Monday, November 21, 2011
(This article was meant to serve as an interview with Cedric Ceballos, but following his recent ill-health we post this to tribute and wish him the best. get well soon champ.)
Open your eyes to someone who really sees the game for what it is.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
All eyes are open and on the one man with his eyes closed. A man holding court on his own, decked out in purple on the decked out hardwood. Players and fans alike are pointing and whispering something like; 'he can't do it'! Before more doubt is shed the man starts running like he's heard the starters gun for the 100 metres, cradling the peach awkwardly and carefully like it was a full bucket of water. It all looks a little too awkward or party pinyata like until the man begins to soar. Part M.J/Dr. J, part American eagle outfitted in a black bandanna. What seems like a thousand camera flashbulbs pop, while the same number of mouths drop. SLAM DUNK! The man lands back down to earth with a chorus of champion cheers, while pulling the blindfold off his eyes. All Cedric Ceballos sees behind a sea of white teeth is nothing but tens.
Cedric Ceballos was a Slam Dunk winner for that legendary dunk, but this former star player of the NBA was much more than that. Can you count to 50? Ced can too, but with buckets. Hitting them high with more than his space jams, joining the half-Wilt, half-century and over club before he hit his 30's. He was part of the elite class of the 90's, arguably the greatest decade of NBA history. An academy of diversely talented players who would have been kings in another time, but like princes they were overshadowed by Michael.Ced could dunk like Mike, score like his fellow number 23 in some games and before his mid-nighties Lakers gave way to the next one in Kobe Bryant he was a potent scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers. He would have made for a great, much-needed then third shooting option behind Shaq and said Jordan mark two. His wonderful, aerially amazing wing game developed with the association's change towards that style of play.
With a 'tache and high-top fade this prototype basketball player defined the nighties and the changing of the guard...literally. Playing like a 2 at the small forward position, opening up the game like he did the court. L.A., Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas and Miami were all shown that this man from Hawaii was more than a journeyman. Hapoel Tel Aviv, BC Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody, San Miguel Beermen and the ABA also benefited from all the talent of this all star. Ceballos saw it all and did it all and made a damn good career out of it.Still they took a man who once hit 50 like his name was Ghostface, two positions lower in the draft. Well like most late picks he made other teams realise they shouldn't have passed him up...early. Waking fans up with his dunks, leaving opponents sleeping on defence. Still Ceballos was more than just the wow factor of dunks and microwave plays (much love to Vinne Johnson), he had much more cooking.
Take off the blindfold and plug into youtube to spark off nostalgia and you can see that Ceballos could score like a pro. Leading the league in Field Goal Percentage in 92/93 with 57.6%. This Sun burnt brighter than his doubters, with a vibrancy that matched the jersey's he rocked in Arizona and California. In Los Angeles he even led all Lakers during the 1994/95 season with an average of 21.7 per, he really was an option. A year later, the second round was again on him as he led the Lakers with 21.2 per, including that career high game, which was the first time a Laker had hit 50 in 20 years. That was before James Worthy and that was before Kareem. That's truly magic, when you realise these legends had their offence served to them on a plate by the tricks of Earvin Johnson's trade. When he was hot, Cedric cooled teams off and put games in refrigerators faster than Chick could call it. Not only did he take Hearn's 'slam-dunk' phrase and own it, he gave his own name definition as well.
Today Cedric is ever the entertainer, still bringing a smile to peoples faces almost bigger than his. The Phoenix Suns passed the mic back to this player/rapper as he became the teams in-arena emcee in 2004, whilst also making the rounds on city radio and on the internet via his webcast, 'Nothin' but Net'. Of course a man who once released a hit single with West-Coast rap legend Warren G. ('Flow On') to go along with an album (' B-Ball's Best Kept Secret') was a natural at moving the crowd even when he wasn't regulating opponents. Following some assistant jobs Cedric this year has been playing with the 'USA Legends'. Forget the 'World All-Star Classic' this former player is making dates and moves like a Globetrotter. From the scoring to the showboating this man charms the crowd with his infectious character and irresistible charisma. Ceballos put in an MVP performance this June as his legends beat the Malaysian NBL All Star, despite Ced' lending his talents along with a Malaysian jersey to play for the opponents for a few minutes.
That's Cedric for your willing to play with anybody, or do anything just to entertain you. This guy is all-time, dedicated to the game and putting a smile on peoples faces in the name of fun. Seriously speaking though, Cedric still played like a pro, but one that wasn't afraid to let his love for the game and his moment show. After all isn't that what sport is all about? Anyone who disagrees can put the blindfold back on. In his NBA career Ceballos opened eyes and made those who loved the game look at Basketball his way, the entertaining way. He still does that today. Can you see?
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Many NBA legends have graced the Los Angeles Lakers hardwood from the Forum to the STAPLES Centre. From Wilt to Shaq, Magic to Kobe, Mikan to Kareem and West to Gasol. Still, other stars have made cameo appearances for the purple and gold and we're not talking about Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio or the rest of Hollywood's finest. We're talking about the star, Hall of Fame players who have briefly passed through the Lakers locker rooms over their and the Lake Show's storied careers. So who is the best of the rest?
Who's A Star?
So who makes the cut? OK, here's the criteria. This is a list of the greatest NBA star players that have played for the Lakers briefly. We aren't looking at any purple and gold jersey's being raised to the rafters here. This is a list of the top legends that either played for L.A. for a short amount of time (23 games is enough), in a limited role (like a 'Sixth Man' position), or in the twilight of their careers (see above). This list gives a nod to those who may have made their hall of fame bread and butter elsewhere but still spread their NBA legacy with some time in the locker's of the Lakers.
Honourable mentions must go out to more brief Laker players who we're legends in the NBA.
ADRIAN DANTLEY spent some of his early years showing the Lakers the potential that would lead to four straight seasons of 30 plus points per-game in the league. Laker purists will debate whether Dant' should of been given up for the Silk of Jaamal Wilkes for 'Showtime' reminiscent years to come.
SPENCER HAYWOOD was a bull in the ABA and had the big, built frontcout numbers to match in the NBA, but his career faded too soon and his time in L.A. came too late. If Michael Jordan was the Hulk Hogan of the league in the nighties.
MITCH RICHMOND was 'The Rock'. His playing time in his sole season with L.A. was chipped away but he was still solid. He earned a ring and the gracious last bucket of the Lakers championship and his career from Phil Jackson's gratitude.
JIM JACKSON was a scoring machine but he needed more time for more buckets in a solitary season that was much like Richmond's.
HORACE GRANT, goggles and all was one of the Chicago Bulls and the NBA's greatest defenders and field goal percentiles, that's why Phil Jackson put up with the injuries to employ Horace's services for another ring in 2001.
DEREK HARPER and RON HARPER shared more than a last name, they where two of the late eighties/nighties greatest, most underrated backcourt players and big-time team contributors.
ORLANDO WOOLRIDGE showed Chicago some air before Jordan laced them up and even showed another M.J. (Magic) some tricks of the 'Showtime' trade.
MAURICE LUCAS was a true talent and a true individual for every team he played for including the Lake Show. He was a genuine professional which makes his loss last year that much sadder. Rest in peace.
Number 5. DENNIS RODMAN
Dennis Rodman got ahead of himself when he selected his Laker jersey number as 72, he would never reach that number of games with this club, or a full season. In fact Dennis only recorded the same number on his former-teammate Jordan's jersey in games for L.A. Still Dennis made an impression even in just 23 games. The rebounding machine never bored us matching his hair colour to his jersey and bringing flamboyance and enthusiasm with his one of a kind personality. He missed practices but it got worse as he was waived goodbye only to send Dallas off the rails. Asking for his number to be '69' or '007' really was asking too much and that was goodbye to Rodman's career. Still the facts or the Hall this year couldn't deny the sheer talent of one of the greatest rebounders, big-men, defensive players and champions of all-time. Dennis didn't need 23 to show the Lakers that on-court he still caught more than just attention.
Number 4. CONNIE HAWKINS
What happened to Connie Hawkins career was criminal. A point shaving scandal led to years being razor-cut off his career. This man was supposed to figuratively and literally be in the same league as Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Instead this great ended up having to wait his turn behind these two legends to play for the Lakers. Still this didn't stop the Hawk's own legend from soaring, dunking and rising like a Phoenix during his one of the best-ever time with the Suns. Still the unfair charges burnt him and charged it all to the good of the game also. The only time Connie should have been embarrassed was when acoustic singer Paul Simon beat him on one-one-one on 'Saturday Night Live'. Besides that this ABA and NYC playground icon should have held court on the NBA before 28, but another court put his sneakers in concrete.
Number 3. BOB McADOO
Mac's All-Star, all-legend career saw him be a superstar journeyman in the NBA and his career travels even took him to Italy for seven years. Wherever Bob laid his hat, he laid down baskets too making scoring his home. By the time McAdoo landed in L.A. he was in the Sixth Man territory of his career. Still like Lamar Odom this big man was huge for the star-studded Lakers in fitting their fingers with two-more championship rings. Mac wasn't just a fan-favourite he was loved by Magic and all his teammates in the showtime hat. Bob brought as much positivity as he I'd buckets to the Lakers. The contagious enthusiasm over-flowed making him a vital energy piece to the core of showtimes gold rush.
Number 2. GARY PAYTON
'The Glove' fit the Lakers well, even if it was for just a year. Even if the Kobe, Karl, Shaq and Gary, 'Dream Team', 'L.A. Beatles' combo only performed for one sold-out year, it was still something special and started a revolution of a transaction movement in the NBA that still results in major decisions to this day. Let's not talk trash, G.P. brought more than his mouth to the Lakers superstar clinic. The Lakers dream dynasty may have been stopped by the motoring Pistons of Detroit but in manning the Lakers offence Payton still had a good year ending the teams tired, years in the making quest for a true Point Guard (no offence to Derek Fisher's incredible performances). Gary still played like an All-Star with his trademark tougher than leather, glove defence to go with his middle of the range offensive set and his skills in service. As the Lakers took silver that year Payton was one of their best floormen even making up the big numbers and plays when Shaq and Malone we're injured our Kobe was off the floor and on a different court. Even in the Shaq/Kobe break-up and eventual 'death of a dynasty' Payton stood by the Lakers and the problems by pledging unity and another year. Although not many others followed suit and Gary was then dealt to Boston to eventually end up reunited with Shaq in Miami this was another hallmark moment from a Hall of Fame career. Just like his Seattle days this is why Gary Payton is a basketball legend of supersonic proportions.
Number 1. KARL MALONE
The Mailman's final NBA delivery with the Lakers may have ended with a fractured friendship with Kobe and an even worse knee, but it was all love, healthy and happy to begin with. As Malone joined Gary Payton and history by holding a surfboard for the ultimate Californian beach boy party the good vibrations were clear. Malone manned the Power Forward boards in L.A. While surfing above the Western Conference waves of competition. Sure the Malone, Payton, O'Neal and Bryant foursome was incredible but the frontcout tandem of the 'Diesel' and the 'Mailman' was a monster. With the type of fire and fuel that could gas up and burn any opponent, all whilst making deliveries that even the top twin tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan couldn't handle. The muscle-bound Malone was so fit, it was thought this younger than his years player could perform ahead of his time. If only it wasn't for him going down on one knee with an engagement of injury and matrimony of retirement..
Saturday, November 5, 2011
7 Bold Predictions for the 2011/2012 Season.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
(Originally published by 'Bleacher Report' http://bleacherreport.com/articles/923103-los-angeles-lakers-7-bold-predictions-for-the-2011-12-season-if-it-ever-starts)
The locked out NBA is a mess right now.
The knocked-out, 2010 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers aren't looking their prettiest either, from losing their throne, their zen and possibly (like every other team) their season.
Still, if we actually do end up having a season this year, what will be made of one of the NBA's most popular franchises?
1. Mike Brown Will Make the Lake Show Run
OK, so Phil Jackson may have walked to the dismay and despair of many Lakers fans, but they must accept that Mike Brown is running things...and run things he will.
He's still receiving ringing, welcoming endorsements from Snoop Dogg (via Twitter) to Kobe Bryant (finally). Here's why: This former coach of the year almost took the wine and gold of Cleveland to champagne and championship gold, all whilst bringing the best out of LeBron. Now that's a real Cavalier.
This former Cleveland Brown will run his players like this was the NFL, opening up doors, lanes and roster spots for the slashers like Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks. Everyone will get some burn and, of course, Kobe will thrive. Now if only he can convince Shannon Brown to come back.
2. World Peace Will Outsell Kobe
Ron Artest, excuse me, Metta World Peace's popularity is bigger than ever right now. How big? Well, put it this way: Fans are flocking to and not from their seats when he's in arenas these days.
Everything is on the up and up, from Metta's mental peace of mind to his extra-curricular activities (from 'Dancing With The Stars' to even more comedy). So surely once the lockout ends and the league and its business opens back up, Metta's new jerseys will sell with the best of them.
This isn't like keeping up with Artest's number changes. The new vests adorned with Metta's new, court-approved (legal and hardwood) surname will be a favorite for collectors and statement makers worldwide.
Everyone's going to want 'World Peace' on the back of their jerseys. Besides, hasn't everyone already bought their Kobe uniforms?
3. The Gasol Brothers Will Battle Like Spanish Bulls
Pau Gasol, for a decade now, has been one of the best European talents, if not best all-around players, in the league. But since the Beijing Olympics almost four years back, his international teammate, fellow countryman and younger brother has crept up on him in the family competition ranks.
Marc Gasol was actually a Lakers draft choice who was involved in the blockbuster Pau power trade and now Marc is making his mark on a Memphis Grizzlies team that showed the San Antonio Spurs and the league's best that they are no joke.
Lakers fans can only imagine how good it would be to have the two brothers side by side in the purple and gold frontcourt. Wonder is all they can do now, however, as Marc and Memphis are growing into contenders for the future. This could make for some incredible, 'where amazing happens' playoff battles between the Gasol boys and some great NBA side-stories.
This, of course, is lockout pending. These brothers could end up teammates again back in Spain and although that would be good to see, we have the Olympics for that. These two bullfighters belong back in the NBA ring.
4. Derek Fisher Will Save L.A. Right After Saving the League in the Clutch
The NBA is in big trouble right now and the only man who can save it is the only man who can save the Lakers. No we're not talking about Robert Horry.
We're talking about 'the Fish that saved L.A.,' 'Mr. 0.4,' 'Mr. Big Shot 2.' We're talking about Derek Fisher.
Sure 0.0 has ticked on the regular season clock and now games are being cancelled like bad TV shows. So who's watching and who's going to do something about this? Derek that's who.
The president of the NBA Players Association is looking to do the right thing and elect change. If anyone can do it he can. He has a good relationship with his peers and owners alike and we're confident he can salvage some of the season. Just in time for him to hit some clutch buckets that will help keep the Lakers going too.
5. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom Will Star
Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are already big in L.A. even without Kareems or Kardashians in their corners. One of the last true centers and last year's 'Sixth Man of the Year' are even more popular beyond the Lakers.
This could be the breakout year where both guys breakdown more doors and not in the form of trading places for Dwight Howard. Drew's knee as well as the lockout will be a factor, but that aside, Bynum could further develop into one of the best players in the league, not just one of the best centers.
Even though he's got a lot of guys like Kobe standing in his spotlight, he's got the post skills to be one of the greats of this game.
Speaking of skills, the Earvin 'Magic' Johnson like all-around play of Lamar Odom should finally see him achieve All-Star status. Sure, people have been saying this for years, while Lamar even shaved it into his head, but by the looks and the awards of things, the Association is starting to recognize. It's time for the overdue to come true. This deserves to be a career year for two real stars.
6. The Walton's Family Legacy Will Follow a Similar Trend
The Walton family is too nice to finish last. Still, recent reports have surfaced that Lakers favourite Luke Walton may retire due to a list of ailments longer than his father's range of vocabulary. Sound familiar? Luke's dad Bill's career was also cut short by injury. Now, like father like son, another promising, skillful player could be lost to nostalgia, and what could have been.
Soon Lakers fans may be screaming 'Noooo' instead of 'Luuuuke'. It really will sound like boo's if one of the Lakers family fond members has to divorce himself from the game.
Still, no matter the time spent on court, just like Daddy, this Lakers son's talent will always speak for itself. Also, the precision, perfect passer was already looking to take his smarts to coaching during the lockout.
Now that could make for one hell of a second career. His father knows that hanging up the sneakers doesn't mean lacing up your career.
7. Fans Will Finally Get What They Want as Kobe vs. LeBron Will Go to the Finals
Dirk and Dallas may have shown L.A., Miami and the rest of the league who the real Mavericks are last season, but don't think that this has cooled things off in Florida and California.
The anticipation of a Kobe/LeBron NBA Finals matchup is heating up. The fans are ready like the Nike puppet commercials, but who's pulling the strings? Rumors floated around last year that the NBA was bored with the idea of another Lakers/Celtics classic storied clash, but what about the ultimate post-Jordan battle for the throne.
It doesn't matter that, even though Kobe's the greatest since M.J., LeBron's the better player these days. James will not truly be crowned King until he climbs ladders above the Mamba.
The debate to who's best will not be settled until one ultimately wins by beating the other. That's why we need a Lakers vs. Heat, Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals whilst we still can.
It will happen. You think Kobe's going to lay down after last season? So the question is: Who will come out victorious?
To answer that you will just have to wait and see.