Friday, 25 April 2014


Blazing A Trail.


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


'24/48' On the 82.

Water cooler attendants! We're going to need a bigger jug! In this storytelling season of sacred hoops we've had more than a couple of historical moments for the most storied franchises in this National Basketball Association for your classic conversations and dynamic debates. They say this league is 'where amazing happens' and here's something more amazing than Peter Parker swinging through the heart of Manhattan for a truly superb sequel. For the first time in NBA history, the three most famous teams; the storied Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are not in the playoffs. OK, so after their down and dreadful seasons this is no new news but just years ago Kobe Bryant's Lake Show and Paul Pierce's Celtic pride we're duking it out like the good old days for the NBA crown and the new generation of history repeating itself to another epic rivalry on a Wilt and Bill, Magic and Bird level. Now the Lakers are wondering whether the oft-injured and incensed Kobe Bryant will ever return to the alpha-superstar he is...or even return healthy at all, while they pin the rest of their hopes on the donkey-punch play of the great and exciting Nick Young who see's the future, even if sometimes it looks like he's shooting with a blindfold. Meanwhile that forever Celtic Paul Pierce is with Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn as the former New Jersey Nets look to shake-off that 'traitor' tag the former Boston brothers have and also shake off the mecca Madison Square Garden's Knickerbocker team as New York's finest and king like Bernad was back. If that wasn't enough the Knicks are wondering if Carmelo Anthony will ever be the "LeBron James" they hoped he'd be, while putting all their faith into the zen of Phil Jackson as the former champion Knick role player and legendary Bulls and Lakers coach takes his eleven rings to his hoops home front office, to hopefully do to this team what Pat Riley did and is now doing upstairs and down with his slicked-back talents in South Beach.

Former Heat/Laker player Lamar Odom redeeming himelf and reteaming with former Laker champion ally and Queensbridge born and bred project Metta World Peace (if he stays put) is a sensational story start. Especially with what Odom can do on the floor, especially with how Phil nows how to handle him-in more ways than one-and especially with those Gasol rumors. The talk of the town that everyone is loving...except this Laker fan who does have to admit it'd be quite nice, but please Phil don't be the new Clips and take Kobe, no matter how much he loves the Garden. Kobe's Lakers and Rondo's Celtics (whose he hoping to pass to?) will now rely on the NBA draft for their new franchise face in this next generation and from college studs from stellar classes like Duke's Jabari Parker and Kentucky's Julius Randle we may have the next retired gold or green jersey for our banners and rafters. Still there's Irving's improving, wine-tasting, champagne chasing Cleveland, the motoring Pistons, the Magic needing Orlando, the antler-cut Bucks and the 'what the hell happened to Philadelphia' Sixers in this lottery too...and that's just in the East. Out West the burning bright Phoenix Suns we're ever so close and are just one piece away from puncuating the new league power player Eric Bledsoe. While the tough bearded Minnesota Timberwolves are fighting the cold in more ways than one out in Minneapolis with the hot flair of Ricky Rubio, but they need a little more to push through the hate and not lose Love. Then there's those few Nuggets in Denver and Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers future flying Pelicans in New Orleans that are being propped up by the Seattle Soni...excuse me, the Sacramento Kings, the Utah Jazz and of course the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess those early new milleniuum decade days where really longer ago then we thought. Still as quickly as the winds of season of change come in, it could all become better one day and 82 for these teams in this snakes and ladder league as they cut their way through the grass.

Still in this fast-paced, yesterdays news is a timeline scroll away digital day and age, people are more concerned with winners and not losers in this playoff picture. A bracketed frame that is currently looking like Chicago, Charlotte and Houston will be tackling with fishing-rods sooner than later...but let's not take the bait yet. Besides did you ever think that the Bulls would make it this far without Derrick Rose again? Thank God for Thibs, the team and the arc of Noah's career, because they even did it while losing Luol. You must be Joakim right? You can't deny the passion and fire of players that won't even take a play off, regardless of a game...and how about those 'Cats speaking of a Chicago legend? Michael Jordan has defied critics and taken his Charlotte Bobcats to the playoff promised land and these orange and blue are looking as real as the teal renaissance that will colour them as the Hornets once agin after the New Orleans name change. I know right...what was the point of them leaving and expanding, but hey if it works for them let's hope it happens for the missed and mistreated Seattle Supersonics...but David Stern and Adam Silver take'll never be the same. With M.J'.s success I bet the Wizards wished they stuck it out with the man who came out of retirement for them and practically played for free (let's not forget the best to ever do it donated his playing salary in 2001 to the 9/11 relief fund...and you thought him selfish) and actually played scientifically and statistically better than most people thought or didn't for that matter. Still with Mike's former team on the ropes the Washington Wizards are doing better than they and even everyone expected and are one of our teams of the year and picture perfect heading for this column for more than just their best jerseys that hark back to the Bullet days that M.J helped throwback perfectly during his last hardwood classics. The run and gun of John Wall and Bradley Beal is fun and formidable and as they're working through the kinks and creases we have a dynamic duo for the promised potential of the days of future past. Beyond a weird X-Men reference, we're basically saying these guys are first class yesterday, tomorrow and right now when it matters today and the cheetah fast, Bullet train, wall to wall play of John gives the Wiz a new spell of the better Gilbert Arenas they always wanted...and needed.

Meanwhile the new Houston Rockets of Dwight Howard's smile, James Harden's beard and Jeremy Lin's linsanity are cleared for takeoff into the underrted history of a franchise that has boasted the likes of Hakeem Olaujawon, Yao Ming, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler, Tracy McGrady and of course Steve Francis. Of course don't push them beacuse they're close to the edge, in a Grandmaster flash they could be gone but they're right there with Los Angeles new first team in the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lob-city led Clippers who are nipping at the sneakers of surely the MVP-to-be Kevin Durant and his championship hopeful Oklahoma City team with Russell Westbrook's entusiasm and energy and Derek Fisher's clutch and championship experience and pedigree. The every improving and proving Portland Trail Blazers and their Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge combo may not be smelling like the city of roses but these hipsters have for sure unchained themselves from those old Jail-Blazer days too. While the Curry hot and Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors will live large and die hard by the threes of the splash brothers for the contention credit. With Memphis still grizzled to the beard of the new Gasol great Marc and all their Conley led championship caliber too this West is anyones. With the great and one of the underrated best of all time Dirk Nowitzki passing Larry Bird's legend the three ball great could even add to his ring collection if he gets the hot hand, but in this Texas triangle of the West best no one is beating those old San Antonio Spurs led by the robot of Tim Duncan and his Ginoboli and Parker androids. I mean just look at that win streak and everyone was talking about Kevin's (including us). How is this veteran team still clicking after all these years? The answer is because decades and generations from now this unique unit will still be remembered as one of the best. They could even meet LeBron James Miami Heat again in the finals like last year but what believe me would be different, because of course in this game, the king looks to take his throne again for the third time. We thought that the great famous, first five of the Indiana Pacers would be champion but this 'Indy 5.00' looks to have slown down after the loss of their sixth man and former big star Danny Granger and have you heard what the most professional player on this team Roy Hibbert is saying? I guess those never-exctinct Raptors of Toronto and Canadian representation have as outside chance as now the talon gripping, playoff mainstay Atlanta Hawks and the league of extraodinary Teague, but who knows? Even Jason Kidd knows how to lead his Nets to the long as he can keep his tie off. From the suits on the sidelines to the sweats on the court it all looks to be one big debate as these guys roll up their sleeves like those jaded feeling, jarred jerseys. Will the storm of Kevin Durant and his Thunder be able to truly reign over the Heat of LeBron James South Beach talents? Or is this just a short shower of success? These two guys could share the Most Valuable Player award but after its all said and done, there can only be one true champion and king. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


A Great Deal.



All around the world, this game is truly global. Just take this last October gone for example. In the NBA's exhibition across Europe and the rest of the world to preview their season with some preseason games, they travel everywhere from London to the towers and bridges of many other popular cities. Last year however as Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder faced down the Dr. J/A.I. legendary, storied Philadelphia 76ers franchise in the North West of England, the city of Manchester-famous for their Giants named team and their NBA export John Amaechi-saw it's first National Basketball Association game with an oasis of talent. More than a year after the male and female Team USA practiced for the 2012 London Olympics against Teaam G.B. in an epic double-header and precursor to the big stage, Manchester showed it had the court vision to host a real game. Now there are even rumours that a state-of-the-art stadium is being built in this city for even more excitement than the Manchester Arena, that was once voted best in the world, higher than the mecca of Madison Square Garden. For Manchester's first game the legendary likes of Amaechi and the finger-wagging of Dikembe Mutombo where on hand, as where a pair of Kings for this great deal. The Arco Arena of Sacramento's finest cow-bell ringers Vlade Divac and Predrag Stojaković where there for more. Suited and booted like European actors with their huge heights giving away their true profession. Divac looking like a Jean Reno villain. The same villain he flopped his way to in the league, whilst having the strong, standstill to be a hero in Sacto. The same villain to the Los Angeles Lakers from the King dethroning playoff day attempts in the game of thrones days to the two times he made a great Laker addition but one in the wake of both ends in the death of the big Magic and Shaq dynasty respectively. Next to him slicked back and bearded up to look like a Hollywood star or model that could take your girlfriends gaze (trust me I know), Peja has the same good look that made him such a great one from behind the arc. The same great look that made him as pure a three-point shooter as the Bird's, Miller's and Allen's that shot before him and the Curry's that heated up after.

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


Nets Gain.


Amputation! That was almost the fate for 28 year old NBA player prodigy Shaun Livingston when he suffered a horrific knee injury back in 2007. A harrowing injury to his left cap in the form of a dislocation that still haunts those who saw his career discombobulate to this day. Shaun was a raw and rising star on a young Clippers team that was still trying to take the purple and golden shine off Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers before a nixed Chris Paul trade and a lob city taking off just outside of LAX with their power pilot Blake Griffin did so. A Clips team that wanted to recreate the promise of the Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and Darius Miles trilogy with their new potential. Livingston fit the bill of this new hip team with plenty of hops. From the cool, crop circle crafting cornrows to the blown out amazing afro for those big top games, the high socks and sleeves of S.L. showed that he had the style behind the back substance of those streetball style skills and slams that saved STAPLES from being an all Bryant affair like the departure of Shaquille years before. Still, perhaps those socks where a little too high because Livingston would become the next Miles for the Clips, but in the woefully wrong way. Darius could have become the second-coming of Kevin Garnett and the do-it-all future star of Los Angeles and the league but injuries put an end to his full potential career like the pennies from a Hardaway and the Clipper curse would cruelly continue.

The debilitating injury clawed away at Livingston's body and spirit with a clash against the Charlotte Bobcats. The smooth star fell akwardly after a missed lay-up and that looked like all she wrote. Shaun's left leg snapping laterally and in lamens terms almost every part of his knee was one and done. The guy that was about to rip the league apart tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral meniscus of his knee and if that wasn't enough for the injury box-score he significantly sparined his medial collateral ligament (MCL), and dislocating his patella and his tibia-femoral joint. They could have made a 'the knee bones connected to the hip bone' song out of all this maddening mess. The instant replay was so graphic it came with parental advisory stickers for its explicit content. This was no joke however as doctors told the young valiant star that they may have to take his leg. It would take months of rehab before he'd walk again...if ever. Suddenly the other hunderd or so games he missed early in his career due to being injury prone didn't matter. Suddenly the Clippers-at that time-best regular season record in 2005 to 2006 that he helped accumulate didn't matter either. Neither did the amazing assist high of 14 against Golden State for his career. Neither did the breakout year he was having before the breakdown. None of it mattered at that moment. The young man that led Concordia Lutheran Grade School and Peoria Central High School to two LSA titles and two Class AA ones respectively whilst becoming a McDonalds All-American was trying to digest something far more important to his lifes nutrition. One of the '100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament' and a man that skipped the prestigious Duke university alumni to be one of the last legacy making high-school players to go straight to the league had something bigger to deal with than living up to the lofty expectations of his fourth pick in the '04 draft. This guy wanted more than just to play again.

Ambition! He wanted to be able to walk again. The road to recovery was going to be a long one but the tall 6 foot 7 point guard, with a 6, 11 wingspan that drew comparisons to another tall L.A. point named Johnson wanted to show the world true magic like a Mos Def album most definitly and defiantly. The road may have been long and winding but Livingston was determined to take it all with both feet planted firmly on the ground, all the way until his sneakers reached hardwood. As slight as the 175 pound 2004 Illinois Mr. Basketball was he wanted to show and prove like Evander Holyfield once said, "It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters". Boy, does this kid have heart too like a boxer seconds from out. When most players would shriek and shrink from an injury like this and fade into the obscurity of the D-league, Europe or the millionaires comfortable cheque of retirement, Shaun showed his career was far from the dead and continued living instead of surving like the first part of his surname. The journey back took almost seven years, three shy of a decade and all of what many consider an NBA players-a guard especially-prime. Still at 28, Shaun is still young and still here minus the youthful 'fro and fail thrown passes. The maturity is there as well as the recovery. With much more time on the clock this is one appreciative argument for skipping college for the pros and the graduation that comes from personal and professional growth through any adversity. Now that is truly where amazing happens in this NBA league. The Clips may have left their injured young star a free agent in 2008 but this blessing in bittersweet disguise helped Shaun Livingston become tha man and name he is today. At that moment with everything against him he truly became free and the person he was meant to be.

The player he was always meant to be too, because he was far from done. This case for the 'Most Improved Player' has a 'Most Inspiring' chapter to this storybook ending for the verses and stanzas. Amazingly as early as the Summer of 2008-just a year and a few months change since the horrific injury-doctors allowed Shaun to continue the kind of Basketball activities Laker fans want Kobe to be able to carry on and carry out today. His leg was saved and now it was up to this heroic and brave young man to save his career before the scouts forgot him along with the critics and analysts who should really look for a new job right now. Looking for a big-league contract and comeback the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers took inspired interest but there was no guarantees. Inking a deal with the Miami Heat got Shaun's talented career the break it needed, but cooled off averages of a point and some in the garbage time of less than a weeks worth of scheduled games made this a slow and steady race. A trade to Memphis then came before Livingston was placed on waivers before the time he even got to check out the state of Tennessee. It was time and tide to show the NBA his development from the shadows before a career curtain call came. So Shaun headed to the Tulsa 66ers of the D-league to show the association that he deserved to be back in the band of brothers via the sister league. Thank the Basketball purist God's for the D-leagues potential because the 66'ers associated Oklahoma City Thunder drafted him out of there with a multi-year deal. Unfortunatly however this contract wouldn't outlast a calender year and Livingston was released yet again, but I bet the team that gave up James Harden wishes they still had another product of big hair even with their championship caliber now. The addition of a player like Shaun would guarantee a chip like that contract security this young man so desperately craved.

This career depression looked cruelly even worse than the injury that floored him and started this whole mess off. Still, keeping his head up and cleaning up his game Shaun Livingston never gave up despite all the years of hurt and heartbreak that would reduce most players and men-even years and teams older-to physcial and mental breakdowns. 10 day contracts may be one of the best things for the redemption of raw or injury ravaged players like Livingston because after signing one with the Washington Wizards to begin the second decade of the new milleniuum he began spells in D.C. and with the Charlotte Bobcats. Ironically with the team that he played against when he almost ended his career, his playing time looked like it was coming back and just getting started with these 'cats. Despite the basement dwelling and the down and outs, Shaun was just happy to be playing and really performing. Becoming an NBA journeyman and not the franchise face he hoped to be early in his career, Livingston was bounced around the league and America from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Houston Rockets and then back to Washington before he hit the lows of a post-LeBron Cleveland. We just hope he got enough room on all those flights for that knee. Still inbetween all the teams and tears of a career turned into a classic case of what could have been, Livingston finally found renaissance from injury and the injustice of an oft-ignored career redemption from a franchise that was looking for their own one leaving New Jersey for Brooklyn, hitting downtown New York with a new battle for the Big Apple against the Knicks behind their king owner (former) and rap legend Jay-Z and his business plan. Originally signed by legendary Point Guard coach Jason Kidd to back-up best P.G. in the league Deron Williams for one year, Shaun Livingston has proven to be Brooklyn's finest for this franchise. So much so that Jason will keep this kid like he'll keep his tie-off when this guy is playing.

Despite Williams all-star lead and the billionaire power of Mikhail Prokhorov bringing in former Celtic big-three champions Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to shoot and shout down the opposition with the likes of one of the last few big men in Brook Lopez and Russian gunner Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets have more gains when it comes to Shaun. We aren't talking about tha Carter either although the play of S-Dot Livingston has drawn the best rapper alive and former owner back to his courtside seat. Even with Beyonce sitting next to him the purist fans are focussed on the floor and the guy thats dancing on it like his knee never saw the knife. These Brooklyn nights are even more exciting than those Marvel comics (and you thought Peter Parker's amazing Spider-Man was this towns hero and latest scoop), looking better than those Brooklyn blue night, swingman sleeve jerseys in honour of baseballs original Dodgers. All complete with a story as inspirational as the one of teammate Jason Collins' comeback. With the injury of big-stars and the ageing of former legends this team needed something more than the steady scoring of Joe Johnson. Beyond the all-star talent they still needed the hunger for more. The type of killer instinct that comes from a guy that almost lost it all...and that my basketball friends comes from Shaun. More than his wing opening back-court play or his gritty defensive hounding. More than the fact that he can still shoot and slam his way to spark-plug and clutch plays, this guy is something. More than statistics, it's more like persistence and thats real power in this league full of quote-en-quote "power" players. The real star is the former young buck that now has the veteran saavy to take the prime and the rest of his career beyond the waivers and injured-reserve lists while he takes his team even further. 'DNP-CD' will no longer come next to this mans name, but something with the word 'most' in and champion might. LeBron, Miami, Chicago, the East and the west of the league led by Kevin Durant and Oklahoma beware. The turnaround of this money brought Nets powerhouse came from a man that turned his whole life around and cost less than the buck and change he weighs. The Barclays Centre can bank on this kid taking them to the current success of the big-league pay-offs. It's more than money when it comes to the heart and soul of Shaun. Its the 23 point high note or the 8.5 points per 100 possessions better this team becomes when he's on the floor. The same floor it almost all ended for Livingston. The same floor he'll always leave it all out there on. Now THAT is how you comeback. Amazing!

Friday, 4 April 2014


Points West.


Ok...we need to talk! We've got a problem! Or more like Kevin Durant's got one. A big one! He's on something. He's going off! Maybe he has a fever because he can't stop. It's more like a problem for the rest of the league however because for almost 40 NBA days and nights the Slim Reaper can't stop his killing. For 39 straight games he's set a new scoring pace and modern day record by scoring 25 or more and like Kyle Korver going downtown for years he doesn't look like he'll be stopping anytime soon either. The solution? Nothing is...just the scoring pouring and pouring like the weather his team name evokes. Someone should tell the Oklahoma City star that the forecast in his city wasn't really for 'Thunder', even if his latest reign looks to even topple King James Miami port making home in the Finals. Talents may be sunning themselves in golden shine on South Beach, but even Larry O'Brien knows it doesnt get much hotter than this. In this NBA game of thrones, LeBron may be the ruler but Kevin's looking to gladly take the head of the king like every reader and viewer who knows the name George R. R. Martin. Someone should tell this showering rain storm of points that Durant doesn't play in the rainy city of Seattle anymore, because this kids going Supersonic. The number 5 may have all hands on deck but he's acting like explosive, energetic player Russell Westbrook is still crazily fashioned to the sidelines. A cut above the rest he's playing like the terrific tandem of Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb haven't finally made up for the cutting loss of James Harden's beard. He's scoring like regulars and newcomers like Serge Ibaka, Nick Collinson and Caron Butler alike aren't contributing like they are. He's clutching more bigger and historical baskets than his playoff, last second legendary teammate Derek Fisher, who arguably won just as many championships for the Lakers then Robert Horry, Shaquille O'Neal and even Kobe Bryant.

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.