Oscars. Grammy’s. New York Fashion Week. The Superbowl. Even February 14th for all you Valentines. In the six strong second month of the year not a single thing has any one thing on what came out of the 6 this lovers weekend.
The 2016 NBA All-Star Game from Toronto. The first in Canadian and NBA history.
Take that Vancouver! Sorry to get grizzly.
Forget movies, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this show better. Forget music, Drake was here for his night in promoting ball in his T-Dot city of the 6. Even the catwalks of Manhattan had to take a back step to the awesome attire rocked by your East and West All-Stars, from King James to Chef Curry and Ontario’s very own Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of the Raptor pack in the Dinosaurs park. Superbowl? What Superbowl? You just have to love this game.
For a deeper analysis of this weekend and what it meant to the court culture of Hockey country Canada, check out BasketballBuzz’s Ronny’s own outstanding article. But with B.B. in the T.D., back in the Naismith home of Basketball, here’s 6 things we took from the half dozen city.
1. Skills Competition Growing. Literally!
Sure the Skills comp won’t challenge the other marquee events for popularity, but fundamentally you just have to love how this all sounds. Especially when top pick Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves clawed his way past fellow Kentucky big man alumni, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Who’s wild?
2. Rising Stars Elevate Game Globally
Two. Fellow Timberwolves cub Zach Lavine and his game MVP 30 points helped lead Team U.S.A. over the rest of the World, 157-154 in the Rookie/Sophomore challenge which let all sorts of young guns draw their six shooters. Like the Los Angeles Lakers back-court brotherhood of Jordan Clarkson and number 2 pick D’Angelo Russell. Not to mention homecountry boy Andrew Wiggins’ 29 points and nine dunk-a-thon.
3. Zach Lavine + Aaron Gordon + Flip Saunders Tribute
Lavine and his beautiful jersey tribute to late coach Flip Saunders that flipped his digits, doubled up in more ways than one as he defended his Slam Dunk Contest crown with a free throw line, take off J. Still as great as he was he robbed the hardware from the Air Gordon of Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, who assisted by the Disney reject Magic Kingdom mascot performed feats of aerial gymnastics that would make the Harlem Globetrotters look like Mike in his last A.S.G. Lavine may have won the fight but Gordon’s creed and legs up cradle won the night! Now how is that jam for your toast?
4. Klay Day! Thompson Beats Steph Curry in shootout
One clear winner this weekend in the Pacific Splash clash between Golden State Warrior moneyball brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Steph Curry may have the shot, but it was Klay’s day as his 27 beat his teammates 23 in the final rack of the final round. The Chef may have came in second place to Thompson’s Larry Bird but it was all smiles and high fives just like the day that would follow these league leaders.
5. (West) Brook Dominates Back-To-Back MVP’s
The actual All-Star game itself took it higher than Toronto’s CN Tower which made for quite possibly the greatest mid-court logo design in A.S. history. Above the rim and down the hole to the tune of a 196-173 West (Brook) win this was 2K at its video game finest. You couldn’t green screen match beautiful Basketball and perfect plays like this. And thunderous OKC “second star” Russell Westbrook became the first All-Star in history since Atlanta Hawk legend Bob Petit to double up as game MVP. The dunking, slam stick of dynamite exploded for an incendiary 31 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
6. Kobe Bryant + Canada + Toronto + Forever in NBA history
But it was all about number 24. Even if Kobe Bryant had a nice 10 points it was all about the 20 year veteran’s 18th and last All-Star classic. He won the Dunk Contest as a Rookie in his warm-ups and scored a trilogy of MVP’S, including one in his born and raised home of Philadelphia and one co-sign share with former dynamic duo teammates and Hall of Famer Shaq. From Magic’s introduction to his tip-off with new King LeBron James, the greatest since and save Jordan gave us the sweetest swan song stat sheet of his league wide retirement tour in a city he one dropped 81 on. The only name that owned this weekend more than Bean was that of the city of Toronto, making National Basketball Association history in the closing chapter of this mans career. One that started with a draft from the city that will fittingly hold the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
Next stop Charlotte!
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.