Reflected in the purple neon glass of the STAPLES Center north entrance is a black and white image of LeBron James and his number 23 jersey from behind. Looking up to all those retired numbers and raised banners with the words next to the Nike swoosh, “It’s only a crazy dream until you do it”!
“King James baby”!
“Hey, what’s that accent. Where you from”?
“I’m from England. I came all this way to see the King”.
“Fourth time here. Last time was Kobe’s last season.”
“You must love LA?!”
“I’ve been a Lakers fan for more than 20 years when I was 11. Since the days of Eddie Jones and Van Exel”.
“Me I was a little before. I’ve been a fan since Sedale Threatt”.
“He’s the truth. You know his son is an actor”?
“Yeah! Sedale Threatt Jnr. He was in the new ‘Roots'”!
That’s kind of how the conversations go for this writer concluding Basketball Buzz’s road trip of the United States, everytime he suits up in Lakers gear in Los Angeles. And with a dozen conversations like this one for a guy who never gets this back home (apart from his boy. Coincidentally the only other basketball fan in the country, who also loves the Lakers and is from the same, small seaside town), this is hoops heaven in the City of Angels. The only thing better, seeing a Basketball God in his Adonis like prime do his thing, back-to-back. Two nights in a row for the once in a lifetime only chance I may get to see the King play live in the flesh before his banner moments join the other jerseys in the STAPLE of the ceiling he soars to on every play. Like the two Kobe’s number 23 aims to join up there, after eight and before 24. New additions like the Elgin and Shaq statues outside of courtside.
And boy did I see him play.
Especially after I didn’t want to tempt fate and see him injured and miss him play like Point God, Rajon Rondo. But as my friendly Uber driver, who introduced me to an R&B artist he’s managing who explicitly makes The Weeknd look like the ‘Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady’ of Lionel Richie says, “that guys iron man”! Dreams of riding with the King like B.B. and Clapton do come true like the goal checked of singing Ray Charles’ ‘Hit The Road Jack’ (“and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more”) when an opposing player gets ejected as per STAPLES tradition.
“What you saaaay”?
Damn Denzel! We would have loved to have been an ‘Inside Man’ to the ‘Genius Talk’ you gave the Lakers (like Kendrick Lamar earlier this season, looking hilariously short next to all those ballers with vertical in their DNA) this week like ‘Remember The Titans’. We all know the ‘Pelham 1 2 3’ great equaliser line of never seeing a U-Haul behind a hearse, but we’d love to take this with us. Because Washington’s words of wisdom have helped the Lakers reach new heights before the calender end of December. Especially LeBron who is playing like a man on fire right now.
Better things could have been done in Denver this week for the Lakers chances there to not be dead in the Mile-High air. But last night back home a 38 point stand was made after the Lake Show put a stop to squandering a blowout against the Indiana Pacers running with those Hickory Hoosier picket-fence favourites. After gutting that one out they face a gruelling week in their home castle. But tonight after a slow start that looked like a yesterday’s tomorrow sophomore slump, the Lakers electrified the fast break like those strobe lights of the pregame introductions.
With Dirk Nowitzki’s attired up in joining a pretty in luminous pink Luke Walton honouring the strength of Craig Sager courtside, this West Coast powerhouse clash was dubbed a Luka Vs LeBron big fight before the big one at STAPLES this weekend. But the future of this league and Rookie of the Year favourite couldn’t associate with the veteran, greatest of right now and all time MVP sure-thing. Unleashing his sky-hook unstoppable like, bump and grind, Muhammed Ali moves of bobbing and weaving as he floats and dribble drives like a butterfly and stings and smash slams like a bee. After taking seemingly two steps as he strides down court from coast to coast, like he did The Land to La La Land. ‘Bron knows how to bounce and bang and knock his opponent for six. Or should we say 28? As after being blocked by a young and ready Donic twice at a time, James went full King and showed this young prince where the real throne lies. Coming alive in the night time of this game, he made up for no dunks in the last contest (hey it’s something this writer wanted to witness at least once) by going above the rim like Tupac as ‘How Do You Want It’ and his Beats By Dre ‘California Love’ commercial played over the PA. And if that sounded big, then when the best to Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Eminem and Kanye’s ‘Forever’ track off his ‘More Than A Game’ Irish movie soundtrack came on, LeBron came even more alive. Duking and dunking, spinning and scoring and making moves of the year and history highlight. Before dropping one final hammer from way deep into his downtown toolbox after a night of wielding axe wild dunks in front of ‘The Shining’s’ own Jack Nicholson. Heeeeere’s Johnny! And Bronny. Back again.
‘Daddy’s Home’ too. A mean-mugging, chin-stroking, playful ‘Anchorman’, Will Ferrell (I know Chilli Peppers attend these games but that ain’t Chad), Seattle Sonics thrift shop, throwback fanboy, Macklemore. A knockout Evander Holyfield with all of his ears and Lionel Richie (Hello!) we’re all in jumbotron attendance all night long. All legends all to watch another one do his thing. At one moment when LeBron actually hit from the free-throw line, either end courtside you had one man who made an iconic Joker and another Commodore who helped make Motown zoom watch a new kind of 23. And if you drew that big-three up in an on court play it would almost look like a triangle.
But the Lakers escaped a Bermuda from a terrifically talented Texan team featuring Jordan’s and juniors. One of the best stars of this league Harrison Barnes, who following a shoot-around morning was strolling round outside STAPLES with iced knees was ice cold in a good way looking to put this game in the freezer from downtown, let alone the refrigerator. But Brandon Ingram had an incredible first quarter for the Lakers keeping the teams money talking, before carrying on that tenacity throughout with 19. Alongside the 10, 4 and 5 of fellow young gun Lonzo Ball, who is shooting and handling the pill like that ankle was strapped not sprained. His snatch, grab and dash D-game, like his heart, or the ink on his arm art is growing and expanding like that very muscle hustle. He and a big McGee may have ended up fouling out. Say what you will about this ‘Stranger Things’ dubbed “Meme Team”, behind all that show, flash and glitz we haven’t seen this much, no expletives given grit since the 90’s Knicks. It’s a comprehensive roster of future and vets, style and sustenance. And everyone from B.I. to an ejected J.J. was technically in trouble as KCP went to the line more times than LeBron misses from it. And after a big inside job (12 scores and a season high 13 boards) and pivotal play with Chandler flexing and bruising before the Tyson fight this weekend. Not to mention Kyle Kuzma going for 15, 12 and 6 once he took off that headband. And Hart beating from clutch three to his signature, arm strong, bicep touching celebration, the Lakers looked good for the win and not looking back once they went fourth.
As the only team looking at the scoreboard and hoping Dallas broke 100 apart from the Mavericks themselves were the night crew that works at downtown Los Angeles’ Taco Bell. They didn’t have to prepare any fresh tortillas like last night on this one. As it was a wrap as the city edition Lore Lakers had the Mavs by the pin-stripes, 114-103. No tacos but no dice Dallas.
Cue the Worthy clap.
Staying in California (even though we sadly aren’t), the Lakers roll to the Suns this weekend, where in a Pacific play with Phoenix they hope to continue to rise, lead by the King’s drawn sword.
Time to put it in stone.
Watch THIS Work! The WNBA Bets On Women
Ten years ago the motto of the Women’s National Basketball Association was to, ‘Expect Great’. Now a decade later and into the roaring 20’s of a whole new one and world, the league that tells you to watch them work truly has for all it’s worth.
The WNBA and CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has reached a monumental moment in the leagues history and its time to read all about it on Los Angeles Sparks twin superstar Chiney Ogwumike’s Twitter thread.
It tells us the CBA means…
When it comes to players salary and compensation there will be a 30% increase to the salary cap as the higher max pay player salary jumps like Lisa Leslie’s first dunk from $117,500 to $215,000. Whilst there will be an additional compensation for those top tier Candace Parker players around $300,000. Moving millions this is thee first time the league has moved units like this in six figures. And like Russell Westbrook why not? Because for every player like him there’s an Ogwumike. For every Candace a LeBron. Every Luka Doncic a Breanna Stewart. Every Larry Bird a Sue. Kobe Bryant, Diana Taurasi. For every Michael Jordan a Lisa Leslie.
Every insufferable, couch potato chip, sexist fans who unlike a Suffragette doesn’t believe women deserves equal pay needs to check their pockets…yep like Rakim said that’s nothing but lint. Now paid in full these women deserve this and more like diversity at the Oscars. Just as good as the men like Michelle Wie (she’s not the logos sons wife people) golfing with the guys of you claim you’re “woke” on social media but can’t wake up to this then you’re about as woke as still in bed gone half 12 in the afternoon. It feels like all those trumped up people who had a problem with a female ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. Or those old men who would rather bully a 17 year old girl with Aspergers online than believe in the actual happenings of climate change.
Sure there’s an argument that sportspeople shouldn’t be paid these ridiculous amounts of money. But the point is if the men get paid this much then why shouldn’t the women?
This should have happened a long time ago. But at least it’s happening now.
It’s about time.
Working mothers are also finally getting their due in a groundbreaking deal on this date. Players will receive a salary whilst on maternity leave with an additional new childcare stipend. Whilst up to $60,000 of progressive family planning benefits for veteran players for costs for adoption, surrogacy, oocyte cryopreservation, fertility and more. No longer will go hard greats like Skylar Diggins-Smith have to play whilst pregnant and hide it to protect herself whilst the CBA lists it as a “condition”.
Perks of the game that the men have had for years and the world class women deserve just as such also include individual hotel rooms for players, more mandatory leg room on flights (how important is this for basketball players? The NBA would cry personal foul if the King and them would be forced to fly economy), and further for the finances, off-season job opportunities with league partners that along with the salary rise will mean that WNBA players won’t, overplayed and underpaid have to go overseas in the off-season to earn more money to make ends meet in foreign leagues. Something which has been a conditioning condition and pay for play issue since the leagues inaugural inception.
And let’s not forget about the players mental health too in major improvements across the board and world to an issue still surrounded with stigma despite the lengths taken and measures made. More resources will be offered in addition to the adoption of a Nutrition Council that will aid peak performance by offering players a commitment to this optimization.
But it’s probably the stand made by the WNBA and the CBA against violence to women which is the most important. Ending domestic and all sorts of violence to women which has happened to players around the league and still happens everyday, effecting everyone needs to end NOW like it should have never happened. It seems like such a ridiculously obvious thing to say…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said.
Again and again until we don’t have to.
The wide world has finally met the standards of the women’s game and league on the way to leveling the playing field. More of the same…do we really need to add the please now?
Betting on sporting events is a losers game. But betting on women-like the ones in this league-is a sure thing.
The game changed for real today.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 20 Pts, 20 Rebs, 10 Asts first Canadian NBA triple-double since 2006
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, ON) became only the second Canadian basketball player in NBA history to record a triple-double — and the first in nearly 14 years, since Steve Nash in 2006.
Gilgeous-Alexander racked-up 20 points, career-high 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The former one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat continued his efficient campaign shooting 8-of-12 field goals, connecting 2-of-3 triples and 2-of-2 from the foul-line.
Steve Nash recorded three triple-doubles in his illustrious 18-year career, the last one on April 19, 2006 — Nash finished with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
The 20 rebounds is also a record-high by a Canadian guard and only the second 20/20 double-double by a Canadian — Jamaal Magloire notched a 22 point, 21 rebound game against the Toronto Raptors’ on March 21, 2004.
Most rebounds by a Canadian in the NBA
Samuel Dalembert (Montreal, QC) holds the record for the most rebounds in a NBA game with 23 against the Golden State Warriors on March 20, 2009. Followed by Magloire 22 and Tristan Thompson with 21.
Gilgeous-Alexander becomes the youngest guard to record 20-20-10 stat-line and joins Russell Westbrook as the only guards with a 20-point, 20-rebound triple-double over the last 30 seasons. He is also the youngest player in NBA history with a 20-rebound triple-double, passing Shaquille O’Neal.
RJ Barrett became the first Canadian basketball player to record a triple-double at the NCAA level in nearly 35 years during his lone freshman season with the Duke Blue Devils.
The OKC Thunder continue their playoff push with their 18 victory in the last 25 games and currently sit in 7th place in the western conference.
The Canadian guard is currently averaging 20 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists — shooting 46.4% from the floor, 33.6% from three-pointers and 81.6% from the foul-line while turning the ball over just 1.9 per game.
Canada NBA All-Star Drought
The 2020 NBA All-star game in Chicago is less than month away and as it currently stands, Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t currently rank as one the top fan vote earners in a guard heavy western conference. Nevertheless, the Canadian stud could end Canada’s eight year NBA all-star game drought by earning a coach’s selection.
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