Thursday, 27 March 2014
Just call it 'Jerseygate' as these sleeved jerseys that the NBA have introduced are causing more shooting hassle than a bag of Bruce Bowen's, Ron Artest's and Michael Cooper's. Players are making a statement against this apparell fashion. Sure some of them look quite nice and give a strange but cool 1940's look like 'Freedarko' writing legend Bethlehem Shoals of GQ magazine noted. This style war though needs to know that it isn't just Beno Udrih rolling up his sleeves in three-point missing frustration however. Looking good doesn't matter though if your games lame. The only good look with the sleeve is the players number on the side, but because of that their actual real digits are falling like stock figures in the NBA store when it comes to this. Players would obviously look better in dinner suits and shoes but the league already made that a courtside compliance. There's a reason players are calling for a "mass burning" in the only male sport where tank-tops are actually prefered attire. There's a reason these guys have been playing in vests and shorts since before someone decided to hollow out the bottom of the basket because it was causing a constant, retrieval inconvenience. The accessories should be saved for the headbands and cornrows or however a player wants to rock it like Steve Nash noted. I mean Chris Anderson has no problem expressing himself, but in this instance it seems the NBA does. It was an experiment with the Golden State Warriors last year but even Stephen Curry will face some shooting struggles like he was at the three-point, All-Star contest sporting this look. Sure that jingle balls, basket classic commercial was a great look and the Christmas Day jerseys made a nice presence on Christmas Day. Just look how cool LeBron looked rocking the look and the cradle as he crucified the STAPLES centre crowd and Lakers team with some of his most legendary dunks, but you could even see his NFL like frame begging to break out of his strong-armed sleeves with Hulk like anger. Now in his bid for first impressions new NBA commissioner Adam Silver is set to meet the games greatest player to discuss whether they should cut the sleeves like college girls wearing concert tee's.
You can imagine what the answer will be. It'll be stern like the old commish. This is a trend that Bleacher Report have reported at being the most hated thing amongst NBA players alongside Toronto and Blake Griffin. Ok, so just like with Canada's great city and the most devesating dunker the L has seen since the reign of Kemp this may be a little unfair but still the association of players have spoken the sleeves must leave. I mean things are getting a little shirty if you forgive the pun as "wack" as the descriptions of this new 'garb. These poor-shooting shirts are set to be ripped off like the pre-game warm-ups for the hot shooters. They may look alright, but they play like the last guy you pick-up on a playground game...not very favourably. If this is causing this much complaint then it's time to swallow the pill like that nightmare ball and put these peculiar pajamas to sleep. Let's not cause another lockout, let's just lock up these jerseys and send them to the bargain basement and market them off as just a funny experiment or a one off. I mean are these things even selling anymore? They'll be collectors editions for your ebay bidding in a few years but with that idea you can just tell these things are already an antique ready to be buried in the wardrobe like that sweater your gran knitted you four Christmases ago. Remember as much as we appreciate it the gifts we find under the tree on December 25th aren't always what we want. So it's just time to nod and smile politely and say thank-you, like wearing it once for show and then pulling it out of it's Lion, Witch and Wardrobe like abysmal abyss of fashion only when those who brought it you is around for a visit like you should be wearing it every night. Now the guy that approved these NBA emperors new clothes is gone it's time to just pretend like they where something good and sleeve it be. I don't mean to mock but it's just that simple, let them go before it causes more serious problems. This writer personally think the look is quite cool, but when shoulders and shooting stakes are under constriction and clothing it's just not. It's no big issue, just one that needs to be left alone once and for all. Keep it simple like the team name and number, classic vests that have been the tradition and throwback big seller for over a century. I mean you wouldn't put company, sponsership names on these perfect, jerseys like the WNBA and spoil them would you? Would you?! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Who will take the court crown for their Ceaser and who will end up betrayed by the Baketball God's like Brutus? Like a Shakespeare story this worlds stage will have all the players gunning for the top position. Balls will roll and nets will be cut, but after all is said and done who will be holding the scissors? Anyone whose been through the triumph and tears of this great game know there as many upsets as celebrations to the tune of Freddie Mercury' singing 'We Are The Champions' with Queen. Who will be king in this terrific tournament? Man of the moment, Jabari Parker will have to wait for the draft for his biggest stage in basketball now the madness of this month have outted Duke after the went round for round with Mercer who showed them and the legendary Coach K no mercy. They "shocked the world" as the storied Kentucky Wildcats have vowed to do, clawing away at Kansas and making their NBA Rupp Arena alumni of Rajon Rondo, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Eric Beldsoe, John Wall, Derek Anderson, Walter McCarty, Tony Delk and many drafts more proud. Take a drive through the miles and miles of beautiful country in Kentucky and you can see the U.K. logos in every car, household or general store window...and as for the apparell it outfits everyone in a place thats powerful enough to have an NBA franchise but proud enought to know that Basketball begins, breathers and balls out with the 'cats of Big Blue Nation. Unless your in Muhammed Ali's home of Louisville, you can see what the mountain banners think of this.
This, however is the kind of beautiful rivarly and competitive spirit that makes this tournament and incarnation of basketball that influential and inspirational. All played out in television and uniformed up to the nines it all looks as professional as the biggest stage...and as a matter of fact it is exactly that. The big budget of the NBA may be the blockbuster, but the NCAA is like the indie hit thats worthy of the real awards. Sure you don't see the names of players on the back of some jerseys but unlike some other job or extra-class there's more credit here. They are more than just a number and you best believe the family of fans gathered around the television set for the biggest night of the week know who they are and welcome them into their household like their second name belonged to them. Some of these guys will graduate to the star statuses of the NBA, some will not. Some may bust, others may break out in a different way. Some may stay true to their community, whilst others may look for greener pastures. Some may have to work graveyard shifts on the full-time and others may join the factory assembly line to make end meat. Still, in this moment they are all together as one for the one thing that will live forever in the memories of their lifes moment like their framed jersey, whether there's is raised to the rafters, or lowered to the bargain basement. Whether they meet Larry O'Brien or Larry the cable guy little seperates these one for all young men right now. They could be making a million or a dime in the next decade or dozen but what happens over the next few days will remain the best and most influential moments of their lives and careers.
It's just that legendary. It's beyond the hype or adverts. You don't even need to see them to feel just how important this era is in this game and what this time every year does for this beautiful game of basketball that exists all over the world in many forms but does not 'live' quite like this. This is Basketballs superbowl, the real playoffs show here that between class and campus is where amazing truly happens. Tourists could go to New York and Los Angeles for their big game NBA experience, but travel across any town in the right time and you'll see the history of hoops dribbled through the city from slapped on t-shirts to ingrained pride and love. The stadiums are just as epic, the formidable facilities have to be for the worlds greatest stage. Take a look from your hotel balcony in Nashville and you may see more than the city that Cash and the country of Dolly Parton built. Vanderbilt's facility shows the Commodores play here for more than just 9 to 5 too like Lionel Richie's roots. Across football, baseball and the rims that make the holy trinity of American sports complete universities unite around the games they play and the contests that make them champion. It's a pure social psychology down to a science that brings math and history students together. It's box-score making moments that keep families invested in colleges even years after their grandkids have graduated. You could say it's more than a game even if it is the roundball that brings them here. It's the hometown heros that wear the name of their place of basketball birth across their chest with bumping, and jersey tugging pride, without carrying their own on their back. That's where their teammates, town and legion of fans belong. This is why the legendary likes of Kobe Bryant have missed out on more than just the final years of their careers. This is why college logos are seen fashioned all around the world on peoples caps and sweats even if they don't attend or understand. It's more than just a look it's a stronger vision than the NBA of Vitale shouting proud vitality. From the Big Ten's to the Pac's and the All-Americans to the Wooden awards this is what its all about. This is their moment...and yours too. It's more than the Sweet 16 or the Big Dance, its who will be the one in the last of the two couples of the Final Four. It's purely crazy! You don't have to beware of the ides of March, you just have to see them. March Madness is the NCAA...and the NCAA is Basketball.
"Wearing the UCLA uniform and playing 3 wonderful years there with GREAT players and fun experiences of the NCAA tournament was unmatched by anything else. That was the best 3 years of my life"-Tracy Murray (UCLA Grad, NBA great & Ball Up Coach)
Thursday, 20 March 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
France, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland. These aren't the destinations of your average basketball journeyman. Portland, Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, Memphis and Philadelphia are. Then again Pete Strobl isn't your average Basketball journeyman. After quite the college career at Niagara University that grabbed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as well as points and rebounds, the kid from Los Angeles took a crash course in a real educational experience of life and hoops. One year shy of a decade gave Strobl a lifetime of experience playing and living all across Europe for many different towns and teams. From the culture shock of Paris to the coaching gig in Ireland, Coach Strobl has grown in more ways than one, more than most seasoned veterans of the NBA would even dream of. Sound impressive? Well this isn't even the half of it as Pete is now settled in Pittsburgh with his young family and is now coaching youngsters who hope to follow in his sneaker steps. He's created an academy of talent in 'The Scoring Factory'. A clinics dream of breaking down language barriers and learning the true skills behind the game that Europe offers, Pete Strobl is the perfect life coach as well as Basketball one.
Want more? You got it, if this guy wasn't hardworking enough he's already penned his first book titled 'Backspin'. From it's text-book, academic look and feel to it's life and sport skill advice this is the perfect manual for anyone who wants to achieve their dreams, hoops related or not. It also doubles up as the perfect travel guide for people looking to truly explore the world. From increasing your vertical leap by dunking out of a swimming pool, to the reverse engineering of mastering foreign languages in all sorts of helpful ways you won't be lost in translation with this text-book perfect guide. More than your average NBA autobiography, or should we say 'biography', this is something else altogether. To reveal more of what you should read all about would be to spoil the nature and nurture of this funny and heartfelt cultural and sporting food for thought. If you love the purity of the game and the good things in life then this is poetry. Above all though spinning back and recognising the past that birthes the future of the present, 'Backspin' is Strobl's story and a brilliant life one at that. It's only just beginning too. So without further ado, who else to tell us about the new book of Basketball than the man himself? Let's go one-on-one...
Hey Coach! Thank you for your time! How's it going? Safe to say its been a pretty eventful year, let alone past decade?
It's absolutely been an eventful year, but I love it! I've found over the years that I'm the type of guy that thoroughly enjoys and thrives on being busy and engaged. I have a habit of finding ways to continually either be a part of, or create something that I'm passionate about and dive in head first!
Congratulations on 'Backspin'! Truly a great read for Basketball and travel fanatics alike. How has the reception for this book been and what inspired you to write it and put this life diary out there?
I appreciate that very much. The reception for Backspin has been phenomenal thus far and I'm honestly humbled. I had no idea that it would touch a chord with so many people, at least not this soon after it's release. It was initially written to better help some of the younger players I train get a better sense of the necessary determination required to achieve your goals. It's simple to merely state your goals, quite different to follow through and persevere through adversity. I wanted to inspire young and motivated athletes that needed some guidance and direction, but through the writing process I also recognized an opportunity to shed light on what it's actually like for a division 1 and European professional basketball player behind the scenes.
Starting from the beginning, before embarking on your biggest adventure how did it feel leaving home in Los Angeles for Niagara University? What did you learn about growing up as a person and a player on and off the court?
Leaving "home" is always an experience mixed with a bunch of different emotions. For me personally, it was both exhilarating and terrifying. I was excited to confront the great unknown and knew there would be hurdles to overcome. I knew that it was a necessary step for me individually to allow myself to grow as a person. I also knew that the challenges that awaited me against that caliber of competition would have a "make or break" effect on my potential ability to play beyond college. It was one of the many moments that I think we all come across in our lives that challenge you in ways you couldn't expect.
Having quite the face to face with Hubie Brown and holding court with Calvin Murphy's son how did being in the company of NBA legend show you that your basketball legacy had so much more to come?
At the time, I didn't even think in those terms. I was just happy to have an opportunity to work hard and do what I loved. Having had ample time to reflect, and viewing those situations through the eyes of an adult, "fortunate" doesn't even come close to describing how lucky I was to share a court with those guys. To this day, I'm an avid fan of the concept that we somehow become better by surrounding ourselves with better people. I personally love to be around positive and passionate people, and find it to be contagious and stimulating. There's no way to accurately measure how valuable those experiences were to me as a person, and as a player.
Family focused first and foremost how did it feel to pride your hard working parents with being the first member of your family to achieve a college degree and what advice would you give young student athletes who may be struggling with their studies?
It was an amazing feeling, and worth every single second of the many sacrifices made along the way to make it happen! All student athletes struggle with their studies at some point in time. I think there's a misconception sometimes that athletes don't care about their grades, when the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Once you take out the so-called "one and done" players from the equation, you'll find that the vast majority of student-athletes struggle most with finding enough time to be successful at both. People that haven't played college sports at a high level have no idea how demanding it can be, and the challenges associated and steming from effective time-management. I think mandatory study hall is a great step in the right direction and that those in need should ask for help when necessary, because at the end of the day colleges want their players to succeed...because they need them to be eligible!
Basketball has always been a growing game especially around the world. What specific parts of the European game helped improve yours as you took it back to the States?
Basketball is the most beautiful game on earth and I enjoyed seeing firsthand how quickly it's growing. The Dream Team deserves a lot of credit for spurring some of that growth and growing new markets and pockets of enthusiasm. Seeds are still being planted as we speak and I'm really curious to see how it evolves over the next decade with talks of possible NBA expansion into Europe. Due to the fact that soccer still dominates, it was inevitable that certain characteristics would carry over into the style with which many Europeans play. I personally learned a great deal from watching and observing their collective footwork, passing and teamwork. I tried to immerse myself in their culture both on and off the court, so found myself mimicking certain movements in an attempt to add more diversity to my own game.
'Backspin's' theme comes with some memories in italics throughout the chapters of your life. How important is it for us to acknowledge our past to prepare ourselves for the future?
The famous saying by George Santayana rings true to this day: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Acknowledging our past is vital for us to better understand and navigate our future. This applies to world events, daily interactions, relationships and of course basketball. Those of us willing to take a long look in the mirror to examine and accept our mistakes, have the potential to experience greater triumphs by learning through the process. Trial and error is an immensely powerful learning tool, as long as you don't try the same wrong thing over and over. One has to be willing to experiment, and remember what didn't work along the path.
Now settled in Pittsburgh what can you tell us about this city in regards to hoops and sports?
Pittsburgh is a phenomenal city! The sheer beauty of the landscape and topography is worth a trip alone, but the people and style of life here make it such a special place. It has a different feel here than any other city I've ever experienced and is in the midst of a revival and the stars are all alligning at the right time. Let's just say it isn't anything like what I thought it was going to be based on what I learned in the history books growing up in Los Angeles! The city has a rabid sports fan base and people get crazy to support their teams, it's energizing and a joy to be a part of.
What can you tell our readers about 'The Scoring Factory'?
The Scoring Factory is a basketball training academy that provides an opportunity for dedicated athletes to learn the necessary skills to reach their potential. We've had some enormous success stories through the years and that has obviously helped to fuel our growth. I'm extremely passionate about what we do and the work that our team of coaches has done to help countless players take huge strides toward reaching their dreams. We train pros all the way down to youth and there's a special culture and understanding of the value of smart work that has begun to consume the environment. Nothing makes me more proud than to share my knowledge with driven athletes as they continue to climb the ladder.
Pete we thank you so much for your time and consideration. We appreciate it and wish you all the best. 'Backspin' is a great coaching manual and life story for people growing up from the court to the real world. What's next for you and is there anything you'd like to share with your readers in closing?
I'm honestly enjoying the ride and touched that Backspin has been embraced by such a wide audience. I'm overjoyed to know that it's already helping players along their own journeys while simultaneously shedding light for those curious about the ride. There are a lot of things that are on my own personal horizon, and I'm excited to see where this is all headed. I'm involved in several exciting projects all geared toward promoting knoweldge, growth and development. Its extremely important to me to help others and share the knowledge that I've been fortunate enough to accumulate.....while continually learning and striving to be the best husband, father, teacher, coach, mentor and now author that I can possibly be!
France, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland. These aren't the destinations of your average basketball journeyman. Then again Pete Strobl isn't your average basketball journeyman. More than just a great basketball coach too, Strobl takes you through the X's and O's of a whole other continent with a brilliant life story of a Basketball player on the longest road and greatest journey that will hold court in any arena. More than a game, this shows you just how far Basketball can take you.
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Even die-hard Laker fans where looking at Kobe's drafted in scouting report and thinking 'hey he's 6 foot 6 like number 6 Eddie, similar weight too! Still, he's a rookie and a high schooler at that I guess he'll be backing up our man, but he sure looks talented'. Talented enough to make quite a twin wing tandem as dominant as those 'twin tower' duos, like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham in soccer for Basketball's Manchester United. Still in the Hollywoodland of rock and movie stars this town was only big enough for one big picture highlight reel and Kobe stole the show in his warm-ups like he did on the lay-up line of his rookie Slam Dunk Contest. Then and now Eddie Jones represents the first of a lay-up get in line of talent that left the Lakers too underrated and too soon. These days you can add the likes of Caron Butler, Trevor Ariza, Devin Ebanks, Earl Clark and the Lamar Odom we knew plus many more to the Mitch Richmond, Aaron McKie and Jimmy Jackson like playtime time cut. Sure it would have been great to have Jons back up Kobe...and even Divac back-up Shaq for the ultimate inside and out, starting and bench, all-court domination but this wasn't the big business age that we see before trade deadlines today. This was a time when the big contract of Shaq and the huge risk on a young rookie was big news for this big league about to go truly great and giant.
Friday, 14 March 2014
Pounding the hardwood pavement like King Kong, scaling even higher than the twin towers of the Chrysler and Empire State Building in the NBA's golden era of the 90's, nothing was bigger in New York City than Patrick Ewing. Not even the Statue of Liberty. That was until Michael Jordan roared into town like Godzilla, battling the king of New York, dribbling around the skyscrapers and taking a bite out of the Big Apple, making Madison Square Garden truly his Mecca. That was just the tongue-out-cheek of the greatest of all-time in the leagues greatest age of post Magic and Bird revolution and a decade that would lead to more than just the Times Square lights of N.Y.C. attracting all the worlds eyes. Jordan and his stampeding six-peat Bulls of Chicago may have beaten everyone but this was a post-age of big men that is sorely, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum uncertainty lacking today. In the 90's Ewing was joined by the likes of the Goliath Shaquille O'Neal, the dream Hakeem Olaujawon, the admiral David Robinson and fellow Georgetown greats Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo who now pave the paint for fellow Hoya and Pacer great Roy Hibbert (possibly the only future of big-time big-men). This was more than just Luc Longley's league and Ewing was as great as them all and belongs in the elite company of the best bigs of all-time to the heights of Bill Russell, Moses Malone, the Laker likes of Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many more power pivots of the same game. He would be a winner amongst them all too if Michael Jordan didn't engage all his potential rings with the changing of the game.
Ok, New York fans let's calm down with some Zen like thinking. You see Mike and Shaq's legendary coach Phil Jackson is back in town, via the front office to take the old team he played for back in his sneaker championship years back to the Knickerbocker glory days of Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier without the nostalgia need of a great Michael Rapaport documentary. That's the style and substance the former Lakers and Bulls championship coach will hope to spread around the locker room like incense. An incensed town of die hard, John McClane like expletive throwing fans want more than just the Linsanity of the Jeremey Lin 15 minutes of souveneir store and tourist hotspot fame, or the craziness of J.R. Smith's untied demeanour, or power player Amar'e Stoudemire taking it out on a fire extinguisher instead of the net. 'Yippee Ki Yay' this is a team led by the great Carmelo Anthony, the best player in the league bar LeBron James or Kevin Durant and right now better than the post-Jordan Kobe Bryant. This is a team that wants to prove to the Pierce, Garnett, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd led Brooklyn Nets that even though they've moved from New Jersey the city of New York is there's, before the B.K. borough takes over like the Clippers over the Lakers in Los Angeles. This is a team that wants former Brooklyn bound Net owner Jay-Z to sit courtside at THEIR games, next to Spike Lee, whose Pacer hater dedication deserves more. This is more than the heartbreak of Reggie Miller killing them in less than 10 seconds from three. This is a team that wants to see 'Grandmama' Larry Johnson throwing the L in the same time again. Or Starks dunking before the clutch choke. This is a team that long for the toughness that they saw in Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason and see every day on the playgrounds of the Rucker.
This is a team that want the days when the Garden was Ewing's back. When the classic and traditional M.S.G. floor shined not because the buckets of Chris Rock joked sweat he left on it but because of the heart and dedication that truly gleamed in the era of gold. The garden of Madison Square was Ewing's Eden all the way to the temptation of the big red apple. The Jamaican-American is a Hall Of Famer for a reason and a champion in the hearts of the New York faithful. As famous as Jay Leno or David Letterman for his timeless late night show. As familiar in the entertainment age of the 90's like his neighbour 'Seinfeld', the actors who made penthouse homes here, or the king of rap the late, great Notorious one himself. Another true B.I.G., being down with Pat like his coach Riley saw a sneaker kick in the door of legendary legacy for the Garden greats. Before those 'Space Jam' aliens took his power with a leg, shaking, hip dancing surge, this guy caught every pass and made every free-through. P-Ew never stunk it up, even if the perspiration he poured out on the floor wasn't enough for his in need of an early shower Knickerbocker team that was a Serendipity short of a full dessert. You have to give it up for the cherry on top of the blue and orange who needs his just deserves paid like the million dollar man he became in the worlds most famous arena in the worlds most famous city. There may not be a lot of banners up their in that famous spirralled Garden roof, but you can for sure circle around and see the 33 jersey there like Abdul-Jabbar's big-man forum in STAPLES. All together Ewing with fellow Hoya's Mourning and Mutombo gave Washington D.C.'s capital college Georgetown greatness on a NBA presidential Mount Rushmore scale. If only it wasnt for those other wall-of-meat monsters in the key, because in todays Roy Hibbert day and age Patrick, the legend of Zo and Mount Mutombo would devastatingly dominate like if Georgetown put them on court all at the same time like some triple tower tall threat.
The Final Four's 'Most Outstanding Player', the 2 time 'Big East Player of the Year' and 3 time consensus first-team All American's '84 NCAA champs classic college career is why ESPN named Ewing it's 16th best college player of all-time and unless your Kobe Bryant you know these guys are on point with these polls. This is why the Knicks took the Kingston king with the 1st pick in the 1985 draft as the 7 foot 240 pound giant went on to be a Rookie Of The Year, 11 time All-Star, member of the 50th anniversary team along with the Knicks all-time leading scorer amongst many amazing accolades to the tune of a 21 point, 9.8 rebound and 2.4 block career avergae. A career that saw him scoop two Olympic golds in Los Angeles' 1984 and the dominant, original, outstanding Dream Team of 1992 in Barcelona. Winning with Jordan instead of losing with him and now with both hoping to do the same, the current assistant coach of the greatest of all-times Charlotte Bobcats's career saw achievements wider than his wingspan or the grounds of Central Park. Now just miles from Jordan's old North Carolina alumni (Ewing knows the heartbreak of the 'Big Game' Laker legend James Worthy days) together with his friend and former foe, Ewing will want to bring the glory days of the 90's back to Charlotte with more than just the teal and Hornets name. The former coach and player of the Orlando Magic (and coach of the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets) also logged time with the former franchise of the Seattle Supersonics (you can see from his press photo expression how much he loved that). Still through all the Yao Ming and Dwight Howard mentoring it's clear that the former Rocket rival of Hakeem is still New York and the Knicks through and through. The orange and blue trim of his white number 33 will always say and sell that fact. Fade back with his 'Fresh Prince' hair as far as you want but that's where his career definition lies more than the 'like or hate Mike' association, the losing, or the t-shirt short-sleeve under jersey, traditional, trademark, Hoya hollering and wooping winning of Georgetown.
Once a city like New York grabs you it never lets go and if your tough and tested enough to make it here, (like you then will anywhere) you become part of this Big Apple's core. From the early dunking days where Ewing showed with one hand he could run and jam like a guard this guy was more epicly exciting and entertaining than those stung by the losses care to remember. Taller and stronger than Shawn Kemp, this man had his own reignman power, puncutating towards his own shower of success that was looking for a kingdom in New York like Christopher Walken's weirdly wonderful movie moment or LeBron's other decisions when in Cleveland wine and gold. The New York Times of this man's life was a broadsheet success even if it wasn't a billboard one off Broadway. He watched over this city like Spider-Man's web and Peter Parker camera and was a true superhero to marvel at in Gotham between the landmarks of a town that was known by everybody. Anyone wanted to be and see here and Ewing did more than just that he made his own and everyones else new, New York memories. This is a man that's overcome so much to become an outstanding force. From racist chants in college to his own fans calling for Jordan's name in New York, Pat has never given up on his city, team or sport with Bill Russell like courageous character. He had his own era and it was bigger and bolder than his seriously silly but super slamming sneakers. Injuries, insults, critics or clinics couldn't stop this man from playing his heart out until he sweated through his last NBA jersey. A premier player and not just in the post we remember the one jersey more 34 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 block line against Jordan Bulls and the Willis Reed like overcoming of an ankle sprain that showed his heart and soul. Imagine if the sole of this legend was healthy who knows how that seven game 1992 Eastern Conference Final and the ensuing run to Larry O'Brien would have turned out.
I guess the basketball God's wouldnt have it for one of their own and a gentle giant with Goliath like greatness. Just like the twin towers of contemporary David Robinson and Tim Duncan shutting his veteran Finals run down in the Sprewell and Allan Houston contract age following his injury, like Olaujawon's Rockets did in the year Jordan took up baseball and left the league wide open. This isn't as embarrassing as you think of 5 foot 3, Tyrone Bogues mugging him with a blocked shot...and neither is that. Besides Bogues is one of the greatest little men ever and Pat blocked down as many shots on defence as he dunked or grabbed off the rebounding glass. His career-high of 9 is as inspiringly impressive and influential as his points one of 51 (and the 11 assists for that box-score matter). Through all the injustice of injury and heated rivals with Miami (remember the incredible game-winning dunk over fellow Hoya Alonzo Mourning for the New York memories?), Ewing was more than just a player that could have had so much more if it wasnt for the age of Jordan in the 90's golden era. A true professional and competitior who was more than just the stat sheet or record books he still made without the ring of the phrase 'champion'. Now in this 'Space Jam 2' age of King James he gets the pleasure of watching his son Patrick Ewing Jnr do his thing in the NBA (as well as coaching him in the Orlando Summer league of 2010). Ewing athletics in the family and house Pat built couldn't be prouder of the like father and son Basketball pedigree. It's a pride that scales taller than any building in middle Manhattan. It's bigger than what most people think or the game itself. He may have dunked over his Heat rival Alonzo Mourning in said game-winner, but when the fellow number 33 was diagnosed with a kidney ailment, his fellow Hoya vowed to donate one of his if needed like a true life-changer. This organ of the leagues jazz like new wave may have not had to offer his up but you have to give it up for a man who devoted his heart on to the court every single night. That's the soul of this man and as the Notorious B.I.G. once said "and if you don't know, now you know".
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
"Spaghetti, fettucini, and veal" and all those three course meals it was clearly more than just money or the ballers who where "dippin in the Benz wit the spoilers". "Everything was real in the field "when it came to the Bulls and the classic beginning of hip-hop and hoops connected lyrics before Diddy's Lox bandmate Jadakiss 'Kissed The Game Goodbye' and said he could sell like Milwaukee Point Guard Sam Cassell. So 'Put Your Hands Up' like Horace Grant did on every defensive move. Check the majority of Jordan posters on your wall, or those ones of the power players of his peers, and you'll probably see the number 54 and the name Grant, whether on a Chicago Bulls jersey or Orlando Magic one, whether on the defensive or offensive end. Not to be offensive mind, it wasn't an insult that you can find Horace on most of these pictures, its a classic compliment. Sure it's every players nightmare to be famous on the wrong receiving end of a poster (see; Mutombo; Dikembe, 'finger-wag') but the image of Horace's 54 back turned on the defensive end showed he was always there. Do not block out the fact that one of the greatest defensive players of all-time had more offensive gestures to his game and actually was an All-Star. Don't forget-even if the Hall of Fame always does-he helped a lot of guys get there. His number 54 may not be in the rafters (maybe it should be, besides who else do you think of when it comes to that rare pair of digits?) but the banners he helped raise will never come down, like the shots of his weaker opponents.
Google the goggles and you'll see more than 20/20 80's 33/42 Los Angeles Laker legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. You'll see the specs of the twin Grant brothers, Harvey and most notably Horace. Like the Outlaw brothers, tough, dominant and resilient in the power prominence of the punctuated paint. From the swimming goggles all the way to the science teacher, new age specs, Grant looked cool on court for more than his headband and sleeve rivalling attire. He was fitted with a monster frame and formidable game of real, rebounding, Dikemebe dominating like defence and a soft touch and sweet spot of an offensive field goal percentage that would make Shaquille O'Neal proud. A role playing legend able to do it all so well in the frontcourt that even Daddy took notice of Junior. From the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan to the most dominant ever in Shaquille O'Neal, Horace's superstar teammates knew how much Grant shouldn't be taken for granted. Even Marv Albert adds his trademark "yes" to this dedication. "Collapses on O'Neal, who finds Grant". A simple commentating from one of the greatest in just a regular season game in an epic three-peat dynasty, but somehow now remembered like all purist plays from the games elite team players showing their roles. Shaq double teamed, finds Grant who with ageing legs hops with a nice bit of air for the sweet one handed jam, running back down court trademark arm raised showing appreciation to his teammate. Remember that highlight? No?! Well all the scouting reports will tell you it happened all the time, that's why you probably can't pinpoint one. This was clockwork all the way down to the last minutes of his career. A reunion in the post that finally saw golden championship glory in the 2001 NBA Finals, where he helped make sure Jason Kidd's playing day Nets in New Jersey put their ties back on. Time to smarten up.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
One resident in particular has been especially kind to me and it all starts with a disappointing game in Los Angeles like any story of Celtic pride. Back in 2006, fresh out of university I decided to take a year out and try my hand living in Toronto, Canada (I'm still connected to that country via Basketball Buzz but can't wait to make a trip back). During this excursion I decided to take a jaunt to Los Angeles to see as many Laker games as I could while I still could, being so far away from home in a once in a lifetime experience. With the Lakers set to host their neighbour Clippers on the first night I got in the perfect stage was set. Or was it? Losing my luggage on my connection the airline grounded my plans and as a first time solo traveller there was no way I was leaving that airport until me and my few prized possessions where reunited. Hours of stressful and dreams dashed waiting later (I'll give you some perspective then at 21, I'd been a Laker and Kobe Bryant fan since around the age of 11 (bet that makes Vino feel old) and never even got to see much in the way of late night/early morning games on T.V.), I see a tall man walk through baggage claim. "Perhaps my night of Basketball isn't over" I thought. "He looks like Walter McCarty, but he's carrying a keyboard almost as tall as him under his arm. Wait...it is Waltah!" After he graciously signed autographs I nervously went over said hello and shared some hoops memories, most notably the time he Antonie Walker, Paul Pierce and Mark Bryant of all people shot down Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers with a barrage of blowout threes (one game I did get to see on T.V.). I also asked him about the instrument and he told me about his budding music career. He told me to take care, we went our separate ways, I got my baggage, saw many Laker games to make up in the week and that was that.
Years later inspired by this unforgettable trip and staying close to the game I began a pitch at a writing career with help from the likes of SLAM magazine and Bleacher Report, who I'll be forever grateful too. Still, starting my own blog and seeing how easily you could connect with fans and even players themselves on Twitter I wanted to take it further, interviewing guys like former Celtic Rodney Rodgers and getting some encouragement from another Laker/Celtic Rick Fox. Then one night after talking with my girlfriends friend in America (who recently was gracious enough to host us over there) who is a hardcore hoops head and a devout Kentucky Basketball fan we got talking about the former Wildcat Walt and she told me where to find him on Twitter (so all of this is thanks to him, her and the constant inspiration of my girlfriend who encourages me to go for my dreams (insert Oscar speech here)). Thinking it as a long shot I reached out to see of Walt remembered me and he said he did, then I asked if he wanted to do an interview about his Basketball/music career and he was so generous enough to grant me this. 'Soul & Basketball' followed, then did his unquestionable 'Unbreakable' R&B album that showed he could hit the high notes as well as the big shot, his Robert Horry clutch like/Derek Fisher hustle and guts, dirty work (more Laker references hey? You have to call it like you see it) role player classic career showed. These days Walt's big time when it comes to rhythm and Basketball working with Tank of Tyrese and Ginuwine supergroup TGT and if that wasn't enough the fan favourite, Tommy Heinsohn announcing 'I Love Waltah' t-shirt star is back with his beloved Boston as a Celtics assistant coach. Giving his seasoned advice and experienced guidance to some young talent in a new, best Point Guard in the league Rajon Rondo led era.