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.
DO Call It A Carmelo Comeback. Anthony Is Guaranteed For Years
Three fingers like “what’s your poison” and shots to the dome like LL Cool J’s comeback. I’m calling it…
La La said knock you out.
They say there are no guarantees in this life, or league. But now after almost crossing off an entire calender, Carmelo Anthony has one in this league of X and O’s.
You best believe every team that slept on him has woke up now.
O.K. Thunder? Like old New York. No ‘Melo in Lakers yellow, or Houston’s problem.
And let’s not talk about that ATL jersey Atlanta tried to hawk.
The Nugget type of fellow that Nelly rapped about like ‘Na-Nana-Na’, with the heart of a champion sweat until he was no longer in a suit and part of the Sportscenter theme again. After waiting longer to align with The King in Hollywood for this Game Of Thrones than another Anthony (Davis), Carmelo ended up coming up roses in the RIP City of Portland. And boy has he blazed a trail. Voltron forming arguably a big three with the best backcourt in the league not in this nation’s capital with C.J. McCollum and Dame ‘Time’ Lillard with the look like the OK3 of Russell Westbrook and PG3 and not the Beard and the Brow.
And now he’s exceeded everyone’s greatest expectations. As one of the G.O.A.T.’s has polished his path to the Hall with a comeback even better than the return of Superman Dwight Howard with the Lakers…which could have had a Hollywood sequel with Carmelo’s comeback.
But the Lakers loss is the PDX’s blazing gain.
What more would you expect from a guy who still put up competent averages in the soaring Rockets cosmos, despite being grounded by little court acclaim? The problems in Houston could have actually been attributed to another guy who ended up ousted and in an Oklahoma home too. Despite the trolls who are now trading in hot takes like they never simulated 2K videos of him building a Commodore house with his shot selection. Or the analysts who are changing their discussion like a report rewrite.
Carmelo ain’t calming down. Anthony is taking everyone back to school.
Class has been in session.
And how about the report card? Eight games. 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Big shots. Western Conference Player of the Week. All Star legend spot? He belongs like the Carushow in the Slam Dunk Contest. He’s unstoppable like LeBron James’ Eurostep, spin-cycle lay-up that is like a runaway freight…word to Denzel Washington. Or his Kareem sky-hook. Tokyo 2020 Team USA bid for the best in five rings Olympic legend in his golden age? Big shots from the double 0 like seven. From nothing twice?! This is no time to die Mr. Bond.
He’s gone toe-to-shot with the MVP. Showed he was more than a most imported or Sixth Man, but still a star. More than the name, but the actual game. And now he’s guaranteed to be around for a while longer like he never left, but is here to stay. As the Blazers changed the trail on the end of the signature of his contract before the ink even dried for this guy’s with the wet jumper like staying outside in the snow with your ugly NBA sweater this Christmas.
This tax is more than a luxury. It’s about to cap off a classic career with one compelling closing chapter.
Even when he bit career highs at the core of his career in the Big Apple, the ever humble hero Carmelo was a walking and dribbling, “I just take it one game (or day) at a time” postgame soundbite like he has been in his comeback off court to on it. Well now the Blazers can guarantee him 365…or at least 82 or however far he takes them.
From the headband to the hoodie, stay ‘Melo. Anthony is here to stay.
After Expelling The Order Of The Phoenix, Wizards Exiled By L.A. King.
Forgive the title…I’ve spent the week reading all seven of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ books. Expelliarmus.
Hey if its good enough for Kobe cosplaying as “he who shall not be named” one Halloween, like the King as Prince, or a cut above the rest Edward Scissorhands this year. It’s good enough for us. And Basketball’s the closest thing to Quidditch right?
But forget the Wizenard series for a page, today the Wizards were in town and speaking of Bryant some former young core Lakers were gunning for revenge like the Ingram, Hart and Ball-less Pelicans last game. Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bogna to be exact. Along with dynamo Isaiah Thomas shooting the bright lights out to prove LeBron, the Lakers and the rest of the league that shouldn’t have wrote him off wrong. Proving that the Lakers leave more youngsters on other people’s porches than the stereotypical beginnings of old movies about coming of age, against the odds. See ‘The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’ and anything else set around that time.
But this weekend Hollywood had the perfect picture for their 10th straight W against D.C. Whose capital Washington game was big here in Tokyo with this writer and his new town for Japanese born Rui Hachimura’s clash with the titan. L.A. King versus the young king of the rising sun (no half-blood prince) that was going to be more Rakuten tuned into than when Tokyo hosted the Houston Rockets versus champion Toronto Raptors double-header first NBA Japan Games in decades last month.
But for the city in Shaq sized edition Dr. Buss tribute jerseys that were left on every fan that wanted tacos this Thanksgiving like LeBron calling on Tuesday’s seat pregame, it was former champion with Canada Danny Green who rediscovered his winners touch from downtown Los Angeles. Washington may be in a shooting spell themselves after scorching the Sun’s 140-132 Thursday in an Arizona shoot-out, but it was the Lakers who stunned them 125-103 today.
Yer a King, LeBron!
LeBron on a poetic couplet quest for the Lakers 17th championship in his year 17 was Magic with 11 assists and the number across his City Edition Nike in points. The same jersey number he’s going to give to Anthony Davis, despite this writer Black Friday buying his gold statement 3 yesterday (let’s hope that doesn’t end up like my Lonzo Ball road one this time last year next). A.D. lead the way with another double/double of 26 and 13 rebounds although Rui wasn’t afraid of going toe-to-sneaker toe with him, or never scared the King too with 16 points and 8 rebounds. As the next star next to star Bradley Beal’s 18 points and 9 assists showed Hollywood his coming to America story was Giannis worthy.
Bryant, Bogna and Wagner (seven and eight and one dunk on his head from Dwight in response to a flagrant) like Thomas with ten all showed out too against their old Showtime. But the Lakers who were still without defensive stalwart Avery Bradley like all these familiar, former faces got new help from Quinn Cook’s 17 out to the kitchen and another double trouble from fan favourite JaVale McGee who had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Whilst one of the best Point Guards of all-time still in his game Rajon Rondo had 13 in just two minutes less than that of play.
Shaqtin’a-fool in another reunion Dwight Howard (8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 “oh no you don’t, Mutombo finger wags) continued his bolstered bench presence against his old Washington state. But off a beautiful bounce ‘Brookyln 99’ copped pass from everybody’s hero Caruso he was T’d up after taunting after his big jam. Still the STAPLES Center loved it like they loved number 39 again after the D-12 drama. Who would have thought this guy would be back and back like this? Let alone dunking in a Shaq designed uniform?
But going 14 and 1 in November and winning 17 of 18 for their 10th straight, the league best Lakers haven’t been on box score paper this victorious for the record since those O’Neal 2000 champion days with the Wizenard Kobe. The Wizards may have a lot of tricks up their sleeve at the moment…but they haven’t got enough in their bag for this in the first part of their Hollywood road trip (just the best in the league Kawhi and homeboy P.G. next). Being outscored 84-36 in a half worth 24 like a Kobe throwback by the Lake Show.
But just wait until their new Japanese son rises.
I solemnly swear he’s going to be so good.
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