Make Way For The Ram.
Welcome back to the show Kurt, ‘Randy The Ram’ Rambis. This Summer saw the return of a Los Angeles Laker role playing legend of the ‘Showtime’ eighties to an assistant coaching position he held during the Phil Jackson era. Now that’s a lot of championships. No wonder they wanted this guy back. The hard working legend that could make Mark Madsen or Rony Turiaf’s celebratory bench presence, hustle or dunk finishes seem tame was an inspiration to them both and more. The spectacle wearing hipster had his place between the goggles of Kareem and Worthy in the three tiers of downtown L.A.’s Hotel Figueroa which currently is getting some GTA recognition. Looking something like Garth from ‘Wayne’s World’ with a magnificent mullet and setting defensive traps and rebound sets for his enemy like ‘Rambo’, this guy was cold blooded and blue collar. Exactly what the Showtime Lakers needed against Boston. He played like a Celtic but sweat and bled purple and gold.
The behind the scenes grit and grind to the Hollywood show of Magic, Kareem, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green, this guy was just as integral and inspirational to this golden and purple era of storied Laker and Larry legacy. Whether Bird or O’Brien, better or worse, victory parade wagon or season hearse, Rambis was always there. Those rings belong to him too. With a moustache that would make ‘Movember’ proud with one twirl he could finish off his man like Christophe Waltz in ‘Django Unchained’…and you thought he looked like a dentist….haha! This guy was no Ned Flanders for the Lakers Simpsons yellow, okely dokely? There was a six pack of strength not beer below that T.V. sitcom dads sweater (and from ‘Sweet Valley High’ to ‘Married With Children’ this guy has more T.V. acting credits than his Klingon, ‘Showtime’ teammate James Worthy too). Just ask Kevin McHale, Bill Laimbeer or any of the other eighties hard men of the NBA…or check their bruises, there probably still there. The man with the teacher spectacles could take anyone to school. Laugh at the mullet now.
Now, recently we have argued to Springfield and the ceiling that Michael Cooper deserves his place in the Hall Of Fame and the Lakers retired jersey rafters with his eighties comrade Jaamal Wilkes. Not to knock him but we may never see the 31 up their or the glasses in the trophy cabinet down the hall. Still that doesn’t mean Rambis isn’t a vital part of Lakers lore. Besides his college alma mata retired his hash-tag 34. Next throwback night someone’s got to rock his number and specs for the ultimate hipster eighties Hollywood night. It’s just a shame Bill Walton’s son has retired. Kurt took the Lakers to hoops nirvana, he came as we was and rocked mainstream Hollywood with his signature style and punctuated play. The man with the horn rimmed glasses helped lead the Lakers championship charge with a stampede of brusing blocks and off-ball, on-point play. The record books may not carry his name, but his trophies are engraved all the same. You can’t write off what’s already been wrote.
From Terre Haute, Indiana he played bigger than his 6 foot 8, 213 pound listing. From Santa Clara his career afforded more than all the rounds and teams that passed on him before he was picked 58th by the New York Knicks, looking like a familiar N.Y role playing legend of the 60’s Phil Jackson and one day having his place next to him in Laker history and on the bench. You see the legend on those cool t-shirts or by fans that dress up like that Kobe heckler from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers video. By the way the billboards held up during his career where a protest to just how good he was in the Lakers banner years. Some may have overlooked the perspired hard work that fogged up glasses, but the real fans saw. In less than a decade with the Lakers that’s what he did…he left his purple bruised and gold coronated mark. The Hornets, Suns, Kings and Greece know what we’re talking about. Still, Charlotte, Phoenix, Sacramento or Athens have nothing on his time in Los Angeles. Just ask Run-TMC or Dwight Howard, good or bad it doesn’t take long to make your mark in the bright light of California.
5.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1 and some change assists may be the average of his career but they have nothing on the four ‘chips he helps raised and get off his teammates Celtics harassed shoulders. He may have been a few bucks shy of seven feet but he rose above it all and earned his millions like the tallest man in the room. Once he wrapped that bandana on his head he was Kurt Rambo with an ammunition of tank like strength, rolling over opponent canon fodder drawing first blood. Darrell Rambis was known as Kurt to us, Kyriakos Rambidis to Greece and a nightmare to his opponents who lost possession as well as sleep. You couldn’t stop Kurt when he played like a man possessed. The city of angels found their demon to take them through the dark dog days and to the light and gleam of July’s trophy. The overachieving underdog got his bone and found his home in a Forum of talent. He caught every ball, word out of Jim Murray (the incredible journalist wordsmith joked that he thought this guys name was ‘Loose Ball Rambis’ because that’s all he heard before his name) and Chick Hearn and every round of applause from those who valued hard, earned teamwork.
No wonder the dirty work will of this man has taken him to the coaching class. Still make no mistake about that old adage of average players making the best coaches, Rambis was a Marvel like Stan Lee, anything but mediocre. Now behind the scenes for a big named Lakers team again he looks to shed that tag and give the new Lake Show as a coach what he did as a player. He already impressed Kevin McHale again at the head of Minnesota now what can he do for a former Minneapolis Lakers team once known for their hard work led by the spectacles of George Mikan? Just think what he could do for Pau Gasol’s game. Soft!? Yeah right this guy born in the U.S.A. of the Springsteen American blue jeans age was tougher than the rest. Chick Hearn once called this Clark Kent lookalike Superman and with the second Man Of Steel gone this could just be the hero the Lakers need in their Avenger season. Time to step in the booth and loosen up the tie. The only thing missing is Colonel Sanders…or Phil Jackson as he’s known…but wait, lets get real here, because behind the Hollywood glamour nothing or nobody works more than Kurt. Adjust your glasses and look for this eighties legend in L.A. once again. Now you remember how to do the hustle right?
In Loving Memory Of Kobe And GiGi
I can barely find the words.
I couldn’t even move this morning. 5AM in Japan, phone constant with concern.
I shouldn’t be writing this.
But it’s all I know. All I can do to pay tribute to this man and his daughter like street artists throughout L.A. taking spray paint to concrete canvas in mural memorial as we speak. Or like Cuban, numbers 8 and 24 being retired throughout the NBA like a Jackie Robinson 42. Or those pair of digits up in the rafters of STAPLES with the rest of the banners raised by the man who was about to walk into the Hall like the ‘Dear Basketball’ he walked away from with an Oscar in his left hand. Right palm holding the shoulder of his daughter he raised, who was carrying his legendary load.
All until this truly tragic day.
It doesn’t feel real. Like waking up from a nightmade or some sick hoax.
Anything but this.
We all know the news now. The helicopter crash that took not only the life of Kobe Bryant, but his daughter Gianna too and Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli and his family and the poor pilot. We remember them all. We send real thoughts and real prayers to them and their loved ones.
The statistics couldn’t measure up to the man. But they say a great deal. The five time champ. The Olympic Gold medalist in this year of Tokyo, 2020. The multiple All Star, MVP and scoring champ, fourth all time. There are some numbers that don’t need an introduction.
The G.O.A.T. The best ever that we still couldn’t believe couldn’t be back one season like M.J. for one more game. The gifted storyteller penning the wind of his second career to a whole new Academy of glory after rewriting NBA history again and again. All until the cruel and callous fickle hands of fate. Now we can’t believe we can’t ever see him courtside again with GiGi. Breaking the game down to the real love of his life like Vanessa and the rest of his four daughters we are sending all our love to in this devastating morning of heartbreak.
It hurts to write this. But we have to. After the mourning, we have to remember the good times. We have to tell the story of the man and the Mamba Mentality. The man who tore his shoulder and shot through it like a torn jersey. The man who played through a discolated finger popped back into place like his same shot fading away but never in our memories. The man who tore his achillies, pushed it back in, hit a couple of free throws and walked off the court like the strongest who survived it all. A Mamba a Matt Barnes Spalding to the face fake couldn’t phase. Unmoved. Untouchable. And then he turned him into a teammate and friend like World Peace. This man went to war for the love of the game. Hustle and heart. The Fresh Prince with the ‘fro from Philly who next to the Most Dominant Ever, Shaquille ONeal became a L.A. King like Magic or LeBron. And now they want to make him the logo like Jerry West for the top gun of the wild one and defensive doberman.
Raise a glass of vino for Vino.
He was our M.J. Our LeBron. Kobe’s game made me want to pick up the pen and put it in words it was so wonderful. He was my first article, so I owe my writing career to him. Without him there is no this. Withoht him there is no us. No Kevin Durant, Kyle Kuzma, Trae Young. You name them. Your favourite players, favourite player.
YOUR favourite player.
This hurts to much to type. My hand is shaking as I write these lines. I can’t go on. But his memory will in the joy former teammate and alley-pop pitch passer Brian Shaw through raw tears told you to focus on. Just as teams in tribute drilled out 8 halfcourt and 24 shot clock violations in standing ovation chants. As his Mecca of Madison Square Garden turned purple and gold like many arenas and cities bathed in tribute tonight. Just like Gianna Bryant would have continued his legacy as we know she would of been as an WNBA legend until this heartbreaking day.
Two incredible Basketball players lost their lives today. But it’s not about that. Its bigger than basketball. Two incredible people lost their lives today. God look after and watch over the Bryant family.
There were so many beautiful tributes today for Kobe Bryant, but also so many poor practices in reporting. Like TMZ breaking the news before it was confirmed and the family found out. Or the BBC using footage of LeBron instead of Kobe. Forget the distasteful need to be first and do better.
I shouldn’t be writing this. Today is not the day for it. But there’s nothing else I can do. It’s all I’ve got. I’m so sorry.
Dear Kobe and GiGi. Playing in the hoop heavens together.
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.
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