Monday, 24 August 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Shorts shorter than what Homer Simpson or The Royal Teens rocked and rolled around in? No tattoos, not even a drop of ink? Looking more like the dad in a household name family sitcom? Question nothing, because John Stockton is a legend in this game like Michael Jordan or Allen Iverson. A golden era, 90's legend, who picked and rolled deliveries with Mailman, Karl Malone, all the way from the squeaky sneakers of the court to the corridors of the Hall Of Fame. Together the one-two punch hit as the Salt of Lake City for the Utah Jazz. As a matter of fact, forget top 50, this guys one of the top 25 players of his decades generation and maybe even higher than that in the greatest Point Guard of all-time ranks that has seen him battle everyone from Steve Nash to Magic Johnson. Think his old school, back to basketball quarterback basics style has no influence on the next youth of the game today? Then why don't you check the roster of the Sacramento Kings. Look for the name David Stockton. His son. As a matter of fact lets check the box-score for some Stock talk to see just how good basketballs dearest John was. Lets play it by the numbers, because they don't lie...and John Stockton was the truth.
After the Utah Jazz piece number 12 (now in immortal symphony with the retired rafters) was selected with the 16th pick in the 1984 NBA draft over 30 years ago, the 6, 1, 175 pound P.G. paced the 84/85 season with nice averages of 5.6 points, 5.1 assists and a steal point three. His breakthrough year came a couple of 82's later where he seasoned himself to a star in the making of 14.7 points, 3.0 steals and a whopping 13.8 assists. The kind of line his career would play out to with the season to season averages of 13.1 points, two and two steals and 10.5 assists. Only diminishing his returns by being a valuable veteran for so long, shouldering the baggage of a post Mailman in Utah. That like father time took a toll on Stocks body and his body of work. That still today leaves him trailing only Boston Celtic great Robert Parish and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be a player to play the most seasons and consecutive games with one franchise. And they said you couldn't measure loyalty.
After '87 for the next seven seasons, Stockton sealed some stellar stats in the assist column. Reading 13.6, 14.5, 14.2, 13.7, 12.9, 12.6 and 12.3 during his prime in the golden era of the National Basketball Association with a game, whopping career high 28 against the San Antonio Spurs of all teams to whip into passing lane shape. Forget seven seasons though these are just the tip of the iced numbers of being a 9 time assist leader over the seasons. Stockton did more than just push the rock well, leading the NBA history books in all-time passes, breaking Magic's record and leading the next man by at least 3,000 dimes. Just like he did on the opposite end, by holding court as the all-time steals leader, to go along with two led seasons for that category in his inventory.
Still his signature year in the box score was between 1989 and 1990 where John hung averages of 17.2 points, 3.0 steals and 14.5 assists on the rest of the league and the record books. A potent scorer, defender and guy that sets it all up, you couldn't want for a better playmaker and X and O guy in this beautiful game when it was his time and prime.
No wonder this guy tallied 1504 games in his career with 1300 of those starts on an average of 31 minutes a game. To go along with the stepped up playoffs where he played 182 postseason games and started in 165 to the tune of 35.2 minutes a game. Those extra five minutes and change of burn led to some big numbers in the 19.5, 14.8 and 3.4 line of the 1987/88 playoffs, cresting at a career average of 13.4 points, 10.1 assists and 1.9 steals. Racking up the career end totals of 19,711 points, 15, 806 assists and 3, 265 steals. Lost count yet?
Add that all up and that's what makes you a top ten All-Star player, 50th anniversary player and one, true champion even without the ring. And if you think I'm dreaming, he has two Olympic Gold Medals for his team to wake you up different. So go around in circles with that!
That's a wrap for our Stock tips. For those still trying to put up screens on this greatest guard, look at the numbers. It's time to pick one and roll.
Monday, 10 August 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Rock between the fingertips and palm of his hand, this young man stands in a circle that seems like a spotlight of circling pressure, in a capacity arena that feels like the millions that are tuning in on their television sets around the nation and globe. In this moment this kid Lew Alcindor feels like an Olympian as he moves with the athletic grace somewhere between the bounty of ballet and the beauty of knowing kung-fu. He holds the rock for a moment slightly stretched to the side of him, before bringing it in to his body...slowly, carefully in one perfect pirouette of a pivot. Then he steps back, dancing with his spot, striding forward and in one creatively, crafted crane moment, elevates his arm to the outstretched stature that even the record books can't reach. Making proud and perfect flamingos out of all the goose-necks before his wrist snaps in one downward, almost deflated motion that sort of tells the opposition; "never mind"! As the ball flies high towards its one goal, the world record and more than just another point proved. They check the tape and its off the charts and when it lands...it's his personal best perfection. It's the gold! The top of the podium. It almost looks like a shot putt, but this shot is put down as a sky-hook and this young Lew Alcindor is the name at the top of it all; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Floating like a butterfly and stinging the net like a bee, this ball pollinates the nylon like it was a beautiful flower in basketball bloom. And it all comes from the hands of the greatest, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The most famous name change in sports and entertainment since the artist formerly known as Cassius Clay became some Louisville Slugger who went by the red corner name of Muhammed Ali. Young Lew may have changed his name to the mighty Kareem, but one thing number 33 didn't change in reflection was his tried and tested signature shot that no one could block. If it ain't broke, just hone it! Make it work like shot clockwork. Until after all the seconds are out you're the highest score with your arcade like move. One that leaves you leading all the second placers first and foremost in history and legacy of the books of legends. No, no Mike, Kobe, Shaq or Wilt. Even 'The Mailman' of Karl Malone couldn't deliver as many points as the storied Abdul-Jabbar did in the history of the National Basketball Association. And it's all thanks to that shot. Hook, sky-line and net sinker. But that wasn't the only thing this hoops grandmaster and godfather of the hardwood possessed. There where the devastating dunks, the brutal blocks battling, the bountiful rebounds rallied and of course the flawless post-up game that lead to all of this. All of this that lead this perfect prototype of a player in the centre position to be the best big-man in not only the history of the Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal dominated Los Angeles Lakers (not to forget the Minneapolis master of George Mikan, the NBA's first superstar), but the NBA as a Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and of course Boston Celtics ring bearer Bill Russell whole. Let alone the greatest all-round player on a Laker team that featured the Big Game of James Worthy and the Magic of Earvin Johnson and one of history and legacies all-time best like Laker luminaries from the classic logo of Jerry West to the modern day icon of Kobe Bryant and all the LeBron's, Jordan's, Bird's and Oscar winners.
Before the 7 foot 2, 225 pound, 68 year old number one pick in the '69 draft with a 20 year career of 6 rings, 6 MVPs and 19 All-Star selections racked up all those 38,387 points (good luck Steph Curry and your shot) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was rolling in the Bucks with Milwaukee and the Big O of triple-double dream Oscar Robertson. Yet even, before all that Lew Alcindor was making immortal basketball history way before the NBA even called his name. When most kids in high school were waiting to be saved by the bell, Lew was playing 'till the final buzzer making power plays for Power Memorial and leading them to a huge 71 game winning streak during the Harlem renaissance in New York City. Then from the Big Apple to the Hollywood sands, Alcindor made the transition to college hoops in Los Angeles, becoming a Bruin with UCLA and uniting with classic coach and hardwood forefather John Wooden for a perfect partnership and coach player combo that outside of Hollywood was the hoops alternative of a Scorsese and De Niro director and actor. Yeah we're talking to you! Breaking every UCLA record, Lew was barely scrapping the surface of his basketball career whilst scratching his cornea in what later on in his playing days would resort to his goggle wearing look being iconic as his balding afro and beard. In L.A. before L.A. a young L.A. converted to Islam before changing his name, trained with martial arts legend Bruce Lee, played in the 'Game Of The Century' and even got the art of the dunk outlawed due to his dominance. Standing next to Wooden with three NCAA titles under the drawstring of his warm ups and strings of nylon around his neck was this young man ready for the NBA?
With the first pick in the 1969 draft you where damn right! After winning a coin toss tip against the Phoenix Suns the sophomore Milwaukee franchise was just the first round ticket, despite the legendary court circus act; the Harlem Globetrotters offering Lew a million bucks to travel the world with them. The hometown hero would also have to disappoint the New York Nets who thought they had secured his services with the ABA drafts first pick. Even if number 33 did have an afro he wasn't going to roll his socks up for anything trying to scale higher than the original and one, true basketball league. Or more aptly the "flesh" bidding war that he saw as so degrading to all parties involved he was prepared to literally turn down millions. With defensive legend and Boston Celtics lord of the 11 rings; Bill Russell sharing a last retirement cigar with Red the only thing standing in Alcindor's way was the rivalry of the most, 100 point scoring dominant ever; Wilt Chamberlain. But before number 33 would replace the lucky 13 in purple and gold he replaced him in the post as the NBA's centre of attention. Winning Rookie Of The Year honours off 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game, before teaming up with Oscar in his second season to win the biggest award in basketball. The day after he became an NBA champion, Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the rest was National Basketball Association and Los Angeles Lakers history. The iconography of the goggles came next, put on by two broken hands as after injury a trade waved goodbye to the Wisconsin wonder who hit the coast for the Californian sun. Adding a purple heart to his gold standard career, rewriting the script with a casting call from Hollywood. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a Laker...it was Showtime without the Apollo!
But Hollywood was bowled over and before Magic and the Boston Bird saved the game and brought all the Nicholson actors into the superstar seats, Captain Kareem was the era director of this epic, with the slick Pat Riley running the screenplay. Battling all sorts of big-men from Bill Walton to John Salley and all sorts of eye erosion problems. It wasn't until the dawn of the Showtime L.A. and blue collar Boston era of the 80's that Cap and the Lake Show would win and pull real Magic out the hat when they selected the everlasting enthusiasm and smile of Earvin Johnson from the 1979 draft. After winning the season opener, Kareem shot and shouted a young Magic down after number 32 embraced 33 like they just won game 7 of the last day on the basketball calender. But by the end of the season when this Rookie Point Guard showed that the only man that could possibly replace Jabbar at center was the 6,9 pass first magician himself, Kareem would have bear hugged the next Lakers star himself if there wasn't a planes distance from the injured big and Philadelphia. In the storied Lakers and Celtics rivalry of the ages, Kareem was avenging Wilt Chamberlain's finals heartbreak to the ring hands of Bill Russell's Celtics. They could put balloons in the rafters now thanks to a team of greats like fellow google sporting James Worthy and Rambo Kurt Rambis, the silk of Jaamal Wilkes, future millennium champion A.C. Green, future general manager Mitch Kupchack, future coach of today Byron Scott and the dynamic duo of dynamic duos. The inside and outside, one-two punch of Magic and Kareem, took over that of West and Wilt and nothing from the legendary legacy of the Los Angeles Lakers or the NBA as a whole since has topped this. Not even the second most dominant player of all-time Shaq and the second Jordan G.O.A.T. Kobe...this dynamite duo comes in second place too. Nothing could top the vision of Johnson's passing that looked to the sky of Jabbar's hook. And when a 40 year old Kareem bulked up and practiced yoga to muscle up and lean with a younger, post big-man dominating career the show just went on like Hollywood Lakerland's version of Shakespeare. Back to back and that again. Winning and winning until he put a towel into the promising mouth of Coach Pat Riley. Jack wouldn't give up his courtside chair marked like a directors one for nothing...not even the next big budget movie. Even the Pulitzer of legendary sportswriter Jim Murray saw a new prize everytime his typewriter slid back the moment Chick Hearn's jiggling words closed the refrigerator door.
When the retirement chair came rocking and hoop heavens door came knocking, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the game with all-time leading totals of 38,387 points, 15,837 field goals and 57,446 minutes played (only to be perished by Parish). Averaging a legendary line of 24.6 points,11.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game, en route to the top 50, his number 33 up in rafters on each coast, the corridors of the Hall of Fame, the header in the history books and finally a statue outside STAPLES. A fond farewell to this gentle giant between the Lakers and their love to hate them Celtic rivals saw all players participating rocking the goggles and attempting a sky-hook, a move that nobody like this man can duplicate. It belongs in a basketball museum next to the exhibits of Jordan's fade-away and Allen Iverson's crossover like these holy grail, signature moves it's a pioneer play. Following the last streak of sky to be hooked, Kareem has done anything but retired. The man who has shown that even at seven feet and two nickels change he is agile enough to go toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee, fought him in the movie 'Game Of Death' and sent his serious self up in the hilarious 'Airplane' spoof that saw his star stock soar. Surely he couldn't be anymore than serious?! Well, even if a Shirley Temple was his drink of choice, this actor knew how to lighten the heart in the Summer, after giving his soul and sole to the season. Following his playing days retirement the history books engraver has proved to be a wonderful writer beyond his amazing first-name self-titled autobiography. Cap has capped off many basketball books, including children's ones with an off court message off the playbook. The regular columnist for leading, world newsstand famous magazine of the day 'Time' has gone beyond being a cover star to writing critical columns of issues of inspiration and influence too. Yet his most intriguing creative venture comes this year and we're not just talking about the HBO Abdul-Jabbar documentary. Kareem is set to look into legendary writer Arthur Conan Doyle's magnify glass to write the next pipe dream for Sherlock Holmes fans with an original idea about penning a story about the worlds most famous detectives brother 'Mycroft Holmes'. Now how's that for the most anticipated book of the year outside of Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird' sequel 'Go Set A Watchmen'? That's elementary my dears. This old Cap is still involved in basketball operations however and the two time NBA champion as an assistant coach is now tutoring the next line of Laker big men in the central position of this franchises legendary legacy like he tried to do with stars Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. Now its sophomore Julius Randle, technically speaking in his rookie season after injury and troubled but talented defensive presence in the block Roy Hibbert, after the Lakers couldn't buy a free agent big-man after passing on so many in the draft for the small-ball future of D'Angelo Russell. A Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo following Georgetown Hoya who could go from role player to star again thanks to the mentoring of the master that when it comes to years as a Laker even Shaq and Wilt can't reach and touch. You want to really grasp the ceiling of number 33's classic court contributions? Then in this city of stars-with even 16 circling the centre of the court-you can't just hook the billboards bearing his name in the rafters. You have to reach for the sky...
Sunday, 9 August 2015
Chi-city's leading rapper Common, an Oscar winning 'Glory' poetic spokesman for 'Selma' and his Chi-town even released an album about this harrowing problem. Last year 'Nobody's Smiling' was as classic as a record as the last one that spoke for Chicagoans in the B.E.autiful 'Be'. Making a stand west of Kanye, more than just this man in the entertainment industry is trying to do something more encompassing in the reality of everyday life.
This is because gun-crime in this city, just like its country is a critical issue that needs to be addressed yesterday and right now for tomorrow. It's bigger than hip-hop, sports or any other distraction that is welcome for only the short time it provides those suffering some solace. With that being said however one power player from basketball is using this perfect platform to make a stand with something to say. Abusing and plugging his position and celebrity the right way.
Noah's arc isn't a big wooden ship set to sail all species away from a biblical storm in double teams. Neither is it a magnificent monument back in his old family home of Paris, France. It is however a vessel for the people and arguably the former 'Defensive Player Of The Years' greatest triumph for a man who protects his community like he guards the paint. All in his arc foundation circled between court and the brushstrokes of art.
Basketball is a game that for a long time has transcended more than what happens on court. Off-court it is one that can bring people together from the school gyms to the playgrounds. It can even be used as a fit and well outlet for restless and eager for adventure youngsters. Luring them from the cruel temptations and the desperate measures of crime and violence. Not many sports can be used as inspiration and a positive influence for those isolated quite like this. What else could you expect from a game that can even be played on your own, but is even better when everyone is brought together?
Everything needs to be about more than just a game. Especially with the violence that is vice gripping not just city, but country to the fingers on the triggers of weapons that should be holstered and disarmed. A time and turbulent tide in Noah's city that couldn't be swayed to blissful ignorance or a real resolution without the right non-violent action, even if the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan was back in Chicago, six-peating with the Bulls. Forget another triple of Derrick Rose injuries this is the real problem of the city. And its going to take more than the silver service of Jimmy Butler to make it most improved.
That's why the passion and pride of the emphatic and epic dunking and blocking Bulls centre Joakim Noah is powering forward and marching like Martin Luther, until this city, not just its sports team can be crowned king once again. Putting a necklace round the city to 'Rock The Drop' with a tear drop pendant shed for every man, woman and child lost, with every cent sent to help those plagued by this problem with every jewel sold for charity. From the pain of another kid being shot for a chain, this piece means more. Peace needs to come to a place and time were we are left marred marking another commiseration anniversary of unnecessary tragedy. This is more than just wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt in stay strong solidarity and loving loyalty, this is making a statement more of a declaration. Making a trend, the end of all that needs not continue in a world that needs to stop killing and start living. It's the meaning of a movement that starts with the youth...and shouldn't end with their lives. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Here is something you can't understand...The Answer! Allen 'Bubba Chuck' Iverson! Hand to the screaming ear of the 6 foot, 165 pound number 3, can you hear me? You just don't get it. The corn rows, the dress code. Every tattoo and what each drop of ink means to the flesh of the man. The blood he spilled everytime he hit the deck he would dare to drive into without fear amongst men twice as tall or wide as him. The player...the man. The champion without a ring. The passion. The pride. What the media questioned and what answer is actually the Paul Pierce truth! The bowling alley incident and how cameras caught Allen leaving the fracas before more than just pins where thrown. The infamous rant about "practice" where Iverson was actually bemoaning the fact the so-called "distinguished" press where bringing up the matter of this subject just days after he lost his best friend and not complaining about the nature of the pure preparation of the game itself. They couldn't understand any of it. Just like the idea that he could have been a star NFL player. Or the fact that this NBA first-ballot Hall Of Fame legend is one of the greatest players of all-time...an icon that truly changed the game beyond just another cliche. Even the most storied team in basketball history didn't quite get it as back in 2001 the eventual back-to-back champions of the three-peat the Los Angeles Lakers thought they too could sweep all of this under a rug. But as the almost unbeatable Shaq and Kobe team of the postseason met the answers Philly in the Finals they brought the brooms, but this time there was no Fantasia in Hollywood. They couldn't stop the NBA's leading scorer Iverson from going off or that crossover that changed the game more than anything else. Even putting a small-ball defensive guard on him in the form of the impressive scoring Tyrone Lue, complete with matching corn-rows and mirror image arm compression sleeve didn't work. Neither did it's mind games, Allen crossed them over too and nailed a clutch three that was more than a dagger, but one stamped into the heart of all the Lue Angeles Lakers as Tyrone fell to the floor and swept across it on his backside becoming not only a poster, but a t-shirt at best. Then with one huge Goliath step that may as well have been over Shaq, this David, Allen took one small step over Lue and one giant Rocky leap for Philadelphia in kind. Practically out of bounds and cloaked by the Lakers bench of talents like Horace Grant, J.R. Rider, Brian Shaw, Stanislav Medvedenko and Mark Madsen who couldn't do anything at all, A.I. stepped over not just Tyrone, but all the Lakers, the STAPLES of their fans, the city of angels, L.A., the state of California as a whole and all those in the NBA and its world of media and fans that couldn't possibly understand what was happening. He stepped over it all and didn't look back! Showing Kobe and the Lakers real Showtime to the rivalling documentary. Just like his trademark crossover it was the last step that killed and will live forever in NBA histories hardwood classics. Now step to him and tell me how can you possibly answer that? TIM DAVID HARVEY.