“With the first pick in the NBA Draft, the (insert team name here) select”…
And with those immortal Stern words the career of the next great NBA superstars would begin.
But can you believe that unlike the first and foremost King James, G.O.A.T.’s like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan never heard those EXACT words?
Sam Bowie baby!
But that’s beside the point. As is this. And I’m not trying to name drop here, but just give another example of this great man’s kindness like the countless stream of Twitter tributes and Instagram stories across the timelines yesterday.
Over a decade ago now in 2009 as a rookie writer on my first assignment for SLAM magazine in London, watching an exhibition game between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, I was more nervous than asking someone out on a date for the first time as a kid. In the pregame press conference surrounded by writers from everything from ESPN to the BBC, I didn’t belong. And everyone knew it.
My first question ever in any form of journalism with the microphone and all ears on me was to Commissioner David Stern. The late, great legend who sadly passed away this New Year and decade. The icon of the NBA logo who changed… no as everyone on Twitter are saying, the man who “transformed” the game. He could tell I was so nervous and despite how big his position was, especially in comparison to mine he was so warm, kind and gregarious. I asked him something pretty generic, about the NBA coming to the Big Smoke or something. He answered it like I’d asked him the most important question of the year. He answered it genuinely too. He answered it like the commissioner.
This is just one of countless examples of this. Like when he whispered to an in tears Paul Pierce at his ring bearing ceremony to “slow it down…and enjoy it”, as warm as the wise words of a relative. And that’s kind of what the commissioners, commissioner felt like. Sure Adam Silver is the man these days, but Stern set the gold standard. Jerry West may be the logo, but David made this game iconic.
They talked about the dress code, but like a collaborative fashion statement the leagues best of the best smartened up and now the players entrance runway is treated like a fashion catwalk show. Lakers fans (puts hands up ashamedly…I’ve been going on about it for years) may talk about the Chris Paul nix, but Stern just wanted to keep things fair and competitive. And just look at the latest Lakers/Pelicans trade haul. And those looking to the lockout, remember it’s more than one man. This was about a whole association.
But here’s to what he did. How about it?
When for Queen and country, my England won the World Cup in 1966, the businessman and lawyer Stern entered the league as an outside counsel, becoming commissioner in ’84 and succeeding the trophy himself, Larry O’ Brien, four years after being made veep.
For 30 years (cue the 30-For-30 documentary ESPN and just like ‘The Godfather’, just call it, ‘The Commissioner’), the Hall of Fame became the longest tenured commish and behind the scenes of the Magic and Bird showcase was the man who helped take the game to a whole new level, broadcasting it to billions worldwide as he took off with the Air Jordan iconic logo to the golden era 90’s and all the Iverson and Shaq sized characters that came after.
Exhibiting games in other countries around the globe, Stern brought the spinning Spalding game to all the world’s stage. Expanding it beyond the hoop horizons of traditional basketball borders. Broadcasting in 40 languages in translation to over 200 territories. That meant international players from the late, great Drazen Petrovic to Dirk Nowitzki expanded this sports reach from way downtown. All the way to this man truly being a pioneer for sport as a whole and for everyone who can play it, regardless of those who discriminate on basis or race, nationality or gender. Stern helped spearhead the WNBA which today doesn’t just ‘Expect Great’ but IS that with a Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker for every Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
The NBA development league, League Pass, NBA TV, NBA Cares. They all came from the man who truly did. Just like expansion into Canada and your first-ever champion Toronto Raptors.
This is a Stern tribute telling you that this game and the league of it’s own in it would be nothing without him.
Ottawa BlackJacks select Osvaldo Jeanty as first-ever Head Coach
The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for the Ottawa BlackJacks basketball team.
The start-up Ottawa basketball professional club named former five-time Canadian University champion Osvaldo Jeanty as the franchise first-ever head coach. General Manager Dave Smart made the announcement on Friday morning following a brief search that always included Jeanty’s name at the top of the list.
“Obviously, Osvaldo and I have had a long history together since he was probably 15 or 14, playing club basketball on the Ottawa Guardsmen to his time at Carleton (as player) and then he was my assistant coach at Carleton”, discussed Smart during the press conference.
“Os and I have worked together from a coach, assistant coach perspective, so I know what he’s about in terms of what his exceptions are, and we’re very much inline in terms of what our expectations are, and he knows how I operate and is comfortable working with me. So I think it’s an obvious fit, it’s and easy fit and we are really excited to start working together and put a team on the floor”, further elaborated the former Carleton Ravens on his selection process.
“It’s the first time he’s called me Osvaldo so many times since I was 15, I’m not really used to it.” a smiling Jeanty opened-up about his longtime head coach and mentor during his introductory speech.
Jeanty + Smart winning combination since the late 1990’s
The duo go back to late 1990’s with Jeanty playing for Smart at the Midget and Ontario Basketball U-19 Provincial teams. Under Smart’s guidance, Jeanty flourished as player helping turn the Carleton Ravens’ basketball program into the powerhouse that it is today.
The Ravens’ won five (2002-2007) straight U Sports men’s basketball championships during their time together as a coach-player combo — with Jeanty earning the Final 8 Jack Donohue championship MVP trophy twice, during his freshman and junior campaigns. A proven winner at all levels, Jeanty turned an outstanding collegiate career into a six year pro career, earning a championship with the Giants Nördlingen of Germany’s ProA league.
Inducted into Carleton Ravens Hall of Fame in 2015 — Jeanty earned an additional two titles as a coaching duo during their three-year (2016-19) stretch.
Both Jeanty and Smart were featured on the cover of the first-ever Canadian Basketball Magazine on March of 2005.
“I just wanted to say how thankful I am to Dave to Mike (Morreale) to the league for giving me this opportunity, also just for the Ottawa community. I’ve been here since I was six-years old and I appreciate what the community has given to me and the opportunity to be able give back to the community that has been so good to me is something that I’m very thankful for. So thank you and I look forward to really bringing a good product out there for the city, for the team and really representing the league the right way.”
As for the type of style and brand of the basketball the BlackJacks expect to play — Jeanty offered a glimpse of the same championship formula that has led to many successful moments between the now general manager and head coach tandem.
“He’s put into my head since I was 15, in terms of the keys to winning championships and I tend to follow the same of idea. You defend, you rebound, you don’t turnover the ball over — but at the same time you have 24 seconds on the shot clock so you want to play as fast a possible while not turning over the basketball.”
The attention now turns to rounding out the remaining coaching staff positions and the complex process of putting together a championship calibre team — that will undoubtedly have it’s sights on establishing an early grip on the proudly Canadian made Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) championship trophy.
With the addition of Jeanty to the head coaching ranks the CEBL now features two former Carleton Ravens’ players turned bench bosses. Niagara River Lions head coach Victor Raso also won two national championships as a member of the Ravens.
Coincidentally, Jeanty’s head coaching debut will be against Raso as the Ottawa BlackJacks will kick-off the inaugural 2020 season on the road on May 7th against the Niagara River Lions. The BlackJacks home opener is scheduled for May 14th against the Hamilton Honey Badgers.
A Rose For Kuz?
The Rose that grew from the career incasing concrete of a plaster cast, potential legacy ending injury is still in bloom.
Now that’s legendary.
As a matter of fact with the trade deadline nearer than your office one, right now nothing smells better than Pooh.
Currently more than motoring on with the Detroit Pistons in Motown, the rejuvenation of Derrick Rose has already had his redemption season. Howling back with the Minnesota Timberwolves the last 82. But in this one mirroring his prime time stats as a Bull and the next era after M.J. for the Chicago way, it’s still a story as good as a Dwight Howard Hollywood reunion or blazing Carmelo comeback out in Oregon.
And now like the former D12, D. Rose could be heading to the wild west like the one Anthony the Lakers didn’t get in the end (but should of). But like the young core, Ingram, Ball and Hart trade for A.D. is the prize worth the price?
Although Derrick is linked with the 76ers like every superstar over the past few seasons and a reunion with Chicagoland (which Basketball God’s would be the perfect closing chapter to this story that is albeit still being wrote by his own penmanship), the Benjamin Franklin’s are on Rose reuniting with King James although he called his Cleveland time with the classic Cavalier “super awkward”.
The former number one, that draft pick and NBA MVP is still most valuable and at 31 is almost a half decade younger than the King. Plus with awesome averages of 18.3 points on 50.3 percent from the field in 25.8 minutes and 5.9 assists per contest this campaign, the guy wants more time and to get out of the elimination standings.
Clockwork and contention could certainly be on the cards for Rose who let’s face it at his age and stage and with the numbers he’s putting up is still a superstar, hate it or love it. He’s been put through the ringer for his career like Bill Simmons or Shea Serrano, but now he’s being called on like Phil Collins to be one of the games greats like the genesis of his association with National Basketball.
So he may just be worth a package deal like your next vacation. Even if the Lakers are offering Kyle Kuzma and Quinn Cook for his services. Can I make a counter offer of Cook, Troy Daniels (great…but underused) and DeMarcus Cousins (although I do want to see how big he can literally get coming back and grunting with former post Pelican powerhouse Anthony Davis)? Throw in Drummond and it’s a go. Like Jerry Seinfeld superimposed into ‘Deal Or No Deal’ by NBC’s ’30 Rock’, “I gotta take that deal!”
Pair Rose with LeBron and the frontcourt force of Howard and of course Davis then these London Olympic teammates would make for what a couple of five ring contests ago on dry erase would look like a dream team. And it still wakes up notions of one to this date in the 2020 year of Tokyo thanks to Vogels vision. But would the show be giving up too much this time?
“This time”…yeah right!
Quinn Cook has California championship pedigree, splashing with the brothers in Golden State like shopping on Rodeo Drive. And this Warrior has been integral this season. His number 2 from downtown reminding me of the should be retired clutch king Fisher (we can always raise 0.4 to the STAPLES rafters) and making me feel happier about buying a Lonzo Ball statement jersey last year…hey if I wear it under a jacket it looks like I’m cooking up love and representation for Quinn.
And then there’s Kuz.
If the Lakers trade away Kyle Kuzma then they will be giving up the last piece of their incredibly curated young core that is flying with the Pelicans right now. Although how could I forgot about the untouchable, All Star Alex Carushow and the fact that Anthony Davis isn’t calendar far from Larry Nance Jr. and new Jazz 6 man Jordan Clarkson?
Although Rose solves the Lakers perimeter problems and feels in the same prime time as what could be his All Star teammates (how legendary would a Rose/Rondo backcourt be although it’s hard not to know whether to deal him or Cook?), Kuz seems too good to let cruise like Tom. This top gun may have struggled early this season, but he was coming back from injury Lakers Twitter. And recently he’s been that Worthy third option behind the Big Game Magic of James and his Kareem or Shaq to his Kobe number 3 partner, waiting on those Jordan digits next season when the King carries the 6.
30 for 30 putting up “trade this” exclamatory numbers in the dynamic duos absence, even Batman and Robin needed a Nightwing. And as much as Rose could help the new Lake Showtime bloom and grow like fine wine for all of LeBron’s merlot men, you could imagine Kyle making the Lakers pay play after play like a D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle off the team that draft clever, but trade stupid.
Keep the player. Trade the barber.
Zero to 1. The legend or the future superstar? The choice for this deal is the Kings.
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