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The 2016 Hall Of Fame Decked With Diversity

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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.

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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.

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NBA

Millsap Mishap Could Keep Forward Behind 3 Months

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Poor Paul Millsap.

This campaign after becoming one of the biggest free agent pick ups of the offseason, one of the leagues leading Power Forwards has been put down on the medical report with an injury that could call him off sick for a quarter of a year.

The most reliable player over four periods has spent the bird share of his career helping his former Atlanta Hawks make it to the first round knockout stakes of the playoffs each year. But following the season where they didn’t make the cut of the second one, it was time for a change for the 32 year old number 4 who once looked to be the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone replacement Carlos Boozer didn’t turn out to be early in his career alongside former leading Point Guard Deron Williams.

And in the mile high city of Denver with a would be big-three of sophomore sensation Emmanuel Mudiay, dreaded defender Kenneth Faried and of course The Joker with the last laugh Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets in their new Nikes looked golden and finally past that baby blue Carmelo era (they may as well be as Anthony, now with the blue, white and orange of the Thunder isn’t even a Knick anymore (it’s ‘Old York’ now Knickerbockers)). But now like Ben Affleck looking at the ‘Justice League’ box office returns it’s time to ask the Nugs “why so serious” Batman as an injury to their versatile veteran forward of seasoned upon seasons of experience doesn’t exactly put a smile on their face.

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The All-Star was averaging a helpful handful of exactly 16 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists before tearing the ligaments in his left wrist in a 127-109 loss to the Lakers who themselves recently lost all dunking son Larry Nance Jr. to a broken wrist, but are thankful to be having him return after they cut the turkey this thanksgiving. Millsap and the Nuggets are looking at second opinions from docs offering the same sort of speedy recovery that doesn’t sap their frontline. But if they concur with the original diagnosis, it’s three months in a suit and tie and not to mention cast for Paul who will return in late February after the All Star break he normally never takes off.

The man with the three year, 90 mill deal helped make this outside eight seed threat Denver the new gritty, grinding Memphis of the West. Now without him the older than Richard Jefferson roster is thinner than the air up there in Colorado.

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NBA

Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving

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USP NBA: BOSTON CELTICS AT BROOKLYN NETS S BKN BKN BOS USA NY

Smokin’!

Even that phrase delivered at a perfect Jim Carrey pitch can’t quite put into perspective just how hot Celtic Kyrie Irving is right now. Especially in the Boston green, Rip Hamilton face-mask.

Maybe those three little letters would do more justice for this league leader?

You know Menacing, Versatile, Phantom?

No?

How about M-V-P?

Kyrie joins Kobe, former Cleveland Cavalier teammate LeBron James and the man whose about to pass him the Maurice Poldoff torch, Russell Westbrook to be an absolute menace in the Phantom of the Opera face-mask, leaving other teams dead on basketballs biggest stage. He may have fractured and broken some bones in his face, but that won’t stop him as he fractures and breaks the backs and hearts of the faces of all the other franchises he faces off with night after excruciating night.

Those who used to say it must be the shoes (and have you seen his best in show sneaker designs complete with shamrocks like Starbucks on St Patrick’s Day this season heads? Those halloween pumpkin ones were the spice), are now saying it must be the mask.

Sure the plastic profile guard makes for some meme worthy Pinterest fan art appreciation but this guard has made a point at hating it…the sweat inducing mask that is, not the love. These kind of covers can blind you, but like the concussed legend of Celtic great Larry, letting it fly like a Bird above the baskets in the Boston Garden all the way to the rafters (as he saw too hoops like 80’s girls earrings and just aimed for the top one), Kyrie plays through all the pain and frustration. Taking it out on the ball (like opponents on Lakers rookie Lonzo) and the other teams hoops that to him seem bigger than those ones Bruno Mars sang about.

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Take Dallas for example. Irving just masked all his pain by taking the Mavericks for 47 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in the last contest that took the Celtics to a sweet sixteen straight. After dropping two games following Gordon Hayward dropping out of the new season before the second quarter of his opening game one even played out, everyone was calling time on these new Celtics as soon as Gordon turned his ankle counter-clockwise. But now one of the best in the association Kyrie is showing LeBron and them he’s just as good as them or anyone alone like this man from down under always wanted to prove. This definition of clutch, who leaves everyone else in the fourth with straws has already shown on a championship scale against Curry of all hot guards that he can take the last shot that really matters. Now forget the Most Valuable Player award for a waning second or even the time his dynamic duo partner in pine Hayward comes back, Irving has the power to dribble drive all the way to the crown on his own.

And it’s going to take more than a mask to stop him.

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NBA

The Wind Brings The 2020 All-Star Game To Chicago

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1973. And the first NBA All-Star Game to play in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois features the last All-Star game in the last season of two lasting Los Angeles Lakers legends. One man who scored 100 points in just one game, Wilt Chamberlain. And one man who was and still remains the one and only logo of this National Basketball Association, Jerry West.

1988. And arguably the greatest All-Star Game of all-time and an even better, best ever All-Star weekend sees Michael Jordan become Michael Jordan. M.J. scored 40 in an 138-133 O.T. A.S.G. win for the East meeting the West. But a day before all that he and the Slam Dunk Contest became even more legendary. As mere moments after storied Boston Celtic great Larry Bird asked “whose coming in second place” before raising his finger in victory before the ABA coloured moneyball ripped through the twine (no Nick Young swag), Money took off from the free throw line like a good doctor for his above the rim J and jumped over everybody including Atlanta Hawk wing spreading, sky-soarer Dominique Wilkins.

Now more than 30 years later after next years All-Star Game in the purple and gold city of Los Angeles and the 2019 one in the redeemed city of Charlotte, the 2020 and 69th All Star Game will be played in Michael’s old town of Chi-city. In the same year as Tokyo, Japan will hold the next Olympic Games, the game of basketball will go back to it’s 90’s roots and an inspired iconic landmark of hoop heaven that didn’t really have the same spirit in the seventies, but really Jumpman took off in the golden era eighties. So much so that the old ’88 All Star Weekend t-shirt is a historical thrift store must find for more than it’s 80’s Tron like, cool, retro logo.

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And with mid-February lovers big blockbuster basketball coming back to the city of wind like the river that runs through it, Chi-town needs this like out of towners need deep dish pizza. You only have to listen to the news or the Common album ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ (you know the legendary M.C. who used to wipe up Jordan’s sweat off the old Chicago Stadium hardwood has to perform at the mid-season classics halftime show) to know this classic city is marred by violence that burns through this second city like fire. The beloved Bulls have even become a “garbage team” to root for too, losing the big-three likes of last seasons Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade (who may even be on a farewell All Star tour once his hometown All Star weekend comes crossed off the calendar and everyone is united in the airlines center).

Now this team who relies on sophomore stud Denzel like Oscar hopeful movies will hopefully be back by the next few valentines. As the heart of the city in twenty twenty will want to see something as visionary as Sinatra’s kind of towns history.

That’s just the Chicago way.

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