Friday, 25 April 2014
Roses are going to be sent from the city famous for them to every other town in the United States Of America that a professional NBA playoff team calls home! Why? Because LaMarcus Aldridge is making a killing out there! Just when the SLAM cover star Damian Lillard's, fast-paced, hipster hot Portland team that where Blazing a trail looked to simmer and run out of steam, the greatest big-man in the league right now showed Tim Duncan and the rest of history that there might just be another big talent looking to scale high enough to carve his own Mount Rushmore moment. Just when you thought the Miami Heat and the South Beach talented east dominated everything championship wise this side of the Thunder of Oklahoma City, you didn't count on the blazing hot outstanding team in Oregon that showed the state of hoops still belonged to the West best, hot-bed. A laundry list that was more than Kevin Durant's MVP and king throne stealing season, or the saged age and amazing defying streak of those old clicking Spurs led by the robot Tim Duncan, the best Power Forward of all time bar none. If Duncan's the best, than his successor is about to match up with him as the robot will need more than a short circut to beat the electro, super-charged android that is Aldridge. Fundamentally just like Duncan, but with a little more "fun", LaMarcus is not only better than the scorching steal of Lillard, he may just be the best Blazer ever as USA Today reports. Yeah there was the Glyde of Clyde Drexler and the brute force of the big, friendly giant Bill Walton, but Houston and Boston knew these legendds and laid claim to them respecitively too. If big L.A. stays put he'll define Portland purist hoops like only Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudemire wished they could have.
It's just that simple. He's just that great and more than the dynamic duo and one of the L's best he forms with his foundation with Damian, he's one of a kind. Forged from the rocks of a Tim Duncan prototype, but with that fire and flair of a LeBron, (the one that burns inside of Timmy, but tears down the rims in LaMarcus) this guys just that great. These times in Portland are looking like the early new milleniuum when the Blazers where right there with Duncan's San Antonio team and Shaq and Kobe's Lakers. Now though with the Spurs still in it and OKC's Kevin Durant reaching up and taking the baton off Kobe like Mike did Magic, this new Portand team have unchained themselves from those old 'Jailblazer' days and are as free as Django. No more guns or weed, just X's and O's from a team that takes over the slowing down pace of Indiana as the outside prediction from insiders to take it all from the core of Miami's Heat heartbeat. As classic as their red, black and white jerseys and their pinwheel logo, there's more to this team than meets the critical eye. From Nicolas Bantum to Robin Lopez and Earl Watson to Mo Williams this team are stacked for the 'chips and as quickly as Wesley Matthews, or the former Heat future Dorrell Wright will rise this team will in rapid success and succession. Still, through all the great players and performances it's all about their duo and the man who leads it much like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out in Oklahoma. As Westbrook's energy and enthusiasm complement Durant's all scoring and killing game, Lillard does the same to Aldridge, fuelling his fire. Out of the two twos you'd probably take the Thunder and you probably wouldn't be wrong, but in a league that's donut starving for central players, surely as the years go on you'd like to take it a little more inside with a man that's revolutionizing the lost and dying art of paint performances, even going over Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets in a serious series like the hate-filled Laker fans can only watch with wonder and wish.
Portland have had BIG, big players before. Technically with Rasheed Wallace and the heart and soul of Brian Grant...and who can forget the unfortunatly behind his time Arvydas Sabonis, who if started in the NBA sooner would probably be the Blazer best and still regardless is one of the best big men in all of hoops, all time. Still, that was the past and this is the future and it comes round to the 20 and 10 potent, power threat that is L.A., ready to rule the rest like Kobe and his Lakers just a few years ago. Ravishing rebounds and duking it out with dunks this guy is a joy to watch, but behind the style is a stat-sheet substance that can post-up and back down anybody all the way to the pick and roll of easy but hard-worked basket after baskets that leave the defence with a hard case to solve. You just can't stop this kid in the key. Give him anything more than 3 seconds and the whistle will be called for you to push it back down the floor. As of right now 'Marcus rocked the Rockets on the road with a 46 point and 18 rebound effort in Game 1 followed by a "lesser" (yeah right), 43 and 8 one in Game two. In the payoff of the playoffs this guys not wilting, he's making Chamberlain numbers. One day you may just call him a 40 and 10 threat as he raises the bar for the few forward thinking, power post players that will come after him. He's the first guy since the elite company of the king LeBron to have consecutive 40 point outtings. He's the first guy with consecutive 43 plus point games in the playoffs since the great Tracy McGrady tried to escape the first round and his 89 point total in these two only pale in comparison to the multiple work of the clutch of Jerry West and the greatest of all-time in that guy called Mike. Even Jordan would have to shrug at the Blazers when it comes to this. Even the best doesn't know how great this guy could be. Do we? Of course not...but we're dying to find out right?
This L train won't stop as it rises above the city. The Blazer best yet is the only Portland player in history to have two 40 point games. Even the great Jordan pretender Drexler had to give Houston one of his 40 point playoff game and now against the Rockets who knows whats next because at press time the ball hasn't even gone up for Game 3 yet. This guy could average or simply record 40 points over seven games in a series...but you know what? We don't think it'll get that for. Sorry Dwight but your Rocket is about to be grounded by the Trail of the Blazing Aldridge with a real problem for Houston that's going to make James Harden wish the Thunder never let him slip through the sink like his stray beard hairs. I hope these guys like fishing, because as they prepare their bait and tackle the only thing Aldridge and Portland are going to catch is compliments, because they're really coming on. At 28 years old, a three-time All-Star in his 6 foot 11, 240 pound for pound prime its easy to forget this guys been around for the best part of a decade, but still young and with a veteran saavy to go with that youthful exuberance you best believe the guy that was the true catch to go after last offseason (not Howard...sorry, and I'm saying this as more than just a Laker fan) will be a Blazer lifer, Basketball God's permiting. As these road warriors shake off those old troubled times they will begin to become one of the most recognisable and successful franchises that are the face of this new, next generation of new milleniuum storied teams that the likes of the San Antonio Spurs define, like the Sixers and Celtics of old testament time. Kobe can only hope there's still room for his heel and the legendary Lakers. With purple bruised injury-time eclipsing the father one, the gold is now in reach of Oregon.
A natural Power Forward that can swing to the dying need and breed of centre this guy couldn't be more like Tim Duncan if he went out there and beat him man-to-man, one-on-one in a few weeks and brackets time. The Texan high schooler and college star may be a ways from the Texas triangle of his second-home these days but he's about to take out one of the corners in two games time showing up for his lone state like a lonestar. The Chicago Bulls wish they would have kept their silent second pick in the first round of the 2006 draft because with Rose wilting, the future of this league is getting bigger and better in Blazer town. The passion of Joakim Noah can't match up with the arc of talent that is LaMarcus. The Bulls lost their horns the day they stampede shipped Aldridge's draft night rights over. The guy could have been the central core of the New York Knicks too. Phil Jackson would have loved that, especially alongside Carmelo Anthony, because right now even though he may have burned bright in his west domination as a Sun, the stat's of Amar'e Stoudemire just don't compare to this stud. Guys like Tyrus Thomas, Viktor Khryapa and Eddy Curry that where involved in the exchange for the great deal of LaMarcus Aldridge are basically Sam Bowie's to these teams. I guess things do work out for even the most unluckiest of teams after all with Portland's time and tide right now. Now can we get another Jordan shrug? I don't know. The former draft sleeper is waking everyone up...the ones he doesn't put to sleep however. Those injured days alongside the great combo that could have been in the ill, injury-fated Brandon Roy now upgrades itself to the unique one-two punch of L.A. and D.L. that take the rest of the league inside and out. LaMarcus has got over his own potentially career ruining Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome heart problems to show he is the beat and soul of the Blazers and basketball with his surgical precise game that is cold and calculated for the divided and cut-open defences he faces. Oh and boy can this guy take it off you on the other side of the block too. One of the leagues most complete players will be that word himself when he is matched up with another one beginning with 'C'. Larry O'Brien knows it could happen. The trail of this Blazer and his beautiful buoquet of basketball brilliance will lead him and his to the superstar status that will come up smelling like roses. You get the flowers?
Thursday, 24 April 2014
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
In the best West days of the new milleniuum that saw Shaquille O'Neal or Tim Duncan dominate everyone from the four corners of the league and America, the Sacramento Kings where closer to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs dynasties than even the great pretenders like the Portland Trail Blazers. How these Kings didn't actually take the throne like LeBron James is beyond the reason, referees and the Basketball God's...and this is a Laker fan saying this. Still, it wasn't a lucky Robert Horry shot that killed the Kings, because luck had nothing to do with it. It was the epic, enormous era of Shaq and Duncan, who where even so-good and close they where co-MVP's one time. Their battles where so legendary and somewhat underrated they deserved their own NBA Finals moment like Wilt and Russell or Bird and Magic. Still, the new blue-collar Celtics in the Spurs and their Laker rivals would always play for Larry in the Western Conference Finals, because whoever won that contest may as well have been crowned NBA champions there and then in those Finals, because they eventually where. Only Detroit's dynasty destroying Piston team took a chip in this Lake Show/Spurs clicking championship campaign of time. Still, Sacramento could have got one and they almost did. They where just that great. With a fab-five and a scorching, scoring 'Sixth Man Of The Year' in Bobby Jackson they where led by the post, Power Forward revolution of Chris Webber and the clutch of Mike Bibby's game-winning buckets to offset the dogged defence of another former Laker/King Doug Christie. Still, throughout the deep roster that shouted out 'Sacramento' like 2Pac asking "where you at" on 'California Love', it was the pair of "foreign shooters" that punchline king Lloyd Banks referred to on G-Unit's 'Follow Me Gangster', off the 'Cradle 2 The Grave' soundtrack that where truly something else. They almost won it all but they where too busy battling for California with the Lakers like the Clippers of today. It got too hot in that state and it was clear to see through the smog of STAPLES success that only one band of brothers would make it out there alive.
Vlade Divac began and ended his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers and no matter what you say about him being a true King you can put him in the George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal list of legenday giant great centres who have held post on Lakerland...even with Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard for better or worse. Divac also belongs to the magnificent six, elite company of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon in players to post significant statistics of 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots. If you don't think thats big than how could you possibly scale taller? One of the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors and member of both the FIBA and World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame deserves his Naismith moment too. After time with Sloga and Partizan, Vlade took his grizzled beard and game to the final curtain of showtime with the Lakers. With Kareem taking to the rocking chair and Magic retiring after that announcment there was only a small amount of Worthy talent left on the ageing Lakers. Still, the young Vlade was definitly one of them, pivoting through all the critical mess to both his own team and his status as one of the first, new breed of foreign imports to a great post presence that scored over those who wrote him off. Mentored by 'Cap and Earv before they took their final bow, Divac learnt from the best and showed the rest. Even though at first he spoke no English, his game or charm winning personality was not lost in translation. More than making flopping famous, some consider Vlade's best move for the Lakers being when they traded him for this young high-school kid named Kobe Bryant who would team up with some other big fella for history and drama that Divac would be more than a courtside witness too. He saw it all out there on the floor after he left the Charlotte Hornets for the Sacramento Kings before he returned to the Lakers after all those years to team up with the man he was traded for as a valuable veteran on a rebuilding but real Laker team. He was back but back problems troubled him and backed down his career.
While Divac was getting used to America's phrasebook and the NBA's playbook, Peja Stojaković was showing Crvena Zvezda of FR Yugoslavia and PAOK of Greece that this Serbian had skills enough to gain Greek citizenship and the ball every time down the floor. No wonder the Sacramento Kings gave the draft crown to this gunner who would eventually shoot down the competition to be the sixth all time league leader in three-point field goals to go along with two All-Star 'Three-Point Shootout' contest wins just for fun. As well as the Kings, Stojaković took his legendary three-balls to the Fieldhouses of Indiana that Reggie Miller made clutch famous, before he kept up pace with a career high 42 points in New Orleans, stinging people from downtown as a Hornet. Still, his own back problems took him to the injury table and Canada for the Toronto Raptors, but this man who at 36 could probably still play-and at least definitly shoot-today was far from extinct. Showing Dallas in his last shot like J.R. that he was a true Maverick, whilst showing the great Dirk Nowitzki that there was more than one pure shooter in this town ready to take him from three like the epic battles of the Texas triangle with the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. Through the pain in the neck injuries that would prematurely end his career the playoff power player showed those old 20 point games his hot-hand was accustomed to feeling in his last preseason with the Mavs. A hand that was so scorching it helped seal the deal with O'Brien as the Dallas Mavericks went on to be NBA champions, giving Dirk and also Peja the ring on their fingers they so richly deserved in all its glitter and gold. Still throughout all the Euro-ball and National Basketball Association teams that Stojaković called home nothing quite defined his time off the pine then his tennure with the Kings just like his international partner Vlade. Even though the two won together in Yugoslavia, doing something Vlade wished he could unite with, alongside his friend, the late, great Dražen Petrović. The two stars who brought countries together showed one that Basketball didn't just belong to one country or league during their time in the NBA.
Whilst Webber took 'best in the league' consideration and Mike Bibby inked more made shots then he made tattoo appointments, Rick Adelman's Kings where worthy of the throne all the way down to the award of Bobby Jackson and all the peasant playoff dity work Doug Christie did in the trenches and moats around the castle walls of Larry O'Briens NBA Finals home. Still Vlade held it down in the middle like an impaler, showing and proving that he was more than a flopper or punching bag for Shaquille O'Neal. He didn't just stand like a sand-bag in the centre. Instead he soaked up the offence of the greatest post-talents from David Robinson to Arvydas Sabonis. That's what happens when you take years of punishment off 90's golden era players like the Georgetwon Hoya's, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo along with Hakeem Olaujawon and the aformentioned for your on the job training, once the captian hangs up his goggles and helping hand and court vision like Magic. Still, Vlade was a 20 and 10 threat himself and not only one of the best big-men in league history but greatest players too. Robery Horry should even check a paper or something. His six seasons where more significant than the prime time of his six-player points, rebounds, assists and blocks historical milestone company. Especially with his six-shooter beside him as his fellow countrymen Peja Stojaković helped make this Sacramento team anything but queens as this would-be Kings and best team in the league during their controversial period should have been crowned as such. Peja's purity from beind the arc wasn't his only scoring prowess, as this 20 point threat himself and bearded brother could shave down the middle and showed the grit and grind, behind the foreigh flair of these incredibly inspired imports, before that guy named Ginoboli stood alongide the tear-drop, Eva Longoria scooping of Tony Parker and had everyone screaming 'MANU' like Charles Barkley with the San Antonio Spurs. It may have all cliked for the Alamo but the Arco was still legendary thanks to their own European influence from two men who not only helped, showed and proved to their town and league, but the whole world that this game was truly global thanks to their defintion. Sure in Sacramento they may have not been winners but what they've done for Yugoslavia and the world when it comes to beyond the floor and court shows they are still true champions. This will always make them, forever kings.
Saturday, 12 April 2014
Friday, 4 April 2014
The Black Mamba, Bean Bryant, Kobe sadly for the league and one of its most storied franchises may be out injured for possibly the last chapter of his career. Still, eevn if this guy could push his achillies back in and play and turn the hands of father time back and get a healthy Steve Nash and happier Dwight Howard back too, he knows the West and even the rest belong to Kevin now. We really need to talk about this guy. Here's a guy who is more than just the second best player on the league, with the second greatest of all-time about to hang up the sneakers in a season or none. Kevin's tired of being number two...he's no Will Riker. He's the next generation of star players treking their way through this Basketball universe. The Basketball Gods know he's tired of being in second position, he wants pole in this race and he'll outscore everybody until his point is proven in more ways than one or just another statistical, box-score category. He's acting like he wants to outscore all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in just one sole season with his hook to the sky, but special K can dust off the goggles and know it's just about one thing for him, his team and his city. It's all about the legend of Larry and that's why this wingman will whip it like Bird for a chance for his team to fly the banners to the rafters like the Celtics and give this fresh franchise it's first face-lift. A scoring surgery clinic that offers two each morning to help ease the hurt and hatred that came from leaving Seattle for the big cheers like Kelsey Grammer going backwards. Let this guy step-back behind the line and he'll swiftly swish you from three. Let him take it inside and those spindly, skinny arms will wind the clock on a time-stopping, slow-mo, instant highlight night replay that will force the ball through the hole like the hammer of thor for a real Thunder strike and bolt to the crowd. All these puncuated plays lead to points, as do all the basic buckets and charity stripe hand-outs defenders and referees just seem so eager and intent on giving up to one of the greatest.
You have to give it up for the one man built like a cross-country sprinter that looks at the NFL build and dominance of the great LeBron and is ready to turn this scoring sprint into a mind-over-matter marathon. LeBron may be built for the touchdown, but Durant wants the gold medal and to the cross the line first with flowers and the flag. It may just have to come down to the wire of a photo finish for these two Olympians. It'll all make for the perfect NBA Finals to take all those eyes off the dominating Summer of blockbuster movies and hit T.V. shows. It'll give every household another reason to stay inside when the Thunder reigns in the face of South Beach heat. This is the NBA Finals the wallets of the Stern's and the poetic purists of the Basketball God's wanted from Kobe and LeBron when Bryant was drowning in championship champagne while LeBron was sipping on Cleveland wine. The NBA's Ali/Frazier may have not happened, but this is about to be a real thriller in Manila...or Miami if LeBron can keep it homecourt in his house. LeBron James is still the man until Kevin outgrows him. People (including this writer) may be talking about Indiana this year and their perfect starting line, but even the Indy 5.00 can't keep up with this number 5 as Durant runs NASCAR circles around the opposition on his drive for a ring. LeBron may have the Wade and Bosh three at his dynamic disposal, along with the big-threes of Ray Allen and one man who could possibly stop, or at least hound OKC's man in Shane Battier, but there's more. This Oklahoma team are even better and lethal weapon loaded since the days they used to annoy the Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Bynum and World Peace legacy making Lakers like Joe Pesci did Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Kevin annd his Thunder buddies are about to stick a middle finger up to the reign like Ted. When it comes to the leagues best and youngest star soon even receeding talents will be complaining that they're too old for this s***.
It may be a long time before all that but there is a long lay-up line in Oklahoma ready to make this performance piece a success on Basketball Broadway right now. All the players are in perfect place. Like the West best Westbrook who is more than a sidekick or the surge of Serge. Or how about the fresh Lamb shanks and Reggie Jackson for all these hand on deck who are no scrubs. Add Kobe's former boys-who have been around greatness too-and Caron Butler will handle the dirty work on defence while Derek will fish out more clutch shots to save this young team and add more classic moments to his 'where amazing happens' legacy as the veteran force in the final seconds this team needs. Still it all starts and ends with Kevin. This why the crowded Laker...excuse me Clippers roster in Los Angeles doesn't even have a team staple like this. The old testament and legendary tradition of Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs may have set the tone with their own 19 game win-streak, but their run isn't like Kevin's and even the robot Duncan knows that even though he's playing like the robot he is, Durant is playing like a Terminator. Speaking of which that incredible win streak of the Spurs was ended by a click of Durant's scoring hand as his kept going. Is this man or machine? Spinning the shot-gun round like Arnie in that inconic scene and spraying scoring shells everywhere, just look at the amount of green circles to red crosses on the postgame scoring chart. If John Madden's game was roundball even he'd have trouble keeping up. 'You've got points pouring like water here, teams dying like flies here, a legend making his way down there and BOOM! You got a championship'! Now that's a ball game and it's more than a trend or a tag that this Durantula is spreading in his web. The amazing Spider-Man is about to take over the Summer like Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker with Jamie Foxx electricity shutting out all the lights. You want to know how powerful he is...he's about to show you. He's a force of nature like lightening and he's about to make everyone else Harry Osborne green with envy. Even the history of the Celtics are Bird-watching the licks from this next legend of Larry.
There's a storm coming and it's about to hit Miami. Still, 'Bron needent woory because like rain in Miami it'll be a quick and easy shower and it'll all be over soon. Kevin Durant is no longer just 'the next one'...he's right now and in this head to head battle he's ready to face off with Travolta like he was Nic Cage with the rock. The pulp press facts these stories will bring will be stronger than fiction as K.D. versus the king will ink a legacy in this league that will see a legend engrave himself in some serious hall ready hardware. Durant's concrete play wants to chip away at the NBA's Mount Rushmore and cast his own statue worthy iconic stance in the city he built from the ruins of the last one he inherited off the glove hand-out from Gary Payton. Even talk here is cheap related to what Kevin can actually do on the floor and more than words he's showing you how much his game is doing the talking as he treats the basket like a trash one. It's more than the numbers that prove it, its the heart of a great whose showing he's the soul of basketball as his team and town follow the route of the one he dribbles to the cup he one day hopes to fill with champagne. His eyes have been burning with hurt for two, too may years, it's time they cried something a little bubblier. If you want to talk about greatness, champions and legendary legacies than we may have to rewrite this article along with the history books come the weekend. You, see come the weekend Houston and Harden have a problem. Come the weekend Kevin Durant could tie the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan with 40 straight games of 25 or more. It may be too easy to say or speak on but you know this guy could do it and who knows even best the best a game later. Still we don't want to jinx it like putting this guy on the cover of SLAM, but right now would you want to bet against the bible of Basketball and its latest chapter and verse breaking his way through the holy trinity of Kobe, LeBron and himself to show his own light as the chosen one? It's about to get real spiritual in this sport and all the God Mike will be able to do is shrug. It's all looking too easy from the hardest working player, but trust me this powerful prodigy and three-time scoring champ is more than the record books or broadsheets. The rafters will once bear his name like the banners his championships raise. Down the hall of this fame worthy career, this run will just be another amazing and formidable footnote in the book of basketball records that read the talk of the town Kevin...the definition.