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The Nash Effect: Part 2

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With Steve Nash winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award, we may have hit a point of no return in Canadian sports. This could have more of an impact on us than when we almost scored a goal in the 1986 World Cup, or when a Canadian luger finished eighth in the Albertville Olympics. Okay, all kidding aside, this is colossal! Nash has done the near impossible – the unfathomable. A skinny, soccer loving kid from Victoria, with a solitary scholarship offer to his name, has not only taken the game of Jordan, Bird and Magic by storm – he has dominated it. And if you think the effect it has on us today is huge, just look ahead at what it has done to the generation to come. Step inside and peer into the BBM’s crystal ball.

(Cue funky, wavy music)

The year 2025. Canada, aka “The Great White North”, is still world renowned for its beer, manners and basketball. Wait… basketball? Hockey, that once-dominant sport, is now a thing of the past. Basketball litters the streets and driveways of Canadian cities. The blacktop is the new backyard pond. The sound of a bouncing ball echoes from Vancouver to Cornerbrook and every kid, young and old, Black, White or Asian sports a Steve Nash moptop. Goodbye mullet, hello shaggy, reckless ‘do. Ahh, Steve Nash. Twenty years ago his MVP title rallied a nation together under the umbrella of basketball. Fathers took away their kids’ hockey sticks and immediately stuck a pair of baggy shorts on them and taught them bounce passes and hook shots. The epoch of roundball is upon us. Not to mention the allure of landing hot, Spice Girl-quality babes.

During Nash’s MVP season, he was one of only two canucks in the Association. Now, the NBA is made up of nearly 35% Canadians and expansion has blossomed north of the 49th with the ushering in of the Winnipeg Wheat, the Regina Freeze (oh do they hate the Heat) and the Halifax Schooners. In fact, in a dose of sweet Nordique revenge, Quebec even stole the Nuggets away from the Mile High City. And back by popular demand… the Vancouver Grizzlies, who went on to win four consecutive titles under coach and general manager Rick Fox.

Basketball has become so beloved that Prime Minister Magloire went so far as to put James Naismith on the twenty dollar bill. What’s that you ask? Prime Minister Jamaal Magloire? You got it Chester. After leading the Canadian side to back to back Olympic gold medals (lest we forget the controversial technical foul call leading to a never accepted silver in 2016), Jamaal became the country’s most cherished hero. Wayne Gretzky renamed two of his kids after him!

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Our schoolyards are full of Caswell Cyrus throwback jerseys and Carl English signature series sneakers. In the thick of it all, Toronto, the hoops hotbed, is the most competitive centre on earth. Teenagers hoping to make the jump from high school to the big time come from all over to play for Bathurst Heights, Eastern Commerce and even York Mills Collegiate. Local ball in the T-dot has more talent than the Italian and Spanish leagues combined!

Not to mention Rucker Park. Yeah, that Rucker Park. After watching two of the most jaw-rattling street games known to man, Nike CEO Phil Knight bought Harlem’s Rucker Park, dug it up and had it moved to Newfoundland, home of the world’s most fierce, playground battles. Hey, if they can build a McDonald’s at Mecca, they can move Rucker to the Rock!
And again, it’s all thanks to number thirteen. Why? Cause no kid wants the highlight dunk. Nobody cares about dropping fifty points and losing. It’s all about the team. Ain’t no “I” in team? Ain’t one in “Canada” either. Every youngster wants to play the game the right way, the Nash way.

Steve Nash ushered in an era like no other. The point guard reverted back to its original form. No more brick-chucking, flash happy guards of the grunge 90’s. Today, the point is as important as the bacon in a BLT. Take out the point guard and it’s just a veggie sandwich. No thanks.

Nash’s MVP season is the Canadian equivalent of the moon landing (except we didn’t fake it). Not since the advent of the ‘Lollipop Guild’ have so many undersized and previously ignored folks had the inspiration to pull up their tiny boots and follow their hero all the way to Emerald City, aka The League. So the next time someone turns to you and says, “Hey, Nashie winning the MVP was pretty big huh”, you can clue them into the future and respond, “Dude, you have no idea”.

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NBA

The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series

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The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
RIP Portland...

Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.

And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.

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This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.

Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.

The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.

Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.

The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.

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But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?

Well that just may be the secret of success?

The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.

I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.

Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.

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NBA

Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park

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Welcome To The Toronto Raptors' Jurassic Park
They The North...

“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”

Fans find a way.

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An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.

Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.

And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.

Welcome to Jurassic World.

With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the teams spiritual sixth man, spark plug. As electric as the paddock like perimeter fence surrounding them feels with this buzz over basketball (and national sport hockey come Leaf picking season), this crowd can’t be contained.

Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.

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Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?

I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic though, like it was all the basketball God’s plan.

Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.

This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.

And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.

But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.

Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.

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