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Oakland Gold…This Is The Last Time Golden State Will Be NBA Champions

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Oakland Gold…This Is The Last Time Golden State Will Be NBA Champions
Oak' Strong...

Three-peat like the Phil Jackson Bulls and Lakers?

Maybe…but then unlike Chicago and LA that will be it.

Last month for a great day in Oakland, Steph Curry had the shot with Warriors legend Al Attles, Oak-town rap God E40 and what looked like the whole Bay Area for maybe the best SLAM story and pullout cover of all-time. Yep this ‘Soul On Ice’ rivalling piece made instant vintage history and Oakland gold in a year for the record books, let alone the magazine pages.

Because this is the last year Golden State will win in the NBA. Larry O’Brien or nah!

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Believe that…because we don’t even have to say that for it to be preordained true.

It’s written in stone.

It’s a real shame but get used to it. It’s happening. All good things and that.

And it isn’t what you think.

It has nothing to do with the bust up between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant that many in the press and below that box in the hurling insult stands think (roughly translated; hope) will be the Shaq and Kobe like catalyst for the death of a dynasty. Nor does it have to do with the carrot and the stick opting contract of the number 35 that even Sacramento announcers are making venomous jibes about (like the King’s have anything to joke about right now) hanging over their collective heads in this player power decision age that can put a franchises face in the dirt, throwing everyone under the team bus.

And before you (we (me)) start it really has nothing either to do with King James trying to win the wild west out in Hollywood with the Ball and Lonzo Angeles Lake Show young core ready to reality show rock as Lance makes ’em dance with his guitar. And whether Klay will have his day in LA and join them as a human torches free agent beacon this Summer (he won’t…although I hope). Losing to them on Christmas Day was just a gift from the Santa’s of the Basketball God’s that will hopefully lead to a Magic New Year resolution out in the La La Land city of angels and stars.

But it has something to do with those cool City Edition charcoal Nike joints and the roots of the tree of The Town thumped into submission across the barking chest.

It has something to with that 10 years in The Town, SC Under Armour grey vest Steph wears on the SLAM cover above his throwback orange Warrior shorts that take it back to the time Baron David dunked all over Dirk and Dallas. As tears of joy from the eyes of Oakland and the defeated titans back home in a Maverick Texas gave the now legendary Oracle its first look of legendary, visionary hardwood history moments of legacy made before everything Stephen and his big three gave. The thunderbolt dubs as enthused exciting as a J-Rich Slam Dunk contest windmill win through the legs.

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It has something to do with why that knockout Basketball Bible cover featuring Bay boxing legend Andre Ward (who put Michael Jordan on the floor and took his ride in ‘Creed’. But by quarter II M.J. seconds out got his Mustang back) is so iconic and important. Why despite the cash chasing, Chase Centre innovative incentive of Silicon Valley on the other side. Making a splash on the other side of the brotherhood Bay, Golden State going across the Golden Gate may not head in the clouds lead to a hoop heaven despite the numbers. Or Rick Barry tram lined jersey throwback legacy of legend. They said Oakland didn’t make for a safe playground. But by parade day each year and passing season we could give you two reasons and ring finger counting to why that isn’t as too true as they think. How even when this writer took a train to the Oracle from San Fran and passed through Fruitvale Station (remembering how before ‘Black Panther’ and even the first ‘Rocky’ spin-off. Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler brought that tragic story back to life and our collective social consciousness) that the cruel crime that happened here taking life on New Year’s night has everything to do with the police and not the people. The down to earth roots of Oakland are planted with beautiful seeds and over the last half decade of mainstream NBA dominance we’ve only seen these grow. So no matter what flowers these Warriors put in their hair next year across the Bay, Oak-town like Pac said will always “definitely be in the house”. Throwback tribute testament, or the ball pushing, moving forward downcourt and downtown.

For next year these dubs hearts will be in San Francisco.

But you know where the California soul of this Golden State will always be left.

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NBA

Chicago, All-Star 2020 blows in the Windy City for Kobe

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lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Finding 24 Forever...

Untouchable.

Like Eliot Ness, that’s what Common’s city of Chicago is when it comes to this court. All greatest of all-time thanks to the statue outside the United Center that they have to bring in from the cold when ice gets in it’s cracks like the veins of new Minnesota Timberwolves cold front player, D’Angelo Russell (he should be here. These lost Lakers are just glad Brandon Ingram is). Forming a duo with Karl-Anthony Towns as dynamic as that one of Star Marbury and the uncut gem of Chi-towns own Kevin Garnett heading for the Hall.

And just like the Big Ticket, the Rose that grew from concrete and the way of Wade who was moved to tears, the rapper slash actor, author and Microsoft poet Common (who fittingly won MVP of the Celebrity Game in his city. Even after Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith said “c’mon Common you can’t even dunk donuts in coffee” after giving Dwight Howard’s athletically graceful, camera flash freeze, cheese smile, spin dunk an 8 (Kobe?)) put on for his city like Barack Obama and of course the statue of the G.O.A.T. M.J. with a poetic rap that waxed lyrical on hoops history and it’s nuanced nostalgia.

Shouting out the real King MLK and Kobe before Magic made a moving speech, all players behind him dressed in warm-up white and Jennifer Huston brought the not a dry eye in the arena, house down with her tribute that beat the hardwood like the commercial Dr. Dre one for this California love in Chicago, like the National Anthem of treasure Chaka Khan in a 23 jersey.

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Common also had rhymes for each player introduction for all those who would take to the floor dribbling across the Chicago skyline, as he rocked the mic like fellow Chicagoland legend Chance The Rapper halftime and injured All-Star Dame Lillard, who still got to play this weekend as Dame D.O.L.L.A. The first player to perform on this stage of Basketball’s Grammy’s, bringing out ‘Tha Carter’ himself Lil’ Wayne and a Mamba Forever leather that we all want to cop for this year’s Winter jacket.

From saying “Sixteen-time all-star, three-time NBA champion/ We continue to witness his reign / One of the greatest to play the game/ From the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James”, to “A four-time all-star / He handles the rock like Gibraltar / From the Boston Celtics / Give it up for Kemba Walker”.

But hey, I’ve got one for you all, “like the Beard and the Brow he runs the show/so where the f### is Alex Caruso”.

But to the beat of his own raps and his milk carton brother Kanye, even if every event was set off by the “GO” vocal of guitar hero John Mayer on his Common collaboration with ‘Jesus Is King’ walking God, Mr. West (from the bam, bam Bam Adebayo BAM Skills Challenge bucket win. To the Buddy Hield buzzer beating on the last ball of the last rack, Devin booking, beating and winning the Three-Point Shootout (still one of the best and most underrated events of the weekend)), this night of all the All-Stars was all about the one who should have been in the crowd cheering with his daughter courtside.

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From Superman, Dwight Howard returning and bringing back the red cape out of the phone booth, with 24 on the chest, to Man Of Steel and former Lex Luthor like enemy Shaq filming on that old camcorder again. In one of the best but most controversial dunk contests that saw an all 50 and 7-foot-5 Tacko leaping Aaron Gordon robbed again like when he cleared the mascot (seriously I don’t mean to leap to conclusions, but these guys need to get over jumping over things…literally. Only Leonardo DiCaprio gets over this many people).

This time by the South Beach, bringing the Heat in the Windy City, tornado storm of Derrick Jones Jr. Air Gordon won’t be back (thanks for that judges. Dwayne Wade said in the Skills Challenge his mind can be changed…ain’t that the truth), but let’s hope the backboard ball touching, Woody Harrelson Venice Beach wear honoring Pat Connaughton will be. Because white men can jump too in an epic exciting weekend of Chicago, 2020 that in the Olympic year of Tokyo, 2020 showed all the world’s a Basketball stage like the Rising Stars game (Konichiwa Hachimura).

lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Lebron James throws down two hand dunk during 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago

For the main event of the biggest weekend on the schedule itself Team LeBron all wore number 2 on their blue jerseys for GiGi and Team Giannis 24 forever for Kobe (a bald Khris Middleton even sometimes from the nose bleeds making it look like Mamba was there…which spiritually he was like his mentality), to another LeBron like Kobe dunk running the floor like Bean and the 24 second shot clock that decided the fourth quarter of an entertaining All-Star Game that was more than the legendary lay-up line and was actually a competitive affair.

kawhi leonard 2020 nba all star game mvp
Kawhi Leonard 2020 NBA All-Star Game MVP

That’s just what happens when you win the game on a free throw (157-155, King over Freak) as Laker and hometown Chicago hero Anthony Davis did the honors after filling the stat sheet with the game on the line. But, the All-Star MVP now beautifully renamed the Kobe Bryant award went to another Los Angeles King in Clipper Kawhi and his 30 points. Who dedicated his award to the late legend it’s named after, as fans had their fill of their favourite weekend of the mid-season they love like the hearts of a mid-Feb Valentine.

Just don’t ask him what he had for dinner.

Answer…Team Giannis.

For Team LeBron. For Kobe. For GiGi.

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Canadian’s rise to the occasion at 2020 NBA Rising Stars game

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brandon clarke registers a layup for team world 2020 nba rising stars game
Canadian Brandon Clarke rises for a lay-up at 2020 NBA Rising Stars game

Without a doubt, one of the brightest spots of the NBA All-Star Weekend, is the Rising Stars game.

Since it’s inclusion in the 1994 All-Star game in Minneapolis, it has seen multiple formats and renditions — becoming a fertile playground for “phenoms” and “sensations” to showcase their gifted basketball talents to a global audience.

Orlando Magic point guard Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway won MVP of the inaugural edition of the rookie challenge game which at the time featured a true all-rookie affair with the likes of Chris Webber, Sam Cassell, Isaiah Rider taking on Jamal Mashburn and Nick Van Exel.

Toni Kukoc + Dino Rađa first International Players

The original 8-player team rosters comprised of only two international players – both Croatian/ Yugoslavian greats Toni Kukoc and Dino Rađa made the phenom cut.

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In addition to Kukoc and Rada, and up until 2000, when the NBA made it’s first format change, from a all-rookie game to a rookie versus sophomores soiree — the game had only featured a grand total of nine (9) non-American players. Arvydas Sabonis (Lithuania/1996), George Zidek (Czechoslovakia/1996), Vitaly Potapenko (Ukraine/1997), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Lithuania/1998), Michael Olowokandi (UK/Nigeria/2000) and Dirk Nowitzki (Germany/2000) helped provide a blueprint for international expansion.

Steve Nash first Canadian selected in 1997

Steve Nash broke the Canadian trend and became the country’s first representation at the event, playing alongside Lakers’ great Kobe Bryant in the 1997 rendition. Winnipeg, Manitoba’s own Todd MacCulloch added his name to the list in first year of the new millennium, and twelve (12) years later Tristan Thompson (2012-2013) started what is now an eight-year streak of Canadians in the NBA’s Rising Stars’ Game.

Andrew Wiggins cock-back dunk NBA Rising Stars Game
Andrew Wiggins throws down big dunk at 2015 NBA Rising Stars Game in Brooklyn

Andrew Wiggins opened the flood-gates winning the MVP trophy in 2015 with an electric 22-point performance. Jamal Murray topped his scoring efforts with one of the best games in the events’ history with a 36-point, 11 assist MVP outburst in 2017.

History of Canadian’s NBA Rising Stars Game

Back then it was hard to imagine the impact that the NBA would have internationally, and across Canada. Despite multiple formats and various renditions, there’s little to no doubt that the idea of what has now become the World versus USA game has been a large contributing factor to the multiplier effect.

Record four Canadians in 2020 World vs. USA game

Now in its 26th year and in the sixth edition of the it’s latest format, the 2020 game showcased a record four (4) Canadian’s. Rookies RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks, Brandon Clarke (Memphis Grizzlies), Nickeil Alexander-Walker joined sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the NBA’s Tupac themed “me against the world” game.

rj barrett and shai gilgeous alexander 2020 nba rising stars game
Canadian’s RJ Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at 2020 NBA Rising Stars Game – Photo: NBA Canada

Barrett poured in a game-high 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Clarke, arguably the steal of the 2019 NBA Draft was equally impressive with 22 points and game-high 8 rebounds on 11-of-15 shot attempts. Gilgeous-Alexander razzled and dazzled his way to 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while his cousin Alexander-Walker added 6 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.

The Canadian’s contributions helped Team World race out to a 39-30 first-quarter lead over Team USA. A big second-half surge saw the all-American squad turn a 81-71, 10-point half-time deficit into 151-131, 20-point victory.

Outcome aside, the game featured a bevy of highlights including an impromptu dunk contest in the last minute that included some big time dunks by Brandon Clarke and RJ Barrett.

With such an impact internationally and responsible for giving many rising Canadian basketball players their first true taste of NBA All-Star weekend — it will only be a matter of time before one or two of them makes the leap from Saturday to Sunday like Nash did, becoming an official NBA All-star — five years after his appearance in the Rookie Challenge.

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