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Rest Easy Golden Great Nate Thurmond…A True Warrior

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Rest Easy Golden Great Nate Thurmond True Warrior

Question: What or should we say who connects this year’s world champions the Cleveland Cavaliers and last years winners the Golden State Warriors apart from the last two NBA Finals and of course Brazilian Anderson Varejao?

Nate Thurmond.

One of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of all-time and the seven-time All-Star played for both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (as well as the Chicago Bulls, were he introduced the gold necklace and bald look before Mike) during his illustrious career in the National Basketball Association. Sadly Golden Nate took his last trip across the bridge to the gold gates this week as Thurmond passed away at 74 years of age after a long battle with leukemia.

Even Warriors have to stop fighting in the end, but this great man never gave up and battled until the end. To know how this man left it all on the floor you wouldn’t expect anything less from a 15 and 15, point and rebound doubling up machine who rewrote the record books as the first player in NBA history to average a quadruple-double.

When these days NBA and Golden State Warriors are looking at the big three (or should we now say four Kevin?) numbers of Steph Curry’s 73 game record winning Dubs, or how much they could break that now it’s important not to forget those who set the standard. Especially when most of the Warrior war stories from the trenches splashed across the history book pages are only familiar with one Barry brother. Nate was great from the moment he entered this league and made his Thurmond name on the back of that iconic City jersey.

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Rising like a traditional tram up those iconic San Fran streets, Thurmond came to a band of Warriors lead by former 100 point PHILA player Wilt Chamberlain…in his position. But Thurmond was so thorough when it came to painting the area below the basket that he ended up powering the tallest forward position. Alongside the Big Dipper, stilted not stunted for the NBA’s original twin towers. Once Wilt was shipped Nate strongheld his lean and muscular honed frame to the centre of the court’s attention and in a time of greats like Bill Russell, Wes Unseld and of course Chamberlain in his way again, Thurmond was one of them.

Even if he was cruelly and critically underrated…perhaps until now poignantly and sadly in death in a year where we have lost too many from King Ali to Prince especially in this game. The man who also locked horns with the Bulls and was a true Cavalier rocking that iconic Cleveland ticker tape trimmed jersey when it wasn’t even a throwback was part of some of the NBA’s greatest moments. Just Google or youtube ‘Miracle Of Richfield’. Like Moses, this Malone big player knew how to bring people together by dividing all that opposed his path.

Now if the Cavs and Golden State meet again in the middle of the next NBA Finals you know they can’t cross each other without honouring the man that bridges their gap. His names up there and now in hoop heaven, he is too with the Basketball Gods that gave us this Goliath.

Rest Peacefully, Golden Nate.

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Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career

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Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
The Greatest Comeback Ever Told...

“I wasn’t supposed to be here”.

Shaun Livingston wasn’t even supposed to be still playing.

But boy did he.

He almost lost his leg.

But man he didn’t.

When Shaun Livingston entered the league as the fourth pick and a wide eyed kid with youthful exuberance above the rim in Hollywood. Him and the youngest Roc L.A. Familia (remember the classic SLAM cover?) crew of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling even took some of the bright lights of downtown L.A. from Shaq and Kobe of all dynamic duos from the basements of STAPLES. Arguably the most exciting Clippers team this side of Buffalo…yeah I said it Blake, Jordan and CP3…you too Kawhi and PG-13. It was an Iverson age of cornrows and tattoos. It was the generations hood to the storied Lake Show’s Hollywood history.

But then with a death of a dynasty a bunch of young Roc’s with the rock ended up all over the place too like State Property. The future of these young guns looked bleak like Memphis. Miles went to LeBron’s Land before the King. Elton ended up setting up his Brand in Philly. Whilst Odom went cross-court and stadium with the Lakers after a brief stint of talent in Miami when he was traded back to the bright lights and Kardashian city for Shaq.

But what happened to Shaun Livingston was so much worse.

With Charlotte as a Bobcat Shaun suffered a gruesome injury so bad it almost made Gordon Hayward’s opening night one look like a sprain…almost. Lets not front for the funny that injury was so bad and his comeback story so good too ’till this playing day.

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But no comeback story in this league is greater than Livingston’s, living for his career.

He almost lost his leg. Instead doctors saved it and then through the hardest of work and the most powerful perseverance Shaun saved his career…and then made it even better. And he could even still catch a few above the rim.

Number 34 ended up back in California with the Golden State Warriors via a comeback in the B.K. with the Brooklyn Nets. Out in The City of Oak Town he ended up winning three championships and going to two more finals before calling it a career yesterday and feeling “sad, fortunate and grateful” in his retirement. He was microwave more than just a super sub alongside legendary Sixth Man Finals MVP Andre Igudola (also gone this off-season with some guy name Kevin). He was an integral player to the dynasty influence that showed the Dubs were more than just the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson or Draymond and Durant. His jersey belongs up there in the new state of the art arena in San Francisco across the Golden Gate although his legend and legacy will always tram remain in the Golden State of Oakland.

Now that’s what I call a true Warrior King.

Don’t call it a comeback unless it’s like this.

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NBA

Charles Barkley’s Round Bronze Of Rebound

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Charles Barkley's Round Bronze Of Rebound
Legends Walk Of Fame...

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that skinny!”

Trust Chuck to have the best soundbite of the night.

But after all it was his day.

Yesterday the Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a statue of Sir Charles Barkley outside their Camden practice facility. Joining the bronze likes of his legendary teammates at the time Dr. J, Julius Erving and the late great Moses Malone for one of the most storied teams in NBA history from The Answer to The Process.

“There is not a lot I can say this is just a humbling experience but it really means a great deal because I think people know what the 76ers mean to the NBA,” Barkley said of the honour to those in attendance.

Your move Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.

But after running a power statue on Chuck to join the Legends Walk of Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Mo Cheeks et al at the Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey there are still spots left for the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as Bark also remarked that he believes the new Sixers with Tobias Harris and this Summer’s free agent Al Horford will win the NBA Championship next year.

Isn’t he a TNT analyst?

You can forgive him it was an emotional day.

But stranger things have happened this Summer, Philly didn’t run out of bronze for the Round Mound of Rebound and one of the greatest players, especially Power Forwards the game has ever seen is finally getting his due in-between joking around with Shaq, Kenny Smith and E.J.

“You come here as a 21-year-old kid and now 40 years later – it has been pretty amazing – and it all started here so I just want to thank the 76ers Organization and the city of Philadelphia,” the great added. As Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown agreed, “We are privileged to have you a part of our past. You are referenced often.”

We all have our favourite stories about one of Basketball’s beloved, Top 50 players of all-time who averaged 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals during his time in Pennsylvania. And here’s mine…I don’t even think he was playing with Philly at the times but who cares? I tell this to people often-even non Bball fans-when they need some inspiration and I reach to my grab bag of top three stories that make me smile when I’m down. The other is an exchange between Wilt Chamberlain and playground legend Earl Manigault that Don Cheadle and Kevin Garnett as the Stilt recaptured at the Rucker for the G.O.A.T. movie (look it up), and the third being the time U2’s Bono made that “everytime I clap my hands someone dies” gaff.

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Anyway if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin…

Back in the golden era 90’s day there was a Nike commercial in a barbershop featuring then Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell boasting about one of them dunking on Barkley (I think it was Spree…see how good I am at telling this story Philadelphia?). I don’t even think I saw a Basketball in the whole commercial…let alone so much of a sneaker. But anyway the next time Chuck came up against those two in Oakland be hit like 50 odd points or something completely dominating the duo and game. With C-Webb and Sprewell down and out, draped in towels on the bench, Barkley after being a silent assassin all game and saying nothing in reply, backpedaled back downcourt after his last shot, finally looked at the distraught two and said…

“Put that in a f###### commercial!”

BOOM!

I hope the Dubs athletic trainer had some Aloe Vera.

I like this Charles Barkley quote too from back in the ’92 Dream Team Olympics heyday were he defined the fun that what his life and career by saying, “we’re here for a good time. Not for a long time!”

Well now in bronze he’s going to be here forever.

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