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.
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.
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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