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.
Kuzmania Starts A Forum For The Lakers To Play A Game In Inglewood Next Season
Holding the leather Spalding up in the air like it was the Larry O’Brien trophy, a game before the Los Angeles Lakers 2017/2018 season would officially end before the playoff campaign. Head coach Luke Walton, suit-jacket off and relaxed asks Andre Ingram how long he’s been playing in the D…excuse us, the G-League for. “10 years” the decade, 32 year old vet (who Brandon calls cuz, but isn’t actually a relation…although he’s now a Laker brother) replies after posting 19 exuberant points in his NBA debut. Just days before he would throw out the first, ceremonial baseball pitch at a L.A. Dodgers game. “Hell of an opening night man” coach says in kind as he shakes his hand, follows with an embrace and then hands him the game ball before ‘Dre’s day ends with a fingers to the sky team huddle of “together” on three.
That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.
But how can yet another losing one bring so much joy, let alone hope?
Let’s write it out again…
That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.
And if it leads to free agents like hometown hero Paul George signing. Or even the King, LeBron James in La La Land for his closing Hollywood career chapter on court. Then you couldn’t even script it better than Lavar wanting all the Ball boys on the floor at the same time.
And who knows who they’ll win in the lottery when the draft balls fall this Summer.
But even if all this becomes a bust the Lakers still have an incredible young core lead by Lonzo, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and many more late round steals like Ivica Zubac and this years class class of Josh Hart and the new Bryant, Thomas. Kobe who? All this after even losing Six Man stud Jordan Clarkson and slam show stopper Larry Nance Jr to Cleveland. But they did get still all superstar shooter Isaiah Thomas in return and maybe more to join vets like downtown big Brook Lopez, K.C.P. and the milk carton of Luol Deng.
Even some of their young, South Bay Lakers affiliates have come up big like Ingram. From son of the glove, Gary Payton II, to Alex Caruso ending the season starting at the point with Ball at the baseline sidelines. Even Travis Wear has gone from 10 days to shooting the contract three like Mike Penberthy.
Yet one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the season has been the Kuzmania (time to get your t-shirt) of the Kuzmanian devil, Kyle Kuzma. From a Nick Young jersey zero to one of the top ten Rookie of the Year heroes. From Summer League to preseason and now his regular one exit interview, K has had just as good if not better rookie year than his number two running mate with the second pick in the NBA draft.
And from bringing the Kareem sky-hook back to rocking the number nine Nick ‘The Quick’ Van Exel Champion jersey pregame, the kid is a throwback like the Clarkson fashion taking over chinchilla coat he rocks as he walks into STAPLES. But now Kuz wants to take that old school trend setting to Inglewood, like when he drove a burgundy 70’s Cadillac DeVille to an iconic parking lot for a recent feature shoot for SLAM magazine.
Kyle thinks the Lakers should play a game in the hallowed halls of The Forum next season.
And as much as we like the lights out downtown future of STAPLES (or as much as T-Mac warned him about the vintage facilities on ESPN’s The Jump) we couldn’t agree more for a league that loves to pay homage to their hardwood classic history like Mitchell and Ness.
Joining the Forum club again like when Magic and Cap made the 80’s Lakers ‘Showtime’ and put the Hollywood in basketball would be a nostalgia trip, especially for the clubs President. It would make a nice 20 year plus comeback (save 2009) after new millennium rival San Antonio swept them right out the stadium in ’97. This is the Lakers Boston Garden. Their Spectrum. Their court coliseum. And those marble pillars over red still stand strong like the statues of the greats from Chick to Elgin outside STAPLES.
Besides ‘Bron and P.G. would love it.
Time to get those baby blue MPLS jerseys ready.
And don’t forget about ‘Dre.
Lakers Statue Preserves The Ice Of Elgin Baylor’s Legend
“Elgin should be here”!
That’s what the ever humble hero of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West said when the famous franchise unveiled Mr. Clutch’s statue back in 2011. That’s what the actual, still to this day logo of the National Basketball Association said about his symbolic teammate in his signature moment. The ‘Ice’ to his dynamic duo nicknamed ‘Fire’.
And now seven years sealed later Mr. West joined recent bronze brothers and goliath giants Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and President Magic, as the storied Lakers franchise finally gave the 82 year old Elgin the epic ending his Hollywood career deserved in engraved writing.
The number 11 in SLAM magazines recent ‘Top 100 Players of All-Time’ issue, whose 22 already belongs in the rafters with all the aformentioned, both of Oscar winner Kobe’s digits and all the other Worthy Laker legends now joins Shaq, Cap, Earvin and Chick in stone setting. So much so that the Lakers will soon run out of places outside STAPLES to put their legends (especially if they give Kobe two statues). At this rate if he does come over they may have to put LeBron over in the Nokia Theatre’s parking lot. That was just a joke King…please still exile from The Land.
Without Baylor we may have not had the Dr. J. like high-flying legends of M.J. or King James. As this guy revolutionized the dunk aswell as his sky-hook impossible to guard hanging jump shot that brought career averages of 27 and change, hung with around 10 boards. And this guy stood at a Chuck power move mound rebound like 6, 4. It was this kind of offensive arsenal that set the tone with a back in the day greatest one-game point total of 71. Before Laker great Wilt’s 100 stunted that in Philly, generations before Kobe tried to beat all that with 81 (the Mamba man via video tribute telling Elgin he stole so many of his moves, “it wasn’t even funny”).
Legendary Lakers Pulitzer beat writer Jim Murray-whose L.A. Times behind the desk deserve their own statue next to Chick-compared Elgin’s Empire scaling career to King Kong. Knocking away defenders like bi-planes, who roach scattered like bust up craps games. But Baylor was more to this game then just Hollywood Laker flash. One of the first African American sports superstars in Jackie Robinson’s time also lead a Players Union protest before the 1964 All-Star, which truly changed the game and gave these players the rights they have today. After he hung them up he also won an ‘Executive Of The Year’ award across the hall with the rival L.A. Clippers. R&B superstar Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, better known as Ginuwine was also named after the Hall of Famer and called a judge character off his coming of age album ‘The Senior’ after the NBA great who starred alongside both the Jackson 5 and Buck Rogers. Don’t believe us read all about it in Baylor’s new book named after the best damn Basketball drama, ‘Hang Time’ that will be put up on shelves to end this month.
Elgin Baylor was the blue and white/purple and gold, post-Mikan and pre-Wilt Laker bridge between Minneapolis and Los Angeles. So it was only right his multiple arm dunking statue was curtain called at the half between a Lakers game with Minnesota. It wasn’t fitting however that donned in Mamba snakeskin black L.A. lost 113-96 to the Timberwolves with the black tux service of Jimmy Butler’s draped 18. An Elgin epic like 20 and 10 from both Lakers future Julius Randle and rookie Josh Hart (actually 11 rebounds) weren’t enough after Kyle Kuzma left the game in the third with a sprained ankle. Neither was big from downtown seven footer Brook Lopez’s starting 15 that was so tight it tagged ‘Lop3z’ Twitter trends.
But by the end of this almost 82 game closing playoff push it wasn’t all for the win, but the 82 year old that changed the game.
When you think of the golden days in Lakers purple, Baylor made this franchise like he did their storied history.
All you need is the record books to read his story.
Will Three ‘LABron’ Billboards Outside Downtown L.A. Lead To A Hollywood Ending For The King?
Hollywood comes calling…
…but still no decision…
…how come King James?
‘Dear Basketball’ last month Laker legend Kobe Bryant won NBA’s first Oscar (yeah I know how can the Academy not award ‘Space Jam’?). Putting number 24 ahead of number 23 in gold statues (the Mamba still trails the G.O.A.T six to five in gold rings though). When the closest STAPLES normally gets to award showcases outside the hosted All-Star game during the February love in is when they take a break to host the Grammys.
But it looks like another 23 could make another Lake Show stopper move this Summer straight out of the script of tinsletowns biggest picture.
Despite a decision that took his talents from South Beach, back home and to the promised land years ago. Cleveland’s own LeBron James may be playing his last campaign as a Cavalier. And the final chapter of his storied career could have a Hollywood ending for the King with one of NBA histories most storied franchises.
It could be ‘La La LeBron’ in Lakerland’s city of stars.
Especially if some billboards outside downtown Los Angeles have anything to do with it.
Taking a cue from ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand’s movie (who the actress sent up herself with Jimmy Kimmel with her own trio of billboards after someone stole her Academy Award. Don’t worry she got it back like the Cavs want ‘Bron), a superfan in Los Angeles set up some real estate with some advertising hoardings like Paul Rudd in ‘I Love You Man’ (“License To Sell…that’s hilarious!”) hash-tagging the new free agent trend of ‘LABron’.
Three other towns have hung ‘Bron billboards with an outside chance of landing the King. From his Akron birthplace who refuse to witness throwing rocks at the King this summer, declaring “There’s No Place Like Home”. To even hilariously a New Zealand ballclub wanting to turn the King into a Kiwi. But Philly started the process first. Although L.A. doesn’t want James to trust this but believe instead in the banners that could hang in the royalty of their rafters. Along with they hope his number 23 one day for the one who is still in his prime at a Kareem jersey age.
And when the King was in town to witness all this last month he put on a show in President Magic’s city of Showtime. From the best damn no look pass of his career period. Which drew go fetch tennis ball, dog owner comparisons. To bounce passing the ball between Ball of all players legs.
And with a Lakers/Cavs deadline day trade that saw L.A. and Cleveland clean house and land for LeBron. Further fuel has been ignited to the ‘Casino’ like behind the jersey talk that has everyone betting on ‘LeBron Ball’ for the ‘Lonzo Angeles Lakers’.
The Lakers may have lost two of their sharpest shooting, youngest guns in ‘Sixth Man’ sure-thing Jordan Clarkson and all dunking Ohio son Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland. But they now have All-Star I.T. support. However whether LeBron reunites with former Cav superstar Isaiah Thomas remains to be seen in more ways than one.
It’s all up in the smoggy air of the summer breeze atmosphere whether Christmas will come early for tinsletown. Like whether another hometown hero superstar Paul George will leave the Thunder and align with the King in the city that never rains (but reigns in purple like Prince), to help make the Lakers young core of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and Ball be all they can be right now.
Then that will be something worthy like James to hang on the three pillars of Hotel Figueroa outside STAPLES.
The City Of Angels will be praying these billboards bring banners.
Only in Hollywood.
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