Sneakers squeak down the corridors of the Hall of Fame like they did down court in what only seems like yesterday. Draped over the tongue is the turn up of some pants not as baggy as usual, but still no Stockton. The dress shoes will be changed into in a minute. But he’ll be damned if he doesn’t get to walk on air one more time. It sure feels like it. No question.
Towering over him with careful strides is a giant of a man that moves with agility, but grace. At first it looks like the weight of the world has been placed on the shoulders of his suit jacket. But when you look into his eyes you see he could take it…and make it. He has to duck down as he unassumingly enters the room that’s held for him. Everyone else takes a bow.
BOOM! Then there’s a rumble through the auditorium. It sounds like a quake. Ushers are holding the door frames. Does somebody have a richter? Peoples glasses of water are vibrating like ‘Jurassic Park’ for the greatest Goliath since the T-Rex comes bounding towards the stage. That’s a big “son of a b####”! And just wait until you hear him roar…
…Caaaaaaan yoooooou diiiiig iiiiiiit?!
That ladies and gentelmen is your big-three that headlined the Class of 2016 for Basketball’s Hall of Fame. An a academy of acclaim that also featured inductees coach Tom Izzo, the man who helped architect Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls twice three-peating dynasty; Jerry Reinsdorf and one of the original and best legends of WNBA hoops; Sheryl Swoopes.
But the big-three that held the room really were larger than life in more ways than one. And these contemporary peers and great friends were all great rivals too in battle as their hilarious and heartfelt speeches traded war stories and touched on peace making gestures of humour and humility too.
The 7 foot 6 inch Yao Ming took the biggest standing stage as he wasn’t only inducted for the player he could have been but the man he was and will always be. Breaking down barriers in this border of Basketball, literally the biggest man from China to ever play basketball, not only opened the door for his country, but the whole continent of Asia too. Had injuries not derailed his classic career he could have been one of the best players the NBA has ever seen. Regardless like his honoary inductees, Bill Russell, Bill Walton and Dikembe Mutombo he will go down as one of the leagues greatest big men of all-time anyway.
Standing a whole foot and six inches shorter you couldn’t tell, because Allen Iverson’s heart is huge and he walks as tall as them all. Just like the amount of times as a player he drove back into the paint, again and again. No matter how many times he got knocked down, or who stood in his way as Shaq attests. Draped in the love of his family and friends (including his son; Allen Iverson II whose look and mannerisms are only a goatee and a throwback away from getting up as his pops for the next fancy dress party he goes to in college) and drenched in the tears that champagne never made, Bubba Chuck finally won. Like Rocky for Philly he’ll always be the champ. I mean who else enters the Hall to chants of MVP?
And then it got really B.I.G. Notoriously so. Shaquille O’Neal took to a stage that looked like a spinning top in his huge hands as the great, great man spun his Hall of Fame speech into the greatest comedy roast you’ve seen since the late, great Richard Pryor turned the table on his own one. A.I. may have been the first inductee to reference Chappelle Show as his epic, emotional speech also had its lighter moments as he stepped over Cav champ coach Tyronne Lue again and Yao may have had jokes too. But not like Shaq who got everyone back. Everyone could get it. From the sage of Phil Jackson, to of course Kobe in one of the funniest moments of the night that had twice-time teammate Gary Payton in stiches even the glove couldn’t keep still. Even Dick Vitale got his. As Shaq looked into the camera and then at his contemporaries with warm, accepting affection after each joke you knew it was all in good nature. For arguablly the greatest, most candid Hall speech since former frontcourt partner Dennis Rodman’s one of brutal, but brilliant honesty.
Honestly it sounds like a cliche but this was one of the best classes in years. You could just tell from the half hour speeches that felt like a quarter of that. That for once showed these guys couldn’t beat the buzzer as the red lights of 0.00 that told them to “Wrap It Up” may aswell have been shut down themselves. And what a diverse class too of all types of people that just shows the range of this game and how far it and we as fans have all come.
We can’t wait for the reunion.
Checkmate. D’Angelo Russell Eliminates The King’s Lakers
“I’m glad it’s you”, Hollywood icon Paul Newman told acting legend Tom Hanks in San Mendes’ gangster epic ‘Road To Perdition’ before Tom, Tommy Gun shot him down in the rain.
And here in Hollywood as Laker fans who are just glad it’s over, we’re glad it was by his hand. We’re glad it was D-Lo who delivered the final blow.
If you didn’t know that with the ‘Luke Cage’ like Notorious B.I.G. red portrait, new SLAM magazine classic cover with the crown that in Brooklyn, D’Angelo Russell was the new King of New York, now you know. And last night his crown with a gauntlet gem of infinity stones took the L.A. King, checkmate, endgame. Showing this games chess not checkers.
You passed your ‘Training Day’ kid.
You want to talk about karma Lake Show? Because this is more than a lesson learned, this is a fitting end to this courts chapter wrote by the Basketball Gods under the heading line, “what goes around, comes around”!
Revenge is a dime dish best served ice in his veins cold.
And now you’re season is done as the jello is jiggling in the refrigerator Chick.
But as D’Angelo had 21 points to go along with 13 double/double dishes as he set the table for what we thought would be his West logo 44 career-high smash, everyone ate as the Nets had a balanced diet and attack of the twine as they coasted the Lake Show 111-106 in a close game, albeit one that always looked like theirs. Another former Laker in big man Ed Davis got his with 14 and 15. Whilst sparky Spencer Dinwiddie got 19 and 3, DeMarregards Carroll 15 and 6 and big Jarrett Allen 13 and 11 as all the Nets went harder than his ‘fro. But the high man was Joey Buckets with 26 points. Including 6 for 8 from downtown New York as for some reason L.A. thought leaving Joe Harris-this year’s three point shootout winner at the All Star in Charlotte-as open as stores on the Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 shift wasn’t going to leave them crying like ‘Jolene’.
But now the Nets have taken their man it’s nothing but tears. With all due respect to George Gervin, D’Angelo Russell is the next generation iceman. As finger to lips he silenced STAPLES. The most passionately driven guard since Iverson. And he just stepped over the Lakers again, eliminating from the playoffs as Luke Walton watched his job go to Lue from the sidelines. Magic said this kid couldn’t lead as he gave the Ball to Lonzo. But now everyone is getting played by this big baller, as this number one leads his cutting Nets to the playoffs as an All-Star and Team LeBron end up being all for show. As number 23 will not be raised to the brackets for the first time since 2005. Let alone the finals for the last decade gone.
With all the jumbotron tributes from teams to past players right now (Isaiah *cough* Thomas, LeBron), the Lakers should play one of D’Angelo’s ice clutch shot the day after his grandmother’s death that won the game for the Lakers (unlike the castles bricks here tonight) as he fell into his family’s arms uptop the stands. And just end it with one word that says more than thank you…
I feel like Brad Pitt’s war wounded character with my ‘Fury’ for the team I love here. But like he says, “I’m trying to teach you something”. LeBron and the Lakers needed this. A season that started in bloom in the sunshine of California has turned to the Autumn leaves that have fallen to a crisp. Injuries were the problem, but then the reason came with the added insult of the Davis drama. And now this reality show is in disarray and it all came from Magic, not LaVar Ball. Imagine seeing that one in a crystal ball last Summer. The Zubac, Bryant (Thomas), Nance Jr, Clarkson, Russell and Randle-less Lakers need to learn from this and realize their formidable future of Lonzo, Kuz, Hart, Brandon Ingram (who is still two years younger than Lo) and maybe even Moe is not worth one man. Whether that’s Anthony or LeBron. Even a team-less Carmelo was out off joining this assembly line that has meme-d its way through good guys like Mike Beasley. This team could still be something (I mean this season like last nights City Edition threads has been ugly but somehow still appealing), ‘Stranger Things’ have happened, but right now it’s in the upside down with no sign of Winona Ryder’s Christmas lights. Not even a decoration for a declaration.
Kobe in a ‘Get Up’ interview for ESPN promoting his new ‘Wizenard’ book series said that this game was about more than stats and about feeling, energy. For decades they’ve said this game is like jazz. And just like that form of music, the notes are all there, but it’s what you do with improvising them that counts. And the only number and note from the Lake Show you need to know last night (apart from our energy high guy of the season McGee’s Kareem like 33 with the hook. A career best along with one in rebounds with 20 off the shot rim and glass) is that with his 8th turnover the King toppled to the ground as his crown slipped on a crucial possession. It’s kind of symbolic of how his Hollywood season has aged and played out. But one of the best players in the league, if not the best will be back on his throne in the hills and he’ll have plenty more Kawhi or Kyrie knights with him and these young princes.
But last night the one that hey exiled showed he could make a king bleed from the borough to the big city. D Loading just needed President Johnson to please wait. But with his own Magic cast last night, Russell showed he was fully charged now and ready to go like the Lakers never should have told him to. Because the only place in this postseason they’re going now is home.
Ice. In. His. Postseason.
Green & Gold. I.T. Was A Special Moment With Isaiah Thomas Back In Boston
Bill Russell, Larry Bird.
Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce.
Rajon Rondo. Kevin Garnett. Say what you will but Ray Allen too from three.
Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum. IF they can get it together and turn what looks good on paper into what’s engraved wrote read in history books for the most storied franchise in NBA history.
Boston Celtic legends. The pride of New England.
From the last cigar to the golden era, Isaiah Thomas belongs there like his spelt differently namesake Detroit Piston being a Bad Boy to all that Magic and Bird in the Showtime of the 80’s.
And last night in the Garden perfect parquet court was held for the return of the fourth quarter king. Since Beantown, the microwave juggernaut, spark plug off the bench has bounced around the league like drinking too much coffee. From LeBron’s Cavalier land to the Los Angeles Lakers. Always providing that brief spark off the pine of what could be and what he had here, despite being Nygma green riddled by injury and franchise business disloyalty. But last night decked out in green and gold like Lianne La Havas, special edition Kobe’s for the night that even a Laker would love (forget that never wear green meme), as he took to the floor none of that mattered.
Sat back on the scorers table as cool as Celtic green cucumber in his warm-ups, I.T. took in a fitting tribute on the jumbotron for a team that knows too that they shouldn’t have traded him (he postgame not so quipped that if they never dealt him they could be dealing with another championship in those league leading rafters right now where surely his number 4 jersey held up by fans behind him will one day reside in pride of place). Beaming with that same Celtic pride through all the pain, you’ve never seen the slow grind smile like his since he was putting in work here in Massachusetts. The big screen video took us through his fourth quarter heroics, big shots and the moment he’s overcame it all to play in the wake of his sister’s tragic death and lead his team to epic, emotional glory.
And once the ovation stood up for a call game, more than a minute of time and moment of Paul Pierce like truth tribute, there wasn’t a butt on a bleacher or dry eye in the house.
Especially Isaiah, who couldn’t contain his pride and joy. Wiping away tears and wordlessly mouthing thank yous to everyone in attendance who clapped until their hands were red and cheered until hoarse. Celtic fans are real NBA fans who recognize that green collar hard work and know a Boston boy when they see one, no matter the uniform.
Thomas on limited minutes as the golden Nuggets make that postseason push to conference contention behind the state of those dynasty reigning Warriors, only sealed seven minutes in the actual game and he didn’t make a basket for more Boston bravado cheers. But that didn’t matter in this instance. Neither did the W his new team took away on the road with a 114-105 pruning in the Garden, as the Joker and all the Mile-High basketball cards clinched a playoff berth outside Colorado.
What mattered was this beautiful reunion between team and one of its favourite players. Sure this current Celtics outfitted for the banners and Hall looks so much better on dry erase like their storied LeBron Laker rivals with the King in throne tow. But look at the Magic of Hollywood right now. With a guy like Isaiah, Boston basketball was that little bit more inspired with the iconic little man. There was a little more hoop dream hope there too. And for both city and son it hasn’t been as sweet the same since.
Like I.T. says with the last word from last night.
“This feels like home”.
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