Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than this. Even if Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and even the other Michael (B) Jordan were taking in all the lights, camera action court-side.
After the 2017 Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year and two calendar’s after our native Toronto held the All Star Weekend in Canada, the sixth A.S.G. in the Clipper and Lakerland of the downtown STAPLES of L.A. was the first of it’s kind. As two of the best players in the association and reigning finalists decided to draft their own pool of players against the wall for the ultimate black and white pick-up game between ‘Team Stephen’ and ‘Team LeBron’, for all the marbles of which of the last two champions would be King.
Well it certainly helps if James picks his rivals reigning MVP teammate Kevin Durant and his own former partner in pine championship crime Kyrie Irving for the big shots first.
But before all that it was down to regular festivities to begin the weekend of All-Star. Basketball’s equivalent of music’s Grammy’s or movies Oscars in Superbowl February. Opening these ceremonials Team World beat down Team USA 155-124 in the Rising Stars game that should really tell you something. Despite home court advantage rookie steal, Kyle Kuzma notching 20, fellow Californian franchise face Buddy Hield was king as the Sacramento star hit 29 as the two sides wore Clipper and Laker interloped Buffalo and MPLS throwbacks for the Hollywood script. And after Quavo of hit duo Migos took home the Celebrity Game MVP as Team Clippers beat Team Lakers 79-66, Spencer Dinwiddie paid the bills in a superior skills comp. Before scorching Sun in California Devin Booker showed his career high 70 was no one-hit wonder as he burnt down all the nets and the money-ball rack. Winning the three-point contest showdown from reigning winner and sixth man Eric Gordon. Grounding the Rocket as this Phoenix rose. Book it!
But after the most therapeutic competition of All-Star weekend it was time for the most exciting one just as compelling. And in honoring his father Larry Nance, the 1984 winner of the inaugural Slam-Dunk contest, Larry Nance Jr. rocked the baby cradle, like father, like dunk. As he even rocked the old-school Phoenix Suns jersey, short shorts and high-socks for an inspired imitation. But under the magicians cloak, those Los Angeles natives in attendance draped in gold wish he had turned into someone turning back the clock and wearing a Lakers jersey (those Lonzo assists with the ball would have helped). As what would have been a long awaited, eagerly anticipated home-team representation turned into an Akron homecoming for the Ohio hometown hero like LeBron in the Kings land once the trade deadline passed.
Pops Nance loved it though after he himself played the lions share of his career in Cleveland as a Cavalier. Even assisting his boy on his second slam, before he blew the house down with a windmill that even rocked Chris Rock and then double tapped an Instagram worthy picture perfect dunk that if your phone blinked, you’d have had to instant replay it to not miss it and believe it. But all this court creativity wasn’t enough like Maverick rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s 360 reverse, through the legs 50. Or All-Star Victor Oladipo getting an assist off King T’Challa himself Chadwick Boseman, suiting up in the Black Panther mask and clawing a tomahawk. And if you think that was special, if only you were a fly on the wall for the moment entertainment megastar Jamie Foxx told Vic he loved his album and started singing ‘A Song For You’ with him in the parking lot (as told by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins).
As Utah’s jazz man Donovan Mitchell won by jumping over Kevin Hart and his family (Come on! How hard is that? The comedian was even crouched down. Seriously?! He could have even been sat on his shoulders and Mitch would have been good), and then breaking out the classic Vince Carter Raptor jersey and doing you know what.
The whole weekend turned out to be a testament to a throwback tribute despite Nike’s brand new Team LeBron and Steph duds. Last years All-Star representative, Pelican Anthony Davis paying tribute to his injury fallen teammate brother Cousins by wearing what would have been his numero zero jersey. Free agent suitors beware, DeMarcus is going nowhere now this summer after this. You see he saw on I.G. but look at the shot. How s### was his seat for a would be player?
But after Black Eyed Pea Fergie caught flack for her soulful and sultry rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem (hey, you didn’t complain when Marvin did it) the game hit all the high-flying, dunking high-notes. So much so fans needed throat lozenges like Pink! Even if there wasn’t a single Clipper or Laker representative in the game itself. Despite the lobbying for 6 Man, Lou Will and new Laker Isaiah Thomas only recently being LeBron’s actual teammate.
The King took the MVP crown himself as his 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists helped turn a 15 point hole into a 148-145 victory. And from the look on his face as he leapt into Kevin Durant’s arms of all people, it looked like he just won the NBA Championship back. And from the look on Steph’s face on the receiving end reply it was hard to disagree.
You may be the champion, but I’m the best in the world those eyes said.
Well it’s up to you to decide when round 2 of the All Star draft is televised next year for all to see in M.J.’s land of the greatest.
Charlotte’s going to be good!
Miami Heat ink Canadian guard Mychal Mulder
The Miami Heat have signed Canadian guard Mychal Mulder (Windsor, Ont.) to a training camp deal.
Mulder averaged 8.8 points per game, 3.4 rebounds on 16-of-38 (42%) shooting in five games for the Chicago Bulls at the 2019 Las Vegas NBA Summer League. The Canadian guard had solid a 18-point, 4-rebound, 2 assists outing against Cleveland — knocking down 6-of-10 field goals and 3-of-6 triples.
The 6’4″ guard has spent the past two seasons sharpening his toolkit with the Windy City Bulls of the G-League. In 47 starts with Windy City — Mulder elevated his game averaging 13.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists — knocking down 46.1 % of his (229/497) attempts.
Mulder went undrafted in 2017 after two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats — appearing in 56 games and contributing 4.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 2016-17 — his final collegiate campaign under John Calipari.
The Miami training camp roster features three Canadian players. Six-year NBA veteran Kelly Olynyk, under-guaranteed contract returns for his third-season with the Heat. Recently undrafted 7-footer, Kyle Alexander (Milton, ON) also signed a training camp deal, and similar to Mulder are expected to join the Sioux Falls Skyforce — the Heat’s G-League affiliate team.
Mulder’s training camp deal brings a record total of 24 Canadian basketball players currently under contract with NBA teams — 16 guaranteed, with the remainder, a combination of non-guaranteed contracts ranging from two-way, exhibit 10 to training camp deals.
2019-2020 Canadians NBA
|First Name||Last Name||Team||POS||HT||WT||City||Province||College||Conference||Contract|
|Tristan||Thompson||CLE||F||6'10"||238||Brampton||ON||Texas||SEC||5 yr(s) / $82M|
|Cory||Joseph||SAC||PG||6'4"||193||Pickering||ON||Texas||SEC||3 yr(s) / $37.2M|
|Dwight||Powell||DAL||F||6'11"||240||Toronto||ON||Stanford||PAC-12||3 yr(s) / $33M|
|Trey||Lyles||DEN||F||6'10"||234||Saskatoon||SK||Kentucky||SEC||4 yr(s) / $33M|
|Kelly||Olynyk||MIA||F||7'0"||240||Kamploops||BC||Gonzaga||WCC||4 yr(s) / $50M|
|Andrew||Wiggins||MIN||F||6'8"||194||Vaughan||ON||Kansas||Big 12||5 yr(s) / $147.7M|
|Jamal||Murray||DEN||PG||6'4"||207||Kitchener||ON||Kentucky||SEC||4 yr(s) / $195.6M|
|Dillon||Brooks||MEM||F||6'6"||220||Mississauga||ON||Oregon||PAC-12||3 yr(s) / $3.8M|
|Shai||Gilgeous-Alexander||OKC||PG||6'6"||180||Hamilton||ON||Kentucky||SEC||2 yr(s) / $7.3M|
|Chris||Boucher||TOR||F||6'10"||201||Montreal||QC||Oregon||PAC-12||2 yr(s) / $2M|
|Khem||Birch||ORL||F||6'9"||233||Montreal||QC||UNLV||MWC||2 yr(s) / $6M|
|RJ||Barrett||NYK||F||6'7"||202||Mississauga||ON||Duke||ACC||2 yr(s) / $16M|
|Brandon||Clarke||MEM||F||6'8"||215||Vancouver||BC||Gonzaga||WCC||2 yr(s) / $5M|
|Ignas||Brazdeikis||NYK||F||6'7"||215||Mississauga||ON||Michigan||BIG Ten||2 yr(s) / $2.4M|
|Nickeil||Alexander-Walker||NOP||G||6'5"||205||Toronto||ON||Virginia Tech||ACC||2 yr(s) / $6M|
|Mfiondu||Kabengele||LAC||F||6'10"||250||Burlington||ON||Florida State||ACC||2 yr(s) / $4M|
|Marial||Shayok||PHI||G||6'6"||201||Ottawa||ON||Iowa State||Big 12||N/A|
|Naz||Mitrou-Long||IND||PG||6'4"||218||Mississauga||ON||Iowa State||Big 12||N/A|
|Lindell||Wigginton||MIN||G||6'2"||189||Dartmouth||NS||Iowa State||Big 12||N/A|
Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
“I wasn’t supposed to be here”.
Shaun Livingston wasn’t even supposed to be still playing.
But boy did he.
He almost lost his leg.
But man he didn’t.
When Shaun Livingston entered the league as the fourth pick and a wide eyed kid with youthful exuberance above the rim in Hollywood. Him and the youngest Roc L.A. Familia (remember the classic SLAM cover?) crew of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling even took some of the bright lights of downtown L.A. from Shaq and Kobe of all dynamic duos from the basements of STAPLES. Arguably the most exciting Clippers team this side of Buffalo…yeah I said it Blake, Jordan and CP3…you too Kawhi and PG-13. It was an Iverson age of cornrows and tattoos. It was the generations hood to the storied Lake Show’s Hollywood history.
But then with a death of a dynasty a bunch of young Roc’s with the rock ended up all over the place too like State Property. The future of these young guns looked bleak like Memphis. Miles went to LeBron’s Land before the King. Elton ended up setting up his Brand in Philly. Whilst Odom went cross-court and stadium with the Lakers after a brief stint of talent in Miami when he was traded back to the bright lights and Kardashian city for Shaq.
But what happened to Shaun Livingston was so much worse.
With Charlotte as a Bobcat Shaun suffered a gruesome injury so bad it almost made Gordon Hayward’s opening night one look like a sprain…almost. Lets not front for the funny that injury was so bad and his comeback story so good too ’till this playing day.
But no comeback story in this league is greater than Livingston’s, living for his career.
He almost lost his leg. Instead doctors saved it and then through the hardest of work and the most powerful perseverance Shaun saved his career…and then made it even better. And he could even still catch a few above the rim.
Number 34 ended up back in California with the Golden State Warriors via a comeback in the B.K. with the Brooklyn Nets. Out in The City of Oak Town he ended up winning three championships and going to two more finals before calling it a career yesterday and feeling “sad, fortunate and grateful” in his retirement. He was microwave more than just a super sub alongside legendary Sixth Man Finals MVP Andre Igudola (also gone this off-season with some guy name Kevin). He was an integral player to the dynasty influence that showed the Dubs were more than just the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson or Draymond and Durant. His jersey belongs up there in the new state of the art arena in San Francisco across the Golden Gate although his legend and legacy will always tram remain in the Golden State of Oakland, as the Warriors look to maybe Six Man legend Jamal Crawford to replace in joining big signing D’Angelo Russell in backing up the backcourt.
Now that’s what I call a true Warrior King.
Don’t call it a comeback unless it’s like this.
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