Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard doesn’t just get buckets…he gets bars too. If you wanted find a baller who really raps look no further. But his backcourt partner C.J. McCollum is more than just a hypeman. One of the leagues rising superstars is a journalism major on the side too. And he is the one writing his career future. But can he rewrite the Blazers one? The City of Roses is no longer mourning the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge, but we’re going to need a little more from the PDX to keep Portland in it.
Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay remain some of the newest and best stars the NBA has under its radar. Whilst household names like Mike Miller and Jameer Nelson keep a veteran sense of presence in the locker room. This baby blue Denver squad has a lot of Nuggets, but this team still searching for a post Carmelo identities biggest x-factor and match-up problem is still that mile-high Colorado air. Other than that this team that has been through a lot of thick is a little thin.
Scream Timber and howl like Wolves all you want but there are no more tickets left when it comes to big Minnesota legend Kevin Garnett. But even after his short return resulted in retirement Da Kids are more than alright. His protegee Karl Anthony-Townes runs this one now. And the SLAM cover star is joined by repeat Slam Dunk champ Zach Lavine, European phenom Ricky Rubio and of course Canada’s very own Andrew Wiggins, who we’re sure even the champion Cleveland Cavaliers wish they kept now in this Golden State age of Kevin. Show these pup some love, because when these Teen-Wolfs become a pack you’ll no longer have to worry about just one man.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant has gone. Lets move on. Serge Ibaka too. Just like James. But Westbrook stayed. Russell re-upped even when he had another year and couple of millions of contract worth to wait. Now that’s commitment. That’s loyalty. Lightening may have struck this Oklahoma home, but Russ West Thunder-clapped back. And now he’s free to roam the whole damn floor this dynamo without the dynamic duo will be dynamite. He has plenty of underrated support in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. And the Magic may have tricked them for Ibaka, but the Victor Oladipo trade will prove a real treat, making for the scariest, speediest backcourt outside of more than just the wild West. Don’t put the umbrellas up just yet. OKC is O.K.
Timetables will turn and tell how well the Jazz will play this year once their child of Mike Dunleavy and Matt Harping, superstar Gordon Haywood returns to the Salt of Lake City. Still the Jazz have more notes with new court compositions Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and George Hill to sing from the playbook sheet. If these vets can work in-sync with the potential of Derrik Favours, Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert then the Jazz will be miles ahead.
Golden State Warriors
73 wins may be enough to beat Michael Jordan’s greatest six-peating Chicago Bulls, but not enough to beat LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games, even at a never beaten before 3-1 advantage. Perhaps it was losing Andrew Bogut in the middle, which has happened again (sometimes people never learn). But as he leaves in free agency, the Dubs have picked up former San Antonio ring bandwagon-er David West to fill the hole and space on his finger. As for the small ball, death line-up changing of the guard don’t worry. Steve Kerr is still leading this unit with the blessings of fellow retired point Steve Nash on board. Steph Curry still has the shot. And he has more than a big-three with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and former Finals MVP and LeBron stopper, come own shot swatter Andre Igudola. And that’s the Fantastic Four that has ignited the league with the decision made by Kevin Durant. But will this superteam be how the West has won? Or another Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton experiment come death of a dynasty undone?
The LeBron strong Eric Bledsoe. His running mate Brandon Knight. The quick impact Devin Booker. The Nash days Leonardo Barbosa. Yeah the Suns know how to run. Just like your electricity. They know to have as much fun, fun, fun as the Beach Boys. But if Phoenix want to rise from the desserts of Arizona and find the same kind of Californian sun that those in Golden State seem to shine then it’s time to get serious. Seriously good. No matter how talented or thrilling thy are. These bright youngsters don’t want to burn out too quick and become ash.
Sacramento want to be king like LeBron. But they are a long way from those Laker rivalling days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie and Mike Bibby/Jason Williams. Still thanks to two of those international owners they’re not as close to a Royal move to L.A. or Seattle yet. The cowbells are still ringing…even if it’s not quite as Blue Oyster Cult deafening. Sacramento still seem to be holding most of the cards…no matter how many Kings they lose. Veteran Rudy Gay is joined by the talented teammate likes of Darren Collison, Ty Lawson and former Lakers Jordan Farmar and ‘Mad Dog’, Matt Barnes. Losing members of the Stockton and Curry family hurt, but the future is Wiley Cauley-Stein. Still it’s still all about DeMarcus and Boggie’s down low productions. Without Cousins it just doesn’t relate.
Los Angeles Lakers
So the Lakers are done right? Right? WRONG! With the second pick in the last two drafts the Lakers have more than just a dynamic duo. They have a Golden State like death line-up that could be a revolution in this small ball league. Formed by former top ten picks and late round steals. Big-men Draymond strong Julius Randle and dunking hard Larry Nance Jr. and Swag Brodie guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell with ice in his veins (time for Loading to stop being Hakeem Lyon and make Lakerland his Empire). All lead by future franchise face and probable Rookie of the Year Brandon Ingram…and maybe even the Gasol like Zubac, learning the sky-hook off Kareem as we speak. And lets not to neglect the underrated, X-factor Anthony Brown and the Knick 90’s Mason tough throwback Tarik Black. And if the kids on the best young team (and we aren’t talking about Nick) in the L aren’t alright there’s a veteran back-up lead by All-Star Luol Deng, Olympic standout Yi Jianlin, Cavalier champion in the middle Mozgov (Timofey…every Key & Peele substitute teachers dream) speedy, skillful guards Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas (who had quite the home 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil) and of course World Peace himself for another match-up option to run. Not to mention two Six Men in Lou Will and Swaggy P. All lead by former Laker and last years inspired interim, unbeatable Warrior coach Luke Walton. All this and we didn’t even have to mention Kobe. It’s time for a new 24.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers believe they have a superteam. With lob leader Chris Paul, dunk finisher Blake Griffin (working on his post passion problem career with retired kid Kevin Garnett), Olympic gold shiner DeAndre Jordan, retiring legend and that’s the truth Paul Pierce, ‘Sixth Man Of The Decade’ Jordan Crawford, Duke gun draw dual for hire J.J. Reddick and coach Doc Rivers kid Austin we agree. Now it’s time for the “Super” to become “team” before they go from newspaper clippings to barbershop ones.
Howard’s end is no problem for Houston. James Harden has plenty of Rockets to take off. You’ll find them all like food in his beard. There’s Nene, fresh off his home hosting the Rio Olympics. Bruce Bowen like defensive legend Trevor Ariza. Young vets like Eric Gordon and Corey Brewer. Patrick Beverly and a youthful movement of Sam Dekker, Tyler Ennis and Ryan Anderson. And arguably the best undrafted rookie in Gary Payton II. The glove has been handed down, time to pass and euro-step in the name of history. Names like James win championships…if they come with defence.
San Antonio Spurs
Fundamentally the best Power Forward of all-time Tim Duncan may have joined the Admiral David Robinson in the port of retirement. But just as much as the game will miss him, just like when the T-Bot was brought in to replace D-Rob, LaMarcus Aldridge has been ready to keep number 21’s legacy alive with the reflection of his dozen jersey. Alongside former Finals MVP, Most Improved and Defensive Player Of The Year, Kawhi Leonard who will still be carrying the torch once Olympic internationals Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can no longer keep the flame lit. The Spurs will keep striking their match-ups thanks to free agent Pau Gasol joining David Lee, Kevin Martin, Danny Green, Andre Miller and Patty Mills for a team as deep as future Team USA coach Greg Poppovich’s knowledge of the game. Which is far from Riverwalk shallow. A Gondola trip worthy of another parade.
New Orleans Pelicans
Hornets don’t sting. Bobcats don’t claw. New Orleans basketball looks to finally be catching a break like fish in a Pelicans bill. Anthony Davis has MVP wrote all over the rest of his career. And now big bruiser Kendrick Perkins has his back in the post paint. Whilst Barbados born Buddy Hield is considered by some to be the most ready to go player in the draft…he has been working out with Kobe Bryant after all. Now if Tyreke Evans regains his rookie form or Lance Stephenson becomes the player the last few teams that bet on him expected him to be then you’ll be in for something formidable. But you really want to see something? Something special. Then just look why Jrue Holliday is on indefintie leave from the team. This season is for Lauren.
Grit your teeth through this one Grizzlies. They say if it aint broke don’t fix it. But there’s nothing wrong with a little tinkering if nothings changing. After all this is a team that left Vancouver to get out of the “Canadain cold” (yeah tell that to the Raps). Offering Chandler Parsons a big contract like Nike did Mike Conley Jr may just about do it. Besides with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Sixth Man who can still get up off the pine and to the rim Vince Carter Memphis have rocked one of the best starting five out of all rosters for many a roll-call now. But if this Tennessee team wants to really become a Titan then it’s time to grind.
The Texas Triangle is nothing without Dallas. But if the Mavs really want to have a maverick season than they need to be more obtuse than acutely equilateral. Dirk is just about done, but Nowitzki can still get it so. As can All-Star point Deron Williams who seems to have lost his former co-best Point Guard in the league with Chris Paul identity in Utah. These Mavericks are still fighting, but if the Texas horsemen want to be in a state more Golden then a few former Warriors wouldn’t hurt. From big Finals difference maker Andrew Bogut to forgotten star Harrison Barnes who is eager to show why he made the Rio Olympic team this Summer and deserves more minutes. Even Steph Curry’s little brother Seth has a shot…but right now the Mavs would probably take Riley too.
Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
“I wasn’t supposed to be here”.
Shaun Livingston wasn’t even supposed to be still playing.
But boy did he.
He almost lost his leg.
But man he didn’t.
When Shaun Livingston entered the league as the fourth pick and a wide eyed kid with youthful exuberance above the rim in Hollywood. Him and the youngest Roc L.A. Familia (remember the classic SLAM cover?) crew of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling even took some of the bright lights of downtown L.A. from Shaq and Kobe of all dynamic duos from the basements of STAPLES. Arguably the most exciting Clippers team this side of Buffalo…yeah I said it Blake, Jordan and CP3…you too Kawhi and PG-13. It was an Iverson age of cornrows and tattoos. It was the generations hood to the storied Lake Show’s Hollywood history.
But then with a death of a dynasty a bunch of young Roc’s with the rock ended up all over the place too like State Property. The future of these young guns looked bleak like Memphis. Miles went to LeBron’s Land before the King. Elton ended up setting up his Brand in Philly. Whilst Odom went cross-court and stadium with the Lakers after a brief stint of talent in Miami when he was traded back to the bright lights and Kardashian city for Shaq.
But what happened to Shaun Livingston was so much worse.
With Charlotte as a Bobcat Shaun suffered a gruesome injury so bad it almost made Gordon Hayward’s opening night one look like a sprain…almost. Lets not front for the funny that injury was so bad and his comeback story so good too ’till this playing day.
But no comeback story in this league is greater than Livingston’s, living for his career.
He almost lost his leg. Instead doctors saved it and then through the hardest of work and the most powerful perseverance Shaun saved his career…and then made it even better. And he could even still catch a few above the rim.
Number 34 ended up back in California with the Golden State Warriors via a comeback in the B.K. with the Brooklyn Nets. Out in The City of Oak Town he ended up winning three championships and going to two more finals before calling it a career yesterday and feeling “sad, fortunate and grateful” in his retirement. He was microwave more than just a super sub alongside legendary Sixth Man Finals MVP Andre Igudola (also gone this off-season with some guy name Kevin). He was an integral player to the dynasty influence that showed the Dubs were more than just the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson or Draymond and Durant. His jersey belongs up there in the new state of the art arena in San Francisco across the Golden Gate although his legend and legacy will always tram remain in the Golden State of Oakland, as the Warriors look to maybe Six Man legend Jamal Crawford to replace in joining big signing D’Angelo Russell in backing up the backcourt.
Now that’s what I call a true Warrior King.
Don’t call it a comeback unless it’s like this.
Charles Barkley’s Round Bronze Of Rebound
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that skinny!”
Trust Chuck to have the best soundbite of the night.
But after all it was his day.
Yesterday the Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a statue of Sir Charles Barkley outside their Camden practice facility. Joining the bronze likes of his legendary teammates at the time Dr. J, Julius Erving and the late great Moses Malone for one of the most storied teams in NBA history from The Answer to The Process.
“There is not a lot I can say this is just a humbling experience but it really means a great deal because I think people know what the 76ers mean to the NBA,” Barkley said of the honour to those in attendance.
Your move Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.
But after running a power statue on Chuck to join the Legends Walk of Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Mo Cheeks et al at the Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey there are still spots left for the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as Bark also remarked that he believes the new Sixers with Tobias Harris and this Summer’s free agent Al Horford will win the NBA Championship next year.
Isn’t he a TNT analyst?
You can forgive him it was an emotional day.
But stranger things have happened this Summer, Philly didn’t run out of bronze for the Round Mound of Rebound and one of the greatest players, especially Power Forwards the game has ever seen is finally getting his due in-between joking around with Shaq, Kenny Smith and E.J.
“You come here as a 21-year-old kid and now 40 years later – it has been pretty amazing – and it all started here so I just want to thank the 76ers Organization and the city of Philadelphia,” the great added. As Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown agreed, “We are privileged to have you a part of our past. You are referenced often.”
We all have our favourite stories about one of Basketball’s beloved, Top 50 players of all-time who averaged 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals during his time in Pennsylvania. And here’s mine…I don’t even think he was playing with Philly at the times but who cares? I tell this to people often-even non Bball fans-when they need some inspiration and I reach to my grab bag of top three stories that make me smile when I’m down. The other is an exchange between Wilt Chamberlain and playground legend Earl Manigault that Don Cheadle and Kevin Garnett as the Stilt recaptured at the Rucker for the G.O.A.T. movie (look it up), and the third being the time U2’s Bono made that “everytime I clap my hands someone dies” gaff.
Anyway if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin…
Back in the golden era 90’s day there was a Nike commercial in a barbershop featuring then Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell boasting about one of them dunking on Barkley (I think it was Spree…see how good I am at telling this story Philadelphia?). I don’t even think I saw a Basketball in the whole commercial…let alone so much of a sneaker. But anyway the next time Chuck came up against those two in Oakland be hit like 50 odd points or something completely dominating the duo and game. With C-Webb and Sprewell down and out, draped in towels on the bench, Barkley after being a silent assassin all game and saying nothing in reply, backpedaled back downcourt after his last shot, finally looked at the distraught two and said…
“Put that in a f###### commercial!”
I hope the Dubs athletic trainer had some Aloe Vera.
I like this Charles Barkley quote too from back in the ’92 Dream Team Olympics heyday were he defined the fun that what his life and career by saying, “we’re here for a good time. Not for a long time!”
Well now in bronze he’s going to be here forever.
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