Sunday, 22 February 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
United in the centre of the Lakers basketball court bullseye, Chicago Bull, Pau Gasol stands alone. Surrounded by stars...and we aren't just talking about those ones circling the Lakers logo mid-court. Two of those sweet sixteen literally belonging to this number 16. Looking down on him are the numbers of greats. 13, 34, 33, 32, 52, 44, 22, 25, 42. It all adds up to Wilt, Shaq, Kareem, Magic, Wilkes, West, Baylor, Gail Goodrich and names all Worthy like the voice of a Chick. Looking down only in rafter stature at a man who deserves his place. More than this moment of fame running out of the locker room corridor he used to call home when not a visitor. More like the hall for the man that was the next great Lakers big-man in the Minneapolis and Mikan to Hollywood hoops history. Making the perspiration sole of his sneakers and passion of heart and soul mark on this court like Julius Randle will one day do, going harder in the paint. Just when everybody was in a purple haze and golden debate over move making flops Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard in this town of big pictures. Even if some don't see him on the NBA Mount Rushmore, tell that to the Spanish side of the greater Los Angeles area heading downtown to a 18,000 plus capacity STAPLES arena. Centre in the Centre, surrounded by stars and nothing but applause from every hand that's raised out of every seat in this sold out house. All for a man who used to call this Californian spot home. Loyally and O'Brien royally even though from fan to front office, they all tried to turf him out, via trade, or "someone" better. But don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got 'till its gone? Especially when this man, via ironically a trade, was more than the missing Rasheed Wallace piece mid-season (and the Lakers should know all about that Detroit Piston) that gave the post-Shaquille, death of a dynasty Lakers, not one, but two championships. The difference maker without an MVP...and you want to talk about Most Improved? Number 24's greatest dynamic duo partner and friend, the latter just co-existing more than number 34. The one man from all the championship chasing ups and downs from Lamar Odom to Steve Nash that they should have never traded like Derek Fisher. The inside present that opened up their outside chance to return to their storied status versus the Celtics. A winner through and through, like the shades of purple and gold that will always run through his veins in some form, even if diluted by others disrespect. The same people now all smiles and cheers like its all good...and in some ways it is. Even though he should be receiving this S.O. for his own to the ceiling celebration moment as a Laker lifer..who knows? Maybe one day. One way or another. When you're the one you just know. Even when their not cheering. Kobe Bryant looks on...with unwavering pride. In this minute he knows his place.
Standing in the centre circle once again, he's no longer alone. The ball goes up, followed by his outstretched hand and the one of another just like his. Just like before the whole world of this arena is watching here weeks later as he's on the worlds biggest stage now. In the planets most famous arena of the Mecca of Madison Square Garden. Even taking the light off the neon hub and tourist/entertainment core of the waking, watching world in Times Square, just a few blocks over in New York City. Surrounded by every wide eye in the arena, taking their Stub Hub sought after, hundred and thousands of dollars worth and earned seats. Surrounded by stars, All-Stars once again, Pau is one again too. But this is not only his magnificent moment in this comeback season. Surrounded by names like LeBron, Carmelo, Curry and Wall, the name on the back of the jersey of the man rising up with him for this balls tip off reads 'Gasol' too. But this is no All-Star uniform laundry mix-up. The one reading 16 is bordered by the special All-Star back of the uniform named 'Pau Gasol' for the East. Whilst his competitor out West's back reads 'Marc' above his 33 and surname. These Spanish siblings and brothers in arms made All-Star history in this moment as the first brothers to start this honoured, hallmark game. An epic entry for a storied legacy of National Basketball Association families from the Barry brothers to the Walton's. These guys have come far. From court capital, Barca born boys to dribbling in Memphis. From dominating for the Basketball reigning, superstar Barcelona sister equivalent of the soccer starring Nou Camp fielders to showing the former Vancouver Grizzlies a shaggy hair and bearded future for the rock and roll Tennessee town, that the slicked back hair and suede shoes of Elvis Presley made king famous. Both these court sketches of Spain brought more jazz to this beautiful game like Miles Davis. Both played for Memphis. Both where held under contract in El Segundo by the Los Angeles Lakers. As a matter of fact the draft pick for Marc ended up being part of the package deal trade (that at first, before hindsight was seemingly seen as unfair) that brought in the power of Pau and all the gasoline of Gasol that fuelled the Lake shows Showtime for the next two Laker championships. Here's betting the Lakers wished they kept Marc of the Gasol name too, as well as Pau, like an unfair Chris Paul trade nix. Or just imagine if the Grizzlies out in Memphis had both brother bears thank you very much. Then that would be some storybook, storied NBA, hardwood classic history for your books. Especially since this sibling rivalry has gone from Marc proving he wasn't just Pau's little brother in bettering him, to this year the elder Pau having a season just as great, if not better than best big-man in the league Marc this year. Still, you don't have to "settle" for just an evenly matched up All-Star game on valentines weekend to see this showing of brotherly love together. Their alignment for the second strongest in the world Spanish national side has been a real bullseye to the tune of European occupation and two silver medals for the two gold stars. Making FIBA just as important to the rest of the basketball world as the initials N.B.A. Plus with the teammate likes of the flair of Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro and even Serge Ibaka this team still has the potential of beating the dream of Team U.S. for worlds best wake up call.
A growling bear holds the ball in the centre circle that a young, shaggy hair and beardless, twenty something Pau Gasol stands in, as he receives a Stern warning. That being that he could be one of the greatest basketball players of tomorrow in todays league as commissioner David hands him the NBA's 'Rookie Of The Year' trophy for his 17.6 points and 8.9 rebound average and franchise face turning leverage. The only non-American to win this R.O.Y. honour for another record in 2002. The 3rd pick of the 2001 draft was selected by the now league best, Atlanta Hawks, but this 7 foot, 250 pounds when sweating, Power Forward/Centre tweener would never spread his wings in Georgia brown. Those being clipped by the Grizzlies who brought this Hawk down to their town as fast as 'Welcome to Atlanta' became 'You Are Now Leaving...', goodbye! With a trade for another, then more-established star big-man Shareef Abdur-Rahim and draft caps swapped to the hat tall West. Gasol would face off with the in prime, hunks of trees in the in prime Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Chris Webber of the constantly contending Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings respectively, just for starters. The skinny on this rooks scouting report, wrote him off as underweight, radars and experience and border lines. Downright unfair though, the Grizzlies saw him as more. More then the next proving everybody wrong, writing off Dirk Nowitzki too as a player in his own right. Regardless of nationality. Becoming the all-time leading scorer and record holder in field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers for his seven seal of stellar seasons for a now decades plus, already rich history of the growling and growing Grizzlies franchise. Worthy of a jersey retirement here, especially if the Lakers don't do the right thing. Gasol became a great before he even pulled on a Lakers or Bulls jersey, or lifted Larry O'Brien or his own name back into the elite. Now this in-prime, 34 year old is one of the best players this association has ever seen, let alone international ones, big-men or big-game winners.
Now the snarling face of the infamous Chicago Bull in the middle of the United Centre looks re-charged for an even stronger stampede. The same face that the G.O.A.T., greatest of all-time Michael Jordan fell into. Exhausted, emotional, game-ball in hand, face buried in it, to the floor as the 90's golden era Bulls won another of their six championships in the NBA's 90's coming out party. Now Benny the Bull faces the matador from Spain seeing red in crimson court vision. Ready to proudly in defiance hold the red flag until this franchise leaves other teams waving home white in surrendering defeat to the W. The Bullfighter, charged off equal parts previous team traded revenge and new job security and refreshed season safety redemption. Motivated in this game of two halves, one part hurt, the other a more positive form of passion. Ready to change his season of wind in the gale force city. Looking for glory like Common after February. Rapping up more than an old school mic check. Ready for Scoop to write his testimonial. Before he hopes to help engrave another O'Brien as a real contender again despite the struggles. You need that kind of necessary experience to have the makings of a champion. Yet alone a dynasty again without the Zen of Phil. Laker or Bull. Hollywood or bull####. For the greater good of the end result its more than a start. It means more than it all. More than the one, Derrick Rose coming back from more injuries than Kobe. Or even future star of service Jimmy Butler. Even reigning Defensive Player Of The Year Joakim Noah's career arc isn't taking them as far as this right now. But he with his pole position, post playing, power partner forms a nice teammate duo inside, to go with a terrific team across the board of valued vets like Taj Gibson, Aaron Brooks, Nazr Mohammed and on and off Bull lifer Kirk Hinrich and hopefully the return of Mike Dunleavy. All determined to keep Thibs at the end of the bench and their playoff chips on the floor at the end of May. All a complete team thanks to the man that makes it that much Maguire, like a perfect sports agent. More than a 20 and 10 assurance of a threat, the 18.4 points and 12.1 rebound averaging Gasol has a real nice and underrated 2.9 assists to go with that and how about those career highs in blocks (9) and points (43) on a year where he was supposed to be done? Well this is it! Resurgence in the words of H.G. Taking a time machine back to the full beard and long hair, slick youthful exuberant player he was in Memphis...or maybe that's just the free straight shave they offer in downtown Chi's Macy's department store. Now the crust of this deep dish can expect meals on the house anywhere he goes in the Windy City like R. Kelly believing he can fly in the 90's. Because this guys footing the bill every night when it comes to big numbers. But will this all add up to prevailing in a final seven game series? Gather in the standing room of the United Centre next to all those rafter banners and that victory number 23. Because you might be able to see the man in the middle like M.J. holding centre court like Nadal, holding something that from here looks like victory. As the Bulls eye looks up to its knockout round, prize fighter.
Friday, 20 February 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE"! Kevin Garnett screams into the ceiling of the Garden as the roots of his legend, today made legacy grows taller than the weeds of previous days desperation. The same rafters that will soon hold another Celtic championship banner rising up there with his echoes. A banner to go next to Bill Russell's and Larry Bird's as well as their jerseys in Kevin's name now. Apologising to sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya for maybe breaking her microphone with his decibels, let alone her eardrums, the ever passionate and emotional K.G. breaks down and incoherently through tears and trembling says something like "mama I love you"! Before repeating how "certified" he finally was now and screaming "I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD", in a titanic moment that shows just how great this game is and what it all means to every man, especially this one! NBA moments don't get much better than this and the ball cradled under his arm was no longer in play. All the years, all the tears. It was meant to be. It was always going to happen. It was all worth it. Every jersey tug and pop. Every head bashing under the basket. Every trademark K.G. scream that still to this day shouts louder than any signature celebration. All together to return the leagues most historical franchise back to their storied chapter in NBA basketball. All for this. The reason this man got together with three-point Bird flying Ray Allen and the pride of the Celtic Paul Pierce to rebirth the age of the big three before LeBron's superfriends of Bosh and Wade and now Irving and Love. All through the dream team dominating season that made Boston basketball the beans of this town again. All the dunks, blocks, hustles, charges. All the smoke still to windows closed clear from the firework beginning games, burst to the tip of the ball. All the electricity caused by the current of one mans chest thumping pride of passion. All to be king. All for this moment. But no matter how far he eventually came after all these years, Kevin Garnett wouldn't forget where he came from to get to this point. Not ever. As he dedicated to the postgame soundbite, "this is for everybody in 'Sota'"!
Years later, he still hasn't forgot. Kevin Garnett sits in the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, as a Net. Banking on everything his beautiful, classic career as one of the greatest this game has ever seen-in terms of both professionally and competitively speaking-has given him. After aligning with the shot of Ray Allen and the truth of Paul Pierce for a dynasty like no Laker other, Garnett found himself with Pierce again. But with Ray gone and Rajon about to be able to pass to no one, the duo of Kevin and P-Double where brought to the rap world of Jay-Z's Net gain in Brooklyn. With a Russian billionaire about to buck and book a new superteam of the likes of Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, led by top Point Deron Williams. These two experienced, champion veterans where the final pieces of the puzzle that where more celebratory than complimentary. Still despite some flashes of running away brilliance and mixing in the Knick fight for king of New York, it just didn't seem right. Although it looked good, it was strange to see Garnett in this new Brooklyn jersey (it was hard enough getting used to the Celtic green), let alone Paul Pierce. After a great shot at success, Paul Pierce took his shot and defensive rock stealing play to a new superteam in Washington that seems like it was put together by the potion of witches, let alone the wands of these Wizards. Now with the truth playing for a genuine, new contender, K.G. was left to play with the remaining pick-up pieces for a Basketball team that Jersey boy or not, would always seem like a sister franchise to the big brother playing in the Mecca of Madison Square Garden, no matter how bad they where...or really are now! Still with some decent teammates around him and in a beautiful borough of a city that never sleeps, Garnett finally found rest and player about to hit retirement peace. Still his "no trade" contract clause in order to not displace his family was only cemented with a concrete pen if something special didn't turn up elsewhere. Something special like the golden handcuffs that where being offered up before the clutch buzzer beating of last nights trade deadline.
How about Minnesota? How about a trade for the talents Thaddeus Young? How about this for a sweet story? Da Kid is back with a Big Ticket to where the Showtime and Showbiz started in the Lakers old home of Minneapolis. Minnesota's greatest Timberwolf and best big man since the spectacle that was Minneapolis Laker and first NBA superstar George Mikan is coming back to the Twin Cities for the twin peaks of his chapter making career. Forget LeBron returning to Cleveland this Summer for the new trend in hash-tag following, news breaking sports, this homecoming king is a sweeter story that hits the heart of home with even more passion and epic emotion to the hallmark chalk toss. This is like Iverson returning to the Sixers and turning Philly's Broad street into a jam as tailed back as it is long! Now the next time this kid jumps on the scorers table in game winning celebration beating his heart like he was that smiling rookie and not the growling veteran, you'll think its the late 90's to the new millennium once again. Time to break out that old, throwback, instant vintage, Hardwood Classic out of the Mitchell & Ness back catalogue once again because this is pine tree fresh for the white, black and blue. The Wolves can howl at the moon in Minnesota again until we all yell "Timber" and fall again. This is like the return of Prince's purple reign. It's all love. The other Kevin doesn't know this towns heart like this. Don't hate. We don't need to talk about him anymore, like Durant to the media. The league was built on stories like this. F. Scott Fitzgerald couldn't write it better. The Great Garnett in the Timber age. Back in the wolf pack. This is just the ticket! Ladies and gentlemen get your stubs for this hub of hoop dreams made hardwood real. Aim for the Target Centre now, because this bullseye in the craziest trade deadline day in league coverage history was even crazier than a LeBron led free agency. Everyone from Amar'e Stoudemire to Michael Carter-Williams have found new homes this week. So don't talk to me about tanking. Now K.G. may not be young or prime time enough anymore to lead these new pack of young Wolves cubs that already had us excited at the Friday hello of last All-Star weekend, but this is still his team once again. They haven't forgot and best believe he hasn't either.
Now the evergreen passion of a player closing out his career chapter with the happiest of hallmark and nostalgic endings joins the youthful exuberance of a team more revolutionary road worthy than raw but real and in K.G's redemption he is the perfect player of experience both home heart near and championship far to take these pups to the next level before its game over. He's been through it all. The ups and downs, of the inside and out, one, two punch of Showbiz and K.G., before there was even a Shaq and Kobe in this league, back in '96. Before Stephon Marbury became a Starbury between New Jersey and New York and ended their paper perfect partnership. He's overcome the tragic, all too cruel and young death of best teammate and friend Malik Sealy to carry on proudly in his honour after laying him to rest. A player and friend more important and special than some memories remember, but with the number 2 on the collar of his jersey once again, Kevin will never forget. He could never forget. He's overcome the times the tip of the ball or the toss of the coin didn't fall his way. From the contract nixing of Joe Smith that almost does justice to the Chris Paul Lakers to Clippers pulled crap, to all those first round exits that hurt more than McGrady tears. You saw them stream down Kevin's face in interviews as he tried to grunt and blink them away. The pride and passion of an emotional heart and soul of a team that almost came so close to toppling the Lakers and everyone else in the Shaq and Kobe, dynasty era when Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell came along for Garnett's own big three. But as Spree was claiming he needed more money to feed his family, Kevin Garnett was taking care of both of his. Just like he is now with the unconditional, forever support of players and coaches like Sam Mitchell and the reunited Flip Saunders for this twist in the script. Back before his number 21 is finally taken to the rafters of this town that belongs to the greatest player and face this franchise has ever seen in all its big smiles and screams. With the ability to help raise more with these youngsters. Believe me from the excitement of the next LeBron, Euro-hyped Ricky Rubio to this Rookie Of The Year MVP Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves are about to be led through the Western tree, forest of cold. Just like fellow Canadian, bust labelled sophomore Anthony Bennett and the 19 year old that dunks contest championships like 'Space Jam' didn't come out when he was still in diapers, Zach LaVine, Vine creator. Now you don't have to be seven seconds away from knowing that with Da Kid, these kids are going to be more than all right and who knows what else? After all "this is for 'Sota"! "Anything is possible"!
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Parquet floor erupts in celebration like those infamous splintered and cracked dead-spots on court that are now being pounded into submission by many a plimsoll and work shoe. These soles belonging to the souls to the sold out Boston Garden that are rushing to the arenas floor. This can only be a sign of one thing...another Celtic championship. It must be the golden era of the 80's. A time and tide of titles that if it wasn't for the Magic of the Lakers would have clearly flown the way of the old Irish's Bird from French lick every year. Now on this day in 1986, a year after falling to the purple and gold like avenged Forum balloons dropping to a lights out aftermath arena of a Wilt beating Russell led Celtics of decades back, the Boston boys are back in the rafters of the real Garden of basketball. They and Bird not paying the Lakers revenge just yet, but soaring over the Houston Rockets team that caused them so many problems with the twin towers of Ralph Sampson and some young dreamer called Hakeem. Six parts of a seven game series was needed for the C's to overcome H-town and maybe more than just the Larry legends of Kevin McHale and the late, great Dennis Johnson. In overcoming Houston's problematic post pair they needed something a little bigger. The 'Sixth Man Of That Year', Bill Walton who overcame more than just some strokes in the paint to rise above it all to glory. For what was riding on and against him made that season possibly the best year of Walton's playing career. Still with his red, Scalabrinie, Celtic leprechaun hair soaked in the same champagne or sweat his jersey was, he made his way through the shaking microphones and hands to find some people that meant more when it came to sharing this special moment of glory. He had to get to the locker room. He had to share this moment with his family and his young son staring up at him, beaming at his hero. A kid called Luke.
Luke Walton's father was a lot better than you think LeBron generation. The purists know. Post big-man age you know about your Wilt's, your Russell's. Your Kareem's and Shaq's. Even your Ewing's, Robinson's and Olaujawon's. Still amongst all these trees its hard to see the real forest of formidable foes. One in particular sporting the lumberjack shirt and blue collar jeans and Springsteen boots ready to chop wood. Bandana wrapped around the long hair that the soul of Marvin Gaye wouldn't judge. What's going on you ask? One of the greatest centres the National Basketball Association has ever seen! A man they called a hippy, but was really the hip to hoops hop. A guy that bridged the iconic fashion and passion play between the Knicks' Walt 'Clyde' Frazier's pimp game and Phil Jackson's Zen one. The man in the middle that dunked and blocked with a force that could shatter the glass he cleaned the opposite end to how much he shaved. A number one draft pick that was a Clipper before that franchise ever made it to Los Angeles. But before San Diego and even the Trailblazing Portland team that drafted him their was the Los Angeles times of UCLA. Times like these where this bold Bruin was a three time college player of the year, making John Wooden's side a powerhouse to the tune of two, perfect 30 and zip, net cutting, championship seasons. Then as the devout Grateful Dead fan and 'Worlds Tallest Deadhead', honour roll member took his band posters down from his dorm and put up the vinyl on the road, this man dropped the needle on a Hall Of Fame career. Even though his PDX beginnings where marred by a career crippling sick note, scrub laundry list of injuries for the ever ill-fated Blazers that kept him at bay like San Francisco. Still a warrior, rising from the cast concrete in the city of roses this man became a Portland legend down the trail like Clyde Drexler. Greg Oden take note! A superstar before he played a game in this league, a suit and tie for the shirt and board shorts guy may have prevented a few more, but an MVP block and rebound leading championship season would help raise his number 32 to NBA ceilings like NCAA ones. Outstanding in his Oregon opening, multiple foot injuries may have prevented him from getting his in the G.O.A.T. door, but one of the best B.I.G's still got to close his final chapter with another bookending championship for the association's most storied side. Leaving this game with his own footnote in the history books of being the only player to win the big three honours of season MVP, Sixth Man of the Year and Finals MVP. Throw it down big man...throw it down!
Little Luke couldn't be prouder. Growing up watching his pop play, whilst listening to his dads old records. Only to then become a man himself, tattooing Grateful Dead, skeleton arms holding orange and leather seams to represent his basketball brotherhood with Adam, Chris and Nathan, whilst inking a deal to draft him into the association of National Basketball himself. Although the current Golden State Warriors assistant coach who brings brilliant basketball I.Q. and experience (some with the Lakers D-League affiliate D-Fenders) to that job description at 34 is a little too young to have already retired for years, ever since swapping his Lakers champagne and trophies for Cavalier wine and gold. I guess injuries are as common as Teddy, presidential, fatherhood middle names in the Walton's household. Its all familiar like two championships each in the family trophy cabinet that put them in the exclusive, most successful championship company of the Barry family and the first father and son duo in the NBA to win multiple chips. And I bet you thought two Gasol's in the All-Star game was awesome. Named after old man William Walton's former Portland Trail Blazers teammate and friend Maurice Lucas, Luke grew up in California's San Diego, before making it to the University Of Arizona for a real gown graduating, capped off year of academics and textbook hoops. Averaging nice numbers across the board in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, Luke was a steal when he was taken with the 32nd pick in the second round of the draft. A long way from his father times pole position, but still a drive to downtown L.A. for the Lakers team his dad once appealed to playing for before Red's Celtic green snapped and signed him up. Although a Small Forward and not the big block and dunk shy 7 footer his Walton senior was, Theodore junior was a dominant defender and perfect passer that even underrated dishing big man Shaq didn't need to assist...just like Kobe. This 6, 8, 235 pounds of Small Forward, role playing prototype got his rings and proved to be a great, young replacement for one of the Lakers best role players and champions of all time in off-ball genius, opponent wrestler Rick Fox. Switching with Deaven George for fifth Beatle duties in the billboard, Hall of Fame year of Shaq, Kobe and the Glove and Mailman of Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
Parquet felt like something else under the soles of Luke Walton's sneakers as he walked off the Gardens famous floor in a Finals over 20 years since his dad stepped off his to meet him head held high. Head down for Luke this just didn't feel right as ticker tape fell around him. Maybe it felt off to walk off like this because it wasn't the original basketball Eden of the Boston Garden that bloomed under his fathers feet before it was mowed down by a wrecking ball. Or maybe it was more like the fact that walking off a Finals floor just never feels right when its off in defeat. Its just how it is and how surreal it gets when you're a Laker and your dad was a Celtic. Its the equivalent of someone bringing the finest cut of steak to a vegan dinner party. It makes for one hell of a conversation over dessert. Still as this game was in Hearn's refrigerator, but on the wrong jello jiggling temperature, down in defeat Walton needed to change the pace of his walk. Just like Kobe did in his own Forum fall balloon moment. Inflated with motivation the following year, it was all Finals Magic like Earvin for surviving Shaq era Lakers, Kobe and Walton as they rung the changes of full circle champions. Still in beating Orlando for O'Brien, it just wasn't the same for the Lakers (although in todays hindsight, beating Dwight Howard must be sweet) like when the Celtics they wanted to play beat the Rockets and not their 80's Showtime incarnation in Bill Walton's time. 365 days and seven gruelling games of a repeating NBA Finals later would make everything right however. Through blood, sweat and baskets. Every position burned and every possession earned, the real, script flipping, storybook ending was rewrote in these David and Goliath, Ali and Frazier, Superman and Batman's latest legacy making chapter of legend. Another companion piece of the leagues two most storied franchises with a fatherhood/boyhood twist to the tale. As Kobe ran down the STAPLE of a Hollywood, basketball red carpet on his home floor he cradled the ball in his arm and reached for the stars that couldn't touch him. Behind him though was a man that made all this matter. One of the key cogs, off the bench splinters in this role playing machine made of wood and championship gold plaque. Walton's son was a lot better than you think Larry generation. Clapping and celebrating a capped off championship that he helped champagne certify. Still in this moment of man in the mirror, like father, like son, career reflection, Luke had to get to the press box of commentators. He had to share this moment with his family and his old man staring up at him, beaming at him proudly. A man called Bill. The Walton's story complete. Goodnight Bill. Goodnight Luke.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
(The Sequel To #SuperheroSeason 'Hawkeye')
Stroke after stroke hits the mark from the box. Swish, swish, SWISH! Its been like this since the season begin. In every arena in all towns across this country. Stroke, stroke, stroke. X's, not O's however mark the spot. All taking names. LeBron, Kobe, Curry. Vote getters, mid-February weekend lovers. NBA All-Stars headed to the mecca of New York's Madison Square Garden via the borough of Brooklyn. Horford, Millsap, Teague...but no Korver? You Punkin' Kutcher?! O.K. I swear that's the last time I rewake that tired reference. Still the league best Atlanta Hawks have recently beaten the Braves and fellow Falcon birds of prey to hold the record for the longest winning streak in ATL franchise sports history. Their winning streak soared to almost 20 games, before another bird in the form of the Pelicans clipped their wings to 19 and done games. You best believe that whilst getting their talons into some top tier playoff real estate, a big part of this ballclubs success was thanks to their Georgia peach with the peach from downtown, Kyle Korver. Even with their big All-Star three of Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague in this league of extraordinary gentlemen trilogies. Korver is so hot right now, going from a three ball king to a moneyball star, more than the Michael Lewis, Bill James, Billy Beane statistical playbook. So much so that here we are just over a half year after writing our first 'Superhero Season' Kyle Korver piece, giving the Atlanta player his new Avenging nickname, 'Hawkeye' for the way he crossbows long range arrow daggers like cupid. But still no love this mid-Feb? Perhaps its time for a new nickname for this Hawk. Perhaps 'American Eagle' the way this All-American, would be All-Star spreads his wings from afar like a Bird. More like the legend of Larry not Nelly. Dominique dominant! Still even though the All-Star public voting committee may sleep on this number 26 who clutch puts other teams to rest, he won't care. He'll still be in the gym, day in day out, practice making the shot after shot that becomes in-game perfect.
Swish, swish, swish!
He'll still get his chance to shimmer and shine at All-Star weekend in New York however, even if it comes with the Saturday events in Brooklyn, rather than the Mecca event in Madison Square. In his range of the three-point contest he'll get to wet the Golden State splash brothers of Stephen Curry and human torch Klay Thompson, all whilst showing sharpshooters like J.J. Redick, Wesley Matthews and double nickle, 55 hot Kyrie Irving where real punctuated point purity lies from way downtown. Making every ball like the last one in the rack. The underrated and understated K. Korver may just be amplified enough to clutch the trophy away from the red hot Curry...besides he was shooting when this kid was in school watching his old man Dell shoot the lights out at a cyber, computerized rate of accuracy. You want to talk about real Warriors coming to play downtown to the tap of a bottle neck? This guys a Chris Mullin buzz hitter, with Euroball range. Dirk deep. Peja pretty. All whilst this American eagle looks like he's young enough to stand outside that outfitters or Abercrombie and Fitch. Even if he's well into his 30's like an ESPN documentary. Channing young looking, knocking you out like Tatum with the magic of Mike in the fourth. But still no star? Do we need to call him David with his goliath play? No disrespect to arguably the best big man in the league Horford, or his frontcourt, paint soldier ally Millsap. Or the league leading Teague at his point. But the reason the Hawks have flown to the top of the standings is as much credited to Korver's big threes as well as the big triple leading the way for the A. He's probably won as many games as he's changed with his momentum moving, monumental plays.
Swish, swish, swish!
Yet now Korver joins the fellow snubs of Wizard wall Marcin Gortat, Denver Nugget gold Ty Lawson and the criminally ignored Trail Blazing Damien Lillard in having no excuse to not take their significant others out on valentines weekend. A fancy meal, a nice walk. Don't want to have to sit through that 'Fifty Shades' of pap? Tough! Just like teammate Elton Brand once said hilariously to his snub said, "its O.K. I'll spend the weekend with my wife and kids...oh wait that's right, I don't have a wife and kids". How times change though...now Korver's a dad too. Even if he's still a baby-faced, thirty something that acts his age but looks like his jersey number. Still this rain makers a star, everything else is just a forecast of mild precipitation. When he's dialling from distance you don't want to be on the receiving end. This writer remembers this guy getting mobbed at a House Of Hoops in London, like his God like shooting touch would rub off on the crowd if they could just get at the hems of his tracksuit. To later show off in the school yards and playgrounds, shouting "KORVER" as they let it fly from deep like an eagle or Hudson Hawk...there's another nickname, maybe if we turn this big three shooters articles into a trilogy we'll have another title. Just like the Hawks might have soon thanks to their good eye! Who gives the Hawks as much wing as the Tim Duncan efficient imitating Al Horford, the man good enough to replace Carlos Boozer in Utah when he was good enough to replace Karl Malone, Paul Millsap and the speed of Teague. They may be the big three, but I can give you three more reasons why Korver is the one.
Swish, swish. swish!
Even the Avengers of Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man need their Hawkeye. Whether he comes with some Legolas, Hunger Games archery skills or two guns like Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington bringing their own graphic novel to life. Kyle may be the ATL's Agent Barton but when this marvel extends his range like Mr. Fantastic he NBA Jam flames on, becoming a human torch, rendering defences invisible. Its an incredible thing, just imagine if they really do introduce the four point play. This guy watches the superheroes back, seeing better from a distance. Still, these days you don't have to go all the way downtown to see just how much of a court visionary this guy is. There's more to this guys game then living and dying by the three. His seemingly modest numbers of around 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game are crucial across the board box score of a 6,7 prototype. There's an all-star in there trust me. Purists know just how great a guy like the stay at home dad looking Matt Harping really was. This fellow former Jazz player makes more noise than the subtle notes he plays too. Put it this way if the Rose, Gasol, Noah and Butler Chicago Bulls still had this guy you could guarantee these guys a championship like a Ray Allen pick-up. The guys just this pure, modelling his shot after the greatest game winning legend Reggie Miller, whilst adapting his whole game to the finalizing factors of defence (its not just that gum guard holding everything back) and all round team play. This California kid from the heights of Creighton to his Sixer start has always made his mark. Still after passing Jason Richardson as the 15th all-time leader in three pointers made and beating Barros to an NBA consecutive 127 games with a three pointer made, this guy has become more. He's NBA history. Check the books. Or his manicured styled, success guaranteed, 20 point checklist. Wide stance. Exaggerated legs. Drop through heels. Engage core. Slight bend at waist. Up strong. Elbow straight. One hand. Fingers spread. Slight pause. Elbow up. Land forward. See the top of the rim. Ball on fingertips. Strong shot. Shoulders forward and relaxed. Ball and arm risen straight. Hold the follow through. Keep the release point high. On turns, square shoulders. All this and he still doesn't make the fans All-Star voting list? He's a Team USA member for the love of God and country! Next year or an injury prone coming next week needs to make this right. Now you know what to do as swiftly as the click of a pen the next time you see Kyle Korver's name next to a blank space...
Swish, swish, swish!