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Andre Iguodala – Pippen 2K5



Every since Allen Iverson arrived in the city of brotherly love, the Sixers have searched for his “Pippen,” the teammate who would perfectly mesh with AI to lead Philly back to the Promised Land. First it was supposed to be Jerry Stackhouse, and then it was Larry Hughes. Countless numbers of guards, later it all ended with the same result. No one could seemingly fit in the backcourt with Iverson.

That is until another AI set foot in the Wachovia Center.

Drafted out of the University of Arizona in 2004, Andre Iguodala came to the Keystone State with the ideal pedigree; a team-first mentality, the ability to play anywhere from point guard to small forward and the body of an NBA veteran, but no one knew for sure what would occur when the season started. What happened was more than the growth and maturation of a suitable role player. Philly had a bonafide budding NBA star in their hands, one who finally provided a fitting piece to their backcourt puzzle. “I’m a team player first,” states Iguodala. If I have to score and be the man then I don’t have a problem doing that, but being a complimentary player to a higher scorer, I can do that as well.”

Flying under the radar most of the season to rookies with more established NCAA reps (Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon), “Iggy Pop” steadily averaged 9 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 1.68 spg (good enough for 6th in the league), while helping lead the Sixers to the playoffs. Despite a tumultuous inaugural season that saw the arrival of the oft-injured Chris Webber, the seemingly annual Iverson trade rumors and the fact that the players never quite adjusted to the style of last year’s coach Jim O’Brien, Iguodala flourished in his transition from college to the pros.

This season, there should be more stability in the Illadelph, with the hiring of former 76er great, Maurice Cheeks in the off-season. “[Mo’s] gonna be a good addition to our team. He’s a player’s coach, we can relate to him as he can relate to us,” says Iguodala. “So it’s going to be an easier vibe between the players and coaches and we can grow and express our feelings and hope it will turn out for the better.” It’s not like the new sheriff in town should get any complaints from the 6-6 Illinois native. Constantly recognized as the type of player who’ll always give 100%, (even in practice, which should be a relief to Sixer fans), Mo should quickly find No. 9 to be one of his best weapons. If he happens to need any more convincing, all he has to do is call up Dre’s old coaching staff at his alma mater, Arizona.

“[Andre’s] work ethic drove him to get to the next level, so it’s not surprising that he’s done well,” said Wildcat associate head coach Jim Rosborough. “He may have one of the best basketball bodies that I’ve ever seen. He is a gifted athlete with wonderful basketball acumen and he’s got a really good feel for the game, for where his teammates are and for what should happen under a lot of circumstances.” For Iguodala, the respect is mutual for his former acquaintances in Tucson. “I came to Arizona nowhere near ready for the NBA. I needed college, Coach [Olson], is a coach who takes a lot of raw athletes and a lot of raw players and incorporates fundamentals into their game and I think that’s what helped me.”

There were some bumps in his rookie year, which can be expected especially when you’re asked to guard guys like Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant night in and night out, but the true student of the game eventually adapted to the adjustment between NCAA and NBA competition. “The biggest lesson I learned last year, is preparation is the key to every game. That means eating right and resting, so the whole time getting ready for the game is just as important.” There was also someone alongside him to make it easier through the maturation process. Contrary to what some of the old school critics of the NBA may think, the original AI has been nothing but helpful for Iguodala and the rest of the youngsters for the Sixers.

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When asked about sharing the floor with “The Answer” for 82 games, Iguodala declares, “It’s probably the greatest experience you could ever go through. [Allen] gives you an example of how a player’s supposed to go hard and play every minute like it’s his last. It’s easy playing with Allen; he’s teaching me a lot of things.” Andre has always been the kind of player who is willing to listen. That thirst for knowledge and some of his other most admirable character traits come from his strong family background.

“My biggest influence is probably my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother’s just so strong, she never gave up on us and my mother kept me straight and on track,” states Iguodala. “My main focus in life was basketball, and [I learned] anything that was going to jeopardize that, I stayed away from.” Andre also learned one more important thing from his mother that has made him who he is today. “[She] taught me how to play basketball,” admits Iguodala.

The two most important women in his life also instilled in Andre the importance of giving, and we’re not only talking about assists. In his first season, he immediately became involved in community service and successfully started the “Andre’s Caps for Kids” program, which collected over 1,000 hats benefiting local pediatric oncology units in the Philadelphia area. Back home in Illinois, Andre also holds basketball camps and clinics for young players and this summer held a charity celebrity basketball game with part of the proceeds helping a local 13-and-under AAU team fund a trip to a national tournament in Florida. He also plans to adopt a school in Philadelphia this season to aid students in need and is incorporating the Andre Iguodala Foundation, specifically aimed for the youth in the area. Andre believes such initiatives are imperative for “giving kids an opportunity to get out of bad situations.” He continues, “A lot of kids come from single parent homes and they don’t get the proper education that they need. By just giving them that extra help so they get a chance to do some of the things that I did growing up; go to college or just be able to know how to work a computer, they will see things that will inspire them to be somebody and not settle for less.”
That sort of demeanor should have Philly supporters glowing with excitement, as if they weren’t already. He acknowledges that the same fans that once booed Santa Claus, can be among the most demanding on their athletes, but he knows that if they see you competing diligently on a nightly basis, “they’ll respect you and continue to support you.”
So that’s why during the summer, while some of the NBA‘s “ballerz” may have been lounging in the Caribbean or worrying about a contract, Iguodala spent the off-season working out vigorously, as he says, “improving on shooting the ball and being more of an offensive threat,” while expanding on his defensive game in an effort to get his averages up across the board, especially in rebounds and steals. He was also glad to see guys like Samuel Dalembert and Kyle Korver remain with the team. Iguodala deems that by keeping them along with all-stars Iverson and Webber, the Sixers should gel together a lot quicker this season and be right in the thick of things in the race for the wide-open Atlantic Division.
That familiarity with his teammates should do nothing but benefit the growth of this rising superstar into a category amongst the league‘s elite. But no matter how many personal accolades come his way, Iguodala states that he just wants to be remembered as “a hard working player who played to the best of his ability.” But just like the label of him being a “complimentary player” wore thin in his rookie year, his own modest assessment doesn’t encapsulate the true meaning of what this AI means to the Philadelphia 76ers.



La La Lakerland Played Host To A City Of All-Stars At The Weekend



Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2018
Like Father, Like Slam,

Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than this. Even if Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and even the other Michael (B) Jordan were taking in all the lights, camera action court-side.

After the 2017 Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year and two calendar’s after our native Toronto held the All Star Weekend in Canada, the sixth A.S.G. in the Clipper and Lakerland of the downtown STAPLES of L.A. was the first of it’s kind. As two of the best players in the association and reigning finalists decided to draft their own pool of players against the wall for the ultimate black and white pick-up game between ‘Team Stephen’ and ‘Team LeBron’, for all the marbles of which of the last two champions would be King.

Well it certainly helps if James picks his rivals reigning MVP teammate Kevin Durant and his own former partner in pine championship crime Kyrie Irving for the big shots first.

But before all that it was down to regular festivities to begin the weekend of All-Star. Basketball’s equivalent of music’s Grammy’s or movies Oscars in Superbowl February. Opening these ceremonials Team World beat down Team USA 155-124 in the Rising Stars game that should really tell you something. Despite home court advantage rookie steal, Kyle Kuzma notching 20, fellow Californian franchise face Buddy Hield was king as the Sacramento star hit 29 as the two sides wore Clipper and Laker interloped Buffalo and MPLS throwbacks for the Hollywood script. And after Quavo of hit duo Migos took home the Celebrity Game MVP as Team Clippers beat Team Lakers 79-66, Spencer Dinwiddie paid the bills in a superior skills comp. Before scorching Sun in California Devin Booker showed his career high 70 was no one-hit wonder as he burnt down all the nets and the money-ball rack. Winning the three-point contest showdown from reigning winner and sixth man Eric Gordon. Grounding the Rocket as this Phoenix rose. Book it!

But after the most therapeutic competition of All-Star weekend it was time for the most exciting one just as compelling. And in honoring his father Larry Nance, the 1984 winner of the inaugural Slam-Dunk contest, Larry Nance Jr. rocked the baby cradle, like father, like dunk. As he even rocked the old-school Phoenix Suns jersey, short shorts and high-socks for an inspired imitation. But under the magicians cloak, those Los Angeles natives in attendance draped in gold wish he had turned into someone turning back the clock and wearing a Lakers jersey (those Lonzo assists with the ball would have helped). As what would have been a long awaited, eagerly anticipated home-team representation turned into an Akron homecoming for the Ohio hometown hero like LeBron in the Kings land once the trade deadline passed.

Pops Nance loved it though after he himself played the lions share of his career in Cleveland as a Cavalier. Even assisting his boy on his second slam, before he blew the house down with a windmill that even rocked Chris Rock and then double tapped an Instagram worthy picture perfect dunk that if your phone blinked, you’d have had to instant replay it to not miss it and believe it. But all this court creativity wasn’t enough like Maverick rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s 360 reverse, through the legs 50. Or All-Star Victor Oladipo getting an assist off King T’Challa himself Chadwick Boseman, suiting up in the Black Panther mask and clawing a tomahawk. And if you think that was special, if only you were a fly on the wall for the moment entertainment megastar Jamie Foxx told Vic he loved his album and started singing ‘A Song For You’ with him in the parking lot (as told by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins). As Utah’s jazz man Donovan Mitchell won by jumping over Kevin Hart and his family (Come on! How hard is that? The comedian was even crouched down. Seriously?! He could have even been sat on his shoulders and Mitch would have been good), and then breaking out the classic Vince Carter Raptor jersey and doing you know what.

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The whole weekend turned out to be a testament to a throwback tribute despite Nike’s brand new Team LeBron and Steph duds. Last years All-Star representative, Pelican Anthony Davis paying tribute to his injury fallen teammate brother Cousins by wearing what would have been his numero zero jersey. Free agent suitors beware, DeMarcus is going nowhere now this summer after this. You see he saw on I.G. but look at the shot. How s### was his seat for a would be player?

But after Black Eyed Pea Fergie caught flack for her soulful and sultry rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem (hey, you didn’t complain when Marvin did it) the game hit all the high-flying, dunking high-notes. So much so fans needed throat lozenges like Pink! Even if there wasn’t a single Clipper or Laker representative in the game itself. Despite the lobbying for 6 Man, Lou Will and new Laker Isaiah Thomas only recently being LeBron’s actual teammate.

The King took the MVP crown himself as his 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists helped turn a 15 point hole into a 148-145 victory. And from the look on his face as he leapt into Kevin Durant’s arms of all people, it looked like he just won the NBA Championship back. And from the look on Steph’s face on the receiving end reply it was hard to disagree.

You may be the champion, but I’m the best in the world those eyes said.

Well it’s up to you to decide when round 2 of the All Star draft is televised next year for all to see in M.J.’s land of the greatest.

Charlotte’s going to be good!

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Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?



Usa Today 10601289.0
IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles



Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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