R.J. Barrett looked into the camera with a placid, droopy-eyed stare and told Duke fans what they already knew.
The most-hyped Canadian recruit since Andrew Wiggins — and perhaps the most-hyped Canadian college player of all time — is entering the 2019 NBA Draft.
“I’ll always be a part of the (Duke) brotherhood, and I hold that very near and dear to heart,” he said in a video posted to Twitter this morning.
“Looking forward to coming back and supporting the Blue Devils any way I can. Just wanted to thank you for everything.”
This was, of course, a foregone conclusion.
Barrett put up gaudy stats as a Duke freshman and is a projected top-three pick in the Draft. No one expected him to pass that up.
He will go down as an ACC champion, as an effective scorer, and as part of the ballast that kept Duke afloat when teammate Zion Williamson was out with injuries.
As he stared into that camera and thanked the Duke community, highlights from his freshman campaign flashed across the screen.
So many dunks. So many celebrations. So much fist-pumping and cheerleading.
Barrett will be remembered for this, but also for missing a key free throw down the stretch in an Elite 8 loss to Michigan State.
He will be remembered for trying to miss his second free throw in that stretch and watching it clank high off the rim and through the twine.
Duke lost by a single point.
It was a gut-wrenching finale for a superteam expected to contend for an NCAA championship.
“Sure, it sucks,” Barrett told TSN’s Matthew Scianitti in a media scrum after the loss.
“I had a chance to tie the game and I didn’t.”
He acknowledged the loss was no single person’s fault. All year, they had won as a team and they lost as a team.
“I came here, I gave everything I could for the team,” Barrett said. “We were able to have so much success.”
Remember that Barrett is just 18 years old. His birthday is four days before the Draft. He is barely a man, but his maturity speaks volumes.
His boring, measured, hockey-guy responses in media interviews carry an implied message: He’s here to play basketball, to win, to show out.
Nothing else matters.
And, of course, this is only the beginning.
Barrett enters the draft with what seems like a level head, and with the knowledge some Canadian NBA players have struggled to live up to their potential.
He has seen Wiggins become a solid pro, but not an Alpha dog. He is aware of how the basketball world sees Anthony Bennett, who went from No. 1 pick to the G League in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
Barrett’s success, or lack of it, will go a long way to determining how Canadian players are perceived in the next half-decade.
It isn’t fair, not by a long shot. But early indications are — pardon the pun — that Barrett can bear it.
“It was amazing to play for Coach K, play for the brotherhood,” he said in that video posted to Twitter.
“It was a dream of mine to play at Duke, ever since I was a young kid. It’s also a dream of mine to play in the NBA and have great success there.”
He’ll get his chance, and we — along with the rest of the basketball world — will be watching.
Lakers cut Cousins for Hollywood Morris vs Morris twin brothers story
Pelican and Wildcat pack connected with Laker superstar Anthony Davis and veteran legend point Rajon Rondo, when the Lakers copped Sacramento Kings great DeMarcus Cousins this off-season it was meant to be their strongest Summer signing. Reuniting D.C. with A.D. after their N.O. year this was just a campaign after Cousins related to a Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors superteam that only last season, after the arrival of the big-man — fans around the league were calling not playing fair.
Because Boogie down low was the best center in the league, reminded us of an explosive TNT hybrid of Shaq and Chuck. But his post power productions have been crippled by injury even if he ill-advised but all heart tried to redemption return for his former Warriors’ team in the losing finals against the Raptors.
Now out of California again, even though he is no longer a Warrior, like K.D. you can always dub DeMarcus as one.
Meanwhile, whilst Lakers fans were celebrating Cousins arrival with caution once they knew he still needed time to recover, the Lakers brought back to bewilderment the infamous name of Dwight Howard. It looked laughable and ludicrous to bring back the former Mickey Mouse superstar even on a non-guaranteed contract. Especially when there were other former All Stars and future Hall of Famers on the market (Carmelo Cough Anthony).
It looked like chemistry cancer. But it was as natural as biology. And then so many rebounds, blocks, dunks, one contest and guaranteed contract later and the redemption reunion was set for a season that took everyone by surprise. The epic, emphatic energy Hollywood needed way back when flipped the script, as changing his legacy number 39 dunked all over the legend of 12 with his signature smile.
Just when the Lakers thought their dynamic Wilt and West, Magic and Kareem, Shaq and Kobe following dynamic duo of the beard and the brow of LeBron James and Anthony Davis had a big-three like Miami in DeMarcus Cousins, it actually turned out that the Lakers had a big-three Ghidora like post blocking and dunking monster of Davis, Dwight and of course all-time fan favourite, JaVale McGee. But still fans thought that once D.C. came back to Cali’s capital, another head would grow. But now the Lakers have cut it off like a broken leg in the Wild West wilderness this Winter.
The Lakers have waived DeMarcus Cousins before he ever played a single game or before he got the chance to show that he’s still got it like that. But trust he still will as another team will pick him up (if only it was the Lakers next season as DeMarcus talked about how much he liked this brotherhood 1 through 15 before sharing on Instagram his “tough times don’t last. Tough people do” tattoo following the cut). Forget a Howard’s end in redemption, there’s about to be a revenge reunion. Especially if a rival picks him up in these mind games.
Because the Lakers have just played one whilst hopefully not playing themselves. Cousins could have been that Rasheed Wallace like Pistons’ signing after the trade deadline that could have guaranteed them a chip (and do we remember who that Detroit Bad Boys reboot team beat in the finals that season? I will give you a clue. Even adding the Mailman and Glove of Karl Malone and Gary Payton wasn’t enough). Although rumour has it with him rehabbing at the Lakers facility for the rest of the year (this isn’t the first time the Lakes have made a classy move like this. See, Xavier Henry), after this sacrifice he may re-sign with the Lakers this Summer anyway. But now however the Lakers’ have brought in another former Piston to hopefully fuel their assembly line.
After missing out on ‘Melo and Andre Iguodala the Lakers didn’t want to make the same mistake for one of the best on the buyout, even if they have just added the realest to the free agent pool to get him. The hustle and heart of Markieff Morris is exactly the true grit this Hollywood team needs for the playoffs that they have been missing since they didn’t re-up Tyson Chandler.
Bolstering the Caruso and cook-ed up bench and backing-up and giving more three space for Kyle Kuzma. But what’s more like the dreads and headband, Spider-Man pointing match-up of Harkless and Jae Crowder, the Lakers now have a Morris vs Morris brother Hollywood story perfect for their script ending that should see the Battle for Los Angeles Western Conference Finals closing chapter with the Clippers that much more compelling.
Now the L.A. King one-two punches of James and Davis versus Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have more in reserve for Markieff and Marcus matching-up with twin ambition. And it’s going to make for some epic entertainment come playoff time that we can preview at the start of April for the California clash rescheduled after the tragic death of Kobe and GiGi Bryant. And what’s more Marcus says the brothers after playing together for years are going to live in the same house in Los Angeles. That should make for some awkward dinners after we see who is eating come June.
The Lakers have just gained another brother. But in this Fast and Furious league when it’s all about family, don’t forget about your cousins.
Wade In The Rafters. The Heat Rises To 3
How’s this for a Flashpoint in NBA history?
Tonight the Miami Heat gave us ‘The Flashback’. DeLorean riding back to the future of last season. Were Dwyane Wade rocking a red Heat hot bomber jacket that was all “Great Scott” Marty McFly had his number three jersey under all that retired, as the Heat rose his 3 to the rafters in a flash.
After ‘One Last Dance’ for Dwyane last season were he swapped jerseys like trading cards, Wade and his former coach and President Pat Riley watched his last jersey go up past the nosebleeds to the ceilings he smashed, arm in arm like a proud father watching a home video of his sons wedding on the highlights of the jumbotron.
The relationship is exactly like that. Built on a fatherly foundation.
Miami has had a matrimony with Wade from the Chicago towns own All Star start, championship run on his own and then post Bulls and King reunion return to redemption.
Some may say Shaq. 90’s purists Zo Mourning and Timmy Hardaway. Others the greatest of all-time LeBron James forming like voltron with another Heatle that’s about to have his jersey retired, Chris Bosh. But let’s face it when it comes to Miami Heat players and franchise faces, D-Wade is the G.O.A.T.
Legacy. Legacy. L3gacy.
This is the way of Wade. How its been and how it will always been up in the air of those American Airlines. A father first and always part of the Miami family when the South Beach welcomed him like Will Smith, this guy is for life like Bad Boys and the number 3 that Martin Lawrence’s Marcus has framed in his own living room rafter raise for the latest sequel.
What you gonna do?
This was a Florida city union like pink or turquoise neon, or the ’till death do us part loyalty of ‘Bad Boys II’ and ‘LA Finest’ spin-off star Gabrielle Union. The port of Miami Rick Ross rocked the mic and even King James sent a video tribute from his Californian Lakerland as fellow retired club legends Chris Bosh and Ray Allen were in awe attendance.
“Life is good” Wade said like Nas for this two hour special that seemed ready made for an ESPN documentary. 30 for 30 or 3 for 3.
3 in ’03 to infinity for his sweet 16. The sun will never go down on the legendary legacy of Miami’s adopted son.
And in a tragic start to 2020, like Chi guy Wade embracing an emotional Allen Iverson in a Kobe number 8 tribute throwback this moment was the answer to the pain from our prayers.
Now all that is left is one last step to the Hall.