he is. Its not the crown upon his head or where he sits that makes LeBron James the man that he is today. Its the people around him that make him king. They all deserve their knighthood. They all have their place upon his throne. Long live all the kings men.
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Microscopes where on this guy ever since he was little. Some from the viewfinders of scouts, others from the lens of the press. But now he's rising at an alarming rate. They grow up so fast, don't they? In this game of giants, something big has been missing for a long time in a super league that has marveled at larger than life heroes for decades and generations. All since the age of George Mikan this sport has been about anything but the short. Even when a 6 foot 6 inch Michael Jordan proved beyond a perfect player prototype, that he was the greatest individual that this association of athletes have ever wondered and witnessed, 7 footers still stood above the rest. And their jerseys, to the ceiling retired, higher than anything in the rafters do the same. Names that read, Russell, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, Olaujawon, Ewing, O'Neal. Today this rap sheet reads more like what hits the desk of a detective in the worlds safest city. That is except for the bionic sherrif of San Antonio, Tim Duncan. His Spurs are still clicking as reigning champions, but his time in this National Basketball civilisation, let alone the saloon of contenders is making its way for the swinging doors. Someone needs to take his mantle, when he's gone. Someone worth their Spurs. Someone that even kind of looks like him with that new haircut, albeit with some goofy kid looks and a single eyebrow that strikes as much fear into razors as it does opponents. Here's the thing, he's just a kid. Barely finished growing in this mans world that would be nothing without a wonder kid. But look now and you can see Anthony Davis grown and rise above it all. Every big man before and around him, all whilst able to shrink down to the floor whilst playing with the rest of the changing of the guards. Riding on the wings of the back of his former Hornets. When he hits your city its almost like he's taller than all skyscrapers around him as he dribbles the ball all around his tallest opponents...and he hasn't even scraped, let alone hit his ceiling yet.
That's BIG! Huge! Monumental! What this game needs and was lacking in a real vertical. And it's all resting on the scrawny to strong shoulders of a 21 year old kid. A kid that the Windy City of Chicago blew in. One who like fellow Chi-city native Antoine Walker, got his claws into the University Of Kentucky, proving he was a real Wildcat and a powerful, forward thinking player like 'Toine or Celt teammate Walter McCarty. Now just like Rajon Rondo or John Wall, Davis is the next U.K. alum to be the next big thing in this league. Exactly what the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers want from their 'Cats DeMarcus Cousins and Julius Randle, despite the attitude and injury problems. This guy is the player personification of next gen. After hitting top marks in college this graduate has a career elected for the Hall. In his first year before he even played a single NBA minute, he won gold in London as an Olympian for the U.S.A. and more than just a big, young Christian Laettner coming of age and off the bench in this dream team. Moving from the Hornets of New Orleans to the Pelicans this big, young man became an All-Star in his second year and a well deserved and now you can bet on constant one too. Now to complete the trilogy, in this his third year he's now part of the big-three...and we aren't talking about Cleveland. We're talking about the NBA's big-three, best players of the league in LeBron James, Kevin Durant and sorry Kobe. Yep, he's really that good. Really this soon. Legends like Duncan may have the rings, but this circle of life talent has all the time under the sun, holding the ball up to the limits of the sky. Right now who would you start a franchise with from fantasy to reality? Especially with the dominance of big man. You're taking Ant man! What a couple of years! What more to come! What a guy! It only seems like yesterday when he was turning the state of Kentucky into the state of the NBA draft yet again. Go 'Cat, go!
Fly Pelican, FLY! Sky-high. Soaring and scoring, that's what your touching. Like every ball off the top of the glass like the dollar bills Earl Manigault's friends put up there. Rebounding like Chuck, running power moves like D. With seemingly one foot in the paint and another planted like an ant, across court, already back on defence. Ready for that nasty block. Ooh its gotta hurt! Dikembe dominant. No need for the finger-wagging...they already know! The only thing more devastating is the dunk. Sure the range is set to a wide perimeter fence, but when Davis gets into his comfort zone in the key, he unlocks something that leaves defences and fans in seats fidgety in a fit. When he throws down the peach, you'd think these guys where still called the Hornets the way they sting. More than just a buzz, the brief on this pelican is a thriller. More than a double, double threat this guy can multiply the box -score numbers whilst dividing defences. As he gets warm this guy could go for 20 and 10 whilst you're still in your warm-ups. No sweat, this guy is that complete with the handle to go to work in the post. So effective like a mailman on these deliveries, he works the pick and roll like Malone. Doc's son Austin Rivers may be his Stockton too if his career runs as deep as promised. Needless to say with guys like former top rookie Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday this team is one early fishing vacation away from few pieces that could pay compliments to contention. No need to tank, just go fish. These Pelicans could even fight and prove to be a bigger animal out in the wild west than those Grizzlies in Memphis. Los Angeles Clipper and P.G. leader Chris Paul was once the future face of this franchise ready to lead the way like Baron Davis once did. But today there's a real changing of the guard...and that's kind of the point.
Davis' path has been as long as winding as these Pelicans career flight plan. A team that began in the coliseum of Charlotte before moving to the Madi Gras of New Orleans for a bigger scene. Only to take temporary residence in the city of Oklahoma during Hurricane Katrina, to then move back to the N.O. Where the co-cities Oklahoma and Charlotte (again) got themselves some new franchises in the form of the Seattle Supersonics, come Thunder and the Bobcats. Then, finally moving on for good, the Hornets changed their name to the Pelicans (I guess Utah will never give the 'Jazz' back) which in turn gave the Charlotte Bobcats their Hornets back, in yet another name change, but never again the same team. Still in this new direction led by the next one, this former top pick in the NBA draft is already an NCAA champion and NBA blocks leader in just a couple of years of work experience. Oh did we mention he won another gold this Summer in international competition? This time leading the team and nation himself all the way in Spain. This only comes with the confidence of a character cultivated in the city of Chicagoland. The fire, the hope and the code. From the South Side to Perspectives Charter and from making threes to headlines, despite the lack of news coverage in Tribune tribute to real Chi-town. Steph Curry with the shot, Timmy Duncan with the rock, U.K. with the recruiting. A lay-up line, one and won year where this kid could finish the same break he led from the practice gym all the way downtown. Scissors cut down nets, tailors cut suits, championship caps turned into draft caps and the future is all big numbers for this number one. The career highs haven't really been recorded yet. The SLAM and Sports Illustrated covers just the first pages of this stellar studded, superstar story. One things for sure this young great has already done more than just earn the right to wear the great number 23 on his jersey. Like another 23, he's proved worthy of the NBA's real big-three. Now this Ant-Man shows he's as real a marvel as the rest of the associations Avengers. Now watch the rise. With a 7 foot 3 wingspan and the whole of the United States of National Basketball in his reach, just how far can this man go and grow?
Tuesday, 9 December 2014
Pick and roll through this amazing, 'Assisted' autobiography and you'll find one of the greatest and most underrated Point Guards of real Magic and in fact NBA players as a whole when it comes to the leagues, all-time storied history. A quick Stock take sees a man who battled Michael Jordan's champion, Chicago Bulls in the final twice and although never winning a ring, a man who has an Olympic Gold Medal from Barcelona in 1992 after being an original member of that legendary 'Dream Team' (he reprised his role and Gold for 'Dream Team II' in Atlanta). A man who played all of his 19 years and almost two decades with the Utah Jazz franchise he helped personify in Salt Lake City. A man who is the all-time leader in the NBA when it comes to assists. Basically put the nicest and most selfless basketball player to ever walk this polished wood floored earth. No wonder this legends legacy lament is called 'Assisted'. You can easily roll like his pick through these 300 plus pages like one of his crisp assists with these humble, honest and heartfelt prose that aren't short of candor, charisma or charm either. Well read like this man speaks, this cool and collected read is frank and forthright...and to be frank this is one of the greatest basketball autobiographies-like he is players-of all time. That's coming after recent wonderful works from Jerry West and Julius Erving over the years too. Inspiring and influential from Karl Malone's powerful foreword to some coaches poetry off the dry-erase this is a purists dream. With dignity and respect, no nonsense or gossip b.s., this dear reader from John tells tales from behind the locker room that will be music to ever Jazz fan and beyonds ears. From foundation to family you have to hand it to a man that gives it to us straight. He may have rocked the short shorts, but this man who doesn't like the public eye of fame goes to great lengths to provide the savvy vision for fans, players, family men, husbands and fathers worldwide. When it comes to the NBA, Jazz piece assist accompaniment, don't pass! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 14 November 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Shake, shake, shake! From the nosebleeds to the foundations it seems like the whole arena is shaking. It's never been this loud and proud in Boston since the French Lick. The Gardens never bloomed this beautiful since a Bird flew through the trees. Now they do say things come in threes. That was Larry's legend, but this was a new day for O'Brien...and we're talking about Jim too. The new millenium was his generation. This was before Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and even Paul Pierce. Shaking more than the building or the foundation of fans bumper to bumper is the man who shook every defender to get his basket woven onto the Jumbotron. As the lips on everyone in attendance reads his name like the box-score, the man who has just seemingly raised the Holy Ghost, shakes wildly and uncontrollably like he is coming out of an exorcism. Waving his arms around rigidly and then wildly, with purpose, whilst making noise you would think this man was conducting the craziest orchestra. You've seen the Google image. 'Shimmy, Shimmy Ya' by the late, great Ol Dirty Bastard sounds like its playing. You've seen the Youtube video and ooh baby does he like it raw. Now why is he shaking that shimmy like that? It's just one play. One score...right? Wrong! Lets swiftly shake it off like Mariah's emancipation, because this is Antoine Walker we are talking about here!
Shake, shake, shake! Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy! Then as quickly as all the big numbers racked up, they did the same...but in the opposite direction. The ball started to fall the other way. It finally dropped. Everyone calling his name began calling it even more, but in a whole different way. Business partners, lawyers. Banks, debt collectors. Friends, hanger oners. Two cruel and evil robberies at gunpoint. More and more. $100 here. $1000 there. A few dollars more. Then a whole bunch of millions. All Antoine Walker's money began to shake and shimmy away like the remaining years of his career. All $110 of it. That's $110 million. Who wants to no longer be a millionaire? Its the reality show no celebrity wants to be a contestant of. But it happened to be a former NBA All-Stars troubled twist of fate. From balling to bankruptcy, it all shimmied away to zero like a game clock for 'Toine as his dollars and cents didn't beat the buzzer of the red. More misguided than brick missing the point and the payment, Walker now wants to make sure no other young athlete or man follows in the footsteps of his ledgers. With his new T.V. special 'Gone In An Instant', Antoine is set to document that in a tell-all tale that will go for 'Broke' more than a renowned and acclaimed ESPN special. Its time for the young blood to listen up to an O.G. veteran who is putting all the blame and responsibility on himself. So in this age of people finger pointing to feel better about themselves, from flicking through magazines to swiping through social media, its time to give a hand to a man that's holding up the mirror to himself. In reflection using his own problems of the past to give us a more fortunate future. In an instant replay, showing us how quickly everything can be gone, this is one recap that highlights something we all need to see again. As we look into the life of a man that could have retired into reclusion but instead decided to return to the spotlight to shed some real light. Because after anyone's time in the sun, the fall must come.
But boy is this guy getting back up! He's from Chicago. That's what people from this town do, no matter what winds of change come. Just ask Derrick Rose. Or Scoop Jackson for that matter who in a two-part, ESPN interview with Antoine helped coin his money troubles with the phrase, "loyal to a fault". Which describes a man who helped out friends, loaned them money and treated them to his All-Star lavish life. The kind of friends that sadly and all too truly are no longer around. But you can file those yes men in the same social media category as the finger pointers. Thumbs up to that. At least this humbled hero knows when to give back and a different way and promote a business education instead of one just for the entertainment industry. Climbing back up to the top, this is a man who made it from nothing before. The Big Blue Nation know that. They know a man that was drafted number 6 in 1996, the same year he led his team to a NCAA championship is made of stronger stuff. A Kentucky Wildcat alumni who can claw away at any problem in his prolific but perplexed path. A man that was even prepared to take the road less travelled, part time with the Idaho Stampede in the NBDL to continue his basketball journey. To those too that argue that this amazing All-Star should not just be defined by his classic Celtic, court crusade but his troubled stints in Memphis and Minnesota too, need to realize that his financial loss isn't the only content of his character. Not compared to the profits he made from the human nature of a lesson well learned and to others earned. Walker's money problems talk, but his inspiration sings. Kind of from the same song-sheet as his nice sounding career. An earful of swishes and shimmys. A man who is taking the owness on himself of owing everybody what he can afford in terms of an explanation of truth and wisdom. His life is far from just another cautionary tale but young stars in sports should certainly heed his warning.
Antoine Walker's basketball career can be one young ballers can look up to as well. A three time All-Star and NBA champion. A college one too. After earning his claws as a Wildcat in Kentucky when he could barely grew whiskers, this young man became a proud part of Big Blue Nation. Especially behind his streak of big threes and plays like fellow alumnus and future Boston Celtic teammate Walt McCarty. It was these big type of plays from a marquee player of sorts that got Red Auerbach's Celtics interested enough to hand young 'Toine a draft cap that six other teams hadn't in arguably the greatest class ever of '96. The Boston Celtics, the most storied team in National Basketball Association history where looking for their next legacy of legend, after the Bill Russell and then the Larry Bird one dominated the decades of the last century. Still defined and reeling from the Len Bias and Reggie Lewis tragedies finding this number 8, Walker was a wonder. Quickly becoming a 20 and 10 threat and hitting career highs of 49, this kid wasn't just smooth on the inside. He could also handle the rock from downtown Boston. Lethal from three when his shimmy was streaking and shaking. "Because there's no fours", he once classically responded when asked why he shot so many threes. The Celtics defined the best part of this mans career and this Boston green legend defined their own resurgence. Way before Paul Pierce became the truth and taught LeBron how to make a big three before taking the C's back to the rafters of banners where they belong. When Pierce joined Walker they where quite simply the best duo in the L not called Shaq and Kobe, but like the death of a dynasty it should have lasted longer. Even when Walker returned to the Garden, wearing the double eight, after stints in a loaded Dallas Maverick ballclub and the ATL Hawks. Still when he took a dynamic, off the bench, veteran duo with former Seattle Supersonic Gary Payton to South Beach, he helped another in Shaq and D-Wade give Miami a championship. An elusive ring he deserved with all his clutch shimmy contributions. The image of him shimmying, whilst lying on the floor after a big play and foul will forever be etched in Miami Heat fans and his fondest memories. It lasts longer than the valiant stints from Minnesota to Puerto Rico and Memphis to the D-League for a man who just wanted to keep playing the game he loved. It wasn't all about the money and that's not what people should remember him for now, although in order to help others in his debt he is not shying away from this accountable problem. Still in decades time, the name Antoine Walker will be remembered for being one of the best players of his generation. The shimmy will still shimmy. Shake, shake, shake!
Sunday, 2 November 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Footsteps walk into earshot down a classic corridor of a whole different type of class. Down the line of legendary lockers and sneakers hung to the ceiling higher than old Nike's thrown over telephone lines in Brooklyn and some purple and gold balloons that look like they'll never come down, there is a trophy cabinet that gleams in all its champagne popping gold. There's a record book in there and a signature from a Mr. Larry O'Brien and some guy named Naismith. There's a basket without the bottom cut out and a couple of peaches. Some Buddy Holly glasses. A stilt. Some Magic. A Bird. A whole lot of 23's and a place reserved for another, maybe a 6 and one more 24, coming soon. Mostly though in this freshly cleaned cabinet is a lot of green...and a cigar. An elderly gentleman can be seen in the clear reflection looking at this and smiling. He pulls his own stogie out of his suit breast pocket, pulls out a classic lighter like the type you see in the films, flips it open and lights. The orange light is mixed with rising smoke that engulfs his reflection in the glass. But kids this is no cigarette commercial. Don't smoke! Matter of fact a young man that cant be older than a student who is buffing the floor like Matt Damon in 'Good Will Hunting' calls to the man. 'Excuse me sir! There's no smoking here'. The man turns with a knowing grin and points to a framed photo in the cabinet of a guy that looks just like him. He winks at the shocked boy as he looks at the bottom of the photo. It reads, 'Red Auerbach'.
This is the Hall Of Fame kid and if it isn't green then Red is the colour. The blue collar work that made his team the best guys with the orange for the red, white and blue. The boy from Brooklyn who made that infamous dollar and change, four hour Greyhound ride from New York City to Boston became the classic Celtic coach. A man so iconic to this game with less shorts in his locker than hair on his head won more games than Wilt Chamberlain and more championships than Michael Jordan. The most dominant ever. The only one to match him was his own lord of eleven rings Bill Russell who is the greatest defensive player this association has ever seen, telling all that came his way that they too shall not pass. Sized like a Hobbit in comparison, Red had a basketball name, but not the game. How else could a man who finished the game with a victory cigar keep up with all these amazing athletes? Like a matador to a Bull before Jordan it was all over when people saw Red. Auerbach from the sidelines was the green keys greatest producer. The greatest on court director, Basketball Hitchcock. Psycho good. Basketball's Winston Churchill with two fingers to the opposition, cradling a victory cigar as he blew away any team free with Celtic envy and left them like smoke. Forget about LeBron throwing dust, when Red flicked ash it was all over. From Wilt to West and all the rest. Some came close but Auerbach was THE cigar. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Lets light one up! Before Arnold Jacob Auerbach reunited with Larry O'Brien 16 times in 29 years. The over 15 for almost 30, half a championship king began his life in the B.K. where he played ball with as much fire and passion as his ginger hair that he gained the obvious, infamous nickname. Brian Scalibraine be proud. A life from the blacktop to the hardwood, the asphalt to the parquet that would see him pioneer the fast break power play all whilst breaking through defences and breaking down barriers of colour and racism. He to fellow sport symbols of solidarity the Harlem Globetrotters and the 1966 Texas Western Miners in the entertainment industry was what J.F.K was to M.L.K. and Malcolm X in the political world. The Civil Rights Movement may have not begun on this type of court, but guys like Red helped keep it running in a support more unwavering then some die -hard Celtic fans. A fan based community that even back then would say and do a number of abhorrent awful, cruel and callous, unspeakable things to their superstar Bill Russell. THEIR superstar who was winning all those championships for them and the city. To them and done racists it wasn't enough because he was still black. But Red always had his back. Now just like the cigar, the defensive ring bearer Russell has his own statue in the centre of the beautiful city of Boston that now always greets him with open arms and ones around his bronze immortalized statue for a photo opportunity. Picture this back then. You couldn't and wouldn't now if it wasn't for his unconditional bravery and courage and Auerbach's unrelenting pride and solidarity.
That's how a great coach should be with players. From first to worst. And from the Bob Cousy original era to the Larry Bird golden one he was exactly that. No matter what. It's a legacy of legend that speaks more volumes than his almost 1000 coached wins (938) in the record books. No matter if Lenny Wilkens in wins and Phil Jackson in titles have passed him, no one at last is truly like him. This is the man who in giving a cap and contract to Chuck Cooper drafted the first African-American NBA player in as amazingly recently in terms of how racism was still alive in 1950. We should note too in Red's first year as a Celtic. A man that put on court the first ever all African-American starting five. Two years before Miners coach Don Haskins made 'Glory Road' history in the 1966 NCAA Final against Rupp's Kentucky. To begin with, although he was a promising player at George Washington university, Auerbach got into the dry-erase game early. Before the NBA was a penciled in idea, Red penned some time with the Washington Capitals of the Basketball Association Of America. 17 game win streaks ran columns on his coaching worth, but losses to the Chicago Stags and then Clark Kent original Laker Superman George Mikan and his Minneapolis original Laker team prevented a championship parade, complete with a box of Cubans. How sweet a dish revenge would eventually be, served with a side of tobacco. Spat out with 'Moneyball' stats over stars swagger.
As the NBA merged, Auerbach surged and split the opposition like Moses, like the defences making waves. Coming off a dismal 29 win season the lowly reputation Celtics needed a new identity and resurgence. Halfway through the 1900's it would come in the shape of a man who would mould them into the greatest team and franchise that defined the last century of basketball. One that would in fact become the National Basketball Associations most storied, successful and recognisable franchise and thing no matter how hard the Los Angeles Lakers have tried this side of Michael Jordan. Bill Sharman, players like Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek and of course Bill Russell, Red Auerbach brought them all in like Basketball's Nick Fury for an amazing Avenger assembling that won 9 out of 10 titles from 1957 to 1966 to pass the test with top marks. Only Stan Lee came up with better creations to marvel at back then when he was a young man. Bleeding green and smoking old Irish no wonder everyone was jealous and envious of the leprechaun and shamrock. This is the reason that the most dominant, big man of all time, Wilt Chamberlain, the man that recorded 100 points in a single game couldn't better Jordan. Red is the reason. Shaquille O'Neal didn't have to go through the Celtics for his dynasty. Kobe Bryant only had a few Rivers to deal with this side of the beautiful Back Bay. Jerry West may have been the logo, but the Celtics where the icon. No wonder Red Auerbach us now literally and figuratively the 'Coach Of The Year' trophy. He is the master of the sidelines. 'Bach conducted some of the best, classic compositions on court.
A number 2 belongs in the great Garden rafters in Boston, because all those retired numbers and big banners are there thanks to that one man. A man who saw the sixth man and role player as more to this game. A man that knew that champions weren't just stars...they where teams. A man that knew hard work and not big names were the cornerstone of real success. Even when this coaches coach moved upstairs like Pat Riley from General Manager to president he was still smoking. Smoking hot. Smoking victory cigars and sipping championship champagne. When Russell retired and the Celtics needed a new age and green lantern that was still Boston strong, blue collar work, Auerbach drafted some kid from French Lick that was sick from downtown all the way to the scheduled parade. The rest is Larry legend and Earvin Johnson, storied, golden era, Laker and Celtic matrimony history. You can even see Red's influence in Bird's coach to front office play for the Indiana Pacers. After that latest legacy, Red also gave a green cap to a future star in Len Bias. But Bias tragically died of a cocaine overdose on draft night before he ever played a game and became the star he was destined to be. Heartbroken Auerbach presented a Bias jersey to Len's mother like a folded flag. After another tragedy fell on Reggie Lewis, another future great who died prematurely it seemed like the Celtics where now cursed. Red would never see another championship for his remaining years. He died of a heart attack in 2006 at aged 89. One year off 90 and a couple more off watching his new favourite Paul Pierce bring in a big three with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen that would result in another championship finally and a Boston team that played Auerbach and the cities way, reminiscent of Red's roundball. Continuing the legacy of the most successful individual in hoops history who never himself but a ball in an NBA basket, but boy did he light them up. Thanks Red! This ones for you. We don't usually do this but for you even this Laker will smoke one. Your light will never burn out.
Sunday, 26 October 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Like Mike? Then you're going to love this! Reams and shelves have been written about the greatest basketball player of all-time Michael Jordan. From articles by friend, Chicago native and THE basketball journalist Scoop Jackson to our own humble catalogue 'The Jordan Series'. Still, there's nothing quite like this. After creating a Laker legacy for himself from writing about everyone from Kobe Bryant to former Bulls coach Phil Jackson, when it comes to M.J., the word on court Roland Lazenby has literally wrote the book on him. No longer most famous for his Jerry West book (and after that book the logo followed with his own wonderful 'West By West' autobiography, so lets hope the greatest follows suit), Roland's been getting rave reviews for his biography that's as big as Mike's trophy cabinet. This is a writer and readers hardware hoop dream. Not only does Lazenby reminisce about the golden era of the NBA in the 90's that Jordan and his Chicago Bulls owned with their two three-peats and six titles, he also looks at the early family times of a man that grew to be not only the best player of all time but the most competitive too. Now there's no competition when it comes to this book.It truly is the life of Mike. So we just had to catch up with the man himself (no, not Mike...we wish right) before we read all about it. Here's what the man has to say when we talked about 'Life'.
24/48/82: Roland! Thank you for your time. Congratulations on all the success for your book 'Michael Jordan-The Life'. How does it feel?
Roland Lazenby: It doesn’t feel all that different, really. It is nice to have critics recognize your work. But I still have to do the dishes.
What made you start writing this book and could you describe to us the process?
I had spent a major portion of my career covering and writing about the Bulls and Jordan. It was fun as I moved into my sixties to begin to review not only his life but my own. So many of the major events in his life had an impact on mine. Lots of great memories of those Bulls games and Tex Winter too.
You capture how family was an important factor in Michael Jordan's competitiveness and we all know the greatest player of all time is also the most competitive. Can you tell our readers who are looking forward to reading your book more about these family influences?
Sure. I love writing about the great competitors I’ve gotten to know a bit and spent so much time covering. Looking at the cultural and family influences on their lives is a big part of that study. What makes guys like MJ and Kobe and Jerry West so competitive? What makes them so different from everybody around them? How can Jordan be in such close competition with his brother Larry and then just eclipse him?
Could you say family and how it influences the story of our own lives is a reason why you write?
Sure. Jordan’s story got me to thinking about my relationship with my own old man, how his disapproval has driven me all these years, how the disapproval Jordan felt from his father drove him. There are often these family forces pulling strings in our lives, often without our realizing it or understanding it.
As a fan what would you say is your earliest memory of Michael Jordan?
The first play I ever saw him make is still probably the greatest. He was a sophomore at Carolina and I was covering a game at the University of Virginia with Ralph Sampson. The Wahoos had a long home winning streak, but Carolina had a big lead. Then Virginia started coming back. They cut the lead to six with two minutes to got and had the ball on the break. Sampson was shooting from the left elbow and Jordan came across the lane from the right block to slam the ball down with great ferocity. He came all the way across the lane and swatted the jumper from the 7-4 Sampson with such force that the block made people on press row jump in surprise. Fifteen years later I was sitting with MJ in Charlotte before a game. He was sipping a cup of coffee when I asked him about that play. It surprised him too, he said, that he could do that. I’ve never seen a defensive play to match it. Jordan told me that was the beauty of his career. He surprised himself in the things that he did.
How much of a joy was it to write about the golden era of Jordan's championship Bulls in the 90's that in your book fans can read back into with fond nostalgia?
It was lots of fun, just as it was fun to write about the legendary days of yore in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jordan’s college career as well as his high school career were great fun to write about.
A deep and diverse book how important is it to present all sides of the story as a writer and journalist all whilst being respectful to the subjects public and private world?
Well, it’s both important and difficult. You have so many people who love Jordan and quite a few who dislike him intensely. The Chicago Tribune said I was maybe harsh on him and the New York Times said I used the requisite awe. So I guess I was somewhere in the middle. I always tried to treat Mike as just another guy when I talked to him. I was trying to do the same thing in the book. He is a famous and brilliant athlete, but he’s also human. Humans have lots of flaws, make lots of mistakes. People get angry if their heroes aren’t super. They often have gotten angry when Jordan shows just how human he is. I really just tried to portray him as human while being honest about it.
Which was your favourite and also most difficult part of the book to write?
The part about the sexual abuse allegations his sister made against their father was very tough. But if you’re doing a biography you have to include all major issues. I just tried not to hype it. I think I succeeded at that.
Michael Jordan has had a hand in writing a few short books, but with a lot of people wanting a horse of mouth autobiography that may never come, your book may be the closest thing. Kind of like the 'Bruce' Springsteen biography recentely with the revelation that the Boss himself may not write his story. How does it feel to have this type of influential word on an American and global icon? Sports Elvis!
Well, writing the book almost killed me physically, drained me mentally and about broke me financially. So I was glad it was met with approval.
From your hugely popular Jerry West book to your Kobe Bryant one which of your other books are your personal favourites?
I like both the West book and The Show, the oral history of the Lakers. I like Mad Game, my book about Kobe, but he was just 19, 20 years old at the time. So it was a look at his complicated life adjusting to the NBA.
What advice would you give aspiring young writers looking to follow in your bookmark steps?
Interview lots of old timers. They tend to offer a lot more truth, a lot less PR and BS. But interview as many people as you can. Get to know them. It’s the fun part of this grinding work.
Roland we thank you so much for your time. We truly appreciate it and wish you all the success for your book.
Tuesday, 7 October 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"I consider myself the best shooter of all-time! But there's one guy who tops me..."-Reggie Miller.
Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olaujawon, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen and of course the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan. These are some of the best players of the golden NBA era of the 90's that many people consider to be the greatest of all times in professional basketball. Toni Kukoc, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau and Marc Gasol, Peja Stojakovic, Manu Ginoboli and Tony Parker. These are just a hoop handful of the international players that have helped export this great league to a worldwide platform and helped change the court culture of this great game. Still all these players, all these names, the golden era of basketball and all the foreign imports this game has had signed, dribbled and delivered would be nothing...NOTHING without one man. That man was Drazen Petrovic. Forget the greatest international player of all-time at one point this guy was considered up there with Jordan and like Mike all Drazen wanted to do was win. In his time the face of the game was changing...to look like him! Tragically though at approximately 17:20 on June 7, 1993, a car Petrovic was sleeping in was struck by a truck that crashed into it after losing control and crossing the roads median after trying to avoid another collision. Drazen would never wake up again. As he rests peacefully in loving memory lets open our eyes to one of the associations best members of (Inter)National Basketball. This is for you Drazen! We miss you!
"This is for you. He was my big friend and I hope he is up there watching me". It's 2001 and wild-card Wimbeldon winner Goran Ivanisevic lifts his gold trophy to the sky and the heavens his close compadre now resides in. The Croatian tennis ace winning gold in some part for all the Larry's Petrovic should have lifted. It's almost been a decade since that fateful night of tragedy. Still ten years on its all still too real and raw tears. A year later Drazen will have been elected into the Naismith Hall Of Fame, where his memory belongs. If only a grey haired number 3 was there to be inducted himself...he was, in spirit. In New Jersey a Nets team who never really had success like the powerful potential of Drazen (just to think they and the NBA where at risk of losing him), where finally taking championship pretending shape through Jason Kidd leading Kenyon Martin, Keith Van Horn/Richard Jefferson, Kerry Kittles and Todd Maculloch to two NBA Finsls. Proving a point upgrade that set the playoff bracket eating table, from his trade partner Stephon Marbury. Still even with the Kidd era, even with its Vince 'Dunk Mixtape' Carter remix redux and then this new age of B.K. nights with the Nets moving to Brooklyn, nothing has been greater for their legacy than this one legend of a time in basic, baby blue and white old jerseys for N.J. He bloomed in the Garden State when some didn't even think Jersey City existed, but like Joe Budden said, "it was gifted". The Springsteen blue collar work of this boy reborn in the U.S.A. was tougher than the rest. Always painting himself in the perfect position and unlocking perfect shots from the key like running a practice drill, this man was purist purity all wrapped up in perfect poetry of the game. He could score sneaker to toe with Mike and even leave Reggie clutching for shots. Seconds out. He brought magic to the Meadowlands. He brought a global game to a league in America that claimed to produce the world champions after 82 and a few more rounds. Losing him to a tragic automobile accident was to the NBA what losing Senna was to the Formula 1.
This game has lost too many, potential unfulfilled or not. To all too bitterly tragic events. Len Bias, Bobby Phills, Malik Sealy, Bison Dele, Eddie Griffin. We remember and honour them all in loving memory. Not just remembering them for sport, but the life they lead. Sure we all wish we had more playing time for these greats but what would be more and of upmost importance is more family time for these men. That's where our true thoughts reside. Born in Sibenik, Croatia to a police officer father and librarian mother, basketball was the branches of Petrovic's family tree. His brother Aleksander laid roots in hoops first and the basketball player Dejan Bodiroga is Drazen's second cousin. Petrovic then spent time playing with Sibenka, where he hit free throws that won cups...after the opposing team refused to show up for a controversial match-up. Still, he was even clutch back then and after a mandatory year serving in the military,Drazen would move to Cibona and relocate to European basketball stardom. A rise that today sees him voted as the greatest European ballplayer of all-time. Drazen's game was brazen, opponents petrified of Petrovic. Following in his older brothers sneaker steps the perfect pair became the best backcourt duo around winning the Yugoslav Cup, then the National Cup. 36 points later against Real Madrid came the European Cup and then a repeat a year later as Cibona defeated Žalgiris of Kaunas, and their legendary big man Arvydas Sabonis. The Portland Trail Blazers great may have entered the league a little too late as a veteran (albeit still top tier), but Drazen Petrovic wouldn't, soon to be drafted by the City of Roses team. It's all just too tragic he would leave this game and world too, too early, before he and his great competitor Sabonis could reunite in the NBA's greatest contest fight.
More glory came with the Cup Winners Cup, but the real victor was D. 'D' for domination. 'D' for Drazen. To a tune of 37.7 points per and an in game, personal best of 112. One hundred and TWELVE!? Club 112! Take that Wilt! It may not have been the NBA (does that matter though? Plus he's a guard (albeit with an extensive reach) not a dominant big man), but it soon would be. Portland, Oregon drafted him as their newly adopted son with the 60th pick in the third round. Now THAT is a criminal sleeper! Still before hitting the big leagues the super skilled player would keep it real in Madrid suiting up in Spanish colours like Christiano Ronaldo or more appropriately Ricky Rubio (the next wonder kid) in Barcelona's sister of soccer. Portland brought this kid they drafted in '86 out to the tune of a million and a half. All so they could give their pick more than a draft cap. Still uniform was replaced with practice sweats as they paid platinum plus to keep him benched in garbage time. You could even see Magic Johnson's behind the scenes, "it makes no sense", almost disgusted dismay when then Laker teammate Vlade Divac told him Drazen wasn't playing. He would have made a great big three with Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter but I shrug! His departure from the Rose Garden to the Garden State was more abrupt than his one from the Euro League but just outside of New York be was ready to go against the ultimate compeitor of a lack of playing time (which he knew would be his 'DNP-CD' Achilles heel) and show his game was Mecca mega. With young studs of the league Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman, 'Petro' played his heart out. Soon averaging 20, from minutes to then points and then achieving the respect he already should have had. First name terms on household teams like Reggie in Indiana and Michael in Chicago could really see beyond box-score, on court what Drazen was doing to the Nets, team and opposing. It was almost too tragic that he didn't enter the association earlier, but the Euro is a real league too. Still a cruel All-Star snub and some difficulties with envious teammates led him to consider departure from the Nets and retirement from a league where still he remains one of the best ever players. Tensions with Serbian NBA friend Vlade Divac over their countries conflict was also too tragic, although the two will always be great friends in loving memory. Always brothers. Then with a lot on his mind and club offers from Greece pending, Drazen had already played his last game in the NBA as he and his basketball playing lady friend took a drive as he rested his head and burdens...
"It was a thrill to play against Dražen. Every time we competed, he competed with an aggressive attitude. He wasn't nervous; he came at me as hard as I came at him. So, we've had some great battles in the past and unfortunately, they were short battles."-Michael Jordan.
"It's hard for you to imagine here in America, because you have so many great players, but we are a country of four million; without him, basketball takes three steps back."-Aleksander Petrovic
He was 28 years old.
"Motherf###### Ass####"! That's how Steve Nash sums up his Los Angeles Laker backcourt mate Kobe Bryant as reported by top Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard of 'The Beautiful Game' in his latest Mamba Long Form. Truer words have never been spoken right?! What on paper is the worlds worst insult is actually a crazy compliment to one of the greatest basketball players of all time and still one of the best in the Association of National Basketball. That's right Kevin and LeBron...and that's right you guessed it! Kobe couldn't love Steve's comment any more, because just like Bryant replied, Nash is an ass#### too! Real recognises real and a motherf##### knows another motherf##### when he sees one. Originally this column was reserved for the instant vintage like a Saadiq C.D. How this was the league and maybe histories served best backcourt ever on paper. The best Point since Magic and the best player since Mike in the same backcourt, suited up in purple and gold for the same time. Just imagine what it could have been like when they had the best international player since Dirk and the most dominant big man since Shaq! You saw the 'Sports Illustrated Kids' superhero Justice League comic-book cover. Now its just Flash and the Batman. Now Pau Gasol's Green Lantern and Dwight Howard's Superman are gone...and lets not begin to get into the Cyborg of Metta World Peace.
In the dusk of justice (I promise that was another nixed Chris Paul swipe...honest) we miss this assembling of characters for one of the greatest teams ever...again on the dry-erase. Having Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher was actually championship certified better though. You don't have to believe it! The history books wrote it. Still with Kobe and Nash's oldest and greatest backcourt you better believe they still have something. Especially with the Fantastic Four new academy of heroes to marvel at in Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill. Along with the All-Star veteran and worldwide insanity famous big names of Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin respectively. Plus the post future of Wildcat big man Julius Randle from Kentucky makes this team look a hell of a lot better than what is read in critical ink. Especially with former Showtime fastbreak finisher Byron Scott running show. Clipper superstar Blake Griffin is right. In this battle for Los Angeles, the Lakers are still the alpha team with the history behind them and the whole world in front of them. Originally we said this column was going to be like a eulogy. An epitaph article of apprehensive appreciation to two legends and modern day idols about to lace them up one last time together before they hang them up. Still its not over yet for this throwback court. Not with a hardwood classic show on a preseason in Denver that was truly an exhibition. It's not over yet!
Just look at that photo for example. The smiles, the jokes. The chemistry, the camaraderie. I know! What a bunch of A-holes right?! That knowing glance like that knowing smile between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan as they passed each other like this in the 2002 All-Star game where Kobe owned his hometown Philadelphia as a dunk missing Jordan told him, "don't be taking over the whole game now", smiling. To which Bryant beaming even more at his idol, winked, "don't talk me to death" (don't you just love it when they mic All-Star games?)! This look between Steve and Kobe that they know something that we don't. They've still got it, despite injury or father time! Nerve damage or Achillies be damned. Not only are these two of the associations greatest competitors, playing together instead of dunking and dribbling over and around each other. They are two of the most dedicated. Kobe Bryant tore his Achillies and then tried to excruciatingly push it back into place before hitting what where two mere consolation free throws before walking off court to show they really meant something. This guy, not injuries decides when he's done. Then if you thought that was painful Nash's extensive nerve damage, still playing professionaly at 40 was like a root canal for the whole body. You cant see it, but boy if you where in his sneakers you would feel it. Yet he's still playing all to honour a contract that the Lakers could have simply put to amnesty for the Canadian international. Yet they wont. Now that's dedication. Isn't that right Dwight? Sure the afro and floppy hair may be gone but the heart and souls still there as they run and run all the armchair fans social media hate out of trend. You may have seen our last articles on Kobe and Steve Nash 'The Winter Soldier' with pictures of them walking back into the tunnel lie they are done, but no. They are not. I still believe in Kobe Bryant and I still believe on Steve Nash. If only they had more Denzel time these men on fire would be one of the greatest Laker duos like Magic and Kareem, the fire and ice of Baylor and West and of course Shaq and Kobe. Still with Bryant saying he's got more years in him then the 'S' ends of his Mamba 'Ringsss' t-shirt and Nash even contemplating staying on another year there's more Hall Of Fame moments to come before the corridor calls. Yes these guys are crazy and maybe these ass##### will have even more time together. After all they deserve each other. I know the rest of the league right? It's a motherf#####! TIM DAVID HARVEY
Monday, 29 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Did you see that? I can't believe my eyes! A hoops head see's a lot of things in Harlem-Bobbito Garcia, Kobe Bryant just turning up-but nothing like this! This kid is crazy! He's dribbling around what represents the whole of New York, like these nationals are paper towers. Not the Chrysler and Empire State Building skyscrapers they are supposed to represent. He's sliding on the floor, like grease was used to clean this court and he's staying there like the static in his shorts wont relent. He's still keeping the dribble though, as close to his chest as it is to his hand. Spinning around on the floor like he's breakdancing to a Run-DMC classic. It's like that and that's the way it is! But here's the hook, he rises, keeps control, spins some more, fakes more times than cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills and flashes a genuine smile that is, like this game, what it's supposed to be all about...fun! Even the defenders can't help from having their cheeks break into smiles along with their ankles, as they are all left for dust. Some opting to mop up that greasy mess that should be back there down court, because right now they would make a better living cleaning and paving the floor for the greats. The rest of defence are now spectators, like the audience that's drove miles in their masses to witness this. The paint is this young mans red carpet now as the flashbulbs make camera moments...but...wait! He pulls up like people in their cars on the outside who can't get a seat. Here comes the shot as jaws drop, like eye-lids be damned refuse to. Blink and you'll miss it. The ball goes up. Rising like yeast for the bread! It's all beautiful like the rotation, now just wait for the butter. Then...wait! What!?SNAP! Suddenly, the ball pops back from mid-air right back in the opposite direction and right into this kids palms! What in God's great earth was THAT!? Call that a gooseneck?! This is some Houdini wizardry. Forget Magic! Everyone's shaking their heads and looking at the in-sync head disbelief to either side of them for an explanation. Only in Harlem right!? The guys still smiling as someone finally finds the words to ask, "Meadowlark! How do you do that?!"
You do that by becoming a Harlem Globetrotter...and having a craftily placed piece of string! You do that by donning the traditional iconic red, white and blue and all those pinstripes. Basketball's stars and stripes. You do that by whistling while you dribble to 'Sweet Georgia Brown'. How sweet the sound? You do that by throwing buckets of glitter into the stands and stealing fans purses (not really...only as a joke. Take note kids...or maybe don't). You do that by being the worlds most famous team, without the NBA or another 'Dream' preceding your name. You do that by being legendary enough to have the greatest of all time, dominant in different ways, Laker likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson play for you, yet showcase even more talent in your iconic legacy. You do this by balling with Scooby Doo, getting a way with the ball like a bunch of meddling kids. Forget Bugs Bunny and Space Jam. That's not all folks! You do that by being basketball's first family, like Brothers Bones! Authentic like Mitchell & Ness, since 1927. You do this for being the sports most famous team. Even more recognizable all over the world than those New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. Or even those Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Maybe only Michael Jordan can claim more fame from this game! You do this by crossing over...literally to different cultures and breaking down racist barriers that have existed over these decades. You do this by almost hitting your own Wilt like century. 100 years in the making and just think of all those frequent flyer miles?! You do this by having been around the world (and I, I) more times than Mase (shout out to Harlem) and seeing more of this earth than Phileas Fogg! You do this by spinning the globe around your finger like it was a basketball itself as you span it. Over 20,000 games...GAMES, not miles, of an exhibition of theatre and comedy in 120 countries of this amazing planet for something truly out of this world. Trotting the earth all the way from Harlem, to even brighter lights than Times Square, New York, New Year. Each 365 belongs to you.
Chicago has more hoop history than you Michael Jordan think. The rich and vibrant home of the peach and hoop also housed the Globetrotters before they made their Harlem "home" debut in 1968. Even though a gust of change took this team from the Windy City its time to recognise where it all began, minus any confusion. Chi-Hoops can now claim this along with the Bulls, Isiaah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Scoop Jackson and a whole bountiful bunch of beautiful basketball legends to their Lake Michigan lasting legacy. Still like the river than runs through it, the Globetrotters reach extends further than just all over the United States of America. This harem of Harlem can call this whole, wide world their home from one hell of an extended road trip that leaves millionaire NBA stars without cause to complain about their 10 game ones. After all 'Globe' is in this ultimate and formidable franchises name and trotting across it on their own star trek is their planetary game. From wowing the world at the Moscow Games to visiting the White House and teaching First Lady Betty Ford how to dribble in the Oval Office this team are as important in a subtle but fun way to the last 100 years of American and world history like Marvel comics, blockbuster movies and rock and roll music. The Elvis Presley's of sport, these kings of the rock where the light relief entertainment in the troubled and turbulent times of the Civil Rights era. They where also a great impression and inspired influence on this movement. Breaking down barriers with basketball and uniting fans of all races and creeds who just wanted to enjoy some family friendly fun. It's a loving legacy that still lasts today as you see all sorts of kids today born off basketball and raised off the education of entertainment like they are to the hoop by a Globie for a dunk, unifying bonds of togetherness over tough times. In times that still exist there's almost nowhere these guys wont play to help show a better way. A way that promotes more smiles and laughter. How life should always be hereafter.
A number of greats of basketball have given their goods to the grand Globetrotters forever growing game. NBA legends like Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, Connie "The Hawk" Hawkins, and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton. Still the original, loyal to the game of fun, Harlem ballplayers, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, Jerome James, Reece "Goose" Tatum, and Hubert "Geese" Ausbie deserve their own place in the Hall Of Fame. Look down the corridor and to that epic Naismith trophy cabinet and you can see some of those names with all the Magic and Larry too. This terrific team of top cats have more than just their own Hanna Barbera cartoon show. They are also an animated part and place in hoops and entertainment as a whole history. From their ball juggling to the insane shots made. They are a clinic of how to score and handle the ball. Look today at how players climb on top of the rim to swat their opponents shots. There is no stopping them, even if they will come up with all sorts of hilarious hijinks and hijacking to stop you. It all ends with a confetti dunk and legs rising higher than hands can over the rim...and you thought Vince Carter could jam! Sure this may be WWF fake, but don't wrestle with your competitive conscience. This is all on the spirit of entertainment and there's none better or more epic. Even if your kids don't like basketball, they will love this. Even when the Globetrotters played for real (sort of) they still dominated. Only the greatest scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could stop Mannie Jackson's men and their 25 year, 8,829 game winning streak. Take that Jordan's Bulls! Forget an 82 game season. These cats balled 368 game years. Yep that's more contests over 24 hour periods. Oh my days! Someone check the shot clock! It's still their time. Even if it will never be the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, Baltimore Rockets, or Atlantic City Seagulls one. Still the Globetrotters are for the whole world. Anybody can get it. Everyone from Jesse Jackson to Bill Cosby and Bob Hope to Nelson Mandela are honorary Harlem Globetrotters and even Sidney Poitier has been (played) one. These skilful stars have even tried to draft soccer ones Lionel Messi and the undeniable, safe hands of U.S.A. Goalkeeper Tim Howard. I'll see this honourable secratery of defence play if President Obama does too! This is the world ultimate team that will play with anybody all for the love of the game. They are only against hate and anyone opposing them bringing joy in the name of fun. Which after all is what this game and the name of entertainment should be all about for a world today that richly needs some. So don't bet against them like Krusty the Klown. Kids these showmen are the original Harlem Shake! They didn't just change the game. They changed the globe!
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Look up there! They say its lonely at the top and for one of Hollywood's biggest stars, figuratively and literally it appeared that way behind the locker room scenes. You see that big house, atop the very peak of the Hollywood Hills beyond the rest of Los Angeles' California coast. Looking like Avenger Iron Man's Stark mansion and something 'Knight Rider' David Hasslehoff owned himself when he wasn't on a 'babe watch', patrolling Venice Beach as a lifeguard in a 90's hit T.V. show that now make those orange floats, Hollywood hoarder desired famous. Still the Hoff had nothing on the Big Dipper who rose higher than any mansion foundation. This was his lair for the ladies first and the man who used to pull down rebounds and points in what today could only be described as video game numbers, used to rack up the statistics when it came to after game dates, shall we say...and believe me that's putting it mildly. More surprising than the fact this giant, imposing talent-that some argue as more dominant than Shaq and even more greatest of all time than Michael Jordan (believe me this isn't as sacrilegious as it sounds)-never fouled out in his career (that's a lot of minutes), is that the crazy numbers of female partners he laid claim to didn't put him in an early grave in the pre-Magic Johnson warning era. Still an abhorrent and an uncalled for, unfair racist punch to the jaw that landed this mans teeth in the roof of his mouth and lead, as it does to circulatory problems probably did, as he died of a heart attack tragically decades later. Still before we call manslaughter on any player or dental awareness on your own brushing habits this is another way of saying this late great legends legacy was somewhat marred by loneliness and ignorance. Still, right now everyone is about to learn just how 100% this gentle giant was and how lucky the National Basketball Association was to have number 13.
This ladies, gentlemen and basketball purists is Wilt Chamberlain. This boys and girls is a man that scored 100 points...in a single game. That's right a century and that many years later-despite the high school and street claims-and a record of this mammoth magnitude will never be quite outdone like this. Not even the 81 of fellow purple and gold Kobe Bryant could match this on his best week and another pivotal Laker legend at the centre position, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may have followed him and recorded the most points in NBA history, but the man that is 20 retired jerseys above the Stilt could never double up on the Dip. You all know that most teams of five men and even more substitutes sometimes don't make it to 100 and sometimes that's even a game winning box score, but one player? Well no one player was like Wilt and on this day the Phila wearing 76er, who took the Warriors from San Francisco to his home, gave the New York Knicks a real big three of digits. It's crazy to think that this man "only" made 36 of 63 from the field. Still his 28 for 32 from the line was truly something else instead for a man whose Achilles heel was free throws like fellow Laker superman Troy's, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard. The young man that held up a scrawled down '100' on an A4 piece of note paper was a record book engraver however. He was a regular 50 and 25 threat. That's right 50 points and 25 rebounds...on average. That makes todays 20 and 10 threats of the post big man age look like Luc Longley numbers. No wonder the Goliath Wilt, despite his claims that no one loved him, is arguably considered the greatest Los Angeles Laker centre of all-time. If not the National Basketball Associations best player. Michael Jordan may be the prototype, new millennium model of basketball silhouette like his Jumpman Nike logo, or Chamberlain's former famer teammate Jerry West, but in a big mans game, Wilt is the most dominant ever. Even more than the big fella Shaq or the hook of Kareem in a Laker legacy lineage of big centres of legend that began in Minneapolis with George Mikan and could have ended recentely with Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howards torch bearing. Shaq's diesel would run out against the dipper in a match-up and Stilt Chamberlain could even leave the goggles and glasses of Mikan and Kareem fogged for good.
No wonder this original Fresh Prince who ended up in Bel-Air, after being born and raised in Philadelphia (and yes the playground is where he spent most of his days), like Will Smith (your parents will understand...cant believe I'm saying that) was "WOW" inspiring amazing enough to tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. Trekking across his stardom like a supernova, stealing everyone's heart like a purse, without the ball needing to be on a string. Between all the buckets of glitter and purple and gold this man had as many ups and downs as the number of times he put the ball up and through the basket. It almost looked like an instant replay. But watch this! As soon as a real big three of Wilt, and the fire and ice of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor assembled and formed like Voltron along with Gail Goodrich in Los Angeles, a ring brought everything full circle. Chamberlain was finally champion in California, destroying New York basketball again and in the bright lights and big screen city of Los Angeles' Hollywood this player could finally play. Promiscuity and points rained when they said it never did in Southern California. It looked like nothing could stop Wilt in Lakerland. Even the Magic's and Kobe's of today are just Worthy Laker legends in big point making comparison. Still there was a David to this Goliath and his name was Bill. Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. A big man rivalry that was even more heated then his reluctant Laker torch passing one with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all-time and Wilt Chamberlain the most dominant ever, then Bill Russell is the most successful. Just check the old Boston Garden air vent units for the number of times Red Auerbach lit one of those iconic victory cigars. For awhile when finger jewellery-less Wilt played the lord of 11 rings Bill it was all smoke. So much so that Russell ran out of digits and just has all those rings scooped in the palms of hoops safest hands. Russell was everything Chamberlain was not. Popular, loved..the man! Some thought the underappreciated and misunderstood Wilt was offensive in more ways than one. Whereas Bill remains the greatest defensive player this game has ever seen.
These great rivals and even better friends represented the Laker/Celtic storied rivalry like two big, opposing symbols and they practically started its rich NBA legend and history. Before Magic and Bird where bringing the golden era to basketball, making all other sports green with envy, Russell's Celtics where Wilt and his Lakers bogey team. The battle of Los Angeles between Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce was a million miles and years from this. Wilt dominated by making every point he could to anyone who would listen, whilst Bill ruled down his long career road without saying a word. Even though silence was truly golden even against Lakers yellow, Wilt deserved his purple heart and jersey against the traditional, green-collar work of Boston. Bill recognized him as his biggest and best competitor and besides Batman needs Superman, like Stallone needs Schwarzenegger and Springsteen needs Dylan. Like the sun needs the rain. Like the Celtics need the Lakers. Like the NBA needs them. Just like Magic and Bird. There was even an offer for this man to fight Muhammed Ali, but this man already had his Joe Frazier in Russell and no matter how many times he hit with a knockout dunk, the belt would usually end up around the Celtics trophy cabinet. Still Wilt got his, with two fingers to the league or any critic that just saw statistics without substance. Or saw him as second place like today some think compared to M.J., or Shaq. Like they did to Russell, or Kareem. Or Larry O'Brien. We already told you this man was more than the 20,000 claimed sexual partners (that would be on average, one a day for 54.8, exhaustingly straight years...or half that, if he...well you know). Or the even more unbelievable 30 and 20 averages over 9 seasons. Part and parcel to why number 13 was that many times an All-Star or up there in the rafters with all those banners he made Bill and Boston work so hard for. This Hollywood Conan star was truly a Barbarian, no O'Brien, even being big and bold enough to make it in business and volleyball of all things. Still when he spiked the peach it was something else. All other professionals looked like drunks next to the master. So all kneel to the man that had to dip through doorways. He took his bow at the Hall, but the only thing more tragic for the top of the top 50, who died all too young at 63 alone is that he's not today as readily remembered for who he truly was. Gentle, giant and above all...great!
Monday, 22 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Racism has no place in this sport! Let me rephrase, racism has NO place ANYWHERE! Neither does domestic violence, abuse and all the horrible and horrendous issues plaugeing the behind the scenes, media exposed side of America's two favourite sport leagues, the NFL and the NBA. I thought these where the United States people!? First there was the problems of Sterling in a sport that should be all about Spalding and now Rice. Tossing players and personnel out the league isn't enough however. Lessons must be learnt instead of the inspiration of ignorance in this finger swept aside, social media application age. Unity needs to be built off the power of equality and respect. From Los Angeles to Atlanta and all over the U.S.A. and the wider world. I'm sorry Danny Ferry I loved how you looked like someones dad with a jump shot but its time for you to really retire. What did Kanye West say when he was a 'College Dropout'? "Racism still alive they just be concealing it"! Now this guys telling disabled concert fans to stand up. Still between the fine line of face palmed mistakes and fist clenched discrimination we need to all take a look at everything and everyone around us and at ourselves and be the change we want to see more than just another cliche. We need to remember early next year on M.L.K. day while the National Basketball Association is showing all these games and not just potato peel chips off our couches whilst revelling in another day off, watching a hoop marathon. Maybe between all those games or right now you should pop a 'Disney' film in and no I'm not talking about 'Aladdin' or 'The Lion King'. I'm talking about 'Glory Road' and its amazing, atmospheric Alicia Keys soundtrack accompaniment. The try story of the long and winding road that these Texas Western Miners took to a glory that glittered more than any gold.
'Remember The Titans'? That Disney, Denzel Washington football film about young black and white men coming together to form more than just a sport winning team? Well a lot of people-especially in the NFL- should watch this other Disney classic in the same inspirational vein that shows Mickey Mouse's real Fantasia magic lies in storytelling with teaching and feeling. Still it's time to remember the Texans in another real-life story that has birthed the equality and stands against discrimination between anyone regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, age or class. Even if we still have an even longer way to go then we first or liked to have thought. In 1966 many soccer fans will know this year for when England finally won their first World Cup at home in Wembley. Still this English writer can admit that even if you thought it was all over there, a much bigger and more meaningful victory was being forged over an ocean in the country sized state of Texas, which sometimes has come across as a place a million miles away from the rest of America. Still in one day in the Sixties they set the standard for the rest of the United States and the rest of the globe. A standard built on civil rights and the coming together of all people. A standard built on basketball where the only conflict was in the end on court in this classic competition. Sport can be a great storytelling solution and methaphorical mirror for real life problems and points and on the madness of a March 19th in 1966, Texas Western made a 72-65 one.
You can read all about it in Coach Don Haskins amazing autobiography, 'Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever' too. A real read from the late, great legendary coach and the legacy he left. A no nonsense coach who as a graduating player would train until the heels of his feet came off..you read that right people of the Nike, Air Jordan sneaker age. Not his shoes...his FEET! It must be the cleats right? Or maybe just the hardwood hard work. One of the greatest, not just basketball, but sports coaches and life motivators of all-time gave us a first hand account of a true, genuine and gracious story that needs to be heard, earned and learnt in this negative news cycle of racism and abuse on a foreign and domestic level in sports, entertainment and the all too real and raw world we try to use the last two to escape from. A story that inspired the childlike wonder and magic of Walt Disney's team to make another picture even with America's best actor onboard for one about the nations first sport. Haskins dry erase story about the greatest X and O he ever wrote in his perfect playbook is the ultimate winner. How after uniting his black and white players over the course of a season for the greatest good of more than just a game, he fielded an all black starting five line-up for the first time in the sports history for his finals game and final point. In a moment where the all white Kentucky university team led by the legendary Adolph Rupp (who where even a Wildcat legendary alumni back then) and their young star Pat Riley (who would later graduate to become a legendary Los Angeles Laker and among best of all time winning coach) where about to be on the receiving end of hoops and equality history.
They weren't the real losers that night. They joined in being part of a world victory. The real losers in this where the ignorant racists of the world. It's head shaking today that over only a half century of sport and world history was the first time a basketball team in the national spotlight consisted of enough black players to be considered able to start in an age today where the hand shaking of an extended earth has brought real change some don't truly realise or appreciate still. Today we league pass an association where around 10 years ago before the European influx white players where Toni Kukoc rare. Still in a digitally discrimination revealing age this is a educational story of the past that should be the example we all learn from. Coach Haskins greatest play may be considered a small move in relation to the leading likes of Muhammed Ali's sport transcendence or Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela but its still a grand gesture that leads to the good of today where you can find yourself sitting next to your friends and family of different races in perfect, beautiful harmony. It's the little things in life and these small moments led to bigger things. Who knows without moments like this you may not even be sitting where you are right now with the people you are, as tragic as that sounds. Besides even one of the worlds greatest leaders Madiba in his Invictus knew the power of coming together over sport in the the South African victoriously held Rugby World Cup. Haskins to basketball and the politics sadly that is behind it was what J.F.K. was to real politics of the world, as he asked himself what he could do for his sport and country and changed the state of Texas, and the minds of everyone with one open enough to listen and take heed.
Still as great as Don Haskins was, it was his men that coach was most proud of. All of them, 1 through 12. The young, black men who showed pride and power in standing up to all the discrimination and alongside the men who where a part of that ignorance until their minds where embraced to change. The young white men too, who refused to grow up and behave and believe in the same injust ignorant ways of their peers, parents and even teachers in the very school they where being educated in, learning to change the world for the better. The young, white men who served as the example to their fellow men, women and children to no longer act in a racist way and unclench the fist of hate to an extended hand of loving respect and what's more....friendship. Coach Haskins meant no disrespect when he benched his white players for the NCAA final, but in making a statement bigger than the sport the white players understood and took one for the team. Just think about all the petty problems puncuated today when a so called All-Star gets benched for poor play. Time to learn again. As the Miners showed they where major in the net cutting (even if no one brought them a ladder in the last moment of racism, as again hoisting each other up they did it all themselves), college crown, the championship Texas Western starting five where the real heroes. After having to put up with a whole season of the most abhorrent abuse at the hands of even so called fans they rose above it all in the ultimate Memorial Gym.
All the grown men dunking their heads down unflushed toilets on the road as they slammed over all of that with their perfect power plays. All the blood soaked hotel rooms with the cruellest, callous insults written on their broken into bedrooms as they where just trying to get a good nights sleep. Credit to the children's franchise of Disney, not shying away and showing that in their 'Glory Road' movie too, to really educate our kids on how to treat each other better. All the horrible words that still exist today that this writer refuses to say in an example of what was routinely shouted from the stands, even at home games. I'll give you a clue though, it begins with a 'n' and ends in hate. The real fab five turned a cheek and a dribbling away play from it all and let their game do the talking and reply in the ultimate exclamation. Soon mouths where just left wide open as the hate had nothing left to say. Love won in a game that really did change it all, from teammates to friendships and world changing and healing relationships. Just like 'Coach Carter' this was a real life story of real people coming together in their maturing youth for the greatest life lessons learnt. 28-1 wasn't the highest statement made by this ultimate basketball team who really refused to lose (that lone loss coming off the hotel room incident...try playing with passion after that). Jerry Armstrong, Orsten Artis, Louis Baudoin, Willie Cager, Harry Flournoy, Bobby Joe Hill, David Lattin, Dick Myers, Dave Palacio, Togo Ralley, Nevil Shed and Willie Worsley and of course Mr. Haskins. These are our heroes. Something the Sterlings and Ferrys should learn from for better or worse. I'll say it again racism has no place in this sport. Otherwise there will be no glory on this road where going down...