Sports Illustrated cover writer Lee Jenkins painted the perfect portrait to why the Los Angeles Lakers passed up on Duke 7 footer Jahil Okafor with the second pick in the 2015 NBA draft, which now left the third choice by the 76ers joining literally the biggest big-three ever in Philadelphia.
In his latest article Jenkins made the case for the Lakers joining the small-ball revolution that Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors across California have championship certified, by going with the changing and selecting of a guard instead of their nostalgia of Hollywood Hills tall players.
He says for Lakers. G.M. Mitch Kupchak (a big man himself, and in the 80’s Showtime days one of the best, big-men role players the franchise has ever had) the moment of epiphany came when the General Manager looked at the adorning arena wallpaper that is retired jerseys all the way up there in the Lakers rafters of legacy and championship legacy. All the names and numbers that could reach there. Guys like Mikan. Wilt Chamberlain’s 13. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 33. Shaquille O’Neal’s 34. A long line of legendary big-men that have left their huge sneaker stamp on Lakers and NBA basketball, leading the Lakers to look for the next in line from Pau Gasol to Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard…and this years NBA Draft and upcoming free agency.
Then however, as S.I.’s Jenkins wrote; when Mitch looked to his left, he saw other names. Names like Gail, Jerry and of course Magic. The Lakers has just as good-if not underrated-legacy of legendary guards.
And soon they’ll add the number 24 (or 8) of Kobe Bryant to that list.
That day is soon coming. No matter how much Kobe, the Lakers or the NBA as a whole don’t want it. Like the end of Michael Jordan’s reign or the greatest since him to ever do it in second place. Still, however with the last few years riddled by season ending injuries and critical career calling write offs, Kobe is back and still very much in this game until he say’s so. He’s still the man on this team able to take the them and his town back to glory. But after he does it’ll probably be his time and time to pass the torch, like Magic did to Mike before 23 was followed by 24.
Everyone has their time…and then everybody in turn has their time.
This is when the taste of making it with victory champagne is replace by the finger-crossing of becoming winners in the lottery and now after his draft the Lakers have their ticket to ride into the future. In selecting D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State to shake Adam Silver’s hand, instead of handing the keys to Okafor for a big and tall future, the Lakers now have a big-three for the future with last years rookie surprise Jordan Clarkson and the sophomore status of last years injured rookie and top ten pick Julius Randle…a big-man of the future himself. That is unless the Lakers try and relate across the Californian county to Cousins of Sacramento. Which as star-studded and successful a move right now this potential trade would be, switching up three faces of the future across all the major positions, in a league today built on big-threes for one DeMarcus would be as volatile a move as the man himself. The thinking is with these new young guns, a supporting cast as raw and freshly talented and of course Kobe the Lakers will be able to pursue a more seasoned big-man of legend in the open free-agent market from interested parties like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, to former draft pick Marc Gasol…or a combination of sorts. The draft is as smart a move as what’s about to come for a team that has courted interest from the likes of floor wings like Jimmy Butler, but know in turn the contract for his Buckets is restricted by the Bulls. With a lot to consider, after this summer the Los Angeles Lakers may be good enough for this season right now.
Even if this is the case, the point is the Lakers have to cultivate for the future of California once Kobe fades away into the sunset and the ageing Vino has to be a fine-tuned part of that. Just like his season ending injury helped him nurse rookie Julius Randle’s own campaign crucifying one. As bad a break anyone can get, that heartrendingly came for the kid in the confidence crushing first game of last season. Just like Kobe’s courtside collaborative position last year helped him coach Clarkson from the Point Guard position into being the heir Jordan of this squads season to come. The same must happen with D’Angelo. Russell is the athletic young understudy of Bryant and Kobe must become his mentor, because let’s face it soon the kid will be the icons replacement in guard position (forming a brilliant and booming, ballistic backcourt with Clarkson) and star status just like Kobe was to a former purple and gold All-Star swing-man called Eddie Jones.
Kobe knows this and despite what critics think will be perfect in orchestrating this, X and O for dry-erase (just look at his mature handling of other rookie Larry Nance Jr’s now infamous, ill-advised tweet from 2012) in what will one day play as D’Angelo Russell’s team when the former zero becomes hero and like the back of his vest now possesses (Nick Young still holds ‘0’…for now); the number one in Lakerland.
Knicks RJ Barrett: Basketball + Business
Canadian RJ Barrett sits down for a very candid interview with agent Bill Duffy and “The Boardroom” host — former no. 1 overall pick Jay Williams to discuss basketball and his business ambitions and aspirations.
Barrett is expected to be amongst the highest global sponsorship earners of his generation and is represented by agent Duffy — who has done over 3.5 billion dollars in contract negotiations and also represented Canada’s greatest basketball player to date and RJ’s very own Godfather Steve Nash.
Under Duffy’s direction, Barrett is expected to capitalize on the immediate rise of Canadian Basketball and the national corporate entities looking for an immediate association with the rapidly growing sport.
Barrett has already inked deals with financial powerhouse Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and global leader in made to measure apparel company INDOCHINO — Which costumed designed his Draft night suit.
Globally, with Barrett’s ability to speak French, Duffy also sees a market in China but as well as untapped African market. After all, Duffy is somewhat responsible for Yao Ming’s massive success in the Asian-Pacific markets.
When it’s all said and done, Barrett stands a chance at being Canada’s top-earning athlete, both in salary earnings and corporate dollars.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Real MVP
Santa Monica, California was on an award tour like A Tribe Called Quest for the NBA’s end of season grand prize spectacle last night. Hanging out in the coolest performing arts theatre in all of Los Angeles (my apologies to the Hollywood Bowl), the converted airplane Barker Hangar played host to the 2019 NBA Awards. The Emmy’s, Oscar’s and Grammy’s of hoops Tony.
The best of the Basketball best and the cream of the future hops crop descended on this hangar, suited and booted like they were flossing injured court-side.
Shaq sized in the perfect setting in a place that houses feats of brilliance that take flight like Mike, this event could only be hosted by the one and only, Big Aristotle of the Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal (sorry Drake. Although you troll NBA players better than Kevin Hart telling Kenny Smith he’s so ashy if he smiles his lips will bleed as he goes to take a sip of his water). And the most entertaining NBA player ever (give him his award) laughed, joked, sang, rapped and danced his way to an enjoyable evening in the place he racked up three rings on repeat.
But how about the prize giving? Well your real Most Valuable Player this year is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Say what you will about last year’s MVP and this year’s runner up in the closest of recent races as tight as the Rookie of the Year voting, James Harden racking up triple-doubles like Charles Barkley says Lonzo Ball does triple-singles, but it’s the Alphabet’s time now after slaughtering this season gone. Sure he didn’t come away with the ‘chip like worthy candidate Kawhi Leonard and his (we still hope) Toronto Raptors, but that is his next challenge for the Mamba Mentality tweeted in congratulation by Kobe Bryant who predicted this MVP years back. And in a beautiful and emotional speech, Giannis dedicated all this to his dearly departed dad and his brothers and mom in attendance as every eye not dry in the house got out their seats in unanimous ovation.
And in a truly global game flying the flag outside the United States for each category winner, Antetokounmpo almost doubled up, finishing in second place for Defensive Player Of The Year, under the stifling Eiffel of French fly swatter, Rudy Gobert. As Paul George after an incredible season-no lucky shot-came in third place like he did for the MVP voting. Toronto not only got the ‘chip in the Six however as their X-factor Pascal Siakam came up with the Most Improved Player award ahead of Sacramento sophomore De’Aaron Fox and Brooklyn’s own (if they play their free agent cards right), D’Angelo Russell.
Coach of the Year was bucked by Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer dry-erasing for the MVP. And Bradley Beal was passed the Community Assist Award for all the good this All Star has done. Give him a hand for all the ones he has. Whilst the Sportsmanship award went to new Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr., who also racked up the Teammate Of The Year award for his grit n grind time with the Memphis Grizzlies. But who else for the Sixth Man of the Year award then the ‘6 Man’ of all-time, Lou Williams? Joining Clippers teammate Jamal Crawford as the only player to win the Sixth award three times over.
And the House Of Highlights Moment of the Year of course went to Derrick Rose. Can you guess for what game?
We have a ball rattling around the rim forever in Toronto that shoots for even more stars though.
But how about that Rookie of the Year award? Who you got? Because in narrowly beating out Atlanta Hawk Trae Young it’s clear the award belongs to superstar right now Luka Dončić after a Maverick season in Dallas. Where the Texan gunslinger from Slovenia is about to draw on them all next season. Look out for the kid like Pat Garrett, Billy.
Sager Strong, broadcaster Robin Roberts took home that award named in honor after the suited court-side with a microphone presenter. And her “make your mess your message” speech was the most inspiring of the night after her fight against breast cancer and bone marrow disease, raising awareness.
Executive of the Year went to Jon Horst of the Milwaukee Bucks (sorry Rob Pelinka…jokes) but the Lifetime Achievement? Well that went to a former President who has just left office. No not Obama (although POTUS does have game…WAP!). But the Magic man, Earvin Johnson. The Laker legend honored in California for all he’s done since starting the fast-break of Showtime, to changing the game behind the back without taking a single shot. All the way to walking away from it bravely when he was diagnosed with HIV and then making a comeback so beautifully for the man who will always be purple and gold with all this entrepreneur pulls out the empire of his top hat. Say what you will about his presidency residency but as we look to free agency this crazy off-season, remember who started all this off by bringing the King to Hollywood last Summer, waiting outside his house in his car at one in the morning.
Now that can’t be tampered with.
Apart from with this. How about one better? In a courtship of rivals and a year of what could have well just been shared MVP and ROY honours, Magic Johnson shared this award of a lifetime with his former, rival and friend Larry Bird. The college to big league opponent who was a Celtic classic legend from downtown Boston. All the way to the parquet green pride of more smoked Red cigars. Two lifetimes for the price of one. Now who cares whose coming in second place?
Because all in all last nights NBA Awards show of All-Stars showed us one thing like the NBA Finals. No matter who took home the gold, we all came away winners.