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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.

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Kuzmania Starts A Forum For The Lakers To Play A Game In Inglewood Next Season

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For The Forum.

Holding the leather Spalding up in the air like it was the Larry O’Brien trophy, a game before the Los Angeles Lakers 2017/2018 season would officially end before the playoff campaign. Head coach Luke Walton, suit-jacket off and relaxed asks Andre Ingram how long he’s been playing in the D…excuse us, the G-League for. “10 years” the decade, 32 year old vet (who Brandon calls cuz, but isn’t actually a relation…although he’s now a Laker brother) replies after posting 19 exuberant points in his NBA debut. Just days before he would throw out the first, ceremonial baseball pitch at a L.A. Dodgers game. “Hell of an opening night man” coach says in kind as he shakes his hand, follows with an embrace and then hands him the game ball before ‘Dre’s day ends with a fingers to the sky team huddle of “together” on three.

That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.

But how can yet another losing one bring so much joy, let alone hope?

Let’s write it out again…

That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.

And if it leads to free agents like hometown hero Paul George signing. Or even the King, LeBron James in La La Land for his closing Hollywood career chapter on court. Then you couldn’t even script it better than Lavar wanting all the Ball boys on the floor at the same time.

And who knows who they’ll win in the lottery when the draft balls fall this Summer.

But even if all this becomes a bust the Lakers still have an incredible young core lead by Lonzo, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and many more late round steals like Ivica Zubac and this years class class of Josh Hart and the new Bryant, Thomas. Kobe who? All this after even losing Six Man stud Jordan Clarkson and slam show stopper Larry Nance Jr to Cleveland. But they did get still all superstar shooter Isaiah Thomas in return and maybe more to join vets like downtown big Brook Lopez, K.C.P. and the milk carton of Luol Deng.

Even some of their young, South Bay Lakers affiliates have come up big like Ingram. From son of the glove, Gary Payton II, to Alex Caruso ending the season starting at the point with Ball at the baseline sidelines. Even Travis Wear has gone from 10 days to shooting the contract three like Mike Penberthy.

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Yet one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the season has been the Kuzmania (time to get your t-shirt) of the Kuzmanian devil, Kyle Kuzma. From a Nick Young jersey zero to one of the top ten Rookie of the Year heroes. From Summer League to preseason and now his regular one exit interview, K has had just as good if not better rookie year than his number two running mate with the second pick in the NBA draft.

And from bringing the Kareem sky-hook back to rocking the number nine Nick ‘The Quick’ Van Exel Champion jersey pregame, the kid is a throwback like the Clarkson fashion taking over chinchilla coat he rocks as he walks into STAPLES. But now Kuz wants to take that old school trend setting to Inglewood, like when he drove a burgundy 70’s Cadillac DeVille to an iconic parking lot for a recent feature shoot for SLAM magazine.

Kyle thinks the Lakers should play a game in the hallowed halls of The Forum next season.

And as much as we like the lights out downtown future of STAPLES (or as much as T-Mac warned him about the vintage facilities on ESPN’s The Jump) we couldn’t agree more for a league that loves to pay homage to their hardwood classic history like Mitchell and Ness.

Joining the Forum club again like when Magic and Cap made the 80’s Lakers ‘Showtime’ and put the Hollywood in basketball would be a nostalgia trip, especially for the clubs President. It would make a nice 20 year plus comeback (save 2009) after new millennium rival San Antonio swept them right out the stadium in ’97. This is the Lakers Boston Garden. Their Spectrum. Their court coliseum. And those marble pillars over red still stand strong like the statues of the greats from Chick to Elgin outside STAPLES.

Besides ‘Bron and P.G. would love it.

Time to get those baby blue MPLS jerseys ready.

And don’t forget about ‘Dre.

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Lakers Statue Preserves The Ice Of Elgin Baylor’s Legend

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Lakers Baylor Basketball
Brothers In Bronze

“Elgin should be here”!

That’s what the ever humble hero of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West said when the famous franchise unveiled Mr. Clutch’s statue back in 2011. That’s what the actual, still to this day logo of the National Basketball Association said about his symbolic teammate in his signature moment. The ‘Ice’ to his dynamic duo nicknamed ‘Fire’.

And now seven years sealed later Mr. West joined recent bronze brothers and goliath giants Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and President Magic, as the storied Lakers franchise finally gave the 82 year old Elgin the epic ending his Hollywood career deserved in engraved writing.

The number 11 in SLAM magazines recent ‘Top 100 Players of All-Time’ issue, whose 22 already belongs in the rafters with all the aformentioned, both of Oscar winner Kobe’s digits and all the other Worthy Laker legends now joins Shaq, Cap, Earvin and Chick in stone setting. So much so that the Lakers will soon run out of places outside STAPLES to put their legends (especially if they give Kobe two statues). At this rate if he does come over they may have to put LeBron over in the Nokia Theatre’s parking lot. That was just a joke King…please still exile from The Land.

Without Baylor we may have not had the Dr. J. like high-flying legends of M.J. or King James. As this guy revolutionized the dunk aswell as his sky-hook impossible to guard hanging jump shot that brought career averages of 27 and change, hung with around 10 boards. And this guy stood at a Chuck power move mound rebound like 6, 4. It was this kind of offensive arsenal that set the tone with a back in the day greatest one-game point total of 71. Before Laker great Wilt’s 100 stunted that in Philly, generations before Kobe tried to beat all that with 81 (the Mamba man via video tribute telling Elgin he stole so many of his moves, “it wasn’t even funny”).

Legendary Lakers Pulitzer beat writer Jim Murray-whose L.A. Times behind the desk deserve their own statue next to Chick-compared Elgin’s Empire scaling career to King Kong. Knocking away defenders like bi-planes, who roach scattered like bust up craps games. But Baylor was more to this game then just Hollywood Laker flash. One of the first African American sports superstars in Jackie Robinson’s time also lead a Players Union protest before the 1964 All-Star, which truly changed the game and gave these players the rights they have today. After he hung them up he also won an ‘Executive Of The Year’ award across the hall with the rival L.A. Clippers. R&B superstar Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, better known as Ginuwine was also named after the Hall of Famer and called a judge character off his coming of age album ‘The Senior’ after the NBA great who starred alongside both the Jackson 5 and Buck Rogers. Don’t believe us read all about it in Baylor’s new book named after the best damn Basketball drama, ‘Hang Time’ that will be put up on shelves to end this month.

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Elgin Baylor was the blue and white/purple and gold, post-Mikan and pre-Wilt Laker bridge between Minneapolis and Los Angeles. So it was only right his multiple arm dunking statue was curtain called at the half between a Lakers game with Minnesota. It wasn’t fitting however that donned in Mamba snakeskin black L.A. lost 113-96 to the Timberwolves with the black tux service of Jimmy Butler’s draped 18. An Elgin epic like 20 and 10 from both Lakers future Julius Randle and rookie Josh Hart (actually 11 rebounds) weren’t enough after Kyle Kuzma left the game in the third with a sprained ankle. Neither was big from downtown seven footer Brook Lopez’s starting 15 that was so tight it tagged ‘Lop3z’ Twitter trends.

But by the end of this almost 82 game closing playoff push it wasn’t all for the win, but the 82 year old that changed the game.

When you think of the golden days in Lakers purple, Baylor made this franchise like he did their storied history.

All you need is the record books to read his story.

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Will Three ‘LABron’ Billboards Outside Downtown L.A. Lead To A Hollywood Ending For The King?

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Screenshot 2018 03 28 11 35 31
Talk Of A New Jersey?

Hollywood comes calling…

…but still no decision…

…how come King James?

‘Dear Basketball’ last month Laker legend Kobe Bryant won NBA’s first Oscar (yeah I know how can the Academy not award ‘Space Jam’?). Putting number 24 ahead of number 23 in gold statues (the Mamba still trails the G.O.A.T six to five in gold rings though). When the closest STAPLES normally gets to award showcases outside the hosted All-Star game during the February love in is when they take a break to host the Grammys.

But it looks like another 23 could make another Lake Show stopper move this Summer straight out of the script of tinsletowns biggest picture.

Despite a decision that took his talents from South Beach, back home and to the promised land years ago. Cleveland’s own LeBron James may be playing his last campaign as a Cavalier. And the final chapter of his storied career could have a Hollywood ending for the King with one of NBA histories most storied franchises.

It could be ‘La La LeBron’ in Lakerland’s city of stars.

Especially if some billboards outside downtown Los Angeles have anything to do with it.

Taking a cue from ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand’s movie (who the actress sent up herself with Jimmy Kimmel with her own trio of billboards after someone stole her Academy Award. Don’t worry she got it back like the Cavs want ‘Bron), a superfan in Los Angeles set up some real estate with some advertising hoardings like Paul Rudd in ‘I Love You Man’ (“License To Sell…that’s hilarious!”) hash-tagging the new free agent trend of ‘LABron’.

Three other towns have hung ‘Bron billboards with an outside chance of landing the King. From his Akron birthplace who refuse to witness throwing rocks at the King this summer, declaring “There’s No Place Like Home”. To even hilariously a New Zealand ballclub wanting to turn the King into a Kiwi. But Philly started the process first. Although L.A. doesn’t want James to trust this but believe instead in the banners that could hang in the royalty of their rafters. Along with they hope his number 23 one day for the one who is still in his prime at a Kareem jersey age.

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And when the King was in town to witness all this last month he put on a show in President Magic’s city of Showtime. From the best damn no look pass of his career period. Which drew go fetch tennis ball, dog owner comparisons. To bounce passing the ball between Ball of all players legs.

And with a Lakers/Cavs deadline day trade that saw L.A. and Cleveland clean house and land for LeBron. Further fuel has been ignited to the ‘Casino’ like behind the jersey talk that has everyone betting on ‘LeBron Ball’ for the ‘Lonzo Angeles Lakers’.

The Lakers may have lost two of their sharpest shooting, youngest guns in ‘Sixth Man’ sure-thing Jordan Clarkson and all dunking Ohio son Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland. But they now have All-Star I.T. support. However whether LeBron reunites with former Cav superstar Isaiah Thomas remains to be seen in more ways than one.

It’s all up in the smoggy air of the summer breeze atmosphere whether Christmas will come early for tinsletown. Like whether another hometown hero superstar Paul George will leave the Thunder and align with the King in the city that never rains (but reigns in purple like Prince), to help make the Lakers young core of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and Ball be all they can be right now.

Then that will be something worthy like James to hang on the three pillars of Hotel Figueroa outside STAPLES.

The City Of Angels will be praying these billboards bring banners.

Only in Hollywood.

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