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Raptors versus Knicks in Montreal – Much more than a Game!

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The preseason game played between the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks at the Bell Centre in Montreal was about much more than basketball. It was about two teams trying to make final adjustments before the real games start, it was about Samuel Dalembert coming home to play in front of his hometown for the first time and most of all it was about Montreal showing enough passion for a teams that they do not call their own in hope of one day having one for themselves.

The Knicks could have easily have won this game, a lack a consistent effort cost them a game which they easily could have won but instead lost 80-83.  When asked about some of the team’s lapses throughout the game head coach Derek Fisher said, “We worried about not making shots instead of continuing to stops. The effort tonight was where it needed to be, but have to continue to clean up our execution.” Carmelo Anthony opened the scoring by hitting a three much to the delight of the crowd. The Montreal fans seemed to be split into three categories; 50% Toronto fans, 40% Knicks fans and 10% Carmelo fans. Though he was booed at the free throw line, the crowd cheered every time he hit a bucket. Along with hometown hero Samuel Dalembert and Toronto star DeMar Derozan, Melo probably received the loudest cheers throughout the night.

Just like Vancouver, Toronto’s preseason game was a sellout. However, Montreal fans did their best to imitate the Miami filling in slowly, but surely. By the second quarter the Bell Centre was full. The referees had a hot whistle for the game, giving a handful of technical fouls. For most of the third quarter both teams played their second units resting their starters. The Knicks however played Melo deep into the third giving him the entire fourth quarter off. Toronto meanwhile brought their starters back in for about half of the fourth before Coach Casey called it a night for them.

Dalembert-Nation

Dalembert Nation in full effect at the Bell Centre in Montreal

Before tipoff, Samuel Dalembert, a former Montrealer addressed the crowd in French to the delight to everyone in the building. “The crowd was really in it. They were cheering for both teams at the same time. I was excited. I was in front of friends and family. My first game in Montréal, hopefully next year too.” Though it was his first game in the city, Dalembert was not nervous nor was he distracted by family and friends trying to get tickets from him. “I buy them and then my cousin does the rest. I focus on the game,” he says. Despite the loss, Dalembert was smiling throughout the whole game and even afterward you could see it meant a lot for him to play in his city. A whole section on the west side of the arena was drapped in blue and lifted a banner that could read Dalembert’s Army. The Montreal native finished with 2 points, 2 steals, 3 assists and 10 rebounds. 

For a second year in a row, Montreal sold out a preseason game. Last year, the Bell Centre was packed for the Timberwolves and the Celtics. Despite the debacle with the Grizzlies, Vancouver has long been seen as the first choice if a second NBA franchise were to be brought to Canada. However, Montreal should be seriously be considered a city that could have a team. Yes, Montreal is a Habs town, but Toronto is a Leafs city and the Raptors have one of the best attendance in the league. Montreal has also shown that it will ride and die with a team that is competitive.

The Olympic Stadium was sold out every night when the Expos were at their peak, like Habs season tickets, finding tickets for the Alouettes could often be like finding a needle in a haystack during the Cavillo years and the Impact had one of the loudest home crowds in North American soccer before the move to MLS was made. Of course, it will take time for Montreal to grow it’s own fan base for a NBA team. It took almost a generation for Toronto to have pure breed Raptors fans and the same could be said for the Ottawa Senators in the NHL. The game shown last night showed that basketball allegiances in Montreal are divided. That being by the fourth quarter the crowd was much more loudly than a playoff Brooklyn crowd; and it was a preseason game! There are a lot logistics to figure out for Montreal to become an NBA city but two of the biggest one have already been cleared; a downtown arena and a city passionate about basketball.

What the NBA needs to realize is that this game would have been a sellout even if it had been the Bucks and the Magic playing. Basketball is growing in Canada and whether it’s Vancouver or Montreal, Canadian basketball fans are begging for more basketball than the Raptors. Though there will always be love for “Canada’s team” from coast to coast, breaking the monopoly Toronto has on the NBA in Canada would not only be a great move for the league, but also for basketball fans. 

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La La Lakerland Played Host To A City Of All-Stars At The Weekend

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Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2018
Like Father, Like Slam,

Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than this. Even if Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and even the other Michael (B) Jordan were taking in all the lights, camera action court-side.

After the 2017 Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year and two calendar’s after our native Toronto held the All Star Weekend in Canada, the sixth A.S.G. in the Clipper and Lakerland of the downtown STAPLES of L.A. was the first of it’s kind. As two of the best players in the association and reigning finalists decided to draft their own pool of players against the wall for the ultimate black and white pick-up game between ‘Team Stephen’ and ‘Team LeBron’, for all the marbles of which of the last two champions would be King.

Well it certainly helps if James picks his rivals reigning MVP teammate Kevin Durant and his own former partner in pine championship crime Kyrie Irving for the big shots first.

But before all that it was down to regular festivities to begin the weekend of All-Star. Basketball’s equivalent of music’s Grammy’s or movies Oscars in Superbowl February. Opening these ceremonials Team World beat down Team USA 155-124 in the Rising Stars game that should really tell you something. Despite home court advantage rookie steal, Kyle Kuzma notching 20, fellow Californian franchise face Buddy Hield was king as the Sacramento star hit 29 as the two sides wore Clipper and Laker interloped Buffalo and MPLS throwbacks for the Hollywood script. And after Quavo of hit duo Migos took home the Celebrity Game MVP as Team Clippers beat Team Lakers 79-66, Spencer Dinwiddie paid the bills in a superior skills comp. Before scorching Sun in California Devin Booker showed his career high 70 was no one-hit wonder as he burnt down all the nets and the money-ball rack. Winning the three-point contest showdown from reigning winner and sixth man Eric Gordon. Grounding the Rocket as this Phoenix rose. Book it!

But after the most therapeutic competition of All-Star weekend it was time for the most exciting one just as compelling. And in honoring his father Larry Nance, the 1984 winner of the inaugural Slam-Dunk contest, Larry Nance Jr. rocked the baby cradle, like father, like dunk. As he even rocked the old-school Phoenix Suns jersey, short shorts and high-socks for an inspired imitation. But under the magicians cloak, those Los Angeles natives in attendance draped in gold wish he had turned into someone turning back the clock and wearing a Lakers jersey (those Lonzo assists with the ball would have helped). As what would have been a long awaited, eagerly anticipated home-team representation turned into an Akron homecoming for the Ohio hometown hero like LeBron in the Kings land once the trade deadline passed.

Pops Nance loved it though after he himself played the lions share of his career in Cleveland as a Cavalier. Even assisting his boy on his second slam, before he blew the house down with a windmill that even rocked Chris Rock and then double tapped an Instagram worthy picture perfect dunk that if your phone blinked, you’d have had to instant replay it to not miss it and believe it. But all this court creativity wasn’t enough like Maverick rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s 360 reverse, through the legs 50. Or All-Star Victor Oladipo getting an assist off King T’Challa himself Chadwick Boseman, suiting up in the Black Panther mask and clawing a tomahawk. And if you think that was special, if only you were a fly on the wall for the moment entertainment megastar Jamie Foxx told Vic he loved his album and started singing ‘A Song For You’ with him in the parking lot (as told by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins). As Utah’s jazz man Donovan Mitchell won by jumping over Kevin Hart and his family (Come on! How hard is that? The comedian was even crouched down. Seriously?! He could have even been sat on his shoulders and Mitch would have been good), and then breaking out the classic Vince Carter Raptor jersey and doing you know what.

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The whole weekend turned out to be a testament to a throwback tribute despite Nike’s brand new Team LeBron and Steph duds. Last years All-Star representative, Pelican Anthony Davis paying tribute to his injury fallen teammate brother Cousins by wearing what would have been his numero zero jersey. Free agent suitors beware, DeMarcus is going nowhere now this summer after this. You see he saw on I.G. but look at the shot. How s### was his seat for a would be player?

But after Black Eyed Pea Fergie caught flack for her soulful and sultry rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem (hey, you didn’t complain when Marvin did it) the game hit all the high-flying, dunking high-notes. So much so fans needed throat lozenges like Pink! Even if there wasn’t a single Clipper or Laker representative in the game itself. Despite the lobbying for 6 Man, Lou Will and new Laker Isaiah Thomas only recently being LeBron’s actual teammate.

The King took the MVP crown himself as his 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists helped turn a 15 point hole into a 148-145 victory. And from the look on his face as he leapt into Kevin Durant’s arms of all people, it looked like he just won the NBA Championship back. And from the look on Steph’s face on the receiving end reply it was hard to disagree.

You may be the champion, but I’m the best in the world those eyes said.

Well it’s up to you to decide when round 2 of the All Star draft is televised next year for all to see in M.J.’s land of the greatest.

Charlotte’s going to be good!

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Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?

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Usa Today 10601289.0
IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles

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Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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