Sunday, December 20, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Just because someone is broken down doesn't erase all the great things they've done...
I Still Believe In Kobe Bryant...
1996. Shades atop the bald M.J. like cut of the next greatness to his airness. A kid whose about to play in front of the Hollywood celebrity types who are no stranger to that type of sunglasses indoors look announces that straight out of high school he's about to take his LeBron James decision to the talents of the NBA. He looked too hot too handle. Too good to be true. Too cocky? Too much air in that aviator covered dome? Well the kid Kobe was only 18 and he was bound for greatness...albeit some mistakes too. Utah, the Salt of the Lake City for the Laker. Nothing but nitrogen and oxygen. Airball after airball until the birds called. Young Kob' couldn't hit much on his way to the postseason of a rookie year that seasoned him even as a young pro. He couldn't make music against the Jazz. Mailer daemon, failed to deliver against future teammate Karl 'Mailman' Malone. His best fade was away with his afro. But it wouldn't be long before leather met nylon and Kobe met the legend of Larry again and again, year after year, circling around again. Just like a ring. How it all changes...
2016. And in this New Year, Kobe will be resolute in his poetic, press conference announcement and the conclusion of his rocking chair retirement tour of his last 82 game NBA season. Arena to arena. Player to player. From fellow high schooler, now old school, still here and back home in Minnesota Kevin Garnett, to new kid on the Californian block D'Angelo Russell. From Madison Square Garden to the STAPLE of his one, true home. Heroes come and go but legends are forever. Muse to muse. Stephen Curry to LeBron James. All the tributes. All the testaments. All the devotion. All the dedications. All the crowds. All the cheers. All the long three balls just for show. And then again, 20 years later as the former 18 year old future of the franchise and league, pushing 38 and all he can do with the rock starts shooting at air once more. Face it father time is real. It's crazy how it all comes around. Like infants becoming seniors. The rise and fall either side of prime time. The circle of basketball life and a legends career. It's all too raw and all too real. But to the chef and the King watching, watch closely because one day it'll all be us too. Time just gets away from us...no matter how much true grit we have. It'll happen to the Spur sheriff Tim Duncan too...no matter how old he gets. Magic and the greatest ever to do it initialed M.J. knows that all too well. As does the icon of the logo Jerry West. You can only clutch at it for so long. One day all that's good must pass and come to an end. But in the air of all those missed shots tonight comes one that makes. And then another...and another...and another. Brick, swish, brick. Swish, swish, swish. Swish, Swish...SWISH.
I Still Believe In Kobe Bryant...
And then out of nowhere he gets more air and then takes flight like the vintage, still in warm ups slam dunking, champion child he once was. Jamming a dunk home. Rising against the Rockets. Even Dwight Howard had to give it up. There's nothing realer than reconciliation. The tributes keep flowing in. No wonder this superhero caught iron like Tony Stark. No rim like old Wizard M.J. at All Star. The air is still there. The Kobe Nike's still just doing it with those old cleat, sneaker steps. Even the kid D'Angelo thinks his mentor could play for another two years with hops like that. Even if that could have been how he ended up putting that shoulder out. You always knew he'd rise again. I mean this is a guy that tore his Achilles and then tried to push it back in place, before getting back up, making two free throws and walking off court...no wheelchair. All heart...no doubt to that dedication. Even that negative is a career highlight like a maverick 62 in three quarters. Just let another former foe like Dwight tell it, as legend Reggie Miller clutches at the perfect quotable soundbite; "there's still venom in the Mamba"! Word to Vino!
I Still Believe In Kobe Bryant...
You can't deny in this last run. Everything this man has done. The partnership with Shaq. The dynasty that will always last. The gassed up refuel with Gasol. The reunion and redemption with the Zen Master. The duos with teammates that he helped and they helped alike. The greatest role player to ever do it Derek Fisher. One of the most, all round talented players to ever put the ball on the floor and play this game, no matter what Lamar Odom (stay up, stay well). And now the new small-ball revolution, big-three of the continuing Lake Show, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and the number one, number 24 should look after, this years second pick, Russell. And talking of numbers. Number 8? Number 24? Which do you retire? Both! Come on where talking about a guy who scored 81 points in a single game. Second only to Wilt's 100! Put that up! A Laker legend as big as Chamberlain, Kareem, Minneapolis' Mikan, or even Shaq. Let alone the logo or the Magic playing card. A legend of the NBA and its history as a whole. The closest thing to the G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan. Hero or villain. Dark Knight or Darth Vader it doesn't matter. In these Star Wars this guy was a Phantom Menace, even at times with the operatic mask. A basketball Jedi that still isn't done. The force is still awakening.
I Still Believe In Kobe Bryant...
Dear Basketball. He penned you one last love letter, signed, sealed and delivered to his season swansong. This is how much you mean to him. He gave you his all. Body and soul. That's true love and if you can't see it, you can read it in this players tribute in The Players Tribune. From tube socks to game winning shots. Little Italy to the Great Western Forum. Jellybeans to red grapes of vino wine. He fell in love with you and we fell in love with him. Sole to soul. Hustle to heart. Pounding. Grinding. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...gone. Goodbye. Love always. And Dear Kobe. I wrote letters to you too. No Stan, just a fan. I told you after the first injury that crippled your career that we all knew you'd come back. I told the world that would listen that I wouldn't bet against you. I wrote stories and tributes to you. So much so I created a series. The only one to feature more than number 24, was one less in 23 for 'The Jordan Series'. More than a hash-tag trend it was my dedication to the end. As a matter of fact, as humble as it is. As small as it is. No matter how far it all goes or how big this all gets. The first article I ever had published for SLAM was about you. I was barely 25 and I called it 'Thirtysomething' and now as one myself with a half decades of experience and more articles for more outlets and plenty more dedications wrote later I owe my career to you. Your gift. Your inspiration. Your muse. It's simple as that, but how do I find the right words to thank you? The influence to what you've done to my life is ingrained like your palm on the seams of the basketball. And for that to this day all I can say is thank you once again. And once again, to this day, your last one in this game may be coming, but not yet. It's far from over. There's still so much more to come. Still so many games to play. Still so many articles to write. Still so much more. Still.
I Still Believe In Kobe Bryant...
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Looking up to the glow that is his father, junior can't help but be in awe as his eyes attempt to scale the height of the television he see's before him. The V.H.S. is rewound to an NBA Classic and Larry Nance senior is taking the human highlight film of Dominique Wilkins, the good doctor of Julius Erving and the first ever NBA Slam Dunk contest by windmill storm. So much so whether you're someone as big as Michael Jordan or even Kobe Bryant you can't help but take inspiration from the first NBA player in history to win this now storied and epic contest back in 1984. Especially if you're Larry Nance Jr, the former NBA players son watching on tape delay as a young boy at a contest more than a decade and change in the making before he was born, becoming the new proudest thing Larry Nance had done. Rising like the Phoenix he was, Nance reduced the competition of the likes of Showtime Laker Michael Cooper, Portland Trail Blazer, Clyde 'The Glyde' Drexler, Dr. J and Nique to ashes even when he was still in his warm ups (we see your inspiration Kobe). No sweat, his combo of one, armed, outstretched windmills and tomahawks flying had the whole basketball world in a spin, years before the wheel turned and a lack of originality ruined the most creative of contests when it came to the freewheeling All-Star weekend. 'The High-Ayatolla of Slamola' deserved every 50, before the voice of the 'Got Talent' like panel came in to former champion, years after play. Before all that he was American's above the rim idol. Bar the free and high sock stance of the fun and entertaining ABA contest, the three time All-Star and Cavalier, whose 16 and 8 career average was great enough to have his number 22 raised higher than his hops to the Cleveland rafters, made his weekend in 1984 his living, lasting legacy of legend. One that still continues to this day. In more ways than one...or being the first and foremost.
The legendary and legacy line of father and son, family ties in this league is as storied as the NBA or the Walton's (Bill and Luke to be family tree traceable) themselves. We all know about the Barry's, the Dell and Steph Curry's (not to mention brother Seth and the rest of the ball playing family that like most court holding families extends to the womens league and probably one day, postgame superstar Riley Curry). His teammate Klay Thompson and his dad Mychael of the Lakers and the fact that Los Angeles Clippers head Doc Rivers coaches his son Austin like this chapter was written in the stars by the basketball gods themselves. But there's much more than meets the fathers eyes when it comes to father time. I mean did you even forget about Kobe's pops, Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant? Or speaking of that, George Karl's son Coby who also had some underrated time with the Lakers that should have birthed more? There's the Bibby's...Henry and Mike. Horace Grant's brother Harvey and his sons Jerami and Jerian Grant. Norm and Brian Cook. Tito Horford and Al Horford, Ed Manning and Danny Manning. And even the first Basketball superstar George Mikan and his son Larry. Or more recently John and David Stockton. And that isn't even the half of it. We haven't even got to the players named after players. Ron and Ronnie Brewer who where both Bulls in Chicago. Larry Drew and Larry Drew II. Rich and Richard Dumas. Or how about even the slight change of LeRoy Ellis and LeRon Ellis? Mike Dunleavy Sr and junior. Walter Szczerbiak and Wally Szczerbiak and Glenn Robinson Jr and Glenn Robinson the third. And more big guns today. Patrick Ewing and Patrick Ewing Jr. Glen Rice and his Junior. Tim Hardaway. And of course the legend of Larry.
Nance Jr rocking the Lakers number 7 like the great Lamar Odom is a swingman like no other, who I guarantee you'll see this mid-February in Toronto for the All-Star weekend, one way or another the city needs his heat. Sure this late first rounder could be a steal like the similarly slept on sophomore Jordan Clarkson and he could join the Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell, young, hopeful future of the Lake Show in the rookie/sophomore duel. His energy, hustle and what he brings to the game on both sides of the floor, like rebounding, not to mention his genes can afford and assimilate that. He's already the off the pine, microwave time, hustle and lay-up line flow, spark plug the Lakers have sorely missed since guys like Von Wafer, Shannon Brown, Devin Ebanks and Trevor Ariza. And thats just the tip of a very cold iceberg. But aside from that this kid has to be a dead cert for the Slam Dunk contest and not just because of his pops, who is now wearing a Laker cap in support like he never thought he would after all that 80's blow-out Showtime, Sun heartache. But because of that preseason dunk against the champion Golden State Warriors that caught the cool and crisp Hawaii air and so much more so that it may even be the dunk of the year...and it wasn't even officially recorded this season. The elevation, the pause for breath in the middle of air, the hammer, the nail in the games coffin and then the Jordan-esque shrug. I don't know that could be it. But then again did you catch the one he caught against the Pistons going full throttle to the hole with aggression, but the air-time, cruise control he displayed as he butterfly floated to the net before he stung like an Ali bee. It almost looked angelic in those Sunday Whites. Or how about everything else to come? Just like his alley-oop, lay-up against Orlando, it's all magic. Now you know he can enter the ring and knock everyone else out, round for round in the ultimate bell-ringing contest with the tricks of his, 'now you see me, now you're a poster trade'. Like Larry Jr said, "it'd be fun". Like Larry Senior says of his boy; "he's playing hard", adding that his son at the young age of 22 already understands the game better than he did. Now Nance wants to take it one step further with his family legacy and have little Larry continue his dunking legend in the Slam contest, if not this year but one day. He'll be watching with pride, like son, like father, but this time from courtside whilst everyone else will be watching on T.V. Like father, like dunk! “He was going to put me in a wheelchair, roll me out under the basket and slam dunk on top of me,” senior told Lakers.com about junior. Father time is about to get a real facial.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Loading...please wait. D...How does it feel? Your time is now! Step up the plate, this is your big moment young man. The bases are loaded. The whole crowd, city and California state is watching. All eyes are on you...no pressure. No trick...you own this like Magic. No curve-ball. The City of Angels savior in this Angelino called 'Angelo. The Black Messiah. The Los Angeles times and Clipper clippings voodoo is over now with your youthful spirit. The Back to the Future return (Part II) like your 'Brown Sugar' singer namesake. It's just that legendary. As yet untitled...ready to make your bright lights name in this big city of futuristic skyline neon above the beams of STAPLES. As the Vanguard, about to lead the militarily formation of the new young sportsmen foot-soldiers into battle. It's your time to seek out the enemy, secure new ground and advance the main force. You're the new definition. You're even supposed to replace one of the greatest. That's what makes you this years worthy number 2. But you want to prove yourself to be the sole digit on your new jersey...front and back. Number one with the ball and the crowd cheering your name. Your opponent looking at you opposite...eyes of piercing opposition. Your feet firmly on the plate. You draw your arm back and here's the pitch...but you 'aint Clayton Kershaw and you're no Dodger. Even if the number 32 you're supposed to follow in the sneaker steps of owns this moment. You are Los Angeles though and the future is coming towards you like a fastball. That's why you have the honor of this traditional moment in baseball lore for your sister sport and franchise. Everyone's done it...from 50 Cent to Barack Obama...and unlike most that embarrass you certainly have quite an arm. You know how to throw kid! But your real moment will come when the ball is tipped, not tossed and hopefully falls towards you as you take it and lead a whole new way to pass it over. For you D'Angelo Russell are a Los Angeles Laker and your time is now.
How does it feel? Karma?! It's been a long time...but alas what goes around, comes right back around. If you're a Los Angeles Laker fan you can't stop going on about it...if you're a rest of the hoops world hater that even begins in the same STAPLE building arena of the Clippers you can't hear the end of it. That infamous Chris Paul nixing in 2011. When the Lakers wanted to continue their championship run and traded two of their most versatile and worthwhile contention pieces (Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom) to keep up the race lead by way of one of the greatest Point Guard leaders in the game from the then Hornets nest of New Orleans. Alongside Kobe Bryant it was going to lead to the best backcourt in NBA history in it's prime. But then the Commissioner put a Stern end to all of that. And all that snowballed after that was the fall of the second new millennium Laker dynasty under the California sun. This fallout was almost as bad as the death of the Shaq and Kobe dynasty. Hurt feelings led to the skilled seven foot frontcourt tandem of Odom and Gasol eventually leaving alongside championship, veteran chess pieces like Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace (until now...unless he gets cut), under the cloud of rumors of being trade bait, dangled from the Laker boat in the middle of an ocean of doubt. Then the Lakers legendary legacy of big-men, from Mikan and Wilt, to Kareem and Shaq crumbled under the front-line foundations of Andrew Bynum and then Dwight Howard. The Lakers thought they finally got their first legitimate superstar Point Guard since Magic revenge over the CP3 nixing when they signed legend Steve Nash, but they didn't realize the fickle fate that had turned their hand on them had the nerve to damage the best Canadian basketball player of all-times body with career crippling injuries that put Captain Canada on ice like the Winter Soldier. And let's not start on what the basketball God's had in store for one of the LAL and NBA's greatest Kobe Bryant. Before iconic, late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss passed he said he needed to take a wrecking ball to this team. But after him and the dream of Jeanie who was going to rebuild from the nightmare damage of all this rubble?
Well karma has a name and with the second pick in the NBA draft his name is D'Angelo Russell. Let new Commissioner Adam tell you who the purple and gold Los Angeles Lakers have selected with their clouds silver lining as he holds on to his hand longer than all he and his new team have been through to get here. At this point, no wonder the shaking grip is kept. It's almost like it was all meant to be. All the hurt all the cursed injury and in-just pain. All this domino effect in this game that even led to the losing and then lottery winning of Julius Randle in last years big draft season of change, that then in turn buckled and snapped under the broken leg pressure of the young stars first ever NBA game. Still it all feels like it happened for a karmic reason that is all beginning right now. This sophomore, last year number seven pick in technically his rookie season is playing with avengance...and Julius Randle looks ready to be an All-Star, no slump. In addition the latest lottery pick brought in thanks to the tanked season Randle's blown out and busted campaign is about to form one hell of a backcourt for the ages of the future with last years sleeper rookie Jordan Clarkson. Who stepped in for the barricaded youthful revolt of young Julius and showed he was more than just a passed over number 48 rookie and spare change, second Laker choice. As in just half a season of impressive and proved play he made the All-Rookie team and who knows what else if he was given a full season of burn. Forget what could have been with Kobe and CP3, this backcourt is now...and for decades and many more years to come. And the new Jordan and Julius of this storied NBA league joins the new Russell in Laker irony for a big-three that's set to turn this Steph Curry, California coast, Golden State Warriors small-ball league revolution on the big-man head of Laker history and legacy. Stretching the hometown Clipper rivalry across the Golden Gate of the states Pacific. With a new sea change of talent bridging the gap this is the new legend...and he's shaking Silver's hand.
The Lake Show have knocked it out the park now. No longer playoff dodgers struck out. This is the the new Showtime. This is the new Magic. Kobe knows the show must go on...but before he goes he's going to have fun and contention with these new fellas too. It 'aint over. That's why there's more in the dugout. The big-three free agent signings of defensive big-man Roy Hibbert, post powerhouse Brandon Bass and reigning Sixth Man Of The Year Lou Williams. Joining spark-plug Nick Young and new x-factor signings in the form of Brazilian Point God Marcelo Huertas with Gasol Barcelona skill and the spirits of Laker past in the form of the Ron Artest that became the war on the soft NBA, Metta World Peace. It's almost enough to forget all these Lakers have lost or never even found from LaMarcus Aldridge, to DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Greg Monroe and even the big-man future of Jahil Okafor they had in their hands, because three-heads are better than one and this is the new generation. They got next. No foul balls. Strike one, Julius Randle. Strike two, Jordan Clarkson. And strike three, D'Angelo Russell. This young man with the gold Lakers cap that fits, not clashing with his Ohio State homage, draft day red suit that's the cherry on top for quite the young career of this young Buck. Now more than just Buckeyes are focused on the new headlines of the Los Angeles Times. As red meets purple it's D'Angelo Dante Russell's inferno now. The Jordan Brand Classic alongside Jordan Clarkson, both partners in backcourt prime able to tween on the pine between the two Shooting Guard and Point Guard quarterbacking positions. But it looks like the athletic Russell whose been compared to everyone from Westbrook to James Harden, but still seems unfairly underrated is the leading man whose going to Pied Piper the way for Hollywood's newest and biggest reboot. Off the dribble this number one with the number two picks time is now. The former Jerry West award winner is ready to be the logo of the L.A. Lakers in a franchise just as known for its little men (Jerry, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic, Kobe...among Big Game Worthy others) as its big players and who knows maybe along the way the new icon of the NBA. Step from the shadows of the silhouette young man and get ready to swing big. Here comes the ball.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Jordan. That in the air tonight would be the only thing that would breathe the same inspiring life into the legacy of the legend of the Los Angeles Lakers once the closest player to ever play the game like Mike, Kobe Bryant leaves the locker room for the last time. Only a heaven sent second coming of a basketball God in the form of the number 23 would ease the pain of number 24 being raised to the rafters almost like a career funeral that you may as well go call for the trumpets. So how about J.C.? Or this Jordan? No we're not talking about Hill, he's gone over the Hickory fence to the Hoosier, Pacer state of Indiana. We're talking about Jordan Clarkson. We'll deceive you know more. Sure, sure Jordan is not like Jordan. He's not the Messiah! No basketball Jesus! Resurrection maybe? BUT he is the guy that's going to make it easier for the Lakers Buss brass to give up the gold of possibly the greatest Laker alongside Wilt, West, Magic, Kareem and of course Shaq ever to tape up in purple and hand the treasure chest keys to bring them back circling round a ring on their championship matrimony finger. Hang on...maybe make that three. A big one too with a pair of top ten draft picks over the last two years forming one hell of a Holy Trinity. There's this years number 2 rookie D'Angelo Russell out of Ohio State and the soaring sophomore sensation out of the University of Kentucky, Wildcat Julius Randle...who technically speaking is still kind of a rookie.
Opening night. It doesn't get much better than this. Especially in Hollywood, where even the movie stars are downtown like Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and the greatest rappers of the old school to witness one of the biggest nights on the entertainment calendar when it comes to the schedule of sports. Basketball is beautiful and any player lucky enough to receive a cap during the shade of summer looks forward to the fall like Christmas coming early. You can feel it right now with Clarkson's, Eddie Jones great jersey number that at the time of this press is the digit of days before the new season that will see him starting commences. But last year it was a different Los Angeles Times story. Clarkson was at the end of the bench in a suit, no sweats like no Jordan should ever be as all Californian lovin' eyes where on top ten pick Julius like he was the appointed Doctor Erving. Waiting room or not, Randle was the next in line, but he was late with his date with destiny. The pressure of a debut can get to you. It can even break you. And for this young 19 year old kid it all came to a head as he snapped...or should we say his leg did. Breaking not only his right tibia but all that was left of his 82 game season after not even 15 minutes of fame. The Lakers couldn't believe their lack of luck. The dreams of Jeanie would be the rude awakenings of a nightmare that was only just beginning with the season debut return of Kobe Bryant after a season crippling injury. A few games later, Kobe would join the bedside of Randle in the same manner, marking a big, red X on all the days of the rest of his calendar after he suffered a campaign ending injury again that many thought would crucify his career. After all the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard drama...and then losing a fond and formidable friend in Pau Gasol, the Lakers new young and old one-two punch was knocked out before they even got their chance to duke it out in the ring for the belt. After some Stern nixing and even a wiped smile off Dwight Howard's face, not to mention the retirement ravaging ailments of Steve Nash's athleticism many began to feel like the Lakers where cruelly cursed. Still, those who are desperate can always scrape a buck together for a ticket that wins the lottery. Dice roll or not. It may have all been snake eyes for Mamba's men the last down and out year. But that was then...and this is now.
Randle is back, preseason playing already like the Rookie Of The Year with a sophomore status. And he and one of the games greatest Kobe Bryant is (touch hardwood) not stuck to the end of the pine, tied to it in a suit of injury. They have the chance to run with a revamped roster of redux redemption. From the defensive return of Metta World Peace, protecting this house in battle and the changing of the guard that hopefully comes with fellow former top Indiana Pacer defender and paint protector Roy Hibbert. And we haven't even begun to talk about the signings of valuable veterans like almost star Brandon Bass and Euroleague one, Brazilian Marcelo Huertas from Barcelona for a team that even has two Sixth Men in the form of last years man of the year Lou Williams and of course the swag of 'Fancy' Nick Young. Finally, of course there's the new kid on the block, number one D'Angelo Russell coming in at the number two spot and the late round, fellow draft pick of Larry Nance's dunking son. Because if the Lakers recent lottery wind of change has anything to show and prove this season, Junior will be another sleeper steal. Because we're almost forgetting someone...someone who was passed up almost 50 times before his name was called with the 48th pick. Someone who already last year wrote all those 47 others off and then some more on his way to showing he could one day be top 50 in the league today. Someone who even with Randle's injury and all the other sick notes that where posted in the post players home marked STAPLES was even left by the Lakers on the end of the bench, looking good only in fancy attire. Only suiting up for real in purple and gold when it came to the D-Fender Development League. But this student was far from a guy on some D game. Even if it did take half a season for the limping Lakers to finally straighten up and walk with him, in 38 starts and less than a full season, Jordan managed to rise up the rookie rankings and rule this team that was missing almost everybody else. Carrying all this weight on his skinny shoulders and making more than one first team as this All-Rookie could have gone for R.O.Y of the season if he was given the Autumn and Winter as well as the Spring and almost Summer. This Rookie Of The Month and member of the Rook first team being only one of four second round picks to achieve this high honor in the last 30 years of NBA almanac history books. Now Laker nation stands up on Jordan's shoulders, nobodies going to sit him down now.
Half a season. Half a year. That's all the Lakers and the NBA needed to see that this kid was and is the real deal. Half a season to show-albeit to be fair due to a season ending injury-that Jordan could be just as good...if not better than Julius. Only half a season? Not a full campaign? This guys technically a rookie too like Randle and new boy Russell. That would be true if J.C. didn't truly turn it up and tune everyone else up as this J. Clarkson went top gear and ignited Los Angeles with Fast and Furious nitrus to the dry-erase song sheet of 15.8 points, 5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per everytime he started one of his 38 games. And how about a career high 30 points and 7 assists against last years dynamo dominant Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder of all teams as Clarkson showed this was no, fluke or luck of the Laker. He made history that night...not just for his new year and career personal best, but for the Filipino-American from Tampa Bay Florida forming the first Asian-American starting backcourt in league history alongside poster boy, superstar Jeremy Lin. It truly was a world encompassing moment of basketball beauty highlighted by the high hitting stat sheet on the box score. The Linsanity that started in a New York minute may be over in Hollywood, but Clarkson's backcourt power partnerships by the couple aren't. Whether in the form of former Mizzou college running and dunking mate Jabari Brown. Or this years rookie Point Guard number one D'Angelo Russell who may not be able to tween between both guard positions as well as Clarkson, but is good enough to move last years Laker leader to the two. Who is in turn himself, even great enough to move the grand, albeit ageing Kobe Bryant to the three of an old school, father, old man time Small Forward position. In this Warrior king, Steph Curry champion, MVP, three-point, small ball revolution that is the new NBA, the Lakers new big-three are headlined by a small backcourt that may not be Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier of the New York Knicks yet, but are the next generation of the Lakers and the NBA. Passed the torch and about to succeed from not even a full season of proof, in comparison to the half season of former Laker Gary Payton in the same backcourt as Milwaukee Buck Sam Cassell that couldn't afford to do the same. They have just that much potential. These kids are just too good. Don't believe me, just watch them warm up in the practice of preseason. Leaving critics cold, just wait until they boil over..these guys are that hot! And they're backed up by elite experience in the Sixth Sense form of the spirited Lou-Will and Young P. And to think rumor has it that the Lakers will trade both those guya (probably Iggy Azalea too) and Clarkson for Chicago Bull, former MVP Derrick Rose and all his injuries and problems. Yeah right! Bull####! Tell that to any Laker fan right now and they'll go against what they would have prayed for a couple of seasons ago for a "HELL NO"! Even a Kobe and Rose backcourt is not worth all this. And yes D-Rose may have been the Chi-town legend that made the Chicago Bulls finally get over Jordan but like Mike, Clarkson is meant for so much more. This point is going to make his own one and his own brand and lasting name. Let Jordan rule!
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Iconic like the storied purple and gold jersey his name headlines on the back, the Artest formerly know as Ron has the word Lakers proudly ink printed across the front of his chest again. Straight Outta Queensbridge, the New York native is running with Vino, Kobe Bryant again, like we only wish he was with his friend and fellow Q.B. born and raised former teammate Lamar Odom (Get well soon superstar). The former number 15 and 16th Draft Pick, that brought that same championships number to the STAPLES ceiling is back with the Michael Jackson honoring number 37 jersey again and boy its a thriller. Just like storied Sixer superstar World B. Free this once throwback, now just "back" jersey is worth more than your closet. James it is worthy of the frame above right next to your ceiling just like the STAPLES of a banner made Los Angeles rafter. The name 'World Peace' on the back of such a historic, classic and legendary Laker jersey of modern times is an inspirational statement in itself for the youth of today to rock with fashion forward purpose. The one made by the one wearing it with pride is worth so much more. World Peace is back in a league that's gone soft and with Metta in town, the city of angels most famous team in Hollywood matter again. A Laker legend returns to help Kobe hand it down to a new legacy. Metta World Peace is back and it's time for war!
Arming up in the workout facility, Metta in muscling up with a young foot-soldier ready to lead this Californian cavalry into battle. Arms and elbows are flying as two purple hearts battle over a rock like two suitors looking to engage with some beauty. This in this instance being the basket of this beautiful game. Woven in perfect nylon like those in memories cut down in the madness of the ides of March. This young kids been through the trenches and wars. He's seen all that. Now he see's the goal. The one thing standing between him and basketball immortality. If he makes it, again and again he'll go down in history as one of the games greatest warriors. Even if he is on the wrong side of the Golden State of California like he is getting on the wrong side of Draymond Green. There is another thing standing between future franchise face of the Lake Show Julius Randle and his hoop dream of basketball immorality and that is what some still underrate and think of as just another mere mortal. But this actual former 'Defensive Player Of The Year' is a worldwide basketball God...have they not checked his name? Here is a man, Metta made of real mettle who has built his legend off stopping others from making their's by making their way to the basket that hold all the fruits of the life and times of a legend with just the drop of a peach. That kind of makes him sound like the bad guy right? Public Enemy Number One? From the Malice of Auburn Hills that showed Detroit a depression of humanity to the side of James Harden's face that even left the beard in fear. But don't worry world, Ron Artest is a peaceful man now. Until he takes on the "soft" NBA he's labelled with his Charles Oakley in a Glen Davis time tough sell. Full of babies...he cries. All except Randle, who handles this game like a man whose "ceiling is as high as his destiny". How can you not love this man with quotes like that. Or like another dominating, definitive defensive player out of the fences of Indiana, Roy Hibbert calling him an "animal". It must be, in part thanks to original beast, Peace and the Artest before him, turning Randle into the next monster of the walking and fast-breaking basketball museum.
How is this guy not going to get the last spot on the Lakers 15 man roster? How is it not guaranteed? Well it might have something to do with Jordan Clarkson's former college running mate and a predatory player in his own right, Jabari Brown who knows how to run the floor and finish strong. Still this is Metta World Peace we're talking about. You've seen the Wheaties box. Here's the guy that took the shot even Phil Jackson told him not to take after his greatest miss. "Whatever"! WAP! This is the champion that met Obama and probably had a shoot around in the Presidents back yard. Playing H.O.R.S.E. with POTUS! Here's a guy whose been around longer than you could remember for teams that how could you even forget. From being the first legitimate Bull in Chicago with horns since Jordan, to a prolific Pacer, Hoosier proud or Hickory sticked. A Rocket in Houston that gave Kobe problems before they became the best of F.F's. A King in Sacramento. Even a homecoming New Yorker with the Knicks, this journeyman has made a mark everywhere...even when his passport has been stamped. This international man of mystery who has played in Europe and Asia. Ending up in Italy after almost playing for Chester of the North West of the United Kingdom of all places during the NBA lockout of all times. Still through all the teams and towns of the world Metta has said peace to he'll always be a Laker...even more than a Pacer in his great defense (it's your turn now Roy...show us what you've still got!). Just like this Panda will always be a friend of China's Blue Whales. Metta's just that all world. But we all know peace doesn't happen with at least a little fight. That's why even though M.W.P. will always have a place in the coaching staff of the Lakers along with legends James Worthy, A.C. Green and Tracy Murray, bringing their all-round offensive education to the new Russell and Jordan school of Laker greats, (like he did at the start of this Summer), going hard like an MVP he wants his spot. That's why this mid-thirties icon is diving into the crowds during a preseason game like his contract was a cast dried ink guarantee. Perhaps it will be? We're not pandering to nobody! He's still got it. A former big-time All-Star turned valuable veteran who can still bench press with the best off the pine in California (think Paul Pierce). You can't just "waive" goodbye to a guy like this. Especially with his own late career, Derek Fisher like return to a team that held the golden era of his career in a bottle of championship champagne. He should be released from his latest campaign the moment the curtain falls on the reveal of his 37 jersey next to the numbers of 32, 33 and 34. Oh yes...he's that good...and championship critical. Like Magic, Kareem and Shaq his name means that much more. That's Metta. That's goodwill. That is all-embracing. That is universal. That is the world. And that is the moment you should say "peace"!
Monday, October 19, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"If You F*** This Up, You’re A Really Big Idiot"-Kobe Bryant To Julius Randle (2014)
I guess he really is a big idiot! You can't f*** up your NBA debut worse than that. Just ask Greg Oden about it. Breaking your leg coming down on a play and ending your season before it even got out the gates of the first game. That's certainly a come down from being Silver named the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA draft for the Laker gold. Where's the lining to this cloud? 14 Minutes into your STAPLE Centre rookie game. And I thought my jokes are bad. That's cold. Even to a guy like me. The Kentucky star was fried, barely out of the frying pan and straight into the fire. Leaving the Big Nation a different kind of blue. Miles away from Rupp. An NBA journeyman of a road trip distance from being the next U.K cat after John Wall, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to run wild in the West. Was the latest boom lowered on Lakerland following the nixing and clipping of Chris Paul, the departures of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and those of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash before they even really got their sneaks sweat, not to mention all of Kobe Bryant's injuries a bust to the already purple and black eye of these Los Angeles Hollywood Nights? Were the new University Of Kentucky school of first pick Karl-Anthony Townes and the other seven draft day declared players from the alumnus almost perfect, record breaking season about to takeover? A sophomore slump with not really a leg to stand on in that regard in what really will be this kids rookie season a game deferred. It's a crazy way for a teenager to become a 20 year old man in this game. Was Julius Randle done before he even begun?
Ha! You serious? You're kidding right? You better check a newspaper or something. Word to the tabloid headlines of Robert Horry. And this ones real too. You can't handle Randle. You can't handle the truth. Tom Cruise voice. Jack Nicholson sitting courtside understands. Loud and no shades clear to see. Because Randle is the truth. Even Warrior king and Golden State glistening champion Draymond Green can't guard him. At least according to Randle's handle. We guess that's why he was only the runner up to both the Defensive Player Of The Year and Most Improved Player award titles last season. Alas we're joking. We told you they where bad. We're not Dahantay Jonsin' Dray. But right now nobody can knock or take shots at J.R. The legs healed (we hope like Kobe too) and barring a SLAM curse...or one here (we called him the 'Top Cat' last year, but how can you not write about this young man?) he's ready to help run the new big-three of a soon to be number 24 less Lakers. Right alongside the surprise, sleeper rookie of last year that in the final half of his season took over Randle's mantle and ended up creeping onto the All-Rookie First Team and the number 2 pick of this years draft that Jordan Clarkson shares his brilliant to be backcourt with the loading of D'Angelo Russell. Clarkson is about to show that a new Jordan rules next to the 'Black Messiah' of D'Angelo like the 'Voodoo' of the 'Brown Sugar' singer. And like that iconic players return to stardom at the end of last year, the end of this one will see the Lakers making their classic comeback. How does it feel? They won't be untitled for long. It may take a while but look what the Lakers and their new man in the middle of all this have done in just a few preseason games, or even the hot as hell future fry-up in the sweats of the Summer League. The Lakers blew out a team from Israel by almost 50 and even beat the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a a Cali' coast clash in San Diego, a city that hasn't seen the NBA since the Clippers where there (and may see them again if the Lakers can win this battle of Los Angeles once again and rage against the Lob City Clipper machine trying to claim the STAPLE as their one, true home (remember L.A.C. the Lakers hang banners, you hang selfies. Even Taylor Swift has one more up there then you next to your blank space...but then again it is Taylor Swift)), thanks to water from the ice hockey floor and a game called early. Even when the Lakers lost (a lot) Randle was still Charlie Sheening his polished game and all round repertoire from the cold of Canada to the heat of Hawaii. Aloha!
"He's Lamar Odom in a Zach Randolph body”-Kobe Bryant On Julius Randle (2015)
Hello! Even the Laker legend and the greatest competitor of all-time knows it and is ready to relinquish his crown to the future of the franchise and the other fresh faces that will one day adorn the pillars of Hotel Figueroa across from the STAPLES Center. This new forum of Nokia Live, bright lights talent looks ready to go in the big city, Showtime showcased skills already set. Names that look storied ready for NBA stone, championship engraved chapter and MVP worthy verse. Russell, Jordan and of course the good Julius. Just like the doctor J is just what the Lakers ordered, now trainer Gary Vitti has managed to get him off the table and back into the game. Just a few exhibitions is all you need. Getting through the first, real game is all the Lakers want. The legend of Laker legacy as one of the most storied franchises in NBA history is a notoriously B.I.G. one. One of seven footers that are the center of attention. Joining the small-ball revolution with guys like Russell would be unheard of in the past. Yeah sure that surname was big, but it was a big, 7 foot, shot blocking problem on the wrong side of the glory days of THE storied NBA franchise and the Lakers historic, classic rival the Boston Celtics. The Bill Russell led team that had all the luck, shamrock, champagne and victory balloons...even the purple and gold ones falling to an empty Forum floor. Chamberlain knew this, a Hollywood sign icon with a house up there, next to the logo of the NBA's Jerry West. Yet still he never wilted. Following in the MPLS, Minneapolis Laker sneaker steps of the first basketball superstar, Laker or NBA; George Mikan. Before giving way to another one of his competitors as the goggles of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became Captain Los Angeles before he paved the painted way for the court to be dynasty destroyed under the sneaker smashes of the Incredible Hulking Shaquille O'Neal. Since those Jim Murray to Chick Hearn read and talk all about it days of thunder the shine of the Lake Show has joined those two in beautiful memory. Not working out as planned from the big drafts of Andrew Bynum or signings of Dwight Howard who although impressive enough, sadly didn't have the time to join the legendary line of Goliath, giant God's in this big picture town like Vlade Divac. But sometimes it's about a different type of big man skill. not all jut about the core. Just check the championship, sidekick and Sixth Man contributions of Laker legends like Pau Gasol (just look what this Spanish Bull is doing now) and Lamar Odom (Get well soon L.O. we love you! Your jersey always has and always will hang in this writers room...proudly). And of course the "little men" of West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant who are anything but small-ball in their huge part of Laker lore. As Kobe puts it Randle is Lamar Odom (praise Mamba gave a week before we even knew about the recent tragic events of Odom. And remember, no player could play like he played! No one has overcome as much as he! Have faith!) in Zach Randolph's (a player they've courted in the past like Pau from Memphis to join their floor) body. That's a hell of a compliment...especially from a guy like Kobe (but then again you saw Julius' behind the back, crosscourt pass to Bean right? Or the Russell to Randle pick and dunking roll that's the new, next gen Stockton and Malone).
But it's a Worthy one. Just like comparing him to the Big Game of another tall, but not huge in literal stature Laker legend in James Worthy. Or his 80's teammate A.C Green who returned for Shaq and Kobe's new millennium championship run that begun in his last season of 2001. Coincidentally both those purple and gold icons and favorites have been hired by the Lakers coaching staff as training for the new blood of purple players looking for gold, with a lot of focus on the kid from Kentucky. Alongside another former Laker and underrated NBA great that wears the number 30 Tracy Murray. The player from UCLA who from the golden era 90's to the new generation 00's knew how to put the ball through the hoop from all angles and degrees of difficulty. But yet despite having a top 50 game was never named to an All-Star team. Balling up though, this Los Angeles county favorite will help this new number 30 stitch his name too in a mid-February jersey one day. With A.C.'s cool as conditioned air play and James game worthwhile of the big stage tutoring this new student of the hardwood, it won't be long before he's smooth as Jaamal 'Silk' Wilkes, stepping it up to clutches of playoff playing and more. And I'm sure Randle has racked up some inspiration from Lamar Odom. An all round, coast to coast, butter to toast great who we're sure when he recovers (which we believe will happen and believes us is the most important thing) will be welcomed back to this franchise family with open arms like fellow Queensbridge native Metta World Peace. Who going to war with the NBA claims the whole league is soft...except for young and hard as a rock with the rock Julius. That's another hell of a compliment from the bruiser formerly known as Ron Artest, one of the greatest guards of the game who this Summer before his shock, return re-signing was muscling up his defensive skill, mentoring and training the young Randle. Just like he will be doing throughout the rest of this season that will at some points see this soaring sophomore hitting a rookie wall like a little red, Kobe corvette into Shaq harder than he did in the first game of the last season. As World Peace wages it "(Randle's) ceiling is high as his destiny". Or let fellow Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo, Georgetown big-man Roy Hibbert whose returning to his own defensive days of dominance beam with pride and praise in sharing his new formidable frontcourt with Julius tell it; "Julius is an animal. He’s the future of this team. He’s the future face of the NBA." You read that? "Animal"! "Future"...not just of the Lakers, but the NBA. From Wilt and West, to Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Kobe all the legendary Laker dynamic duos of dominance are about to be joined by a big-three in this three-ball age...but they're all about to be lead by the one. Until the back of D'Angelo Russell's jersey tells you differently, it will all be about number 30 before the ESPN documentary confirms it. Or truth be told you could just let number 24 have the last word like he always does before he finally passes the rock, aflame like a torch to a man who can score, steal, block, bound, post, push dribble and pass it...
"He Can Do Everything".
Friday, October 16, 2015
Holmes Court Advantage.
Magnified words from the legendary Arthur Conan Doyle of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are read by a young man enthralled with the mysteries and stories to be solved from the famous Baker Street boy and his Mr. Watson doctor assistant. Yet these legendary tales aren't magnified by glass...but a pair of goggles.
A pair of iconic goggles that would take to the 80's Forum floor for the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, as legendary NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sky-hooked his way to recording the all-time most points in his sports league history. This iconic number 33 would use the Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction that he read before games as inspiration in sussing out his opponents during contests. The way Detroit Piston Bill Laimbeer's knee is knocking and locking one night and his history of injuries in that area point to a weakness down low. The way the infamous Boston Garden parquet floor splinters in that particular position means Celtic Kevin McHale will go right. And if Cap himself just gets into that position under the baseline, extends his arm to an almost perfect right angles and pitches the ball like a putt it should glide into the basket like that, every time, without fail.
Now in retirement Kareem is using those great powers of vision to deduct something even greater. His biggest challenge yet. We all know this thoughtful and wise man can write, just like he can act in things from 'Airplane' to the 'Game Of Death' fighting martial arts legend Bruce Lee. The 'Time' columnist is the best of the best when it comes to pros who have now turned their hoop hand to prose. Following his self-titled, acclaimed autobiography, 'Kareem' had wrote many a New York Times bestselling, published classic. From 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants' to writing children's story's based around the game with the life metaphors and lessons that run through it from teamwork to individuality.
But now Kareem is entering a whole new arena all together with his salute to Sherlock...or should we say his military brother 'Mycroft Holmes'. Abdul-Jabbar's new novel is a spin-off success like the Robert Downey Jnr films and the Benedict Cumberbatch T.V. shows. Keeping the detective alive like the spy of Ian Fleming's 007 Bond in this British intelligence age of 'Spectre'. Far from glorified fan-fiction from a celebrity this is an original alternative like Mitch Cullen's older 'Mr. Holmes' work which was turned into a movie with Sir Ian McKellen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud. This original story that sees Holmes heading to Trinidad to investigate a haunting horror on the shores of its beaches is a deep story of investigation and influence that not only understands the Holmes family, but the military grade character of the elder Mycroft too. Sherlock makes some highlighted appearances to for all the hat and pipe fans but this inspired book is something fresh and new altogether. With all that's on the bookshelf of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's library this may just be his best work yet. Not only does he craft a sensational story, the American's command of the old English style, language and Holmes narrative is perfection. This old school Lakers player leaves Hollywood for Baker Street and the elementary result is one that is dear. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Tuff Gets Going.
Shots have been fired across the headlines this week as former Washington Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas has hit out at Caron Butler for his account of the Agent Zero's infamous locker-room gun-incident with former NBA player Javaris Crittenton (who is now serving 23 years in prison for a separate, manslaughter crime. Such a waste of such raw talent) over an unresolved gambling debt in his new already, Pat Riley to Mark Wahlberg acclaimed 'Tuff Juice' autobiography. Just for both sides of the argument, Butler states that after some gun talk threats from either sides, Gilbert laid out four guns and asked Javaris to pick one to be shot with. Arenas says he laid those guns out for Crittenton to choose which one Gilbert would be shot with. The whole situation was a mess!
Either way we are seriously digressing. That's not the issue here. The issue here is this annual. This amazing autobiography from Mr. Tuff Juice himself, Caron Butler is what we really need to focus on and how he turned away from the life of the streets to ball...something his teammates shouldn't have reversed once they made it too. Caron Butler's autobiography is inspired and the perfect influence for any young players looking to get into the game of basketball...not "the game", which in reality is anything but one. This is more. More than being a star under Coach Calhoun for UConn. More than the potential of being a top ten drafted star for the Miami Heat. Or more than being trade worthy for the Lakers Shaquille O'Neal with big-man Brian Grant and fellow underrated modern swingman Lamar Odom (thoughts and prayers...get well L.O.). More than what could have been in Hollywood. More than that was in Los Angeles as a Clipper. More than the ring as a Maverick in Dallas. More than the homecoming in Milwaukee as a Buck. More than the forecast for Thunder in Oklahoma City. More than this valuable veteran becoming a Piston in Detroit's Motor City machine. More than what could be as a Californian King on the throne in Sacramento. Even more than a powerful foreword from former teammate Kobe Bryant...now that's one hell of a co-sign from a guy where all waiting for him to be writing his own career tome. And of course more than what happened in D.C. More than all of this. But it's all here. All Caron has become. Because of all he has overcome.
Guns...gangs...drugs...death and all the wrong side of the street in-between. Substance abuse, not of his body...but others. Selling drugs and running with gangs. All until it stopped, not with a prison sentence, including the solitary, cruel confinement of 'The Hole', but when Caron decided enough was enough. He wasn't going out like that. Even if he could make a million on the street before he hit the stage of the NBA Draft, he wasn't going out like that. There was only one court Butler wanted to get caught up with...and he's been at its veteran, journeyman service ever since. But for a man whose played for almost ten teams over a decade and has found a home where he'll always belong to each respective city with each franchise, he never left the streets of Racine. He's never forget them, showing this NBA player more than cares with all the extra-curricula activities he's doing with the boys and girls to keep them off the streets and in the education of schooling everyone else from the books to the gym. And if you want to get there...you could start with this book. The NBA career may as well be the exceptional epilogue, because the life and times of young Caron Butler is what this is all about and it's life worth living and learning from. So you can do it too. Or he or she never has to. The struggle to survive behind the stratosphere if success. Caron Butler has overcome so much and the outcome is more than inspired...it's influential. It's not scripted on dry-erase...it's a real hit to the hardwood. It's not Hollywood...it's Racine. It's not Kobe...it's Caron. It's not the NBA....it's life. This is what it's all about. This is the juice. You don't think so? You don't like it? "Tuff"! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Laker lore would have it that the legend of Los Angeles legacy is rooted in the Converse of big-men that scale higher than the rafters where they belong, or even the iconic, landmark Hollywood sign of Southern California. Hey, even their best Point Guard was 6 foot 9. Still, speaking of Magic the Lakers real history lies with the tricks of the trade of a two man team. One big guy, one little man. This hasn't just come about with the big man Jahil Okafor passing small-ball revolution of D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson following the California king crowning of Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors as NBA champion. The Lakers have experienced a changing of the guard already a half century ago in the post Minneapolis Mikan age. Now in this big-three generation that sees the taller Julius Randle forming with a young backcourt to hopefully have the success Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard could have had, it's time to look at who is really the most dynamic L.A.L. duo of all-time. Especially in the wake of Shaq Week that saw O'Neal and Kobe Bryant getting together and hashing out over podcast that reopened the debate at whether they where the best to ever do it, Lakers or otherwise. There's only one way to find out. Let them fight (erm...we mean play)!
Shaquille O'Neal & Kobe Bryant vs Pau Gasol & Kobe Bryant: Say what you want about the Spanish Bull, but if it wasn't for Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant wouldn't have one more than Shaq. Gasol is a Hall Of Fame, jersey retired worthy Laker legend in his own right. Even in the big-man stakes, albeit in a different form. That being the European revolution that he and Dirk Nowitzki brought to a new millennium league. Popular consensus would have Shaq throwing Pau around the paint like a rag doll. But this cricket, rickety post player would have the skill to slice and dice the Diesel's D. His range would allow Gasol to bring O'Neal out of his comfort zone and to the perimeter, but once it got back to the paint a few dominating dunks would devastate Pau's defence and confidence. The real intriguing match-up would be number 24 against number 8. Kobe vs Kobe. Like those like Mike debates, old money versus new money. Old Kob' is a hell of a lot smarter and more experienced than his young afro self, but that doesn't stop number 8 from unleashing a repertoire of moves that Vino just can't age with anymore as the Black Mamba is looking out for his own snake in the grass. When it comes to the most competitive player since Jordan many think the only guy that could take Kobe one-on-one in his prime is himself. So maybe these two cancel each other out...or even explode. Luckily for young Kobe back then he has Shaq on his side...and no David or Spanish version of Paul is toppling this Goliath.
Wilt Chamberlain & Jerry West vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Magic Johnson: Wilt Chamberlain is the most dominant centre of all-time. Maybe even more than Shaq. But we'll never get to see that particular match-up. Because Kareem proved he could handle his own literally in history against the man that once scored 100 points in a single game. No one could guard Abdul-Jabbar and his signature sky-hook, which reeled him in enough points to become the all-time league leading scorer. Even 100 points in a single game is a shade of someone who has totalled 38,387 for his entire career. Although nobody could wilt Chamberlain's dominant averages of around 50 points and 25 rebounds per. Kareem certainly wouldn't stunt The Stilt, but the man who could go toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee could certainly endure this epic 'Game of Death'. And nothings stopping that shot. That just leaves the logo and the man that may as well have redesigned that NBA one the way he saved in redemption and succeeded in the revolution the league in its golden era alongside Boston Celtic Larry Bird. If you though Wilt against legendary Boston Celtics big-man and big-time defender Bill Russell was huge just wait until you saw what really made the Lakers/Celtics NBA rivalry so storied in the 80's. That was just Magic and even though Jerry West was the Mr. Clutch that could launch desperation shots from mid-court with an ease that made them look mid-range and good, no one is pulling anything out the hat against Earvin Johnson.
Shaq & Kobe vs Magic & Kareem: Ironically, in beating Jerry, Magic faces the one, two punch that West (as more than an NBA logo, but Lakers owner) got to sign for the new Lake Show on the dotted line that lead to so much more to come. And with all due respect to the fire and ice of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor it really comes down to these two in this purple versus gold scrimmage through history. Besides so many teammates are big three and game "Worthy" but none quite like this. Now today they may say that even with the drama, Shaq and Kobe are the best double-act ever-even more than the Chicago Bulls Jordan and Pippen-but are they really the partnership of perfection? Maybe you could call Phil, but I'm sorry Mr. Jackson we call it like this; Shaq may be the enforcer but the kung-fu finesse of Abdul-Jabbar would finish everything else off. Besides Shaq's baby-hook may have been a sweet shot, but its just a junior to the iconic Sky-Hook move that nobody has been able to emulate to this day, just like the same amount of players who have been able to cap Kareem's totals. Now when it comes to holding guard from the Forum to STAPLES, opinion is divided. Shaq introduces the closest to M.J., Kobe to us as "the greatest Laker of all-time", but perhaps the M.J. number 24 is really close but no Shaq cohiba to is number 23 backwards. Because to some even Magic is better than Mike, the man who passed the torch to the greatest of all-time just like he passed everything else. Now surely Kobe couldn't play these assist lanes. Kobe may demand the ball more than almost anyone that's ever played this game and with good reason, but Johnson could change the game without even taking a single shot. And THAT is why he'd be the one left holding the ball...if he'd even let you see it. Now tell us you don't believe in Magic?!
Thursday, September 3, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"Shaq made his own way and Kobe made his own way and in doing that and understanding how to stay within the system they where successful and they where able to be considered Hall Of Famers."-John Salley (1999/2001 Lakers Championship Teammate).
Fabulous Forums of fans flock to watch a formidable, dynamic duo for the dynasty ages. One man a Goliath Giant, so notorious and B.I.G. they had to build a Tony Stark, Iron Man, side of the Hollywood Hills, marvel of a mansion in Los Angeles especially for him and the thousands of broken hearts he averaged each season, night in, night out. The other a guarded guard who held the changing of the court in his clutch hands so tightly they remodelled and designed the logo of the NBA and the game itself after his very image and likeness. One big number 33 with an unmistakable, giant and iconic look and hook shot that sank every opponent everytime it dived through the twine...which was everytime down the line...without fail, like factory clockwork. The other a number 32 who was Showtime like no other and a man who may as well have been the redesigned logo of this brand of Hollywood ball as he went to change the game again with the top hat and cat tricks of his trade. It was something like magic for this man and his captain oh captain. Sound like anyone you know? Well this ain't the Wilt/West of The Stilt Chamberlain and Mr. Clutch, Jerry, the logo. Or the Magic/Kareem of the goggles of Abdul-Jabbar and the one and only Magic man Earvin Johnson. Nor is it the golden era 90's, before the big threes, dynamic duos of the pick and roll of the Utah Jazz playing Stockton and Malone. Or the original 'Lob City' Blake Griffin and CP3 of Seattle's original Supersonic Gary 'Glove' Payton and Shawn 'Kamikaze' Kemp. It's not even arguably one of the best one-two punches ever of Phil Jackson's Chicago Bull greatest of all-time Michael Jordan and the most underrated "sidekick" in the history of the game Scottie Pippen. This is the Zen Masters other calm before the storm classic three-peat championship cocktail. This is the Diesel and the Black Mamba. Batman and the Dark Knight (or should we say 'Batman v Superman' in the dawn of 'Civil War' superhero in-fighting. Now forget whose side to choose, whose Captain America and whose Iron Man?). Neither wanting to play the tweet, tweet games of a Robin. Before the Oklahoma Thunder storm of Durant and Westbrook. Before todays Twitter feuds...or even a punctuated podcast, the original quotable, exclamation marks of this words and names in lights National Basketball Association was the STAPLE of the Los Angeles Lakers; Shaq and Kobe.
Blow the dynamic duo! These two where more like the dynamite duo! A fuse ignited that was ready to explode at any given second. But was it a Tom Cruise like mission to prevent the possibility of two of the nations and top Hollywood stars from going rogue? Boom! Its 2001 and young 'Frobe Bryant is dribbling through all the West's defences like the eight wonder his world best selling jersey reads. A blazing trail of red, white and black engulfs his new purple and gold signatures. Gone is the trim of the forlorn Forum days that where swept away by the air of shots that even missed the rim and the balloon empty arena that couldn't be spurred on by the storied success of the past. If Shaq and Kobe where the Wilt and West or Magic and Kareem of the future, All-Star back-ups like Cedric Ceballos, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel as great as they were, were not your Elgin Baylor's and Gail Goodrich's or Jaamal Wilkes and James Worthy's to these guys. That was the past, but now in this moment young Kob' has what looks like even every Portland player off the bench at him. Forget a triple-team, this next generation Jordan commands more. If Mike was God, than Kobe has so much game he's Jesus...with all due respect to the Shuttlesworth of Ray Allen. Right now J.C., K.B. is looking for Goliath and the most dominant player this sport has ever seen since the 100 point man his 81 could never eclipse Chamberlain wilted everyone in his painted path. Number 8 is flanked by a lot of legacy making Lakers open because there's no one else possibly in this STAPLES Centre to mark him unless the away fans got involved too. To his right, his mentor Ron Harper. One-time before a career crippling injury considered to be the next Jordan himself, before being reinvented as his teammate and a valuable veteran for Chicago's championship campaign, a former Bull joining Phil Jackson's new postseason stampede like Shaq back-up John Salley and former 80's Showtime Laker legend A.C. Green. Alongside and almost behind him, number 41; Glen Rice. A three-ball purist who was meant to be the final piece in this triangle for Hollywood's new top-billing, big-three, despite not making it past this season. And ahead of him in the left corner some Big Shot called Bob. More than a "whipping boy" until the fourth quarter when he was the Mr. Clutch of the Lakers and NBA all-time, Robert Horry. The new Showtime saviour who along with fellow back-seat but big-time players of Rick Fox and the loss to a win in 0.4 seconds Derek Fisher, formed a role playing big-three that was all Shaq and Kobe's Lakers needed to be once, twice, three times a dynasty. Still, Kobe wasn't interested in this triangle of Phil's, all he saw was the big circle of O'Neal in the paint canvassed by the best big-men the Blazers could burn from their rotation of Rasheed Wallace, Dale Davis and future Laker via big Caron Butler and Lamar Odom trade Brian Grant. Up went the lob, tear-dropping like the French flair of a Tony Parker, leaving everyone not in Lakers purple crying. And there came a floating mountain in the pound for pound flesh form of "Little" Warrior O'Neal who got some air-time like Mike, with Godzilla force as his palm met peach. And the rest was...BANG!
Eyes wider than if a script landed like a thud on his doorstep labelled; 'Kazaam 2', Shaq couldn't believe it running back down court with even more energy reserves in this epic moment than the euphoric one in '92 when the Orlando Magic drafted some young number 32 who mouthed the words; "me"(?) when his one of a kind name was called Sternly. Shaq kept running, mouth wide open with both arms and indexes kept up in the air towards Kobe until the Lake Show ran all the way through the postseason and the Pacers to the arms of Larry O'Brien and the tears of champagne. All until Kobe ran right back to him and leapt into Shaq's huge arms and bear hug, crying the tears of a gentle giant after all these years finally showing all the Davids that Goliath could win no matter how many rocks they threw at him. And even before todays crowned King in this game of thrones had his own people throwing rocks at his burnt effigy billboard and castle, Shaq and Kobe held this chair and court together, season after treason, until one day the kid that ran into Daddy's arms became a young Prince of a little red Corvette that ran into a brick wall in South Beach! And you thought LeBron brought Miami some Heat!? After the coronation of their classic crowning series, the back-to-back Lakers could have even given the 72 game winning Bulls a gallop for Money's record books as they swept almost everybody en route to an almost perfect postseason if it wasn't for the unquestionable MVP answer of Philly's Allen Iverson giving the Sixers more stake. Next year as the Lakers made it three for their crowds they made sure they brought the brooms this time as their carpet trick on New Jersey made the Nets all theirs as they vacuumed away all of Jason Kidd's hard-work like Brooklyn did New Jersey or the former legendary Point Guards coaching tenure. Where the Lakers getting cocky? Could they go fourth? The next year out in the Wild West which always back then determined who was best the Lakers couldn't click against the evergreen and ever-old Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs who upset them once again like they where back in the Forum in '96. Even another Big Shot of Bobby Horry went in and then all rimmed out as his last clutch for L.A. was nothing but straws. The following season he'd look to sip champagne again one day with the same Texan team that just drew first in this saloon shootout showdown. If you thought Shaq and Kobe where creating fallouts in Hollywood when these guys where winning award in a town full of actors then you hadn't seem anything, or the final twist yet!
Scripts flipped in their final year as this dynamite duo was joined by a dynamic legendary, veteran one in the form of two big free agents. The gloves where off for the Seattle Supersonics as top Point Gary Payton joined former Utah Jazz player Karl Malone in the Mailman's new Hollywood delivery for their escape to L.A. Even with all this there was still a Hollywood divorce on the horizon with one superstar playing Kurt Russell. Even with a new Tango and Cash, buddy cop like partnership in downtown L.A., even behind those indoor sunglasses, Sly Stallone and other celebrities courtside could see something wasn't quite right with all that was left in Lakerland. Even beyond the individual stresses of Shaq's little toe problem and Kobe's big court to court one of catching rape charges in Colorado. The two, better for worse stars where fighting again like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 'Mr & Mrs. Smith' in a marriage of celebratory and commiserating matrimony. It all came to a head when Karl Malone went down on one knee and a team of certified Hall Of Famers where beat down by a team of so-called role players as the assembly line of Detroit Pistons motored past the Los Angeles Lakers taking the throne to the Palace Of Auburn Hills and proving that Bad Boys or Motown wasn't dead. What was however was a double act that got crowded after three. In a death of a dynasty bigger than that of Jay-Z and Dame Dash, Kobe was left holding the rock on his own as Shaq took his talent to South Beach in the twilight of a break up even bigger than one in the direction of vampire film stars. After Kobe and the Magic of Penny before him, Shaq got his revenge on the Lakers and not just at Christmas, but for all seasons, winning another championship running with the Flash of Dwyane Wade. Success at last again, before closing out the second half of his career on the veteran side of riding with the King in the wine but no champagne of Cleveland, before becoming the Big Shaqtus in Phoenix and a shamrock mascot in Boston, his career ended by age, injury and seemingly hilarious Nate Robinson pranks. The Doberman Kobe on the other side endured the dog days of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker, before Spanish legend Pau Gasol joined guys like Lamar Odom, one of two failed, albeit formidable Shaq replacements Andrew Bynum and old friend Derek Fisher in leading the Lakers back to the promised land over Boston and in the end getting "one more than Shaq"! Now after the ravages of injury and father time, in what might be Kobe's last year he looks like a long way from matching Mike again as he passes the torch to number 2 D'Angelo Russell and the small ball big-three of Julius Randle and a new Jordan called Clarkson as the purple and gold tapes remix passed on a future big-man in Jahil Okafor in their long legacy that began with Mikan in Minneapolis. Possibly because they just know they could never replace Shaq. It took the Superman returns of Dwight Howard in Brandon Routh sequel, sophomore slumping form for Kobe Bryant to realize that. And as the pair politic over podcast in a revealing and redemptive moment they show its all love and no hate as they lament a loss and wonder what could have been in the win column. You could see it in the Western reunion of the 2009 All-Star Game when Shaq and Kobe teamed up again for some signature moves, winning once again as Co-MVP's and a moment where fans and rumours hoped would result in one last purple and gold ride down the California coast of Lakerland. But sadly a storybook ending wasn't made out in a big deal...we'll just have to settle for the audio, what was and what could have been. That's just life, sometimes even perfect partnerships don't work out, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't all love and in the memory of their greatest moments something beyond beautiful. Just like this game. Now maybe one day if these guys are immortalised in bronze off court at the Lakers entrance (may we suggest some sort of Portland piece?) it should be like it always should have been...as one. Just like when Kobe joins Shaq in retirement and is welcomed by the Big Fella in a ceremony that sees his number 24 raised right next to his number 34, right next to rafters of all the banners they put there...together.
Monday, August 10, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Rock between the fingertips and palm of his hand, this young man stands in a circle that seems like a spotlight of circling pressure, in a capacity arena that feels like the millions that are tuning in on their television sets around the nation and globe. In this moment this kid Lew Alcindor feels like an Olympian as he moves with the athletic grace somewhere between the bounty of ballet and the beauty of knowing kung-fu. He holds the rock for a moment slightly stretched to the side of him, before bringing it in to his body...slowly, carefully in one perfect pirouette of a pivot. Then he steps back, dancing with his spot, striding forward and in one creatively, crafted crane moment, elevates his arm to the outstretched stature that even the record books can't reach. Making proud and perfect flamingos out of all the goose-necks before his wrist snaps in one downward, almost deflated motion that sort of tells the opposition; "never mind"! As the ball flies high towards its one goal, the world record and more than just another point proved. They check the tape and its off the charts and when it lands...it's his personal best perfection. It's the gold! The top of the podium. It almost looks like a shot putt, but this shot is put down as a sky-hook and this young Lew Alcindor is the name at the top of it all; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Floating like a butterfly and stinging the net like a bee, this ball pollinates the nylon like it was a beautiful flower in basketball bloom. And it all comes from the hands of the greatest, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The most famous name change in sports and entertainment since the artist formerly known as Cassius Clay became some Louisville Slugger who went by the red corner name of Muhammed Ali. Young Lew may have changed his name to the mighty Kareem, but one thing number 33 didn't change in reflection was his tried and tested signature shot that no one could block. If it ain't broke, just hone it! Make it work like shot clockwork. Until after all the seconds are out you're the highest score with your arcade like move. One that leaves you leading all the second placers first and foremost in history and legacy of the books of legends. No, no Mike, Kobe, Shaq or Wilt. Even 'The Mailman' of Karl Malone couldn't deliver as many points as the storied Abdul-Jabbar did in the history of the National Basketball Association. And it's all thanks to that shot. Hook, sky-line and net sinker. But that wasn't the only thing this hoops grandmaster and godfather of the hardwood possessed. There where the devastating dunks, the brutal blocks battling, the bountiful rebounds rallied and of course the flawless post-up game that lead to all of this. All of this that lead this perfect prototype of a player in the centre position to be the best big-man in not only the history of the Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal dominated Los Angeles Lakers (not to forget the Minneapolis master of George Mikan, the NBA's first superstar), but the NBA as a Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and of course Boston Celtics ring bearer Bill Russell whole. Let alone the greatest all-round player on a Laker team that featured the Big Game of James Worthy and the Magic of Earvin Johnson and one of history and legacies all-time best like Laker luminaries from the classic logo of Jerry West to the modern day icon of Kobe Bryant and all the LeBron's, Jordan's, Bird's and Oscar winners.
Before the 7 foot 2, 225 pound, 68 year old number one pick in the '69 draft with a 20 year career of 6 rings, 6 MVPs and 19 All-Star selections racked up all those 38,387 points (good luck Steph Curry and your shot) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was rolling in the Bucks with Milwaukee and the Big O of triple-double dream Oscar Robertson. Yet even, before all that Lew Alcindor was making immortal basketball history way before the NBA even called his name. When most kids in high school were waiting to be saved by the bell, Lew was playing 'till the final buzzer making power plays for Power Memorial and leading them to a huge 71 game winning streak during the Harlem renaissance in New York City. Then from the Big Apple to the Hollywood sands, Alcindor made the transition to college hoops in Los Angeles, becoming a Bruin with UCLA and uniting with classic coach and hardwood forefather John Wooden for a perfect partnership and coach player combo that outside of Hollywood was the hoops alternative of a Scorsese and De Niro director and actor. Yeah we're talking to you! Breaking every UCLA record, Lew was barely scrapping the surface of his basketball career whilst scratching his cornea in what later on in his playing days would resort to his goggle wearing look being iconic as his balding afro and beard. In L.A. before L.A. a young L.A. converted to Islam before changing his name, trained with martial arts legend Bruce Lee, played in the 'Game Of The Century' and even got the art of the dunk outlawed due to his dominance. Standing next to Wooden with three NCAA titles under the drawstring of his warm ups and strings of nylon around his neck was this young man ready for the NBA?
With the first pick in the 1969 draft you where damn right! After winning a coin toss tip against the Phoenix Suns the sophomore Milwaukee franchise was just the first round ticket, despite the legendary court circus act; the Harlem Globetrotters offering Lew a million bucks to travel the world with them. The hometown hero would also have to disappoint the New York Nets who thought they had secured his services with the ABA drafts first pick. Even if number 33 did have an afro he wasn't going to roll his socks up for anything trying to scale higher than the original and one, true basketball league. Or more aptly the "flesh" bidding war that he saw as so degrading to all parties involved he was prepared to literally turn down millions. With defensive legend and Boston Celtics lord of the 11 rings; Bill Russell sharing a last retirement cigar with Red the only thing standing in Alcindor's way was the rivalry of the most, 100 point scoring dominant ever; Wilt Chamberlain. But before number 33 would replace the lucky 13 in purple and gold he replaced him in the post as the NBA's centre of attention. Winning Rookie Of The Year honours off 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game, before teaming up with Oscar in his second season to win the biggest award in basketball. The day after he became an NBA champion, Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the rest was National Basketball Association and Los Angeles Lakers history. The iconography of the goggles came next, put on by two broken hands as after injury a trade waved goodbye to the Wisconsin wonder who hit the coast for the Californian sun. Adding a purple heart to his gold standard career, rewriting the script with a casting call from Hollywood. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a Laker...it was Showtime without the Apollo!
But Hollywood was bowled over and before Magic and the Boston Bird saved the game and brought all the Nicholson actors into the superstar seats, Captain Kareem was the era director of this epic, with the slick Pat Riley running the screenplay. Battling all sorts of big-men from Bill Walton to John Salley and all sorts of eye erosion problems. It wasn't until the dawn of the Showtime L.A. and blue collar Boston era of the 80's that Cap and the Lake Show would win and pull real Magic out the hat when they selected the everlasting enthusiasm and smile of Earvin Johnson from the 1979 draft. After winning the season opener, Kareem shot and shouted a young Magic down after number 32 embraced 33 like they just won game 7 of the last day on the basketball calender. But by the end of the season when this Rookie Point Guard showed that the only man that could possibly replace Jabbar at center was the 6,9 pass first magician himself, Kareem would have bear hugged the next Lakers star himself if there wasn't a planes distance from the injured big and Philadelphia. In the storied Lakers and Celtics rivalry of the ages, Kareem was avenging Wilt Chamberlain's finals heartbreak to the ring hands of Bill Russell's Celtics. They could put balloons in the rafters now thanks to a team of greats like fellow google sporting James Worthy, the silk of Jaamal Wilkes, future millennium champion A.C. Green, future general manager Mitch Kupchack, future coach of today Byron Scott and the dynamic duo of dynamic duos. The inside and outside, one-two punch of Magic and Kareem, took over that of West and Wilt and nothing from the legendary legacy of the Los Angeles Lakers or the NBA as a whole since has topped this. Not even the second most dominant player of all-time Shaq and the second Jordan G.O.A.T. Kobe...this dynamite duo comes in second place too. Nothing could top the vision of Johnson's passing that looked to the sky of Jabbar's hook. And when a 40 year old Kareem bulked up and practiced yoga to muscle up and lean with a younger, post big-man dominating career the show just went on like Hollywood Lakerland's version of Shakespeare. Back to back and that again. Jack wouldn't give up his courtside chair marked like a directors one for nothing...not even the next big budget movie. Even the Pulitzer of legendary sportswriter Jim Murray saw a new prize everytime his typewriter slid back the moment Chick Hearn's jiggling words closed the refrigerator door.
When the retirement chair came rocking and hoop heavens door came knocking, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the game with all-time leading totals of 38,387 points, 15,837 field goals and 57,446 minutes played (only to be perished by Parish). Averaging a legendary line of 24.6 points,11.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game, en route to the top 50, his number 33 up in rafters on each coast, the corridors of the Hall of Fame, the header in the history books and finally a statue outside STAPLES. A fond farewell to this gentle giant between the Lakers and their love to hate them Celtic rivals saw all players participating rocking the goggles and attempting a sky-hook, a move that nobody like this man can duplicate. It belongs in a basketball museum next to the exhibits of Jordan's fade-away and Allen Iverson's crossover like these holy grail, signature moves it's a pioneer play. Following the last streak of sky to be hooked, Kareem has done anything but retired. The man who has shown that even at seven feet and two nickels change he is agile enough to go toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee, fought him in the movie 'Game Of Death' and sent his serious self up in the hilarious 'Airplane' spoof that saw his star stock soar. Surely he couldn't be anymore than serious?! Well, even if a Shirley Temple was his drink of choice, this actor knew how to lighten the heart in the Summer, after giving his soul and sole to the season. Following his playing days retirement the history books engraver has proved to be a wonderful writer beyond his amazing first-name self-titled autobiography. Cap has capped off many basketball books, including children's ones with an off court message off the playbook. The regular columnist for leading, world newsstand famous magazine of the day 'Time' has gone beyond being a cover star to writing critical columns of issues of inspiration and influence too. Yet his most intriguing creative venture comes this year and we're not just talking about the HBO Abdul-Jabbar documentary. Kareem is set to look into legendary writer Arthur Conan Doyle's magnify glass to write the next pipe dream for Sherlock Holmes fans with an original idea about penning a story about the worlds most famous detectives brother 'Mycroft Holmes'. Now how's that for the most anticipated book of the year outside of Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird' sequel 'Go Set A Watchmen'? That's elementary my dears. This old Cap is still involved in basketball operations however and the two time NBA champion as an assistant coach is now tutoring the next line of Laker big men in the central position of this franchises legendary legacy like he tried to do with stars Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. Now its sophomore Julius Randle, technically speaking in his rookie season after injury and troubled but talented defensive presence in the block Roy Hibbert, after the Lakers couldn't buy a free agent big-man after passing on so many in the draft for the small-ball future of D'Angelo Russell. A Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo following Georgetown Hoya who could go from role player to star again thanks to the mentoring of the master that when it comes to years as a Laker even Shaq and Wilt can't reach and touch. You want to really grasp the ceiling of number 33's classic court contributions? Then in this city of stars-with even 16 circling the centre of the court-you can't just hook the billboards bearing his name in the rafters. You have to reach for the sky...
Monday, May 25, 2015
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Like father, like Bean. This is a league full of extraordinary gentlemen...and the fathers that raised them. The Curry's. The Ewing's. The Hardaway's. So many like the Barry's. The Jon's, Rick's and Brent's. The Dell's. The Seth and Steph's...and of course the Riley's. Who one day could have a life in the WNBA, the way she looks like her dad and the same way this family shoots from three. But what about the Bryant's? Kobe's got a couple of girls himself, but the casual fans among us may forget about his true parentage. Like one of the greatest the rap game has ever seen, Nas having the hip-hop jazz roots of his father, Olu Dara, one of this games greatest came from another hardwood classic. The world may be his now, but one day Kobe 'Bean' Bryant was watching from the sidelines (complete with court sweeper like rapper Common back in Chicago for the Bulls) as his father Joe Bryant, know to most as 'Jellybean' was popping with his sweet hops and shot. Now, hey Joe! How about a taste?
Kobe used to be on his dads back all the time...literally. Or so the 'Muse' says, in Kobe's latest career documentary for 'Showtime' which is really the curtain call review of quite the champion and competitor. Kobe tell us straight up to the camera that when his father would come home with a training table list of injuries and ailments and more cramps than 80's style after a game, he and his siblings would walk up and down their daddy's back to work that stuff out. Who needs Gary Vitti hey? Not when you've got what then was a young Kobe's favorite nightly ritual. Watching his hero come home after a night fighting for his dream and looking up to him with pride and awe. Young Kob' was used to doing whatever it took to help his dad and his hoops career. Philadelphia 76er born and raised, it would be in Europe however that Kobe would spend most of his childhood days. Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool. Shooting some bball outside of school. Until this Fresh Prince of L.A.'s life got flipped-turned upside down. But still, Kobe wouldn't go live with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air, or West Philly? Instead when the plane landed and he came out, it was Europe where his new throne would belong. An Italian job and wherever else his fathers great game and time would take him. 'Hang on lad...I've got an idea'. If the NBA wasn't going to give pops his props, he was going to scour the earth to find it. Taking this game overseas and revolutionizing and doing what all the young Jennings and WNBA stars he coached are doing today. Adding more stamps and approval to his passport and scouting report. Basketball without borders...only blowing more than the doors off.
And we all know what that European exposure and soccer skill did to Kobe and his game. From the savvy way he see's the floor, to the lost in translation way he play-call communicates on it. Like basketball's equivalent of baseball's facial-gesture and grimace, sign-language play-calling. Even if he doesn't have as much of a nose and ear for it these days now the likes of Gasol and Vujacic are gone. Maybe it's time to learn Chinese with Lin? A little bit of culture is good for anyone...even if at the beginning it does seem like too much of a permanent vacation and not just a world tour that the likes of Aersomith would rock and roll with. Still, before Bean senior took the seed of his junior overseas he gave NBA basketball a little bit of his own culture on these high seas of National Basketball. At 6, 9 and a star at Philly's John Bartram high and La Salle University, the Golden State Warriors drafted Joe Bryant in 1975 when Kobe was barely three years old with the 14th pick in the first round. Still after Golden State's lottery ball came up big, they switched tickets with Philadelphia as young Joe himself was given a Sixer cap on his way to career averages of 14.8 points 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists capped off per contest. After hitting the big stage, Bryant was going home...and boy did it feel so good. To play in front of his family and friends for four years alongside some of the games greatest like Doug Collins, George McGinnis and some doctor called Julius. It was just the prescription for J.B and on Ering's unit he was the right tonic for an operation that took it all the way to the lifeline of the NBA Finals, where they eventually flat lined against the Portland Trail Blazers 4 game to 2.
Still this Joe was one hell of a smoothly skilled player, running and dunking the floor with American abandon. Especially for his tweening Power Forward and Center position. When he headed to the West Coast-like his own son did on his 1996 draft day, over 20 years later when the Charlotte Hornets stupidly shipped him to some team in Hollywood-Bryant senior played for the Lakers neighbors Clippers. Still, he'd never see Los Angeles as a player, because this was back when the Clips where in San Diego and probably having their nightly sports bulletins read by Champ Kind of the 'Anchorman' Channel 4 New Team or something to that effect. After a "whammy" of a play-by-play each night, Bryant ended up flying high with the Rockets for a few years in Houston, before he'd really take flight. To Europe that is. Seven seasons in Italy made Bryant senior fluent in the European game and Bryant junior fluent in the culture. Just listen to the way he pronounces the names of the places he'd grow up in across the Italian A1 and A2 leagues. Playing for AMG Sebastiani Rieti, Viola Reggio Calabria,, Pistoia, and Reggio Emilia a decade after his NBA draft, from 1984 to 1991 this guy was a star that brought the peach to the vines of Europe as a young Vino was fermenting. If you thought this was just about collecting the zeroes on the end of a cheque, than the numbers of two 53 point games will read you differently. The 60 year old would play into his fifties as smooth as the day he rocked the young mans beard and fro. From a quick bonjour in France (for FC Mulhouse Basket) to a series of stints in the ABA that his early, Sixer game seem catered for (with the Boston Frenzy). Coaching is now this dads staple as he one day may head back to the NBA he's still connected to by being married to Pam Cox (sister of former player Chubby (Joe's nephew John Cox IV also plays pro in France)). In fact he's been in STAPLES with Los Angeles sister team the Sparks of the WNBA two times. Leading them to a 25 and 9 record (before a certain 80's legend called Michael Cooper ran the show), as well as coaching his resume in the ABA and now Japan (you're all familiar with the Tokyo Apache). Where he is the current coach of the Rizing Fukuoka. No wonder Kobe keeps coming back to Asia each Summer. He'll always have the inspiration of his elder statesman as well as his own pride and awe...even in his own winding down father time. This folks, is how number 22 and 23 influenced 24. Because without Jelly, there's no Bean.