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Horace Grant feature – Grants Like Horace

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Horace Grant feature - Grants Like Horace

Google The Goggles.

‘It’s All About The Benjamins’, screamed P. Diddy with an added ‘baby’ when Sean John Combs went by the government rap name of Puff Daddy with his ‘Now Way Out’ family of Mase, Lil’ Kim and The Lox for their monster 90’s hit of the same name. In that day and golden era age he may as well have been talking about Money Mike Jordan, even though he and his team where outfielded in baseball uniforms in the video…besides it wouldn’t be long before Michael would be donning the same sort of sporting, swinging attire himself. You see when Puff Daddy was ruling the charts, Michael Jordan was ruling the rim in this generations decade of gold in the entertainment world. Before today’s Money Mayweather, it was the pound, for pound, knockout greatest sportsmen of all-time Michael Jordan who had dollar signs before and after his name. Still between the sidekick of Scottie Pippen and the sideshow of Dennis Rodman it wasn’t just about him for the legendary Phil Jackson, Zen led Chicago Bulls six-peating dynasty. There was the flair of European import Toni Kukoc and the three-point purity of Steve Kerr in a team Method Man referenced, abyss deep. Even so-called role players made the entertainment rap sheets, as Diddy (or whoever ghost wrote it) cleverly coined the classic hip-hop line “trying to get my hands on Grants, like Horace”.

“Spaghetti, fettucini, and veal” and all those three course meals it was clearly more than just money or the ballers who where “dippin in the Benz wit the spoilers”. “Everything was real in the field “when it came to the Bulls and the classic beginning of hip-hop and hoops connected lyrics before Diddy’s Lox bandmate Jadakiss ‘Kissed The Game Goodbye’ and said he could sell like Milwaukee Point Guard Sam Cassell. So ‘Put Your Hands Up’ like Horace Grant did on every defensive move. Check the majority of Jordan posters on your wall, or those ones of the power players of his peers, and you’ll probably see the number 54 and the name Grant, whether on a Chicago Bulls jersey or Orlando Magic one, whether on the defensive or offensive end. Not to be offensive mind, it wasn’t an insult that you can find Horace on most of these pictures, its a classic compliment. Sure it’s every players nightmare to be famous on the wrong receiving end of a poster (see; Mutombo; Dikembe, ‘finger-wag’) but the image of Horace’s 54 back turned on the defensive end showed he was always there. Do not block oout the fact that one of the greatest defensive players of all-time had more offensive gestures to his game and actually was an All-Star. Don’t forget-even if the Hall of Fame always does-he helped a lot of guys get there. His number 54 may not be in the rafters (maybe it should be, besides who else do you think of when it comes to that rare pair of digits?) but the banners he helped raise will never come down, like the shots of his weaker opponents.

Google the goggles and you’ll see more than 20/20 80’s 33/42 Los Angeles Laker legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. You’ll see the specs of the twin Grant brothers, Harvey and most notably Horace. Like the Outlaw brothers, tough, dominant and resilient in the power prominence of the punctuated paint. From the swimming goggles all the way to the science teacher, new age specs, Grant looked cool on court for more than his headband and sleeve rivalling attire. He was fitted with a monster frame and formidable game of real, rebounding, Dikemebe dominating like defence and a soft touch and sweet spot of an offensive field goal percentage that would make Shaquille O’Neal proud. A role playing legend able to do it all so well in the frontcourt that even Daddy took notice of Junior. From the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan to the most dominant ever in Shaquille O’Neal, Horace’s superstar teammates knew how much Grant shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even Marv Albert adds his trademark “yes” to this dedication. “Collapses on O’Neal, who finds Grant”. A simple commentating from one of the greatest in just a regular season game in an epic three-peat dynasty, but somehow now remembered like all purist plays from the games elite team players showing their roles. Shaq double teamed, finds Grant who with ageing legs hops with a nice bit of air for the sweet one handed jam, running back down court trademark arm raised showing appreciation to his teammate. Remember that highlight? No?! Well all the scouting reports will tell you it happened all the time, that’s why you probably can’t pinpoint one. This was clockwork all the way down to the last minutes of his career. A reunion in the post that finally saw golden championship glory in the 2001 NBA Finals, where he helped make sure Jason Kidd’s playing day Nets in New Jersey put their ties back on. Time to smarten up.

Shaq found his Power Forward to centre himself with back in L.A., like his sunny early days in Florida between all the Samaki Walker’s and Mark Madsen’s and after the retiring of two golden era age championship timing A.C. Green (who would have thought it? A.C., two timing?). Shaq needed someone to start before Robert Horry’s clutch threes would finish games and playoff series’ and Grant was ready to go in for not only his Shaq reunion and Jordan-like one with Kobe, but his one with legendary coach Phil Jackson. Following in the Bulls/Lakers sneaker steps of the likes of Ron Harper and almost Dickie Simpkins, Grant was a true workhorse for the Zen master even though he was so injury prone Jax joked that he needed to be put down during his second Lakers stint backing up a knee crocked Karl Malone in the Detroit death of a dynasty. There was no turning this guy to glue, however only champagne as he was the defensive teammate bond that sealed championships, a strong steed on this ‘Animal Farm’. Between the Chicago Bulls second three-peat and the middle of the Lakers first, those four ringers on his fingers point to that proof. Still if those defensive digits spiralled around a phone dial back in the day,a new dynasty age may have emerged. Dwight Howard isn’t the only superman Laker, headed down south who escaped from Disneyworld first. “You know, he (Shaq) called me and I didn’t return his call before he signed with the Lakers. And to this day I wish I had just answered that call, and maybe he would’ve still been in Orlando”, Horace Grant told Bill Simmons in an interview just recently about the time between Shaq and his Orlando Magic’s 1995 Finals appearance and his blockbuster Lakers signing in 1996.

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Who knows what would have happened if Horace answered the call, maybe Shaquille O’Neal would have returned the favour. Maybe O’Neal and Grant would have forged a more formidable Duncan/Robinson, ‘twin towers’ like paint partnership in Orlando and along with the first sidekick before Kobe or Wade, in Penny Hardaway give the Magic a Disney dynasty. Then again there wouldn’t be all those championships in L.A. for Shaquille and then Horace and more players and teams from Kobe Bryant to the Miami Heat would have been directly and indirectly effected. Still, who knows Shaquille may have just been calling to tell his old friend goodbye and besides what’s done is done by the Basketball God’s of hoop heaven and both players for their career won separately with two of Phil Jackson’s biggest teams and then together again for one last swan song with Larry O’Brien. Nothing changes the fact that between Orlando, Chicago and Los Angeles the terrific teammate of Horace Grant was more than just another name, he was a part of the game that saw all the best attributes in a post player in the post generation of a now bygone big-man age. Not only are centres almost dead and gone in the NBA today but Power Forward Grant’s like Horace (and his Small Forward brother) would be welcome today in the flash and flair league that could use a little more grit and grind of the huge, big man age of inside stuff domination. Sure Roy Hibbert leads the new age but back in the day these type of players where a dime a dozen…in a good way. There was more than just Georgetown Hoyas like the great Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo back then. Today any of them would dominate.

Dominate like Hakeem Olaujawon did Horace and Shaquille as he dream shook them both to the championship, holding Shaquille O’Neal like a man-child in more than just his press, promotional photo. As the Houston Rockets took off to the championship, Shaq took off to the real ‘Steel’ of Hollywood, but Horace truly hit the blockbuster stage before all this in Jordan’s Chicagoland. The former Georgian Spartan of Hancock Central and the 10th pick out of Clemson College was a top ten player on this untouchable Chicago team as the Bulls stampeded over everyone. The former ACC Player Of The Year and four time All-Defensive Second Team NBA player spanned a career over three decades and battled many an injury as well as post player. Although the Magic and more of the Bulls personified his career, he was Supersonic in Seattle and a born again winner and valuable veteran for his retirement parade in Los Angeles. A third scoring option behind Mike and his forward tandem with Pippen, the man who learnt the toughs of his trade under the Bull horn tutoring of tough steer Charles Oakley was an NBA great. The further you go back the more you wipe off the fog of the goggles and see the legacy, like his brother Harvey, or his nephew Jerai at Clemson and Jerami at Syracuse. Juniors grown up game was known for more than just his wraparound serious safety spectacles. His defensive, security ones handed a lot over too. You couldn’t get your hands on this Grant when he wrapped his around the peach and decided he wanted the ball, which paid off for his multi-millionaire team mates and ballclubs. He may not make it on to peoples NBA Mount Rushmore, but he’s been close to the Presidential Basketball best like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Here’s to it being about more than just the dead president money. To be Franklin Frank, I guess it’s not all about the Benjamins after all.

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NBA

RIP OKC. Dame Time Clocks Thunder’s Reign From Way Downtown PDX

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RIP OKC. Dame Time Clocks Thunder’s Reign From Way Downtown PDX
What Time Is It...

Blazing!

Even two games down the Thunder bolt boys joked like the last laugh that was yet to be delivered, like this what’s the 4-1 punchline. Zero to zero for the best series of these NBA Playoffs so far, Russell Westbrook rocked the baby at Damian Lillard, before mocking his wrist watch celebration like he did Laker meme Lance Stephenson’s air guitar strumming one with D’Angelo Russell ice in his veins. All before Paul George double pumped a dunk as time expired on a game that was already decided way before the horn blared.

“It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.”

But then last night before posting that Sun Tzu quote on Instagram in this art of war. In the face of P.G. the PDX P.G. beat the buzzer as Dame Time struck from way downtown RIP City. With an Austin 3:16 bottom line to give OKC the history engraved tombstone and the Portland Trail Blazers a legendary storied, legacy making championship belt for this classic series in hardwood history.

Reminding us of that time Charles Barkley responded to a Nike barbershop ad featuring former Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell joking about dunking on him by putting all the points on them in the following game and running past them on the bench draped in dejected towels shouting, “put that in a f###### commercial!”

Colder than February. More ruthless than a convertible in Summer.

Damian Lillard 37 Footer Over Paul George
Damian Lillard buries series clinching 37-footer over Paul George – Photo Blazers

37 feet high and rising from deep. Deep as the halfcourt abyss. With the this time of season cherry blossoms blooming outside Portlandia’s Moda Center, the City of Roses was handing everyone from basketballs Oklahoma home funeral flowers. And leading the precession, hearse wrapping it up like his killer bars, Dame D.O.L.L.A was right on the money like exact change only please, waving goodbye. Even if Paul George walking off in defeat like LeBron James and getting his Vlade Divac on in a press conference more awkward than a blind date with an ex called it a “bad shot”. To which the great Dame simply replied with a tweeted “lol” (see also, laugh and last). He better Big Shot Bobby Horry check a newspaper or something. Dame Time didn’t just beat the buzzer. He took baby powder to it. As Dame had all the Louis Armstrong time in the world with ten on the clock and the last shot in this final frame to dribble drive or dish. But instead, toying with George like a cat does a mouse, as David beat Goliath like Jerry did Tom, Lillard had the sand to set up shop, his spot and his shot from what looked like a bunker. A hole in one, with the cocksure confidence of Tiger Woods putting for Masters glory in Augusta and embracing his kids, two decades after doing the same with his pops all for the green jacket.

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From this master, like a tap in putt with no Mulligan to carry, this was always going in. Nothing but net. All water like those Thunder tears. O.K. now that was a 3.

And to think I swore I wouldn’t go back on social media until after the new Avengers movie came out, but DAMN Dame Time! Spoiler alert, this is the new ‘Endgame’ now.

Cousy. Pettit. Sam Jones. Wilt. Chuck Barkley. M.J. And now the Dame train as the legendary Lillard goes hard to join this lineage as the only players to hit 50 in a playoff clinching game. And what a way to do it, fading away to clock out of the game and series 118-115 for the greatest Portland playoff moment since the G.O.A.T’s shrug. As mobbed by teammates on the floor he sank into, telling Russ to ‘Get Out’ his house. Peeling off like Jordan, Damian all on his own like a devil, GIF turned into an instant meme, as he turned the Thunder into a memory (you know the one were everyone loses their mind around that smirking kid with glasses in the raincoat? Well now guess which superheroes face is super imposed?). Staring into the camera with that look you know was for Russell Westbrook.

Blazers Win Damian Lillard Buries 37 Footer
Blazers Win. – Photo: Portland Trail Blazers

What a whole mood.

Whose left holding the baby now?

Dame didn’t even have to check his watch. Why? Him, her, them. They all knew what time it was. His. As Dame Lillard just did it in the Oregon home of Nike. Shoe dog like Phil Knight, running off victory for the courtside crowd, including legendary comedian Cedric the Entertainer for this last laugh lap. As this Gladiator hit one of the best and biggest shot fired in NBA history. Subliminal and literal.

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NBA

Two-time U Sports MVP Kadre Gray declares for NBA Draft

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Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Declares For Nba Draft
Photo: Laurentian Voyageurs

Two-time U Sports basketball player of the year Kadre Gray of the Laurentian Voyageurs has declared for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Gray, a 6’1″, 190 lbs junior guard from Toronto, Ontario has been terrorizing Canadian university basketball since his freshman season — cementing his legacy as a two-time MVP and scoring champion with a ridiculous 26.3 points per game career average in three full-seasons with the Voyageurs.

The 2016-17 U Sports rookie of the year award winner took the league by storm — leading the country in scoring as a freshman with 23.2 points per game. He finished second in his sophomore season with 24.4 points per game and led the nation in assists total with 141.

He took his game to a different stratosphere in his junior season — increasing his league-leading output to the third highest scoring average in Canadian university hoops since 1981-1982 with 31 points per game.

Calgary Dinos’ all-time great’s Richard Bohn and Karl Tilleman both led the nation with higher and ironically, identical scoring averages.

Both Bohn and Tilleman averaged 32.8 points per game. Bohn doing it during the 1995-1996 season and Tilleman, a two-time Canadian Olympian and NBA draft pick dominating the league in 1981-82 — before Canada’s adoption of the three-point line.

Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Dribbling Declares For Nba Draft
U Sports MVP Kadre Gray dribbling against Ottawa Gee-Gees – Photo: Laurentian Voyageurs

Not a one-trick-pony, Gray averaged 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists, 1.6 steals in 34.1 minutes per game.

Gray erupted for a career-high 48 points in a 101-81 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves — shooting 13-of-23 from the floor and burying 19-of-20 shots from the foul-line on November 3rd, 2018.

He delivered his third 40-plus point game of his career with another impressive performance — 16-of-29 shooting against the Ryerson Rams on February 9th, 2019 — his lowest scoring output of the season was 23 points on multiple occasions.

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Kadre Gray U Sports Basketball Highlights
Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Caree Conference Stats
Laurentian Voyageurs’ Kadre Gray Career Conference Stats
Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Caree Conference Stats Other Stats
Laurentian Voyageurs’ Kadre Gray Career Conference Stats
Kadre Gray FIBA Americas Qualifiers Against Brazil
Kadre Gray takes it to the rack during FIBA Americas Qualifiers Against Brazil – Photo: FIBA

Gray also represented Canada during the FIBA Basketball World Cup process playing in games against Venezuela and Brazil.

Prior to Laurentian, Gray honed his skills as a two-time athlete at Eastern Commerce Collegiate for three-years — leaving track and field (high jump, 100 meters) in the rear-view mirror and transferring to rival Oakwood Collegiate to conclude his high school career.

Ryerson’s seven-foot center Tanor Ngom also declared, making it the first time in the history of Canadian university basketball that two U Sports players have entered the draft.

Additionally, with a record number of Canadian players in the NCAA tossing their names in the draft process we should expect 2019 to be the biggest year for Canadian’s at the NBA Draft.

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