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New York, New York! Two Games, Four Teams, One Day



Waking up the city that never sleeps, last week Basketball uzz was in the Big Apple, taking a bite out of the core of NBA New York hoops.

Last Tuesday saw a hometown derby day between the struggling, but star studded Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But the Sunday before all that saw a weekend worth of games starting at around 3 in the afternoon as the B.K. and N.Y.C. took on the East beasts Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat respectively.

Believe me with an epic double header and a subway system that saw enough minutes remaining to make it from one game to a half 7 tip-off other, the buzz on this scene was one forecasting a formidable day and date on the hardwood. It was more than just a preview of potentially half the Eastern Conference playoff, match-up scene. It was also a showtime showcase of some of the best players this great NBA league has to offer.

It was also a look at some of the associations most amazing arenas. This writer as a vacation veteran of N.Y. was used to following the Nets around the Meadowlands of New Jersey, but finally saying hello to Brooklyn saw where all that Russian and rap money went. In possibly the leagues strongest stadium, this place-or should I respell and add an ‘a’ to this anagram-palace has all the modern tools, from snack stops to bar tops. There’s even an awesome GQ barbershop where you can get your haircut like cover stars like Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. The perfect place to have a postgame trash, talk. This place is so ahead of its time even the mannequins are Kim Cattrell real. If only the actual Brooklyn Nets weren’t standing still in those sleeved, cut above the rest, blue Brooklyn Knights jerseys. Big names like Deron, Kevin and Joe couldn’t get going. So it was up to Jack In The Box (that has to be his new nickname), Jarret Jack to make his 12 point, 4 rebound and 4 assist ‘Sixth Man Of The Year’ case. As Pau Gasol’s 25 and 13 made the former Laker’s championship changer certified, a new star continues to evolve under Rose’s Bulls in Jimmy Butler who was at Chicago’s service, scoring 26 as the Bulls stampeded the new Nets and showed them their own 102-84 door.

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Still in this NBA there’s no arena like the Mecca,  , especially with its lick of platinum white paint. There’s also no team in New York like the Knickerbockers. Especially with former championship player and Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson up in the front office, running the triangle with his old Laker guard Derek Fisher as coach. Still even with a skillful and speedy point in Jose Calderon the triangle look like the Bermuda to a Knicks tape that is unraveling like old cassettes in your boombox deck. This is why even 31 from a spasm suffering Carmelo and a 19/12 double STAT from Stoudemire couldn’t sustain the Heat from an old rival Miami team. Without LeBron, Bosh shone to the box-score tune of 20, while Luol Deng went for 10 twice in points and boards. Still after missing 7 games, Dwyane Wade showed it was his world like 2007 as he scored 27 points, a lucky 13 of which came in the fourth that ended the game 86-79, in the Heats Knick cooled off favour.

From Brooklyn to Manhattan, New York basketball may not have won that night but every fan did in a city so hoops famous they had to play twice. Even if they’re playing like the New York lottery right now the ball fell the way for the best day in basketball this side of the Rucker. Heaven may be a playground, but in this day in the city it was blessed on the wood and grain.

Lets hear it for the concrete jungle!

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Millsap Mishap Could Keep Forward Behind 3 Months



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Poor Paul Millsap.

This campaign after becoming one of the biggest free agent pick ups of the offseason, one of the leagues leading Power Forwards has been put down on the medical report with an injury that could call him off sick for a quarter of a year.

The most reliable player over four periods has spent the bird share of his career helping his former Atlanta Hawks make it to the first round knockout stakes of the playoffs each year. But following the season where they didn’t make the cut of the second one, it was time for a change for the 32 year old number 4 who once looked to be the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone replacement Carlos Boozer didn’t turn out to be early in his career alongside former leading Point Guard Deron Williams.

And in the mile high city of Denver with a would be big-three of sophomore sensation Emmanuel Mudiay, dreaded defender Kenneth Faried and of course The Joker with the last laugh Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets in their new Nikes looked golden and finally past that baby blue Carmelo era (they may as well be as Anthony, now with the blue, white and orange of the Thunder isn’t even a Knick anymore (it’s ‘Old York’ now Knickerbockers)). But now like Ben Affleck looking at the ‘Justice League’ box office returns it’s time to ask the Nugs “why so serious” Batman as an injury to their versatile veteran forward of seasoned upon seasons of experience doesn’t exactly put a smile on their face.

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The All-Star was averaging a helpful handful of exactly 16 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists before tearing the ligaments in his left wrist in a 127-109 loss to the Lakers who themselves recently lost all dunking son Larry Nance Jr. to a broken wrist, but are thankful to be having him return after they cut the turkey this thanksgiving. Millsap and the Nuggets are looking at second opinions from docs offering the same sort of speedy recovery that doesn’t sap their frontline. But if they concur with the original diagnosis, it’s three months in a suit and tie and not to mention cast for Paul who will return in late February after the All Star break he normally never takes off.

The man with the three year, 90 mill deal helped make this outside eight seed threat Denver the new gritty, grinding Memphis of the West. Now without him the older than Richard Jefferson roster is thinner than the air up there in Colorado.

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Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving





Even that phrase delivered at a perfect Jim Carrey pitch can’t quite put into perspective just how hot Celtic Kyrie Irving is right now. Especially in the Boston green, Rip Hamilton face-mask.

Maybe those three little letters would do more justice for this league leader?

You know Menacing, Versatile, Phantom?


How about M-V-P?

Kyrie joins Kobe, former Cleveland Cavalier teammate LeBron James and the man whose about to pass him the Maurice Poldoff torch, Russell Westbrook to be an absolute menace in the Phantom of the Opera face-mask, leaving other teams dead on basketballs biggest stage. He may have fractured and broken some bones in his face, but that won’t stop him as he fractures and breaks the backs and hearts of the faces of all the other franchises he faces off with night after excruciating night.

Those who used to say it must be the shoes (and have you seen his best in show sneaker designs complete with shamrocks like Starbucks on St Patrick’s Day this season heads? Those halloween pumpkin ones were the spice), are now saying it must be the mask.

Sure the plastic profile guard makes for some meme worthy Pinterest fan art appreciation but this guard has made a point at hating it…the sweat inducing mask that is, not the love. These kind of covers can blind you, but like the concussed legend of Celtic great Larry, letting it fly like a Bird above the baskets in the Boston Garden all the way to the rafters (as he saw too hoops like 80’s girls earrings and just aimed for the top one), Kyrie plays through all the pain and frustration. Taking it out on the ball (like opponents on Lakers rookie Lonzo) and the other teams hoops that to him seem bigger than those ones Bruno Mars sang about.

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Take Dallas for example. Irving just masked all his pain by taking the Mavericks for 47 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in the last contest that took the Celtics to a sweet sixteen straight. After dropping two games following Gordon Hayward dropping out of the new season before the second quarter of his opening game one even played out, everyone was calling time on these new Celtics as soon as Gordon turned his ankle counter-clockwise. But now one of the best in the association Kyrie is showing LeBron and them he’s just as good as them or anyone alone like this man from down under always wanted to prove. This definition of clutch, who leaves everyone else in the fourth with straws has already shown on a championship scale against Curry of all hot guards that he can take the last shot that really matters. Now forget the Most Valuable Player award for a waning second or even the time his dynamic duo partner in pine Hayward comes back, Irving has the power to dribble drive all the way to the crown on his own.

And it’s going to take more than a mask to stop him.

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The Wind Brings The 2020 All-Star Game To Chicago



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1973. And the first NBA All-Star Game to play in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois features the last All-Star game in the last season of two lasting Los Angeles Lakers legends. One man who scored 100 points in just one game, Wilt Chamberlain. And one man who was and still remains the one and only logo of this National Basketball Association, Jerry West.

1988. And arguably the greatest All-Star Game of all-time and an even better, best ever All-Star weekend sees Michael Jordan become Michael Jordan. M.J. scored 40 in an 138-133 O.T. A.S.G. win for the East meeting the West. But a day before all that he and the Slam Dunk Contest became even more legendary. As mere moments after storied Boston Celtic great Larry Bird asked “whose coming in second place” before raising his finger in victory before the ABA coloured moneyball ripped through the twine (no Nick Young swag), Money took off from the free throw line like a good doctor for his above the rim J and jumped over everybody including Atlanta Hawk wing spreading, sky-soarer Dominique Wilkins.

Now more than 30 years later after next years All-Star Game in the purple and gold city of Los Angeles and the 2019 one in the redeemed city of Charlotte, the 2020 and 69th All Star Game will be played in Michael’s old town of Chi-city. In the same year as Tokyo, Japan will hold the next Olympic Games, the game of basketball will go back to it’s 90’s roots and an inspired iconic landmark of hoop heaven that didn’t really have the same spirit in the seventies, but really Jumpman took off in the golden era eighties. So much so that the old ’88 All Star Weekend t-shirt is a historical thrift store must find for more than it’s 80’s Tron like, cool, retro logo.

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And with mid-February lovers big blockbuster basketball coming back to the city of wind like the river that runs through it, Chi-town needs this like out of towners need deep dish pizza. You only have to listen to the news or the Common album ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ (you know the legendary M.C. who used to wipe up Jordan’s sweat off the old Chicago Stadium hardwood has to perform at the mid-season classics halftime show) to know this classic city is marred by violence that burns through this second city like fire. The beloved Bulls have even become a “garbage team” to root for too, losing the big-three likes of last seasons Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade (who may even be on a farewell All Star tour once his hometown All Star weekend comes crossed off the calendar and everyone is united in the airlines center).

Now this team who relies on sophomore stud Denzel like Oscar hopeful movies will hopefully be back by the next few valentines. As the heart of the city in twenty twenty will want to see something as visionary as Sinatra’s kind of towns history.

That’s just the Chicago way.

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