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Courtside Column – Take without Forgetting

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We Love Waltah!

Bleeding purple and gold a Laker-for-life like me shouldn’t even like Boston, let alone be friends with a Celtic. Still, it seemed to work for Larry and Magic after awhile so let me take off my Lakers warm-ups and reveal a Celtics t-shirt underneath…or maybe a Boston Strong one for this incredible city that continues to rise up showing its tougher than the rest and strong enough to endure any test. I’ve now been lucky enough to go to this incredible city three times in my life, but add all those trips up together and you probably wouldn’t get more than a week. Still, I could stay here forever. From it’s New England, old Irish feel its so timeless. The beautiful parks, hallmark bars. Residential streets of vintage and new age shops, the marvellous market and of course the magnificent mile. It’s home to some of my favourite movies like ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘The Town’ (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck being among my favourite actors too) and a favourite band I really want to see live in Aerosmith (oh and for the record Steven Tyler in his autobiography pictures the feeling of coming into Boston from the highway to the skyline in a prose perfect way (“And just then, the highway opened up-right at the junction, right at that spot on the highway where you see the skyline of Boston, and you go, “What!?” Because it suddenly goes from trees, woods, and crickets to cars flashing by and skyscrapers and apartment buildings…Just at that moment, I went “Oh, s***, the city”)). Then of course there’s the great people, genuine and friendly and always welcoming to me…I guess they don’t know I’m a Laker…until now, but hey this Basketball aficionado turned writer because he lives in England will catch a game no matter where he is. Even if he has missed the Garnett, Allen, Pierce, big-three days. It’s still all good.

One resident in particular has been especially kind to me and it all starts with a disappointing game in Los Angeles like any story of Celtic pride. Back in 2006, fresh out of university I decided to take a year out and try my hand living in Toronto, Canada (I’m still connected to that country via Basketball Buzz but can’t wait to make a trip back). During this excursion I decided to take a jaunt to Los Angeles to see as many Laker games as I could while I still could, being so far away from home in a once in a lifetime experience. With the Lakers set to host their neighbour Clippers on the first night I got in the perfect stage was set. Or was it? Losing my luggage on my connection the airline grounded my plans and as a first time solo traveller there was no way I was leaving that airport until me and my few prized possessions where reunited. Hours of stressful and dreams dashed waiting later (I’ll give you some perspective then at 21, I’d been a Laker and Kobe Bryant fan since around the age of 11 (bet that makes Vino feel old) and never even got to see much in the way of late night/early morning games on T.V.), I see a tall man walk through baggage claim. “Perhaps my night of Basketball isn’t over” I thought. “He looks like Walter McCarty, but he’s carrying a keyboard almost as tall as him under his arm. Wait…it is Waltah!” After he graciously signed autographs I nervously went over said hello and shared some hoops memories, most notably the time he Antonie Walker, Paul Pierce and Mark Bryant of all people shot down Allen Iverson’s Philadelphia 76ers with a barrage of blowout threes (one game I did get to see on T.V.). I also asked him about the instrument and he told me about his budding music career. He told me to take care, we went our separate ways, I got my baggage, saw many Laker games to make up in the week and that was that.

Years later inspired by this unforgettable trip and staying close to the game I began a pitch at a writing career with help from the likes of SLAM magazine and Bleacher Report, who I’ll be forever grateful too. Still, starting my own blog and seeing how easily you could connect with fans and even players themselves on Twitter I wanted to take it further, interviewing guys like former Celtic Rodney Rodgers and getting some encouragement from another Laker/Celtic Rick Fox. Then one night after talking with my girlfriends friend in America (who recently was gracious enough to host us over there) who is a hardcore hoops head and a devout Kentucky Basketball fan we got talking about the former Wildcat Walt and she told me where to find him on Twitter (so all of this is thanks to him, her and the constant inspiration of my girlfriend who encourages me to go for my dreams (insert Oscar speech here)). Thinking it as a long shot I reached out to see of Walt remembered me and he said he did, then I asked if he wanted to do an interview about his Basketball/music career and he was so genrous enough to grant me this. ‘Soil & Basketball’ followed, then did his unquestionable ‘Unbreakable’ R&B album that showed he could hit the high notes as well as the big shot, his Robert Horry clutch like/Derek Fisher hustle and guts, dirty work (more Laker references hey? You have to call it like you see it) role player classic career showed. These days Walt’s big time when it comes to rhythm and Basketball working with Tank of Tyrese and Ginuwine supergroup TGT and of that wasn’t enough the fan favourite, Tommy Heinsohn announcing ‘I Love Waltah’ t-shirt star is back with his beloved Boston as a Celtics assistant coach. Giving his seasoned advice and experienced guidance to some young talent in a new, best Point Guard in the league Rajon Rondo led era.

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So anyway a couple of years after the interview brings us to just a couple of months back. My girlfriend takes a three month trip to America to meet her Kentucky friend and more and I meet her in New York in this New Year for the last month, taking in Kentucky, Nashville and the Lakers old home Minneapolis with her for the best trip of my life with the love of mine. Heading from New York to Boston via Greyhound for just one day we arrive at the city and see what Steven Tyler was talking about as the skyscrapers appear through the trees after our relatively short, but remarkably scenic ride from the Big Apple. On an unseasonably Spring like January day, staying in the new-to-both-of-us beautiful Back Bay near the sea its a great day like no other that we’ll always remember and not just because we got to see the ‘Cheers’ bar as the Norm. With my girlfriend Holly absolutely loving this town from the start and me loving it like I never thought I could top we also had one more sweet surprise coming our way. After talking about possibly meeting during our rushed and short schedules I e-mailed Walt while in Dunkin’ Donuts (wink, wink, we run on it too) and asked if he still wanted to meet. He replied that we could after the game. Completely forgetting the Houston Rockets and my Lakers beloved Dwight Howard where in town I said “cool, forgot there was a game on, we may try and go”, just like that, to which he replied saying he’d leave tickets and passes at will call for us! Now how great and generous is that?! Seeing one of the best games I’ve seen after the best day in recent memory I finally got to share a real NBA game with my girlfriend for the first time (and exhibition in Manchester with her doesn’t really count and compare to the Garden). We got to see the banners, the jerseys and even meet former electric, spark-plug great Dana Barros (now how about an interview buddy…remember me I’m the guy whose camera wouldn’t work…sorry). Then of course Walt himself recognising us after the game and fetching us some refreshing, cold water with plenty for us all to talk about from the game, to music, this city and of course Kentucky. In what was a great day for Basketball and one epic entry for the travel journal this really was one of lifes best memories thanks to Holly and Walter McCarty. There’s no awesome adjective that could truly do justice to his unprovoked kindness and generosity. So instead its more fitting to leave you with his motto that he signs his e-mails and lives his life by, “Give without remembering, take without forgetting”. Thank you Walt…we won’t! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

NBA

New Toronto ‘City’ Jerseys Point North To The 6

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IMG 20180115 092655
Six Flag

Better late and sharp to the party than never looking fly.

Sometimes in the streets of Toronto you just have to wait for a good thing. Like that CN Tower forever in the distance drive from Pearson Airport to the downtown dot. Or waiting for a table and menu for something good to eat at Jack Astor’s on any given night. But Drake always delivers from serving up playlist picks to albums that offer ‘VIEWS’ that honour the great city of the six. So you know if you’re reading this it’s never really too late.

Now after Nike just gave us ‘Association’, ‘Icon’ and real ‘Statement’ jerseys for the new season where they are now the official uniform supplier of this National Basketball Association the ‘City’ line is complete like riding a Matt Bonner tram from King Street West to the Air Canada Center. As Toronto didn’t want to be left out like Kyrie Irving didn’t want to be the next Dwyane Wade. Now the only one rocking sleeves like Adidas is Lakers rook Lonzo again, looking to ball like his UCLA alumni days. Forget Christmas Day, unless you’re rocking Sixers script. As for the 6, the new Toronto Raptors jerseys that go back to black like the late, great Amy Winehouse with Octobers Very Own gold, couldn’t be more Drake or OVO if they had that Owl hooting from the shooting shorts. And you know these third blackouts will be a permanent fixture on ‘Drake Nights’ when the Raps court will be decked out in the black gold same lining.

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But these new duds that All-Star ‘Step Brothers’ DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will rock like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly did ugly sweater vests are less ‘Hotline Bling’ and more for the town he calls his own for the citizens of Toronto. ‘They The North’ and have that in six court copying chevrons that in glittering gold, road point to this very Canadian NBA destination. Do you see. And if you don’t know, now you know…player.

This is B.I.G. for the notorious north OVO town of the six. We’ve had the ATL neon, Boston parquet, Lakers Black Mamba snakeskin, Cleveland Land, Detroit ‘Motor City’ industry, New York’s F.D.N.Y. department, the Suns not losing the ‘Los’ love and Chicago’s classic city edition. But nothing for the homestand looks as good as this to the T-Dot.

And with all six signs pointing north to Toronto, we only wish these Raptors threads could be put on for the city every night.

Now the only ‘Fallen Kingdom’ in this Jurassic World will be found in cinemas with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum this summer season Blue.

It took a minute for the sap to meet the tree but the Raptors and the Toronto city they call home are far from extinct.

Nike finds a way.

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The ‘Human Highlight Film’ Dominique Wilkins Almost Made ‘Showtime’ Worthy

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Wilkins
How Unique Would The Lakers Have Been With 'Nique?
Hollywood’s show kept fast break rolling last night like a Golden Globe as the young Lakers finally snapped their losing trend by clipping the Atlanta Hawks, 132-113 at STAPLES. All behind 20 points from Brandon Ingram, 15 and 9 from Julius Randle and 13, 10 and 6 from rookie Lonzo Ball. J.C. with 18 and K.C.P. with 14 also had three three’s each as the Lakers made a sweet 16 season best from downtown, to go along with a franchise record 42 points off fast breaks on a momentous night for the storied franchises record books.
It kind of looks like Showtime’s go on all over again.
But straight from the Fox Sports hole pregame did you know that back in the 80’s day the NBA’s Hall of Fame, Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins was almost drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers to be the centerpiece of Showtime? The Atlanta Hawk legend who has a statue outside the ATL arena like all the Magic, Kareem’s, big fellas and logos outside Lakerland told us himself play-by-play as part of the pregame panel.
“Jerry Buss didn’t want me but Jerry West did”, ‘Nique said with warm affection to what could have been. And we can’t help muse like Shea Serrano’s brilliant ‘Basketball And Other Stories’ book to what legacy and Laker legend would have been like if the Basketball God’s didn’t cast down a thunderbolt. You see apparantly it all came down to an injury to Lakers Celtic bruising forward Mitch Kupchak, which will no doubt leave some Laker fans thinking this may be the first time but not the only time their former G.M. Mitch has messed up things for the Lake Show.
Kupchak’s season crippling injury made Buss want to go bigger and taller. And the rest is Big Game history as the Lakers drafted Wilkins’ fellow North Carolina alumnus James Worthy who made his own H.O.F. career more than just his second name that resides in the forever rafters like 42. The second in goggle command behind Cap remains one of the Lakers and the league as a whole’s most underrated legend.
But we can’t help but think what it would be like if we just looked up at the STAPLES ceiling and saw Dominique’s name up there like Kobe’s too (or two) with his 21 in that acclaimed area. It would have certainly brought more hard-nosed hostility to those Larry Bird fights and more Hollywood to that iconic Slam Dunk Contest between the Human Highlight and the G.O.A.T., M.J. And could you have imagined the Magic between a player who finished his career with Orlando and actually the legendary Boston Celtics and the man with the top hat himself Earvin Johnson? Now you thought watching Lake Show greats A.C. Green and former coach Byron Scott was good.
In the end it was all scripted the right way. The Lakers had their own Big Game dunking James worthy of a King and Dominique Wilkins soared as a Hawk in the A. But if Magic’s all smiling Showtime had a few more Human Highlights for the film? Now that would be something straight out of Hollywood.
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LeBron’s Land Now Has I.T. Support

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Portland Trail Blazers V Cleveland Cavaliers
I.T. Follows All The Kings Men

Cleveland plainly dealed their point prince Kyrie Irving away from the King’s Cavalier land this Summer, to make the NBA’s historical Boston Celtics storied again behind their new superstar handle. And in return they got a glorious gunner with an 80’s iconic name, albeit one hip checked to the new year with injury.

But even if Christmas has come late this year like changing your calendar to 2018, Isaiah Thomas is back like you’ve never seen him before, like a Detroit Piston legend kissing and making up with an 80’s Showtime one in an emotional NBA TV reunion.

Now that’s Magic!

Like Pennywise the clown, injury tempted I.T.’s reign into the gutter for the opening chapter of his story with the King like he was wearing a yellow raincoat. But just wait for part two…it’s about to get slicker as forget arms, Thomas is about to take everyone’s legs off from the ankles up.

He’ll float too.

The land was in need of a hand. One that even the way of Wade couldn’t help after the thorn that went in probably retired, former franchise player Derrick Rose’s side. And now they have it all for one and one for all in I.T.’s support. The King now has a fellow crowning talent ready to hold the throne with. Isaiah Thomas’ return to the trail against Portland was blazing too. Normally a nice 17 points and 3 assists would seem modest for a pocket dynamo of this young Iverson’s stature, but when we answer that it came in just 19 minutes of burn than you know it’s something else altogether.

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It’s the makings of something greater.

But all that failed to blend in Beantown as his reunion with the Celtics he was supposed to retire with and his renewed rivalry with the guard he was traded for was put on a DNP-CD hold (at least he too made up with 80’s great Danny Ainge). But the whole event game of the night turned out to be a wash-out as the Celtics 102-88 scrubbing of the Cavaliers on polished parquet only saw the real rivalry of James (19) and Kyrie (11) amass less than 20 points each when this explosive TNT match-up should have gone 30 for 30 for ESPN.

Still Ohio will rise again when the King and I.T. return to their land and maybe even the promised ones of the NBA Finals. As another Celts/Cavs conference finals match-up without Gordon Hayward and this time more Love could beat towards the heart of a lion. And the five foot something with a headband has plenty of that under his too.

And you best believe tooth and hip surgery nail he’s going to leave it blood, sweat and tears all on the parquet this playoff postseason.

But this time instead of against one, Isaiah won’t just be running alongside a King…he’ll be one.

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