Monday, December 2, 2013


A Simple Game.


Shreds...that's what the Lakers where supposed to be reduced to this year. Like the wrong sort of ticker tape, or commiseration balloons falling to an empty Forum floor after a Celtic celebration. Ripped up like the contract offer for Dwight 'the Houston we have a problem now Rocket' Howard. Ripped off like every Barnes, Jamison and even Chris Paul one-time Laker players wearing Clippers across their Los Angeles jersey. Torn down like the covering of all those championship banners by those same player portraits by the STAPLES neighbors in downtown L.A. Torn up like Kobe's Achilles. Pulled apart like Steve Nash's back and now Pau Gasol's ankle. Tugged apart like every twittering critic or hater. Still it doesn't rain in Southern California for long, the sun of purple and gold shine will come out again. After the darkest day comes the 'Hollywood Nights' and these back in black boys are switching currents like AC/DC, bolting up like Iron Man, with a Robert Downey Jnr/Tony Stark charming charisma for a new 'Showtime'. Looking fresher than their Sunday white's a young mix of raw talent and exciting play is giving reason for Jack Nicholson and the rest of Hollywood to stay in their seats. The same seats critics now need to take. Even with Howard's end long gone like the Bynum, Fisher and Odom glory days and the big three of Kobe, Pau and Steve struggling through injury, this Lake Show lives and dies for more than just the threes of super streaky Steve Blake or the names of the two Jordan's, Hill and Farmar. In killer Cali' in the midst of a purple haze there's four boys shining like the Four Tops. They're there for the Lakers as the team reached out for help. In this millionaire city it all started from nothing...


With zero on the chest of his jersey Nick Young is showing with his numbers that he's worth so much more. With sense after five, even Coach D'Antoni thinks we could be looking at our 'Sixth Man Of The Year'. A guy that thrives in this European style run and gun offence and crosses everybody up with his shots that fade deeper than his sneaker collection and his dunks that jam higher than his baby 'fro. It's that video game play that makes nightly highlights and social media sharing. Swagy P still has that confidence even with the more focused deletion of his Twitter account. The kind of confidence that comes from having Rihanna call your name courtside like a play by play. The kind of play that shines bright like a diamond. Beautiful like his hops in  the sky. Swinging between the big guard and small forward spots after being bounced around the league from Washington and Philadelphia. Here's one Clipper who actually swaps his blue, red and white locker for the real American dream of wearing Lakers purple. They'd love to have him in Lob City, but he's taking flight under the wing of Kobe. Balling like this was the playground but smashing and shushing any Smush Parker inconsistency comparisons. Reminding the fans of the young, promising Ramon Sessions on court. It's all good for the kid in this city, the cousin of the hottest rap star on the planet is about to make Kendrick Lamar proud by being one of the hottest hoopers in California. It's poetic justice and it's a rap. In this second chance season he's adding more first-hand reports to his resume of 43 point career highs and three, threes in less than a minute. With key threes, blocks and dunks to go with that look he's like an NBA Jam player on permanent fire, ready to heat up his team off the bench with a new ignited generation Vinnie Johnson microwave machine. The kid with the tattoos is about to ink even more of a reputation. He's in the right city to become a star, but he can pass too...


The one guy that can finish every perfect play with a punctuated power dunk. This X-Man is about to take over your mind and take the Lakers to the days of future past with his brand new brand of Showtime ball sharper than Wolverine's finger nails. You want to put this guy in the dunk contest with some of his teammates, Sportscentre's already racking up the 10's. This number seven seal is even making die-hard fans forget about the cult classic play of Lamar Odom. There's no sins with the man whose tomahawking any notion that the Lakers are one Kobe and done. He's more than just the highlights however or the funny moments of invading a Nets huddle with Steve Blake. Xavier Henry could just be the next big thing. You remember the Memphis Grizzlies draft day photo, looking and built like a young version of the R&B singer Tank and getting the compliments from the college scouting reports he was ready to roll out his arsenal of offensive weapons. He may be a long way from Kansas now, but he's even further from being waived like fellow Summer league standout Elias Harris. The former SLAM magazine diary keeper has a lot more entries to add to his personal profile in a career that is sports illustrated with dime shots and poster slams ready for an ESPN highlight. He flew and flew against a Pelican and the former New Orleans Hornet even clipped the Los Angeles sister team for a career high. He's not going to always break the bank in scoring, but he'll certainly have a go at the rim. The one thing that keeps X rolling is his energy and enthusiasm that makes not only his dunks consistent but his point production and staff stuffing too. Right now with Kobe out but about to come back on the come up this guy is on, putting down the heavy lifting. Muscling some strong plays and hammer drops. Right now dunk for dunk there's not many that can contest with king Henry...and then after X...


There was Wesley crusher dunk for this next generation and his Johnson and Johnson play that wont guarantee no more tears for the opposition. Looking Tim Duncan worried but playing like an android this kids smarter than your new phone. 'Weside 11' on the west-side has also turned off Twitter to turn up his game to his jersey number, rocking Hollywood like Spinal Tap with every fluid move to the cup. You saw the reverse that pierced Paul and every other Youtube moment set to your latest favorite track. The only thing this former top five draft pick is busting is nets. He knows Phoenix like D'Antoni and Minnesota like the Mikan Lakers where his experience now lies. The former Syracuse Orangemen may be no 'Melo Anthony but his game is anything but calm. His above the rim, dribbling tall attitude makes him seem higher than his 6, 7 stature and his outside range makes him the perfect prototype swingman. He's draining long range bomb shots after short term blast from critics. Wesley Johnson is about to be household like his two-handed offers to the weeknight rundowns. Just catch him on the break if you can, Leo DiCaprio and everyone else in attendance can see just how this former wolf is about to make it Wall Street big. Just check the stat stock. The numbers are rising like the sneakers, it must be the boos that helped this kids mature. Cheers to him can even be heard in bars in Boston now. The former lottery pick is just that ticket now, all he's waiting for is the tape, because anyone betting on W can look for a celebration. In Motown against the Detroit Piston his motor city line of 27 points (on six three-balls), six rebounds, two assists and three steals was pure petroleum for the fast and furious age. That's all-round, all-game and all-star. If you thought this Lakers perfect starting unit left with Metta World Peace, than you're as wrong as war. This young buck goes to battle every night. Biting his opposition as much as his jersey. A jersey that will read Lakers for a long time. He's not the only one they thought weak...


Some may say he has a girls name, but with his game Jodie isn't about to foster anymore criticism. Rocking the Gary Payton 20 and the Kobe physicality if you're sitting in the binocular seats you may be confused at just who's moving below you. Sure it's no Hall Of Famer, but maybe the next great All-Star. Alongside the two dunking dynamos and his fellow former Sixer Young, this 26 and under unit is maturing thanks to this mans precision shot and coast to coast, basement to high-rise flow of play. The world belongs to the strong Meeks who can inherit it all. The former Wildcat that clawed his way to a 54 point record, including a benchmark 10 threes  is taking his point pouring play to the downtown area of L.A. With the franchise faces not making Figueroa, it's up to this man to anchor the team when X, Wes or Nick aren't scorching and scoring under the California sun. Able to go shot for shot with his fellow role players and also impress on the lay-up line this guy really is stepping up for a unit that has more than just four extra uniform options. This gifted player is giving the Lakers much more this Christmas like added sleeves. Up Meeks' cuffs link the tricks of a playbook trade that see more dry erase blue lines drawn to him. He may have been picked 41st in the draft but that number has some similarities to go with it's stupidity. Like the former champion 41, this pure shooter is throwing like Glen Rice. No wonder the Lakers picked up the second year option on the offensive specialist, when he's hot he torches everyone, leading the way and making everything click. With the dedication to defense to match that outstanding output on offence this player makes it all happen. Like the sequel to Star Trek it only seems like yesterday that he came into the league in 2009, but the coaches favorite is now a valuable veteran out of the darkness of doubt. A guy that can show this young core of Nick, Henry and Johnson what this games all about.

Sure it's all about Kobe. The money put up for that marriage for life contract proves that for better for worse. Still, Kobe needs more guns behind his long-range offensive artillery that keeps extending it's scope in his expiring years of play. With Steve Nash headed towards retirement and Pau Gasol towards the bench or block in some critics eyes, the storied, old Lakers have got younger and deeper. What an experience for this raw talent to go through to with the big names sitting in the crowd with the rest of the Hollywood stars too. As talented as this roster is across the board from proven vets like Chris Kaman, to the future promise of guys like Shawne Williams, it's all about four now and their power like those who can't pronounce the name of Marvel's God of Thunder. These guys have the dynamics and depth to now even give Oklahoma a bolt in battle. Far from the West's best the Lakers are a few years and pieces away from contention, but who knows what will happen with a little bit of health from their Kobe. If he utilizes his fab four, we could be looking at Basketball's moneyball unit that plays like the red, white and blue and strikes gold like Brad Pitt, swinging it out the park. It's worth a shot and strike, because just like Kareem Rush and Jannero Pargo stepping it up in the Hall Of Fame critical days of Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, Nick, Xavier, Wesley and Jodie have proven themselves in troubled times for the worlds most famous franchise. You can tell just how much by how often they're seen on the clips of game highlights and this is just a brief introduction. These faces of the future are the latest Earl Clark, Trevor Ariza, Caron Butler, Maurice Evans, Shannon Brown or Marc Gasol draft rights that the Lakers want and need to hold on to. The soul of a team looking for heart, these four tops with similar streaking shooting and slamming styles and hustle plays can't be replaced. Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks are making sure this show goes on before Kobe's Hollywood night debut. Let's hope in this purple and gold light they don't fade to black.

Friday, November 29, 2013

COURTSIDE COLUMN-These Hollywood Nights

Hollywood Hits New York.

Snoop Dogg once rapped, "deez Hollywood nights, they drive me crazy" and as the Lakers debuted their new cult classic, eagerly anticipated and Christmas present shipped awaited black jerseys this week things really where nuts for the lions favorite team. As the knights of Hollywood made their 'all black everything' debut off-Broadway in Brooklyn, New York, there where more fiasco's in the borough of N.Y. than a Lupe record. In a week where a picture of Kobe Bryant's signed 'Laker for life' contract has made the top trending social media rounds, nothing looked better than the Lakers in Wiz Khalifa black and yellow on the new Brooklyn parquet, even if Jay-Z wasn't there to see, or Kobe wasn't activated available to be ready to wear and lead his new team and it's uniform. Even without the point of Steve Nash, these young guards helped keep the Lakers purple and gold burning bright on the Winters road against a team that was left so embarrassed in their own home that they may just have to pack their bags for the Meadowlands of New Jersey again. These former Jersey boys thought they'd hit a bigger Knick like stage in New York, but even with the Mecca of Madison Square Garden's premier team losing seven sins straight, its looking mighty rotten in the big apple right now.

Take a bite out of this however, the new Lakers core that everyone has wrote off, minus the backcourt of Nash and Bryant is still hot. Led by the strong posting up of underrated and still all-star Pau Gasol, the three-point spark-plug redemption of Steve Blake and former Laker/Net/back to Laker again Jordan Farmar these guys are the pips. The cast, in alphabetical order, Henry, Harris, Hill, Johnson, Kaman, Kelly, Meeks, Sacre, Williams and Young may not be household surnames but in Hollywood their making their titles and games known in a city that engraves stars in the streets. A mix of young raw talent, looked-over vets and experienced players with some prime-time left are still swinging and hitting like a 'moneyball' baseball like unit and last night the basketball looked so fresh and exciting they could have played it with a red and white ball. In the NBA team that Dr. J built-that recently returned to the city-this full-court operation was just what the Julius Erving ordered. Even those reading his new, incredible autobiography couldn't keep their eyes on anything but the game. From another dunk show from Wesley Johnson, who is rivaling his teammate Xavier Henry and the rest of the league in 'best dunk of the night' or week categories, he flushed over a sleeping Paul Pierce who looked like he was still in Boston and stole the show and broke away with the hammer for another perfect play that extended what he does on the lay-up line every single night in Hollywood. The Clippers may have most of the Lakers former players (just check the roster, I cant do this again) but this may be the new lob city. For the statistical purists, the Lakers made seven of their first nine threes on this voyage of star trek's and a one-time Net hits three, threes in a row, but while wearing a new jersey that reads Lakers. Jordan 'former Net' Farmar had a boulevard of a game, stealing and swaggering a three home to break the net and back of his former team.

A team that he was traded for in a multi-team deal that led the Lakers to the dreadlocks of another Jordan, this one called Hill who is one of this teams and leagues biggest x-factors and rising energetic talents. Just check the box-score or highlights, even the headband can't wold this wild-card back. Still if you wanted to see more growth and maturity just look at Young. From zero on his jersey to hero, the kid scored a season high 26 and crossed over between shooting threes and dunking his way to a video game worthy night. Sure speaking of these numbers the Lakers may have blew a 27 point league but these youngsters plugged the gap against a team that features Hall Of Famers like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, with great Joe Johnson, even with Jason Terry, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirlienko and leader Deron Williams in a Timberlake/Jay-Z suit and tie sideline injured post. Sitting next to another point great, in head coach Jason Kidd. In other words against this struggling but surviving Lakers team that's now 7-7, B.K. should have netted this, especially with the clutch of wheelchair to championship winning Paul Pierce. Still, you know what they say Jason Kidd, If you can't beat them, tell your player to run into you so you can spill your drink as a distraction, still lose and get fined fiiiifty thoousand BIG ones. Damn! As Kidd tried to distract Jodie Meeks clutch free throws by asking one of his players to run into him so he could spill his drink on-court, all that was wrote was a cheque for a flame-grilled, whopping fine of $50,000 as the ruse didn't work or impress. Some tabs just 'aint worth it and as Blake and Henry invaded the Nets huddle by jokingly acting like they where part of the team looking at the drawn up plays these Nets where humiliated in their own house like that uncle coming round with the embarrassing stories this thanksgiving

Who knew the one-time best point guard in the Association was such a good actor this Hollywood evening? Shouting 'hit me' like he was the Joker in Gotham City. Jason Kidd really made the turkey this holiday, even if it was Wes Johnson that provided most of the stuffing. The NBA has some brilliant bloopers for it's next caddy-shack collection. Still, even with the gag-reel it was a historical scripted Hollywood night for the record. Gasol's 21 point made him the second-leading European scorer (he's a lot closer to Dirk than you think) in all-time NBA history and the Lakers became the leagues most productive bench. Are Chris Webber and the critics still talking? I can't hear. All I hear is good things about these men in Johnny Cash black who are neuralysing any previous thoughts. Bouncing back from Washington treating them like a conveyor bolt lay-up line in D.C, the Lakers did the same with a capital exclamation in the nation and worlds most famous city. Even the Brooklyn crowd was chanting 'Lets go Lakers' like Kobe was playing down the borough. This was this young teams M.S.G. moment and piece of clarity. Even without the doberman these young pups had bite against all that bark. In the first of a selected few Hollywood nights this year these new black Lakers fashioned a classic, entertaining night that will make more columns if repeated again. Forget Black Friday, this was the craziest day in the worlds busiest town. There's no use crying over spilt-drink or lost Kobe when the Lakers make a new magic out of some showtime basketball. 'Hollywood Nights' is the new showtime served up cooked and charred, burning the Nets in black like an over-done meal. On the week of Chick's birthday he saw the game leave the refrigerator and hit the table smoking and steaming. Put your drink down and put a fork in that one, because nights like this? Only in Hollywood. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Salute To Magic.


"I'm going to go on. I'm going to beat this and I'm going to have fun"-Magic Johnson, November 7th, 1991 Press Conference.

Stop press, there's an announcement to be made. This is a league in a sports world that is built off press conferences and the entertainment that comes with all this media hype from everyone's television to the local newspaper before a ball has even been bounced. From Mike's retirements to LeBron's decision when it comes to the biggest stars on the planets the baited breath words coming out of these cultural icons mouths is as almost ironically as thrilling as the last couple of seconds in a game we love them for playing. All ears, mics, eyes and lenses are on them for another flashbulb moment. Still no matter how big a blockbuster deal, or what great hangs his sneakers up for what will be the last time, no press conference will ever resonate in all its emotion and influence than the announcement of Magic Johnson in 1991 that "because of the virus I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers". The virus; shockingly HIV, the retirement; caused grown mean from teammates to press and everyone in that room and around the world watching to shed tears that Magic wouldn't, for the strength of himself, us and more importantly other HIV sufferers. You see, this is because like his Magic pass first play Earvin Johnson knew this wasn't just about him. This moment in history from it's anniversary to it's best '30 For 30' ESPN documentary is more than a network exclusive like CNN Live, it's the most magic play Earvin Johnson ever did make and pass. Just like he was always there for his teammates, Magic held court for his fellow sufferers.

Basketball fans, we all know the player, Magic Johnson. We all saw those behind-the-back, over-the-head, through-the-leg passes as he looked one way. We all saw those championships as he looked another. We all saw Larry Bird and his Boston Celtics as he and they couldn't ignore the purple and gold glare of Showtime. We all saw the Larry/Magic, Lakers/Celtics revolution of the 80's that led to the golden era of the National Basketball Association in the 1990's. Still, after the fall of '91, everyone in the world knew the man behind the Magic; Earvin Johnson. Retiring immediately from the game that he ultimately dominated without even looking or touching the net, Johnson vowed solemnly but strongly to "battle this deadly disease". A disease that thankfully his wife Cookie and his then unborn child did not contract. With 'Cap, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar not long taking the rocking chair retirement tour around the league his goggles and sky-hook where replaced by the shaggy hair and raw beard of a young, next great big-man and foreign imports in the league Vlade Divac. On and off Laker lifer A.C. Green was still their for the new decade as was the 'Showtime' of veteran Byron Scott and ageing superstar James Worthy. Still, with new big, inside, outside talent like Elden Campbell and Sam Perkins it was a new era for the Lakers and struggles would happen without their inspirational and motivational leader and all the tricks of this trade, but after this day in November on the grander scale of things none of this mattered.

Magic needed to be there for the people. Basketball and otherwise. He needed to be there for not only a still, ignorantly misunderstood young African-American people, but also everyone in not only the United States but the world. A world that was still reeling from the tragedy of Boston Celtic superstar to be Len Bias and his cocaine overdose and just like their misunderstanding of that drug at the time, in this new decade they still needed to be educated about HIV. About how it wasn't AIDS for Magic. About how it didn't just have to be a "death sentence". About how it wasn't just a disease for homosexual people or those engaging in sexual activity (although those engaging in a regular and varied sexual lifestyle needed to learn how to practice it safely). People needed to learn the hard way, about just how easy it was to catch, but the hardest to live with. About how we needed to understand and help others who suffer without scorn or jokes, but understanding and sympathy that benefited but not belittled. Things that Magic helped teach just like he schooled everyone on court, so today we know and think about it differently. So we don't have to see ignorant and hateful times that would make a little girl suffering cry on national T.V. Or a cruel time that would force a child with HIV to leave his school and his education, while other parents still not satisfied with just him leaving would yell after him "go to hell", like some humiliatingly ignorant people, when there was no way that boy was "going to kill their child". Magic helped stop all that...simply that he helped. He answered the call, even when President Bush (sound familiar) didn't.

Those single nights of after-game, after parties at the 'Fabulous' Forum with all the single ladies-where all the stars (hoops or not) would flock to Inglewood of all places-where gone, days of the past. Still Magic's celebrity friends of the highest order like Chris Rock or Arsenio Hall never left his side, like his teammates, closest friends and family. As for the rest of L.A. and what world that has its admiring gaze on the stars of Hollywood, after they dried their eyes they took a long look at themselves and a care-free life held-over from the sixties that should be settled down for the real joys of a safer, family orientated one. The age of Aquarius needed to be done. Some made jokes about Magic, but no one was smiling. No one would leave that inspiring smile of Magic, even if it did leave him sometimes at that press conference. Sure, strongly there was no tears, but there was obviously not many smiles either in the face of this adversity. All these years later, that truly says a lot, even though he did let out a big grin at times when he reaffirmed his favorite word and life's motto; "fun". Remember this too; "all those years". Where does all the time go? Jay-Z amazingly recorded his 'P.S.A.' 10 unbelievable years ago for his "retirement" 'Black Album', but over two decades ago, Magic made his retirement announcement which truly became a service to the public...and he's still here. Still with Cookie by his side. Still fighting this deadly disease with a smile on his face, making it-like his game-look easy, so much that people think the wrong thing. Appearances can be deceiving, but from Kanye West lyrics to other ignorant remarks Magic Johnson does not have a "cure for AIDS". Even if he isn't as thin or weak as people projected...or gone as some cruelly predicted. Just like the hardest work it took for him to make the game look easy, Magic is working and battling the impossible fight of keeping up with this disease. He.Is.Still.Here. Jogging around downtown and saying hello to everyone and not just for the ESPN cameras. He's still here fighting. Still smiling. Still having fun.

Still helping everyone else. You may see the business enterprises this man has made for his post-career cut to short, from taking Starbucks to the hood, to hopefully one day bringing an NFL team to L.A. alongside owning the Lakers and Dodgers. Still as much time and effort and dollars and sense he puts into his enterprises he does in to his foundations, supporting them with the money he makes and using his famous face and infectious smile to raise awareness and support for sufferers of HIV and AIDS. When some abuse their celebrity for the wrong reasons, writing huge cheques for foundations that everybody can see but nobody could possibly, literally cash, while making it known that their album comes out on Monday, Earvin does it the right, unselfish way, just like he played the game. Telling people that HIV is no joke and that "safe sex is the way to go". Showing in his calm but frank press conference that he identified and understood others living his life, but just like him they needed to open their eyes and see what we all misunderstand. "We sometimes think only gay people can get it, that it's not going to happen to me", Magic helped wake up the notions that tragedy or the fickle hands of fate don't think in prejudice. No matter how young, old, safe or unsafe you are. Black or white, boy or girl, poor or rich, anything can happen and you must live for the moment and think of the best but prepare for the worst as well as the future. And here he was saying "that it can happen to anyone, even me, Magic Johnson".

In 1991, at only 32 years of age, people thought that was it. From the close friends Larry, Michael, Isiah and Pat called first to a Forum of teammates and everyone who heard the news via every channel after the press conference, but it wasn't it. Not only for his life, but basketball. Those who thought he'd last years, even months or only weeks where wrong in that press conference, Magic did indeed come out "swinging" and "bugging" everyone as he joked. Proving he was Basketballs Ali in not only incredibly, different, physical domination of the game, but worldwide inspiration and influence against ignorance off it, albeit in different ways. Amazingly a nation inspired and no longer ignorant truly moved Magic's heart as he did there's, voting him into the following years 1992 NBA All-Star game. A return to the Lakers and a trip to Barcelona with the best team ever assembled for Olympic gold all seemed like a "dream" but it was woken up by this one game and return. A return that some like Karl Malone and even teammates Green and Scott where unsure of, but one that others reaffirmed with camaraderie and confidence not only to themselves and the world, but Magic too. Like legendary Laker trainer Gary Vitti attending to the Magic man medically with no gloves, Dennis Rodman made his own statement at All-Star. He threw Earv' down to the floor hard for the worst foul in a fun game that should be treated like an exhibition, yet Magic smiled. With everyone else afraid to touch him in the game at first, Dennis got all personal and treated him like the competitor and man he was. Now that's a show of solidarity like a pregame Isiah kiss. Something that changed the game itself and led to one-on-ones with everyone who answered Magic's becoming finger. Even Jordan's fade-away, fell-short against the Magic man, but it was all warm smiles from the fiery competitor as it didn't go down. He still had it. As number 32 with 29, 9 and 5, iced the game with a three-pointer, all players East or West rushed on the floor before the end of regulation to congratulate him. "Game called on the account of hugs", like Magic said in his autobiography.

Just like Magic embraced HIV suffers the NBA and the world did him. Especially a legion of players in a league that still to only these days of recent times had trouble adjusting with players coming out the closet and locker-room. Still, just like the bravery of Magic, the bravery of John Amaechi, Jason Collins and others should not be ignored insultingly. Just like an NBA team should pick up the talented free-agent and solid big-man Collins now in this new season, more should feel safe to open up. Open up like Magic did about something completely different but still a sexually related taboo subject and one that oftentimes leads to more pointed fingers than extended hands. Magic proved in that mid-February game in 1992 that it was all love. That people who thought only of the risk of contamination can see that the only thing that caught on was respect and understanding. The world was woken up to the misunderstood and pushed aside issue of HIV and AIDS from one man in one sport that wasn't even on a big national, yet alone global scale until he redefined it. Like he did it and the world once again with one revolutionary televised press conference and the redemption it made. Hollywood and the Academy Awards paid attention too a year later from movies to music, as all-American heroes and leading men of respective genres Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington and Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young helped lay-down the script and soundtrack for the classic film 'Philadelphia'. The city of brotherly love helped tie a pink-ribbon around the HIV and AIDS suffering community, but one man from Lansing, Michigan wearing purple and gold helped embrace the whole issue personally and join the helping hands of everyone around the world who looked at this issue with inspiration and not ignorance. Something that even inspired the inward Kareem to reveal his cancer suffering in order to also help others. With triumph over tragedy Earvin Johnson could have just retired without a word or just an excuse, but he changed the world with his humble and honest press conference. Now that's truly Magic.

"This is not like my life is over because it's not...I'm going to live on. Everything is still the same."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

BALLER UP-An Interview With Tracy Murray

Murray's Mind.


When it comes to Basketball, Tracy Murray has quite the resume. The talented shooting and scoring small forward played with six NBA teams (the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Washington Bullets/Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers) and three clubs in Europe, including stints in Greece and France in his career. The potent scoring threat, who graduated from three incredible years at UCLA college, has led the league in 3 Point shooting, recorded a 50 point game to join that exclusive club and won an NBA championship ring . Yet, still this man with Hall Of Fame talent was criminally left off All-Star selections. Still, in retirement Murray is showing that he's quite the all-round professional and versatile threat that he was while on court. Providing color analysis for the UCLA network isn't his only gig. The all-round box-score genius is adding coaching to his career statistics and after stints in the D-League and WNBA is the big NBA league next? Add another and one and you can see that this man has been part of the exciting streetball to court exposure, coaching in the new, exciting 'Ball Up' league that is taking the nation and world by dunking storms, ripping down nets and critical notions of the somewhat lost art of the game. It's clear just like streetball, this coach is making himself known once again. We caught up with our friend Tracy to discuss his NBA career, his coaching one and the finer points of life and basketball.

24/48/82. Hey Tracy, thank you for your time. How are you? 

Tracy Murray. No Problem! everything is good. Good to chat with you again.

24/48/82. You've recently been involved with coaching in the 'Ball Up' league how has that been?

T.M. Ball Up is cool. I coach that team every Summer for their US Tour and TV Show tapings.

24/48/82. How important is it for scouts and leagues to keep their ears and eyes to the talents of the streets?

T.M. It's important, but it's even more important for the player to have a resume' (High School and College careers) to be discovered or they won't be taken seriously. That shows pro teams that you're disciplined enough to go to school and play.

24/48/82. How satisfying is it to see the talent level and the opportunities of exposure that 'Ball Up' is offering?

T.M. It's offering the same thing that And1 did in the past, an alternative option to earn a living with no resume'.

24/48/82. I feel like streetball is one of the most expressive forms of the game. What's the most impressive thing you've seen displayed on court?

T.M. I think its the athleticism of guys like Air Up There (6'2), Springs (6'2), and Special Efx (6'5). These guys have made some incredible dunks within the flow of the games that NBA guys can't do.

24/48/82. How much is coaching something you want to get into more in the future?

T.M. I LOVE coaching but its one of those businesses where it has to be the perfect fit with the staff as well as location. I've Coached in the NBA D-League (Bakersfield Jam, 3 years) as well as the WNBA (Tulsa Shock, 1 year) so I have pro coaching experience.

24/48/82. Can you share with us some of your core coaching philosophies and principles?

T.M. Basically, keep it simple and fundamental. The game has changed so much that you can't be too detailed. Basketball IQ is lacking nowadays so pretty much simplify things and stay consistent with it. Occasionally make changes when needed.

24/48/82. You've also recently worked for television and analysis how has that been in keeping you connected on-court?

T.M. Right now being a color analyst on TV or for the most part for me radio, has be GREAT!!! I enjoy breaking down plays and games and feeling the energy of the fans in College or High School Basketball. It's truly a job that I enjoy.

24/48/82. How has the recent trend of ex-players getting into television analysis been good for the game and entertainment level of NBA T.V.?

T.M. I think its good because the guys are very entertaining and have colorful personalities that most fans didn't get to see until the recent flurry of former players hitting the TV as Analyst. It's good for business.

24/48/82. You where in attendance for Mitch Richmond's 'M Rock Life' anti-bullying charity all-star basketball game. How great an experience was that?

T.M. That was GREAT! I was able to support a cause that's a serious problem amongst children nowadays. Especially on social media. This has to stop! There's enough problems in the world today, we shouldn't be putting up with bullies. It's not cool. Plus, Mitch is a former teammate and good friend, if he needs me for a good cause like anti-bullying, then I'm in.

24/48/82. You and Mitch are some of the greatest and most underrated players of the golden 90's era. How special is it to be a part of that?

T.M. It was a GREAT time to play. I played with and against Hall of Famers and Future Hall of Famers and held my own as a player. You were constantly challenged night in and night out.

24/48/82. With your versatile stat-filling and team playing role what do you feel you brought to the game with your play?

T.M. Definitely my outside shooting. I was able to space the floor with my shooting range. I feel I played my role to the best of my ability.

24/48/82. Do you feel your star power was underrated in this game? Or was it a blessing in disguise giving you an overlooked advantage in match-ups?

T.M. I think I flew under the radar for my 12 years. But, that's what kept me motivated. I was in a constant quest for respect. As long as guys were paying attention to me on the floor from the other team, then I was satisfied. That's the respect that I was looking for from my peers.

24/48/82. From stars to role players, who where among your toughest competitions and team-mates?

T.M. My teammate Rod Strickland was the GREATEST guard I played with. His size was a mismatch and he was hard to keep out of the paint. James Worthy, Bernard King, and Dominique Wilkens were at the end of their careers but they were still outstanding. MJ, Scottie and Dennis was the best trio I played against. Shaq was the most dominant!

24/48/82. From the Californian college of UCLA to your NBA days including the L.A. Lakers can you share with us some of your favorite basketball memories?

T.M. Wearing the UCLA uniform and playing 3 wonderful years there with GREAT players and fun experiences of the NCAA tournament was unmatched by anything else. That was the best 3 years of my life. In the NBA, leading the league in 3pt. percentage was cool. The NBA Championship with the Houston Rockets with Olajuwon, Drexler, Horry, Elie, Smith, and Cassell was special. The 50 point night was definitely a special night to remember. My best year as a pro was with the Toronto Raptors in the very first year. I will forever cherish that experience. That was a reintroduction of Tracy Murray. That was the year that I knew I belonged in the league.

24/48/82. What memories do you take from your first, establishing years at Portland and Houston?

T.M. My patience and maturity was being tested at that time. I learned a lot from GREAT players. That experience with those 2 teams prepared me for the rest of my career.

24/48/82. You had some of your best statistical time and career highs for the Toronto Raptors. What was it like playing up north and how good do you think the future of Canadian basketball is from the all-star game to all these new talented players?

T.M. It was a blessing to play in Toronto on two occasions. I'm an Original Raptor and then I came back during the Vince Carter Era and Playoff years. I was happy to see how much the organization have grown. They've had a dip in the last couple of years but with the young talent they have up there now,they should make a good run again. As for Canadian basketball, you can see where our influences on the youngsters in Canada is paying off. Canada is a new hot bed for talent. Corey Joseph, Kris Joseph, Robert Sacre, Andrew Nicholson, Tristen Thompson, Myck Kobongo, Anthony Bennett, Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos and Andrew Wiggins do I need to say more?? You have to credit Steve Nash for a lot of the influences as well.

24/48/82. From a name change in Washington to Denver and Europe you've logged a lot of miles but are more than just an average NBA journeyman. Can you share with us some of your favorite experiences from all of this and what that helps bring to coaching?

T.M. Every stop was an experience. Playing in Europe was like being in college again. We had roommates on the road and I actually got to know my teammates better that way. I learn different strategies over there as well. When you have the experience of seeing different looks basketball wise it brings out the versatility in your coaching ability.

24/48/82. How does it truly feel to be an NBA champion?

T.M. It feels GREAT!!! It's the ultimate goal in a team sport. There are many of great players who worked their behinds of to get one and it never happened for them. It was a blessing. It was the right place at the right time.

24/48/82. How proud of your cousins Lamond Murray and Allan Houston are you?

T.M. I don't know, all of us have had successful NBA careers. I'm sure we're all happy and proud of each others accomplishments.

24/48/82. From LeBron to 'Melo these days it seems to be the Small Forwards, not Point Guards or Centers that dominate these days. How much has your position of the three evolved over these last three defining decades?

T.M. I think my position have always been a position that had tremendous athletes and explosive scorers. I think the 3 spot dominates the ball a lot more than when I played.

24/48/82. What advice would you give to young players and coaches of your type in establishing themselves in this sport?

T.M. Build a resume', work extremely hard, build relationships, and whatever role you are given maximize that role to the fullest.

24/48/82. How great is it now in retirement to have more time for family?

T.M. I made the decision as a player not to get married until I was done playing. You have no time to nurture a relationship or marriage with the stresses of trying to maintain your spot in the league. The lifestyle isn't for a family man. It's difficult. That's why you see so many divorces when guys retire. So, yes I'm very happy to have family time that's not distracted by the NBA.

24/48/82. What's next for Trace? With 'Ball Up' and the UCLA network gig would you one day like to return to your college or even the NBA as a coach?

T.M. If its the right situation, I would explore the possibility of coaching. College or NBA it doesn't matter. Ball Up is just entertainment and I enjoy that for right now as far as coaching. Broadcasting is my main job and I'm really enjoying that right now.

24/48/82. We thank you for your time Tracy and wish you all the best for the future. Good luck Coach.

T.M. Thanks for having me once again, Take care!

Monday, November 4, 2013



Laker Nation is looking a little more populated than people first thought hey? And to think they tried to cover up those banners like it was just what the Doc Rivers ordered. OK, sure so the Lakers chances of raising another piece of made material to the rafters to cover those Clipper "selfies" are looking as vulnerable as Kobe Bryant's Achilles but that doesn't mean the rest of the Lakers are going to heel to the rest of the league, like they think Kobe is going to heed ESPN's latest quote on quote "ranking". Kobe Bryant is still one of the best players in the league, despite the greats of LeBron James and Kevin Durant and his team is still a great one despite the losses of the likes of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. When Kobe returns it's going to look so much better for the Californian forecasts, but this winter won't see his L.A. stars go cold into the Hollywood night. There's more options in this locker-room, then there is in the Sunday white and new black addition to the purple and gold tradition kit room with sleeves. Time to roll them up and get to work. The NBA may not be rolling out the red carpet for these guys, but they are ready to prove that the floor in downtown L.A. is furnished with purple and gold. Now who's doing the heavy lifting?

Of course there's still the core. One that's a hot-bed of some of the best physical and mental talent of the NBA. Sure Steve Nash may be getting old, but the man born into the Canadian cold is still hot, running through the veins like maple syrup on sizzling but crisp bacon. He can still shoot and scoop a lay-up, but it's his pass first, 20/20 court vision is second only to the man behind the goggles, Magic of Earvin Johnson in the all-time ranks of not only Laker, but NBA history...and yes he's still got it too. The only man able to lead and keep the play by plays of Mike D'Antoni in dry erase order before that thing is snapped over legs in frustration. In the post Nash may not find Bynum or Howard...or even a test failed Odom, but the reignited gasoline of Pau Gasol is proving he can do it all...on his own. And to think they called him soft. Gasol is showing he's tougher than the rest, dunking and duking it out on the boards to point and rebound numbers that hark back to his championship trade certified ones or the youthful exuberance of his Rookie Of The Year debut in Memphis. Just like his Grizzlie brother Marc (who he was traded for, Marc was once part of the Lakers, albeit just being on their books), Pau is proving that there isn't much between the Gasol name when you talk about best big men in the league and all time legendary Spaniards. It's going to be a bull fight in the West this year, but Pau is taking it all by the horns.

The Lakers can't just rely on ageing and injured stars however. This is the year where they prove they are more of a team and contender than people first thought. Like their fellow storied and Garnett, Pierce and Terry, Brooklyn depleted Boston Celtic team, they are going to surprise a lot of people this year. Sure we probably won't see another classic purple and gold, versus Celtic green final but this will all make for some interesting match-ups that's for sure. This is how much the underrated Lakers can spread the floor. From the size and strength of one of the last, true centers Chris Kaman (hey, after the Clippers took most of our players and floor and ceiling space it was only right we picked up one of our foes former) to the returning championship point proven certification of Los Angeles' son Jordan Farmar. This team is Steve Blake to Jordan Hill deep and from streaking threes to energy plays on the right night this team has the right ingredients off the bench for a microwave ready meal of second unit sustenance. The second-year option of Jodie Meeks helps this team run and shoot it's way to a new youthful look of raw speed and flair...and people just thought he looked like a smaller Kobe or taller Gary Payton on the floor. Take a closer look with those nose bleed binoculars.  He's much more than those appearances. Just check his coast-to-coast bump and finish against the rival, derby Clippers to open the season, to see how well he lays it down and lays it in.

Run a play for the rest of the tribe called bench (oh, I'm sorry Clips, can we not take things too?), to see how much this team are igniting the showtime of Lob City (oops) back to the "other" (cough, yeah right, cough) side of STAPLES. The Clippers may be great, but good news for the Lakers comes in the threes of Wesley Johnson or the promising potential of preseason perfecter Elias Harris. Also glue guys like Robert Sacre follow in the bench to court enthusiasm dunk steps of a Madsen or Turiaf, while Shawne Willaims can fill out the starting frontcourt quite nicely. Evan Ryan Kelly looks and feels like a Radmonovic clone (just don't go skiing this fall). Still, among all this talent, it's two guys that are standing out from the rest and we aren't talking about the white hype of Gasol and Nash. From nothing, number zero Nick Young has got a point to prove behind Nash and Jordan too, showing has great looking game is more than his amazing sneakers. It's what he does in them, quickly and efficiently that counts. A favorite of the mentoring Bryant, this may be Kobe's city but right now it's Young's town like a Springsteen song. If that wasn't boss enough for you than how about professor X? The X-man of Xavier Henry really is something to marvel at in this Avenger season, with Meeks, Johnson and Young he really forms a fantastic four off the bench for this Laker family with his breaking dunks, play and stat-sheet numbers by the scores. Sure this team is a lot of pieces away from a championship jigsaw picture, but when the biggest piece fits back into the mix the game may well and truly be over. This is a young team for the ages, only a seasoned veteran of Kobe's caliber could possibly piece this all together for right now...albeit whenever it will be that he returns. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Make Way For The Ram.



Welcome back to the show Kurt, 'Randy The Ram' Rambis. This Summer saw the return of a Los Angeles Laker role playing legend of the 'Showtime' eighties to an assistant coaching position he held during the Phil Jackson era. Now that's a lot of championships. No wonder they wanted this guy back. The hard working legend that could make Mark Madsen or Rony Turiaf's celebratory bench presence, hustle or dunk finishes seem tame was an inspiration to them both and more. The spectacle wearing hipster had his place between the goggles of Kareem and Worthy in the three tiers of downtown L.A.'s Hotel Figueroa  which currently is getting some GTA recognition. Looking something like Garth from 'Wayne's World' with a magnificent mullet and setting defensive traps and rebound sets for his enemy like 'Rambo', this guy was cold blooded and blue collar. Exactly what the Showtime Lakers needed against Boston. He played like a Celtic but sweat and bled purple and gold.

The behind the scenes grit and grind to the Hollywood show of Magic, Kareem, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green, this guy was just as integral and inspirational to this golden and purple era of storied Laker and Larry legacy. Whether Bird or O'Brien, better or worse, victory parade wagon or season hearse, Rambis was always there. Those rings belong to him too. With a moustache that would make 'Movember' proud with one twirl he could finish off his man like Christophe Waltz in 'Django Unchained'...and you thought he looked like a dentist....haha! This guy was no Ned Flanders for the Lakers Simpsons yellow, okely dokely? There was a six pack of strength not beer below that T.V. sitcom dads sweater (and from 'Sweet Valley High' to 'Married With Children' this guy has more T.V. acting credits than his Klingon, 'Showtime' teammate James Worthy too). Just ask Kevin McHale, Bill Laimbeer or any of the other eighties hard men of the NBA...or check their bruises, there probably still there. The man with the teacher spectacles could take anyone to school. Laugh at the mullet now.

Now, recently we have argued to Springfield and the ceiling that Michael Cooper deserves his place in the Hall Of Fame and the Lakers retired jersey rafters with his eighties comrade Jaamal Wilkes. Not to knock him but we may never see the 31 up their or the glasses in the trophy cabinet down the hall. Still that doesn't mean Rambis isn't a vital part of Lakers lore. Besides his college alma mata retired his hash-tag 34. Next throwback night someone's got to rock his number and specs for the ultimate hipster eighties Hollywood night. It's just a shame Bill Walton's son has retired. Kurt took the Lakers to hoops nirvana, he came as we was and rocked mainstream Hollywood with his signature style and punctuated play. The man with the horn rimmed glasses helped lead the Lakers championship charge with a stampede of bruising blocks and off-ball, on-point play. The record books may not carry his name, but his trophies are engraved all the same. You can't write off what's already been wrote.

From Terre Haute, Indiana he played bigger than his 6 foot 8, 213 pound listing. From Santa Clara his career afforded more than all the rounds and teams that passed on him before he was picked 58th by the New York Knicks, looking like a familiar N.Y role playing legend of the 60's Phil Jackson and one day having his place next to him in Laker history and on the bench. You see the legend on those cool t-shirts or by fans that dress up like that Kobe heckler from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers video. By the way the billboards held up during his career where a protest to just how good he was in the Lakers banner years. Some may have overlooked the perspired hard work that fogged up glasses, but the real fans saw. In less than a decade with the Lakers that's what he did...he left his purple bruised and gold coronated mark. The Hornets, Suns, Kings and Greece know what we're talking about. Still, Charlotte, Phoenix, Sacramento or Athens have nothing on his time in Los Angeles. Just ask Run-TMC or Dwight Howard, good or bad it doesn't take long to make your mark in the bright light of California.

5.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1 and some change assists may be the average of his career but they have nothing on the four 'chips he helps raised and get off his teammates Celtics harassed shoulders. He may have been a few bucks shy of seven feet but he rose above it all and earned his millions like the tallest man in the room. Once he wrapped that bandana on his head he was Kurt Rambo with an ammunition of tank like strength, rolling over opponent canon fodder drawing first blood. Darrell Rambis was known as Kurt to us, Kyriakos Rambidis to Greece and a nightmare to his opponents who lost possession as well as sleep. You couldn't stop Kurt when he played like a man possessed. The city of angels found their demon to take them through the dark dog days and to the light and gleam of July's trophy. The overachieving underdog got his bone and found his home in a Forum of talent. He caught every ball, word out of Jim Murray (the incredible journalist wordsmith joked that he thought this guys name was 'Loose Ball Rambis' because that's all he heard before his name) and Chick Hearn and every round of applause from those who valued hard, earned teamwork.

No wonder the dirty work will of this man has taken him to the coaching class. Still make no mistake about that old adage of average players making the best coaches, Rambis was a Marvel like Stan Lee, anything but mediocre. Now behind the scenes for a big named Lakers team again he looks to shed that tag and give the new Lake Show as a coach what he did as a player. He already impressed Kevin McHale again at the head of Minnesota now what can he do for a former Minneapolis Lakers team once known for their hard work led by the spectacles of George Mikan?  Just think what he could do for Pau Gasol's game. Soft!? Yeah right this guy born in the U.S.A. of the Springsteen American blue jeans, boot strapped strong age was tougher than the rest. Chick Hearn once called this Clark Kent lookalike Superman and with the second Man Of Steel gone this could just be the hero the Lakers need in their Avenger season. Time to step in the booth and loosen up the tie. The only thing missing is Colonel Sanders...or Phil Jackson as he's known...but wait, lets get real here chicken, because behind the Hollywood glamour nothing or nobody works more than Kurt. Adjust your glasses and look for this eighties legend in L.A. once again. Now you remember how to do the hustle right?

Monday, September 16, 2013

COURTSIDE COLUMN-Hanging Jerseys & Jackets With Mr. Cooper.

A Coop-A-Loop To The Hall.

This September former Seattle Supersonic, Milwaukee Buck and Los Angeles Laker legend Gary Payton headed an awesome Hall Of Fame class. Now the talk is already on who will fill the corridors of Naismith next year. Right now in Laker nation the debate is whether clutch king and team life saver Robert Horry deserves a place (for the record he better check a newspaper or something). Still, my own candidate to lead the way to Springfield next year like those clouds at the beginning of 'The Simpsons' is a guy I wrote a feature on last week. You can even hear the theme tune choir calling his name..."Miiichael" and Bart writing the line on the blackboard "I shall not forget to induct such a legend like Mike again' again and again. Now do we have room for a couch gag? Sure when I write about a subject at times I get a little feature happy. Just ask Mitch Richmond (this years Hall finalist who needs his own place) or musician/movie star Tyrese (who need his own triple-threat place in an entertainment hall of fame...maybe a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame). Still there is reason behind my article rhyme here.

How is Michael Cooper not in the Hall Of Fame right now? How is his jersey not even raised to the Lakers rafters yet? I mean his great 'Showtime' teammate Jaamal Wilkes was recently honoured with both Basketball history meets immortality statuses so why not Mike? Let's like this more than a Twitter trend, let's sign a petition for the ballot like we wanted a new Batman (and let's give the great Ben Affleck a chance). Ok, sure this guys jersey wouldn't be the first Lakers one you'd buy...even when it comes to 80's Lakers, but just ask Magic Johnson or even Boston Celtic Larry Bird about how much number 21 meant to both the purple and gold and the NBA. That's why he deserves both the rafters and the hall. So why is he being shown ignorance and gallows? Even his coaching career is worthy like big game James. Look at that picture, look at tht face. How you going to leave him out?

The best defender-and I quote-Larry Bird ever faced, needs the NBA to know his place. Does Bruce Bowen deserve to be in the Hall? Does Metta World Peace? Ok, let me ask you this does Ron Artest even? Take M.W.P's best time during the Ron, Ron years, add it with the Kobe stopper Bowen's and you still don't trump Cooper in this trading card game. Just check his huge air time block against that Bullet shot. Oh, and Coop's epic leaps lead to those Coop-A-Loop and slam dunk contest throw downs. The guy could clutch more than a couple of three too. You thought him just a great defender? This Cooper's Basketball talents where limitless like Bradley on his A team. That's how good he looked. There where more silver linings in Pat Riley's playbook than the Magic of Earvin or the hook of Kareem. Take away the fact that he is one of the NBA's greatest defenders ever, you still have one of the Lakers better offensive players of the last three decades. THAT'S how good Cooper is. Wake up from this hangover!

I even went as far to say he deserves his own statue, but before you go carving out the bronze let's set this guys concrete classic career in record book stone. The skinny but muscular player worked so hard once they get his jersey ready for it's banner coronation it'll probably still be soaking in sweat and as for the Hall it's time Magic threw one more Coop-a-loop and made that induction speech. His Laker legacy belongs with NBA's Naismith for his names sake. The numbers don't lie-even if some speak in off-ball half truths-and the championships are certified. His 21 points one finals year is one of the only reasons the Lakers have 20 plus championships. One of Larry O'Brien's belongs to 21, the jersey that belongs upstairs and the name Cooper on the back that belongs down the hall and to the left. Let's make it right. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Here's The Coop.



It's Showtime all over again, like Los Angeles, 1984...and we aren't talking about the Olympics, although this athlete was five rings worthy and won that many championships too. Recently this Summer, Los Angeles Laker legend Michael Cooper saw Michael Jordan and Julius Erving's old hops and raised them another dunk, slamming it home at an event just shy of 60 years old. Almost as old as the Lakers themselves, Cooper proved he still had some offence with that old jam. Way before Ron Artest or Metta World Peace guarded Kobe's house, Coop, the all-round nice-guy and eighties legend like Lionel Richie was running with the Magic on a Commodore classic team, flying away at a zoom speed. This storied player who just about spanned three decades still stands with his lithe, but mighty muscular wingspan as the greatest defender of Los Angeles Lakers (Minneapolis as well) history...and even the NBA too.

Born to play for the Lakers from Los Angeles California, you should expect his number 21 to be raised to the rafters with Shaq, Magic, Kareem, Worthy and the boys sooner than later. Like his Minnesota number-sake Kevin Garnett, Michael was a lean, mean passion play Basketball machine and that's the skinny. Think of Bruce Bowen with more of a legacy. He could have gone play to play with Kobe in his day, at the present moment he's probably teaching him one or two himself. With high-flying and high profile, perimeter prolific players like James Worthy, A.C. Green and Byron Scott and of course Magic and Kareem as teammates, Michael Cooper was like a superstar role player. With out his big plays and intangibles on the other end of the floor the Lakers would have been clutching at straws instead of championships. Remember for every Shaq and Kobe, there's a Rick Fox and Robert Horry.

At a relatively under sized 6, 5 and 170 pounds of pure muscle this guard and forward, switched it up and took it bigger than the characteristics and stats. Now the other teams who passed up on the 60th selection of the third round of the '78 draft out of Pasadena and New Mexico know not to judge a book by its cover...just wait for the autobiography. The Lakers loyalty was returned with a 12 year hard worked NBA service, before one final season of experience in Kobe's territory of Italy for Virtus Roma. Los Angeles strongest son also returned to L.A. Basketball to successfully coach Lisa Leslie, Candace Park and the ignited Sparks franchise of the WNBA for almost a decade, two championships and a Coach of the year honour after time manning and mining the Denver Nuggets. Just another rhyme to the reason that the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 5 time All-Defensive first team man who amassed career totals of 7,729 points, 3,666 assists and 1,033 steals had more attributes than his many accolades.

Michael Cooper is championship certified and his legendary legacy see's him as the only person to win championships as both a player and a coach in the NBA, WNBA and NBA development leagues. Impressed? This is the only guy that could have thrown off legendary Boston Celtic Larry Bird off his signature, pure three-point shot...and you thought Magic was quite the rival. Bird called this guy the best defender that he's ever faced. Cooper's smothering, white on rice, cheap suit, but no cheap shot all-round defence could reduce Larry Legend to Larry David and if that doesn't Curb Your Enthusiasm ask anyone else in the golden 80's era of the league. You don't just have to go to French Lick to hear the war stories or victim accounts for evidence. Opposing players where left looking like hicks to this specialist. The only ones left smiling not in Laker uniforms where Jim Murray, Chick Hearn and of course Pat Riley. Jim would have wrote that you needed to call the police because Mike could have even picked the pockets of the fans in the stands like a Harlem Globetrotter. Chick would have said that Coop would slap the jello in the refridgerator to get it jiggling. Pat wouldn't even have seen anything as slick even looking in the mirror at his hair. You couldn't write, say or coach it better.

This guy was so focussed on locking down and preventing his man from getting through he may as well have run border control. He averaged an across the board stat surf of 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 for the New Mexico Lobos as they won the Western Athletic Conference trophy. The rail-thin Coop then blazed a trail for the NBA like he was playing for Portland and not the Los Angeles Lakers. Across the tracks he won chips in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 as well as making eight all NBA defensive teams. He may not have always had the ball in his hand but the man who could (and still obviously can) dunk and hit the open shot was given the honoured, most important role of guarding the opposing teams best player. The small forward/shooting guard would even man the point if Earvin's Magic called for it. All work and no complaints this perfect employee just rolled up his trademark high knee (hey those eighties short shorts leave little to the imagination) socks and went to work.

That's how you average 8.9 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game and have anyone in the forum cheering "Cooooop" like Luke Walton fabulously. Still an underrated figure of Basketball by Hollywood and Association standards even some hardwood purists forget one of the NBA and Lakers best. Then again this is a franchise, league and day and age that would be criminal enough to leave Gail Goodrich off considered lists. Still Coop's play slams all of that. Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan no problem, Michael would give his everything against them all. Walking the Basketball dribbled walk tall, with Iron Man durability that made this Avengers small frame feel more like the look of an incredible Hulk to Celtic green and any angered Forum foe. The 'Coop-A-Loop' alley-oop fan favourite play and dunk contest worthy finish that played again this Summer was just the offensive icing on a cake that was full of stodgy, sticky defence that bloated the opponents best players and playbook.

This X and O guy definitely owned more than just the definitive defensive side of the floor. Caught out there in the stats, Coop's all-time Lakers top 10 in three-point field goals (428), games played (873), minutes (23,635), steals (1033), blocked shots (523), assists (3,666), defensive rebounds (2,028), offensive rebounds (741) and free throw percentage (.833). Now that's just all-round purple and gold domination for the stats sheets. This guy was a more complete player than people oversaw. He wasn't just about D in his defence, how has he not taken more offence? How is he not one of the Lakers best ever? How does he not have a statue yet...they wouldn't even have to use much stone for those arms and legs. I know Septembers almost at it's end but the Hall Of Fame needs to wake up too. Magic needs to throw another lob for the Coop-A-Loop, this guy belongs in the classic corridor. The trophies he helped earn are already in the cabinet and they're only collecting dust. It's time to clean the glass like he did...along with everything else.

From his savage steals to his terrific threes and his dynamic dunks to his brutal blocks simply put Michael Cooper stopped everyone but his Lakers from winning. After some coaching tenure behind Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Del Harris he proved he was an even bigger legend in this game by leading the women of the National Basketball Association to the promised land of hoops. He even gave the Albuquerque Thunderbirds some go towards a NBDL championship. Who knows what could happen in the next half century? One things for certain is that purple and gold will always run through those tense and taught veins. The moustache, muscle and pulse of Showtime was no side show. This behind the scenes and spotlight hero was the best friend to Magic Johnson's leading man ready to take a bullet and bring the Hollywood movie world to the theatre of the Forum. His Lakers where the biggest box-office championship draw making this guy number one with a dunk...even at 57. Now put him in the top 50. This guy was all-star, all-game, 100%. What more could you ask for?

Friday, September 6, 2013


Tracing Murray's Career.


Everyone has their heroes who they praise in this game...even if some remain relatively unsung. Through all the great talent that has come, been seen and evolved along with the changing of the ever-developing game there has been a crop of classic players to sift through the cream. Whether it be on your televisions, fantasy leagues or video games the mark of the essence of their ability is made. All kinds of great players have expressed their talent in the association. There's just too many to name or rank. There's your Michael Jordan's and your Mitch Richmond's, your Kobe Bryant's and Latrell Sprewell's and your Tracy McGrady's and Tracy Murray's. In this league they where all stars even if they didn't make mid-February. They still deserve their love like here's another hallmark dedication to one of the games greats.

Tracy Murray was all about the three. That's how pure a player he was. Whether wearing number 35, 30, 31, or 3, from behind the arc to down two, the cult fan favourite could clutch wins away from his opponents and into the hands of his matter which team it was. The 6 foot 7, 225 pound player from Los Angeles California had a fresh fade and beard cut of a Long Beach rap star, but on court is where Murray sang and laid it down over the ball to hardwood beats. Serving up his opponents like his Andy namesake in Wimbledon, games where set when the T-Murray match-up threw up the ball at his teams service. The high-school courts of Glendora taught Tracy his basketball education. His incredible 44.3 average led the nations point tally in his senior year as he amassed a grand total of 3,053 high-school points...the highest in the state. Even as a kid, this player was just a points machine. A gunner that could shoot down anybody or net on the basketball floor.

These days Murray helps broadcast for Fox Sports and the UCLA Bruins to keep close to a game he one day wants to coach pernamently. You can hear him talking about the youth and next generation of an alumni he actually is a part of. You can see his team photos in the trophy case as the campus janitor isn't the only one whose been cleaning the glass for awhile. During his time with the blue and yellow, an aspiring Murray scored a swingman perfect complete 18.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG in his basketball statistical averages and was two time Pac-10 all conference (his half and half 50% from three led the Pac too). The UCLA college star who looks like he could be related to Jordan Farmar had a similar path, but his California vacation, took a Texas detour as the San Antonio Spurs selected him 18th overall in the 1992 draft as David Stern put it. As a Spur, Murray could have truly clicked with the admiral David Robinson, but just a week after the draft another port called Murray in.

If you thought that was crazy 'charming' then imagine being traded twice in the same day, but that's what happened to Tracy as he headed to Milwaukee for Dale Ellis and was then dealt up north to Portland for a Trail Blazing career as he was swapped for Alaa Abdelnaby. He found his range and his home in the Midwest Portland trail, blazing the league with his lightening bright three-point explosions. He paced the entire league with a three point percentage of 45.9% in the 1993/1994 season proving he hadn't lost that touch from his step behind the arc at college. The young man matured in the league but still kept that youthful fire when it came down to the embers of the shot or game clock. His shot in Portland was so much of a bullseye it should have come with a Jordan shrug.

A bow-tied, gift-wrapped perfect package of Murray and M.J. like great Clyde Drexler was then delivered and propelled on a glide to the Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe and other shipping costs. A championship ring came in the post season too via a special delivery. The only problem forecasted in Houston was time as Murray only played 25 games before being stole away in the expansion draft by the NBA's new Canada team, the Toronto Raptors. Far from cold or extinct however Murray played his best basketball in the great city of Toronto. His statistical output of 16.2 PPG, 1.6 APG and 4.3 RPG was more than average as this guy proved he could score big and facilitate his court comrades scores. Murray had some rebound mound in him too. It was all looking good for the new raw Raps and their seasoned vet. That was until he was clawed away from the NBA's Jurassic Park by a lucrative contract from the capital city of the United States.

Murray's shot with the Washington Bullets reloaded his career. The tricks of his trade brought change. The D.C. team made a stand against it's cities growing gang and gun culture by getting their Harry Potter on and changing their name to the Washington Wizards with a flick of the wand. Murray had some spells on the court too in the journeymans four year break in White House town. Back in the playoffs since his Portland days his stepped up output of 18.3 PPG, 0.7 APG and 3.0 RPG was really an upgrade from his raw talent spare change numbers with the trail. A embattled half century game in a fight with the Warriors of Golden State proved Murray was not just a big-time scorer, but a big time player. Far from a point gun for hire, Murray is one of only six Washington players ever to hit the big 50 or more. With Wizard great Gilbert Arenas and the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan being in the six-shooter chamber of these Bullets that's some big shot company.

Changing altitudes, Murray's strong attitude withstood another move as he mined some time with the Denver Nuggets. Unlucky for some though after just 13 games, Murray was passed around like basketball currency and found himself back in Toronto just like the good old times. Murray logged the equivalent of a good season or so for the T-Dot Raps before he was out again. The L.A. king returned home and to the STAPLES centre of Los Angeles as he played for the wood-floor team, otherwise known as Hollywood's biggest show. Traded with the draft rights of Kareem Rush for Lindsey Hunter, the purple and gold of the Lakers uniform seemed like the perfect fit and California love for the Los Angeles born and bred basketball pedigree but after one good season he was back in the trade bait dog house again.

Back in Portland for a weeks worth of games, Tracy Murray closed out his NBA career with the team he stared his playing time with. The man who was a victim of the continuity and cohesive effects of being an NBA journeyman (I mean come on he was traded twice in one day), was also guilty of being one of the best of his time. Tracy's journey didn't end with the NBA however as he travelled even further after being released by the New York Knicks without sadly ever playing a game. Panathinaikos Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki of Greece where the names of the foreign teams Murray played for before saying 'au revoir' to his playing days in France. Now with father time in the playbook, Tracy-like any good man-has dedicated his retired life to family, as well as a basketball camp in his old high-school.

You can still see Tracy Murray about and in and around the big stage too. He'll be in attendance for friend and fellow underrated NBA great Mitch Richmond's 'M Rock Life' foundation anti-bullying, all-star charity game. Who knows maybe he'll suit up himself. The analyst with dreams of being a coach has dry-erased some time with the NBA's D-league's Bakersfield Jam too in development of his new dream career. Now how about an and one? Something else too? This Summer he's also joined the streetball leagues coaching the exciting 'Ball Up' basketball squad who are looking to skip to the Lou of the playground legends and take the concrete play of the playground to the hardwood floors of inside public paid and viewed hoops. The cousin of former Clipper Lamond Murray and former Knick and hot-shooter Allan Houston is widening his view on the sport to make it as diverse and complete as his actual game was. The guy who moved around a lot in his career is going all sorts of place post-playing as more doors are opening in retirement following the closing of his locker and hanging up of his sneakers. One of the all-round underrated greats is really making a name for himself and it's clear the guy is always going to be around. This mans journey isn't over yet...and it won't be until he finds an NBA team he's happy to stick with and call home and plays from the sidelines. Expect Tracy Murray to be a household name then.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


M Rocks Life.


It's the twilight of the sweeping 2002 NBA Finals and we're in New Jersey with just seconds on the clock. Phil Jackson calls on a Jordanesque player in Lakers purple and runs a play. The guys even wearing number 23, as he fades away and ices the last shot of the game beautifully and poignantly. The thing is, the game and series and championship was already decided minutes and substitutes ago and that guy with the fade...he 'aint Kobe. "Is this how you thought you'd spend your last season with the Lakers" a reporter for SLAM magazine asks. "Nah" replies the shaking head of former All-Star and 90's swingman legend Mitch Richmond. "Nah"!

This last shot of the Lakers game and Mitch Richmond's NBA career represents so much more than the frustration of injury, retirement ageing or DNP-CD's. It also represents the worthy championship credit of a veteran presence who solidified the bench and provided lessons from a legend to the raw talent and youth of the Lakers potential rich roster. Mitch Richmond finally chased down his ring like the last pea on the plate and as the fork was put in his career, it was a ring worthy of a man that deserved it not only for his classic career, but his lasting impression in his final fling with top flight hoops in Hollywood. Besides he was certainly a slam dunk upgrade from the previous years lost talent of J.R. Rider. Like Aaron McKie, Jim Jackson and other big names and scorers who the Lakers scooped up, but missed out on the big-time, it was more than just the numbers or the minutes and this why Mitch Richmond like others was so much more. His name itself was so much more than all the numbers and teams stitched on to his sweat soaked, hard worked and truly earned jerseys.

That's what it takes to make a legend and one of the greatest players ever in this league, even if some of your prime or playing time is overshadowed by Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant...but hey it doesn't get any better than that. That's why Mitch was one of the best. That's why the 6,5, Rich weighing in at 215 pounds averaged 21 points and 3 and a half assists was a fifth pick pedigree in the first round of the '88 draft. The highest scoring player ever not named to the Naismith Hall Of Fame needs an election day this time next year. He's a six time All-Star as well as a Gold and Bronze medal Olympian from Seoul, Korea to Atlanta, America and a the king of Sacramento Kings, with his number 2 jersey retired by the purple and black and those classic half and half throwbacks. Simply put 'The Rock', Mitch Richmond was gifted with the rock of basketball. The Rock wrestled his way through opponents and teams on a muscled up pain and gain career which saw his fast and furious style motor on to a championship belt, cementing him as one of the storied 90's golden era leagues heavyweights. No's was a knockout.

Back when video game renditions of players where just pixilated promises of future realism, the boxer built Richmond was the real deal like Holyfield. The NBA LIVE 97 cover star was more than a video gamers favourite player option when he was in the real game like EA Sports was electronically. Hardwoods classics was Mitchell Richmond's art like Mitchell & Ness. You can bet his throwback will be a collectors item to the highest bidder as gavels drop and knock in the future. Just take your pick. From Boyd Anderson high of the Lauderdale Lakes, Florida to the collegiate halls of Moberly Area CC and Kansas State University this consensus NCAA All-American was a basketball education to anyone he faced. The rock was rolling like green bottled beer, when he was with Golden State in California as the number 2 in his own big three, RUN T.M.C. Like the 80's hip-hop legends DMC, these hoop stars where the NBA Jam Masters and could really run. All they needed was all black and bowler hats to go with those Adidas sneakers as they dribbled this way to prosperity.

These kings of the rock where tougher than leather as these Warriors aligned for Gold Coast War. The tricky crossover king Tim Hardaway the beastie buzz of Chris Mullin and 'The Rock' himself Mitch Richmond. These legends created a cult Michigan fab five like legacy across the other side of that bridge as the Golden State almost found their gate to the NBA's promised land. From Alcatraz lock down D, to escape artist offensive play, these guys where kings of the rock years before Red Bull pounded the concrete of prisons. You can drink to that. This trio gave the Oakland team, the NBA and notions of the big-three teams wings. The only way you could clip these guys was by keeping newspaper records for your recollection, because even without a championship they are still certified in hardwood history and basketball purists legend. Classic like the old G.S.W jerseys they rose like cable cars in 'The City'. From Mullin's three's to Hardaway's handles and Mitch's all round game. Legendary coach Don Nelson dry erased a set of players that inked their reputations on the NBA like the hoops dedicated tattoo's on their arm...permanently.

Still, as the slasher Richmond was traded to Sacramento his career took no cut. It was all action like Bobby Jackson as the California king laid it all down like a bed for seven stellar seasons. The Rock pounded the hardwood floor of the Arco Arena until every cowbell ringed in the house in his name. Will Ferrell would be proud at how this great guard could make any night live like Saturday. On the throne for the Kings Richmond was seen as one of the purest shooters by the purists, all whilst being a Western Conference All-Star regular and MVP of that game in Phoenix. He also made 'Dream Team III' for Olympic gold in the ATL. Before his post alter-ego Chris Webber was traded for him, Mitch was considered the first star for a Sacramento team established and expanded in 1985 (three years before Mitch's NBA career was born), and one that probably won't see 2015...unless they look from Seattle's space-needle that is.

The sonic speed slasher was spelled to the Washington Wizard for the tricks of a Chris Webber trade and as C-Webb, Vlade, Peja and co almost took the Lakers to task, Rich was afforded his own jobs years before joining L.A. himself and earning his gold. The cousin of NFL player Lardarius Webb still had a great NBA career before playing in the associations Superbowl. The gridiron determination of this passion player took him through some struggles in D.C. and he even got to play with the greatest ever, Michael Jordan before he played with Kobe and of course Shaq for the Phil Jackson three-peat Lakers show. As Mitch dribbled out his closing game and career there was always going to be more after the buzzer sounded. Coaching and analysis can wait because now in retirement M Rock's life has so much more to it.

As a matter of fact Google 'M Rock Life' and you'll see something that is bigger than the game and goes beyond simple fame and celebrity. Mitch's new opponent is bullying and his foundation 'M Rock Life' looks set to lay the groundwork in helping young people who suffer this cruel affliction before it becomes too late. Wrestling with the problem head on Rock Richmond's charity is an organised noise for those who have suffered in silence for too long. Mitch is the sincere spokesman for something that is giving the youth and all those affected a voice. This month sees a celebrity all-star game with NBA and music talent lending a hand to raising awareness. Still, when September ends, Richmond and 'M Rock Life' will wake up more sleeping on an issue that needs more inspiration and influence. Next September the man whose taking it to the school halls needs his own place in NBA's most storied corridor. More than his jersey to the rafters, Mitch needs a hand raised or a glass to toast to his success and strength...just no Dwyane Johnson eyebrows. Even through the struggles of a hard-place 'The Rock' has always prevailed, from his concrete play to his set in stone dedication. Mitch Richmond is still cooking. You thought he was done..."nah"!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Seams Good.

Let's not get confused by the title here. The city of New Jersey hasn't recovered from their Brooklyn Nets hangover by gaining the Los Angeles Laker franchise in some sort of backwards Dodgers deal. This wasn't part of the Magic Johnson ownership plan, to send a ballclub back from California to outside of New York City a century later (although let's give the great city and venue of New Jersey a team after Seattle (I miss those trips from N.Y. to N.J. for gameday)). This is just our way of celebrating the Lakers new garment look for the 2013/2014 season. There's nothing like the purple and gold and with times looking Dwight Howard to Houston bad there isn't much to celebrate in la, la, Laker land aside Kobe Bryant's 35th birthday (Happy Birthday Bean!) and his impending comeback. Sure the team copped the promising Elijah Harris amongst others, but the thing that everyone loved during his Summer League star-turn was his and his L.A. Laker hopeful teammates new jersey's. The kind of fresh, new wear that will have fans reaching for their computors, to order and update their NBA video games looks.

OK, not everyone loved them. Ever since the Golden State Warriors debuted the new NBA jersey side-look last season, there has been some Ben Affleck for Batman style hate. Especially for the Phoenix Suns traffic cones that could stop planes...lets alone traffic. Basketball jersey's with sleeves on?! What is this soccer? What's next jersey's with sponsers on the front like the WNBA? Regrettably yes. Still the special Christmas day jersey extras (which will also be used for the inspired 'Los Lakers' nights....damn my wallet) are something you'll want to see under your tree as well as on your NBA T.V screens this December 25th. These jerseys are just that fresh and clean. Especially the Lakers summer league threads which look like your classic vests over white tee's (now those skinny kids (hello!) and middle-aged men (almost) men who rock that style don't have to dig through the piles of clothes for the cleanest white t-shirt). Who knows if the adapted season jerseys released soon will look the same, but we hope they're not too different. One things for sure, this writer won't look like Kevin Federline anymore everytime he wants to show off the team he supports. My girlfriend thanks you L.A.

These cool new jerseys aren't the only designs for a team that really stepped up it's apparel game as they moved from the Forum and classic Mitchell & Ness vests to the new STAPLES Centre, hardwood classic, modern v-necks to start the new milleniuum of Kobe and championship rings. Remember those cool limited edition black jersey's from back in the day that never saw the light of the wood floor? Well now with a new court campaign, the classic black look will join the Sunday white and the storied, traditional purple and gold in the Lakers locker-room. What more could the fans want? Apart from a free handout of them before games and maybe a few more Taco nights. That means more than 100 points and a few W's please. These black dubbed 'Hollywood Nights' are set to drive Snoop Dogg and the rest of the Hollywood to the hills fanbase crazy. These Hollywood Nights feel like some 80's nostalgia that will be welcome in Malibu unlike that 'Baywatch Nights' spin-off (sorry Hoff, but life-guard by day, cop by night...even you can't do that).

Like 'Lights Out', this new move by a Lakers team reading less than great on paper looks perfect. As does the future of hoops-wear in the new Adidas, adizero technology, 26% lighter uniforms with sleeves. Still as good as this team appears suited and sneaked, what really needs to look good in hindsight is their vision on court. Last year was tight, this one needs to be refreshed. It's time to truly shift a gear. There needs to be more silver linings amongst the purple and gold trim. Sure these special mufti days haven't looked this great since throwback night but this Laker team needs to play like the franchise of old, and bring it back to the real reason Hollywood descenced on the take no prisoners streets of downtown Los Angeles...'showtime'! The name on these new jerseys reads 'Lakers' and it's a proud, storied tradition of legend. As Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (who believes in freedom of wear and wants to switch up the alternate jerseys all the more by different players wearing different unis on court stating "I don't see why we all need the same tailor, as long as it's pretty uniform,") and Pau Gasol lead the way, the legacy needs to be set in the seams of banners, not just jerseys...unless they are being raised to the rafters. This is the Avenger season...suit up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.