Devin knows how he did this.
Last night one of the biggest things to ever happen to the game of Basketball was immortalised in stone. In Los Angeles the Lakers honoured their massive center of Hall of Fame attention, Shaquille O’Neal with a statue of his signature breakaway, two-handed, knees bent dunk hung outside the balcony of their amazing STAPLES Center arena. Former teammate and friend Kobe Bryant lead a chorus of legendary Lakers paying tribute to a man perhaps even more of a force than former Laker big man Wilt Chamberlaian who scored 100 points in a single game, but is yet to be set in bronze by the Buss brass like former teammate Jerry West and 80’s Showtime runners Magic and Kareem.
But meanwhile whilst that was happening under the Californian sun something much more dominant than the ‘Most Dominant Ever’ was occurrng across the Pacific from the ashes of Phoenix. As against the storied Boston Celtics and their MVP big gunner, former PHX, Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns player Devin Booker made history and his story, rising to the great games occasion with 70 points.
Yes…you read that right!
We really are living in the 2K age as this milestone for a kid barely out his teens was almost like the 20 year old was playing a video game back in his college dorms.
Take it back a year and a day ago on the 23rd of March 2016 and Kobe Bryant-who worked out with the sophomore the Lakers could have drafted if they didn’t go with running mate D’Angelo Russell-told Booker to “be legendary”. And yesterday a year and change later Devin sent him a reply by doing just that, only 10 and 1 points less than Kobe Bryant’s Wilt following 81 points back in 2006.
Against the Boston Celtics team of all legendary franchises. After this historic game, the youngest player to reach such an accolade put himself in the legendary lore of the same 70 plus club of G.O.A.T Michael Jordan and the David’s Thompson and Robinson. Holding up a piece of paper with 70 scrawled on it like Chamberlain’s iconic photo to go with his triple digit, record breaking and setting for half a century game. But this time being joined by a crowd of his teammates for an Instagram op that showed all the Suns shine together no matter whose the brightest.
Just think a couple of seasons ago everyone was talking about the muscle of Phoenix’s powerhouse player Eric Bledsoe being the next LeBron. But crowning all that it looks like Booker wants to be the next Black Mamba. And Devin who was born in 1996-the same year the Chamberlain chasing Kobe Bryant entered the NBA world-is also a 6 foot 6 inch shooting guard that now in his time lays claim to being the youngest player drafted with the 13th pick…lucky for some, just like Kobe. The similarities are as crazy as Devin Booker’s bewildering basketball game is. And after this Phoenix flame hit record temperatures last night, this Sun is scorching now.
And the heat is only going to keep rising for one of the youngest and best players in the NBA who will no longer be lost and underrated out in the Arizona desert.
Forget the social media hash-tag trends blowing up, this night belongs in the set in stone records of hoop history.
And just in case you wanted to know the Suns beat the Celtics 130-120 that game in Boston.
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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