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Shaun Livingston living for the City

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Nets Gain.

Amputation! That was almost the fate for 28 year old NBA player prodigy Shaun Livingston when he suffered a horrific knee injury back in 2007. A harrowing injury to his left cap in the form of a dislocation that still haunts those who saw his career discombobulate to this day. Shaun was a raw and rising star on a young Clippers team that was still trying to take the purple and golden shine off Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers before a nixed Chris Paul trade and a lob city taking off just outside of LAX with their power pilot Blake Griffin did so. A Clips team that wanted to recreate the promise of the Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and Darius Miles trilogy with their new potential. Livingston fit the bill of this new hip team with plenty of hops. From the cool, crop circle crafting cornrows to the blown out amazing afro for those big top games, the high socks and sleeves of S.L. showed that he had the style behind the back substance of those streetball style skills and slams that saved STAPLES from being an all Bryant affair like the departure of Shaquille years before. Still, perhaps those socks where a little too high because Livingston would become the next Miles for the Clips, but in the woefully wrong way. Darius could have become the second-coming of Kevin Garnett and the do-it-all future star of Los Angeles and the league but injuries put an end to his full potential career like the pennies from a Hardaway and the Clipper curse would cruelly continue.

The debilitating injury clawed away at Livingston’s body and spirit with a clash against the Charlotte Bobcats. The smooth star fell akwardly after a missed lay-up and that looked like all she wrote. Shaun’s left leg snapping laterally and in lamens terms almost every part of his knee was one and done. The guy that was about to rip the league apart tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral meniscus of his knee and if that wasn’t enough for the injury box-score he significantly sparined his medial collateral ligament (MCL), and dislocating his patella and his tibia-femoral joint. They could have made a ‘the knee bones connected to the hip bone’ song out of all this maddening mess. The instant replay was so graphic it came with parental advisory stickers for its explicit content. This was no joke however as doctors told the young valiant star that they may have to take his leg. It would take months of rehab before he’d walk again…if ever. Suddenly the other hunderd or so games he missed early in his career due to being injury prone didn’t matter. Suddenly the Clippers-at that time-best regular season record in 2005 to 2006 that he helped accumulate didn’t matter either. Neither did the amazing assist high of 14 against Golden State for his career. Neither did the breakout year he was having before the breakdown. None of it mattered at that moment. The young man that led Concordia Lutheran Grade School and Peoria Central High School to two LSA titles and two Class AA ones respectively whilst becoming a McDonalds All-American was trying to digest something far more important to his lifes nutrition. One of the ‘100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament’ and a man that skipped the prestigious Duke university alumni to be one of the last legacy making high-school players to go straight to the league had something bigger to deal with than living up to the lofty expectations of his fourth pick in the ’04 draft. This guy wanted more than just to play again.

He wanted to be able to walk again. The road to recovery was going to be a long one but the tall 6 foot 7 point guard, with a 6, 11 wingspan that drew comparisons to another tall L.A. point named Johnson wanted to show the world true magic like a Mos Def album most definitly and defiantly. The road may have been long and winding but Livingston was determined to take it all with both feet planted firmly on the ground, all the way until his sneakers reached hardwood. As slight as the 175 pound 2004 Illinois Mr. Basketball was he wanted to show and prove like Evander Holyfield once said, “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters”. Boy, does this kid have heart too like a boxer seconds from out. When most players would shriek and shrink from an injury like this and fade into the obscurity of the D-league, Europe or the millionaires comfortable cheque of retirement, Shaun showed his career was far from the dead and continued living instead of surving like the first part of his surname. The journey back took almost seven years, three shy of a decade and all of what many consider an NBA players-a guard especially-prime. Still at 28, Shaun is still young and still here minus the youthful ‘fro and fail thrown passes. The maturity is there as well as the recovery. With much more time on the clock this is one appreciative argument for skipping college for the pros and the graduation that comes from personal and professional growth through any adversity. Now that is truly where amazing happens in this NBA league. The Clips may have left their injured young star a free agent in 2008 but this blessing in bittersweet disguise helped Shaun Livingston become tha man and name he is today. At that moment with everything against him he truly became free and the person he was meant to be.

The player he was always meant to be too, because he was far from done. This case for the ‘Most Improved Player’ has a ‘Most Inspiring’ chapter to this storybook ending for the verses and stanzas. Amazingly as early as the Summer of 2008-just a year and a few months change since the horrific injury-doctors allowed Shaun to continue the kind of Basketball activities Laker fans want Kobe to be able to carry on and carry out today. His leg was saved and now it was up to this heroic and brave young man to save his career before the scouts forgot him along with the critics and analysts who should really look for a new job right now. Looking for a big-league contract and comeback the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers took inspired interest but there was no guarantees. Inking a deal with the Miami Heat got Shaun’s talented career the break it needed, but cooled off averages of a point and some in the garbage time of less than a weeks worth of scheduled games made this a slow and steady race. A trade to Memphis then came before Livingston was placed on waivers before the time he even got to check out the state of Tennessee. It was time and tide to show the NBA his development from the shadows before a career curtain call came. So Shaun headed to the Tulsa 66ers of the D-league to show the association that he deserved to be back in the band of brothers via the sister league. Thank the Basketball purist God’s for the D-leagues potential because the 66’ers associated Oklahoma City Thunder drafted him out of there with a multi-year deal. Unfortunatly however this contract wouldn’t outlast a calender year and Livingston was released yet again, but I bet the team that gave up James Harden wishes they still had another product of big hair even with their championship caliber now. The addition of a player like Shaun would guarantee a chip like that contract security this young man so desperately craved.

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This career depression looked cruelly even worse than the injury that floored him and started this whole mess off. Still, keeping his head up and cleaning up his game Shaun Livingston never gave up despite all the years of hurt and heartbreak that would reduce most players and men-even years and teams older-to physcial and mental breakdowns. 10 day contracts may be one of the best things for the redemption of raw or injury ravaged players like Livingston because after signing one with the Washington Wizards to begin the second decade of the new milleniuum he began spells in D.C. and with the Charlotte Bobcats. Ironically with the team that he played against when he almost ended his career, his playing time looked like it was coming back and just getting started with these ‘cats. Despite the basement dwelling and the down and outs, Shaun was just happy to be playing and really performing. Becoming an NBA journeyman and not the franchise face he hoped to be early in his career, Livingston was bounced around the league and America from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Houston Rockets and then back to Washington before he hit the lows of a post-LeBron Cleveland. We just hope he got emough room on all those flights for that knee. Still inbetween all the teams and tears of a career turned into a classic case of what could have been, Livingston finally found renaissance from injury and the injustice of an oft-ignored career redemption from a franchise that was looking for their own one leaving New Jersey for Brooklyn, hitting downtown New York with a new battle for the Big Apple against the Knicks behind their king owner (former) and rap legend Jay-Z and his business plan. Originally signed by legendary Point Guard coach Jason Kidd to back-up best P.G. in the league Deron Williams for one year, Shaun Livingston has proven to be Brooklyn’s finest for this franchise. So much so that Jason will keep this kid like he’ll keep his tie-off when this guy is playing.

Despite Williams all-star lead and the billionaire power of Mikhail Prokhorov bringing in former Celtic big-three champions Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to shoot and shout down the opposition with the likes of one of the last few big men in Brook Lopez and Russian gunner Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets have more gains when it comes to Shaun. We aren’t talking about tha Carter either although the play of S-Dot Livingston has drawn the best rapper alive and former owner back to his courtside seat. Even with Beyonce sitting next to him the purist fans are focussed on the floor and the guy thats dancing on it like his knee never saw the knife. These Brooklyn nights are even more exciting than those Marvel comics (and you thought Peter Parker’s amazing Spider-Man was this towns hero and latest scoop) with a story as inspirational as the one of teammate Jason Collins’ comeback. With the injury of big-stars and the ageing of former legends this team needed something more than the steady scoring of Joe Johnson. Beyond the all-star talent they still needed the hunger for more. The type of killer instinct that comes from a guy that almost lost it all…and that my basketball friends comes from Shaun. More than his wing opening back-court play or his gritty defensive hounding. More than the fact that he can still shoot and slam his way to spark-plug and clutch plays, this guy is something. More than statistics, it’s more like persistence and thats real power in this league full of quote-en-quote “power” players. The real star is the former young buck that now has the veteran saavy to take the prime and the rest of his career beyond the waivers and injured-reserve lists while he takes his team even further. ‘DNP-CD’ will no longer come next to this mans name, but something with the word ‘most’ in and champion might. LeBron, Miami, Chicago, the East and the west of the league led by Kevin Durant and Oklahoma beware. The turnaround of this money brought Nets powerhouse came from a man that turned his whole life around and cost less than the buck and change he weighs. The Barclays Centre can bank on this kid taking them to the current success of the big-league pay-offs. It’s more than money when it comes to the heart and soul of Shaun. Its the 23 point high note or the 8.5 points per 100 possessions better this team becomes when he’s on the floor. The same floor it almost all ended for Livingston. The same floor he’ll always leave it all out there on. Now THAT is how you comeback. Amazing!

NBA

New Toronto ‘City’ Jerseys Point North To The 6

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IMG 20180115 092655
Six Flag

Better late and sharp to the party than never looking fly.

Sometimes in the streets of Toronto you just have to wait for a good thing. Like that CN Tower forever in the distance drive from Pearson Airport to the downtown dot. Or waiting for a table and menu for something good to eat at Jack Astor’s on any given night. But Drake always delivers from serving up playlist picks to albums that offer ‘VIEWS’ that honour the great city of the six. So you know if you’re reading this it’s never really too late.

Now after Nike just gave us ‘Association’, ‘Icon’ and real ‘Statement’ jerseys for the new season where they are now the official uniform supplier of this National Basketball Association the ‘City’ line is complete like riding a Matt Bonner tram from King Street West to the Air Canada Center. As Toronto didn’t want to be left out like Kyrie Irving didn’t want to be the next Dwyane Wade. Now the only one rocking sleeves like Adidas is Lakers rook Lonzo again, looking to ball like his UCLA alumni days. Forget Christmas Day, unless you’re rocking Sixers script. As for the 6, the new Toronto Raptors jerseys that go back to black like the late, great Amy Winehouse with Octobers Very Own gold, couldn’t be more Drake or OVO if they had that Owl hooting from the shooting shorts. And you know these third blackouts will be a permanent fixture on ‘Drake Nights’ when the Raps court will be decked out in the black gold same lining.

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But these new duds that All-Star ‘Step Brothers’ DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will rock like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly did ugly sweater vests are less ‘Hotline Bling’ and more for the town he calls his own for the citizens of Toronto. ‘They The North’ and have that in six court copying chevrons that in glittering gold, road point to this very Canadian NBA destination. Do you see. And if you don’t know, now you know…player.

This is B.I.G. for the notorious north OVO town of the six. We’ve had the ATL neon, Boston parquet, Lakers Black Mamba snakeskin, Cleveland Land, Detroit ‘Motor City’ industry, New York’s F.D.N.Y. department, the Suns not losing the ‘Los’ love and Chicago’s classic city edition. But nothing for the homestand looks as good as this to the T-Dot.

And with all six signs pointing north to Toronto, we only wish these Raptors threads could be put on for the city every night.

Now the only ‘Fallen Kingdom’ in this Jurassic World will be found in cinemas with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum this summer season Blue.

It took a minute for the sap to meet the tree but the Raptors and the Toronto city they call home are far from extinct.

Nike finds a way.

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The ‘Human Highlight Film’ Dominique Wilkins Almost Made ‘Showtime’ Worthy

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Wilkins
How Unique Would The Lakers Have Been With 'Nique?
Hollywood’s show kept fast break rolling last night like a Golden Globe as the young Lakers finally snapped their losing trend by clipping the Atlanta Hawks, 132-113 at STAPLES. All behind 20 points from Brandon Ingram, 15 and 9 from Julius Randle and 13, 10 and 6 from rookie Lonzo Ball. J.C. with 18 and K.C.P. with 14 also had three three’s each as the Lakers made a sweet 16 season best from downtown, to go along with a franchise record 42 points off fast breaks on a momentous night for the storied franchises record books.
It kind of looks like Showtime’s go on all over again.
But straight from the Fox Sports hole pregame did you know that back in the 80’s day the NBA’s Hall of Fame, Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins was almost drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers to be the centerpiece of Showtime? The Atlanta Hawk legend who has a statue outside the ATL arena like all the Magic, Kareem’s, big fellas and logos outside Lakerland told us himself play-by-play as part of the pregame panel.
“Jerry Buss didn’t want me but Jerry West did”, ‘Nique said with warm affection to what could have been. And we can’t help muse like Shea Serrano’s brilliant ‘Basketball And Other Stories’ book to what legacy and Laker legend would have been like if the Basketball God’s didn’t cast down a thunderbolt. You see apparantly it all came down to an injury to Lakers Celtic bruising forward Mitch Kupchak, which will no doubt leave some Laker fans thinking this may be the first time but not the only time their former G.M. Mitch has messed up things for the Lake Show.
Kupchak’s season crippling injury made Buss want to go bigger and taller. And the rest is Big Game history as the Lakers drafted Wilkins’ fellow North Carolina alumnus James Worthy who made his own H.O.F. career more than just his second name that resides in the forever rafters like 42. The second in goggle command behind Cap remains one of the Lakers and the league as a whole’s most underrated legend.
But we can’t help but think what it would be like if we just looked up at the STAPLES ceiling and saw Dominique’s name up there like Kobe’s too (or two) with his 21 in that acclaimed area. It would have certainly brought more hard-nosed hostility to those Larry Bird fights and more Hollywood to that iconic Slam Dunk Contest between the Human Highlight and the G.O.A.T., M.J. And could you have imagined the Magic between a player who finished his career with Orlando and actually the legendary Boston Celtics and the man with the top hat himself Earvin Johnson? Now you thought watching Lake Show greats A.C. Green and former coach Byron Scott was good.
In the end it was all scripted the right way. The Lakers had their own Big Game dunking James worthy of a King and Dominique Wilkins soared as a Hawk in the A. But if Magic’s all smiling Showtime had a few more Human Highlights for the film? Now that would be something straight out of Hollywood.
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LeBron’s Land Now Has I.T. Support

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Portland Trail Blazers V Cleveland Cavaliers
I.T. Follows All The Kings Men

Cleveland plainly dealed their point prince Kyrie Irving away from the King’s Cavalier land this Summer, to make the NBA’s historical Boston Celtics storied again behind their new superstar handle. And in return they got a glorious gunner with an 80’s iconic name, albeit one hip checked to the new year with injury.

But even if Christmas has come late this year like changing your calendar to 2018, Isaiah Thomas is back like you’ve never seen him before, like a Detroit Piston legend kissing and making up with an 80’s Showtime one in an emotional NBA TV reunion.

Now that’s Magic!

Like Pennywise the clown, injury tempted I.T.’s reign into the gutter for the opening chapter of his story with the King like he was wearing a yellow raincoat. But just wait for part two…it’s about to get slicker as forget arms, Thomas is about to take everyone’s legs off from the ankles up.

He’ll float too.

The land was in need of a hand. One that even the way of Wade couldn’t help after the thorn that went in probably retired, former franchise player Derrick Rose’s side. And now they have it all for one and one for all in I.T.’s support. The King now has a fellow crowning talent ready to hold the throne with. Isaiah Thomas’ return to the trail against Portland was blazing too. Normally a nice 17 points and 3 assists would seem modest for a pocket dynamo of this young Iverson’s stature, but when we answer that it came in just 19 minutes of burn than you know it’s something else altogether.

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It’s the makings of something greater.

But all that failed to blend in Beantown as his reunion with the Celtics he was supposed to retire with and his renewed rivalry with the guard he was traded for was put on a DNP-CD hold (at least he too made up with 80’s great Danny Ainge). But the whole event game of the night turned out to be a wash-out as the Celtics 102-88 scrubbing of the Cavaliers on polished parquet only saw the real rivalry of James (19) and Kyrie (11) amass less than 20 points each when this explosive TNT match-up should have gone 30 for 30 for ESPN.

Still Ohio will rise again when the King and I.T. return to their land and maybe even the promised ones of the NBA Finals. As another Celts/Cavs conference finals match-up without Gordon Hayward and this time more Love could beat towards the heart of a lion. And the five foot something with a headband has plenty of that under his too.

And you best believe tooth and hip surgery nail he’s going to leave it blood, sweat and tears all on the parquet this playoff postseason.

But this time instead of against one, Isaiah won’t just be running alongside a King…he’ll be one.

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