Tokyo, Japan. It’s about a fortnight ago as this Buzz writer is burning the insomniac midnight oils in an APA chain hotel with a pizza delivery (man I love Japanese food) on the last night of his vacation in the Far East. Surfing the channels looking for some sport to play with there’s little between the honoured traditions of sumo wrestling and the pitch and swing of the candy red, white and blue of baseball. As national a sport to this country as pinstripes are uniform to the Yankees. But then whilst remote hopping I see a solitary figure hooping that looks taller than the Tokyo Tower and Skytree combined.
Meet Yuta Watanabe. The second Japanese player to enter the NBA after the same first named Yuta Tabuse after his 17 games with the Phoenix Suns. The most famous Watanabe since ‘The Last Samurai’ star Ken. Ready to inception write his next chapter in translation like Murakami, South of the border, West of the sun.
Saying this kid is big in Japan is a major understatement. Over in the land of the rising sun they call their rising son, “the chosen one” like a certain King out in Hollywood. Watanabe has such a legion of followers that one frustrated fan threw their newborn baby at him. Not as an insult, but anything for a selfie. Now that’s one hell of a picture. But mamas and papas, please, we beg you…don’t try this at home. “Aah I can’t get through this crowd…here take my baby. HEADS UP!”
Good job like this countries favourite outfield recreational pastime, Yuta knows how to catch with those mitts.
And what a catch he is like the right swipe on Tinder. Everyone was swiping left on draft day apparently as Yuta Watanabe went undrafted for basketball Gods know why. He should have hit the lotto, but after a scorching Summer League with Brooklyn in Las Vegas this rookies odds went up in the desert city of sin. But just when you thought the B.K.’s stock was rising with their ace in the hole, Y.W., the neon went out. But not whilst crossing the Times Square lights of Shibuya. Apparently averages of 9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.60 blocks in 24.0 minutes at the tables of the MGM weren’t enough for a team that lives and dies with the ice in D’Angelo Russell’s veins. But it’s enough for a bear bigger than the one that served up Leonardo DiCaprio like a sliced and diced, filleted fish in ‘The Revenant’.
Told you he was a catch.
Now the Nets loss is the Grizzlies gain. As the former expansion Vancouver franchise expands the league further international by bringing this kid with slick Elvis hair to the blue suede, rock and roll town of Memphis, Tennessee. Presley would be proud thank you very much.
The Kagawa native who graduated from George Washington University after four fantastic years (including a 2017-18 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year senior campaign, averaging 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.64 blocks in 36.6 minutes) now has a two way home on Beale Street with the Grizz’s G-League affiliate the Memphis Hustle. But don’t expect too many Gatorade breaks for a phenom potential player who is already a legend in the legacy making as a member of Japan’s international team getting ready for the 2020 Olympic Games in host city Tokyo. This 6,9, 240 pound forward thinking swingman with Bullet Train hustle could be Memphis’ next Pau Gasol foreign legend teaming with brother Marc, Mike Conley Jr and the contract of the Chandler Parsons project.
It’s safe to say that even if the draft didn’t blow him our way, this wind of change from the Far East is now in season.
Yutamania like the ‘Norwegian Wood’ of Beatlemania rocking and rolling like the King (and this time we ain’t talkin’ about ‘Bron) over there is in full effect!
So what he didn’t get drafted this Summer! By March the one who brought Madness this third month of the year will blossom again like cherry. With all the X’s and O’s at the tools of his disposal, the 23 year young Yuta Watanabe’s basketball I.Q. and ceiling has a Fuji peak.
Time to make the climb. The rookie ladder is waiting.
Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
“I wasn’t supposed to be here”.
Shaun Livingston wasn’t even supposed to be still playing.
But boy did he.
He almost lost his leg.
But man he didn’t.
When Shaun Livingston entered the league as the fourth pick and a wide eyed kid with youthful exuberance above the rim in Hollywood. Him and the youngest Roc L.A. Familia (remember the classic SLAM cover?) crew of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling even took some of the bright lights of downtown L.A. from Shaq and Kobe of all dynamic duos from the basements of STAPLES. Arguably the most exciting Clippers team this side of Buffalo…yeah I said it Blake, Jordan and CP3…you too Kawhi and PG-13. It was an Iverson age of cornrows and tattoos. It was the generations hood to the storied Lake Show’s Hollywood history.
But then with a death of a dynasty a bunch of young Roc’s with the rock ended up all over the place too like State Property. The future of these young guns looked bleak like Memphis. Miles went to LeBron’s Land before the King. Elton ended up setting up his Brand in Philly. Whilst Odom went cross-court and stadium with the Lakers after a brief stint of talent in Miami when he was traded back to the bright lights and Kardashian city for Shaq.
But what happened to Shaun Livingston was so much worse.
With Charlotte as a Bobcat Shaun suffered a gruesome injury so bad it almost made Gordon Hayward’s opening night one look like a sprain…almost. Lets not front for the funny that injury was so bad and his comeback story so good too ’till this playing day.
But no comeback story in this league is greater than Livingston’s, living for his career.
He almost lost his leg. Instead doctors saved it and then through the hardest of work and the most powerful perseverance Shaun saved his career…and then made it even better. And he could even still catch a few above the rim.
Number 34 ended up back in California with the Golden State Warriors via a comeback in the B.K. with the Brooklyn Nets. Out in The City of Oak Town he ended up winning three championships and going to two more finals before calling it a career yesterday and feeling “sad, fortunate and grateful” in his retirement. He was microwave more than just a super sub alongside legendary Sixth Man Finals MVP Andre Igudola (also gone this off-season with some guy name Kevin). He was an integral player to the dynasty influence that showed the Dubs were more than just the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson or Draymond and Durant. His jersey belongs up there in the new state of the art arena in San Francisco across the Golden Gate although his legend and legacy will always tram remain in the Golden State of Oakland, as the Warriors look to maybe Six Man legend Jamal Crawford to replace in joining big signing D’Angelo Russell in backing up the backcourt.
Now that’s what I call a true Warrior King.
Don’t call it a comeback unless it’s like this.
Charles Barkley’s Round Bronze Of Rebound
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that skinny!”
Trust Chuck to have the best soundbite of the night.
But after all it was his day.
Yesterday the Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a statue of Sir Charles Barkley outside their Camden practice facility. Joining the bronze likes of his legendary teammates at the time Dr. J, Julius Erving and the late great Moses Malone for one of the most storied teams in NBA history from The Answer to The Process.
“There is not a lot I can say this is just a humbling experience but it really means a great deal because I think people know what the 76ers mean to the NBA,” Barkley said of the honour to those in attendance.
Your move Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.
But after running a power statue on Chuck to join the Legends Walk of Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Mo Cheeks et al at the Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey there are still spots left for the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as Bark also remarked that he believes the new Sixers with Tobias Harris and this Summer’s free agent Al Horford will win the NBA Championship next year.
Isn’t he a TNT analyst?
You can forgive him it was an emotional day.
But stranger things have happened this Summer, Philly didn’t run out of bronze for the Round Mound of Rebound and one of the greatest players, especially Power Forwards the game has ever seen is finally getting his due in-between joking around with Shaq, Kenny Smith and E.J.
“You come here as a 21-year-old kid and now 40 years later – it has been pretty amazing – and it all started here so I just want to thank the 76ers Organization and the city of Philadelphia,” the great added. As Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown agreed, “We are privileged to have you a part of our past. You are referenced often.”
We all have our favourite stories about one of Basketball’s beloved, Top 50 players of all-time who averaged 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals during his time in Pennsylvania. And here’s mine…I don’t even think he was playing with Philly at the times but who cares? I tell this to people often-even non Bball fans-when they need some inspiration and I reach to my grab bag of top three stories that make me smile when I’m down. The other is an exchange between Wilt Chamberlain and playground legend Earl Manigault that Don Cheadle and Kevin Garnett as the Stilt recaptured at the Rucker for the G.O.A.T. movie (look it up), and the third being the time U2’s Bono made that “everytime I clap my hands someone dies” gaff.
Anyway if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin…
Back in the golden era 90’s day there was a Nike commercial in a barbershop featuring then Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell boasting about one of them dunking on Barkley (I think it was Spree…see how good I am at telling this story Philadelphia?). I don’t even think I saw a Basketball in the whole commercial…let alone so much of a sneaker. But anyway the next time Chuck came up against those two in Oakland be hit like 50 odd points or something completely dominating the duo and game. With C-Webb and Sprewell down and out, draped in towels on the bench, Barkley after being a silent assassin all game and saying nothing in reply, backpedaled back downcourt after his last shot, finally looked at the distraught two and said…
“Put that in a f###### commercial!”
I hope the Dubs athletic trainer had some Aloe Vera.
I like this Charles Barkley quote too from back in the ’92 Dream Team Olympics heyday were he defined the fun that what his life and career by saying, “we’re here for a good time. Not for a long time!”
Well now in bronze he’s going to be here forever.
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