Big NBA exhibitions in Japan. Who says a pack of Raptors can’t take down Tokyo’s very own monster Kaiju, Godzilla? Even without the LeBron or Kobe first named basis Kawhi anymore, the Toronto Raptors proved they were still reigning champions as they beat the Harden (despite 21 first half points) and Westbrook reunited (and it feels so good), soaring Houston Rockets 134-129 in the first of their Japan Games twofor series in Tokyo’s Saitama Super Area, Tuesday.
But Canada’s very own BasketballBuzz was in the house for the Thursday rematch, for our We The North vs Houston home-stand. Although the red lined court design looked so 6 you almost expected to see Drake courtside picking lint out of James Harden’s beard. You could really see real Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia though (I mean he never misses a game and yep he was really here. Did you really think he was going to let something as little as a continent stand in his way?). NBA big-man Raptor and Rocket legends, Chris Bosh and Dikembe Mutombo (wagging his iconic digit like “Batsu”, with the fans McDonald’s loving it), Japanese tennis ace Naomi Osaka and sumo wrestling legend Konishiki were in attendance however. In the Far East on the 55th anniversary of Tokyo’s 1964 Olympic Games.
On this day Yoshinori Sakai, born on the day of the Hiroshima bombing 19 years previous carried the torch we know as the Olympic Flame. This epic, exhibition event the perfect precursor to next year’s 2020 Games and the race for hoops five ring gold in this land of the rising sun, host nation, capital city. With this writer supporting the Toronto team he once lived in tonight, trying to make a teaching (and who knows maybe one day coaching) dream come true in this big city of bright neon lights holding on to his ticket on the subway like a Willy Wonka golden one Charlie.
As after losing to the dinosaurs in the first roaring round, the beard of Houston’s James Harden caused unintended problems as he made some comments in support of Hong Kong protesters in the Far East, that lead to Commissioner Adam Silver backing him and the right for free speech up and then China itself going dark on the NBA across the continent. Clawing down billboards of the forthcoming Lakers and Nets games in Shanghai and Shenzhen (good job this purple and gold bleeder didn’t book that extra flight) with LeBron and A.D. company having no WiFi and no clue what was going on. Just like most of us refreshing our timelines. The game went ahead in the end with Brooklyn netting the Lake Show, 114-111 in their first of two round.
But as Harden stirred the pot like his classic celebration and professed his love for China, not even a typhoon on the way this weekend for their whirlwind week was going to stop Tokyo’s Basketball banner moment. It has been a fast moving seven days for the most innovative city on the planet. First rock God Lenny Kravitz assembled his Hollywood rich and famous, Dom Pérignon bottle popping, black and white photo gallery Assemblage exhibition in the fashionable district of Harajuku in Shibuya and now crossing over this game has gone global. With games of the NBA’s best also being exhibited in places like India, Mexico…and hopefully China too.
Tokyo’s massive population came out in their sold out droves for this one. As they proved they were as excited about these two teams (Houston’s rise in the Far East goes as far back as Yao…so you can imagine the fallout. Time for the Ming dynasty to step in) as they are for Japan’s very own top ten pick, the Washington Wizards Rui Hachimura or last year’s hustling Memphis Grizzlies big man of the future, Yuta Watanabe. With Harden, 13 and Siakam, 43 jerseys lining the bleachers. Although both teams missed a trick playing in their respective reds and whites for the flag like Canada.
Now that would have been a statement.
They were made in the game however after the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of the lay-up line putting on a show for Tokyo came the running and screaming for the Jurassic Park vs Apollo 13 franchises. What more could you expect for the first NBA game in Japan since 1991? Although this city and country has been immersed in Americana culture of that decade since years before then. With a 7Eleven and Starbucks on every corner like Eric Gordon going for back-to-back threes downtown here.
The hoops hoopla didn’t disappoint either as the 2K new to the NBA live generation were kept entertained in this gladiator arena by Clutch and Raptor mascots, fan events and that old timeless t-shirt tossing…no matter what size you are, you’re grabbing for those sleeves like it was the New Year sales. Despite Raptor Kyle Lowry being milk carton just days after announcing he was re-upping for a year next season and not pulling a Kawhi via The Players Tribune. And NBA and FIBA world champion in the same Summer (that’s a record right?) Marc Gasol coming off the bench for some brief burn like touching a plate you had warming up in the oven for too long whilst you were waiting for an overdue pizza delivery. Albeit to cheers like he was a Hall of Famer. Come to think of it little brother and this generations Vlade Divac is one. Especially when you take into the account older Pau is the second best European player of all-time and only a fraction better than his sibling.
Or the Harden/Westbrook tandem-both scoring 22-being in foul or slumping trouble when they weren’t jack knifing their way through the paint butter for some geometry defying lay-ups. Cutting a hardwood path to a 118-112 Rockets over Raptors victory bite back. Seeing James do that dribble, step-back, rug and court cutting shuffle-especially in a pink P.J. Tucker sneaker king approved pair of kicks that he threw into the crowd like a rock star does drumsticks post set-is one of this age games eight wonders like Russell’s athletic enthusiasm as he runs to his corner like Ali or A.I. Screaming for the fans to get pumped.
It was Clint Capela (10 powerful points to go with 7 rebounds and 2 big blocks) and even his veteran back-up, big Tyson Chandler who came up big off the block or oop before the reserves cleared up the garbage like Japanese soccer fans the World Cup stands. Making sure those in court regalia passing the salary men on the escalators to the last train left satisfied and with both teams taking a game, content in the Yin and Yang feeling that this was just one half of a whole lot of world wide spanning and spinning basketball that Tokyo is about to see in 2020.
Ottawa BlackJacks select Osvaldo Jeanty as first-ever Head Coach
The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for the Ottawa BlackJacks basketball team.
The start-up Ottawa basketball professional club named former five-time Canadian University champion Osvaldo Jeanty as the franchise first-ever head coach. General Manager Dave Smart made the announcement on Friday morning following a brief search that always included Jeanty’s name at the top of the list.
“Obviously, Osvaldo and I have had a long history together since he was probably 15 or 14, playing club basketball on the Ottawa Guardsmen to his time at Carleton (as player) and then he was my assistant coach at Carleton”, discussed Smart during the press conference.
“Os and I have worked together from a coach, assistant coach perspective, so I know what he’s about in terms of what his exceptions are, and we’re very much inline in terms of what our expectations are, and he knows how I operate and is comfortable working with me. So I think it’s an obvious fit, it’s and easy fit and we are really excited to start working together and put a team on the floor”, further elaborated the former Carleton Ravens on his selection process.
“It’s the first time he’s called me Osvaldo so many times since I was 15, I’m not really used to it.” a smiling Jeanty opened-up about his longtime head coach and mentor during his introductory speech.
Jeanty + Smart winning combination since the late 1990’s
The duo go back to late 1990’s with Jeanty playing for Smart at the Midget and Ontario Basketball U-19 Provincial teams. Under Smart’s guidance, Jeanty flourished as player helping turn the Carleton Ravens’ basketball program into the powerhouse that it is today.
The Ravens’ won five (2002-2007) straight U Sports men’s basketball championships during their time together as a coach-player combo — with Jeanty earning the Final 8 Jack Donohue championship MVP trophy twice, during his freshman and junior campaigns. A proven winner at all levels, Jeanty turned an outstanding collegiate career into a six year pro career, earning a championship with the Giants Nördlingen of Germany’s ProA league.
Inducted into Carleton Ravens Hall of Fame in 2015 — Jeanty earned an additional two titles as a coaching duo during their three-year (2016-19) stretch.
Both Jeanty and Smart were featured on the cover of the first-ever Canadian Basketball Magazine on March of 2005.
“I just wanted to say how thankful I am to Dave to Mike (Morreale) to the league for giving me this opportunity, also just for the Ottawa community. I’ve been here since I was six-years old and I appreciate what the community has given to me and the opportunity to be able give back to the community that has been so good to me is something that I’m very thankful for. So thank you and I look forward to really bringing a good product out there for the city, for the team and really representing the league the right way.”
As for the type of style and brand of the basketball the BlackJacks expect to play — Jeanty offered a glimpse of the same championship formula that has led to many successful moments between the now general manager and head coach tandem.
“He’s put into my head since I was 15, in terms of the keys to winning championships and I tend to follow the same of idea. You defend, you rebound, you don’t turnover the ball over — but at the same time you have 24 seconds on the shot clock so you want to play as fast a possible while not turning over the basketball.”
The attention now turns to rounding out the remaining coaching staff positions and the complex process of putting together a championship calibre team — that will undoubtedly have it’s sights on establishing an early grip on the proudly Canadian made Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) championship trophy.
With the addition of Jeanty to the head coaching ranks the CEBL now features two former Carleton Ravens’ players turned bench bosses. Niagara River Lions head coach Victor Raso also won two national championships as a member of the Ravens.
Coincidentally, Jeanty’s head coaching debut will be against Raso as the Ottawa BlackJacks will kick-off the inaugural 2020 season on the road on May 7th against the Niagara River Lions. The BlackJacks home opener is scheduled for May 14th against the Hamilton Honey Badgers.
A Rose For Kuz?
The Rose that grew from the career incasing concrete of a plaster cast, potential legacy ending injury is still in bloom.
Now that’s legendary.
As a matter of fact with the trade deadline nearer than your office one, right now nothing smells better than Pooh.
Currently more than motoring on with the Detroit Pistons in Motown, the rejuvenation of Derrick Rose has already had his redemption season. Howling back with the Minnesota Timberwolves the last 82. But in this one mirroring his prime time stats as a Bull and the next era after M.J. for the Chicago way, it’s still a story as good as a Dwight Howard Hollywood reunion or blazing Carmelo comeback out in Oregon.
And now like the former D12, D. Rose could be heading to the wild west like the one Anthony the Lakers didn’t get in the end (but should of). But like the young core, Ingram, Ball and Hart trade for A.D. is the prize worth the price?
Although Derrick is linked with the 76ers like every superstar over the past few seasons and a reunion with Chicagoland (which Basketball God’s would be the perfect closing chapter to this story that is albeit still being wrote by his own penmanship), the Benjamin Franklin’s are on Rose reuniting with King James although he called his Cleveland time with the classic Cavalier “super awkward”.
The former number one, that draft pick and NBA MVP is still most valuable and at 31 is almost a half decade younger than the King. Plus with awesome averages of 18.3 points on 50.3 percent from the field in 25.8 minutes and 5.9 assists per contest this campaign, the guy wants more time and to get out of the elimination standings.
Clockwork and contention could certainly be on the cards for Rose who let’s face it at his age and stage and with the numbers he’s putting up is still a superstar, hate it or love it. He’s been put through the ringer for his career like Bill Simmons or Shea Serrano, but now he’s being called on like Phil Collins to be one of the games greats like the genesis of his association with National Basketball.
So he may just be worth a package deal like your next vacation. Even if the Lakers are offering Kyle Kuzma and Quinn Cook for his services. Can I make a counter offer of Cook, Troy Daniels (great…but underused) and DeMarcus Cousins (although I do want to see how big he can literally get coming back and grunting with former post Pelican powerhouse Anthony Davis)? Throw in Drummond and it’s a go. Like Jerry Seinfeld superimposed into ‘Deal Or No Deal’ by NBC’s ’30 Rock’, “I gotta take that deal!”
Pair Rose with LeBron and the frontcourt force of Howard and of course Davis then these London Olympic teammates would make for what a couple of five ring contests ago on dry erase would look like a dream team. And it still wakes up notions of one to this date in the 2020 year of Tokyo thanks to Vogels vision. But would the show be giving up too much this time?
“This time”…yeah right!
Quinn Cook has California championship pedigree, splashing with the brothers in Golden State like shopping on Rodeo Drive. And this Warrior has been integral this season. His number 2 from downtown reminding me of the should be retired clutch king Fisher (we can always raise 0.4 to the STAPLES rafters) and making me feel happier about buying a Lonzo Ball statement jersey last year…hey if I wear it under a jacket it looks like I’m cooking up love and representation for Quinn.
And then there’s Kuz.
If the Lakers trade away Kyle Kuzma then they will be giving up the last piece of their incredibly curated young core that is flying with the Pelicans right now. Although how could I forgot about the untouchable, All Star Alex Carushow and the fact that Anthony Davis isn’t calendar far from Larry Nance Jr. and new Jazz 6 man Jordan Clarkson?
Although Rose solves the Lakers perimeter problems and feels in the same prime time as what could be his All Star teammates (how legendary would a Rose/Rondo backcourt be although it’s hard not to know whether to deal him or Cook?), Kuz seems too good to let cruise like Tom. This top gun may have struggled early this season, but he was coming back from injury Lakers Twitter. And recently he’s been that Worthy third option behind the Big Game Magic of James and his Kareem or Shaq to his Kobe number 3 partner, waiting on those Jordan digits next season when the King carries the 6.
30 for 30 putting up “trade this” exclamatory numbers in the dynamic duos absence, even Batman and Robin needed a Nightwing. And as much as Rose could help the new Lake Showtime bloom and grow like fine wine for all of LeBron’s merlot men, you could imagine Kyle making the Lakers pay play after play like a D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle off the team that draft clever, but trade stupid.
Keep the player. Trade the barber.
Zero to 1. The legend or the future superstar? The choice for this deal is the Kings.
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