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2019/2020 NBA Season Preview-Western Conference

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2019 2020 NBA Season Preview Western Conference

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Portland Trailblazers

Call it a bad shot all you like Paul, but by George Dame D.O.L.L.A was right on the money with his Thunder clap. R.I.P. OKC. And out in the blooming lovely Rose City of Oregon, the only noise coming out of Portland and their blazing trail of a backcourt this summer offseason is the new side hustle rap album from Damian Lillard. Hitting big hits from all over the floor. And that’s just how the Spurs of the Northwest want it in this Wild West. C.J. McCollum and Dame are right on time to shake up your brackets and belief again. And now they have guys like Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside and the Spanish legacy of legend Pau Gasol to fill in whilst waiting for the return of the Mt. Hood man mountain of Jusuf Nurkic. It’s going to be a hot one. This year blazing in the flame hair, bandana throwing Bill Walton era jerseys.

Denver Nuggets

Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker may be coming out in theatres this October but why so serious? The real Joker Nikola Jokic is playing all season long. Or he isn’t playing with you, whichever way you want to look at it. And with vet Paul Millsap and the late, great Manute’s mountain of a son Bol Bol by his side that frontline is more imposing than those relatives that take two hours to say goodbye after a quick “just stopping by” visit. But it’s Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. who are mining and running the future of this franchise off the break. The air is clear in Nevada now and the Nuggets are going for gold. Mile high is the limit in this city.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Things looked mighty cold out in Minny when the Butler left for more steak in Philly. But look what he did to the Sixers in the process. Still they still have man mountain Karl Anthony-Towns, their next generation Kevin Garnett and Canadian dry gunner Andrew Wiggins. Once someone they gave up a lot of Love for. Worth it? You decide for yourself this young teams still got a long window to mature, but let’s not leave it open for too long out in this Midwest cold. They may just be go unnoticed, left to freeze to death. At least those purple Prince uniforms still reign.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Cue the John Travolta in Pulp Fiction GIF. Last year it looked so all good that the OK3 could even afford to lose a legend like Carmelo Anthony before the whole league scapegoated him like he wasn’t one of our generations greatest (RESPECT DUE). Well now they’ve lost more marquee players than when they did James Harden and Kevin Durant. Why not? First Paul George did end up going to LA in the end after all…but with the Kawhi Clippers and not the LeBron Lakers. And then even Russell Westbrook bounced like he does above the rim for a Rocket reunion with James Harden. And all the OKC former OK3 got in return was CP3. WoW! And Chris Paul may end up getting brought out like decorations for Christmas by the fall season like overeager shop fronts anyway. At least they still have Aquaman Steven Adams to trident take them out these deep waters of thunder.

Utah Jazz

Far from home Spider-Man may be out the MCU so now it’s on Donovan Mitchell’s homecoming in Salt Lake City. The best spida since big John Salley, Donovan is one of the best young stars in the world running like Bailey. And with the Stifel Tower of Frenchmen Rudy Gobert by his side gobbling up dunks he has someone looking out for him 3000 like Iron Man. Add the grit-n-grind notes of Mike Conley Jr., young, big talent like Dante Exum and Ed Davis and proven big time contributers like veteran Jeff Green and young stud Emmanuel Mudiay and the Jazz sound pretty Larry David good this year. You’re going to like the way they play…and play on too. And I don’t see no fat lady.

Pacific Division

San Francisco Warriors

The Golden State Warriors may have lost the championship AND Kevin Durant, but in NBA terms that was a long time ago. They’re not the Golden State Warriors anymore. Moving back across that Golden Gate Bridge to Silicon Valley they’re the San Francisco Warriors now as the McDonalds All American like Curry jerseys that have one up on the European NBA Store site tell us. And in a new city and new day off the California Coast it’s a new generation for the former Oakland raiding dynasty. One that sees the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (who did come back like Draymond Green) joined by a triplet in D’Angelo Russell backing them up. The former Brooklyn boy who makes nets all water looks for more Cali revenge over the Lakers that let him go. Add the frontline young force of Willie Cauley-Stein from Sacramento to this California club and the skyline of San Fran really does look different. Take a Cable Car up these ‘Bullitt’ famous sloping streets and see for yourself.

Phoenix Suns

Think it’s all dry in the desert then book a ticket to see the Devin Booker show. Remember the seventies? I’m talking about how many he hit years back not the decade for the kid who wasn’t even born back then. We’ll save our Phoenix metaphors for the rise of these Suns, but this dark Phoenix really is a deal horse like those old Pistons Grant Hill era logos. Remember when that player played with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire? Those where the run and gun days. But now there could be some big STAT’s with the new big cactus in DeAndre Ayton ready to sophomore soar. Add Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aaron Baynes to the mix and this Sun spot could burn baby burn. Hope you listened to Bad Luhrmann when he told you to always wear sunscreen.

Sacramento Kings

These Kings may be a long way from the California crown, but it still hasn’t slipped all the way yet. Underrated star Harrison Barnes and the most valuable vet Trevor Ariza leads a young core missing new Warrior Cauley-Stein, but one that can still go to cowbell battle. Fresh out the Hall of Fame legend Vlade Divac has assembled quite the team of potential H.O.F candidates. Guys like DeAaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III. Now that’s a young big-three. They may not be true three Kings yet. But when it comes to the colour purple there’s nothing wrong with a couple of prince’s.

Los Angeles Clippers

When the L.A. Lakers traded for Ant Davis next year’s NBA season looked over, let alone the battle for Los Angeles. Especially with who they thought was coming too. But in the Linkin Park end it didn’t really matter as Kawhi Leonard ended up in Los Angeles…but with the cross-court Clippers instead. And if you thought that was bad Lake Show then Paul George of all people finally came to Hollywood too…but for you know who. Now if that wasn’t enough too, about three former disgruntled Lakers playing big in reserve too? From big man Ivica Zubac and defensive dog Patrick Beverly to the 6 Man G.O.A.T. Lou Will. Now the Clips look to emancipate themselves from the shadow of the bright lights and banners of the Lakers STAPLE too by moving into their own place and state of the art stadium by 2020. Looks like they’re going out on their own now and who better to lead them than the one Finals Most Valuable Player who Canada knows can change everything in a bucket. Ain’t that right Philly?

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Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard…Dwight Howard! What is that hair?! Is he dating a Kardashian?! Nah…you know what? I’m done making jokes. You have to respect the redemption. I’ve been wrong when I’ve said this before (like when I used caffeine shampoo), but I think this is going to work. For all the big moves made out in the La La LeBron City of Angels this Summer, the nobody in the world would have believed you weeks ago Dwight Howard/Lakers reunion has made the most waves out in Hollywood (soft…soft). And this is a team that just finally traded for Anthony Davis. To give LeBron and the Lakers the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe…not Dwight Howard and Kobe. But in doing so they had to give them the whole house of hoops. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, (please no, not) Josh Hart and all those future draft picks that could turn into players like that or all they’ve lost with the likes of Russell, Randle, Clarkson, Nance Jr. and Zubac. And Anthony is as afraid of commitment next year as young men in their twenties right about now. But at least they kept Kuzma, KCP…and Caruso. And in keeping Rondo and McGee too, maybe adding another meme in another Anthony in ‘Melo and adding Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Antetokounmpo (his brother…settle down) and DeMarcus Cousins (before he got injured), the Lake Show’s time is now. But will it be a Hollywood ending for the King? Or will you have to watch ‘Space Jam 2’ for that. It’s going to be a monstar season, but this could be all folks.

Southwest Division

Houston Rockets

Turns out Houston did have a problem. Turns out James Harden and Chris Paul likes each other about as much as Harden’s beard and a straight razor. So CP3 was traded to OKC for a thunderous reunion with Russell Westbrook set to explode like barbershop trash bags if they ever do get James’ chin in the chair. But with this dynamite duo, Sixth God Eric Gordon, big Nenê, sneaker king, P.J. Tucker and blocking X-factor Clint Capela, the Rockets are about to soar. Add Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Austin Rivers, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler to their preseason flight to the Far East and you could take this team even higher than the Tokyo Skytree. Because the former Yao Ming team is about to be big in Japan too for a preseason exhibition against the Toronto champion Raptors. Now let’s just hope their season isn’t lost in translation Bill.

Dallas Mavericks

Dirk may be gone as the big 3 in this Texan big-three, but Luka Doncic isn’t just the future of this team, state and Wild West. He’s also the future of the league and the whole wide world of hoops. And he’s just hit the weight room too like a photoshopped Alex Caruso. Get that “random” drugs test sent Commish. Add the power of Porzingis to this Maverick mix too and you probably have not only the greatest Euro one/two punch, but one of the best in the association. Even if their best European big-three of all-time lasted for only half a season after the All Star break. But let’s not forget about ‘John Wick Chapter 3’ Jaws like villain Boban Marjanovic either on a team that still has hot Curry even if it isn’t Dell or Steph. This dynamic duo has the potential to last all the way to the hall. Deck them out in Dallas now.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs may have lost Kawhi Leonard. But come on that was a season and a Canadian championship for the Toronto Raptors (we have to get that in there as much as naturally as possible). But they’ve still got Pop and nothings better like the social media shared video of the FIBA Team USA coach playing ‘Heads Up’ with an iPhone with his team at dinner. Heads up this team still have DeMar DeRozan too. And LaMarcus Aldridge. AND Rudy Gay. And if we’re talking FIBA let’s not forget Aussie ruler Patty Mills lowering the boom. We also have no idea of the potential of Derrick White and Lonnie Walker too…and that’s a beautiful thing. They may not have Manu or TP3 anymore, but big Tim Duncan is back as an assistant. What more could you ask for?

New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis is gone. That’s all folks. But in return the Pels got proven point Lonzo Ball, score at will slasher like Durant with Sprewell hair, Brandon Ingram and the best young role player there is in Josh Hart, plus more blowing through the draft than leaves in Autumn. Now that’s a haul folks. And that comes with the likes of J.J. Reddick, Jahlil Okafor, Derrick and Jrue Holiday still on board too. Playoffs for the Pelicans? That’s a yes for the N.O. and then some. And then there’s some kid named Zion.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grit N Grind era is officially gravel drive done for the night now Mike Conley Jr. will be playing Jazz music. Put the Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Rudy Gay past in the rafters it’s Ja Morant’s time to rule now. And they still have the Sixth Man Finals MVP of former Warrior champion Andre Igudola…for now. And for all those going on about first Japanese top ten pick Rui Hachimara this Summer out in DC before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo how about the Hustle of his FIBA national team teammate Yuta Watanabe? Still capable of being big in the NBA like he is in Japan. The Grizz are also bringing out the old Vancouver, Canada jerseys this year like Mike Bibby and Shareef Abdur-Raheem. But that’s not the only thing that’s going to bear fruit this 82.

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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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