Thursday, 15 December 2016

#CourtsideColumn BAND OF BRODIES

The Brody Bunch.

1000 words. They say that's how much a picture is worth. Definitly more than 30 characters. Look at the one above. Look at these two. Look at them last season. Look at them now!

We and our timelines all know last season D'Angelo Russell leaked a video he filmed of an unaware Nick Young admitting he had cheated on then fiancee rapper Iggy Azalea all over social media. And as that and this story went viral two key cogs in the purple and gold Lakers machine looked like they were about to fall out. Lakers 'Sixth Man' Nick Young looked like he was ready to jump down sophomore star D'Angelo Russell's throat like when Woody Harrelson found out that Matthew McConaughey broke the partners rule on 'True Detective'. Whilst everyone was calling and labelling the young twentysomething a snitch like this was jail with little regard for the fact that his teammate over 30 had done the nasty on his blushing-ly embarrassed bride to be. But alas this is nobodies business but the individuals concerned. Cue Kermit and some Lipton.

Either way fans and rivals, not to mention player peers believed the then rookie Russell had broken the locker room code and honour. Showing a bad example as a teammate. But now D'Angelo couldn't look like a better one. Leading the post-Kobe (another great guarded stranger to things of controversy) Lakers back to the promised land Hollywood couldn't even script. Not just playing on the same team as a Laker that almost didn't make the cut, before a matured and grown Young (don't call him Swaggy anymore) waved goodbye to the waivers with the resurgent play of the player he should have always been. But on court, in the same starting line-up, as just in the nick of time Young has solved the Lou Will 6 man debate by breaking into the first five.

So D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young are running together. Side-by-side, for better or worse. In injury sickness and clutch game health. And these two are acting like nothing has happened or theres a job for them between Manhattan and Brooklyn across the Hudson after the NBA for all the bridges they've been building. Because these guys have been passing and shooting together as the most consistent players in a youth in revolt, but raw Lakers unit. Remember Young joking with Russell that he had ice (or swag) in his veins too after stealing a game-winner from Lou Williams, before joining him on the bed sore spreading injury list of the Lakers which surely resulted in more familiar territory bonding? And now they're both back together, just look at that picture. Point Guard D. Loading picking and pulling up his veteran Uncle P off the floor. Not only are they both back...they've got each others too.

Laker fans have got to love this even if you wonder how they're handling an 8 game losing streak. That this game in question increased in Brooklyn against a bad team who seemingly haven't seen any real nets since they were in New Jersey. Even in these purple bruised times the Lakers are seeing some gold shines in this repaired relationship. Showing anything is possible and everything can be brought back. Even if young, great former player/coach Luke Walton is $15K lighter for finally breaking that family trademark, nice-guy cool and dropping some almost threatening, tirading F bombs at referees after they called DeMarcus Cousin man-handling of former Kentucky alumni Julius Randle in favour of the more established superstar. Say what you will about Luke's un-Walton's like outburst but it just showed how down he was for his team and players no matter the odds. He wouldn't stand for his guys being disrespected. Sounds like a real coach. Sounds like 15 thousand dollars well spent.

That's how loyal these new passed over Lakers are 1 through 15. With a base so talented the club couldn't bring Ant Brown or Yi Jialian with them into this new season. Still it's all family. Like Larry Nance Jr. showing how he can get up like dad, like father, like dunk of the year with his latest zero G slam taking flight on a runway to the All-Star contest. From the rock Randle to the fluid Jordan Clarkson. All-Star Luol Deng and champion Timofey Mozgov. The two international guards Calderon and Huertas. The two Sixth Men who could have their year. And of course the rookie...Brandon Ingram.

Write them off now and they'll underline your name later because this really does look like a young team for the coming of the ages. But from the dime to the clutch they are going to need both a grown up Young and matured Russell to lead the way in different ones. But the only way number one and zero can do this before the buzzer counts down and rings out is together.

You got a phone? You won't need it. Soon the whole worlds going to see all these two do. Go tell somehody!

Brodies?! Nah...brothers. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

#CourtsideColumn JUST PLAY

Basketball Never Stops...Apart From A Commercial Break.

"Tickets please"!?

Yeah no problem...they're right here. And don't worry about the keys and electronics they're all here too ready to go like I am. Right with my belt and boots for this metal detector. Oh wait this isn't a flight?! Pardon me just let me pull up my pants. My mum always told me I was a size 28 not M.C. Hammer.

Can't touch this!

Program?! Sure I'll take one! How much? TEN DOLLARS!? I guess that's me done for the evening. You know how much this cost me on Stub Hub!? Before the transaction fees which are like a nosebleed ticket in itself?! Nah I'm ok for a jersey and t-shirt. I got mine right here. 24 all day. Bleed purple, live gold like LSU.

Of course I'll stand and remove my hat, but maybe we should link arms or something, because let's respect everyone's beliefs. Remember how Abdul-Rauf's looked? You can take a knee if you please. Sure I'll hold your hot dog for you. Looks nice! What is that chipotle?! Nah I'm ok I was going to get one but I want to live in my apartment next month.

OK let's get it started. Here's the tip! That's what sh...never mind, Let's go Lakers/Cavs/Warriors/Bulls/Raptors etc. Delete were appropriate. What?! A timeout already!? What the hells a media timeout!? 30 seconds!? Again!? Just enough time to kill the mood but not enough time to take a leak. I know there's HD screens, but if I wanted to watch the game on the tube whilst beer was spilt on me I would have stayed at home with the boys! What another whistle!? It's not even the referee. Nah I'm not going to reach for that t-shirt. I'm not Inspector Gadget and I don't want to start a fight with that fan whose never heard Fat Joe's 'Lean Back' or danced with a girl at prom. But he sure knows how to "dab". Get that Gatling away from me Chris. This isn't Civil War Captain America and I think you just took that old man in row four out whilst everyone scratched and clawed at him like 'The Walking Dead' before Lucille. Taking the actual shirt off his back and not the one you fired with reckless abandon. One that wouldn't even fit King Kong after a week of Zumba with Godzilla.

I mean this is all fun and I love hearing that European dance tune from the 90's on repeat and taken to 11 but what about the game we came to see? We know the teams logo. We're wearing it SnapBack head to sneaker toe. We don't need it shoved in our face at 90 miles per hour even if it is free to the last fan standing. We prefer the giveaways at the door. We appreciate the million dollar marketing but we prefer the millionaires you pay to take it to the floor. LeBron, Steph. The dude from section 302 about to hit it from half court.

Just let 'em play!

Oh...wait! Cheerleaders! Is that a Kiss Cam?

Friday, 18 November 2016

THE SHOW GOES ON-An Interview With Roland Lazenby (Author Of Kobe Bryant 'Showboat')

Showtime & Tell



In his NBA lifetime the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan wore the number 23. The closest player to him and his greatness Kobe Bryant, 24. Kobe won five titles with his Los Angeles Lakers. Mike won six as a Chicago Bull. As a matter of fact there's little much else between the two retired, legendary 6'6, two hundred and something in the tens pound guards. Both have a legendary line of Nike sneakers that keep stepping out even after they've hung them up. Both men were coached by Phil Jackson and have played with legends like Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper. Both men have won Slam Dunk Contests but also knew how to step back and hit the iconic fadeaway. Both men have a magazine cover pin-up smile but a hero killing villain death stare when everything is flipped. Both men speak in tongues, shrugs and shooting for the heart. One-on-one you've never seen two players as competitive. And now Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have both got biography bestsellers on the bookshelves thanks to basketball writer Roland Lazenby. The legend who was once most famous for his book on the NBA logo Jerry West, rewrote what was considered his definitive and most iconic read when he gave us 'The Life' of Michael Jordan in 2014. And now he looks to go better once again with number 24 as his book on Kobe Bryant 'Showboat' is sailing through Kindles and coffee tables as we turn. We caught up with Lazenby once again inbetween reads and what seems like a life that will always write to talk about his latest muse Kobe Bryant and the book about him that has come just a year removed from his last one and some months after the player himself retired. Because after all the show must go on...

Q. Hey Roland! Great to catch up with you again. Congratulations on all your success with your last book 'The Life'. After writing about Michael Jordan was Kobe Bryant always the next logical progression for you?

No, I looked at an array of options, as I always do. Ultimately, the decision is made by what the publisher will buy.

Q. How did the reception and success of writing about Mike inspire and motivate you to write about Kobe?

Well, confidence is big in any endeavour. You would think at my age that confidence is never an issue. But I’ve discovered that being in my 60s is much like being an adolescent. I love doing biography, and if you’re going to do that much work, it sure helps to have success.

Q. What was the starting point for your account of the life of Kobe Bryant mere months after he retired?

I always try to go for what I consider the revelatory moments. Showboat, the book on Kobe, actually began in three different places. An overview beginning after his first basket. An emotional moment following his second championship. A pivotal moment in the career of his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant.

Q. Can you tell our readers more about the name of your Bryant book 'Showboat'? It was an old nickname that Shaq gave him right?

Yes, and it was a lineage he shared with his father, a great showboat player off the playgrounds of Philadelphia. The showboat elements of the game have always been at odds with the purists. But the dunk and other fancy elements have always thrilled fans, i.e. the Globetrotters. Sports stories are often a father/son romance, and this one is about that thing they shared, the love of showboating.

Q. You begin this book beautifully with looking at the career of Kobe's father Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant and his sons upbringing in Italy. How important are these themes in setting the tone of the text?

They define, in many ways, everything about how Kobe approached the game. Ultimately, he grew to become very much his own man. He defined that by making up a nickname and an identity for himself, Mamba, the killer snake.

Q. And with Kobe's purple and gold glory days with the Lakers how much did researching and writing about this take you back to your times sideline reporting with the Lakers?

So much of it did take me back. The Lakers are an amazing story as Hollywood’s franchise. I’ve spent much of my life exploring all of the elements of the Lakers story, and that began years before Kobe arrived there. Every book I do allows me to learn more and more about the Lakers. It’s not a simple story, as you might assume.

Q. How difficult but important was it to ask and talk about not only the accomplishments but the controversies of Kobe's life and career?

That’s always the difficult part of these books, the family and personal stories are always immensely complicated. And that raises questions about what should be reported. Some of it should be reported, because invariably I find that it raises my estimation and understanding of the person and his family. At the same time, I always look for limits. For example, as I rule I don’t write about a person’s sex life, unless it becomes a controversy and part of the public record. Even then, I don’t get into detail, because one’s love life is a private, private matter. I also think of my own family as I write biography. My parents were quiet, everyday people, but our ancestors were quite the rowdy bunch. Every family has its difficulties and conflicts and disagreements. I write about those to some degree because it often reveals the character or personality of the figure I’m writing about.

Q. Just like your book on M.J. this story is rooted in family how do the two books and players compare and contrast in this and how as a writer do you get to the core feeling of this?

Well, MJ is such a global iconic figure, the long story of his family is essential to understanding him. I don’t go into quite the depth of background with Kobe, because the big issue with him was his father as a pro player, the experiences for the family that created, etc.

Q. Which journalists and player peers were the most helpful and insightful in your look into the life of the Laker legend?

Gosh, quite an array of people offered different insights, journalists such as Shelley Smith of ESPN who covered him during the rape charges, or well-known basketball writer Howard Beck, who got to know Kobe as a young guy and had a great affinity for him. Rudy Garciduenas, the Lakers longtime equipment manager, was close to both Shaq and Kobe and offered tremendous understanding of both men, of the dynamic in the Lakers locker room over the years, and the personality of the franchise itself, from Jerry West to Jeanie Buss to Phil Jackson.

Q. You really draw us in to particular moments vividly. One being the preface standout of a championship cap wearing Kobe sitting in the Philadelphia visitors locker room alone and forlorn after winning his second NBA title. What can you tell us about this moment?

On the eve of the playoffs he had thrown his family out of his life in a dramatic move. Once he won the championship, the emotion of his actions and the conflict came flooding in all at once.

Q. Can you tell us how 'Showboat' differs to your other books on Kobe Bryant including 'Mad Game' now his career is said and done?

I wrote Mad Game in 1999. It was about Kobe’s adjustment to the NBA. Showboat is his full life and a full effort at understanding all the factors that have gone in to making Bryant the competitor and person that he is. Showboat reflects much greater understanding on my part because of how much I’ve learned in writing biography.

Q. In completing this story how has Kobe's farewell season and final game drawn a line under his basketball story and career arc?

His final game emphasized the title of the book. It was utterly a Showboat moment.

Q. Before Jordan you where known for writing the book on the logo Jerry West. A legend instrumental in bringing Kobe to L.A. How do the two books and players compare and which icon in your opinion is the greatest Laker?

Well, West teamed with the great Elgin Baylor to popularize the Lakers, a new team in LA in 1960, and over the next 14 years made them legendary. West then went on as GM to define the franchise in terms of his fanatical leadership and personality. He cared deeply, and the franchise benefited from his insane pursuit of perfection. Kobe’s story is about Kobe. He now has an opportunity to make it about more than himself. And he may just do that. West himself was quite self-focused as a player, too.

Q. After your biography 'The Life and Legend Of A Basketball Icon', Jerry West wrote his own autobiography. Are you hoping the same happens for number 23 and 24's memoirs?

Yes, that would be great. Biography has tremendous importance, I believe, as an independent look at sports/cultural figures. It’s important that it be independent because these wealthy figures long to control their own narratives. However, their own books are immensely important because they offer different levels of information and sometimes truth.

Q. Two classic books in the last couple of years you sure deserve a rest, but what's next? Maybe an appointment with the King?

I’m taking a long break. My wife just retired and we’re going to enjoy life a bit. Then I’ll start thinking about the next project.

Roland we thank you for your time. We really appreciate it. We wish you all the best for the future. Thanks again.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Back 2 Black.


(Our new series 'One To Court' offers profiles of the young, unsung players to watch out for)

Here comes the boom!

To be young and gifted like Tarik Black. Well, not even the bleed purple and live gold, die-hard fans of the Lakers quite expected this. No matter how much faith they had in new coach and former player Luke Walton. Right now after destroying Brooklyn's nets the new Showtime Lakers are 4 and 1 at home and 7 and 5 for the year. Hello .500. We'll see you soon we hope playoffs. These new, young Lakers looking like another band of California Warriors in this small ball revolution are running the death-lineup so much it seems like all they do in practice is commit to endless suicide drills like Coach Carter. When it comes to the Walton's you may just have a purple and gold Fantastic Four that everyone was looking for in Golden State's Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson (who believe them-not what you hear-is going nowhere). Because right now pick your purple poison. D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. They are all playing like superstars of the future. And we're still waiting on Brandon Ingram to show us all who he really is.

Leave the Vino in the cellar. Kobe deserves to put his feet up. And what a retirement he must be having watching all of this.

But one of the youngest and deepest squads in the association don't end with their future. Their highest scoring in the league bench-mob is really pine fresh like that tree hanging from your cars rear-view mirror. What more do you expect when you have two 'Sixth Men Of The Year' candidates (Lou Williams and the swag of Nick Young), two internationally renowned Point Guards (Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas) and two former superstars (Luol Deng and Laker legend Metta World Peace) who can all still play but must wait for their day. But with all these guys (not to mention Thomas Robinson) meaning even promising youth Anthony Brown and Chinese icon Yi Jialian didn't even make the final roster cut, you just know the X's and O's of Luke Walton has a wealth of options, inside and out.

But don't fade on Black.

Because part of the Lakers boomin system is 24 year old center Tarik Black who has been in and around the purple paint, dressed in gold for years now. Manning the middle with lets not forget rookie Zubac and all dunking champion Mozzy. Sure at 6'9 he may be undersized, but did you tell that to Ben Wallace? Affectionately nicknamed 'Boom, Boom' Black eyes the rebound and brings the POW to the power back dunk. He's more than the below the basket dirty work guy that the Lakers have missed with the departures over the years of Jordan Hill and Rony Turiaf. He is also more than hockey's equivalent of the kings of L.A. basketball's enforcer that has big star Julius Randle's back in the key too. Although you just have to love the zoomed in, ready to go so much that he loves it expression on his face when Kentucky grads DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and Randle squared up to each other a couple of games back at the end of regulation at STAPLES. Because Black can get his and score and rebound at will without a single play dry erased for him too. Even if it is a combination of muscled 'bounds, box outs and put backs. Have you seen him run the lane for a dunk? Or even just take off from a standing position to clean up the sometimes raw rookies and stuttering sophomores growing pains mess? Case in point last game against former teammate Jeremy Lin's (who got his Coach Kobe playbook on injured courtside, sitting this one out, but still very much staying in the game like EA's return) Brooklyn Nets he put one back off the rim so Darryl Dawkins, 'Chocolate Thunder', Black rain hard we just had to write an article about it and him.

And as everyone in downtown L.A.'s STAPLE from Lil 'Wayne to the nosebleeds got out their seats we aren't the only ones paying attention.

So now you're all checking for the Lakers again like everyone from ESPN to the Clippers should have been with Lob City taken back, just make sure you paint it Black. Because right under the basket when it comes to the Lakers purple heart Black and gold goes together like Hollywood nights that will never fade.

Sunday, 13 November 2016




"This is my year to go get the MVP award"-Paul George.

Keep pace with this years MVP race and you'll see that it's more than just number 23, King LeBron James, or the leader of the Golden State Warriors big-three with one of his own from downtown, Steph Curry going for his third straight Maurice. And no we're not just talking about this years rivaling debate of former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Basketball's equivalent of the Trump and Clinton nationwide divide...although both candidates here are actually nice people. No there's a bigger talent pool in the NBA stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and every division in-between. Guys like Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio or even James Harden in Houston. And between the Rockets and Spurs that's just two for Texas. But go East to a champion conference you once thought least and you will see that this game of thrones is more than just he who wears the heavy crown. There's a former number 24 (who gave all his old jerseys to his old high school in how about that?!) trying to one-up number 23 and we aren't talking about the hyper-competitive Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant coming out of retirement like Mike already...although he probably is jealous of how the Lake Show future of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram are going on without him under former teammate Luke Walton. No, for this 24 (now a PG-13 with a defensive advisory warning), you have to run the picket fence all the way to Hoosier country for a Pacer who is on track to take everyone to church faster than the Indianapolis 500 as he looks to take his team above that to the dot.

Indiana Pacers all-superstar Paul George is the most underrated franchise player in the game today. By far the best two-way player as former coach and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw can attest. But this year the man with two first names just may find himself with three initials and his surname engraved under Podoloff come season end. Championship or no playoffs. Although he is at the center of a crazy trade rumor right now involving Golden State's Klay Thompson that will buck stop his time in Indiana and send him across to Wisconsin for Milwaukee it's all hear say until we see the day. Although as of press time he's injured too-out against the Celtics-this go to guy is still a relevant factor right, damn now. Besides he's come back from worse. He's come back from an Indy 5.00 worth of fellow stars speeding off for their own lanes. From Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson, To Roy Hibbert and new Jazz note George Hill. And more importantly and critically he's come back from much worse injury. One that could have crucified his career...and has to others like loved legend of Toronto, Orlando and Houston, Tracy McGrady. But never fear the closest to that number one is (still) here. In body-type look to just the way he plays this game. All over the floor and all over the box score. From being slam dunk contest worthy to breaking Pacer legend Reggie Miller's record threes in one game. You know owner Larry Bird is smiling from the box above as G let's it fly. A gazelle like guard who's taller enough to hang with the bigs like a K.G. or K.D. P.G. is just that capable. From the Point Guard position to a P.F. When it comes to this game forget the MVP, George may as well have a P.H.D. Because his court education is making semesters out of everyone, rookie students or top all-first team scholars with Hall of Fame honor rolls. And speaking of team Paul has some firsthand help now too. Jeff Teague, Myles Turner, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, Aaron Brooks, C.J Miles, Rodney Stuckey, Glenn Robinson the third, That's the roster. Ladies and gentleman, that's the playoffs!

Numbers don't lie for the 6,9, 220 pound, three time All-Star 26 year old in his perfect prime who is the truth. And come playoff time you'll see exactly why. And we aren't talking about no eight seed squeeze but homecourt advantage, set and match-up. You better believe. It's going to be quite the ball game whoever they get. Chicago? Toronto? The Land?! It will all add up from P.G.24's 21.9 points per game, to go along with 6.7 rebounds, 2,9 assists and 4 blocks per. Put Paul up against Jimmy Butler and he'll service him, a Cluedo crime will have happened but you'll know who did it. Up north, some six games later, DeRozan will get frozen out like someone turned the heating off in the Air Canada Center. And as for the 'Bron King champ of Believeland...well heads will roll one way another. You just have to see which way it falls. Because by George Paul is worthy of this type of contention consideration, not criticism. And if like Gene Hackman he ever does take his Hoosier Pacers to the promised land of dubbed superteams by his gold shorts, then the Golden State Of Californian will have to put Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and everyone else on the former injury red-shirt whilst he's making puddles of the Splash Brothers. Every Warrior except Steph could see in this years Team USA winning Olympics in Rio, Brazil that this guy is big game worthy of gold. in every carat, weight and sense of the metaphor and the literal podium place, with arguably the games biggest prize draped across his shoulders. Paul George has aligned with Cousins, Jordan's and Carmelo Anthony's. He knows all about squad assembling for the goals. Double-team him at your peril because you may need a big-three of your own. And even then he can kick it outside to hot guard shooters Monta and Teague on the perimeter and in a league of their own. And if that doesn't work, Paul could use one of those 2.9 assists per to get real personal and hand it off inside to Al Jeff or the rail-tall Myles Turner. Showing both this team and their man have enough height and running length to run laps on the association, in this small ball revolution, all whilst paying homage to the tough, old golden era of the big-man 90's. If you want to survive in this league you have to work on both ends of the floor, inside and out. And by having both and being all those things Indiana's Paul is your man in the middle, ready to be the most unselfish center of attention you've ever seen. Scoring points that don't just show up on his own stat sheet. After all when it comes to the leagues fantasy prototype player isn't that what makes you most valuable?  Not just the ultimate superstar...but the definitive teammate. Perhaps in this game, in this life, that's the real reward.

And by George we think he's got it!

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Terminator X.


The following takes place sometime between 1989 and 1997...

Sonic booms reverberate all around the city of Seattle as 'The Glove', Gary Payton is dropping Emeralds like he held the Infinity Gauntlet like Avengers big bad Thanos. And flying through the Cosmos like Thor with the hammer is 'The Reignman', Shawn Kemp. Throwing and putting it down over and over again. His thunderous slams precipitating all over the state of Washington's Key Arena baskets like they were buckets with holes in them. Oop-BOOM! You've never seen a duo so dynamic Batman. The pick and roll of Stockton on Malone on protein powder. Shaq and Kobe without the b.s. The only thing this one, two punch took swipes at was the nets...and the opposition. From New Jersey to New England, when Seattle still had an NBA franchise they reigned supreme in the Ewing and Barkley tough 90's golden era. And it was all thanks to The Glove and the man he handed it all off to. Waking up Seattle crowds better than their best coffee, before the Starbucks bean grabbers took them from the city of grunge to an Oklahoma home. Seattle had reign before the Thunder of Westbrook and what once was Durant. But all good things and that. Still when everyone under the Space-Needle in Rain City watched like Frasier Cane listened it was all for 20 and 40. The coupling of G.P. Gary Payton and S.K., Shawn Kemp.

And then there was X.

Xavier McDaniel marked the spot before this one, two checked the lane. Don't wait for the Macklemore thrift shop throwback to acknowledge, Couldn't nobody hold the X-Man as Professor Xavier terminated all those in his lane laser Cyclops focus path. He cut through defenders like Wolverine, quicker than Quicksilver. This Beast was a Storm when he rose to put sugar in the cup. Flying like Archangel with more aces in the hole than Gambit. A Cerebro like knowledge of all the different type of dunks he could duke. His colossal strength showed he had the mettle to go toe to toe with any Magneto villain. The Iceman cometh and rose like a Phoenix. Always on NBA Jam fire. Pure paint power. Number 34 like Shaq or Anthony Mason. A strong-hold creation of the two mixed together with potent punctuation. As bald and as bad as DMX, X was going to give it to ya every time he was coming down the court. 'Xplosive' like Dre. Even the good Doctor Julius didn't dunk quite like this. In the Showtime era of the Lakers Xavier McDaniel was big-game Magic. Among the blue collar green bloods of Boston, this fellow Green Day player flew like Bird. Only the legend of Larry eluded him. Before Mike Jordan, Seattle's X saw air and we aren't talking about the breeze on his razor shaved dome. Because he took off and soared to those same Jet City skies at Supersonic speed. But McDaniel's dunks weren't the only thing that kept him up. He blocked like a fast break finisher always starts off doing and this lion heart, bullying beast that could run you down like a gazelle also knew how to take the lunch money from your hip-pocket. Swiping a swat like steal like it was a mid-height block, Just when you were sure you had it and him. You'd be telling referees jotting in their notebook like detectives that you could have sworn you'd just seen him. You were just with the Spalding only a moment ago.

But the man who threw the rock into all sorts of hard places also was as smooth as he was strong. His clutch game of range made him just as deadly on the perimeter from mid to downtown like he was at the break in case of emergency glass. Charging up rebounds in the key and putting them back with an electric fence defense like lightning bolt. X knew how to cancel everyone out. He was double X, L. A triple X threat that the league in the 80's wish they could have censored like the first red, black and white Air Jordan's. But f### a fine Xavier McDaniels paid the cost...and you know just what he became. This was a man that went toe-to-toe with Ewing. Nose to nose with Mr. Cooper. Pip to pip with Scottie. From choking out Lakers to lunging over scorers tables, not just for loose balls, but loose lipped opponents trying to taunt. This enforcer who wrestled with every big show, big shot wasn't even afraid to square up to the greatest of all-time. To 34, number 23 was just a number. Mike just another man in his way. This guy was a real powerful forward in the punch purple paint before Rodman and all his hair colors. Just call him a Cousin of DeMarcus, or even Uncle X. Because this guy was Ron, Ron before Artest found World Peace. Terminator X may have been a Public Enemy number one to a nation of millions that couldn't hold him back. But he fought the power as he ran a power move on them like Chuck Barkley. And to think we've got some non believers in this don't think twice world of hype. Yet X was a Professor smart enough to graduate from an Academy of gifted youngsters all the way to the hallowed hall making NBA Draft.

South Carolina born, this 6 foot 7, 218 pound tweaning forward McDaniels was Witchita State raised (no, not Xavier university). All the way to the fourth pick in the draft of the year this writer was born ('85) as this X-Man became a cult-hit in the eighties like the old Marvel animation in these days of future past. The forward running player who played in every number in the early thirties also suited up for the Phoenix rising Suns he was set with, a Pat Riley New York tough, 90's Knicks team of Oakley's and Mason clones, a fellow Emerald green collar Celtic side and the Springsteen blue jean, bootcut Nets of New Jersey after some time at sea with Greece's Iraklis Thessaloniki B.C. But all of these one to two year stints had nothing on his half decade with Seattle, as perfect and precious as the nostalgically missed Supersonics franchise, In the iconic 80's, before the classic 90's uniform that recently retired, Jesus piece Ray Allen redux rebooted at number 34 in the cities last hosting years in the other Beantown, before Seattle's best club became Sue Bird's WNBA Storm in the Key. Now only original, underrated international player Detlef Schrempf comes close to X (who formed a terrifying 20 point per trifecta with hard working legends Dale Ellis and Tom Chambers) as being part of Seattle's Payton and Kemp big-three of green and yellow history. He not only wore the uniform with pride, he made it a hardwood classic, throwback testament to Mitchell and Ness. Now keeping the X name strong in basketball circles his Xavier junior sons and daughter Xylina are making their spots on college courts. The McDaniels legacy lives on like a cross in a ballot paper box. All thanks to the man that rose the bar on concepts and contests of slam dunks in-game. The Charles Xavier bald hitman with shaved eyebrows raised his fair share over his career. Word to Anthony Davis. Now how are you going to fear the brow when there isn't one? Extraordinary!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

#CourtsideColumn DUNKING IN L.A.


L.A.X. Welcome to Los Angeles, California. Hollywood. The home of movies and stars. Now as we make our descent on our runway, look to your left and you may see someone running like that time Leonardo DiCaprio took off from his Pan Am flight and told Tom Hanks 'Catch Me If You Can'. Ready to fly it could be a bird, a Griffin, or even a Jordan. And whose controlling all this air traffic? A man holding a basketball instead of those two ping pong bats. Some call him CP3. The Lakers almost called him theirs. Until NBA commissioner David Stern was involved in a nixing scandal, no Watergate, but no water under the bridge. See Los Angeles will always be Lakerland but in recent years from news clippings to barbershop ones the Los Angles Clippers have claimed their home town as their own. Even renaming it as the red, white and Buffalo blue have taken some of the gold gleam from the purple reigned heart of the City of Angels. But who would have thought that the retirement of one of the greatest ever, let alone the West best L.A., Kobe Bryant would be the thing that truly brought the Lakers back from the brink?

And now they're about to take Lob City...and make it theirs!

Last night in a coastal Californian clash the Lakers lost to the Western Conference champion and NBA finalist, almost Kevin Durant guranteed next seasons title, the Golden State Warriors. Nothing new there. You can see it one more time this week in preseason, or even three times in November for the season. But what you really should have seen was a reflection. From Draymond Green to Julius Randle. Superstar signing, big ticket Kevin Durant to number two lottery draft pick Brandon Ingram. And the Splash Brothers to the Swag Brodies. Sure these Laker men in the mirror may look like Warrior wannabes, but they're actually an even more run ready "death line-up" that could run this small ball revolution association into the ground.

Yeah Chris Paul's lane and alley to the big oops and "aah's" of beasts Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan may be the big L.A. blockbuster franchise to marvel at right now in Hollywood. But you don't need to go to the Venice Beach boardwalks or courts to see something more athletic, unless it's a rookie GQ photo-op shoot. All you do is have to walk across the STAPLES hall to the Lakers lockers to see that Purple and Gold men can jump too. Of course we all know the parentage and lineage of Larry Nance Jr. The nightly highlight reel is about to be a star in his own show and right, but when it comes to above the rim this man has all eyes on him like 2Pac. He should have been in the Slam Dunk Contest last season. This year he'll win it.

But junior isn't the only one who can get up. Have you seen rookie Ingram's coast to coast wingspan? They call the kid thin, but in the thick of it this buck fifty soaking wet could reach for the rim, all whilst putting all his teammates jerseys out on the line for washing...and maybe even pin his number 14 one up there in the rafters with 24 or 8 whilst he's at it. Everyone can get it and get it good. From Brown to Black, Ant and Tarik. New bigs Mozgov and Zubac. Even All-Star veteran Luol Deng still has some hop. Whilst Randle can handle the rock like that as Julius channels the good doctor. It's all going to be like the freewheeling ABA once Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas know whose starting the break like the first person to leave a coffee shop past putting the chairs on the table closing. That is if they don't defer to clutch Sixth Man spark shooters Nick Young and old Lou Williams mind. Of course in reality it will be the Brodie backcourt of D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson leading the fast break amd their still young enough to ride the rim and rock away themselves, even if they don't seem tall enough.

And when the Lakers go real small and ball out with a line-up of Clarkson, Russell, Randle and Nance Jr and Ingram flanking then it'll really be over. Talking about a revolution? This 'Death Lineup' stat sheet scout reads more like a eulogy for other teams, delivered in gold from the Buss brass. Now before you can say, "what the hell are they doing dunking in L.A." like a drunk Bran Van 3000 this franchise flipped script surprise is giving you a new Hollywood Frat Pack picture set to run and run. Until this Academy of gifted youngsters in this superhero star age become Oscar gold winners. Act up! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 15 October 2016


60 points from Kobe Bryant really was the end of an era in Los Angeles for a franchise that in the last ten years had just celebrated six decades in the association. As the Laker legend played his final game in purple and gold on his retirement tour, farewell season, not only did he hang up his sneakers and raise his jersey into the Hall of Fame rafters. He also finally closed the locker room door on his banner eras with Shaquille O'Neal. For some Los Angeles Times that made Shaq and Kobe one of the best one-two, big man and small guard dynamic duos in NBA history. For a storied Laker franchise who from Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson have had many legends in that Laker legacy making gold light.

Now the torch is passed to the former role player that connected the two with his amazing assists, Luke Walton and his staff of three-peat veterans from Brian Shaw to mad dancing Mark Madsen to lead this team in a new direction like a guard. But the point forward and son of Bill is now one of the youngest coaches in a youth in revolt league. Taking over from 80's Showtime legend Byron Scott and coming off some assistant experience with the California champion Golden State Warriors. Including some inspired interim at the head, remaining unbeatable in place of a rehabing Steve Kerr to begin last season. In a new era that has moved away from bigs thanks to MVP Steph Curry and the Dubs, Walton is the perfect member of the Lakers family to lead their own death line-up in this new NBA small ball revolution.

They could really kill it. Like they've done in the last few drafts, hitting the lottery with their new big tickets. Mixing the right top ten picks with some late round, slept on steals the Lakers have quite the young raw core. Now through trades and free agent years patient fans just hope the Buss brass can Kupchak keep this nucleus for the future intact. First they brought in Kentucky bruiser Julius Randle who as a third year man now really is shaping into a Draymond Green tough guy. But in his first injury plauged rookie season it was actually Jordan Clarkson who made an impact. And now the late first rounder is widely considered the best Laker. Even Kobe knew you couldn't go wrong with a first name like that. Last year the purple team struck gold with the second lottery pick in the draft. And after this perfect preseason the matured D'Angelo Russell looks to be the right choice to be the number one to lead the Lakers from the front of his jersey. Now don't put your phones away because you're going to want to record all he does. Kid is even cooking up Chef Curry comparisons from Walton. Speaking of family relations in the NBA, the slam dunk champ son Larry Nance Jr. is doing more than just dunking in L.A. The athletic fast break starter and finisher really brings something to both ends of the court that is seeing his famous name being put up there in Hollywood lights.

And if Ivica Zubac becomes the Gasol like player the Laker should have kept in Pau or drafted brother Marc, (coincidentally traded for his older sibling back in the day), thanks to some sky-hook and sinker training from legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then he'll be the teams third sleeper steal in a row. But all eyes are on second, second pick in a row Brandon Ingram who really could be the post-Kobe future face of this franchise in the middle of the Russell and Clarkson backcourt and Randle and Nance forward tandem. Built like Golden State Warrior new free agent superstar Kevin Durant in frame and game and folding the waistband of his shorts over twice to keep them up, so long as Brandon pulls everything up from his socks to his jump shots then Ingram could be the next star of this league. Let alone the Lakers with potential as wide as his canyon wingspan.

But don't dub these Cali Lakers 'Baby Warriors'...they're much more than that. With youth in reserve, from underrated x-factor Anthony Brown to golden era, 90's tough-guy throwback Tarik Black who could have just as easily found himself between Ewing and Oakley back in the day like he is Randle and Russell today. But if the kids aren't alright the Lakers have the vets to heal the knee scrapes like another retired longtime Laker legend Gary Vitti, all lead by scoring All-Star Luol Deng who looks to take the reigns of this purple and gold franchise. All whilst being the perfect mentor to show fellow Dukie Ingram the big-league ropes. The Great Brit giving a veteran alternative with another inspired international in China's Yi Jialian, who is as a scorer as automatic as his shot from the FIBA three-point line. More around the world range is circling at the Point Guard position, from fellow Olympians speedy Jose Calderon and the much overlooled skill-set of Marcelo Huertas (who will wear coaches old number 4 after giving up the 9 for new star Deng) who has a great 2016 Rio Olympics leading host nation Brazil. And even if you have no idea how on earth they do the Hollywood Lakers still have World Peace. And from Randle to Brandon, Metta is the perfect mentor. If that wasn't enough then the Lakers have two potental Sixth Men of the Year for their dozen to finish you off in the clutch. Nuke cooked by microwave men Lou Williams and Nick Young with his swagger back P. To plug the spark off the bench with their streaky to scorching scoring. If one 6 is cold you know the other can go off...but imagine if they both got hot? Now that's a lot of options. All that and we almost forgot the Luc Longley in the middle Timofey Mozgov. But don't scoff this Cav champion is the last one here with a ring.

The only thing left for a franchise that once had fire, ice, a couple of Goliaths, a magician and the logo as its symbol is to find a new identity. Whether that be lead by D'Angelo or finished on the break by Ingram. They need to identify when to let Jordan rule. Or when to pound it inside to Julius, with Mozgov and Black cleaning up whatever mess needs to be rebounded. From pick and rolls to post ups we guess savvy basketball quarterbacks like Huertas and Calderon will know what to run with and whether to pass off to the hot hand of Young or Lou Will. But for now the safest bet may to be let the superstar experienced hand of Luol lead. Deng may just be the difference maker in this battle for Los Angeles with the Clippers. But in all these Californian clashes in the Pacific we all know the real Kings lie in the Warrior state not Sacramento. The Lakers will just look to have Lil' Wayne advised fun like Phoenix. Before rising from the ashes for their time in the sun.

Now without Bryant the Nicholson favourite Lakers still have beans in a league that's now more Jack than beanstalk. That sounds like something out of Hollywood, like this brand new show that not only must go on...but will and is. Ready for a new blockbuster franchise?

Let the new Showtime begin!

Friday, 9 September 2016

#TheIversonSeries CREED

Street Of Philadelphia.


"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"-Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa)


"Look at those tattoo's"!


"Those cornrows"!


"This f###### kid"!


"He's just a criminal"!


Inked on his arms and all round his whole body to his heart and soul are a thousand stories that tell more words than the critics prose could ever proliferate. Their ink is gone with yesterdays newspaper, only to be recycled again and again like headlines or head-lice. The creed of his tattoos last for life. Forever like engraved stone. Artistically woven like the seams of a leather basketball pressed against his forehead is hair braided like they've never seen before. Streamlined. Cornrowed. Cool A.F. They saw the size of this kid and tried to slight him. But you want to know the skinny? Forget the physical. Psychologically he was an Adonis. They always underestimate the hearts of men. If the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan was the Marvin Gaye of Basketball than number 3 was 2Pac. Top five dead or alive. And that was just off one 82. You've heard the Jadakiss lines. Don't be throwing around thrones and get out the kitchen. You can't stand the heat. And to think they labelled him a convict just for '40 Bars' or his rap-sheet of sticking up for his friends. Taking his rap and doing his time. Don't wait until there's none left to appreciate. We lost too many legends this year. Ali, Price. But just like them this Class Of '16 member from the one from '96's soul and style will never die. Forget going out of fashion.

Allen Iverson was never afraid to be Allen Iverson. Because there was no one like him. More than one in a million. The first Georgetown Hoya that wasn't built like a Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, or future anti-Shaq and Kobe sidekick Dikembe Mutombo. And John Thompson loved this guy like a son. Even when hate came from every alley following that bowling incident. Because Ezail was more than the picture they tried to put him in. Or even the frame. So much so he almost made it in another game. But forget touchdowns because this kid had to change this game. And he did the moment he crossed over number 23. Magic! But Mike. The torch never gets passed in this 1-On-1 game. It has to be taken. Just ask E.J. Now the only shot you'll get of this boys mug is one of him holding up a suit jacket stitched with a crest that reads, 'Hall Of Fame'. They finally got him to wear one. And it took Naismith to do it for the guy that re-invented basketball from the icon that would have rather worn cargo pants than Stockton shorts. And you thought Shaq's closet was big.

Even when he stands between peers and pillars of his generation this weekend in Shaq and Yao Ming, A.I. will once again show that size doesn't mean s###! He's the one that started this so-called today's small-ball revolution. And you want to talk about cooking up records? His simmering passion took one from that new milleniuum, championship Lakers that almost swept and dusted off their trophy cabinet to an unbeatable legend of Larry that almost flew like Bird. Your David to your classic Goliath tale. A greater Philadelphia story than Rocky. Basketball's Balboa! Philly's greatest sporting icon since the fictional fighter. With all due respect to the Basketball God Moses, or the good Doctor you must see. Because did you ever see this true warrior on a stretcher? You can't count the number of times they counted him out. Or all the hits he took as they knocked him down. But he always came up swinging! Shadowboxing with God. Crossing over Jesus. All with the blinged out piece round his neck. The same place they wanted to hang the word "criminal". Not guilty. But still he kept running. Kept rising! Kept going. Running all through the streets of Philadelphia like Springsteen for Hanks. Cracking concrete like Liberty. All until the final bell rang. Last night at the Apollo. The city of brotherly loves creed. The other Michael Jordan like B. No 2K17 for his career. For real he ran all the way up those Philly Rocky steps like Sly. Stepping over Tyrone Lue so cold, so cruel on the way. All the way to the stone sunmit where everyone jumps. But he just put a hand to his ear and screamed.

Now who's the champ?

You know the answer!

"Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain't gonna have a life."

Saturday, 9 July 2016


Slim Pickings.


“I think it just gives me motivation to show these guys that the skinny part doesn’t matter"-Brandon Ingram.

First impressions are everything they say and you can tell with the second pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Los Angeles Lakers select Brandon Ingram is far from impressed. You can see from the eyes of the soul as he nods through a hurt insult that's too numb now to be anything but jaded that this is a repeat and it's getting old as California's Red Hot Chilli Peppers once said by the way. With the second question he is asked too after shaking hands with Silver that really isn't framed like one. He's heard it all before. But how about a million more times? No thanks right?!  Just like those stupid Spongebob or Jack Skeleton memes as tastelessly tacky as they are tauntingly thoughtless, when no one else looked as dapper as this don in his Draft Day NBA birthday suit that looked like he flipped his Bel-Air blazer Fresh Prince inside out. "I said this yesterday (so it's already been said...again) when I first saw you...I can't believe how skinny you are"! That's what the reporter (albeit still a great one) tasked with being one of the first people to interview Brandon Ingram, mere seconds after his Lakers debut as their top selection asked. Not some other generic soundbite regarding retired Kobe Bryant. Or something else that has nothing to do with how this young man plays...but the ultimate thing that has everything to do with ignorant gossip, but nothing to do with how he puts it down. I know the pain Brandon. A judge, jury and executioner of my peers and girls would never look at me twice when I was your new jersey number in age because I was the kind of guy you couldn't see if I turned on my side. And that wasn't the only thing. Because of my slight build and skinny figure I was bullied mercilessly in an all boys school because I wasn't in their eyes viewed as a "real man", because I carried skin and bones, rather than a six pack. Miller Lite rather than a beer with the boys. But I tell you that's not what makes a man. Traits like endurance and passionate drive do. Not to mention or forget compassion. Their lack of that was hell and still in ways only I know tortures and torments me and stunts my growth to this day. And I'm thirty for crying out loud! You're just a kid. As Ingram protests, almost-if it wasn't for his already reputation certified, trademark professionalism-pleadingly, "I'm only 18"! Sideline reporter take note...he's just made his powerful punch of a point. Even if as subtely so as his slender but soul of heart build of a body.

"I have an inner strength that no one knows about"-Brandon Ingram.

But they're about to. And pardon the pathetic pun, but do you want to know the skinny on this kid? They're calling this young gunner the next Kevin Durant. You know? Only the biggest free agent of not only this offseason, but all the Summers since LeDecision. No matter if you love it/him or hate his taking the talented superteam of the big three, downtown Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green Golden State Warriors and turning them into NBA Basketball's equivalent of Marvel. So you can frame Brandon Ingram as the perfect prototype player for this California brand of basketball. Especially when out West he models his game on the likes of underrated superstar and all defensive San Antonio Spur swingman and King moat stopper Kawhi Leonard. Not to mention silver and black legend George Gervin which even surprised another legend and Inside The NBA interviewer Grant Hill (another great to follow in the sneaker steps of on court). Sure this teenager two years off 20 should be too young to remember The Iceman...but he does. This kid could be the coldest. And crisply dressed in a Lakers coloured suit on the press conference day of his introduction to the lockers of Laker gold, complete with a perfectly placed purple heart, this man is suited and booted as the next in Laker legacy line to bleed purple and live gold. Inking his reputation to these creeds and colours like the scriptures imbeded in his arms. Like the palm trees that tattoo this city of lost angels who have just found their new saint. One chosen one who in this new small ball revolution could resurrect and lead a 'Death Lineup' of former rookie and sophomores Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson and last years number two pick D'Angelo Russell and keep them running away from Laker fan suicide from all the lost seasons that have lead to this pick of the litter, as they run other teams to dry erase extinction. That's the Walton way anyway. Be thankful for the Grateful Dead. Forget a 'Fantastic Four', this five could be fire with their new human torch igniting and showing the way like a beacon burning brighter than the futuristic neon of downtown L.A. at night that Dark Knight signal shines from the spaceship like glow of STAPLES, the centre of Los Angeles times.

That now are all going to read about Brandon as this generation Instagrams Ingram. Brandon Ingram is about to ingrane his legacy in Lakerland tomorrow to a marrow of memories of gold, not just a purple haze. And it's all in his bones...not how bony he is. Some critics may try to insult him to injury obscurity. Call it like that coach who once said the late, great Manute Bol was so thin they could save on airfare for away games on the road by faxing him from city to city. But in this "what's your wifi" Bluetooth replacing age lets take it broadsheet back to the printing of the likes of L.A. Times Pulitzer Prize winning legend Jim Murray's newspaper columns that would join you with your glass of orange and round of toast at your breakfast counter. He would have referenced something more meaningful in his analysis. Like the 6 foot 9, 190 pound kids wingspan that reaches to a floor spreading seven feet and three inches. Saying something like just north of Nevada you could put a basket at each end of the Grand Canyon and this kid could still play the passing lanes. You know he reached higher than the opposite of this landmarks drop too for that block in his Summer league debut so big you know only Chick would have been able to call it. Give it it's own name like he saw it...and our eyes are about to. All you have to do is read above the underline of all the journalists notepads from Ingram's presser to see the word "Vocal" stressed over and over again like their recorders were broke. Another big time player that's added his John Hancock to the new Lake Show proceedings Luol Deng-brought in to mentor his fellow Small Forward scoring former Duke alumnus-knows this Devil in a blue uniform has that Coach K professionalism in him already. It is as integral as Ingram's mature integrity. A young man willing to write the next chapter of his career whilst his peers are busy composing their Snapchat story. Even if he doesn't make Sixer Bill Simmons book of basketball look more like the prelude of Sam Bowie, this young prince in purple looking like Kendrick Lamar could soon be the king of L.A. like the man that levitates, levitates levitates. All the way to being raised like those former greats to the place where they put gold banners. Big names with ceilings squinting eyes looking up couldn't even see. Names like Wilt, Shaq and Kareem. Numbers like 13, 32 and 33. Even names like West, Wilkes and Worthy. It's not always about the centre of attention but those smooth as silk players with games big enough to be the legacy logo of this league. Look for number 14, because he may soon have his day like 24. After all look at the locker they gave him. A snake slithers out behind a bottle of Vino left there, proposed as a toast to Brandon as his Ingram name is placed over one you might be more familiar with. One who twenty years ago before this kid was even born was a young 18 year old himself with the weight of Los Angeles' Hollywood world on his skinny shoulders . One number eight. One Kobe Bryant. Two decades later like it was all scripted its time for the second pick to be the second coming.

Act Two...

Monday, 20 June 2016


The King Retakes His Throne...Again.


"I'm home...I'm home"!

There's no place like it.

A huddle a million strong. All their hands in unison reaching towards that one goal. That light of day. To touch that gold that seems as far away as the rising sun. But no fingertip reaches higher than the one pointing the way. The one leading. The one they all ride with. The one that made the promise to his land when he came back. That he would get one for his Ohio home. The town that deserves it. The place that's worked hard for this. The city of Cleveland. You know the classic black and white Nike commerical as epic as the King's promise to his people. Well LeBron James has just done it for his Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland.


And as the hand finally touches the game winning ball that turns from leather to gold it falls away like it does down his face. As LeBron collapses between the huddle to the floor with a million eyes on him as his let even more tears fall. Right onto the centre C of the Cleveland Cavalier mid-court. 23 almost looks like M.J. Can't you see? He's just that legendary. His latest chapter just that storied. As a matter of fact in an association of history full of them-that even this year saw the farewell of number 24 Kobe Bryant from Lakerland and their California neighbours the Golden State Warriors eclipsing Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls regular season wins with 73 W's-this one just may be the sweetest and best...ever!

There's no homecoming like it...not even Spiderman's return to Marvel. In this Civil War LeBron's just become an Avenger. He's Iron Man and Captain America. Batman and Superman. Justice has seen the dawn. Add this one to our 'Superhero Season'. Like a perfect script but no fix. No wonder the Finals MVP beat the league one Steph Curry...unamiously. It may have taken all four quarters of all seven games but they did it. LeBron James did it! Erasing a major 52 year sports title drought in Cleveland and an all-time one when it comes to basketball for the Cavaliers first ever championship. And the first victory in NBA history for a team coming back from an almost, until now impossible 3-1 defecit. The Warriors had the strength in numbers and home court advantage with a three game cushion...but they won't get any sleep tonight with this rest. Cleveland may be finally going home now...but they're going home with the gold they took from the state of California.

The champagne's on the King now. And everybody except the likes of Dray and Klay are celebrating. Part owner Usher takes his place on the team podium. Whereas actor/singer Jamie Foxx can be witnessed posting grams with his arms spread out underneath the 'Bron banner outside Quicken. Even Grammy winning R&B singer Tank is so excited he's posting videos of him whooping and running down his street, hollering players names. Let it pop like those scuba goggles. LeBron went all in. 27 and 11 times two. Not to mention the biggest, brutually dominating dunk of his career and three of the best, B.I.G. blocks you'll ever see against all the Warriors big threes as the King and all his Irving and Love men prevailed. The third player in Game 7 Finals history following purple heart and gold winners Jerry West and James Worthy to record these type of numbers on the box score. A trip doub on the Dubs that's Big Game enough to make King James the new logo of this league. You remember the classic SLAM cover?! No not the throwback one that this weeks drafts number one pick and future franchise star Ben Simmons paid bible of Basketball tribute to. This is even more vintage. Book it! And check the history ones. It's engraved in stone now Larry legend. And you thought it was the small ball revolution?! Well...we saw something else televised. The return of the King. The Lord of the Rings. They've taken the little ones. One doesn't simply stroll into Oakland's Oracle and leave with a ring...

...unless they're the King!

And James is just that and one more thing...a champion with the cap to match.

Sweating champagne. Bleeding pain. And crying joy. All the substance he put into this. All the years. All the fear.

And you thought he was done....that was last year.

This one? He's the one.


Jame returns to the throne, returning home.

Welcome back King!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Games On.


What does early June mean to you? That last exam? The end of school or college maybe? A couple of weeks from that holiday you've been working towards all year? It could be anything but what does early June mean to an NBA player?

It means the final destination of the year for two NBA teams out of sixteen who endured the tough, long season and a play hard or go home playoff campaign. It means that one of these two teams will write their names in the NBA history books where the other team will merely remain an afterthought. It's about the NBA Finals and it will end with the champion team reaping all the glory and the success that every team worked hard for but that only one team can obtain.

It means more than the commercials, no matter how hot they are. It's truly amazing. It means more than the sneakers, no matter how nice those hyperdunks may be. It means more than all the big trades and news stories that dominate the 82 game long season instead of just being a sidebar. It means more than the state of the art, awe inspiring arenas, coupled with the money made off merchandise and the concessions, although there's not much that beats a Friday night big game with a brew and your closest. It means more than the emphatic player introductions, fireworks and in game entertainment, although that does get you fired up. It means more then the cheerleaders, although they do look real nice. It means more than the celebrities in the Jack Nicholson seats, dominating the first rows, although there's not much cooler than seeing Larry David sitting next to Spike Lee.

It means more than the expensive suits, and grown up, dress code envelope pushing fashions of the players arriving to the game. It even means more than the multi-million dollar endorsement deals and recession defying bidding wars for advertising space between timeouts. It even means more than any single player gracing the court that night. With all respect to the elite superstars of the league. It means more than almost every home fan wearing the same players jersey, this is all about every player on the floor and on the bench giving their all-as one-for a common goal. This is because what all it comes down too is the game itself, which for the majority of players, coaches and personnel will be the biggest game of their lives.

It's deeper then the midseason grind of a 10 game road trip. Its more vivid then the dream of a kid emulating a Jordan buzzer beater on the streets, his friend by his side assuming the role of the commentator, line for line like it was an infamous quote from a movie. For the two teams that make it you may have come close and tasted it before, but now you have first class reservations. It doesn't matter how long you've dreamed and waited for this moment you better be ready, because its here now.

No matter what happened this season, no matter how many games previously you won or lost it doesn't matter. No matter which journalist wrote you off or which pundit championed you it doesn’t matter as its all about now. It's all about the next four to seven games. It's about every second from the tip to the buzzer. It's about every loose ball, every hustle, steal, charge, foul, free throw and every point whether made on the scoreboard or on the tone of the series. It's about the game as strategic as chess and as unpredictable and free as Jazz (word to Utah). It's about your heart, your enthusiasm your drive. It's all about how much you really want to win, because if your desires not as strong as your opponents then you simply wont win.

It's all about your chance to go down in history, it's all about those 'amazing' moments. It's all about Magic's junior sky-hook or his playing centre and leading his team to the 'chip in the absence of Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Its all about “Who caught it?”, “Havlicek”! It's about warriors of the game like Willis Reed carrying his team on one leg. It's all about playing hard and prevailing over Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the Detroit Pistons who fight so tough. It's all about balloons falling on your floor with no one there to celebrate because you tempted fate to much in the face of Celtic pride.

It's about defying expectations, breaking rules, going against the grain. It's about not caring that no team has come back from a deficit of so many games, because your not going home tonight. It's about being wrote off completely and ignoring all put downs. It's when a strong team and unit defeats and almost sweeps a team with four Hall of Famer's on it. It's about every game counting. It's all about David beating Goliath at least once, draining it from deep whilst stepping over Tyronn Lue (nows your chance for revenge coach!). It's about after a decade of never touching glory crying tears of joy one year to not one year later sitting in a suit and watching your team being eliminated. It's all about worst to first, best to least.

It's about Larry O'Brien, its about those fingers on your hands waiting for those rings. It's all about the same dream you had as a kid. It's all about working on your dream all day long and then bouncing your worn out Spalding against a poster of Larry Bird when it got too dark and cold to play outside. It's that dream that you would of spent all day as a kid chasing if it wasn't for knowing if you didn't respond to the next time your mum called you inside there would be hell to pay. It's about what means the world to you, what gets you out the bed, to the gym, to the court or just even what gets you to subscribe to the NBA League pass. Then again this is just basketball right? After all this is just the NBA Finals, just what you've been waiting all year to watch and just what the two teams have been waiting their whole lives for to play.

Get Ready.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


One Last Vine.


Dear Diary...or should I say Kobe!?

I can't believe it! I mean we all knew it was coming, but you know most of us refuse to believe something until we see it. Or learn the hard way. Or maybe it's just a case of not thinking about something we don't ever want to actually happen. A kind of wishful thinking that it doesn't. A fruitless approach but one still full of an effort that goes unrecognised. It's for sure not a case of you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone. We all knew for 20 years what we had.

But after two decades, one last season of winding down, farewell tour games, four final quarters and a buzzer horn it was all over. Retired. Rafter banner and Hall ready. Forever in fame...but no longer in game.

I woke up this morning and Kobe Bryant was gone.

One of the greatest NBA players of all time. Certainly the closest inspiration to his idol, Michael Jordan, 23. Number 24 and 8...about to be up there with his teammate Shaq and all the other Laker greats. Mikan, Wilt, the fire of Jerry West, the ice of Elgin Baylor, the silk of Jaamal Wilkes, Big Game Worthy, Cap Kareem and the Magic man. Perhaps if it wasn't for Earv, Kob' would go down...and up as the greatest Laker ever, but as Johnson introduced the Black Mamba to the STAPLES crowd last night you knew whose Hollywood night it was.

To the tune of 60 incredible points at his age in front of an 18,000 sell out in front of the game and Hollywoods elite. From former teammates Derek Fisher and thank God Lamar Odom, to celebrities like Kanye West, Jay Z and of course Jack.

Heeeeere's Kobe!

About to hand it down to number 2 D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr and their Laker legacy after one more memory for his Vino and Gold legend on Mamba Day.

The Nike athlete just did it like the commercial. Not even Jordan could take the air out his career like this. You have to love this a######!

One more for the road. One last ride.

Pick a moment from the history books for your memory banks. There's more than eight wonders for number 24 over that many seconds, 48 minutes and 82 games, over the amount of time it takes your kid to be a man of their own.

Since '96...golden classic!

There's the time he took his talent and sunglasses to the draft. Or the time he made all us high school kids jealous by taking Brandy to the prom. From Tyra Banks to his wife Vanessa he was the man. He even had the balls to rap. But it was his skill in another game with just one ball that really kept it real. Just like winning the Slam Dunk contest, rookie year in your warm ups. Or starring with Shaq, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel in an almost full Western All-Star starting team. And then there was the three titles with the Shaq and Zen Master dynasty. Then two more with his Spanish brother Pau Gasol and Phil and Fish again. And let's not leave out those two Olympic gold medals in the Dobermans kennel.

Who could forget? Like numbers like 81. Or 62 points over three quarters over Dallas like a Maverick. Giving Dwight Howard and Steve Nash a baptism before they ever christened the L.A. court as Lakers. Who could forget all the dunks, crossovers and fadeaways? All the moves, shaking off all the injuries. Like a torn rotator cuff, playing through the pain of his shoulder hanging out his socket. Or tearing his Achilles, trying to push it back into place like the God that he is, before standing up and making two free throws. Before walking off like the legend he Paul Pierce wheelchair. Or even fellow retired Laker legend Gary Vitti popping that dislocated digit back in its painful place. Atta boy!

From Boston to Beans town there are so many Mamba moments through the snakes and ladders of his time on the hardwood pine. Like his Phantom Menace, force play in that operatic face mask. Or the Coach Kobe sidelined time...hey, you never know! Or a personal favourite how he reacted to (or should we say didn't) when former teammate, than a foe Matt Barnes tried to inbound the ball in his face.

Everyone's got their own special moment. That's just how much he means to so many people.

The career of Kobe Bryant means more to me than just being a 'bleed purple and live gold' fan of the L.A. Lakers. Being born in the soccer mad U.K. I started liking Basketball in 1996 when I was 11 years old. Jordan was the greatest but If I didn't want to look like a "glory supporter" I had to pick someone else other than the Chicago Bulls to follow as a fan. Los Angeles and the purple and sunshine gold of the Lakers drew me in like the backcourt play of Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. Little did I know that months later they'd draft some 18 year old and a big fella. 20 years of living and dying hard with the same team and I just had to make the trip back to the States this January to see Kobe play at STAPLES one last time. I mean I've not just grown up with this guy I've wrote about him when the lack of televised coverage in my home country meant I had to find another way to stay connected to his story. I got my first writing gig off an article I wrote about him. Too young to have witnessed Magic I don't just owe my Laker gold memories to him...I owe my career to him.

All good things don't come to an end...they live on in memory!

#FarewellKobe Thank you for everything! #TheKobeSeries

Sunday, 13 March 2016




Face it beans, it's almost over! The chips are well and truly down. The games almost in the refrigerator and you know all too well about the jello. Soon the man that will join the legendary Los Angeles Laker legacy making likes of Chickie, Magic, Kareem, the Logo and his old Wild West partner Shaq in a forum of bronze in the purple heart of the downtown City of Lost Angels will retire. That will be it! Day called. No more purple reign in So Cal. But as Kobe Bryant hangs up those Nikes which of his iconic purple and gold jerseys will be worthy enough to be raised to the Big Game, silk, stilted rafters with the likes of the aformentioned, Jaamal Wilkes, James Worthy, Gail Goodrich, Elgin Baylor and of course Wilt Chamberlain, the 100 point man who only Kobe got as close to like Jordan!?

Eight Wonder.

In the last Great Western days when the Lakers played in their Ingelwood, white pillared colliseum and still rocked their Showtime 80's uniforms with the purple and white lined piping, it was an 18 year old kid with an afro and sunglasses to match that was the hottest thing in California and Lakers attire in the 90's not named Rene Russo. Some didn't get this shorty but after many Jazz to Utah's ears airballs made him be cool, he went ultra Travolta when he found his Saturday Night, Grease slick rhythm. There was the Slam Dunk contest win back in the bald M.J. days where this young Airness didn't even bother to work out of his warm-ups and then there was the move. The major shift like number 23 laying it up in the line, changing hands. New digs, new unis and a new approach saw Kobe leap into Shaq's arms before the death of a dynasty rocked these fellas as he won his first championship and then went all Lionel Richie, once, twice, thrice times a Larry O'Brien lover for the Mike like threepeat. If that wasn't enough once Big Daddy took his talents to the Heat of South Beach, this little red Corvette and Prince that would be King busted through all sorts of brick walls, car jumping like he ran off Diesel and not Aristotle. Then if that wasn't enough Kobe Bryant almost jumped over the Big Dipper...forget Jumpman. Over Drake's Toronto Raptors a decade ago when Aubrey Graham was just a teen T.V. show idol, the Black Mamba finally found his venom sinking more points into Canada then he did against the Mavericks of Dallas just a few weeks, three quarters and 62 points ago. If you want to put Kobe Bryant's number 8 number up in the championship banner ceiling, where you can't even find the range of his talent, you just may want to add a one next to it.

24 Carat Purple & Gold.

One over Jordan. That's what people think. But Kobe Bryant's counting up to number 24 represented more than that, or number 23 for the man that chose his Lower Merion High School digits before 33 (which obviously Kobe couldn't rock because of Kareem). It meant redemption. The post Diesel and Zen age that saw Kobe reunite with...well Phil Jackson. And then D-Fish, class of '96. Before being fast and furious nitrus injected with some real championship Gasoline in the form of his second partner in victory crime Pau Gasol. But let's not forget number seven who got them to heaven (we see you Lamar Odom...stay on the up!). Kobe took the number 24 and a real 15 to go for his one goal. Two more of the same thing Gollum found so precious. But this Vino was more Voldermort as he looked to wizard his way to being the NBA's Lord of the Rings...he even dressed up as the big, bad with no nose from 'Harry Potter' for Halloween. But Kobe had one for the legend of Larry...scary huh?! The perfect villain. It was no more Mr. Nice Guy for the most competitive player since the hero from Chicago that wore a gold rope around his neck. But forget the great debate between the constant Kobe against Mike, head-to-head comparisons. What if Bryant played himself? Young vs old. Number 8 versus number 24. Vino V Bean. Batman against the Dark Knight. Forget the Man of Steel, Superman! From father calling time (no Jellybean) to injury crippling prime, Kobe's been fighting enough of himself and his own demons over the last few years and closing chapters of his career. Twenty four hours a day. Get it? Eight days a week?! To be one of basketballs Beatles in a fab four with the real, only big-three of Michael, Magic and Bird. Perhaps his greatest victory wasn't the one soaked in sweat and champagne but the one drenched and drowned in perspiration and pain. How he's bled purple...not just lived gold. And oh how has be aspired to prevail. Through tearing rotator cuff to pushing his achillies back into place, getting back up like Rocky, hitting two free throws back before walking off on his own terms, when most would tear up in a wheelchair. Can you roll and rock with that? Kobe's been more than a peach with the orange basketball son. He's been everything between a hard place. And when he's finally put down like the doberman this Olympian athlete is...I say put both up there.

Number 8? Number 24? I don't care! Kobe Bryant will always be the one!

And done!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016




'There's a man going round taking names. And he decides who to free and who to blame. Not everyone will be treated the same.' You know the rest...when the man comes around. Hear the trumpets, hear the cowbells. More! It's punishing isn't it? One batch! Two batch. Treating all his enemies like penny and dime. Critics, opponents? They're all change to a dozen. Number 15 adds up to more. 20 and 10. One batch. Two batch. You can't call that penny and dime. Word on the street is there's a new major player in the NBA. The shooter as independent as they come. Tracking teams to their home court and taking them out with military precision. With enough floor knowledge and statistical hardware to take out any basketball city. This game is about to explode. BANG! Maybe everyone in this league created him. Don't think there's a connection? Perhaps all of the Steph Curry 'Daredevils' of the association opened the door for big men like this. Don't get caught in his crossfire. Blood is being shed and he's given more than his fair share. The city of Sacramento needs him and he's going to take care of them. No matter who or what stands in his way. You hit them and they get back up...he hits them and they STAY down! Why is he doing this? Because everything else is a half measure. This man has what it takes to get the job done. This man is no coward. You know he's one good day away from being the best. Hero or anti-not he's still super this season. Still a Marvel. To be Frank, DeMarcus Cousins is The Punisher. The King of his castle in Sacto, California. Yep that's right Mr. Bernthal. This is for you Jon. Go get those crossed bones like you sold us that pen off Wall Street. In S.K. away black that headband may as well be a skull cap. He's the symbol of bringing the pain to a soft league. Ride and do or die. He's cocked and loaded. Locked, stocked and two smoking barrels...and that's just his arms. Watch DMC run and he inks more...

Now walk this way. DMC is the King when it comes to this rocks hard game. Like Balboa this Rocky's Creed is incredible. This kids a fighter. Best award nomination or not...word to Michael Jordan B. It's not about how hard you get hit. It's about how hard you get hit and GET back up. And this guy is tougher than basketball leather with the jacket like Run-TMC. Yep that's right we mean Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. Now they were the Golden State of real Warriors. Well this DMC know how to raise hell like his game was born in the 90's too. Everyone else are just suckers in comparison. You can't rock this guy out the box when he leads the bounce. He rocks the house! Can you rock it like this? You be 'illin like a Dr. J 'touchdown'. It's like that and that's the way it is. Just wait until he develops a hook! Then it will all be over like the bridge for B.D.P. That's just how prolific Boogie's down low productions are. He's the one like KRS. Out for the win by any means necessary all X's and O's. Don't think of him as criminal minded. His philosphy is necessary. His business...poetry. Taking all that tries to beat him back to elementary. That's our word like we're his sponser. But trust us this is the sound of a beast. One that's on a higher level. Don't blame everything on the boogie these nights. He's bringing sunshine and good times back to the coast of California, making Sacramento a wonderland. He's the Earth, Wind and Fire of the Kings powerful and destructive as the elements. Want any more reasons to put him on your fantasy? Blowing and burning it all down. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Lay it down. He's the one true King in this town. Give him the crown in this Game of Thrones. The kingdom awaits as heads roll from opponents in opposition, all the way to the fans in the stands.

Relate to Cousins like your uncles son because this guy is family now. Distant kin of Charles Barkley but with more mound to his rebound. More force than fun. Chuck may have chucked a guy through a window after a bar fight but this guy battles for the glass with the best. You saw him stand up for himself against Kevin Durant. Even amongst the downpour of a thunder storm he wont back down from the best. But he still shows restraint...its a good job for Steven Adams that we all discovered that. This guys no punk...he's a pro...albeit a professional one. The best of the best to ever do it and make artwork in the paint that will last on the court canvas of the Hall of Fame's gallery know it. Know this King is the new Chris Webber of Sacramento going fourth, strong but smooth on the inside with some out too. Former teammate of C-Webb and Sacramento's General Manager Vlade Divac knows this. As does former opponent and Kings part owner Shaquille O'Neal (and you by George, best believe Coach Karl does matter what everyone thinks. You, him, her!). And Boggie's moves definitly have help and inspiration from these two former playing, legendary Los Angeles Lakers centres. From Divac's flair for the all-round running the floor of the FIBA international game, to the pure petroleum power of the Diesel. Oh and both those big men were perfect point passes like they were off guards. Soon you wont just know D.C. as a 20 and 10 guy. You can take 5 too. One through five, through fifteen this is what this all round team needs too to bolster their raw but real roster. Featuring the legendary role playing likes of the 'Tuff Juice' defensive dogging of Caron Butler to the have points will travel, All-Star journeyman gunner Rudy Gay and the happy go shot lucky future of Seth Curry whose on the same coast as some big brother of his. And then of course we can't forget the alumni.

Country cousins isn't just familiar with King purple. His heart belongs to the Big Blue Nation. As this former Wildcat wildcard who clawed away with Coach Caps boys is a Kentucky king too. U.K. all day like England. He's united in the kingdom of men who made it over the walls of Rupp arena. Teammates and freshman to be alike. Legacy makers who now make the league like everyone from Washington Wizard John Wall and Phoenix Sun Eric Bledsoe. To Los Angeles Laker sophomore Julius Randle, to one of this years top rookies, Willie Cauley-Stein, drafted by...drum roll please...the Sacramento Kings. Forming a future force of a formidable, frontcourt frontline with his new Sacramento brother Cousins. But this perfect partnership isn't the dynamite, dynamic duo these young princes run on however. That would be the Kentucky court connection of DeMarcus' pick and the roll of pass first, prototype Point Guard Rajon Rondo, quarterbacking the now and later of this franchise. Making for quite the team and one of the leagues best double acts complete with matching headbands and varsity gear. But if you want to talk about a real Kentucky connection crossover and contemporary then look no futher to the line of joining hair above the New Orleans Pelicans franchise faces line of sight. Because in this 'things done changed', new era of notorious bigs the only one better than this bad boy is the Ant-Man Anthony Davis. Sure Wilt and Bill this isn't Chamberlain and Russell, but in this small ball, present tense league its still a revolution amongst all this Curry and other Kings and a far cry from the Shaq vs hack from every fouling out rotated player above 6, 10 age. The numbers speak for themselves. 27.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists and countless nightly and career highs that brutalise the box score like he does interior defenders. Sure most brilliant big men mount up numbers that make their court vision 20 and 10, but in foresight just how great could 30 and 10 be? It would be the old engine of this running league, under the hood of some Fast and Furious nitrus. Flip the switch because this young mans rumble is changing the game. He's a knockout. Putting them all down. Now hows that for punishment in this NBA war zone...with a capital D.M.C.?! Click...clack...BANG!