Almost a decade of eight years ago, Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers took on K.G. and the big three’s Boston Celtics for a full seven games of the 2010 NBA Finals in the third historic chapter of these storied franchises clashing like Basketball titans. Decades after Wilt and West versus Bill Russell and the rest and then the 80’s golden Magic and Bird era. Stay tuned for the King v Kyrie part IV sequel to the trilogy coming to an arena near you…soon. This writer living in a small seaside town on the other side of the ocean however had to watch this all unfold on tape delay, thanks to the time difference and a need to hold onto my minimum wage job that didn’t permit me staying up all hours in the AM to watch live Basketball. Especially since that was the time I was usually clocking off from my night shift pushing plates and drunks out the door past closing. And if you thought that was bad, go back 20 years to the Jordan age were around 10 years old the only way I could come close to simulating a real basketball game was by playing NBA Live ’96 on my dad’s PC. And did you see the graphics back then?
Thankfully one of my fellow waiters and an all round legend to boot (what’s up Dan?!) felt my pain and passion for sport. Although he was more West Ham than West Coast going H.A.M. After plenty pleading he recorded all the games for me and not just that. Legend also watched them all with me with no spoiler alerts in the beginnings of the social media Twitter trending news cycle that you can’t even log onto now without seeing a ‘Game Of Thrones’ or King James thread that ruins everything you’ve been living in a hole and waiting for. To make it interesting as well my boy decided to root for the Celtics to boot. Because what’s a rivalry without making the most of it? I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again and always (sorry other Dan). I may bleed purple and gold but I still love our enemy as much as I love the beautiful Boston as a city (see you in a couple of weeks Beantown for I don’t know how many times it’s been now). And as it got to the do or die, banner or bust, W or W.T.F. final fourth quarter wire of the ultimate, deciding Game 7, what would you know the recording stopped early. As we both stared at the finished screen like the product of our angered disbelief (you know when a man’s mad when he just shakes his head and says, “unbelievable”!) glares was going to be the DVR saying, “just kidding fellas. I’m just messing with you. Here’s the rest of the game. Enjoy!” That’s what happens when you call all those timeouts coach. All that for that. We missed the end of the game. And whether Kobe would avenge walking out of the garden with his head down amongst confetti falling like balloons on the Forum. And even whether that Metta World Peace prayer would come with an amen. So to his computer we went to log onto NBA.com and with some real-time paused disappointment find out what the final score was and who won. Oh and this computer may not have been connected to a dial-up broadband but it wasn’t calling in any favours with the fibre optics either. So when it finally loaded up and I saw that my Lakers had won for the first time since big Shaq the euphoria was as real as the egg-timer tension as the site loaded slowly, scrolling down at a picture of purple and gold hands hoisting the legend of Larry before Bird town. That connection may actually make up for my favourite basketball memory since seeing the Lakers live for real in Hollywood for the first time in 2006 when they lost Shaq and got Smush…and Kwame Brown
Even my friend embraced me. And short of kissing him how could I repay him for this kindness in bringing me my first NBA seven game final win for the team that I would die for…or at least go to the other side of the world for (see you in a few LeBron)? Well I gave him the jersey right off my back…or should I say trapped in the closet. My number 34…Paul Pierce jersey. Yeah…I know! I told you I loved the enemy. Sorry Dan (you know which one). My friend deserved it. Besides what self respecting Lakers fan should own a Celtics jersey in this day and age? Even if Paul Pierce is from L.A. You saw what he did with that wheelchair.
My friend who grew up kicking the ball and not palming it like this white boy that can’t crossover as much as his attempt to add jerseys to his wardrobe would like. In soccer (we call it football…but O.K.) players swap jerseys all the time. It’s not almost a post-game tradition…it is one. Even though my friend never did give me a West Ham one in return (what’s up with that Dan?). But this season it seems like the NBA is picking up on this trend. Like we all wish we could with even more great Nike’s than Jordan’s. Or at least one Jumpman in particular.
Gone are the days of trading kicks. Maybe because so many players signature lines have so many rarities they don’t want to even think about unlacing them…let alone unloading them. A game after hitting a career high 31 (already…but we think he can top it too, even this campaign), Dallas Maverick Rookie of the Year shoe-in Luka Doncic asked Laker king, LeBron James for his jersey pregame. Which ‘Bron provided with inspired autograph signature, stating that the man he was giving the hem of his threads to was the next in line. But it’s another Miami Heat legend heading to the sun one last time who is currently making it a nightly Instagram highlight reel.
The Flash of the ultimate Heat hero Dwyane Wade is having one last dance before his career hits the pan. And even though the greatest Miami franchise player of all-time (sorry Zo…cue that anger to acceptance gif) is not getting official gifts from each team he plays, he’s determined to get a souvenir from each team shop and make the most of his rocking chair tour retirement circuit. He’s already swapped jerseys with the likes of Portland Trailblazers swingman C.J. McCollum, who had no trouble giving his up for the camera as he showed off how much he’d been hitting the weight room this Summer. He ain’t no size small anymore. And after doing the honours with the Kings, Magic and more. We can imagine Dwyane will end up doing this on every stop of his 82 game goodbye. Anything to get a Lakers LeBron from his former champion collaborator and last season Cavalier teammate in Cleveland hey King?!
But the other night was something special. South Beach saw the talents of two soaring and scoring father time legends. Who even though both circled 40, also still in tandem, albeit on opposing teams still played and looked above the rim like they were still in their twenties. And after going at it for four straight quarters Dwyane switched his iconic number 3 white hot Heat jersey for a new classic in the neon number 15 of Atlanta Hawk and our generation legend Vince Carter for a real highlight in the limelight. And after a 123-118 Games win over the Heat (with 12 from V.C. But 19 from D), as they posed for a soon to be I.G. favourite for a platform which wasn’t even around when these two O.G.’s first took off the floor for their R.O.Y. NBA careers, it was a moment to savour. Two generational greats who can still play to this day. Side-by-side after going toe-to-toe for what looks like the last time. The love and respect was as real as these players amongst the all-time best get.
It’s time to get a quick dash of the flash before he runs out and Wade’s world stops turning when the ball stops bouncing. Besides everyone’s going to want a piece of those new Miami Vice nights ‘City Edition’ colorways just released like last year’s white album edition before it all fades to neon black.
Dwyane who changed the game as one of the top five, dead or alive Shooting Guards has really started something like Michael.
Flashpoint for your flashbulb memories.
Checkmate. D’Angelo Russell Eliminates The King’s Lakers
“I’m glad it’s you”, Hollywood icon Paul Newman told acting legend Tom Hanks in San Mendes’ gangster epic ‘Road To Perdition’ before Tom, Tommy Gun shot him down in the rain.
And here in Hollywood as Laker fans who are just glad it’s over, we’re glad it was by his hand. We’re glad it was D-Lo who delivered the final blow.
If you didn’t know that with the ‘Luke Cage’ like Notorious B.I.G. red portrait, new SLAM magazine classic cover with the crown that in Brooklyn, D’Angelo Russell was the new King of New York, now you know. And last night his crown with a gauntlet gem of infinity stones took the L.A. King, checkmate, endgame. Showing this games chess not checkers.
You passed your ‘Training Day’ kid.
You want to talk about karma Lake Show? Because this is more than a lesson learned, this is a fitting end to this courts chapter wrote by the Basketball Gods under the heading line, “what goes around, comes around”!
Revenge is a dime dish best served ice in his veins cold.
And now you’re season is done as the jello is jiggling in the refrigerator Chick.
But as D’Angelo had 21 points to go along with 13 double/double dishes as he set the table for what we thought would be his West logo 44 career-high smash, everyone ate as the Nets had a balanced diet and attack of the twine as they coasted the Lake Show 111-106 in a close game, albeit one that always looked like theirs. Another former Laker in big man Ed Davis got his with 14 and 15. Whilst sparky Spencer Dinwiddie got 19 and 3, DeMarregards Carroll 15 and 6 and big Jarrett Allen 13 and 11 as all the Nets went harder than his ‘fro. But the high man was Joey Buckets with 26 points. Including 6 for 8 from downtown New York as for some reason L.A. thought leaving Joe Harris-this year’s three point shootout winner at the All Star in Charlotte-as open as stores on the Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 shift wasn’t going to leave them crying like ‘Jolene’.
But now the Nets have taken their man it’s nothing but tears. With all due respect to George Gervin, D’Angelo Russell is the next generation iceman. As finger to lips he silenced STAPLES. The most passionately driven guard since Iverson. And he just stepped over the Lakers again, eliminating from the playoffs as Luke Walton watched his job go to Lue from the sidelines. Magic said this kid couldn’t lead as he gave the Ball to Lonzo. But now everyone is getting played by this big baller, as this number one leads his cutting Nets to the playoffs as an All-Star and Team LeBron end up being all for show. As number 23 will not be raised to the brackets for the first time since 2005. Let alone the finals for the last decade gone.
With all the jumbotron tributes from teams to past players right now (Isaiah *cough* Thomas, LeBron), the Lakers should play one of D’Angelo’s ice clutch shot the day after his grandmother’s death that won the game for the Lakers (unlike the castles bricks here tonight) as he fell into his family’s arms uptop the stands. And just end it with one word that says more than thank you…
I feel like Brad Pitt’s war wounded character with my ‘Fury’ for the team I love here. But like he says, “I’m trying to teach you something”. LeBron and the Lakers needed this. A season that started in bloom in the sunshine of California has turned to the Autumn leaves that have fallen to a crisp. Injuries were the problem, but then the reason came with the added insult of the Davis drama. And now this reality show is in disarray and it all came from Magic, not LaVar Ball. Imagine seeing that one in a crystal ball last Summer. The Zubac, Bryant (Thomas), Nance Jr, Clarkson, Russell and Randle-less Lakers need to learn from this and realize their formidable future of Lonzo, Kuz, Hart, Brandon Ingram (who is still two years younger than Lo) and maybe even Moe is not worth one man. Whether that’s Anthony or LeBron. Even a team-less Carmelo was out off joining this assembly line that has meme-d its way through good guys like Mike Beasley. This team could still be something (I mean this season like last nights City Edition threads has been ugly but somehow still appealing), ‘Stranger Things’ have happened, but right now it’s in the upside down with no sign of Winona Ryder’s Christmas lights. Not even a decoration for a declaration.
Kobe in a ‘Get Up’ interview for ESPN promoting his new ‘Wizenard’ book series said that this game was about more than stats and about feeling, energy. For decades they’ve said this game is like jazz. And just like that form of music, the notes are all there, but it’s what you do with improvising them that counts. And the only number and note from the Lake Show you need to know last night (apart from our energy high guy of the season McGee’s Kareem like 33 with the hook. A career best along with one in rebounds with 20 off the shot rim and glass) is that with his 8th turnover the King toppled to the ground as his crown slipped on a crucial possession. It’s kind of symbolic of how his Hollywood season has aged and played out. But one of the best players in the league, if not the best will be back on his throne in the hills and he’ll have plenty more Kawhi or Kyrie knights with him and these young princes.
But last night the one that hey exiled showed he could make a king bleed from the borough to the big city. D Loading just needed President Johnson to please wait. But with his own Magic cast last night, Russell showed he was fully charged now and ready to go like the Lakers never should have told him to. Because the only place in this postseason they’re going now is home.
Ice. In. His. Postseason.
Green & Gold. I.T. Was A Special Moment With Isaiah Thomas Back In Boston
Bill Russell, Larry Bird.
Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce.
Rajon Rondo. Kevin Garnett. Say what you will but Ray Allen too from three.
Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum. IF they can get it together and turn what looks good on paper into what’s engraved wrote read in history books for the most storied franchise in NBA history.
Boston Celtic legends. The pride of New England.
From the last cigar to the golden era, Isaiah Thomas belongs there like his spelt differently namesake Detroit Piston being a Bad Boy to all that Magic and Bird in the Showtime of the 80’s.
And last night in the Garden perfect parquet court was held for the return of the fourth quarter king. Since Beantown, the microwave juggernaut, spark plug off the bench has bounced around the league like drinking too much coffee. From LeBron’s Cavalier land to the Los Angeles Lakers. Always providing that brief spark off the pine of what could be and what he had here, despite being Nygma green riddled by injury and franchise business disloyalty. But last night decked out in green and gold like Lianne La Havas, special edition Kobe’s for the night that even a Laker would love (forget that never wear green meme), as he took to the floor none of that mattered.
Sat back on the scorers table as cool as Celtic green cucumber in his warm-ups, I.T. took in a fitting tribute on the jumbotron for a team that knows too that they shouldn’t have traded him (he postgame not so quipped that if they never dealt him they could be dealing with another championship in those league leading rafters right now where surely his number 4 jersey held up by fans behind him will one day reside in pride of place). Beaming with that same Celtic pride through all the pain, you’ve never seen the slow grind smile like his since he was putting in work here in Massachusetts. The big screen video took us through his fourth quarter heroics, big shots and the moment he’s overcame it all to play in the wake of his sister’s tragic death and lead his team to epic, emotional glory.
And once the ovation stood up for a call game, more than a minute of time and moment of Paul Pierce like truth tribute, there wasn’t a butt on a bleacher or dry eye in the house.
Especially Isaiah, who couldn’t contain his pride and joy. Wiping away tears and wordlessly mouthing thank yous to everyone in attendance who clapped until their hands were red and cheered until hoarse. Celtic fans are real NBA fans who recognize that green collar hard work and know a Boston boy when they see one, no matter the uniform.
Thomas on limited minutes as the golden Nuggets make that postseason push to conference contention behind the state of those dynasty reigning Warriors, only sealed seven minutes in the actual game and he didn’t make a basket for more Boston bravado cheers. But that didn’t matter in this instance. Neither did the W his new team took away on the road with a 114-105 pruning in the Garden, as the Joker and all the Mile-High basketball cards clinched a playoff berth outside Colorado.
What mattered was this beautiful reunion between team and one of its favourite players. Sure this current Celtics outfitted for the banners and Hall looks so much better on dry erase like their storied LeBron Laker rivals with the King in throne tow. But look at the Magic of Hollywood right now. With a guy like Isaiah, Boston basketball was that little bit more inspired with the iconic little man. There was a little more hoop dream hope there too. And for both city and son it hasn’t been as sweet the same since.
Like I.T. says with the last word from last night.
“This feels like home”.
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