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Cedric the Entertainer

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(This article was meant to serve as an interview with Cedric Ceballos, but following his recent ill-health we post this to tribute and wish him the best. get well soon champ.)

Open your eyes to someone who really sees the game for what it is.

All eyes are open and on the one man with his eyes closed. A man holding court on his own, decked out in purple on the decked out hardwood. Players and fans alike are pointing and whispering something like; ‘he can’t do it’! Before more doubt is shed the man starts running like he’s heard the starters gun for the 100 metres, cradling the peach awkwardly and carefully like it was a full bucket of water. It all looks a little too awkward or party pinyata like until the man begins to soar. Part M.J/Dr. J, part American eagle outfitted in a black bandanna. What seems like a thousand camera flashbulbs pop, while the same number of mouths drop. SLAM DUNK! The man lands back down to earth with a chorus of champion cheers, while pulling the blindfold off his eyes. All Cedric Ceballos sees behind a sea of white teeth is nothing but tens.

Cedric Ceballos was a Slam Dunk winner for that legendary dunk, but this former star player of the NBA was much more than that. Can you count to 50? Ced can too, but with buckets. Hitting them high with more than his space jams, joining the half-Wilt, half-century and over club before he hit his 30’s. He was part of the elite class of the 90’s, arguably the greatest decade of NBA history. An academy of diversely talented players who would have been kings in another time, but like princes they were overshadowed by Michael.Ced could dunk like Mike, score like his fellow number 23 in some games and before his mid-nighties Lakers gave way to the next one in Kobe Bryant he was a potent scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers. He would have made for a great, much-needed then third shooting option behind Shaq and said Jordan mark two. His wonderful, aerially amazing wing game developed with the association’s change towards that style of play.

With a ‘tache and high-top fade this prototype basketball player defined the nighties and the changing of the guard…literally. Playing like a 2 at the small forward position, opening up the game like he did the court. L.A., Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas and Miami were all shown that this man from Hawaii was more than a journeyman. Hapoel Tel Aviv, BC Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody, San Miguel Beermen and the ABA also benefited from all the talent of this all star. Ceballos saw it all and did it all and made a damn good career out of it.Still they took a man who once hit 50 like his name was Ghostface, two positions lower in the draft. Well like most late picks he made other teams realize they shouldn’t have passed him up…early. Waking fans up with his dunks, leaving opponents sleeping on defense. Still Ceballos was more than just the wow factor of dunks and microwave plays (much love to Vinne Johnson), he had much more cooking.

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Take off the blindfold and plug into youtube to spark off nostalgia and you can see that Ceballos could score like a pro. Leading the league in Field Goal Percentage in 92/93 with 57.6%. This Sun burnt brighter than his doubters, with a vibrancy that matched the jersey’s he rocked in Arizona and California. In Los Angeles he even led all Lakers during the 1994/95 season with an average of 21.7 per, he really was an option. A year later, the second round was again on him as he led the Lakers with 21.2 per, including that career high game, which was the first time a Laker had hit 50 in 20 years. That was before James Worthy and that was before Kareem. That’s truly magic, when you realize these legends had their offense served to them on a plate by the tricks of Earvin Johnson’s trade. When he was hot, Cedric cooled teams off and put games in refrigerators faster than Chick could call it. Not only did he take Hearn’s ‘slam-dunk’ phrase and own it, he gave his own name definition as well.

Today Cedric is ever the entertainer, still bringing a smile to peoples faces almost bigger than his. The Phoenix Suns passed the mic back to this player/rapper as he became the teams in-arena emcee in 2004, whilst also making the rounds on city radio and on the internet via his webcast, ‘Nothin’ but Net’. Of course a man who once released a hit single with West-Coast rap legend Warren G. (‘Flow On’) to go along with an album (‘ B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret’) was a natural at moving the crowd even when he wasn’t regulating opponents. Following some assistant jobs Cedric this year has been playing with the ‘USA Legends’. Forget the ‘World All-Star Classic’ this former player is making dates and moves like a Globetrotter. From the scoring to the showboating this man charms the crowd with his infectious character and irresistible charisma. Ceballos put in an MVP performance this June as his legends beat the Malaysian NBL All Star, despite Ced’ lending his talents along with a Malaysian jersey to play for the opponents for a few minutes.

That’s Cedric for your willing to play with anybody, or do anything just to entertain you. This guy is all-time, dedicated to the game and putting a smile on peoples faces in the name of fun. Seriously speaking though, Cedric still played like a pro, but one that wasn’t afraid to let his love for the game and his moment show. After all isn’t that what sport is all about? Anyone who disagrees can put the blindfold back on. In his NBA career Ceballos opened eyes and made those who loved the game look at Basketball his way, the entertaining way. He still does that today. Can you see?

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NBA

Millsap Mishap Could Keep Forward Behind 3 Months

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Poor Paul Millsap.

This campaign after becoming one of the biggest free agent pick ups of the offseason, one of the leagues leading Power Forwards has been put down on the medical report with an injury that could call him off sick for a quarter of a year.

The most reliable player over four periods has spent the bird share of his career helping his former Atlanta Hawks make it to the first round knockout stakes of the playoffs each year. But following the season where they didn’t make the cut of the second one, it was time for a change for the 32 year old number 4 who once looked to be the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone replacement Carlos Boozer didn’t turn out to be early in his career alongside former leading Point Guard Deron Williams.

And in the mile high city of Denver with a would be big-three of sophomore sensation Emmanuel Mudiay, dreaded defender Kenneth Faried and of course The Joker with the last laugh Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets in their new Nikes looked golden and finally past that baby blue Carmelo era (they may as well be as Anthony, now with the blue, white and orange of the Thunder isn’t even a Knick anymore (it’s ‘Old York’ now Knickerbockers)). But now like Ben Affleck looking at the ‘Justice League’ box office returns it’s time to ask the Nugs “why so serious” Batman as an injury to their versatile veteran forward of seasoned upon seasons of experience doesn’t exactly put a smile on their face.

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The All-Star was averaging a helpful handful of exactly 16 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists before tearing the ligaments in his left wrist in a 127-109 loss to the Lakers who themselves recently lost all dunking son Larry Nance Jr. to a broken wrist, but are thankful to be having him return after they cut the turkey this thanksgiving. Millsap and the Nuggets are looking at second opinions from docs offering the same sort of speedy recovery that doesn’t sap their frontline. But if they concur with the original diagnosis, it’s three months in a suit and tie and not to mention cast for Paul who will return in late February after the All Star break he normally never takes off.

The man with the three year, 90 mill deal helped make this outside eight seed threat Denver the new gritty, grinding Memphis of the West. Now without him the older than Richard Jefferson roster is thinner than the air up there in Colorado.

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Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving

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USP NBA: BOSTON CELTICS AT BROOKLYN NETS S BKN BKN BOS USA NY

Smokin’!

Even that phrase delivered at a perfect Jim Carrey pitch can’t quite put into perspective just how hot Celtic Kyrie Irving is right now. Especially in the Boston green, Rip Hamilton face-mask.

Maybe those three little letters would do more justice for this league leader?

You know Menacing, Versatile, Phantom?

No?

How about M-V-P?

Kyrie joins Kobe, former Cleveland Cavalier teammate LeBron James and the man whose about to pass him the Maurice Poldoff torch, Russell Westbrook to be an absolute menace in the Phantom of the Opera face-mask, leaving other teams dead on basketballs biggest stage. He may have fractured and broken some bones in his face, but that won’t stop him as he fractures and breaks the backs and hearts of the faces of all the other franchises he faces off with night after excruciating night.

Those who used to say it must be the shoes (and have you seen his best in show sneaker designs complete with shamrocks like Starbucks on St Patrick’s Day this season heads? Those halloween pumpkin ones were the spice), are now saying it must be the mask.

Sure the plastic profile guard makes for some meme worthy Pinterest fan art appreciation but this guard has made a point at hating it…the sweat inducing mask that is, not the love. These kind of covers can blind you, but like the concussed legend of Celtic great Larry, letting it fly like a Bird above the baskets in the Boston Garden all the way to the rafters (as he saw too hoops like 80’s girls earrings and just aimed for the top one), Kyrie plays through all the pain and frustration. Taking it out on the ball (like opponents on Lakers rookie Lonzo) and the other teams hoops that to him seem bigger than those ones Bruno Mars sang about.

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Take Dallas for example. Irving just masked all his pain by taking the Mavericks for 47 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in the last contest that took the Celtics to a sweet sixteen straight. After dropping two games following Gordon Hayward dropping out of the new season before the second quarter of his opening game one even played out, everyone was calling time on these new Celtics as soon as Gordon turned his ankle counter-clockwise. But now one of the best in the association Kyrie is showing LeBron and them he’s just as good as them or anyone alone like this man from down under always wanted to prove. This definition of clutch, who leaves everyone else in the fourth with straws has already shown on a championship scale against Curry of all hot guards that he can take the last shot that really matters. Now forget the Most Valuable Player award for a waning second or even the time his dynamic duo partner in pine Hayward comes back, Irving has the power to dribble drive all the way to the crown on his own.

And it’s going to take more than a mask to stop him.

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The Wind Brings The 2020 All-Star Game To Chicago

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1973. And the first NBA All-Star Game to play in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois features the last All-Star game in the last season of two lasting Los Angeles Lakers legends. One man who scored 100 points in just one game, Wilt Chamberlain. And one man who was and still remains the one and only logo of this National Basketball Association, Jerry West.

1988. And arguably the greatest All-Star Game of all-time and an even better, best ever All-Star weekend sees Michael Jordan become Michael Jordan. M.J. scored 40 in an 138-133 O.T. A.S.G. win for the East meeting the West. But a day before all that he and the Slam Dunk Contest became even more legendary. As mere moments after storied Boston Celtic great Larry Bird asked “whose coming in second place” before raising his finger in victory before the ABA coloured moneyball ripped through the twine (no Nick Young swag), Money took off from the free throw line like a good doctor for his above the rim J and jumped over everybody including Atlanta Hawk wing spreading, sky-soarer Dominique Wilkins.

Now more than 30 years later after next years All-Star Game in the purple and gold city of Los Angeles and the 2019 one in the redeemed city of Charlotte, the 2020 and 69th All Star Game will be played in Michael’s old town of Chi-city. In the same year as Tokyo, Japan will hold the next Olympic Games, the game of basketball will go back to it’s 90’s roots and an inspired iconic landmark of hoop heaven that didn’t really have the same spirit in the seventies, but really Jumpman took off in the golden era eighties. So much so that the old ’88 All Star Weekend t-shirt is a historical thrift store must find for more than it’s 80’s Tron like, cool, retro logo.

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And with mid-February lovers big blockbuster basketball coming back to the city of wind like the river that runs through it, Chi-town needs this like out of towners need deep dish pizza. You only have to listen to the news or the Common album ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ (you know the legendary M.C. who used to wipe up Jordan’s sweat off the old Chicago Stadium hardwood has to perform at the mid-season classics halftime show) to know this classic city is marred by violence that burns through this second city like fire. The beloved Bulls have even become a “garbage team” to root for too, losing the big-three likes of last seasons Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade (who may even be on a farewell All Star tour once his hometown All Star weekend comes crossed off the calendar and everyone is united in the airlines center).

Now this team who relies on sophomore stud Denzel like Oscar hopeful movies will hopefully be back by the next few valentines. As the heart of the city in twenty twenty will want to see something as visionary as Sinatra’s kind of towns history.

That’s just the Chicago way.

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