Can you feel that? Cold isn’t it? The ice hangs off his knees like it does off your cars right now. It’s been one hell of a freezing fall to February, but no one has had a winter as cold as the Los Angeles Lakers. Who knew the polar vortex would hit Southern California too freezing over everything this side of downtown STAPLES not named Clippers? This is Lob City right now as the purple and gold banners give way to the faces of the players their sister team have now taken starting with the nixing of Chris Paul. If that wasn’t bad enough the face of L.A. and the league Kobe Bryant has given way and months of the last years of his career away to two infuriating injuries, while his sidekick Pau Gasol has faced his own physical and critical injuries. Things are looking Lamar Odom bad for the rest of the franchise as even their fresh new stars like Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks and especially Xavier Henry have faced the rawness of the tough leather of the medics table. Thank God for guys like Manny Harris and Shawne Williams. Got the point or do you need Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake to miss time at the P.G. spot too? A Point Guard spot that was supposed to be led by Steve Nash, the last member of the Lakers big three. Still, even Nash has been battling a roster list of injuries that will see his 40 year frame most likely retire at seasons end and he’s been battling through the most pain. It’s colder than Sochi right now. Will we ever see the end of this bleak Winter?
Hold the front page! Steve Nash isn’t frozen up in a Steve Rodgers block of ice just yet. The cold never bothered him anyway. Coming back it’s time to thaw the first Avenger. Besides Captain Canada has risen from the cold before like a Phoenix as a double MVP Sun. His time under the yellow ball with the orange one isn’t set yet. We want to see ‘The Winter Soldier’ throw the ball up to Kobe Bryant as he flies to the rim like The Falcon. This may not be Lob City, but it’s still the town that Magic Johnson built right? The Showtime must go on, World Peace or not. No Rocket take off should ground the team Dwight Howard dumped. Jim Buss playing poker up there with Jim Murray and Chick Hearn needs to be able to bet on his Lakers. It’s time for Steve Nash to take the shield and lead the way for L.A. like he carried the torch in more ways than one for Canadian Basketball, way before the Anthony Bennett’s, Corey Joesph’s and Justin Jackson’s. Way before the 2016 All-Star Game or ‘Drake Night’. Right there at the start like the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. Starting the new era of up North hoops like Basketball Buzz. Don’t just wait for the Nash documentary witness Steve in all his old glory before its too raised rafters late.
You’re going to want to see this. Like the skateboard player hair or the soccer skill dribbling. The pinpoint, pure Point passes. The mid-range shot as automatic as a free throw. He may aswell have a robotic arm. The three pointer you didn’t realise was so pure. The pace even at his age. The mastermind Magic vision on court. Serving the game like Samprass. As classic as a Jay-Z reference. The best to ever do it since Pistol Pete. Bang goes a Mavarich Marvel. The Basketball sixth sense that turns former All-Stars into veteran scientists of hardwood. The professors of the game. It’s an education for those rookies…take note! Ever since the kid born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Canada with a dual British nationality (that’s where the soccer skills come from, he’s a Spurs fan and we aren’t talking about San Antonio) headed due South to the National Basketball Association of America (and a little bit Canada), Nash has bridged the gap and opened up a world of possibility to this sport. His game…and today he’s still in it.
The Santa Clara grad has still got one more year in California and he’s hoping to reignite his big three with Kobe and Gasol like the ‘Nellie Ball’ fun he had with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley in Dallas or the STAT, Matrix dunking one he had with Ama’re Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in Phoenix. The perfect 10 may be bringing his former number 13 jersey luck to the Lakers, but the eight time All-Star, five time assists leader has a lot more with him to carry on his 6,3, 178 pound, giving out back as well as his depleted team and sick note status. You can’t even begin to understand the pain he’s going through, like you can’t even under stand the power he has to make it through. Basketball doctors are giving his career just weeks to live, yet the Maverick legend is defying all medical odds like the Dallas Buyers Club. I got a newsflash for you, there aint nothing that can take Stephen John Nash out in 30 days. They just don’t understand. In this sport almost nobody does, expect maybe that number 24 who tried to push his torn achillie back into place. That’s hardcore. That’s greek God stuff. If Kobe’s one of them then Nash is a gladiator. Thumbs up? Are you not entertained?
From the corridors of his classic high school career with British Colombia to showing he is a dead cert for the hall during his MVP, quarterback run with the Suns in Arizona Nasty Nash causing mass area hysteria has been a legend in this game like ‘Illmatic’. ‘Stillmatic’ to this day he is still on top of his game, it’s just the cruel hand of injury and ignorance that’s putting him to critical shame. He can count the likes of both Barack Obama and Bobbito Garcia as devout fans and followers. With a playground skill set and the demeanour and manner to be player president it may all be about Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and whether Derrick Rose comes back, but in his day, no one was messing with Nash. His week isn’t over yet either. Quite simply he’s not only one of the best Point Guards in Basketball of all-time, but one of the sports best players ever too. The nerve or root damage aside, this guy strikes a chord, all the way down to the heart. That’s why he’s still got the soul to survive and play ball. Just to think Suns fans used to waste their breath booing him in his rookie year after being taken with the 15th pick. Now he’s beind named in the same exhales as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James. That’s most valuable.
“Frustrating” may be how Nash has described his recent suit and tie prone play but the purists still love the performance. If this game is poetry then he is the motion and his 19 point season high in Philly on his 40th birthday show he can still play amongst the grey. If this is his twilight in his time in the lime then some may be disappointed they didn’t see a Canadian homecoming with the Toronto Raptors. Still its his Pacific Division reunion with Coach D’Antoni that is special even if the “run and gun” has given way to lactic acid and shell fragments. Besides Nash isn’t ready to fade to the black of a ‘Hollywood Nights’ jersey just yet. There’s still some maple in this old leaf…save the syrup. Even if there’s no playoffs, let alone finals there’s still a season to play and for Steve Nash it may not end in a championship but it will still conclude with a celebration. This is his time and this is still his game. The legend and the legacy may not end in a ring, but some with ‘chips to shoulder could never circle around what this guys done for the Basketball world. Give him a couple more rotations and he’ll show you like instant replay all the history that is he. There’s more then ice rinks floating round Canada. There are hoops all over he country to. These are the courts that Steve Nash built. This is his foundation and its only just the beginning.
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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