It was the 2003 NBA Draft and Carl English had invited his family to a downtown Toronto restaurant. After an amazing career at the University of Hawaii, the sharpshooter was supposed to be a late first-round pick. Everyone was waiting for David Stern to walk up to the podium and announce that an NBA team had selected English. Then, the celebration could begin. That moment never happened. The entire NBA took a pass. Twice. No team picked Carl English in the first or second round.
Two years have passed and he has just finished his season with the Florida Flame of the NBDL. There were no Sunday games on ABC, just long bus rides, half-empty stadiums, and meager paychecks. But things have never been easy for Carl English. When he was five, English lost his parents in a house fire. He went to live with his Uncle Junior and Aunt Betty in tiny Patrick’s Cove, Newfoundland. Basketball became an outlet and English would spend hours shooting on an outdoor hoop that backed onto a remote highway. “There wasn’t much else around,” laughs English. “Basketball has been my way out. My peaceful place and my life revolved around it.”
Nothing could stop basketball practice. Snow would be removed from the court with a shovel; the rain wasn’t an issue either. During the summer, he would ignore the heat and stay out on the road perfecting his moves.
His dedication and talent went mostly unnoticed until 1999. That summer, English toured the United States with a Canadian All-Star team and caught the eye of a few NCAA Division 1 schools. Baylor, Notre Dame, and Hawaii were all impressed by what they saw: a six-foot-five-inch athlete with crazy range on his jump shot. Hawaii won the bidding war and English traded the island community of Patrick’s Cove for the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean.
With his bags packed for Hawaii, English had to overcome another family tragedy. Uncle Junior passed away on a fishing trip. A few months later, English injured his left ankle and was given a medical redshirt for his first year at the University of Hawaii. For once, basketball couldn’t be his outlet. Over the next three years, Carl English put in work and became a college basketball star. Dick Vitale loved the Canadian’s game and his Hawaii Rainmakers got their shine on in the 2001 and 2002 NCAA tournament. ESPN Magazine and USA Today both ran feature stories on English. After his junior year, the kid from rural Newfoundland declared himself eligible for the 2003 NBA Draft. English finished his collegiate career as the University of Hawaii’s seventh all-time leading scorer.
The next few months in Carl English’s basketball life make very little sense. Combo guards who can shoot usually end up being selected somewhere in the first round. Throw in his leadership skills and most thought he could have a solid NBA career. So what went wrong? How did guards like Marcus Banks, Reece Gaines, and Troy Bell get picked in the first round instead of English? How could NBA teams take European and American teenagers over a mature player such as English? Why would the Toronto Raptors pass on a Canadian with the fifty-second pick to take prospect Remon Van de Hare?
The problems started at the Chicago pre-draft workouts. English slipped out of the first round because NBA GMs thought he was too slow to play the “1” spot and too small to line up at off-guard. Without a true position, his accomplishments at Hawaii were quickly forgotten. Banks, Gaines and Bell passed English in the draft rankings and were all selected in the mid-to-late first round. These guards have all collected NBA paychecks to sit on their club’s bench.
Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki have changed the way NBA teams draft players. These three players entered the league as teenagers and quickly became superstars. Teams now had to take high school kids and international players based on their potential over established NCAA stars. In English’s 2003 draft year, five high school players and 15 Europeans were selected. With the exception of first overall pick LeBron James, none of them have made any impact in the NBA.
In June of 2003, the Toronto Raptors had bigger issues than Carl English. They had just missed the playoffs for the first time in three years. The front office was taking heat for giving Michael “Yogi” Stewart millions of dollars and funding the first few years of Hakeem Olajuwon’s retirement. Coach Lenny Wilkens had just been fired. Vince Carter was struggling with injuries. Former Raptors’ GM Glen Grunwald was trying to keep the dinosaurs from going extinct and missed what a talented Canadian could bring to the club.
Two years after the 2003 draft, English can’t explain what happened. However, he insists that it’s behind him.
“I try not to think about it. I mean it was the draft. I thought I was going to go and didn’t. But there’s no use looking back on decisions I’ve made. I’ve got to go forward and try to get into the NBA. I mean, I can’t look back and say things I should have done. What if? What if this? What if that? So, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I did when it happened. I’m over it now.”
The Indiana Pacers had scouted English and invited the guard to their 2003-2004 training camp. At his first pro camp, the kid from tiny Patrick’s Cove showed that he could ball with the best players in the world. Superstar Reggie Miller even took English under his wing. Unfortunately, his NBA dream came down to numbers. The Pacers already had 16 guaranteed contracts and stuck with second-round pick James Jones instead of English.
Last September, Seattle asked English to attend their training camp. The club was loaded with perimeter players and he got cut. However, game can always recognize game and English remembers a conversation he had with Sonics’ star Ray Allen.
“I remember Ray saying this to me before I left there. He said to me that he wasn’t sure what this situation could give me. He also said, no matter what I was good enough to play at this level. No one can take that away. A lot of it is getting in the right situation at the right time.”
That right situation hasn’t come. There have only been rumors. During the 2004 season, the Raptors were apparently looking to sign English but went with Jannero Pargo and veteran Rod Strickland. He’s also been linked to New York, where former Pacers’ coach Isiah Thomas is working as the Knicks’ GM. Frustration has started to set in for English and he recently fired his agent for not returning phone calls.
Right now, there’s no Air Canada Centre or Madison Square Garden for Carl English. Last season, the NBA dream took him through Roanoke, Virginia. Other nights, his Florida Flame played in rural Alabama. Hopefully, an NBA scout or GM will notice the 14 points per game scoring average and 46% shooting from beyond the arc. It may never happen. Then again, things have never been easy for Carl English.
Is Howard’s End In Hollywood?
Should have bought that Dwight Howard number 12 Lakers jersey I saw in TJ Maxx for half off back in the day. Seriously though if Dwight can return to the Lake Show then there’s hope for my hairline yet…
Kobe Bryant mouths this whilst shaking his head in dissing dismay from the baseline whilst staring down Dwight Howard on the other half of the court. Now a Houston Rocket the less than perfect pair have a problem…and it’s all getting flagrant.
Once upon a time in Hollywood with Mike D’Antoni running the show with an ageing Steve Nash, Hollywood’s Laker reality show was playing fantasy, legendary name Basketball again like the time they brought in late in their career legends like Karl Malone and Gary Payton to help raise banners like the point of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or logo of Jerry West. But when they picked up Magic man Dwight Howard who even took Orlando’s Mickey Mouse kingdom on his broad back all the way to the Finals against the Lakers, they expected D12 and KB24 to be the new generation Shaq and Kobe. After all Dwight Howard was a man of steel too.
And oh how they were Shaq and Kobe 2…but in completely all the wrong way. It turned out to be Batman vs Superman without the dawn of a justice league, or even their mothers having the same name. Kobe’s beef with Dwight made his repaired relationship with Shaq look like Japanese cows without the massage and feeding rituals that make their Mamba city namesakes cuts the best in the business…now served in Shaquille’s restaurant with more onion rings. And when they met the following season after the death of another dynasty to be, this time Dwight was the little red corvette and Kobe the brick wall unable to be felled or floored like the one in Berlin. Baptizing him like that time in Orlando with his most dynamic dunk.
Since going from the Orlando Magic to Magic smiles in Hollywood Howard has switched more teams than your 2K partner when you’ve already picked to play as the Lakers. He’s also received his fair share of off court and locker room problems including some chemistry cancer concerns. And even in this off-season, either looking to make some headlines or free agent publicity stunts he’s come out and said he’d be open to returning to the Lakers (…erm) and that Kobe was right (he already knows).
Now most in Lakerland laughed at the social media scoffed idea. Especially with a front-court force more formidable than anything the association has to offer, lead by new big man legend Anthony Davis. Following in the sneaker steps of Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and Pau to truly be the new Shaq and Kobe with King LeBron James. But when his old New Orleans Pelicans reunited Wildcat brother DeMarcus Cousins went down with another season threatening injury last week the Lakers were forced to look elsewhere already, like filling out their final roster spot with Andre Igudola was a ring of last week’s past, or Carmelo was one long rumored Anthony never meant to be. Bursting the banana boat like a CP3 nix.
And although the Lakers have been linked with the arc of Joakim Noah or the Zaza land of Pachulia and with plenty of other big assets still on the market like Marcin Gortat or Amir Johnson, will we see Dwight Howard eating tacos and yelling with LeBron on Twitter this Tuesday as we all unfollow like too many tweets (my bad)? Bringing Howard back to Hollywood seems sillier than bringing the LaVar Ball show back to this Kardashian town. Because besides they already have the all dunking and blocking JaVale McGee who is worthy of a start with James (42) clapping like throwing up chalk. All as this hair blown out center throws it down again and again, coast to coast in California. But apparently there’s a mutual interest…what is this Tinder? Will this just be the makings of another Michael Beasley or make ’em dance Lance Stephenson meme team? Still the Lakers need more in reserve and Dwight needs this for his revenge to the past years that have taken his career from the red caped sun to being newspaper fodder to each cities equivalent of the Daily Planet. Time to rewrite all those who wrote you off Jimmy Olsen.
Read all about it, at the end of press next week Dwight Howard could be a Los Angeles Laker yet again.
News just in…I can’t believe I’m writing this.
Who would of thought it?
Certainly not Kobe.
But it’s the King’s town now.
And after all in this LeBron ‘Space Jam’ scripted season for the Los Angeles Lakers you know Hollywood loves a redemption story too.
Boogie’s Productions Down Again
Cousins injured again…we can’t relate to that.
When former Sacramento star and New Orleans Pelican DeMarcus Cousins joined the Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green Golden State Warriors to begin last season critics dubbed this superteam unfair.
What was unfair however was the ACL injury that kept Boogie sidelined for most of the season and then the quad injury on top of that in the playoffs that made sure the Warriors wouldn’t be dancing in their final chapter in Golden State.
But as D.C. made a Cali move too like the Dubs across the Golden Gate to San Francisco, heading to LeBron’s Lakerland with former frontcourt friend Anthony Davis, what was really unfair is what’s just come out of a practice run this week.
Cousins has tore his ACL again in a horrible twist of fate.
This games God’s people.
When DeMarcus reunited with the same former New Orleans big man that rocked his jersey in beautiful All Star tribute a couple of seasons back when they briefly flew together as Pelicans this Summer, the Lakers furthered their favourite status like tapping that heart on Twitter. Even if the Clippers ended up being the ones that got Kawhi Leonard…and Paul George too for the new battle of Los Angeles, raging against the Lakers Hollywood machine, the Lake Show have the ‘Space Jam 2’ of the King and the ‘brow. Not to mention the difference maker like rising star Kyle Kuzma in the veteran one of Cousins.
Either one of them will blow, or both, as the other will show he’s still got it. Giving the West’s best the biggest force of an interchangeable frontcourt. As the Lakers could either go with the more muscle version of a Tim Duncan and David Robinson twin towers in the Pelican reunited Kentucky Wildcats of Davis and Cousins and ‘Bron. Or the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe of James and A.D. and the one young core star who didn’t get switched for this franchise player in Kuz, who could form a big three if the injured Cousins isn’t already still a part of one. Despite the writing off medical report.
And we haven’t even got to his Kentucky alumni Rajon Rondo led backcourt, or last year’s all dunking and blocking big headband and hair spark JaVale McGee. A gym rat who re-upped after almost going for both the Defensive Player Of The Year and Most Improved Player award in the first month of last seasons 82 campaign.
The Lakers are going to need him and that first wind of last year now more than ever.
Or the California club have some decisions to make for who to put in purple and gold for their almost meant to be final roster spot (DON’T AMNESTY!). Do they still wait for another former Warrior in Sixth Man, defensive legend Andre Igudola? Or do they leave him and the long rumoured other Anthony in Carmelo and pick up another big? Guys like Nené, Amir Johnson, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried, Zaza Pachulia and Marcin Gortat are still on the market like fresh fruit stalls. And even Dwight Howard of all people have expressed (more like blatantly begged for publicity) for a return to Lakerland after his Hollywood divorce.
Because we have no idea when Boogie will be back. Or if he will even be the same player when he returns. Or if he even was before this injury happened. But despite history rewriting so many careers crippled by injury we still believe. We still believe he has superstar status and could be the X-factor difference maker when he returns late in the game to this Hollywood scripted rivalry like he almost was last season in the Finals against Toronto as he flips it. You saw him almost become a Splash Brother with that three, so just you wait until you see him downtown in STAPLES this season when it’s all said and buzzer beater done.
The bridge is far from over.
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