Sunday, 25 October 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Loading...please wait. D...How does it feel? Your time is now! Step up the plate, this is your big moment young man. The bases are loaded. The whole crowd, city and California state is watching. All eyes are on you...no pressure. No trick...you own this like Magic. No curve-ball. The City of Angels savior in this Angelino called 'Angelo. The Black Messiah. The Los Angeles times and Clipper clippings voodoo is over now with your youthful spirit. The Back to the Future return (Part II) like your 'Brown Sugar' singer namesake that you were actually named after. It's just that legendary. As yet untitled...ready to make your bright lights name in this big city of futuristic skyline neon above the beams of STAPLES. As the Vanguard, about to lead the militarily formation of the new young sportsmen foot-soldiers into battle. It's your time to seek out the enemy, secure new ground and advance the main force. You're the new definition. You're even supposed to replace one of the greatest. That's what makes you this years worthy number 2. But you want to prove yourself to be the sole digit on your new jersey...front and back. Number one with the ball and the crowd cheering your name. Your opponent looking at you opposite...eyes of piercing opposition. Your feet firmly on the plate. You draw your arm back and here's the pitch...but you 'aint Clayton Kershaw and you're no Dodger. Even if the number 32 you're supposed to follow in the sneaker steps of owns this moment. You are Los Angeles though and the future is coming towards you like a fastball. That's why you have the honor of this traditional moment in baseball lore for your sister sport and franchise. Everyone's done it...from 50 Cent to Barack Obama...and unlike most that embarrass you certainly have quite an arm. You know how to throw kid! But your real moment will come when the ball is tipped, not tossed and hopefully falls towards you as you take it and lead a whole new way to pass it over. For you D'Angelo Russell are a Los Angeles Laker and your time is now.
How does it feel? Karma?! It's been a long time...but alas what goes around, comes right back around. If you're a Los Angeles Laker fan you can't stop going on about it...if you're a rest of the hoops world hater that even begins in the same STAPLE building arena of the Clippers you can't hear the end of it. That infamous Chris Paul nixing in 2011. When the Lakers wanted to continue their championship run and traded two of their most versatile and worthwhile contention pieces (Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom) to keep up the race lead by way of one of the greatest Point Guard leaders in the game from the then Hornets nest of New Orleans. Alongside Kobe Bryant it was going to lead to the best backcourt in NBA history in it's prime. But then the Commissioner put a Stern end to all of that. And all that snowballed after that was the fall of the second new millennium Laker dynasty under the California sun. This fallout was almost as bad as the death of the Shaq and Kobe dynasty. Hurt feelings led to the skilled seven foot frontcourt tandem of Odom and Gasol eventually leaving alongside championship, veteran chess pieces like Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace (until now...unless he gets cut), under the cloud of rumors of being trade bait, dangled from the Laker boat in the middle of an ocean of doubt. Then the Lakers legendary legacy of big-men, from Mikan and Wilt, to Kareem and Shaq crumbled under the front-line foundations of Andrew Bynum and then Dwight Howard. The Lakers thought they finally got their first legitimate superstar Point Guard since Magic revenge over the CP3 nixing when they signed legend Steve Nash, but they didn't realize the fickle fate that had turned their hand on them had the nerve to damage the best Canadian basketball player of all-times body with career crippling injuries that put Captain Canada on ice like the Winter Soldier. And let's not start on what the basketball God's had in store for one of the LAL and NBA's greatest Kobe Bryant. Before iconic, late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss passed he said he needed to take a wrecking ball to this team. But after him and the dream of Jeanie who was going to rebuild from the nightmare damage of all this rubble?
Well karma has a name and with the second pick in the NBA draft his name is D'Angelo Russell. Let new Commissioner Adam tell you who the purple and gold Los Angeles Lakers have selected with their clouds silver lining as he holds on to his hand longer than all he and his new team have been through to get here. At this point, no wonder the shaking grip is kept. It's almost like it was all meant to be. All the hurt all the cursed injury and in-just pain. All this domino effect in this game that even led to the losing and then lottery winning of Julius Randle in last years big draft season of change, that then in turn buckled and snapped under the broken leg pressure of the young stars first ever NBA game. Still it all feels like it happened for a karmic reason that is all beginning right now. This sophomore, last year number seven pick in technically his rookie season is playing with avengance...and Julius Randle looks ready to be an All-Star, no slump. In addition the latest lottery pick brought in thanks to the tanked season Randle's blown out and busted campaign is about to form one hell of a backcourt for the ages of the future with last years sleeper rookie Jordan Clarkson. Who stepped in for the barricaded youthful revolt of young Julius and showed he was more than just a passed over number 48 rookie and spare change, second Laker choice. As in just half a season of impressive and proved play he made the All-Rookie team and who knows what else if he was given a full season of burn. Forget what could have been with Kobe and CP3, this backcourt is now...and for decades and many more years to come. And the new Jordan and Julius of this storied NBA league joins the new Russell in Laker irony for a big-three that's set to turn this Steph Curry, California coast, Golden State Warriors small-ball league revolution on the big-man head of Laker history and legacy. Stretching the hometown Clipper rivalry across the Golden Gate of the states Pacific. With a new sea change of talent bridging the gap this is the new legend...and he's shaking Silver's hand.
The Lake Show have knocked it out the park now. No longer playoff dodgers struck out. This is the the new Showtime. This is the new Magic. Kobe knows the show must go on...but before he goes he's going to have fun and contention with these new fellas too. It 'aint over. That's why there's more in the dugout. The big-three free agent signings of defensive big-man Roy Hibbert, post powerhouse Brandon Bass and reigning Sixth Man Of The Year Lou Williams. Joining spark-plug Nick Young and new x-factor signings in the form of Brazilian Point God Marcelo Huertas with Gasol Barcelona skill and the spirits of Laker past in the form of the Ron Artest that became the war on the soft NBA, Metta World Peace. It's almost enough to forget all these Lakers have lost or never even found from LaMarcus Aldridge, to DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Greg Monroe and even the big-man future of Jahil Okafor they had in their hands, because three-heads are better than one and this is the new generation. They got next. No foul balls. Strike one, Julius Randle. Strike two, Jordan Clarkson. And strike three, D'Angelo Russell. This young man with the gold Lakers cap that fits, not clashing with his Ohio State homage, draft day red suit that's the cherry on top for quite the young career of this young Buck. Now more than just Buckeyes are focused on the new headlines of the Los Angeles Times. As red meets purple it's D'Angelo Dante Russell's inferno now. The Jordan Brand Classic alongside Jordan Clarkson, both partners in backcourt prime able to tween on the pine between the two Shooting Guard and Point Guard quarterbacking positions. But it looks like the athletic Russell whose been compared to everyone from Westbrook to James Harden, but still seems unfairly underrated is the leading man whose going to Pied Piper the way for Hollywood's newest and biggest reboot. Off the dribble this number one with the number two picks time is now. The former Jerry West award winner is ready to be the logo of the L.A. Lakers in a franchise just as known for its little men (Jerry, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic, Kobe...among Big Game Worthy others) as its big players and who knows maybe along the way the new icon of the NBA. Step from the shadows of the silhouette young man and get ready to swing big. Here comes the ball.
Thursday, 22 October 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Jordan. That in the air tonight would be the only thing that would breathe the same inspiring life into the legacy of the legend of the Los Angeles Lakers once the closest player to ever play the game like Mike, Kobe Bryant leaves the locker room for the last time. Only a heaven sent second coming of a basketball God in the form of the number 23 would ease the pain of number 24 being raised to the rafters almost like a career funeral that you may as well go call for the trumpets. So how about J.C.? Or this Jordan? No we're not talking about Hill, he's gone over the Hickory fence to the Hoosier, Pacer state of Indiana. We're talking about Jordan Clarkson. We'll deceive you know more. Sure, sure Jordan is not like Jordan. He's not the Messiah! No basketball Jesus! Resurrection maybe? BUT he is the guy that's going to make it easier for the Lakers Buss brass to give up the gold of possibly the greatest Laker alongside Wilt, West, Magic, Kareem and of course Shaq ever to tape up in purple and hand the treasure chest keys to bring them back circling round a ring on their championship matrimony finger. Hang on...maybe make that three. A big one too with a pair of top ten draft picks over the last two years forming one hell of a Holy Trinity. There's this years number 2 rookie D'Angelo Russell out of Ohio State and the soaring sophomore sensation out of the University of Kentucky, Wildcat Julius Randle...who technically speaking is still kind of a rookie.
Opening night. It doesn't get much better than this. Especially in Hollywood, where even the movie stars are downtown like Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and the greatest rappers of the old school to witness one of the biggest nights on the entertainment calendar when it comes to the schedule of sports. Basketball is beautiful and any player lucky enough to receive a cap during the shade of summer looks forward to the fall like Christmas coming early. You can feel it right now with Clarkson's, Eddie Jones great jersey number that at the time of this press is the digit of days before the new season that will see him starting commences. But last year it was a different Los Angeles Times story. Clarkson was at the end of the bench in a suit, no sweats like no Jordan should ever be as all Californian lovin' eyes where on top ten pick Julius like he was the appointed Doctor Erving. Waiting room or not, Randle was the next in line, but he was late with his date with destiny. The pressure of a debut can get to you. It can even break you. And for this young 19 year old kid it all came to a head as he snapped...or should we say his leg did. Breaking not only his right tibia but all that was left of his 82 game season after not even 15 minutes of fame. The Lakers couldn't believe their lack of luck. The dreams of Jeanie would be the rude awakenings of a nightmare that was only just beginning with the season debut return of Kobe Bryant after a season crippling injury. A few games later, Kobe would join the bedside of Randle in the same manner, marking a big, red X on all the days of the rest of his calendar after he suffered a campaign ending injury again that many thought would crucify his career. After all the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard drama...and then losing a fond and formidable friend in Pau Gasol, the Lakers new young and old one-two punch was knocked out before they even got their chance to duke it out in the ring for the belt. After some Stern nixing and even a wiped smile off Dwight Howard's face, not to mention the retirement ravaging ailments of Steve Nash's athleticism many began to feel like the Lakers where cruelly cursed. Still, those who are desperate can always scrape a buck together for a ticket that wins the lottery. Dice roll or not. It may have all been snake eyes for Mamba's men the last down and out year. But that was then...and this is now.
Randle is back, preseason playing already like the Rookie Of The Year with a sophomore status. And he and one of the games greatest Kobe Bryant is (touch hardwood) not stuck to the end of the pine, tied to it in a suit of injury. They have the chance to run with a revamped roster of redux redemption. From the defensive return of Metta World Peace, protecting this house in battle and the changing of the guard that hopefully comes with fellow former top Indiana Pacer defender and paint protector Roy Hibbert. And we haven't even begun to talk about the signings of valuable veterans like almost star Brandon Bass and Euroleague one, Brazilian Marcelo Huertas from Barcelona for a team that even has two Sixth Men in the form of last years man of the year Lou Williams and of course the swag of 'Fancy' Nick Young. Finally, of course there's the new kid on the block, number one D'Angelo Russell coming in at the number two spot and the late round, fellow draft pick of Larry Nance's dunking son. Because if the Lakers recent lottery wind of change has anything to show and prove this season, Junior will be another sleeper steal. Because we're almost forgetting someone...someone who was passed up almost 50 times before his name was called with the 48th pick. Someone who already last year wrote all those 47 others off and then some more on his way to showing he could one day be top 50 in the league today. Someone who even with Randle's injury and all the other sick notes that where posted in the post players home marked STAPLES was even left by the Lakers on the end of the bench, looking good only in fancy attire. Only suiting up for real in purple and gold when it came to the D-Fender Development League. But this student was far from a guy on some D game. Even if it did take half a season for the limping Lakers to finally straighten up and walk with him, in 38 starts and less than a full season, Jordan managed to rise up the rookie rankings and rule this team that was missing almost everybody else. Carrying all this weight on his skinny shoulders and making more than one first team as this All-Rookie could have gone for R.O.Y of the season if he was given the Autumn and Winter as well as the Spring and almost Summer. This Rookie Of The Month and member of the Rook first team being only one of four second round picks to achieve this high honor in the last 30 years of NBA almanac history books. Now Laker nation stands up on Jordan's shoulders, nobodies going to sit him down now.
Half a season. Half a year. That's all the Lakers and the NBA needed to see that this kid was and is the real deal. Half a season to show-albeit to be fair due to a season ending injury-that Jordan could be just as good...if not better than Julius. Only half a season? Not a full campaign? This guys technically a rookie too like Randle and new boy Russell. That would be true if J.C. didn't truly turn it up and tune everyone else up as this J. Clarkson went top gear and ignited Los Angeles with Fast and Furious nitrus to the dry-erase song sheet of 15.8 points, 5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per everytime he started one of his 38 games. And how about a career high 30 points and 7 assists against last years dynamo dominant Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder of all teams as Clarkson showed this was no, fluke or luck of the Laker. He made history that night...not just for his new year and career personal best, but for the Filipino-American from Tampa Bay Florida forming the first Asian-American starting backcourt in league history alongside poster boy, superstar Jeremy Lin. It truly was a world encompassing moment of basketball beauty highlighted by the high hitting stat sheet on the box score. The Linsanity that started in a New York minute may be over in Hollywood, but Clarkson's backcourt power partnerships by the couple aren't. Whether in the form of former Mizzou college running and dunking mate Jabari Brown. Or this years rookie Point Guard number one D'Angelo Russell who may not be able to tween between both guard positions as well as Clarkson, but is good enough to move last years Laker leader to the two. Who is in turn himself, even great enough to move the grand, albeit ageing Kobe Bryant to the three of an old school, father, old man time Small Forward position. In this Warrior king, Steph Curry champion, MVP, three-point, small ball revolution that is the new NBA, the Lakers new big-three are headlined by a small backcourt that may not be Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier of the New York Knicks yet, but are the next generation of the Lakers and the NBA. Passed the torch and about to succeed from not even a full season of proof, in comparison to the half season of former Laker Gary Payton in the same backcourt as Milwaukee Buck Sam Cassell that couldn't afford to do the same. They have just that much potential. These kids are just too good. Don't believe me, just watch them warm up in the practice of preseason. Leaving critics cold, just wait until they boil over..these guys are that hot! And they're backed up by elite experience in the Sixth Sense form of the spirited Lou-Will and Young P. And to think rumor has it that the Lakers will trade both those guya (probably Iggy Azalea too) and Clarkson for Chicago Bull, former MVP Derrick Rose and all his injuries and problems. Yeah right! Bull####! Tell that to any Laker fan right now and they'll go against what they would have prayed for a couple of seasons ago for a "HELL NO"! Even a Kobe and Rose backcourt is not worth all this. And yes D-Rose may have been the Chi-town legend that made the Chicago Bulls finally get over Jordan but like Mike, Clarkson is meant for so much more. This point is going to make his own one and his own brand and lasting name. Let Jordan rule!
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Iconic like the storied purple and gold jersey his name headlines on the back, the Artest formerly know as Ron has the word Lakers proudly ink printed across the front of his chest again. Straight Outta Queensbridge, the New York native is running with Vino, Kobe Bryant again, like we only wish he was with his friend and fellow Q.B. born and raised former teammate Lamar Odom (Get well soon superstar). The former number 15 and 16th Draft Pick, that brought that same championships number to the STAPLES ceiling is back with the Michael Jackson honoring number 37 jersey again and boy its a thriller. Just like storied Sixer superstar World B. Free this once throwback, now just "back" jersey is worth more than your closet. James it is worthy of the frame above right next to your ceiling just like the STAPLES of a banner made Los Angeles rafter. The name 'World Peace' on the back of such a historic, classic and legendary Laker jersey of modern times is an inspirational statement in itself for the youth of today to rock with fashion forward purpose. The one made by the one wearing it with pride is worth so much more. World Peace is back in a league that's gone soft and with Metta in town, the city of angels most famous team in Hollywood matter again. A Laker legend returns to help Kobe hand it down to a new legacy. Metta World Peace is back and it's time for war!
Arming up in the workout facility, Metta in muscling up with a young foot-soldier ready to lead this Californian cavalry into battle. Arms and elbows are flying as two purple hearts battle over a rock like two suitors looking to engage with some beauty. This in this instance being the basket of this beautiful game. Woven in perfect nylon like those in memories cut down in the madness of the ides of March. This young kids been through the trenches and wars. He's seen all that. Now he see's the goal. The one thing standing between him and basketball immortality. If he makes it, again and again he'll go down in history as one of the games greatest warriors. Even if he is on the wrong side of the Golden State of California like he is getting on the wrong side of Draymond Green. There is another thing standing between future franchise face of the Lake Show Julius Randle and his hoop dream of basketball immorality and that is what some still underrate and think of as just another mere mortal. But this actual former 'Defensive Player Of The Year' is a worldwide basketball God...have they not checked his name? Here is a man, Metta made of real mettle who has built his legend off stopping others from making their's by making their way to the basket that hold all the fruits of the life and times of a legend with just the drop of a peach. That kind of makes him sound like the bad guy right? Public Enemy Number One? From the Malice of Auburn Hills that showed Detroit a depression of humanity to the side of James Harden's face that even left the beard in fear. But don't worry world, Ron Artest is a peaceful man now. Until he takes on the "soft" NBA he's labelled with his Charles Oakley in a Glen Davis time tough sell. Full of babies...he cries. All except Randle, who handles this game like a man whose "ceiling is as high as his destiny". How can you not love this man with quotes like that. Or like another dominating, definitive defensive player out of the fences of Indiana, Roy Hibbert calling him an "animal". It must be, in part thanks to original beast, Peace and the Artest before him, turning Randle into the next monster of the walking and fast-breaking basketball museum.
How is this guy not going to get the last spot on the Lakers 15 man roster? How is it not guaranteed? Well it might have something to do with Jordan Clarkson's former college running mate and a predatory player in his own right, Jabari Brown who knows how to run the floor and finish strong. Still this is Metta World Peace we're talking about. You've seen the Wheaties box. Here's the guy that took the shot even Phil Jackson told him not to take after his greatest miss. "Whatever"! WAP! This is the champion that met Obama and probably had a shoot around in the Presidents back yard. Playing H.O.R.S.E. with POTUS! Here's a guy whose been around longer than you could remember for teams that how could you even forget. From being the first legitimate Bull in Chicago with horns since Jordan, to a prolific Pacer, Hoosier proud or Hickory sticked. A Rocket in Houston that gave Kobe problems before they became the best of F.F's. A King in Sacramento. Even a homecoming New Yorker with the Knicks, this journeyman has made a mark everywhere...even when his passport has been stamped. This international man of mystery who has played in Europe and Asia. Ending up in Italy after almost playing for Chester of the North West of the United Kingdom of all places during the NBA lockout of all times. Still through all the teams and towns of the world Metta has said peace to he'll always be a Laker...even more than a Pacer in his great defense (it's your turn now Roy...show us what you've still got!). Just like this Panda will always be a friend of China's Blue Whales. Metta's just that all world. But we all know peace doesn't happen with at least a little fight. That's why even though M.W.P. will always have a place in the coaching staff of the Lakers along with legends James Worthy, A.C. Green and Tracy Murray, bringing their all-round offensive education to the new Russell and Jordan school of Laker greats, (like he did at the start of this Summer), going hard like an MVP he wants his spot. That's why this mid-thirties icon is diving into the crowds during a preseason game like his contract was a cast dried ink guarantee. Perhaps it will be? We're not pandering to nobody! He's still got it. A former big-time All-Star turned valuable veteran who can still bench press with the best off the pine in California (think Paul Pierce). You can't just "waive" goodbye to a guy like this. Especially with his own late career, Derek Fisher like return to a team that held the golden era of his career in a bottle of championship champagne. He should be released from his latest campaign the moment the curtain falls on the reveal of his 37 jersey next to the numbers of 32, 33 and 34. Oh yes...he's that good...and championship critical. Like Magic, Kareem and Shaq his name means that much more. That's Metta. That's goodwill. That is all-embracing. That is universal. That is the world. And that is the moment you should say "peace"!
Monday, 19 October 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"If You F*** This Up, You’re A Really Big Idiot"-Kobe Bryant To Julius Randle (2014)
I guess he really is a big idiot! You can't f*** up your NBA debut worse than that. Just ask Greg Oden about it. Breaking your leg coming down on a play and ending your season before it even got out the gates of the first game. That's certainly a come down from being Silver named the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA draft for the Laker gold. Where's the lining to this cloud? 14 Minutes into your STAPLE Centre rookie game. And I thought my jokes are bad. That's cold. Even to a guy like me. The Kentucky star was fried, barely out of the frying pan and straight into the fire. Leaving the Big Nation a different kind of blue. Miles away from Rupp. An NBA journeyman of a road trip distance from being the next U.K cat after John Wall, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to run wild in the West. Was the latest boom lowered on Lakerland following the nixing and clipping of Chris Paul, the departures of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and those of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash before they even really got their sneaks sweat, not to mention all of Kobe Bryant's injuries a bust to the already purple and black eye of these Los Angeles Hollywood Nights? Were the new University Of Kentucky school of first pick Karl-Anthony Townes and the other seven draft day declared players from the alumnus almost perfect, record breaking season about to takeover? A sophomore slump with not really a leg to stand on in that regard in what really will be this kids rookie season a game deferred. It's a crazy way for a teenager to become a 20 year old man in this game. Was Julius Randle done before he even begun?
Ha! You serious? You're kidding right? You better check a newspaper or something. Word to the tabloid headlines of Robert Horry. And this ones real too. You can't handle Randle. You can't handle the truth. Tom Cruise voice. Jack Nicholson sitting courtside understands. Loud and no shades clear to see. Because Randle is the truth. Even Warrior king and Golden State glistening champion Draymond Green can't guard him. At least according to Randle's handle. We guess that's why he was only the runner up to both the Defensive Player Of The Year and Most Improved Player award titles last season. Alas we're joking. We told you they where bad. We're not Dahantay Jonsin' Dray. But right now nobody can knock or take shots at J.R. The legs healed (we hope like Kobe too) and barring a SLAM curse...or one here (we called him the 'Top Cat' last year, but how can you not write about this young man?) he's ready to help run the new big-three of a soon to be number 24 less Lakers. Right alongside the surprise, sleeper rookie of last year that in the final half of his season took over Randle's mantle and ended up creeping onto the All-Rookie First Team and the number 2 pick of this years draft that Jordan Clarkson shares his brilliant to be backcourt with the loading of D'Angelo Russell. Clarkson is about to show that a new Jordan rules next to the 'Black Messiah' of D'Angelo like the 'Voodoo' of the 'Brown Sugar' singer. And like that iconic players return to stardom at the end of last year, the end of this one will see the Lakers making their classic comeback. How does it feel? They won't be untitled for long. It may take a while but look what the Lakers and their new man in the middle of all this have done in just a few preseason games, or even the hot as hell future fry-up in the sweats of the Summer League. The Lakers blew out a team from Israel by almost 50 and even beat the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a a Cali' coast clash in San Diego, a city that hasn't seen the NBA since the Clippers where there (and may see them again if the Lakers can win this battle of Los Angeles once again and rage against the Lob City Clipper machine trying to claim the STAPLE as their one, true home (remember L.A.C. the Lakers hang banners, you hang selfies. Even Taylor Swift has one more up there then you next to your blank space...but then again it is Taylor Swift)), thanks to water from the ice hockey floor and a game called early. Even when the Lakers lost (a lot) Randle was still Charlie Sheening his polished game and all round repertoire from the cold of Canada to the heat of Hawaii. Aloha!
"He's Lamar Odom in a Zach Randolph body”-Kobe Bryant On Julius Randle (2015)
Hello! Even the Laker legend and the greatest competitor of all-time knows it and is ready to relinquish his crown to the future of the franchise and the other fresh faces that will one day adorn the pillars of Hotel Figueroa across from the STAPLES Center. This new forum of Nokia Live, bright lights talent looks ready to go in the big city, Showtime showcased skills already set. Names that look storied ready for NBA stone, championship engraved chapter and MVP worthy verse. Russell, Jordan and of course the good Julius. Just like the doctor J is just what the Lakers ordered, now trainer Gary Vitti has managed to get him off the table and back into the game. Just a few exhibitions is all you need. Getting through the first, real game is all the Lakers want. The legend of Laker legacy as one of the most storied franchises in NBA history is a notoriously B.I.G. one. One of seven footers that are the center of attention. Joining the small-ball revolution with guys like Russell would be unheard of in the past. Yeah sure that surname was big, but it was a big, 7 foot, shot blocking problem on the wrong side of the glory days of THE storied NBA franchise and the Lakers historic, classic rival the Boston Celtics. The Bill Russell led team that had all the luck, shamrock, champagne and victory balloons...even the purple and gold ones falling to an empty Forum floor. Chamberlain knew this, a Hollywood sign icon with a house up there, next to the logo of the NBA's Jerry West. Yet still he never wilted. Following in the MPLS, Minneapolis Laker sneaker steps of the first basketball superstar, Laker or NBA; George Mikan. Before giving way to another one of his competitors as the goggles of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became Captain Los Angeles before he paved the painted way for the court to be dynasty destroyed under the sneaker smashes of the Incredible Hulking Shaquille O'Neal. Since those Jim Murray to Chick Hearn read and talk all about it days of thunder the shine of the Lake Show has joined those two in beautiful memory. Not working out as planned from the big drafts of Andrew Bynum or signings of Dwight Howard who although impressive enough, sadly didn't have the time to join the legendary line of Goliath, giant God's in this big picture town like Vlade Divac. But sometimes it's about a different type of big man skill. not all jut about the core. Just check the championship, sidekick and Sixth Man contributions of Laker legends like Pau Gasol (just look what this Spanish Bull is doing now) and Lamar Odom (Get well soon L.O. we love you! Your jersey always has and always will hang in this writers room...proudly). And of course the "little men" of West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant who are anything but small-ball in their huge part of Laker lore. As Kobe puts it Randle is Lamar Odom (praise Mamba gave a week before we even knew about the recent tragic events of Odom. And remember, no player could play like he played! No one has overcome as much as he! Have faith!) in Zach Randolph's (a player they've courted in the past like Pau from Memphis to join their floor) body. That's a hell of a compliment...especially from a guy like Kobe (but then again you saw Julius' behind the back, crosscourt pass to Bean right? Or the Russell to Randle pick and dunking roll that's the new, next gen Stockton and Malone).
But it's a Worthy one. Just like comparing him to the Big Game of another tall, but not huge in literal stature Laker legend in James Worthy. Or his and coach Byron Scott's 80's teammate A.C Green who returned for Shaq and Kobe's new millennium championship run that begun in his last season of 2001. Coincidentally both those purple and gold icons and favorites have been hired by the Lakers coaching staff as training for the new blood of purple players looking for gold, with a lot of focus on the kid from Kentucky. Alongside another former Laker and underrated NBA great that wears the number 30 Tracy Murray. The player from UCLA who from the golden era 90's to the new generation 00's knew how to put the ball through the hoop from all angles and degrees of difficulty. But yet despite having a top 50 game was never named to an All-Star team. Balling up though, this Los Angeles county favorite will help this new number 30 stitch his name too in a mid-February jersey one day. With A.C.'s cool as conditioned air play and James game worthwhile of the big stage tutoring this new student of the hardwood, it won't be long before he's smooth as Jaamal 'Silk' Wilkes, stepping it up to clutches of playoff playing and more. And I'm sure Randle has racked up some inspiration from Lamar Odom. An all round, coast to coast, butter to toast great who we're sure when he recovers (which we believe will happen and believes us is the most important thing) will be welcomed back to this franchise family with open arms like fellow Queensbridge native Metta World Peace. Who going to war with the NBA claims the whole league is soft...except for young and hard as a rock with the rock Julius. That's another hell of a compliment from the bruiser formerly known as Ron Artest, one of the greatest guards of the game who this Summer before his shock, return re-signing was muscling up his defensive skill, mentoring and training the young Randle. Just like he will be doing throughout the rest of this season that will at some points see this soaring sophomore hitting a rookie wall like a little red, Kobe corvette into Shaq harder than he did in the first game of the last season. As World Peace wages it "(Randle's) ceiling is high as his destiny". Or let fellow Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo, Georgetown big-man Roy Hibbert whose returning to his own defensive days of dominance beam with pride and praise in sharing his new formidable frontcourt with Julius tell it; "Julius is an animal. He’s the future of this team. He’s the future face of the NBA." You read that? "Animal"! "Future"...not just of the Lakers, but the NBA. From Wilt and West, to Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Kobe all the legendary Laker dynamic duos of dominance are about to be joined by a big-three in this three-ball age...but they're all about to be lead by the one. Until the back of D'Angelo Russell's jersey tells you differently, it will all be about number 30 before the ESPN documentary confirms it. Or truth be told you could just let number 24 have the last word like he always does before he finally passes the rock, aflame like a torch to a man who can score, steal, block, bound, post, push dribble and pass it...
"He Can Do Everything".
Friday, 16 October 2015
Holmes Court Advantage.
Magnified words from the legendary Arthur Conan Doyle of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are read by a young man enthralled with the mysteries and stories to be solved from the famous Baker Street boy and his Mr. Watson doctor assistant. Yet these legendary tales aren't magnified by glass...but a pair of goggles.
A pair of iconic goggles that would take to the 80's Forum floor for the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, as legendary NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sky-hooked his way to recording the all-time most points in his sports league history. This iconic number 33 would use the Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction that he read before games as inspiration in sussing out his opponents during contests. The way Detroit Piston Bill Laimbeer's knee is knocking and locking one night and his history of injuries in that area point to a weakness down low. The way the infamous Boston Garden parquet floor splinters in that particular position means Celtic Kevin McHale will go right. And if Cap himself just gets into that position under the baseline, extends his arm to an almost perfect right angles and pitches the ball like a putt it should glide into the basket like that, every time, without fail.
Now in retirement Kareem is using those great powers of vision to deduct something even greater. His biggest challenge yet. We all know this thoughtful and wise man can write, just like he can act in things from 'Airplane' to the 'Game Of Death' fighting martial arts legend Bruce Lee. The 'Time' columnist is the best of the best when it comes to pros who have now turned their hoop hand to prose. Following his self-titled, acclaimed autobiography, 'Kareem' had wrote many a New York Times bestselling, published classic. From 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants' to writing children's story's based around the game with the life metaphors and lessons that run through it from teamwork to individuality.
But now Kareem is entering a whole new arena all together with his salute to Sherlock...or should we say his military brother 'Mycroft Holmes'. Abdul-Jabbar's new novel is a spin-off success like the Robert Downey Jnr films and the Benedict Cumberbatch T.V. shows. Keeping the detective alive like the spy of Ian Fleming's 007 Bond in this British intelligence age of 'Spectre'. Far from glorified fan-fiction from a celebrity this is an original alternative like Mitch Cullen's older 'Mr. Holmes' work which was turned into a movie with Sir Ian McKellen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud. This original story that sees Holmes heading to Trinidad to investigate a haunting horror on the shores of its beaches is a deep story of investigation and influence that not only understands the Holmes family, but the military grade character of the elder Mycroft too. Sherlock makes some highlighted appearances to for all the hat and pipe fans but this inspired book is something fresh and new altogether. With all that's on the bookshelf of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's library this may just be his best work yet. Not only does he craft a sensational story, the American's command of the old English style, language and Holmes narrative is mastered to perfection. This old school Lakers player leaves Hollywood for Baker Street and the elementary result is one that is dear. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 15 October 2015
Tuff Gets Going.
Shots have been fired across the headlines this week as former Washington Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas has hit out at Caron Butler for his account of the Agent Zero's infamous locker-room gun-incident with former NBA player Javaris Crittenton (who is now serving 23 years in prison for a separate, manslaughter crime. Such a waste of such raw talent) over an unresolved gambling debt in his new already, Pat Riley to Mark Wahlberg acclaimed 'Tuff Juice' autobiography. Just for both sides of the argument, Butler states that after some gun talk threats from either sides, Gilbert laid out four guns and asked Javaris to pick one to be shot with. Arenas says he laid those guns out for Crittenton to choose which one Gilbert would be shot with. The whole situation was a mess!
Either way we are seriously digressing. That's not the issue here. The issue here is this annual. This amazing autobiography from Mr. Tuff Juice himself, Caron Butler is what we really need to focus on. The story of how he picked up a basketball, instead of a gun and how he turned away from the life of the streets to ball...something his teammates shouldn't have reversed once they made it too. Caron Butler's autobiography is inspired and the perfect influence for any young players looking to get into the game of basketball...not "the game", which in reality is anything but one. This is more. More than being a star under Coach Calhoun for UConn. More than the potential of being a top ten drafted star for the Miami Heat. Or more than being trade worthy for the Lakers Shaquille O'Neal with big-man Brian Grant and fellow underrated modern swingman Lamar Odom (thoughts and prayers...get well L.O.). More than what could have been in Hollywood. More than that was in Los Angeles as a Clipper. More than the ring as a Maverick in Dallas. More than the homecoming in Milwaukee as a Buck. More than the forecast for Thunder in Oklahoma City. More than this valuable veteran becoming a Piston in Detroit's Motor City machine. More than what could be as a Californian King on the throne in Sacramento. Even more than a powerful foreword from former teammate Kobe Bryant...now that's one hell of a co-sign from a guy where all waiting for him to be writing his own career tome. And of course more than what happened in D.C. More than all of this. But it's all here. All Caron has become. Because of all he has overcome.
Guns...gangs...drugs...death and all the wrong side of the street in-between. Substance abuse, not of his body...but others. Selling drugs and running with gangs. All until it stopped, not with a prison sentence, including the solitary, cruel confinement of 'The Hole', but when Caron decided enough was enough. He wasn't going out like that. Even if he could make a million on the street before he hit the stage of the NBA Draft, he wasn't going out like that. There was only one court Butler wanted to get caught up with...and he's been at its veteran, journeyman service ever since. But for a man whose played for almost ten teams over a decade and has found a home where he'll always belong to each respective city with each franchise, he never left the streets of Racine. He's never forget them, showing this NBA player more than cares with all the extra-curricula activities he's doing with the boys and girls to keep them off the streets and in the education of schooling everyone else from the books to the gym. And if you want to get there...you could start with this book. The NBA career may as well be the exceptional epilogue, because the life and times of young Caron Butler is what this is all about and it's life worth living and learning from. So you can do it too. Or he or she never has to. The struggle to survive behind the stratosphere if success. Caron Butler has overcome so much and the outcome is more than inspired...it's influential. It's not scripted on dry-erase...it's a real hit to the hardwood. It's not Hollywood...it's Racine. It's not Kobe...it's Caron. It's not the NBA....it's life. This is what it's all about. This is the juice. You don't think so? You don't like it? "Tuff"! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 8 October 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
'Me and you, your momma and your cousin watchin' too. Rollin' down the stripe like vogues. Comin' up slamming like rising Cadillac doors.' 50, 50, 50, 50...FIFTY! Slam, slam, slam, SLAM...DUNK! A double-pump...through the legs. A windmill...a tomahawk. A reverse...one-handed. Off the glass...through the hoop. BANG! Nobody...nobody put it down quite like 'Nique. You can ask a peer panel of judges. The good Dr. J, Julius Erving before him. The J.R. Rider's, Harold Minor's, Vince Carter's and Tracy McGrady's he inspired after him and countless lay-up lines more of Jason Richardson's and fellow Hawk flyers like Josh Smith. Hell even Kobe got his beans from this man. They may as well rename Chick Hearn's slam-dunk Dominique in Wilkins honour. You see the statue in the ATL, its immortalised in bronze forever. That outstretched limb, strong-arming many an in-game dunk like it was a contest...and when it came to the best thing about the middle of February's All-Star weekend until the wheel changed its fortune, it was all over. This all-time, top 50 player was that half century across the board, first attempt, second attempt, win. He beat the best, handed it over to his five foot, not much teammate Spud Webb to show the world that small potatoes could fry and then he did it again. Again and again and wowing the crowds until one man with a gold chain hanging round his neck, chewing gum like he owned the place, swagger stepped up to the free throw line with those wing tips. In the air that night, it wasn't just the hawk that could fly.
Chicago had Mike. New York had Pat. Boston, Bill or the Bird. And when it came to Los Angeles...well take your pick. Magic and Kareem, Wilt and West, or even Shaq and Kobe...and that's just for starters. But Dominique belonged to the A. And anyone who called Atlanta, Georgia home, sweet brown home. Just ask Andre 3000, or the documentary he narrated 30 for 30. Even if this Outkast flip flopped with the rock from Florida to California, all the way to Europe. He was and will always be an ATLien through and through like that classic comic-book cover artwork. Rising like elevators. "Me and you" and all of that. And as for that out of this world play it really did seem extra special...or terrestrial. Are you alien?! Straight from the ATL this Babylon on the Atlanta Hawks starting five was the new millenium before the 'Back To The Future' eighties even gave way to the golden era of the 1990's National Basketball Association. But every time this guy raced down court in those pumped up Reebok's he left two tracks of flames from his sneaker steps like a Delorean, taking flight like a hover board before hitting the clock tower like an explosion of lightning. They say the NBA is the LeBron games league it is today thanks to the 80's redux, redemption and revolution of the rivalry of Magic and Bird...but how could they forget about the dominant Dominique? Wilkins with as many dunks as Coach Lenny had wins, but he was much more than just a slam. In the pixelated, digital age of the 80's that saw the future like the legacy of Tron this legend was it for the Pac Man of his Hawks, eating up defenders like that yellow ball of smiley face destruction. A ghost to no one. The Hawks may have brought Pac back like albums of unreleased Shakur material, whilst reinventing themselves in this digital age in neon, but up in the downtown Atlanta skyline lights nothing shines brighter than the glow of 'Nique. Unique and before his time inspiring a different brand of ball on those who spent most of their days on the playground, now everyone else shooting some bball outside of his old school is just a retro imitation in throwback testament. Still nobody could quite catch it like the Fresh Prince with the Will Smith high-top fade who would be king.
Before he was welcomed to Atlanta like Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri this so, so def hit-maker of filmed highlights of humans was born Jaques Dominique Wilkins in Paris, France after his father was stationed their with the Air Force. Little did pops know that one day lil' 'Nique was going to soar higher that the Eiffel as a towering legend across any landmark in the world. Coast to coast, the Wilkins family moved around, from Dallas, Texas through the wire to Baltimore. But in Washington, North Carolina they found a home and a school for Dom to go to. At Washington High School D.W. won back-to-back MVP's and championships and a huge 48 points, had 27 rebounds, 9 dunks, and 8 blocks performance made the Sports Illustrated magazine he'd one day front and cover name him as one of the 'Faces In The Crowd' and one to watch. More sweet play came with Georgia's University as this 21.6 a game man bound for Atlanta was named the SEC Men's Basketball Player of the Year in 1981. Which then led this junior to declare for the 1982 draft a year later and be declared by the Utah Jazz with the third pick in that new star lottery behind Terry Cummings and Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy. But the Jazz couldn't make money play so Dominique wouldn't in Utah...which was fine with him. Things got a little salty in lake city as Nevada wasn't Dominique's ideal destination and the Jazz franchise recently displaced from their New Orleans home couldn't afford the star to be Wilkins. So they dealt with the A for Hawk players John Drew, Freeman Williams. You remember them right? Well at least they got some cash out of it and pick and rolls later would give this 90's dominant franchise the delivery of John Stockton and the mailman of Karl Malone's post service. But we can't help but think what it would have been like on the mirror side of a parallel universe and imagine what it would have been like for the first, real, original big-three. Malone would have finally got that ring the ranch hand even went to Los Angeles to try and get and could you imagine John's assist to Dominique? The stock would soar!
Yet Wilkins showed that all he needed was one. One ball and one hoop to become the one. The original rafter worthy number 21 with offensive dunks, before Kevin Garnett was the kid in Minnesota. A lone wolf who even with Spud in his web became the icon of the Atlanta Hawks franchise and the legend of his legacy during a five season straight, 50 plus win bid. The best, even when he finally got more help in the post with veteran ironman Kevin Willis and the late, great Moses Malone. Even bigger than their record winning campaign of last season and their across the board All-Stars of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Even that Hawk's arrow, bullseye perfect three-ball couldn't fly quite like the U-Nique Dominique. Only the Pistol of legend Pete Maravich could possibly draw and outshoot Wilkins with more bullets in the gun. And forget Stockton...imagine if that double team got together?! Duos would never be as dynamic...and yes we mean you too Shaq and Kobe. You see many talk about the rivalry between the dunking Hawk Dominique and the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, but the flight time, aerial assault battle between the Hawk and the Air wasn't the only limit to this sky high talent. Even grounded on parquet, this Hawk got his talons into another Bird and his wars with Boston Celtic Larry was one of legend...maybe not with the same tricks of trade of Magic's one, but certainly one that could rival the Hick From French Licks appointment with Doctor Erving. And just imagine the dunking duke-outs with Julius and the J's, because with Bird and more prey this Hawkeye Wilkins showed he had more range than just a couple of feet off the ground. The dunks where beautiful, but there was more to his defining game outside of that from the depths of downtown Atlanta (The three point gunner paced the league with 30 plus average, Durant numbers). Or the blue collar, suit and tie, business of hard worked hustle, clocking on on the boards. And lets not forget the unselfish team play of this boss player who still lent a hand an assist to his group with his work. That classic red and white striped, Hawk throwback and 80's, above the iron look of Dominique may be what this All-Star icon is most recognised for. But above that high-top fade was many hats for this man. He made Los Angeles Times clippings with the Los Angeles Clippers and the legend also had stints with storied franchises like the Celtics and Spurs before returning to his European roots and showing another continent from Greece to Italy a whole world of ball where he finally became the champion his heart already was. He even returned to America late in the nineties and his career to show he could still get up to some Magic in Orlando. But in the U.S.A. he belonged to the "US" of anyone who has Georgia on their area code and oh not just their mind. That was D, the A to the letter. Like the other three...the N.B.A. First and foremost, number one, with or without a dunk. It was this players ball!