Every month an American friend kindly comes into work with USA Today basketball article newspaper clippings sent from the States for me that I read and keep in an Air Jordan shoebox under the bed to fuel that fire (reading breeds writing). But nothing could prepare me for what hit my desk this morning.
Two overtimes. Two titans. Texan shootout, San Antonio Spurs, 154. Oklahoma City Thunder, 147.
“Man this game” Stephen Curry tweeted. “Basketball is good”.
You can say that understatement of the year again.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Russell Westbrook. Two Goliaths of this game of God’s putting up Wilt numbers as their teams did the same on their stilts.
Now if you thought one of modern day and for all times greatest, storied franchises in their post, original big-three and Kawhi era were done. Think twice. And if you thought one of the last great big men and Tim Duncan clone LaMarcus Aldridge was a mere past afterthought, he has 56 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists blocks to tell you different. No one in history has scaled these levels. The amount of All Star votes he’s going to get this morning. The ballots are about to go Gaga like a star reborn Spotify streamer. Dominating the whole four quarters and two extra bits of change, on both ends of the hardwood from on the floor to above the rim, tip to horn. Only the Iceman (George Gervin’s 63) and the Admiral (David Robinson’s 71) have recorded more record book engraving, box score points in a Spurs uniform. Now how’s that for the coldest big-three? The last guy to come close was a decade and change ago with Tony Parker’s 55 in ’08. Welcome to the over 50 club L.A. This season a welcoming Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and James Harden(s) await.
But despite the clicking Spurs winning this dueling draw you have to give it up for the six shooter they roulette with. The Thunder weathered a 16 point defecit and the Spurs almost gunning every downtown shot (although in this three free-for-all Aldridge became the first player to hit at least 56 in nothing but paint and just outside those lines since Shaq’s 60 in the year 2000) to almost come up with the $10,000 reward near the Alamo in a night banked at the AT&T. This is the kind of contest were only one can take home the W but everyone is a winner. And in the game of the season out in the wild, wild west, Oscar worthy Russell Westbrook put up Robertson royal Academy numbers too. The triple-double machine doesn’t just average one, he obliterates one. Here writing his own for the record, storied chapter of 24 points AND assists (the most high since Rondo’s 25 passes in 2017. Now call that selfish) to go with a lucky for them 13 rebounds off the glass as he shattered all these unbreakable records with a split. The first player to ever do this, beating the 1985 record by Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, Isiah Thomas who recorded both 24’s but 10 rebounds the year this writer was born. Almost 34 years ago…yep I’m old. And this guy is cold. Now in 20-10-20 vision Westbrook’s two trail the totals of only Magic and Oscar at three.
Now how’s that for a big-three?
Combining for 301 points both teams offered mathematicians a statistician’s dream last night by the numbers, doing the books. And with sidekick superstars like DeMar DeRozan and Paul George hitting 16 and 30 respectively, young guns like Horace and Harvey’s Jerami Grant for OKC (25 points) and the Spurs Derrick White (23) marked new career highs. But when it all came down to it in an association were some teams don’t even taco break 100, it was all but one of Aldridge’s total points over a century that lifted the Spurs over the reign of Westbrook’s Thunder out West.
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the teams spiritual sixth man, spark plug. As electric as the paddock like perimeter fence surrounding them feels with this buzz over basketball (and national sport hockey come Leaf picking season), this crowd can’t be contained.
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic though, like it was all the basketball God’s plan.
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.