It was all a dream…or so it seemed!
Then you were shook out of it by the steps of NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon in the paint of green, red, yellow, black and blue and you just knew it was all real.
This weekend the league that cares headed to gorgeous Johannesburg to show that basketball really has no border for an exhibition like no other. Marking the first ever game to be played in the beautiful continent of Africa.
If only Nelson Mandela could have seen this. Sure Ellis Park Arena wasn’t as euphoric as when the South African Rugby team epically won the World Cup, but the crowd were still roaring like the pride of a lion. We’re sure Madiba was looking down and smiling too at quite the court connection in the motherland.
After a 14 point, fourth quarter rally, the Chris Paul led ‘Team World’ beat ‘Team Africa’ 101-97 in a game as exciting as it was entertaining, as competitive as it was compelling, as “basketball” as it was more than just a game.
Yet, still by the end of this exhibition that brought new meaning to the definition ‘friendly’, the score didn’t matter that much. The often quoted and shared feeling at the end of this night was that “everybody won”!
And they sure did…especially the fans.
“To be part of a team coming back to play for Africa. I can’t describe it”, said the Miami Heat’s Luol Deng who was born in Sudan and unable to watch NBA games on T.V., let alone play amongst the stars before he grew up. The player that moved to Britain before the National Basketball Association of America and the Chicago Bulls has been an ambassador to his native land as much as the U.K. where he was raised. Not just raising sports awareness, but that of the more important, critical issues facing this wonderful land. Issues this game hopes to be a welcome distraction from for only 48 minutes, before making its own statement about it based on the solidarity shown from the weeks worth of charitable events that have led to this landmark moment.
“It was an amazing experience. So proud to be able to represent the continent,” San Antonio Spurs role playing, championship great Boris Diaw told press after this African visit. Being part of a team built up of players either born in the continent or with African heritage and getting to share the experience with Coach Pop who even had a smile on his face.
It’s just what this incredible nation of passion does to the soul of someone’s spirit.
A host of todays best NBA stars and international players were on hand for a world tour that took flight like Nike without economy seating for some first class play. The Spanish Gasol brothers of Chicago’s Pau and Memphis Marc manned the post. While Washington’s Wiz kid Bradley Beal led Team World with 18 points to captain Chris Paul’s 12. Whilst ahead of captain Deng’s 20, Milwaukee’s alphabet Giannis Antetokounmpo paced the African team with a nice 22 where every star across the board got theirs…even some legends.
Normally just suited up for the NBA Global Games around the world to provide a legendary international face to bring the fans out of their seats during timeouts, African NBA legends Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon even got todays best NBA players off the bench as they stripped off their suit and ties like warm ups to actually play in the game themselves. In an incredible moment that almost brought down the rafters the two legendary big men brought their unique skill-sets to the centre of the court. They clearly still had it too with the finger wagging of Dikembe back on the block and Hakeem even dream shaking some of todays players in their prime off their new balance in the pine. It was almost as beautiful as this game being played here to see.
If only Manute Bol could have been there to. Yet he was, in name honoring in the retired rafters of this arena next to Mutombo and Olaujawon who brought their number 55 and 34’s down one last time. Between the iconic red and white of the ‘Clutch City’ championship Houston Rockets jersey and the spectrum of the Denver Nuggets iconic vintage look they brought the Mitchell and Ness best to this Hardwood Classic.
Now how’s that for a throwback? But in this moment mind, it was more like history!
Lakers Finally Get Anthony Davis. But At What Cost?
Like a rat crawling over some controls and releasing Scott Lang from the Quantum Realm in this Endgame, just like that the Lakers have their Ant-Man. And it’s an avenging, giant, levelling up move.
Anthony Davis is finally a Los Angeles Laker.
Still I hate to piss on this parade and sound like Morgan Freeman in ‘The Dark Knight’, but at what cost?
Well to be specific here’s the receipt.
Lonzo Ball (bad move).
Brandon Ingram (okay we expected that, but still).
Josh Hart (what?!).
The fourth pick in this weekends draft (or should we say Cam Reddish).
And a load of other picks over the next few seasons. Or should we say a couple of Jordan Clarkson’s and Larry Nance Jr.’s.
Well at least they got to keep Kyle Kuzma for a formidable frontcourt that might be the new, next big three.
But the young core and that keep the hash-tag campaign is officially the casualty of this trade bait like the jobs of Magic and Dell Demps, that’s been fish on the line dangling for longer than that Kawhi Leonard rim rattling shot against the Sixers.
Rob Pelinka’s a beast…and not in a good way.
We will say it again. That clip of Rob Pelinka claiming he set up a meet between Kobe Bryant ans Heath Ledger after Mamba watched ‘The Dark Knight’ is beyond messed up. We all know Heath passed away before the film even came out. Don’t disrespect the dead. Can’t buy character. But can sell your integrity.
That’s who you are dealing with Lake Show.
Hollywood’s Rob Lowe would have been better.
Let’s see who you’re not dealing with anymore.
D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart.
Is that everyone?
What you wanted more?
All the years all the young guns with plenty more calenders left in their clips. All gone.
And they didn’t even ask for Julius Randle back as part of the trade kicker.
But look to him staying in New Orleans now with Ball, Ingram, Hart and whoever else would have ended up in Los Angeles with that luck of the lottery fourth ball. And the Pelicans about to fly with the road to Zion looking like the closest thing to what would have been the young Lake Show for the future Mardi Gras in Crescent City.
Don’t write off NOLA it’s all about to go down smooth in the Big Easy.
But after months of speculation, social media tweets and articles I rest my case, I’ll say no more. But you know how it is.
On the bright side in sunny California…Anthony f##### Davis.
The Lakers finally have their man. And next to LeBron the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe…sorry Pau. It could be Finals…it’s at least playoffs.
Now it’s time to put another great core together.
Kemba? Three Kings?
Kyrie? Kevin? Kawhi?
Cue that laugh…hey we all have dreams in Hollywood.
Free agents will be more likely to join the ‘Space Jam’ show now too, but whoever LeBronland casts like throwing up movies off your phone on to your T.V. it’s a whole new world in L.A. now the Genie (or Jeanie) has finally granted their wish.
But how about two more Aladdin? On the spirit of Robin Williams help us Will Smith!
Then that will make up for all the young princes they’ve lost for one King.
As of right now like Swiss, this team has more holes than “fashionable” hipster t-shirts on Rodeo. There’s no starting point for one. And not having Lonzo ball out on the tutoring of both legendary super sub Rajon Rondo and the fellow pure point Basketball I.Q. of new assistant coach Jason Kidd is a real shame. Like losing a pure scorer like Ingram (or *clears throat* D-Lo). Or the best role player the Lakers have ever had since the days of Horry, Fox and Fisher in Josh Hart. Not to mention whoever would have come next starting this weekend.
All for a guy who was going to come to us next Summer anyway and in these changing player power times could still walk away next season anyway.
All for nothing?
I guess the Lakers looked at Leonard winning it all with Toronto and thought it was all worth it.
But at least it’s all done. It’s over now. And for now Anthony Davis in that Glen Rice 41 is the next big man great in the legendary Laker lineage of Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and Pau.
Just don’t Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard this up.
Rich Paul for MVP.
That’s all folks!
The Six In 6. Toronto Become First Canadian NBA Champions
They the North did it.
Last night in the Bay the 6 got turned upside down with no need for a seven right now. As Drake’s really big team got some really big rings.
And with a 114-110 win in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. After almost a quarter century the Toronto Raptors became the first franchise outside of the United States to win the National Basketball Association finals to make history and become Canadian champions.
And in their Canuck colours pointing to the North from California with the gold, these red and whites flying the flag in the U.S. did it for all of us as they truly changed the game.
It started with an expansion 24 years ago in Toronto. Alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies. It ended with them being the sole franchise outside of America in the NBA as former Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol joined another former gritted Grizz in the form of his big brother Pau Gasol to be the first siblings in hoops history to be NBA champions.
It started with throwback cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady in Dino unis, throwing it up and putting it down. Bringing the Air to the Air Canada Center. It ended like Vinsanity in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest for a new millennium. Looking at the camera after honey dipping and putting it through the legs, telling us emphatically with cutting hand gestures, “it’s over”.
This is for him. Mac. Mighty Mouse. The Camby Man. The Junkyard Dog. Iron Man, Mo Pete. Chris Bosh.
You know it’s for DeMar DeRozan too especially.
Kyle Lowry (what more can you say with 26, 7 and 10 leading the way?). Gasol. Siakam (G-League to big league champ). VanVleet. Ibaka. Lin. And of course quite possibly now the greatest player in the world right now and Finals MVP (joining Kareem and the King as the only Most Valuable Finals Player with multiple teams), sinking that last free throw as epic as his around the world and a day buzzer beater against the Sixers in the six, Kawhi Leonard.
Nick Nurse the architect. And of course another one, James Naismith. This game was invented by Canadians, played by Canadians and like the first ever game in NBA history, this victory belongs to Canadians.
Drake. Real superfan Nav Bhatia and the Canadian coffee house company Tim Hortons raising a cup to him commercial tribute. Everyone in Jurassic Park roaring like T-Rexes for these Raptors and of course all of you. Truly bringing the buzz to basketball.
This if for the real Warriors too. Five straight finals for the first time in a half century, 50 years (love Commish Adam Silver’s lining tribute). The dynasty that is nowhere near dead as they fought to the end for their last look in the Oracle in those Town across the chest jerseys before moving from Golden State across the Golden Gate to a new era of dominance in the hilly streets of San Francisco (the next time we’ll see Toronto is in Tokyo, October for our very own NBA Japan), where that digitally developing skyline from those tram peak points is the limit. No matter who stays or goes in this Curry, Durant, Draymond and Klay juggernaut with guys like Igudola and Cousins relating too. This is for Kevin Durant (who we apologize to for every Canadian fan who cheered his injury in Game 5. Although Warrior fans cheered for an injured Kawhi back in the day too) who played to the pain as all heart he proved everyone wrong and did it all for his team. And true Warrior mode Klay Thompson who went down with a crippling injury too in this final game and came right back to the right kind of cheers. This superteam and one of the greatest in history is far from extinct.
But right now for the Toronto Raptors it’s Jurassic World and the Golden State Warriors for the last time, fallen kingdom.
And as the final horn called for the last game of the season all hands were kept high for the North who overcame all the cold to break the ice for the first championship. And the champagne no longer on ice tasted as good as these underdogs proving everyone wrong as they bit back.
I’m not crying…we’re all crying.
We the champions my friends and Canadian countrymen.
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