The dreams of many Canadian basketball fans will finally come to fruition next month. The 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend will take place in Canada’s very own Toronto, Ontario, marking the first time that the All-Star weekend will not take place in the USA.
The weekend of February 12th 2016 will be a historic moment for not only the NBA but for the entire country. Basketball in Canada has been known for it’s ups and downs, despite the founder of the game being Canadian the sport itself never remained relevant in the country for too long. In 1995 the NBA added two Canadian teams, The Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. After a lockout in 1999 the Grizzlies basketball supporters started distancing themselves and when the NBA resumed attendance dropped enormously forcing the owners to eventually sell the team in 2001.
Canadian fans we’re devastated at the fact that their country lost an NBA team. However, these fans could not have kept their heads down for too long. The year after the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis Canadian basketball fans surprisingly we’re more excited than ever! Not because of the Grizzlies departure, but because of the Toronto Raptors arrival in the mainstream media!
The “Raptors” became known as “Canada’s Basketball Team” and one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA in the early 2000’s. Toronto’s ticket sales jumped out the roof as they set league attendance records from 2000-2002. A man named Vince Carter who had the best years of his career, was playing spectacular basketball leading his team by being one of the most alluring players of that era. He was nicknamed “Half-Man Half-Amazing!” Carter took the NBA by storm as he was known for regularly throwing down some of the best dunks in NBA history. Even though he won rookie of the year in 1998. His fame sky rocketed after the 2000 All-Star weekend in Oakland California where he gave NBA fans one of the greatest, if not the greatest Slam-Dunk contest ever, leaving superstars like Shaquille O’Neal and others with their jaws open, dunk after dunk.
In 2001 Carter made the All-NBA second team averaging the most points in his career, scoring an astonishing 27.6 points per game. He led the Raptors to their only first-round playoff series win in the history of the franchise as they beat the New York Knicks to advance to the semi-conference round where they played the Philadelphia 76ers. Carter and Allen Iverson we’re easily the top five players and entertainers in the NBA at that time. Vince Carter scored 50 points in game three as NBA fans enjoyed one of the most memorable early 2000’s playoff series. Which made it all but better that the team putting on a show was located in Canada. The Raptors eventually lost in game 7. The following years we’re derailed by injuries for Vince Carter and a fallout with the City of Toronto began.
In 2003 the Toronto Raptors looked to repossess it’s mark in the eastern conference by drafting Chris Bosh a young stud out of Georgia Tech. However, the Raptors kept falling short of the playoffs while making Canadian fans once again lose hope in Canada’s Basketball Team. Players started getting disinterested in playing for Canada’s only NBA franchise, complaining about the weather, cable, taxes etc. Until this day they hold an NBA record for being the only team in history to not dress 12 players the entire season. They ended up trading Vince Carter to the New Jersey now Brooklyn Nets leaving Canadian fans even more heartbroken.
After Carter’s departure, the young Chris Bosh was given the opportunity to be the leader of the team and help Toronto get back to the playoffs. However, their first couple years without Vince was devastating. Coaching and General Manager (G.M) changes finally got the Raptors back on track and in the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round every time they’d make it. In 2010 their leader who was averaging a career-best 24 points and 10.8 rebounds per game decided that he had enough losing before packing his bags to join the Miami Heat that off-season. From that point on Canadian basketball fans received another huge blow and once again we’re put in a grievance state as many started to lose hope in Basketball in Canada.
Despite low points in the franchise history many maintained strong and had faith in a man they drafted the year before Bosh departed ‘DeMar DeRozan ‘ aka the Compton kid who was selected 9th overall in the 2009 NBA draft. Toronto Raptor fans we’re looking forward to what the high flying man could do for them, as his jumping ability reminded them of their city’s old hero Vince Carter. All they were hoping for was for him to be half as good as VC was.
DeRozan struggled as a rookie scoring only 8 points per game, Raptors fans weren’t totally disappointed with his production, since he represented the city in the 2010 NBA Slam Dunk contest. Despite losing the competition they seen a sign of excitement in the Compton kid. He may not be as good as Vince Carter was but he definitely is not too far behind. Since being drafted one can easily argue that DeRozan’ has improved every year, he’s shown signs of patience, maturity and loyalty as he stayed composed during the rebuilding years for the Raptors who are now a force in a much improved and tough Eastern Conference. Alongside DeMar is his fellow All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry who also decided to stick around with the Raptors as he and DeMar have worked their way to becoming one of the best backcourts in the NBA. There efforts will likely pay off as they will probably be the second set of players in franchise history of the Raptors to have two player to participate in the Annual NBA all-star showcase since Vince Carter and Antonio Davis were selected back in 2000-2001 season. Also a Toronto native Andrew Wiggins, last year’s Rookie of the Year will be participating in the Rising Star Challenge during the All-Star weekend. Canadian fans are not only looking forward to be hosting the All-Star weekend, but also to maybe see two Raptors and 1 Canadian representing them that weekend.
Despite all the ups and downs Toronto Raptors fans and Canadian basketball fans have experienced over the last two decades the city of Toronto and basketball across the country has remained relevant over the past couple seasons. Now with the All-Star Weekend coming to Toronto it looks like that relevance won’t go anywhere anytime soon. One may ask why are the Raptors relevant if they still haven’t advanced past the first-round since 2001? Or how is the City of Toronto relevant? It certainly helps that two of the biggest names in music right now Justin Bieber and Drake were born and raised in Canada. Add the return of Masai Ujiri to the mix plus the phenomenal play of Andrew Wiggins (Toronto native), Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan and you have all the ingredients for successful change of culture recipe.
Likewise Canada’s Men’s & Women’s national basketball teams both put on historic showings last summer. The men’s program had their best-ever finish in the history of Pan-Am Games finishing 4-1 and then went on to win the bronze medal at the FIBA games. As for the women’s they won their tournaments in a dominating fashion going undefeated in both the Pan-Am games & the FIBA Americas tournament earning a ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
All these men and women are definitely worthy of praise and some credit for the uprising of not only basketball in Canada but the culture itself. But perhaps no one deserves more credit for the uprising of Canada and specifically the City of Toronto than the man who has carried Toronto, Canada on his back and has been the face of Hip-Hop the last few years. Raptors “Global Ambassador” ‘Aubrey Drake Graham’. Ever since his entrance in the hip-hop scene the city has never been the same. Drake has been one of the most decorated and most successful Hip-Hop artist the past six years. He’s received over 40 awards and around 250 nominees. The 29 year-old rapper has been on such a tear that “Toronto Life Magazine” listed Drake as the number 1 most influential man in Toronto in 2015.
Drake’s compelling determination to promote the city of Toronto has impelled the whole country to duplicate this movement which helped lead the media relations staff of the Toronto Raptors winning the 2014-15 Brian McIntyre Media Relations Award. This award is presented to the best media team in the NBA, the ‘6 God’ as Drake calls himself’ can surely take some credit for that award, the 6 as Toronto is now known for is easily becoming one of the most popular and exciting cities in the world. In one of Drake’s first hit with Lil Wayne in a song called “Ransom” Drake starts the song by saying ” Toronto I Got You, I Got Us!” and he’s certainly lived up to that statement. No one since Vince Carter has played more of a significant role in redefining the culture of the city of Toronto like the 6 God himself!
Enjoy the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend Ladies and Gentleman! Take nothing for granted fans, it will be a historic moment for the 6 and the country of Canada. Moreover it will be NBA’s Great ‘Kobe Bryant’s’ last All-Star weekend appearance in our very own backyard Canada! Basketball in Canada has gone through some tough times but as they say “Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!” Toronto, Canada and the rest of the World rise up and get ready for the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend.
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.
New Nike Philadelphia Seventies Sixers Jerseys Are A Classic Edition
Philadelphia soul on ice.
Ever since Nike partnered up with the NBA like ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ there has been a fast and furious release of rock solid jerseys for the hardwood over the last couple of seasons. From the Association, to the Icon’s and Statement’s made. Last year the ‘Just Do It’ swoosh even helped Basketball’s best put on a vest for the City. Adding even more to the closet collection when it came to some alternates for the teams that made the postseason push to the playoffs.
But now if you thought fo, fo, four jerseys that have at least one changing by the year was enough for your locker room or throwback budget, then just you wait. Because all these fits and drips may be iconic, but Nike are about to release an addition that really is Classic for the five man team. Over the next calendar the Classic Edition jerseys will belong to only 12 franchises in this 30 strong league. Less than half for the next year that we hope includes some storied Lakers and Celtics duds.
But what better team to introduce this new tradition than the one with more classic throwbacks than Mitchell and Ness in the Philadelphia 76ers? The City of Brotherly Love may have lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Reddick this offseason, but they’ve gained even more threads for new team player Al Horford and mainstays Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to rock with the rock as they push it down court next season.
Open your arms to that.
The classic PHILA Philadelphia jerseys have already been brought back with a next generation twist. Whilst the 76ers seem to be the only team who could still put up those Christmas script jerseys long after other teams have gone in the New Year sales. But with the only court apparel competition being what looks in the mirror as they try these on, the Sixers have out done and stitched themselves yet again. Bringing back like 1971, Hal Greer and ‘The Kangaroo Kid’, Billy Cunningham, the iconic and creative “Seventies Sixers” jerseys. A jumping, forgotten retro relic and slept on classic until now.
Waking up the league, back to the future in a Ford Mustang the Motown era of a classic Bad Boy, Detroit Pistons would be proud…or jealous of (inch or mile, you should have got there sooner Motor City men), Embiid and Simmons in a slick photoshoot sharing an ‘S’ on the chest popped the hood and revealed all the intricate workings underneath, bringing this classic back on the road like Hall & Oates.
Hold on we’re going home.
Before the process. Before the answer. Even before “fo, fo, fo”, Cunningham and the Sixers represented Philly like steak and cheese. The 1970’s where a defining era for the city. Philadelphia soul made its mark from stereos to nightspots and some young fighter named ‘Rocky’ went the distance with some kid called Creed as some man going by the name Sly Stallone wrote a classic movie. Oh and Questlove of the legendary Roots crew was born. Along with another Philly legend you might also be familiar with.
With this thrift shop like find that celebrates the spirit and legacy of a city that reinvents itself more times than it does it’s wardrobe, this is the perfect “new” look for a team that could take inspiration from their past when it comes to their latest reinvention on court. Playing on without the services of their Butler, or top downtown gunner J.J.
And after all they’ve loved and lost over the years, even if you don’t trust it you can always try on the process now.
And its a look that could fit over seventy games this season.
Now that has the makings of a classic.
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