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.
The King’s Garden Bites Forbidden Fruit In The Big Apple
Super Mario smashed ‘Bron.
On a Sunday afternoon in New York’s Madison Square Garden this St Patrick’s Day (side note: Nike need to bring back those great green Paddy’s Day NBA uniforms), the Lakers where in their East Coast equivalent big city to pay a visit to the Knickerbockers Mecca.
M.S.G. usually plays host to the greatest games from the G.O.A.T.’s over the generations out the service elevator. M.J. Kobe. And now L.A.L. legend to be L.B.J. against the N.Y.K. And LeBron James didn’t disappoint with a Kareem 33 points off devastating dunks off rampaging runs down the floor of the World’s Most Famous Arena like a raging bull. Shouting “AND ONE” on foul calls that even people with bleeding noses sitting up in the Gods could hear (and how about a couple plays before an equally as loud Caurso yelping for the lay-up as hilariously as his “what’s up man, I’m Alex” Ringer soundbite spoof? But 5 steals and 3 blocks to go with that many rebounds plus add that up “AND ONE” for 12 points in the game? Never send him down to the G again). That was until he took the final shot at the horn that blared in his face.
It’s been that kind of season for the King by royal appointment. Anthony Davis and potentially missing the playoffs and all that.
Heavy is the head in this Game of Thrones.
Like Jordan vs Kobe, the Knicks came away with the 124-123 win. And in the clutch, the King going for the games crown slipped as he ended up looking as good as one of his free throws. Driving the lane and taking it to the rack before being denied by the Knicks Mario Hezonja. Who with this big block became the Knicks new right hand man.
Off Broadway the King tried to Kong his way up the Empire State but this time the Bi-Planes normally swatted away shot him down.
‘Bron isn’t the only one who makes clutch blocks as big as a buzzer beating basket. Sometimes others hold it against him.
The Lakers 31-39 record is staring down elimination on the wrong side of .500. And with the game down the barrell L.B.J. went for the fadeaway like M.J. but couldn’t come up with ‘Space Jam’ too. As a matter of fact after a big game against the rotten 14-56 Knicks (on the free falling off the Chrysler wrong side of .500) where he also collected 8 rebounds almost on his way to a double/double, LeBron went fourth and colder in the final quarter than a text back from your significant other that just says “fine” when you ask if they’re ok and how their day was. With just four made baskets in the fourth period and the Lake Show missing their last six attempts it was all fat lady in Manhattan come the early evening afternoons end.
Right about now with most teams claiming their playoff berth, last year’s finalist and all the King’s men are just getting worse.
Even with a Garden state of mind in New York, New York, the King couldn’t keep his Empire going like Jussie Smollett.
Now there are only a few more notes before she sings again, but this time for the last time.
And that will be all she writes.
Time for Hollywood to hit the road and flip the script.
Every good movie ends with a twist.
The Lakers Couldn’t Randle The Truth
45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
I don’t mean to go on about this but DAMN!
A career high 45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
That’s MVP numbers right there.
And that’s just the kind of king season Julius Randle is having.
I mean right now the Lakers should probably trade their whole roster for this New Orleans Pelican and not fellow Kentucky ‘cat Anthony Davis (who was out last night in the 122-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Probably with “load management”). But I know who most Lakers fans would love to trade him for just to get this guy back.
But after bringing the King to Hollywood this Summer, Magic and the Lake Show didn’t think they needed to match the restricted hustle and muscle of Randle, who they are sorely missing in their palette dry paint this season. Despite pleading from the coaching staff, President Johnson and his Hollywood agent of assistance let both Randle and big man from downtown Brook Lopez (who is really affording more with the Bucks alongside…Pau Gasol of all underrated and underappreciated Laker greats) walk. All because the thought the former Heat talents of Michael Beasley was enough on a team of McGee, Stephenson and Rondo vets behind the young core that really are now turning into a meme.
Remember this is the same Magic man who traded All-Star…ALL STAR D’Angelo Russell because he didn’t think he was a leader. As the purple and gold Lakers faithful now have no sleep watching him in Brooklyn as he LEADS the Nets.
This is the same Magic man who after offering his whole future to the Pelicans for a free agent to be with desires to come here for nothing (at least before all this drama and disloyalty really showed him something), will soon surely watch the legendary likes of Lonzo, Ingram and maybe even Kuzma and Josh Hart walk when they’re free to go, after the way they have treated them. Because like it’s been shown before time and time again in Laker history (I would name every example, but then I would be naming every other player not called Kobe), there is no price on loyalty. But there is one to pay when you treat these teammates like a commodity and not the individual assets that they are.
There’s only so long someone treated as bait will let you off the hook.
Magic Johnson may be the greatest player of all-time in my opinion. In some ways even more gifted than the other M.J. He could effect a whole game and result without even scoring a basket. But now he’s really playing. Effecting the whole team and franchise whilst trying to make a point. Just how long will he last running this s### show. Remember how long he lasted when he was actually a coach?
And he wants to fire Walton?!
And soon the likes of Ball and his boys will end up All Stars like Randle will too. The Lakers need to make sure that they do this in purple before the Lake Show turns into the ‘Lame Show’. As once the gold goes out the crown, the Lakers legacy will be down to the hands of more than one legend.
A legend they could have had in Russell and Randle. With guys like they have now and the ones they also shouldn’t have let go. Like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Thomas Bryant and Ivica Zubac. Paul George would have been a better fit with all these core guys. But the Lakers didn’t even really need him either. With all due respect to the King and the next chapter in storied Lakers/Celtics history the NBA tried to build, both these iconic franchises and their great expectations have imploded this season. Ones of win big now or else, manifest destiny over pure personnel development. The real rivalry of the future would have been the lottery pick rebuilds of the old young Laker and the history making right now Philadelphia 76ers. Look at the stakes they have now. There’s a reason they call it a process.
Still the Lakers loss is the flying Pelicans gain. And even if they do lose Davis they have a big future in the big man Julius. And if New Orleans do end up taking half the Laker team for him, maybe along with Julius Randle it will all end up being the Basketball Gods master plan in the karma (it all goes around like a basketball spinning on your finger) of showing the Lakers what they could have had and won in the end.
How many stars of future fame will Magic’s Hollywood let walk?
45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
Sometimes you can’t handle the truth Jack.
And that is Julius Randle.
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