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2019/2020 NBA Season Preview-Eastern Conference

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2019 2020 NBA Season Preview Eastern Conference
Hello Irving...

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks

Come fly with me. Let’s fly, let’s fly away. On Air Canada’s last stopover welcomed in Atlanta. This will be the last season we see Toronto Raptors dunking legend Vince Carter soar above the rim. Enjoy this ‘One Last Dunk’ whilst he’s still up there. And although the 42 year old seems forever young, this Hawks team is a young one of the future lead by Steph Curry like star Trae Young with the ice tray. If San Francisco Warrior D’Angelo Russell has ice in his veins, then this guy has it in his whole nervous system. Pair him with Duke Rookie Cam Reddish and the big, big man Lakers draft pick of DeAndre Hunter and you have a potential big-three of the future. And they still have big names and contracts like Jabari Parker, Evan Turner and Chandler Parsons in reserve. Chopped and screwed Atlanta basketball right now sounds as good as the ATL music scene in the early 2000’s. Hawk that!

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets just lost their hive with Kemba Walker buzzing off to Boston. They ended up getting Terry Rozier back in return from the Celtics. But just how far can this city buzz with him Nicolas Batum and Miles Bridges? Charlotte will still be good, but right now their most exciting player is still in the front office like the Jumpman on their lapels. Marvin Williams is still here. He seems to have been around longer than those iconic uniforms. But like an Emeka Okafor he never did quite turn out into the player they thought he would be. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen for a franchise that looked set for the stars hosting last year’s A.S.G. with their once franchise face leading the way.

Miami Heat

I hope you ticket stub save your last dance card. Because Dwyane Wade is gone. And he isn’t going to come back like ‘Bad Boys’ too. Even if he is Heat for life. Whiteside has left the white hot franchise too. So what talents are left in South Beach? Oh yeah some guy called Jimmy Butler. Look at him…look at him. It’s his team now. But look at Philly and Minny. And do you remember Chicago? Dwyane Wade does? Butler doesn’t exactly have the reputation of staying in house for long. But having this Florida franchise all to himself might make him and his Mark Wahlberg entourage the star he’s always wanted to be. And at least the dragon Dragic, young man Justice, Canadian Kelly and Waiters are still here with Butler. And Udonis Haslem too one more time. The Heat lifer and legend destined for the rafters is set for one last season like his brother in sleeveless arms Wade. Will you have this dance?

Orlando Magic

It’s a kind of Magic. With Dwight Howard back in Hollywood. It seems even longer ago that he was a Mickey Mouse superstar in the Magic Kingdom. Seemingly even longer than when Shaq and Penny were that dynamic duo before Shaq and Kobe. Now this Disney roster looking for a plus reads like a list of could be’s and could have been’s. Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams. Sleep on them now and this Magic spell could trick you. But they’re going to have to pull more out the hat if they want to shock the Wizards in their division.

Washington Wizards

The best, blazing beating backcourt in the league of John Wall and Bradley Beal have finally got some help. And we’re not just talking about slept on spark plug, Six Man Isaiah Thomas. Or they’ll need him and everything else they’ve got more than ever now with Wall still banged up with injury. But their new top ten drafted Power Forward Rui Hachimura has the ability to be a star right now and a super one once the 2020 Tokyo Olympics happens in his native Japan. I’m Bogna and Wagner they also have a few former young Lakers like Bryant (Thomas not Kobe) to solidify their own young core. That’s enough to do more than get over the wall. Whether it be the injury to their leading man or the one their President is threatening to put up.

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Boston lost Kyrie Irving…yeah we all knew that was going to happen about halfway through his first season. But they gained Kemba Walker. So you lose some, you win some. Like losing Al Horford too. They still kept their future of Tatum and Brown however, minus Rozier. And Hayward is way on the mend. Add Enes Kanter and the huge Tacko Fall too and who knows how big Boston can be. You can just see it now Fall blocking the Celtics Laker rival LeBron whilst everyone in the Garden screams, “TACKO TUESDAAAAAAY!” Even this Laker fan would love to see that if it shut up his timeline on any given Tuesday. Celtic pride still has a green day.

New York Knicks

They didn’t get Kevin. They didn’t get Kyrie. Brooklyn did. New York didn’t even get Zion. New Orleans did. It seems the N.Y. Knicks are as cursed as biting that bog red apple, but the garden could still be Eden again. The one big they did get instead of the Pelicans was the slept on star Julius Randle. And the one Duke star they did draft was the Maple Mamba of what could be the greatest Canadian since Steve Nash in R.J. Barrett. They lead a talented team that features Dennis Smith Jr, Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina, Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson. Make all the rotten apple jokes you want but we may finally have a New York team more concise than the one across that bridge.

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Brooklyn Nets

No championship in Brooklyn until Kevin comes back. But oh how good is a Durant and Kyrie Irving one/two punch going to be? No matter how long it lasts. And they added DeAndre Jordan to a Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie supporting cast too. The fight for N.Y. looks as classic as the vendetta of that Def Jam beat ’em up game. New York basketball like the battle for Los Angeles on the West Coast looks big market classic again. But like the Lakers we hate how the Nets did D’Angelo Russell. Especially after his coming out/revenge season last year made him the King of the B.K. like a SLAM Notorious B.I.G. cover. That was juicy. But things done changed and let’s just see how bad these boys can be against teams ready to die.

Philadelphia 76ers

Can you still trust the process with Jimmy and J.J. gone? Well the Sixers still have a big three of Simmons, Embiid and Tobias Harris. And they added the Celtics big man Al Horford too. It seems like a more focussed unit, but it’s about as deep as modern rap these days. Philly need a new creed after being Rocky knocked out by Kawhi Leonard’s Raptor series winning shot that went all around the world before destroying Philly’s one. The process is still ongoing trust, but this superteam in Apollo shorts just had it’s cape trod on.

Toronto Raptors

How can you go from championship to commiseration in one Summer? Losing Leonard that’s how. But this Raptor reigning champion and first in Canadian history is more than just Kawhi. Like they were more than Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and DeMar DeRozan. No matter how much these guys will always be Dino legends. So don’t worry Drake you don’t need to suit up. We’ve already seen on a Kentucky practice run how “Steph Curry” with the shot you really are. The Raps still have Lowry, Gasol, Siakam, Ibaka, VanVleet and enough teeth to make a meal out of their title defence. Protect this Jurassic Park. The 6 still has numbers.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Lauri Markkanen is better than you think. Zach LaVine is better than you think. As is Denzel Valentine. Pity the Chicago Bulls aren’t though. Give it a few seasons of change in the Windy City and Coby White could change all that Bull####. But until then the Bulls will be propping up the Eastern Conference standings like the Jordan statue outside the United Center does their legacy. Chicago has taken enough hits. It’s a beautiful city that deserves better than to be ignored now. But like a Common album the let’s love rule and have the last word, Chi-city will rise out the storm to gold glory of legend once again.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Remember when LeBron was in The Land again? Yeah it seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it? Still Cleveland still has Love. And Kevin making his name talking about the need to start the conversation on mental health is so underrated in all areas. Canadian Tristan Thompson is still with the Cavs too like Delly and the young core of glue guys like microwave scorer Jordan Clarkson and all dunking Larry Nance Jr. But as of right now ‘All You Need Is Love’ is just a Beatles song, because this team needs to get by with a little help from their friends in what’s set to be a helter skelter season as it was last once the King’s story became once upon a time in Hollywood.

Detroit Pistons

Just when you thought the Pistons had died like the automotive industry refuses to, Motor City rides again down 8 Mile road. Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson formed a nice one, two punch and then it got even more heavy handed in the paint with Andre Drummond. Now the force of a frontline is built like a pickup truck. You don’t want to play pickup basketball with these two GMC’s. You may end up as a DNP like DMC on an offseason run. And now there’s a Rose blooming in Motown as Derrick grew from the concrete again for the legend of his classic, redemption song career. He was built for this city like Detroit rock. Put your hands up. We love this city.

Indiana Pacers

Indiana lost pace when they lost Victor Oladipo to injury last season. But once he’s back expect the Pacers to speedway race away like the Indy 500, especially with Sabonis and Turner in tow. Running the picket fence like those classic Hickory Hoosier jerseys. But we may need a few more glue guys to fill them before this team gets to really live like white pickets. Last season they were in the red like those classic vests. But this year it could be all about the glittering shorts. It hasn’t been this exciting in the Fieldhouse since Coach Bird like Gene Hackman watched Reggie nail three’s like he used to in the Garden. And this time, nobodies going to choke.

Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee were the team to beat last year. And then the Raptors did exactly that on their way to becoming champions and the Buck stopped right there. But postseason Giannis Antetokounmpo still beat James Harden for the MVP and now he has one of his brothers on his ‘Most Improved’ Khris Middleton, ‘Splash Mountain’ Brook Lopez side. And don’t forget the slept on but never stepped on Eric Bledsoe. Still in this league right now who else would you really want to start a franchise with other than the Greek Freak? Still so young, but old enough to contend party. As tall as they come, but still runs like a guard. Still gives it all for club and country, check a FIBA feed. Truly the most valuable player in the association. And the reason next season Milwaukee are stopping everybody. Buck it!

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NBA

Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career

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Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
The Greatest Comeback Ever Told...

“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.

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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.

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NBA

Charles Barkley’s Round Bronze Of Rebound

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Charles Barkley's Round Bronze Of Rebound
Legends Walk Of Fame...

“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.

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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!”

BOOM!

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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