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.