Thursday, 24 July 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Boy are you in for a show tonight kid! Kind of like the one this writer attended off Broadway in twenty twelve. Hustling around New York City in mid-March looking for the hottest ticket in town. An Englishman in New York, giving all his dollars up like he had no sense or feel for the sting. All to pass through the gates to basketballs garden of Eden. The Madison Square mecca. Still I'd seen this place before. Starred at its incredible and iconic ceiling, a hoops purists Sistine Chapel. I wasn't there to see the worlds most famous arena again. Or the banner jersey of Patrick Ewing's 33. I wasn't even there to see the 'melo of megastar Carmelo Anthony either. I was there for something much crazier. I was there to expose my lack of immunity to a fever that had vice gripped the hoops nation, like its cash from the souvenir stores posters and t-shirt to the rest of the roundball globe. I was there for the reason why Spike Lee was wearing the number 17. I was there for the kid from California who changed the game and its perceptions. I was there for Linsanity.
And he didn't disappoint either in his 15 games of fame. But that's all over now...or is it?! After the Asian American took his fame and game to the market Yao Ming left in Houston for a not so insane game year, the show goes on for Jeremy Lin in his home state with Los Angeles. Giving the Lakers a player back from the Rockets who took centre Dwight Howard with last years free agency. All while unloading the contract of a kid they clearly didn't have much respect for when they made a play for this years marquee free agent and former Lin teammate Carmelo Anthony when they made a banner of 'Melo super imposed in Jeremy's number 7 Rocket jersey. Neither H-town or the Joel Silver and Tobey Maguire scripted Hollywood got New York's Anthony, but one team got a star. As Jeremy Lin held up one side of his new jersey like he was folding a bed sheet with Mitch Kupchack he revealed the number once worn by Laker champion greats Andrew Bynum and Rick Fox. Still even with the return of his Knick number this talented young stud insists that Linsanity is as a thing of the past as thankfully his pressurised and ignored performance anxiety he suffered in last season in what you could call this coming out party kids sophomore album...but not season. Still as a hit show from New York heads to Hollywood, even with the death of many a dynasty something special feels like its going to happen when Linsanity meets showtime.
Behind the scenes though there's much direction needed for this young, staring leading man who looks to take the Point Guard lace untied and about to be hung up ropes from one of the best Point Guards of all time and best since Magic in more ways than one, Steve Nash. "We've got a lot of work to do", Los Angles alpha Kobe Bryant told his new dog and the man that even outscored Mamba in the dobermans February home of M.S.G. Just like he did with Nash, Kobe yet again has the chance to form one of the leagues quickest and best backcourts as showtime runs again in Hollywood like it was the Stallone and Goldie courtside 80's. Laker lifer Nicholson knows this Jack. On paper this team reads well, from the frontcourt additions of all-star Carlos Boozer and hot kid Ed Davis to the number 7 drafted future star Julius Randle, to even the re-signed youth movement of fantastic four Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, Wes Johnson and Nick Young...who Lin will have so much fun running with in the changing of the guard. Still we all know sometimes the stat sheet reads different especially with Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Chris Kaman and Kendall Marshall all joining championship certified, Laker legacy legend Pau Gasol on his escape from L.A...what where we just saying about Goldie? This team is almost as depleted as its stocked and lets not even talk about the potential free agents this team has already lost also.
Sure the Linsane LeBron like hype is a wrap now like all those flavour of the month in your ear hip-hop references, but this kids still got the talent that took him to the worlds stage in his elite game. The former Harvard grad is an A student of this game, even after spending some detention time in the D league and he's ready for his next examination. If only he was undrafted because scouts thought he was to busy hitting the books in Boston's most prestigious college. Still just like Lin has overcome the cruel racial and physical taunts to be a big name star, he'll overcome the doubt and anxiety that shrouded the star power but not the player one of the season after. The kid is coming home and getting the welcome chance that was not invited in California's Golden State. This is a team of big names and legends. Like literally the highest nams, from Wilt to Shaq, Mikan to Cap, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This town of the highest personalities is also known for the little guys, the guards. Think Gail Goodrich and of course the logo himself Jerry West and of course the Magic of Earvin Johnson. Now with Nash's later years, this is arguably the Lakers best and biggest star at the P.G. position in their prime since M.J. of the reverse 23 nature. With assistant coaching rumors pointing to the glove of another former aged Hall Of Famer Laker, Gary Payton then this young point could really get his mentoring from the best. Especially if Byron Scott joins the forum...then it'll be showtime again. Whether Lin ends his Laker career in the rafters or more awarded like a troubled Lamar Odom, he'll at least sneak toe the line of the electric Nick Van Exel's or even the clutch Derek Fisher's, being the second but smaller scoring option Kobe demands. While the boy wonder is the Robin to Kobe's dark knight, the vet Boozer and rook Randle paint the frontcourt points in this inspired illustration and court canvas. Still there's one point Lin and the Lakers really want to make and that's that they're still as big as their name. You know what they say in this town, heres looking at you kid.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Imagine the scene. It's one of the greatest moments of your young lifes conception. All your family and friends are here to celebrate your coronation. You could almost swear its your birthday. There's even a table laid for you. A pristine white table cloth, untouched by the finest dinner you and yours has ever let touch your lips. There's enough bottle water to go round you'd think there wasn't an epidemic of a shortage in some countries. The champagne's on ice but the nerves aren't. There's a big screen making big names and a room full of flashbulbs ready to blink and burst in a moments memory and capture the next star. You're in your best suit but you're ready to cap it all off with a baseball one in this other sport that if out of context would look like crimes to GQ. Forget the stern words of the critics the Silver linings come from the words of commissioner Adam on the eve of the first day of the rest of your life. "With the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA Draft the Los Angeles Lakers select Julius Randle from the University of Kentucky".
Cheers, euphoria. Tears, no more paranoia. You are good enough for this game. All the hard work your talent took has paid off and brought you here to this moment and all that its potential promises later. You walk up pumping the air and accenting it with the highest grin your cheeks have ever lifted for. The sweet smell of success. The sound of applause. All rounds on you. There's pats on you're back as you're about to shake the hand that will seal the deal and this fate like putting your right hand on the bible. You walk up like you're about to accept a lifetime achievement award. You sort of are. Forget the LeBron crazy free agency offseason. This is the NBA's Oscars and you're about to lead a whole new Academy with the likes of Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. A Hall of Fame class? Only time and titles will tell the story of legends and legacies. Still you're more than top ten. More than your fellow impressive draftee Jordan Clarkson whose having a hot Summer. You're a franchise face with the ability to be the next leading man like Chris Pratt. This is your moneyball moment Julius. You've come from the most prestigious alumnis of basketball education in the University of Kentucky and you're about to graduate to one of the National Basketball Associations most storied and successful franchises. The most famous team in the world. The former home of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal. Kobe's house. The forum of legends. The STAPLES Centre. The Los Angeles Lakers.
It's Showtime! The world is yours and you're yet to blow out 20 candles on a birthday cake. It's a teenage American dream. Rumble young man rumble. You're already so mature. That's what happens when you play for U.K. under the tutelage of Coach Cap. You're games the same as that honed frame. All meat in the middle. I guess you've been eating all that wholesome food Kentucky is famous for dishing out like the ball to you in the post. Now from the falls, to Cumberland Gap, the small town of Corbin and downtown in the big city of Lexington where you used to play, the state of Kentucky is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Let alone in these United States Of America. Miles and miles of beautiful country but nothing is prettier than you in the post over and over again,showing the muscle moves of memory along with the spin ones that make you look like you've been turning round the seasons for years as a veteran of the L. You're Kentucky power could make you a dark horse for best rookie next year. When you're in your sweet spot its just too tough for the opposition. I hope I get to see you play in L.A. like my girlfriend did in Kentucky. My Corbin family told me how good you are. Alumni and NBA role playing great friend Walter McCarty knows you're the truth. You eased the hurt of a departed Anthony Davis. The kind both the Harrison twins will have to soothe now you're gone. You belong with all the Cousin's and Wall's. You could have cut down nets but now you're about to rip them off in the big leagues.
College certified. Professional personified. It all looks so powerfully promising. It's your time. You're about to play with one of the greatest players in the league and of all time Kobe Bryant, but even he knows you're the future with one sneaker in the Hall like Steve Nash. We all saw you as a kid in that summer white number 8 throwback we didn't think was that old...I guess really we are. Even the likes of Jordan Hill and Nick Young are now confident to re-sign after THE worst season. Lets hope Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and more are too. The Linsanity of Jeremy Lin will help so much but losing out on LeBron and Carmelo wont as well as old friend Trevor Ariza. Losing free agents of merit Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore and whoever else hurts us too. Just like the dearly departed championship certified of the past that was our great Pau Gasol too. His slot is vacant now. I'm sorry kid but it really is all on you now no matter who else we manage to get. Now Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis are all in New York maybe Byron Scott can coach and guide you. This is because you see this city and franchise expects a lot from its big man lineage. Maybe sometimes too much. Just ask Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. Still you're more of a Worthy type, to the big game of James. No wonder Mitch drafted you and was so eager for you to sign. You're our dotted and bottom line. From the gamble in Sin City for Las Vegas Summer league to all that will payoff come playoff. Like the good doctor you Julius Randle can handle this truth. You're just what we ordered. The seventh seal from the draft about to bring the winds of change from the coast of the Pacific. With the seventh pick the cap fits.
Sunday, 13 July 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Fire and rocks...its all ice now. Kings garments where burnt in sacrifice and stones where thrown at the throne but that's all history now in Cleveland, Ohio. It's almost like the talents taken to South Beach and all the championships and hurt during his years in exile doesn't even matter. No matter what LeBron did. No matter what Dan Gilbert said. As the pregame chalk gets thrown up to begin the season once again it all becomes dust. Four years of hurt are removed this week...something that the Brazilian soccer team will hope rings true by the next World Cup for the storied, legendary sports nation. Decisions have been made again and this is one sequel that may just be better than the original with an incredible plot twist. Was this all scripted by the basketball God's or the highest power player in all of sports himself? This NBA revolution thankfully may not have been televised again, but its all there in print as LeBron James now knows better in illustrating his next chapter in sports. As an electronic billboard lights up the darkness of a downtown night that once was only illuminated by the embers of a burnt number 23 jersey , the only thing that hands will throw at the big billboard next to the Quicken Loans Arena is cheers and a round of applause. There are new headlines for the broadsheet titled; 'Redemption', 'Revelation', and 'Return'. All that happened with the big three changes with three little words.
"I'm coming home"
No we're not quoting Diddy and Dirty Money (although Skylar Grey's new basketball remix is an awesome tribute), get your Kanye West and Chris Martin playlist pick ready because this is LeBron James' homecoming. No you haven't woken up in the last decade, but the next one is going to be something else as basketballs biggest star and best player gets to rewrite his own story with the next chapter of his career as he signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers . The critics can mark him in ink all they want. On the way to the throne there will always be thorns, but there's not many men today in this league who would be strong enough to go back to all the hate and lack of heart and now humble and honestly let all bygones be just that. It's all love now however in a message in todays deleting and unfollowing social media world that people can get back together for the greater good and make what matters work. LeBron just wanted to come home and make things right and the most important and powerful player in basketball offseason politics did just that whilst Los Angeles, Chicago and the rest of America's National Basketball Association was waiting on his every worded decision marked '2.0'. With a truly Cavalier move Cavs fans in Cleveland will be reaching in the trash can for their singed vests. Now anyone else striking a match to the number 23 for "messing everyone around" must just remember that this is just sports and human decisions. Even the greatest number 23 and basketball player of all-time Michael Jordan retired a couple of times. Everybody comes back...and everyone comes home. After all, it is where the heart is and now LeBron's beats to the basketball bounce of the blood and wine.
But will there be champagne? Lets toast all that LeBron did in doubling up in championships for the Miami Heat, but lets now spare a thought for the Miami Heat who now know how the Los Angeles Lakers feel when Dwight Howard bolted last Summer but ten-fold. This is more like when Shaq left Kobe and the Lakers for South Beach years ago, before joining LeBron in Cleveland to try and "win a ring for the king". Some in some states may call it revenge, the Heat just hope Miami's favourite son Dwyane Wade joins the former opted out Chris Bosh and re-signs instead of resigns, because a dynamic duo is better than the nothing that 'Bron left. Now the cooled off Heat know how Cleveland felt when they paraded their big three out on a boasting stage. Still, they still have a great team with the likes of Ray Allen and the Cavs may even let them take Luol Deng as a consolation...although they are hoping to build a superteam of their own. Lets also spare a thought for your NBA champion San Antonio Spurs who now have their Thunder stolen like they did to Oklahoma. Still the no nonsense Parker and Ginobili big three led by the robot Tim Duncan knows this is just yesterday news (you've seen the 'Loyalty/Royalty' billboard) and the 'Bron beating Kawhi Leonard knows he's the real winner, MVP and next star. Still as the 'LeBrand' of 'Business LeBron' James shows he is still literally the leagues most valuable player, more than a few people will feel the sting. Still all the Carmelo's and fellows in the craziest free agency of all time knows the truth that this isn't just LeBron's league, it's LeBron James game...and he's changed it once again.
Imagine what will happen all over again in another two years and 40 mill and change later. LeBron will be a free agent again and Lakers will be hoping for 'Purple Reign' headlines like the Knicks will want 'King Of New York' ones. Still they must now learn like all the teams who traded away draft picks and cap space for this moment that its all about today and this day the Cavs have built their way back to recognition from the rubble of their raw years. If the Cavs couldn't believe their luck from their unluck in getting the last few years first picks in the NBA draft then they wouldn't have been ready for getting the ultimate number one pick in what's now dubbed the 'free agent draft'. Now the King joins the young promising princes of Anthony Bennett and your new rookie super kid Andrew Wiggins who may not be Jabari Parker but is the next big thing. Then of course there's the promising youth movement of Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters and maybe the veteran star of Deng and if course the reunion with Brazilian ace Anderson Varejo is another sweet story. Still nothing is sweeter than the new power partnership with Kyrie Irving. It's THEIR team now and 'Brons former replacement is now his right hand man. A superstar in his own right in a couple if years the Cavs could have even more franchise faces for a truly epic and elite team around the King. There was one thing wrong about his humble and refreshing press conference, he can guarantee a championship. Not one, not two. Right now the ignited and inspired Irving is a Wade upgrade and if a Bosh one like the Wilt numbers of Beach Boy Kevin Love joins this team surfing through the U.S.A's best, then voltron will form again for an even bigger three.
This is one Cleveland show that everyone will want to watch. It's all family now for this guy. Back to the roots. No press conference, just pen and paper. A signature but more importantly and 'Jerry Maguire' stronger than oak; a handshake. Nothing given. Everything earned. Ohio's son returns to give his city a new state of basketball. Expecting another child with his wife, laying down a foundation with his family. Loyalty until the day he retires. Once you would have never thought of his jersey rising like a Phoenix for Cleveland from the burnt ashes of betrayal to the retired rafters of the sun of a Cavalier ceiling, but as LeBron looks to add more banners to his old and new arena the only question now like a Kobe 8 and 24 is; will it be number 23 or 6? LeBron says he wants to finish up his career in Cleveland and even if there is another stop on the way its clear the 29 year old star in his prime has grown over the good , bad and ugly Twitter times that have tumbled through the last four years with his new trending refresh. So have his accepting family of fans too, whether they have remained in Cleveland or come running from South Beach. Even those still folding their arms at James' extended hands will come around. Even they can't deny how special this moment is and how it means so much more than basketball. This English writer who only shares the same age as LeBron (surprisingly not the game) remembers in his younger years pestering his dad on business in New York to pick up a number 23 Cleveland Cavaliers jersey from the NBA store back in the Summer of 2003 when he was drafted because the moment was just that Jordan or Kobe special. Now a decade and one later the jersey comes back out the stack of throwbacks with no burn marks as a relevant jersey again, only a throwback in design, here in this Game Of Thrones as I write another 'King Takes His Throne' part of 'The LeBron Series' I thought I would have wrote in June not July. Now after failing to three-peat the return of the king sees another trilogy about to start for this lord of the rings like the Hobbit. The band Semisonic once sang "every new beginning comes from some other beginning end" and in coming home LeBron calms down the crazy sweltering and franchise sweating summer free agency period he started four years ago (even his contemporary on court adversary eventually re-signed with the Knicks, but we even thought that after all this he may have returned to the Denver Nuggets or as Chris Rock joked on Twitter Syracuse). This young man has truly matured into a veteran , true superstar. Now home at last he's come full circle but its time he gives his city and team what they've deserved for all too long...a ring.
Friday, 4 July 2014
Fireworks will be going off all around the United States Of America on tonights July 4th. Still that's nothing compared to the explosions of the biggest lights in Basketball who this July have already sought their own Independence Day. We're about to be a part of more blockbusters in the Summer season of 2014 than Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum where in the 90's...but who will be holding the victory cigars in the end when the fat lady sings? Right now the National Basketball Association is making more big feature presentations then Marvel combined with the movie monsters of Godzilla, the Transformers and Planet of the Apes. So where better to set our scene than Hollywood? The show must go on for the Los Angeles Lakers with their most iconic star Kobe Bryant about to make quite the epic comeback from an against the odds injury chapter with a no playoff payoff footnote for the final act of his career. One whose legend still has some legacy left. Its going to be quite the conclusion for the man who will not go quietly into the night, but will this finale end in the finals?
It all depends on who the Buss family can bring in to coach around Kobe's court. One of the best Point Guards of all-time Steve Nash is still here, but with injuries and age make that 'just about'. Sure drafting Kentucky Wildcat college grad and future star Julius Randle with the seventh pick in what looks like it was all meant to tank is an incredible start. While bringing the 80's showtime of Byron Scott from the lay-up line to the sideline one would be even better, especially now that another playoff legend Derek Fisher out in New York like Phil Jackson is no longer able to coach. The future of this team is in the young likes of breakout game star Kendall Marshall...as everyone else is a free agent in what is the most ridiculous (in all senses of the word) free agent class...or could we even say "draft" in the days of future franchise/faces that are about to pass. Even after a season in need of a reboot the Lakers will want to keep their Fantastic Four of Nick Young (as super as he is that streaky), Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill (who may stay now D'Antoni's gone) along with the long arms of All-Star Pau Gasol...the reason the Lakers even have recent championships. Although trading him for a package deal including the kicker of the draft rights to his brother Marc is as now regrettable as the Chris Paul nix that led to all the Lakers alumni switching their Los Angeles STAPLES Centre locker rooms for Clippers ones. The Lakers don't want their L.A. son Jordan Farmar or Kent Bazemore to join them. Especially with former centre and best big since Dwight Howard, Chris Kaman making his own escape from L.A. this Summer along with the talented shooting back-up of Kobe, Jodie Meeks now inheriting the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit for a big contract and future motoring with the Pistons. Still forget about Lob City. How about 'LeBron City'?
Where will the King take his throne and talents in decision 2, not four years after what still causes televised controversy? The Lakers may be actively pursuing him but right now who isn't? Even the Cleveland Browns could make as push and they aren't even a basketball team. How about those Cavaliers too? Plus South Beach will hope to keep their Heat together with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also opting out for a new plan. The Lakers figure Bosh in theirs too, especially if they lose the power of Pau to another team their hoping to poach a player from. You see Kobe and LeBron aren't enough. The Lakers want the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony too, just like we talked about last off season almost a year ago when this column debuted courtside. What a difference a losing year makes. Now the Lakers look to forge an even greater set of Hall of Famers than when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined Shaq and Kobe. The press already have their LeBron banner moment headlines ready if they read for the Los Angeles times. 'L.A. Kings', 'Purple Reign', 'California King'. Still before a nixing happens you may want to hold your breath for the biggest three ever and the greatest Los Angeles franchise in its Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson history. LeBron's future is yet to be witnessed but we could see 'Melo in Lakers yellow soon. Their 'Die-Hard' pitch with a highlight video directed by 'The Matrix' and 'Lethal Weapon' director Joel Silver was a great move...although having it narrated by Tobey Maguire not so much (someone should tell the powers that brass that that voice is a little wet and Andrew Garfield is the real 'Amazing Spider-Man' too). Anthony could bring Gasol with him in the frontcourt whether these two stay or leave. With the potential of all this, maybe finally some Love from Kevin and the old home of Minneapolis, an old friend like the championship certifier of Trevor Ariza (let's make him the first signing now), the kid Randle who posts up like a vet and of course the man Kobe, this Hollywood picture is taking its blockbusting shape. But will it be a success at the box-office? Its all coming soon. TIM DAVID HARVEY.