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!
Xavier Rathan-Mayes inks 10-Day Contract with Memphis Grizzlies
Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Scarborough, ON) will be joining the Memphis Grizzlies on a 10-day contract. A well deserved opportunity for the 23-year-old, 6’4″, 208 lbs guard who has been tearing-up the NBA G-League. Mayes started 37-0f-39 games of the Westchester Knicks leading them to 27 W-14 L record while averaging 16.6 points per game, 7.2 assists and 6 rebounds. Including a career-high of 34 points versus the 87ers .
With the signing of Mayes, a former Florida State Seminoles standout will join fellow and current Memphis Grizzlies rookie Dillon Brooks forming yet another Canadian duo in the NBA. Currently, the Denver Nuggets have the best Canadian tag team duo with Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles both playing a key role in the Nuggets recent success.
Miami Heat Icon Dwyane Wade Dedicates Season To Parkland Victim Laid To Rest In His Jersey
Just weeks ago Joaquin Oliver was laughing and joking with his friends like any other teenager. A lover of music, sports, the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade. The Florida franchises Flash legend and returning hero via a Cavalier trade from King James’ land. Making for an even bigger homecoming than the Chicago born D-Wade’s ride in the Bull-pen last season. And it wasn’t just the talents of South Beach that where nostalgically excited, but the entire Sunshine State as a whole. Especially one of Dwyane’s biggest fans, a handsome young man with so much heart known to his friends as ‘Joaq’.
But on Valentines Day, 17 year old Joaquin Oliver with his whole life to live and love ahead of him was one of the 17 victims who tragically lost their lives in the Parkland school shooting.
He was just a kid.
Oliver was buried in one of his most prized possessions, his number 3, Dwyane Wade Heat jersey. Upon learning this an emotional Dwyane Wade dedicated the rest of his returning season-which may even be the Hall of Fame ready legends retiring one-to Joaquin. And with a tribute testament to Oliver, Wade wrote his name on his sneakers took to the floor and hit 15 of the Heat’s last 17 (and his 27) and an epic, emotional game winner against the Sixers that was a classic, “this is my house” Flash-back.
The final score read 102-101 to the home team off Ocean Drive. But what truly mattered was what was wrote to see on the cleats of Dwyane’s feet. This tragic time is so much bigger than basketball. But whatever escape, solace and stand of solidarity sports and those who make it more can offer in comfort to families and friends in their time of mourning has real importance. Even albeit for a brief, but fleeting cathartic respite.
“This is why we can’t just shut up and dribble”, Wade tweeted with a picture of Oliver, echoing the words of twice teammate and former Miami Heat leader LeBron James who responded to those critical of the athletes outspoken social stance. Wade has made big moves that matter with James before. And we aren’t talking about the big-three. Remember the ESPY’s? Echo those words. And sometimes even from the biggest stars in the world that seem a million miles away from our hurt it’s the little things that matter. Like in years past Chris Paul scoring 61 in honour of his grandpa who passed away at that age. Or a heartbroken Allen Iverson paying for the funeral of a young man shot over his jersey. Whatever we can do to help-no matter how small-is surely better than simply doing nothing.
Ignorance will get us all nowhere. Inspiration will though.
For Joaquin and everyone who lost their lives to the guns we must control and put down for good.
Does The Lakers Future Belong To A Kid Named Bryant?
The future of the second most storied franchise in NBA history is right now.
And it has little to do with the Los Angeles Lakers deadline trading for former Boston boy Isaiah Thomas from the Cavs. Although that may be the first Magic chess move that checkmate takes future(?) Hollywood King LeBron James from Cleveland to Lakerland.
But it has everything to do with that slow grind the young Lake Show and future Showtime have been putting in for just under a half decade worked. Ever since the injured Kobe stoppers hit the lottery they’ve chose the right numbers. Top tens or second round knockouts. Outside of maybe Philly only open doors have had better drafts than the Lakers over the last few years. First came Draymond Green like big-man Julius Randle and then Sixth Man steal Jordan Clarkson late in the game. And then the trend just snowballed like millennials that totally use words like “stoked” on the slopes of Pyeongchang.
A year later came the ice from the veins of D’Angelo Russell and the scorching slams of Sun son Larry Nance Jr. Then last season the biggest Durant like chance of a franchise face in Brandon Ingram and an even more pleasant surprise in talented big Ivica Zubac. But this campaign the team that has drafted tremendous talent like Noah’s arc has gone forth from their two-by-two nature over the last big-three years. Even if fans of this young core are steaming that the Lakers just let integral parts like Nance and Clarkson walk like Russell. Glue guys of this smartphone generation that highlight worthy fans wanted to stick around like screen burn. Even if they did get I.T. in return and even the cleared cap that may make space for the real ‘IT’ to take them out the gutter this summer in number 23 and even a hometown hero P.G.
This season however the purple and gold have gone from the wine cellar to a potential eight seed haterade upset. And it isn’t just because of their Hollywood big baller drafting of Lavar’s son. Although if you’re really watching the new number two ball then you know you are watching the post-Mamba moment, Lonzo Angeles Lakers. Even if potential R.O.Y. Kyle Kuzma has shown he’s not only the Lakers biggest steal of recent drafts, but one of the biggest rookie sleepers in draft dud history.
But it doesn’t stop there for a team that’s so deep in youth they’ve even signed former guard Gary Payton’s son too. We’ve already detailed the Lakers defensive Hart before Josh got a start or even a high five. But it’s not just once, twice, or even three times a draft Jeannie for the Buss two times at once, waiting Lakers.
There’s another big kid ready to have a big future for the purple and gold Lake Show and he wears Bryant on his back like a snakeskin black Nike ‘City’ jersey.
No this Hollywood Magic machine hasn’t gone back in time and nabbed young Fro’be from the clutches of the basketball God’s. This isn’t 1996 people. Even if the Smashing Pumpkins have reformed and there’s a new Mulder and Scully series of ‘The X-Files’ networking right now. No this kid wears a number in the thirties like the giant greats of Shaq and Kareem. And the worthy 42nd pick Thomas Bryant wants to be the best two-way big in the game. Don’t scoff! Have you seen him block? And he’s got a real shot too. From downtown Pico, which you know seven foot expert from Brooklyn, Brook Lopez will help hone. Just like when he, Randle and would be teammate Russell worked out with Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade this summer. Thomas has already along with fellow two-way South Bay Laker Alex Caruso made the mid-season all G-League team but wait until he takes a real Gatorade break and joins the big boy ranks of the big leagues. His Twitter name reads, ‘No Limit’. Can you handle it?
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