Monday, July 31, 2017

LONZO BALL Feature-BALL'S GAME

Lonzo Angeles Lakers

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

BIG

"With the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft the Los Angeles Lakers select...Lonzo Ball from the University of Southern California". This is it. Pandemonium to the podium. You know what it is. It's everything father Lavar guaranteed it would be as he bragged about his big three family of LaMelo, LiAngelo and Lonzo Ball being the greatest like some sort of Ali. But hows this for a first round knockout? In a draft watched by everyone from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on tour (with Flea armed with a purple and gold Lakers bass), to Jack Nicholson in his Hollywood home, the Lakers selected Los Angeles native Lonzo with their number 2 lottery ball pick from U.C.L.A. Just like everyone with a B.B.B. on their shirt and tie wanted. K.O. Now the only way the Lakers could top this is if they nabbed top L.A. born free agents Paul George (who wants to play in purple and gold) and Russell Westbrook (also a U.C.L.A. alumnus) from the Oklahoma City Thunder next summer for their new Purple reign. Or even the King for some 'BronBall' top trending for the new superstar team generation. Big Baller and Laker nation stand up. This is just like it was all meant to be. Or just like he told you so. Sure Lonzo might not have gone first. Or have the same jersey number as Brooklyn traded D'Angelo Russell, but he is the one. And just like the last Laker to wear number 2 on his chest, this number 2 pick, but first choice is looking for numbers that carry more weight. As just like Derek Fisher, Lonzo Ball knows it's all about the name above the number...on the front of his jersey. Not the back. Sure this kids second name may be Ball but he knows the most important one is the one he passes to his teammates en route to the basket. This is what Basketball is all about. And this is what the pass first, win MVP later Lonzo Ball is all about too. No wonder Magic wanted the tricks and trades of this Jason Kidd like Point Guard. The purest this draft has blown in in recent memory. Sure he looks like Drake but he plays like last name Ever. First name Greatest. This new Lake Show may be the youngest and best core of a future franchise, from Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson to Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram. And let's not forget Ivica Zubac or Kyle Kumza too. But Hollywood's new leading man wants a statue like Shaq. Magic, Kareem, the logo and all of them. The new icon of new Showtime will pick up where Kobe left off until they put his jersey next to Big Game James Worthy and the 100 point dominance of Wilt Chamberlain in the retired rafters with all those banners he hopes to put up there. This is real, no Kardashian reality show with all due respect to the Sixth Man great Lamar Odom. This is the Ball generation. Welcome to the 'Lonzo Angeles Lakers'.

BALLER

But the proof of a player is in the playing. And in the words of the late, comedy great Charlie Murphy talking about the purple king Prince, "this cat can ball man"! Haters will try and photoshop his debut numbers all over his big chip Las Vegas tournament like Twitter troll torment. But the Most Valuable Player of Sin City lead his new Lakers to their first Summer League Championship. After his 11/11/11 triple/double proved on this date that B.B.B.'s flagship athlete really was the one, no matter whos shoes he was wearing (the Mamba even serving as a muse), Ball really hit the jackpot. With casino numbers of 36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals, the legend of Zo cut his way into the lane and Hollywood star Walk of Fame frame like Zorro. Marking his spot like X, but with a big 'B' from Z. And if numbers better than LeBron and Steph Curry when they were in their Summer days wasn't enough, then L.B. also tore up Vegas with Kyle Kumza like Kobe and D-Fish's class of '96 for their self-dubbed "lightskin connection". Summer League Championship MVP in Lonzo's stead, Kumza showing the luck of the late first round Lakers extends further than their Jordan, Nance and Zupac choice picks. Looks like there is more to this young core than a few top tens. These kids are off the charts. And it all correlates from Lonzo setting the ball and table floor so all the Lakers can eat as he passes the peach. Those Lonzo laser, precision perfect to the point passers are more accurate than that camping sniper you just wish would respawn on another game in 'Call Of Duty'. This guys dimes are the bomb. Throwing assists like grenades with the J-Will, 'White Chocolate', freewheeling pin out and when they hit their target off the glass...BOOM! You know Randle, Ingram and especially Larry are going to love this. And if the double teams come you know an open 2K, K.C.P and Jordan on the wing can just do it from downtown. Looks like these Sports Centre bound highlights of the week are about to be the young team of the year...and decade to come. If you liked how Ball balled this Summer...just wait for the fall.

BRAND

Ball big all you like but this kid is more than a brand. Adidas, Nike and Under Armor know that. Even Lavar knows this, as B.B.B. is about his three boys before it's about his name brand. As a matter of fact for someone who has stirred up so much controversy he's always made it about his sons and not number one. He wants LiAngelo and LaMelo to play for the Lonzo/Lake Show too. It seems like an impossible dream. But it's a California one in the La La Land city of stars that could only happen in Hollywood. The impossible has already happened once. Mission accomplished. Time to do it twice like Jay-Z's 'Blueprint'. Because this purple tape is all about legacy, family integrity and not gold brand strategy. No matter how expensive the shoes must be. If all three L.A. raised boys want to be King in their own city why not shine together for college and club association? Because U.C.L.A. is more than a name across a campus t-shirt or institution. It's a way of life. And the Los Angeles Lakers are more than just the National Basketball Association's most famous and flashiest franchise. They are the most storied one second to the Boston Celtics like in this years draft. From way before the seventies to 2017 and with all the Irish pride in Beantown, these L.A. lost boys could make Lakerland legacy legend. So long as in this lottery like league the Balls bounce the right way. But right now it's about Lonzo and all the places he and his Ingram and Randle big-three plus more team of the future, lead by this franchise face can go. Potential? The playoffs? The promised land? Let it all spin on Lonzo Ball's fingertips. This team and their collective future is in the palm of his hands. Now come opening night once the Spalding goes up, you know what's going down.

Let the Ball games begin...

Thursday, December 15, 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 reagrd for the fact that his teammate over 30 had done the nasty on his blushing-ly embarrassed bride to be.

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 guard...no 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 time 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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

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

Showtime & Tell

By TIM DAVID HARVEY

#TheKobeSeries

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, November 16, 2016

#OneToCourt Tarik Black-BOOM, BOOM! SHAKE, SHAKE THE ROOM!

Back 2 Black.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY.

(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 a little 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, October 16, 2016

#BleedPurpleLiveGold Column-DUNKING IN L.A.

Showteens.

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, October 15, 2016

2016/2017 LOS ANGELES LAKERS-NBA SEASON PREVIEW

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!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

BRANDON INGRAM Feature-THE DUKE

Slim Pickings.

By TIM DAVID HARVEY.

“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 his 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 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 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...