Monday, 29 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Did you see that? I can't believe my eyes! A hoops head see's a lot of things in Harlem-Bobbito Garcia, Kobe Bryant just turning up-but nothing like this! This kid is crazy! He's dribbling around what represents the whole of New York, like these nationals are paper towers. Not the Chrysler and Empire State Building skyscrapers they are supposed to represent. He's sliding on the floor, like grease was used to clean this court and he's staying there like the static in his shorts wont relent. He's still keeping the dribble though, as close to his chest as it is to his hand. Spinning around on the floor like he's breakdancing to a Run-DMC classic. It's like that and that's the way it is! But here's the hook, he rises, keeps control, spins some more, fakes more times than cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills and flashes a genuine smile that is, like this game, what it's supposed to be all about...fun! Even the defenders can't help from having their cheeks break into smiles along with their ankles, as they are all left for dust. Some opting to mop up that greasy mess that should be back there down court, because right now they would make a better living cleaning and paving the floor for the greats. The rest of defence are now spectators, like the audience that's drove miles in their masses to witness this. The paint is this young mans red carpet now as the flashbulbs make camera moments...but...wait! He pulls up like people in their cars on the outside who can't get a seat. Here comes the shot as jaws drop, like eye-lids be damned refuse to. Blink and you'll miss it. The ball goes up. Rising like yeast for the bread! It's all beautiful like the rotation, now just wait for the butter. Then...wait! What!?SNAP! Suddenly, the ball pops back from mid-air right back in the opposite direction and right into this kids palms! What in God's great earth was THAT!? Call that a gooseneck?! This is some Houdini wizardry. Forget Magic! Everyone's shaking their heads and looking at the in-sync head disbelief to either side of them for an explanation. Only in Harlem right!? The guys still smiling as someone finally finds the words to ask, "Meadowlark! How do you do that?!"
You do that by becoming a Harlem Globetrotter...and having a craftily placed piece of string! You do that by donning the traditional iconic red, white and blue and all those pinstripes. Basketball's stars and stripes. You do that by whistling while you dribble to 'Sweet Georgia Brown'. How sweet the sound? You do that by throwing buckets of glitter into the stands and stealing fans purses (not really...only as a joke. Take note kids...or maybe don't). You do that by being the worlds most famous team, without the NBA or another 'Dream' preceding your name. You do that by being legendary enough to have the greatest of all time, dominant in different ways, Laker likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson play for you, yet showcase even more talent in your iconic legacy. You do this by balling with Scooby Doo, getting a way with the ball like a bunch of meddling kids. Forget Bugs Bunny and Space Jam. That's not all folks! You do that by being basketball's first family, like Brothers Bones! Authentic like Mitchell & Ness, since 1927. You do this for being the sports most famous team. Even more recognizable all over the world than those New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. Or even those Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Maybe only Michael Jordan can claim more fame from this game! You do this by crossing over...literally to different cultures and breaking down racist barriers that have existed over these decades. You do this by almost hitting your own Wilt like century. 100 years in the making and just think of all those frequent flyer miles?! You do this by having been around the world (and I, I) more times than Mase (shout out to Harlem) and seeing more of this earth than Phileas Fogg! You do this by spinning the globe around your finger like it was a basketball itself as you span it. Over 20,000 games...GAMES, not miles, of an exhibition of theatre and comedy in 120 countries of this amazing planet for something truly out of this world. Trotting the earth all the way from Harlem, to even brighter lights than Times Square, New York, New Year. Each 365 belongs to you.
Chicago has more hoop history than you Michael Jordan think. The rich and vibrant home of the peach and hoop also housed the Globetrotters before they made their Harlem "home" debut in 1968. Even though a gust of change took this team from the Windy City its time to recognise where it all began, minus any confusion. Chi-Hoops can now claim this along with the Bulls, Isiaah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Scoop Jackson and a whole bountiful bunch of beautiful basketball legends to their Lake Michigan lasting legacy. Still like the river than runs through it, the Globetrotters reach extends further than just all over the United States of America. This harem of Harlem can call this whole, wide world their home from one hell of an extended road trip that leaves millionaire NBA stars without cause to complain about their 10 game ones. After all 'Globe' is in this ultimate and formidable franchises name and trotting across it on their own star trek is their planetary game. From wowing the world at the Moscow Games to visiting the White House and teaching First Lady Betty Ford how to dribble in the Oval Office this team are as important in a subtle but fun way to the last 100 years of American and world history like Marvel comics, blockbuster movies and rock and roll music. The Elvis Presley's of sport, these kings of the rock where the light relief entertainment in the troubled and turbulent times of the Civil Rights era. They where also a great impression and inspired influence on this movement. Breaking down barriers with basketball and uniting fans of all races and creeds who just wanted to enjoy some family friendly fun. It's a loving legacy that still lasts today as you see all sorts of kids today born off basketball and raised off the education of entertainment like they are to the hoop by a Globie for a dunk, unifying bonds of togetherness over tough times. In times that still exist there's almost nowhere these guys wont play to help show a better way. A way that promotes more smiles and laughter. How life should always be hereafter.
A number of greats of basketball have given their goods to the grand Globetrotters forever growing game. NBA legends like Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, Connie "The Hawk" Hawkins, and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton. Still the original, loyal to the game of fun, Harlem ballplayers, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, Jerome James, Reece "Goose" Tatum, and Hubert "Geese" Ausbie deserve their own place in the Hall Of Fame. Look down the corridor and to that epic Naismith trophy cabinet and you can see some of those names with all the Magic and Larry too. This terrific team of top cats have more than just their own Hanna Barbera cartoon show. They are also an animated part and place in hoops and entertainment as a whole history. From their ball juggling to the insane shots made. They are a clinic of how to score and handle the ball. Look today at how players climb on top of the rim to swat their opponents shots. There is no stopping them, even if they will come up with all sorts of hilarious hijinks and hijacking to stop you. It all ends with a confetti dunk and legs rising higher than hands can over the rim...and you thought Vince Carter could jam! Sure this may be WWF fake, but don't wrestle with your competitive conscience. This is all on the spirit of entertainment and there's none better or more epic. Even if your kids don't like basketball, they will love this. Even when the Globetrotters played for real (sort of) they still dominated. Only the greatest scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could stop Mannie Jackson's men and their 25 year, 8,829 game winning streak. Take that Jordan's Bulls! Forget an 82 game season. These cats balled 368 game years. Yep that's more contests over 24 hour periods. Oh my days! Someone check the shot clock! It's still their time. Even if it will never be the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, Baltimore Rockets, or Atlantic City Seagulls one. Still the Globetrotters are for the whole world. Anybody can get it. Everyone from Jesse Jackson to Bill Cosby and Bob Hope to Nelson Mandela are honorary Harlem Globetrotters and even Sidney Poitier has been (played) one. These skilful stars have even tried to draft soccer ones Lionel Messi and the undeniable, safe hands of U.S.A. Goalkeeper Tim Howard. I'll see this honourable secratery of defence play if President Obama does too! This is the world ultimate team that will play with anybody all for the love of the game. They are only against hate and anyone opposing them bringing joy in the name of fun. Which after all is what this game and the name of entertainment should be all about for a world today that richly needs some. So don't bet against them like Krusty the Klown. Kids these showmen are the original Harlem Shake! They didn't just change the game. They changed the globe!
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Look up there! They say its lonely at the top and for one of Hollywood's biggest stars, figuratively and literally it appeared that way behind the locker room scenes. You see that big house, atop the very peak of the Hollywood Hills beyond the rest of Los Angeles' California coast. Looking like Avenger Iron Man's Stark mansion and something 'Knight Rider' David Hasslehoff owned himself when he wasn't on a 'babe watch', patrolling Venice Beach as a lifeguard in a 90's hit T.V. show that now make those orange floats, Hollywood hoarder desired famous. Still the Hoff had nothing on the Big Dipper who rose higher than any mansion foundation. This was his lair for the ladies first and the man who used to pull down rebounds and points in what today could only be described as video game numbers, used to rack up the statistics when it came to after game dates, shall we say...and believe me that's putting it mildly. More surprising than the fact this giant, imposing talent-that some argue as more dominant than Shaq and even more greatest of all time than Michael Jordan (believe me this isn't as sacrilegious as it sounds)-never fouled out in his career (that's a lot of minutes), is that the crazy numbers of female partners he laid claim to didn't put him in an early grave in the pre-Magic Johnson warning era. Still an abhorrent and an uncalled for, unfair racist punch to the jaw that landed this mans teeth in the roof of his mouth and lead, as it does to circulatory problems probably did, as he died of a heart attack tragically decades later. Still before we call manslaughter on any player or dental awareness on your own brushing habits this is another way of saying this late great legends legacy was somewhat marred by loneliness and ignorance. Still, right now everyone is about to learn just how 100% this gentle giant was and how lucky the National Basketball Association was to have number 13.
This ladies, gentlemen and basketball purists is Wilt Chamberlain. This boys and girls is a man that scored 100 points...in a single game. That's right a century and that many years later-despite the high school and street claims-and a record of this mammoth magnitude will never be quite outdone like this. Not even the 81 of fellow purple and gold Kobe Bryant could match this on his best week and another pivotal Laker legend at the centre position, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may have followed him and recorded the most points in NBA history, but the man that is 20 retired jerseys above the Stilt could never double up on the Dip. You all know that most teams of five men and even more substitutes sometimes don't make it to 100 and sometimes that's even a game winning box score, but one player? Well no one player was like Wilt and on this day the Phila wearing 76er, who took the Warriors from San Francisco to his home, gave the New York Knicks a real big three of digits. It's crazy to think that this man "only" made 36 of 63 from the field. Still his 28 for 32 from the line was truly something else instead for a man whose Achilles heel was free throws like fellow Laker superman Troy's, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard. The young man that held up a scrawled down '100' on an A4 piece of note paper was a record book engraver however. He was a regular 50 and 25 threat. That's right 50 points and 25 rebounds...on average. That makes todays 20 and 10 threats of the post big man age look like Luc Longley numbers. No wonder the Goliath Wilt, despite his claims that no one loved him, is arguably considered the greatest Los Angeles Laker centre of all-time. If not the National Basketball Associations best player. Michael Jordan may be the prototype, new millennium model of basketball silhouette like his Jumpman Nike logo, or Chamberlain's former famer teammate Jerry West, but in a big mans game, Wilt is the most dominant ever. Even more than the big fella Shaq or the hook of Kareem in a Laker legacy lineage of big centres of legend that began in Minneapolis with George Mikan and could have ended recentely with Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howards torch bearing. Shaq's diesel would run out against the dipper in a match-up and Stilt Chamberlain could even leave the goggles and glasses of Mikan and Kareem fogged for good.
No wonder this original Fresh Prince who ended up in Bel-Air, after being born and raised in Philadelphia (and yes the playground is where he spent most of his days), like Will Smith (your parents will understand...cant believe I'm saying that) was "WOW" inspiring amazing enough to tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. Trekking across his stardom like a supernova, stealing everyone's heart like a purse, without the ball needing to be on a string. Between all the buckets of glitter and purple and gold this man had as many ups and downs as the number of times he put the ball up and through the basket. It almost looked like an instant replay. But watch this! As soon as a real big three of Wilt, and the fire and ice of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor assembled and formed like Voltron along with Gail Goodrich in Los Angeles, a ring brought everything full circle. Chamberlain was finally champion in California, destroying New York basketball again and in the bright lights and big screen city of Los Angeles' Hollywood this player could finally play. Promiscuity and points rained when they said it never did in Southern California. It looked like nothing could stop Wilt in Lakerland. Even the Magic's and Kobe's of today are just Worthy Laker legends in big point making comparison. Still there was a David to this Goliath and his name was Bill. Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. A big man rivalry that was even more heated then his reluctant Laker torch passing one with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all-time and Wilt Chamberlain the most dominant ever, then Bill Russell is the most successful. Just check the old Boston Garden air vent units for the number of times Red Auerbach lit one of those iconic victory cigars. For awhile when finger jewellery-less Wilt played the lord of 11 rings Bill it was all smoke. So much so that Russell ran out of digits and just has all those rings scooped in the palms of hoops safest hands. Russell was everything Chamberlain was not. Popular, loved..the man! Some thought the underappreciated and misunderstood Wilt was offensive in more ways than one. Whereas Bill remains the greatest defensive player this game has ever seen.
These great rivals and even better friends represented the Laker/Celtic storied rivalry like two big, opposing symbols and they practically started its rich NBA legend and history. Before Magic and Bird where bringing the golden era to basketball, making all other sports green with envy, Russell's Celtics where Wilt and his Lakers bogey team. The battle of Los Angeles between Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce was a million miles and years from this. Wilt dominated by making every point he could to anyone who would listen, whilst Bill ruled down his long career road without saying a word. Even though silence was truly golden even against Lakers yellow, Wilt deserved his purple heart and jersey against the traditional, green-collar work of Boston. Bill recognized him as his biggest and best competitor and besides Batman needs Superman, like Stallone needs Schwarzenegger and Springsteen needs Dylan. Like the sun needs the rain. Like the Celtics need the Lakers. Like the NBA needs them. Just like Magic and Bird. There was even an offer for this man to fight Muhammed Ali, but this man already had his Joe Frazier in Russell and no matter how many times he hit with a knockout dunk, the belt would usually end up around the Celtics trophy cabinet. Still Wilt got his, with two fingers to the league or any critic that just saw statistics without substance. Or saw him as second place like today some think compared to M.J., or Shaq. Like they did to Russell, or Kareem. Or Larry O'Brien. We already told you this man was more than the 20,000 claimed sexual partners (that would be on average, one a day for 54.8, exhaustingly straight years...or half that, if he...well you know). Or the even more unbelievable 30 and 20 averages over 9 seasons. Part and parcel to why number 13 was that many times an All-Star or up there in the rafters with all those banners he made Bill and Boston work so hard for. This Hollywood Conan star was truly a Barbarian, no O'Brien, even being big and bold enough to make it in business and volleyball of all things. Still when he spiked the peach it was something else. All other professionals looked like drunks next to the master. So all kneel to the man that had to dip through doorways. He took his bow at the Hall, but the only thing more tragic for the top of the top 50, who died all too young at 63 alone is that he's not today as readily remembered for who he truly was. Gentle, giant and above all...great!
Monday, 22 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Racism has no place in this sport! Let me rephrase, racism has NO place ANYWHERE! Neither does domestic violence, abuse and all the horrible and horrendous issues plaugeing the behind the scenes, media exposed side of America's two favourite sport leagues, the NFL and the NBA. I thought these where the United States people!? First there was the problems of Sterling in a sport that should be all about Spalding and now Rice. Tossing players and personnel out the league isn't enough however. Lessons must be learnt instead of the inspiration of ignorance in this finger swept aside, social media application age. Unity needs to be built off the power of equality and respect. From Los Angeles to Atlanta and all over the U.S.A. and the wider world. I'm sorry Danny Ferry I loved how you looked like someones dad with a jump shot but its time for you to really retire. What did Kanye West say when he was a 'College Dropout'? "Racism still alive they just be concealing it"! Now this guys telling disabled concert fans to stand up. Still between the fine line of face palmed mistakes and fist clenched discrimination we need to all take a look at everything and everyone around us and at ourselves and be the change we want to see more than just another cliche. We need to remember early next year on M.L.K. day while the National Basketball Association is showing all these games and not just potato peel chips off our couches whilst revelling in another day off, watching a hoop marathon. Maybe between all those games or right now you should pop a 'Disney' film in and no I'm not talking about 'Aladdin' or 'The Lion King'. I'm talking about 'Glory Road' and its amazing, atmospheric Alicia Keys soundtrack accompaniment. The try story of the long and winding road that these Texas Western Miners took to a glory that glittered more than any gold.
'Remember The Titans'? That Disney, Denzel Washington football film about young black and white men coming together to form more than just a sport winning team? Well a lot of people-especially in the NFL- should watch this other Disney classic in the same inspirational vein that shows Mickey Mouse's real Fantasia magic lies in storytelling with teaching and feeling. Still it's time to remember the Texans in another real-life story that has birthed the equality and stands against discrimination between anyone regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, age or class. Even if we still have an even longer way to go then we first or liked to have thought. In 1966 many soccer fans will know this year for when England finally won their first World Cup at home in Wembley. Still this English writer can admit that even if you thought it was all over there, a much bigger and more meaningful victory was being forged over an ocean in the country sized state of Texas, which sometimes has come across as a place a million miles away from the rest of America. Still in one day in the Sixties they set the standard for the rest of the United States and the rest of the globe. A standard built on civil rights and the coming together of all people. A standard built on basketball where the only conflict was in the end on court in this classic competition. Sport can be a great storytelling solution and methaphorical mirror for real life problems and points and on the madness of a March 19th in 1966, Texas Western made a 72-65 one.
You can read all about it in Coach Don Haskins amazing autobiography, 'Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever' too. A real read from the late, great legendary coach and the legacy he left. A no nonsense coach who as a graduating player would train until the heels of his feet came off..you read that right people of the Nike, Air Jordan sneaker age. Not his shoes...his FEET! It must be the cleats right? Or maybe just the hardwood hard work. One of the greatest, not just basketball, but sports coaches and life motivators of all-time gave us a first hand account of a true, genuine and gracious story that needs to be heard, earned and learnt in this negative news cycle of racism and abuse on a foreign and domestic level in sports, entertainment and the all too real and raw world we try to use the last two to escape from. A story that inspired the childlike wonder and magic of Walt Disney's team to make another picture even with America's best actor onboard for one about the nations first sport. Haskins dry erase story about the greatest X and O he ever wrote in his perfect playbook is the ultimate winner. How after uniting his black and white players over the course of a season for the greatest good of more than just a game, he fielded an all black starting five line-up for the first time in the sports history for his finals game and final point. In a moment where the all white Kentucky university team led by the legendary Adolph Rupp (who where even a Wildcat legendary alumni back then) and their young star Pat Riley (who would later graduate to become a legendary Los Angeles Laker and among best of all time winning coach) where about to be on the receiving end of hoops and equality history.
They weren't the real losers that night. They joined in being part of a world victory. The real losers in this where the ignorant racists of the world. It's head shaking today that over only a half century of sport and world history was the first time a basketball team in the national spotlight consisted of enough black players to be considered able to start in an age today where the hand shaking of an extended earth has brought real change some don't truly realise or appreciate still. Today we league pass an association where around 10 years ago before the European influx white players where Toni Kukoc rare. Still in a digitally discrimination revealing age this is a educational story of the past that should be the example we all learn from. Coach Haskins greatest play may be considered a small move in relation to the leading likes of Muhammed Ali's sport transcendence or Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela but its still a grand gesture that leads to the good of today where you can find yourself sitting next to your friends and family of different races in perfect, beautiful harmony. It's the little things in life and these small moments led to bigger things. Who knows without moments like this you may not even be sitting where you are right now with the people you are, as tragic as that sounds. Besides even one of the worlds greatest leaders Madiba in his Invictus knew the power of coming together over sport in the the South African victoriously held Rugby World Cup. Haskins to basketball and the politics sadly that is behind it was what J.F.K. was to real politics of the world, as he asked himself what he could do for his sport and country and changed the state of Texas, and the minds of everyone with one open enough to listen and take heed.
Still as great as Don Haskins was, it was his men that coach was most proud of. All of them, 1 through 12. The young, black men who showed pride and power in standing up to all the discrimination and alongside the men who where a part of that ignorance until their minds where embraced to change. The young white men too, who refused to grow up and behave and believe in the same injust ignorant ways of their peers, parents and even teachers in the very school they where being educated in, learning to change the world for the better. The young, white men who served as the example to their fellow men, women and children to no longer act in a racist way and unclench the fist of hate to an extended hand of loving respect and what's more....friendship. Coach Haskins meant no disrespect when he benched his white players for the NCAA final, but in making a statement bigger than the sport the white players understood and took one for the team. Just think about all the petty problems puncuated today when a so called All-Star gets benched for poor play. Time to learn again. As the Miners showed they where major in the net cutting (even if no one brought them a ladder in the last moment of racism, as again hoisting each other up they did it all themselves), college crown, the championship Texas Western starting five where the real heroes. After having to put up with a whole season of the most abhorrent abuse at the hands of even so called fans they rose above it all in the ultimate Memorial Gym.
All the grown men dunking their heads down unflushed toilets on the road as they slammed over all of that with their perfect power plays. All the blood soaked hotel rooms with the cruellest, callous insults written on their broken into bedrooms as they where just trying to get a good nights sleep. Credit to the children's franchise of Disney, not shying away and showing that in their 'Glory Road' movie too, to really educate our kids on how to treat each other better. All the horrible words that still exist today that this writer refuses to say in an example of what was routinely shouted from the stands, even at home games. I'll give you a clue though, it begins with a 'n' and ends in hate. The real fab five turned a cheek and a dribbling away play from it all and let their game do the talking and reply in the ultimate exclamation. Soon mouths where just left wide open as the hate had nothing left to say. Love won in a game that really did change it all, from teammates to friendships and world changing and healing relationships. Just like 'Coach Carter' this was a real life story of real people coming together in their maturing youth for the greatest life lessons learnt. 28-1 wasn't the highest statement made by this ultimate basketball team who really refused to lose (that lone loss coming off the hotel room incident...try playing with passion after that). Jerry Armstrong, Orsten Artis, Louis Baudoin, Willie Cager, Harry Flournoy, Bobby Joe Hill, David Lattin, Dick Myers, Dave Palacio, Togo Ralley, Nevil Shed and Willie Worsley and of course Mr. Haskins. These are our heroes. Something the Sterlings and Ferrys should learn from for better or worse. I'll say it again racism has no place in this sport. Otherwise there will be no glory on this road where going down...
Thursday, 18 September 2014
"It's not until I checked the newspaper the following day and saw who was on the backside of that play. When I saw it was Michael Jordan I was like, (laughing) "yeah, I got you"!-John Starks to J.B. Smoove on 'Four Courses'.
Read all about the sweetest bite of Big Apple, Knickerbocker glory. The city of New York needed this. This was hoops history in the making. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls where the two-time NBA champions about to make their first three-peat mark on the golden era of the 90's, that belonged to Jordan just like the Garden of Madison Square everytime Mike entered it via the service elevator. Someone was rising higher than that though. In the worlds most famous arena, in the planets most recognizable city of dreams, their Knick Basketball team at the peak of its notiriety and the sports popularity was still an underdog. Despite the record breaking and pacing 60-win season and despite having the greatest basketball player of all-time and his equally great team on the receiving end, winding down seconds of a 2-zip series lead. A commanding, home-court presence that amazingly they'd lose over the next four straight. Still in a moment that rivals Broadway or the Rucker for the sport, team and cities greatest moment none of that mattered. B.J. Armstrong's D, didn't matter. Neither did the presence of defensive hounds Horace Grant or Bill Cartwright, because hey Michael Jordan was about to be in another poster for the bedroom walls, but my friends he didn't make it...instead he made this moment that much more special in a different way. With all the mite of his trademark passion, hustle, enthusiasm and energy, John Starks saw an opening, a couple of steps was all it took and then BOOM! His Hall Of Fame and frame moment came in something that still sells in N.Y.C. tourist stops to this day . As the Knick ironman John Starks went all Tony Stark confident this Avenger flew. As electric as Times Square, he rose higher than the Empire State as cheers could be heard all the way in Central Park between the hot dogs and pretzels. What a dunk, what a play and what a guy! A guy that embodies the underdog status of New York and their Knick franchise perfectly. An All-Star, Hall Of famer from blood, sweat, tears and blue-collar years with the orange. BANG! The perfect dunk, they still talk about over dinner today. You've seen J.B. Smoove's 'Four Courses' and in fact that inspired this new feature (so thank you J.B.). Some 'Instant Replay' moments last forever all you need to do is look back. New York and it's garden of Eden has never made so much of a Stark exclamation!. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 15 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Mr. V-dot, Carter. The T-Dot made him harder. What do you know about that? What do you remember about this? Get Carter. We mean it with an exclamation mark and a question one. Like Milk. Almost like Mike. Misconceptions. Misunderstandings. The man that rose a mountain top above the rim, with the entire Air of Canada behind him. Only to come down grounded in hate. He put the basketball buzz of Canada on the map when he stitched 'Toronto' across his chest before it fell apart at the seams. Now he joins a franchise just like him, formerly exiled from North America to find themselves a new home in the United States of the National Basketball Association. Still in Memphis, playing for the former Vancouver Grizzlies, he may no longer be the King in Elvis' town but he's still a great player thank you very much. Ready to rock, roll and show he's still more than just a valuable veteran in those blue suede sneaks. Proving that he's on the same former superman, star path of the likes of Grant Hill. After some Magic in Orlando and rising with the Sun like a Phoenix, this Maverick talent also showed he was still a Texan gun-slinger in Dallas. Still may have warm milk forgot or arms folded ignored that the man who used to rip down nylon Nets in New Jersey (like he used to hang off them in a perfectly focussed pregame routine, kissing the rim), is in fact one of the greatest NBA players of the last dynamic decade and golden eras change. More than just Tracy McGrady's cousin and former teammate in a double-team and formidable franchise 'what could have been'. More than a former highlight reel that should now join Mac and stop filming and retire. This is a man that took off in Toronto and will always be married to Canadian hoops legacy for better or worse. So lets divorce ourselves from the worse for betters sake. Besides without this man Raptors basketball would truly be an endangered species.
Starting the engine out of Daytona Beach, Florida, Carter drove through his local high-school like the 500. Born, raised and on the hardwood playground is where he spent most of his extra curricula days. The McDonalds All-American was the extra cheese that brought Mainland High School their first title in over a half century. 56 years to be exact. This was enough to put tar on the heels of this kids spring-loaded sneakers as he joined the North Carolina alma-mater with college, locker-roommate Antwan Jamison. This guy was so good for the baby blue you could almost hear Nike shuffling the papers, getting a contract signed, sealed and delivered ready for their next Jordan out of the legendary college alumni. Even Barack Obama was a huge fan back when he wasn't even a president elect. All the dunks and the Final Four's Carter made as he ripped down twine without the need of scissors made it appear like this Carolina star had more than tar on his heels. This guy wasn't sticking to the floor, he was in a whole different air about to soar higher and higher, touching the sky. Before becoming the Rookie Of The Year, for the lockout shortened season (but like San Antonio have since proved that asterisk doesn't matter) of 1998/1999, Carter was selected and then swapped by the Golden State Warriors for his college friend Jamison. Switching for the fourth pick in that draft, the fifth wouldn't team up with his former college running mate but instead his cousin-a young upstart to the rim himself-Tracy McGrady up north in Canada for the Toronto Raptors. He led the Raps to the playoff promised land and took the previously clawed attention off country cousins the Vancouver Grizzlies in Canada's basketball bid in the NBA to be more than just a stick and puck land. From 1999 to 2001 when it came to the baseline, Vince Carter didn't waste time just ask Dr. Dre or Frederic Weis.
As a matter of fact just ask everyone holding the number 10 and that one kid creatively inspired holding a '110' (that was a more accurate figure), when Carter made Oakland his home in the year 2000, like the Golden State Warriors never really let him. Mid-February it was all love however. In the form of a 360, court cyclone windmill, a through the legs, gymnast spectacle and a cookie jar rim stuffing slam with a honey dip that delved further down the jar than Winnie and showed this dunk contest that there was only one top 50 winner. The dunk panel of legends couldn't believe it. NBA legend Isiaah Thomas couldn't contain his excitement like the top players from Shaq to Garnett going camera and cheekbone crazy courtside. Zeke leaping out his seat to shake the hand of the new torch bearer almost took the dunking arm off a man who almost lost it to the rim a dunk earlier. Who would have thought teammate and dunk assisting Tracy McGrady never even got a proper chance to showcase his slamming skills (still when these two Raptors took to the floor there was more excited anticipation then those two dinosaurs entering the kitchen on 'Jurassic Park')? This is a guy who a few All-Stars later wowed the crowds with an in-game, off the glass, alley-oop assist dunk to himself. One that we should note his cousin Carter replicated All-Stars later. If you thought all this was 'slamtacular' and put other dunks in their court coffins then you just had to have waited and seen the death by dunk that went Down Under in the Sydney Olympics. 'La Dunk De La Mort' the French called it, translation, 'The dunk of death'. In better, lamens terms, "HE JUMPED OVER HIS HEAD"! All 7 feet and two inches of Frederic Weis. Carter jumped right over him. Poor Weis was a good player and should have been remembered more than just being the ultimate poster and youtube video. But this may be one of the best and most Vinsane dunks not of just Carter's career, or the NBA, Olympics, whatever, but in all the world of basketball. In a career...a career still to this day, overflowing with greatest of all-time basketball flushes.
So why did it all go down the drain? Well it didn't...but it did swirl round for awhile. First McGrady left too eagerly-anticipated early to find Magic in Orlando with fellow wall forward/shooting guard, elite All-Star Grant Hill...oh the similarities and irony. With the phrase 'distant cousin' in literal effect the perfect partnership that Kobe said could have competed with him and Shaq for their three-peat crown wasn't meant to be. Simply put Carter was the man and from the Raptor on the jersey to the Air Canada Centre this man brought change to the culture of Canadian basketball. Still his game was more than the dynamic dunks that where show stopping and contest winning worthy even in-game. Youtube, highlight reel this guys top 100 and its like viewing a century countdown of Arnold Schwarzenegger movie quotes...this guy just doesn't stop. The defence was a lay-up line. The nose-bleeds as palpable as sitting courtside (remember that one against the Clippers where it looked like he Superman flew from the STAPLES crowd?), because everyone wanted a scoop of Carter's slam like Jackson's perfect piece on 'The Life and Times Of V. Carter'. Still what looked more and more like single-handedly (with all due respect to Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams and Jerome Williams (the 'Junkyard Dog' knew how to bark like Vin's bite too), Carter almost took Toronto to that O'Neal and Bryant promised land too. An epic, 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-Final, 7 game battle with the Philadelphia 76ers...or should we say Allen Iverson (and we all know how his MVP year turned out) was the makings of a modern day classic. Game for game, back and forth these guys stepped over each other with their video game like, box-score busting point totals and it all came down to the nylon wire and an off balance, out of bounds clutch Carter shot that rimmed out. You could almost hear the Canadian crowd brick their love for their hero too, despite it not being his fault. How do the Queen lyrics go? "I've paid paid my dues/time after time/I've done my sentence/but committed no crime". Vince may gave never got to hear 'We Are The Champions' over the jumbotron but anyone blaming the loss on a morning graduation celebration ceremony may need a diploma in real ball playing ethics. After this and many an injury injustice fans began to check out on Carter whilst accusing him of the same. It wasn't long before Air Canada left the country on the carrier of the same name.
Things are different in Toronto now for the Raptors. They had a Phoenix Suns of the East like resurgence until Chris Bosh took his talents and the towns new scorn to South Beach what should have been not two, but three or four titles ago. Now the sole Canadian franchise in NBA airspace plays in the Rogers Centre and its new, high-flying star kid Demar DeRozan who is wowing crowds and contests with his between the legs dunks, while Drake is the new man in town. You see the legacy that Vince's legend left still lasts. Just like in Brooklyn where the Nets and their former coach Kidd know just how good a player Carter was for them when he and they where in New Jersey after the trade. In the Garden State, Carter's game grew and bloomed from beyond just above the rim. Still after years of serving the high-flying tandem of Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson, Jason had new life when dishing dimes to a man who we should just call, 'The Dunk'. Alonzo's defence mourning can attest to that! Carter had a point to prove though, to critics not just in Toronto and in doing so he poured in the points...literally. I remember being in attendance for a game against the Washington Wizards where he went back and forth with old Carolina college friend Antwan Jamison like he was Iverson, or like they where going for career highs. If memory serves (like my forever, evergreen appreciation to the member of the Nets staff that out of nowhere gave me a free comp ticket (I see and thank you)) he had 25 by halftime...or maybe even just after the first. With all this and more just imagine if the Nets where playing in the B.K. then and not the Meadowlands, mowing down the opposition. Still no matter the area surrounding New York when Kidd leaves things don't last and soon Carter was off to the Magic Kingdom of Florida, but in Orlando he was not the man or the number one with a dunk in Dwight's Disneyland. Some Sun in Phoenix saw Carter rise to the assists of Steve Nash, but a perfect pair was reunited when Carter went to Dallas like Nash in reverse and joined Kidd again and of course Dirk Nowitzki to still show he was a Maverick when it came to dunking. More points where made by this former Toronto star, sullied by the press as he passed critics along with Larry Bird, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, Elgin Baylor and Adrian Dantley on the all-time, leading scoring list (as well as the likes of Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis on the all-time threes). Even now three years from 40 the underrated three-point shooter is still a perimeter and power play force everytime he cranks up the motorbike. This guy is turning back the clutch clock like he has the portrait of Dorian Gray in his locker in this 'League of Extraordinary Gentelmen'. Now after some redemptive years on the road, Agent Carter's brand new season gets those dunking claws into another former Canadian side in the Grizzlies where he could still win big and don't worry its not all Memphis bleak for Tha Carter. This is thanks to a perennial team where he joins the frontcourt force of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and with a top Point Guard like Mike Conley setting the table you can expect some more highlight reels to add to the playlist mix. As Carter rocks in Memphis with a Canadian subplot twist its important to know that even though they and he are here the Raptors are still in Toronto thanks to him. Get Carter and go cold on him all you like but when his careers on ice and they check the fossils that will be his legacy. A legend more than his Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins dunking one. When Vince Carter ruled the earth. That's something that will never be extinct.
Sunday, 7 September 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
7.00am. A early morning, fall Winter mist outside your frosting window matches the steam whistling from your kettle on the inside. You pour two cups of coffee...you and your husband are going to need them today. He switches the half piece of buttered toast from his mouth to his hand not holding a suitcase as he kisses you on the cheek and tells you he loves you whilst putting on the other half of his suit jacket and heading towards the door for another day at the office. Before he leaves he gives you a knowing wink and directs your attention towards the 'Captain America' and 'Frozen' lunch-boxes. You smile warmly. He's got the school run tomorrow. Then after holding your warm cup of java and savouring the steam and wake up and smell the coffee feeling of morning, your peace is interrupted by what seems like a hurricane of horses galloping down the stairs. Your two kids hug your legs with an excitement that begs for another snow day. 'Not today' you think as you make sure their scarves are tied and their hats are on properly as they giggle. You hand them their lunch with a kiss as you all head for the door, only for you to come back and reach for the keys on the countertop. Leaving home you rush walk against the wind, cold, clock and what already seems like too tired legs for two young people. You're tired yourself but then as you reach the crossing right ahead of school a long wingspan and big palm signaling stop wakes you up. It's the tallest man you've seen all week. Wait a minute...
Wait just one minute. You recognise this crossing guard. The distracting reflectors or the biting cold balaclava don't fool you. That's former All-Star and one of the greatest NBA players and scorers of all-time Adrian Dantley. Directing the traffic he used to drive through down the lane as a basketball God. But why? Surely he doesn't need to?! Still the ever hard working A.D. wants to just do something and give back to his community. As nice as he was as a coach for Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets that direction didn't end up on the same path that everyone wanted. Besides the league doesn't pay its vets health insurance. Saving wayward kids from getting run over like he used to save loose balls from going out of bounds on a morning and afternoon shift for around 40 bucks an hour does. Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Md's intersection is now the daily domain of a man who used to own 94 by 50 feet of hardwood court nightly. Now this guy truly is something. A great man of both the local and NBA community. A Hall Of Famer, 30 point average scoring machine and two time leading champ the likes of Iverson, Kobe and Kevin Durant can only relate to. A purists, pure scoring favourite 'The Teacher' was taking people to school before directing people to it in a basketball education. Entering the L in the late 70's and playing during that next decades Magic/Bird, Lakers/Celtics golden era A.D. represents one of the last of truly the best. You know like when music sounded so Motown great before all that next generation R&B kind of watered it down somewhat. Like classic woodgrain and leather, American muscle cars before things in the automobile industry became a little too safe and plastic clunky. A.D. represents the good old days. An original like the Adidas he wore. No wonder the three stripes have made him part of their 'Top Ten' signature. Just don't ask for his autograph while he's trying to do his current job. Besides have you ever seen someone try and get in his way as he cut through traffic playing in the NBA?
B.C. Before the God M.J. there was A.D. A 6, 5, S.F./S.G. out of D.C. with a A plus bball I.Q. Forget about a basketball jones when Delano Dantley was in the zone. He was smoking as he put out the opposition like a cigarette butt in an afterthought ashtray. Those legendary Buffalo Braves selected the Notre Dame college star with the 6th pick '76 draft, who became a Rookie Of The Year and Montreal Olympics Gold medal winner on his way to a 6 time All-Star career. One that would garner him the Oscar Robertson trophy to his cabinet and those career book line averages of around 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists are like the mighty O too. The consensus All-American in college is second all time in fighting Irish scoring and first in charity stripe buckets earned and paid off. Him and his Dame also upset and ended John Wooden and UCLA's legendary and storied 88 game winning streak. Bruising the Bruins and big man Bill Walton whilst showing future fellow 80's Laker Jaamal Wilkes who was really as smooth as silk. The leading scorer of Notre Dame also paced the gold winning Team U.S.A. in Canada,leading all scorers when he wasn't even a rookie of the National Basketball Association. When the NBA did start signing his cheques he braved out some time with Buffalo where the future Los Angeles Clippers had a big three herd of R.O.Y.'s in a half decade. So much so that the team probably thought they where justified in shipping him to Indianapolis where he kept up the scoring pace in the city of fast cars and now fast buckets clutched before Reggie Miller had his time in town. Still after a Michael Jordan number of games, A.D. was on the road again like Willie Nelson and we aren't talking about a 7 day trip across country. Forget what would be the Clippers, Adrian Dantley was in California playing for the Los Angeles Lakers with THE Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, pouring and scoring when they said it never rained in Southern California.
In the pre-Magic kingdom, showtime era that featured wing wonders like Wilkes and current Head Coach Byron Scott, many forget like Bob McAdoo that another prolific power playing great suited up for the storied purple and gold in his and the Lakers rich and vibrant history. Perhaps it was because it wouldn't be long before he was soon off again for the then purple of the Utah Jazz. An All-Star journeyman being shipped around as trade bait for his fourth team in as many years? Maybe that's why he dropped one of the numbers on his 44 jersey. But like Jordan wearing the 45 he wasn't there to play games with you, but take aims at you. As the Jazz associated game of NBA basketball before the hip-hop of Jay-Z had an instrumental Utah leader playing and singing from the baseline. Like a saxophone ringing through the Salt Lake City night (doesn't sound the same like New Orleans does it?) the league really heard from Dantley as he led the NBA in scoring twice as he spent the lions share of his career proudly playing with the Jazz. At his professional peak, Adrian was a scoring mole and all six of his All-Star spots where during his seven years in Nevada. Not even torn ligaments in his wrist could stop the net snapping of A.D. Still a change of motor saw him join the 'Bad Boy' assembly line for the Detroit Pistons where he became more than just another cog in the Isiah Thomas machine. His former teammate and NBA role playing, champion great John Salley told us last month, "teach' really helped me in the way I dealt with people and being the best professional I could possibly be". Salley now known as an active vegan promoter also had a seed planted by his 'teacher' mentor after the professionaly and physically in shape Dantley once told him straight after a hard practice, "hows that cheeseburger treating you"? After the former Jazz player made music playing points in Motown be became a Maverick donning Dallas green like city and colour. Becoming a Texas quick draw with his high percentage shot for his last two career years before a 10 day stint with the green of Milwaukee for a quick buck and stint. Blowing a whistle on his playing career this guy now moonlights as a referee, stopping players in their tracks once again. The mid-range game of this legend scored him a place in the hall and a retirement in the rafters but the man who earned his living from the free throw line (sharing an attempts record with another scoring icon Wilt Chamberlain) now maintains one from the crossing line. From courtside to roadside, this changing of the guard will always keep this legend the same thing, hard-working, professional and a valued member of the community. Don't you know by now? Everything runs through A.D. Stop, look, listen!
Saturday, 6 September 2014
Can You Kick It?
Sneakers are as an ingrained part of the culture of basketball as the soles of shoes are to the blacktops of playground, hoop purists heaven sent dreams. Like tar on the heels of baby blue North Carolina to the Windy City Air of baby Bulls Chicago. From Jordan's to Kobe's. Nike to Adidas. Those weapon colourways and commercials to the and1 mixtape age. Hey, basketball fan or not those Converse you wear on your feet are a Basketball shoe created by Chuck Taylor and worn by Wilt Chamberlain when he scored a centuries worth of points. 100 years later and they STILL wont need to be changed. Through all this history the basketball bible SLAM has been there. You only need to library reference their 'Kicks' supplement Hall Of Fame but now with their first book they enter a whole new corridor. To join their latest Kicks magazine and Jordan special (in a 2014 that has also seen a throwback magazine, Iverson special and 'ChiHoops' insert to add to their sensational, revolutionary , magazine game spin-offs) this year comes their highest spin move on the hardwood yet. Always known as a hip magazine full of hops worthy ripping out the magazine like a steal and hanging off your wall like a backboard, this beautiful book is laced with glossy dome shots as pretty as their perfect picture. This is THE collectible for the purist court connoisseur. Thanks to their wonderful writers and a collaboration contribution from their classic scribe Scoop Jackson the history to the future of these trainers fit through these chapters and verse like the sock sneaks of the future. With 'Kicks' once again SLAM changes the game as the basketball bible has a new testament. Amen to the air God Jordan with a tongue in sneak pun intended. This is fresh out the box. TIM DAVID HARVEY