Holding the leather Spalding up in the air like it was the Larry O’Brien trophy, a game before the Los Angeles Lakers 2017/2018 season would officially end before the playoff campaign. Head coach Luke Walton, suit-jacket off and relaxed asks Andre Ingram how long he’s been playing in the D…excuse us, the G-League for. “10 years” the decade, 32 year old vet (who Brandon calls cuz, but isn’t actually a relation…although he’s now a Laker brother) replies after posting 19 exuberant points in his NBA debut. Just days before he would throw out the first, ceremonial baseball pitch at a L.A. Dodgers game. “Hell of an opening night man” coach says in kind as he shakes his hand, follows with an embrace and then hands him the game ball before ‘Dre’s day ends with a fingers to the sky team huddle of “together” on three.
That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.
But how can yet another losing one bring so much joy, let alone hope?
Let’s write it out again…
That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.
And if it leads to free agents like hometown hero Paul George signing. Or even the King, LeBron James in La La Land for his closing Hollywood career chapter on court. Then you couldn’t even script it better than Lavar wanting all the Ball boys on the floor at the same time. King James and King George.
And who knows who they’ll win in the lottery when the draft balls fall this Summer.
But even if all this becomes a bust the Lakers still have an incredible young core lead by Lonzo, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and many more late round steals like Ivica Zubac and this years class class of Josh Hart and the new Bryant, Thomas. Kobe who? All this after even losing Six Man stud Jordan Clarkson and slam show stopper Larry Nance Jr to Cleveland. But they did get still all superstar shooter Isaiah Thomas in return and maybe more to join vets like downtown big Brook Lopez, K.C.P. and the milk carton of Luol Deng.
Even some of their young, South Bay Lakers affiliates have come up big like Ingram. From son of the glove, Gary Payton II, to Alex Caruso ending the season starting at the point with Ball at the baseline sidelines. Even Travis Wear has gone from 10 days to shooting the contract three like Mike Penberthy.
Yet one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the season has been the Kuzmania (time to get your t-shirt) of the Kuzmanian devil, Kyle Kuzma. From a Nick Young jersey zero to one of the top ten Rookie of the Year heroes. From Summer League to preseason and now his regular one exit interview, K has had just as good if not better rookie year than his number two running mate with the second pick in the NBA draft.
And from bringing the Kareem sky-hook back to rocking the number nine Nick ‘The Quick’ Van Exel Champion jersey pregame, the kid is a throwback like the Clarkson fashion taking over chinchilla coat he rocks as he walks into STAPLES. But now Kuz wants to take that old school trend setting to Inglewood, like when he drove a burgundy 70’s Cadillac DeVille to an iconic parking lot for a recent feature shoot for SLAM magazine.
Kyle thinks the Lakers should play a game in the hallowed halls of The Forum next season.
And as much as we like the lights out downtown future of STAPLES (or as much as T-Mac warned him about the vintage facilities on ESPN’s The Jump) we couldn’t agree more for a league that loves to pay homage to their hardwood classic history like Mitchell and Ness.
Joining the Forum club again like when Magic and Cap made the 80’s Lakers ‘Showtime’ and put the Hollywood in basketball would be a nostalgia trip, especially for the clubs President. It would make a nice 20 year plus comeback (save 2009) after new millennium rival San Antonio swept them right out the stadium in ’97. This is the Lakers Boston Garden. Their Spectrum. Their court coliseum. And those marble pillars over red still stand strong like the statues of the greats from Chick to Elgin outside STAPLES.
Besides ‘Bron and P.G. would love it.
Time to get those baby blue MPLS jerseys ready.
And don’t forget about ‘Dre.
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”.
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 Caruso 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 game’s 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. Whose interlocking defence left the dip of ‘Bron in a honeycomb like the new amazing Vessel art sculpture structure in NY’s Hudson Yards. Mario plumbing the 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 barrel 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.
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