Winter has well and truly come to California this season.
And with some calling for the King’s exile in this Game of Thrones, heads have also well and truly rolled.
LeBron James is the biggest name in basketball today. But right now be faces missing his first postseason in over a decade, let alone the Finals. Despite Magic’s cast spell in the post Kobe age, this Hollywood script rewrote does not look to have the ending the King James version intended to write.
But there’s still some clock on this. This year and the following ones. This team have been the walking wounded and sitting one. From injuries to kitchen sink trade baits that have thrown everything at them and everyone under the Coach missed team bus. But there’s still hope. The gap in the bench can still be smoothed over despite the splinters.
In this game and this city of movie stars, there’s always hope. Like the desire that somehow, someway Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s characters in ‘La La Land’ get back together. Such is the nature of ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’. And it doesn’t get much crazier than the Lakers right now.
But hold your coat and scarves tight. Because despite the harsh March winter in sunny California as of late at least you can still feel the effects of the drafts. Like a Philadelphia process, the Lakers over the last coming half decade now have made better use of the lottery than Nicolas Cage in ‘It Could Happen To You’. And it could happen to them again this off-season with the way things are tanking at the moment (yeah we wish it was actually tanking and not just plain, actual losing). The Lakers have been so good with their selections their late round draft choices have bloomed almost as well as their top tens, if not in some cases more and better.
Let’s list them for purple heartbreak and gold celebration in order of year. Since 2015 they’ve taken Julius Randle (sniff), Jordan Clarkson (O.K. So who’s cutting onions in here?), D’Angelo Russell (straight out ballin’. And I ain’t just talking about his play right now), Larry Nance Jr. (seriously?), Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac (straight Matthew McConaughey in ‘Interstellar’ watching those home movies in deep space right now). And before the year of the King and these new kids that are more than alright they drafted Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant (just watch a Wizards game and see that Magic pulled a rabbit out the hat with this one and then lost it to another Hogwarts) in the same freaking year.
But alas only Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and Hart remain (not “only”, they’re outstanding). And the Lakers almost offered all of them and the rest of the damn team and real estate in the Hollywood Hills (sorry Jack. Hit the road and pack up. You’re in the trade too) just so the All Star love look of LeBron James and Anthony Davis could partner up for some two on two. And the Pelicans still said “I think we’ll be alright” to this footed bill. N.O.?! Seriously?! I’m just glad we didn’t lose these guys. But in a way, either or we might actually have done anyway. Leaving us much worse off.
I mean would you really give up all these kids for one guy like Anthony Davis who looks to be free to be on his way regardless? Or all the aforementioned for one King like LeBron?
I can’t help think of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s immortal words in the Brad Pitt, Oakland A’s baseball movie, “you’re killing this team”. But Brad’s Billy Brand actually wasn’t so let’s hope for a Magic master move here.
Thank the Basketball God’s for Moe Wagner.
Yeah I said it.
The former GIF-able, Ronny Turiaf bench presence with the look of a kids face on Christmas who somehow got to sneak onto the Lakers bench has turned into a baby faced assassin. He’s gone from sitting next to the former Shaq and Kobe era dancing king and being the Mark Madsen energy and enthusiasm guy on the pine, to showing that same new generation, Mad Dog hustle on court. Moritz, the former Michigan Wolverine college star is a slasher like Logan and can complete this young core fab four with his small ball length at center and his Brook Lopez ability to hit the open three when scaling back downtown. So why the Lakers had to give up a guy who needs us as much as we need him in the meme team completion of Michael Beasley and Ivica ‘for the love of God do you not see how big this big man was getting’ Zubac, our post Gasol international man (you see that Pop and Pau photo the Bucks posted as they stopped at the Spurs last night Lake Show? Learn from it!) to our crosstown and arena rivals the Clippers. All for some Muscala man we barely use is beyond well even the most messed up trade pitch these too Hollywood for the blue collar Boston run game have dreamed of dry erase drawing up. But I kind of digress.
Moe getting mo’ buckets isn’t just a perimeter presence, he’s an all round collegiate schooled player. Who along with big Isaac Bogna, the sprightly Johnathan Williams and Svi (who we actually decently swapped like for like for Laker lover and three ball devotee Reggie Bullock) shows the Lake Show can even draft well even in the same summer of bringing in the King and the one year vets of JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Bease’ (keep that proud head up legend). They’ve done it again. This team has bigger balls than an unflinching Kobe when before they were teammates Matt Barnes tried to inbound the ball into his face.
You saw the flagrant disrespect and foul by Draymond Green on a hard fought lay-up that Moe completed, shouting with anger and the and one you can’t stop me defiance. Kid just wants to play and show his worth with the big boys. And boy is he. Now that Brandon Ingram and probably Lonzo Ball are shut down for the season (please don’t let this be the last time they ever wear purple and gold), Kyle Kuzma is out injured too (seriously the look of the Lakers this year. Give some leeway). And in the latest storied Celtics clash the Lakers dropped 120-107, more people were interested in trying to see what LeBron was saying to former Cavalier teammate and free agent to be Kyrie postgame as he pulled that ‘Casino’ behind the jersey cheap talk trick again. But I’m more interested in Moe Wagner said to Coach Walton when Luke told him he was starting in place of Kuz, calling him up like a South Bay Caruso or G-League Ingram for his moment and asked Moe if he was ready.
Wagner who has been wagging his tail on the bench all season is a dog and said nothing. He just went out and Chris Pratt in ‘Moneyball’ went out and swung big and struck (and we all know what happened to that Guardian when we went out the Galaxy). A career high 22 points to go along with 8 rebounds in his first start? That’s practically a 20 and 10.
We need more guys like Moe.
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.