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Alex Caruso, You Are My Hero

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Alex Caruso, You Are My Hero
The Carushow...

Hey Alex, I’m Tim!

Standing in front of this glass, living with himself like Paul Rudd on Will Smith, ‘Gemini Man’ reflection, this man in the mirror with a hairline thinner than his arms he wishes in this Instagram age he could Photoshop like that hilarious hench-pressed gym photo that “are they serious right now” hilariously got you a “letter” from the league, is a Lakers fan since the days of Van Exel and Eddie Jones inspired my one mans gold.

Not the Black Mamba.

Not even The Grey Mamba of the one Ingram still in Lakers purple.

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But the one South Bay Laker who got more than a two-way like Skytel pagers.

The Bald Mamba my fellow Larry David brother.

Alex Caruso, I love you my hero.

And it’s more than the fact that this writer has something about the name Alex when it comes to Americans. Sure the Lakers have the best dynamic duo since Wilt and West, or Jerry and Elgin, or Magic and Kareem, or even Shaq, Kobe and Pau. And probably a big three with Kuz. But there’s just something about ‘Carushowtime.

‘Bron and The Brow may put up the numbers like E, from Anthony Davis’ first 40 and 20 since the Big Diesel in just three quarters, to LeBron’s triple double v Luka tonight (I just hope the Killer King like Timothée Chalamet with the Prince beating Edward Scissorhands costume this Halloween, praising his triple double opponent as a cut above the rest told you, you are a “f###### bad motherf#####” too). And sure it was Danny Green’s, green light moment like his championship with the Canadian’s, sending the game into O.T. with the 3. The only Green day the purple and gold welcomes home, apart from the two time A.C. (we’re talking about the Magic to Kobe, Kareem to Shaq gap bridging Forum of the Showtime 80’s to new millennium veteran STAPLE, not air conditioning). But you still put the Mavericks on a poster (L.B.J may throw the quarterback pass pregame with A.D., but the new A.C like a breath of fresh air in a fresh pair, with a fan ceiling hit the touchdown off that touch K.C.P. pass) I want on my bedroom wall like a thousand teen cheerleaders you’ll become a heartthrob for (again…only a slight man crush).

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And after D’Angelo, Julius, Jordan, Larry, Zupac and Bryant when anyone says the Lakers traded away their entire Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart young core away for A.D. to be on his way, I’ll just show them that picture of you dunking over Jordan.

What do you mean it’s not real new Jerry West NBA logo?

Well that Grant Goldberg mocked up one of you and that 2001 Philly, championship jacket Larry O’Brien cradling one like Kobe will soon be all too true. From the Black Mamba to the Bald one, you showed us that white men can jump and bald men can fly like an eagle.

All I’m saying is you better be in ‘Space Jam’ 2′ too.

Because anything can happen in Hollywood.

Whose laughing now?

And whilst I’m just sitting here like Captain Picard in this next generation you made it so. Running the lane at warp speed, playing point whilst Rondo is out. Going in and proving your the point. There’s nothing wrong with South Bay, but L.A. is the way and my California king you are here to stay.

The hairs I do have left are raising.

Just Carusin’.

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Chicago, All-Star 2020 blows in the Windy City for Kobe

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lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Finding 24 Forever...

Untouchable.

Like Eliot Ness, that’s what Common’s city of Chicago is when it comes to this court. All greatest of all-time thanks to the statue outside the United Center that they have to bring in from the cold when ice gets in it’s cracks like the veins of new Minnesota Timberwolves cold front player, D’Angelo Russell (he should be here. These lost Lakers are just glad Brandon Ingram is). Forming a duo with Karl-Anthony Towns as dynamic as that one of Star Marbury and the uncut gem of Chi-towns own Kevin Garnett heading for the Hall.

And just like the Big Ticket, the Rose that grew from concrete and the way of Wade who was moved to tears, the rapper slash actor, author and Microsoft poet Common (who fittingly won MVP of the Celebrity Game in his city. Even after Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith said “c’mon Common you can’t even dunk donuts in coffee” after giving Dwight Howard’s athletically graceful, camera flash freeze, cheese smile, spin dunk an 8 (Kobe?)) put on for his city like Barack Obama and of course the statue of the G.O.A.T. M.J. with a poetic rap that waxed lyrical on hoops history and it’s nuanced nostalgia.

Shouting out the real King MLK and Kobe before Magic made a moving speech, all players behind him dressed in warm-up white and Jennifer Huston brought the not a dry eye in the arena, house down with her tribute that beat the hardwood like the commercial Dr. Dre one for this California love in Chicago, like the National Anthem of treasure Chaka Khan in a 23 jersey.

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Common also had rhymes for each player introduction for all those who would take to the floor dribbling across the Chicago skyline, as he rocked the mic like fellow Chicagoland legend Chance The Rapper halftime and injured All-Star Dame Lillard, who still got to play this weekend as Dame D.O.L.L.A. The first player to perform on this stage of Basketball’s Grammy’s, bringing out ‘Tha Carter’ himself Lil’ Wayne and a Mamba Forever leather that we all want to cop for this year’s Winter jacket.

From saying “Sixteen-time all-star, three-time NBA champion/ We continue to witness his reign / One of the greatest to play the game/ From the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James”, to “A four-time all-star / He handles the rock like Gibraltar / From the Boston Celtics / Give it up for Kemba Walker”.

But hey, I’ve got one for you all, “like the Beard and the Brow he runs the show/so where the f### is Alex Caruso”.

But to the beat of his own raps and his milk carton brother Kanye, even if every event was set off by the “GO” vocal of guitar hero John Mayer on his Common collaboration with ‘Jesus Is King’ walking God, Mr. West (from the bam, bam Bam Adebayo BAM Skills Challenge bucket win. To the Buddy Hield buzzer beating on the last ball of the last rack, Devin booking, beating and winning the Three-Point Shootout (still one of the best and most underrated events of the weekend)), this night of all the All-Stars was all about the one who should have been in the crowd cheering with his daughter courtside.

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From Superman, Dwight Howard returning and bringing back the red cape out of the phone booth, with 24 on the chest, to Man Of Steel and former Lex Luthor like enemy Shaq filming on that old camcorder again. In one of the best but most controversial dunk contests that saw an all 50 and 7-foot-5 Tacko leaping Aaron Gordon robbed again like when he cleared the mascot (seriously I don’t mean to leap to conclusions, but these guys need to get over jumping over things…literally. Only Leonardo DiCaprio gets over this many people).

This time by the South Beach, bringing the Heat in the Windy City, tornado storm of Derrick Jones Jr. Air Gordon won’t be back (thanks for that judges. Dwayne Wade said in the Skills Challenge his mind can be changed…ain’t that the truth), but let’s hope the backboard ball touching, Woody Harrelson Venice Beach wear honoring Pat Connaughton will be. Because white men can jump too in an epic exciting weekend of Chicago, 2020 that in the Olympic year of Tokyo, 2020 showed all the world’s a Basketball stage like the Rising Stars game (Konichiwa Hachimura).

lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Lebron James throws down two hand dunk during 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago

For the main event of the biggest weekend on the schedule itself Team LeBron all wore number 2 on their blue jerseys for GiGi and Team Giannis 24 forever for Kobe (a bald Khris Middleton even sometimes from the nose bleeds making it look like Mamba was there…which spiritually he was like his mentality), to another LeBron like Kobe dunk running the floor like Bean and the 24 second shot clock that decided the fourth quarter of an entertaining All-Star Game that was more than the legendary lay-up line and was actually a competitive affair.

kawhi leonard 2020 nba all star game mvp
Kawhi Leonard 2020 NBA All-Star Game MVP

That’s just what happens when you win the game on a free throw (157-155, King over Freak) as Laker and hometown Chicago hero Anthony Davis did the honors after filling the stat sheet with the game on the line. But, the All-Star MVP now beautifully renamed the Kobe Bryant award went to another Los Angeles King in Clipper Kawhi and his 30 points. Who dedicated his award to the late legend it’s named after, as fans had their fill of their favourite weekend of the mid-season they love like the hearts of a mid-Feb Valentine.

Just don’t ask him what he had for dinner.

Answer…Team Giannis.

For Team LeBron. For Kobe. For GiGi.

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Canadian’s rise to the occasion at 2020 NBA Rising Stars game

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brandon clarke registers a layup for team world 2020 nba rising stars game
Canadian Brandon Clarke rises for a lay-up at 2020 NBA Rising Stars game

Without a doubt, one of the brightest spots of the NBA All-Star Weekend, is the Rising Stars game.

Since it’s inclusion in the 1994 All-Star game in Minneapolis, it has seen multiple formats and renditions — becoming a fertile playground for “phenoms” and “sensations” to showcase their gifted basketball talents to a global audience.

Orlando Magic point guard Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway won MVP of the inaugural edition of the rookie challenge game which at the time featured a true all-rookie affair with the likes of Chris Webber, Sam Cassell, Isaiah Rider taking on Jamal Mashburn and Nick Van Exel.

Toni Kukoc + Dino Rađa first International Players

The original 8-player team rosters comprised of only two international players – both Croatian/ Yugoslavian greats Toni Kukoc and Dino Rađa made the phenom cut.

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In addition to Kukoc and Rada, and up until 2000, when the NBA made it’s first format change, from a all-rookie game to a rookie versus sophomores soiree — the game had only featured a grand total of nine (9) non-American players. Arvydas Sabonis (Lithuania/1996), George Zidek (Czechoslovakia/1996), Vitaly Potapenko (Ukraine/1997), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Lithuania/1998), Michael Olowokandi (UK/Nigeria/2000) and Dirk Nowitzki (Germany/2000) helped provide a blueprint for international expansion.

Steve Nash first Canadian selected in 1997

Steve Nash broke the Canadian trend and became the country’s first representation at the event, playing alongside Lakers’ great Kobe Bryant in the 1997 rendition. Winnipeg, Manitoba’s own Todd MacCulloch added his name to the list in first year of the new millennium, and twelve (12) years later Tristan Thompson (2012-2013) started what is now an eight-year streak of Canadians in the NBA’s Rising Stars’ Game.

Andrew Wiggins cock-back dunk NBA Rising Stars Game
Andrew Wiggins throws down big dunk at 2015 NBA Rising Stars Game in Brooklyn

Andrew Wiggins opened the flood-gates winning the MVP trophy in 2015 with an electric 22-point performance. Jamal Murray topped his scoring efforts with one of the best games in the events’ history with a 36-point, 11 assist MVP outburst in 2017.

History of Canadian’s NBA Rising Stars Game

Back then it was hard to imagine the impact that the NBA would have internationally, and across Canada. Despite multiple formats and various renditions, there’s little to no doubt that the idea of what has now become the World versus USA game has been a large contributing factor to the multiplier effect.

Record four Canadians in 2020 World vs. USA game

Now in its 26th year and in the sixth edition of the it’s latest format, the 2020 game showcased a record four (4) Canadian’s. Rookies RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks, Brandon Clarke (Memphis Grizzlies), Nickeil Alexander-Walker joined sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the NBA’s Tupac themed “me against the world” game.

rj barrett and shai gilgeous alexander 2020 nba rising stars game
Canadian’s RJ Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at 2020 NBA Rising Stars Game – Photo: NBA Canada

Barrett poured in a game-high 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Clarke, arguably the steal of the 2019 NBA Draft was equally impressive with 22 points and game-high 8 rebounds on 11-of-15 shot attempts. Gilgeous-Alexander razzled and dazzled his way to 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while his cousin Alexander-Walker added 6 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.

The Canadian’s contributions helped Team World race out to a 39-30 first-quarter lead over Team USA. A big second-half surge saw the all-American squad turn a 81-71, 10-point half-time deficit into 151-131, 20-point victory.

Outcome aside, the game featured a bevy of highlights including an impromptu dunk contest in the last minute that included some big time dunks by Brandon Clarke and RJ Barrett.

With such an impact internationally and responsible for giving many rising Canadian basketball players their first true taste of NBA All-Star weekend — it will only be a matter of time before one or two of them makes the leap from Saturday to Sunday like Nash did, becoming an official NBA All-star — five years after his appearance in the Rookie Challenge.

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