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The Homestand King Knocks Down The Hickory Pacers’ Picket Fence

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2018 11 30T065348Z 1 LYNXNPEEAT0E0 OUSSP RTROPTP 3 SPORTS US BASKETBALL NBA IND RECAP
Hoosier King...

“But what could be greater than a King”, Jason Mamoa’s ‘Aquaman’ asks in the booming trailer for his new movie on the big screens of LA Live across from STAPLES.

“A hero”.

Who says it doesn’t rain in Southern California?

After suffering altitude sickness in the Mile-High city of Denver for their worst loss of the season in Nevada this week. The King and all his Lakerland men met a homecoming in the City of Angels that was missing the Californication of the sun. There really was a storm coming in Los Angeles. But we’re talking about a different type of precipitation. As outside it may have rained all day in LA cats and dogs. But inside the STAPLES Center it was purple reign all night.

And it was the King who once dressed up as Prince who made sure the elevator didn’t bring us down, as he made the hoop heavens cry like doves with a game-high 38.

Let’s go crazy!

Basketball Buzz must have been California dreamin’ like your Mamas and Papas in La La Lakerland last night. With the best seats this writer has ever had in the King’s castle. On the last leg and final stop of our road trip of these United States before we take a United Airlines home, that began in the Mecca of New York’s Madison Square Garden. We were so (Glen) close in Hollywood we could see the sweat, King James joke with Goldstein courtside, or all the emotion. Live and for real in front of our faces. And this writer was even caught on the jumbotron camera last night…or at least part of his shoulder and face was. And they say dreams don’t come true.

In Tinseltown for the back-to-back (Magic voice: “yeah…YEAH”) doubleheader we were given the Dickens with great expectations. Especially staying across from STAPLES in the historic three pillars (no Lakers yet guys?!) of the Hotel Figueroa with a James jersey over my hotel room chair waiting for this banner moment. Overlooking the bright lights of this neon futuristic by night big city and a LeBron Nike billboard that witnessed the words, ‘Just A Small Town Kid, With Big City Dreams’. Don’t break into Journey’s, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ people, but there’s faith here again in downtown LA. Literally a few blocks away from Hope Street.

We thought Lance Stephenson would go off against his former Indiana Pacers especially with their big star Victor Oladipo sidelined (he didn’t get chance unfortunately). We thought Lonzo Ball’s sprained ankle would mean he faced a DNP-CD as B.B. were in L.A. typically too (he didn’t let that happen fortunately). You have to give it up for this kids heart like that Twitter trending video of him defending every player on a possession against Orlando that was true Magic (word to Earv’). This year something has happened that even President Johnson couldn’t pardon. LaVar Ball has shut up. Maybe by royal decree. Or his own much more than given credited for common sense. But either way the smart entrepreneur with a Muhammed Ali mouth entertaining way of lip-service getting business done and dusted has kept it zipped. But did you notice through all this reality show, Hollywood hoops hoopla the kid Lonzo always kept quiet and let his game do the talking? And what a game! Ball balled out after refusing to let an ankle sprain sideline him after mining an injury against the Nuggets. When the Lakers said he was “questionable”. He refused that notion saying he was playing, no doubt.

Answer that critics.

And he joined the Lakers block party swatting off the glass in the same play that saw Ingram ingrain that defensive presence that D.P.O.Y. for sure right now JaVale McGee started, inspiring his back-up Tyson Chandler to knock out finish. When the game started the Pacers in their classic, vintage, best in the association, Hickory Hoosier honouring, red and gold uniforms couldn’t buy a basket until almost halfway through the first quarter with seven minutes to go and change. It was looking like a blowout with the game in the refrigerator, jiggling with the Jello on the week of Chickie’s bday. Let’s hear it for Hearn.

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But then the Lakers let a Kobe jersey, 24 point lead slip through their fingers like water. Losing that Mamba Mentality as the (Hickory) Pacers ran the picket-fence that the Lakers had previously put up against them so strong in the ground, they were already applying a fresh coat of white paint. At least we got to see more of the King before it all dried. Because there would be no feet up in this one. At the half we had a ball game for the Lonzo show. And by the third it looked like this upstart without their go to, but still with plenty in reserve (Sabonis, Collision, Evans and Young) could give LA an L by the end of regulation.

But a W is a W like Vin Diesel “inch or mile” said to the late Paul Walker in the first ‘Fast and Furious’ checkered flag waver. And as McGee stopped a fast break that looked to turn the tide with one of his signature swats, the mood was changed for the team chasing a ring with the King. And let’s not Steven Glansberg forget a ‘Superbad’ 13 off the bench for captain and X-Factor Josh Hart. High-five! Or Beasley beastin’ on the Best Coast. But still L.A. couldn’t put them away from downtown Pico. Until K.C.P. had that chicken from three like KFC.

And after that it was all finger licking good for the purple and gold and their Colonel. As the King took off his robe, put on his crown and went into full clutch, royal gold mode. He may have shot from the line like Shaq still, but he faded all that away like Jordan or Kobe. If a guy built like a linebacker hit that sig Shooting Guard shot that is. This Basketball Godfather was untouchable in front of a sold-out Hollywood crowd that included the ‘Black Rain’ of Andy Garcia (this month last year this writer was in Osaka, Japan. This year a few rows away from the scene stealer of the Ridley Scott 80’s classic set there…crazy!) watching a purple one. Lighting up downtown Los Ageless (word to St. Vincent) like the pregame laser show inside STAPLES or that ‘Terminator’ apocalypse like ‘Blade Runner 2049′ skyline outside. The only thing brighter was Coach Walton’s Sager Strong suit in fitting tribute to a king of the sidelines.

But as LeBron either scored or assisted on the Lakers final 15, it all lead to a 104-96 win for the Kings young men that wasn’t exactly comfortable (this one was at times complacently gutted out like the Lakers/Pacers 2000 dynasty birthing finals that saw Kobe leap into Shaq’s arms for the first time. One of Budweiser beers’ golden moments of Laker history right now), but still fit like a new Sunday best, starched and pressed. As Sager himself who refused to give up or give in once said, “Everyone has to face obstacles. Everybody has to face hurdles. It’s what you do with those that determines how successful you’re going to be.” And boy did the King Bolt over those hurdles. Or more fittingly from the smart mind of Sager how about this to close it out…

“If we don’t have hope and faith, we have nothing.”

We do because of you. Respect sir. Rest Peacefully.

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NBA

Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career

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Shaun Livingston Lived For His Career
The Greatest Comeback Ever Told...

“I wasn’t supposed to be here”.

Shaun Livingston wasn’t even supposed to be still playing.

But boy did he.

He almost lost his leg.

But man he didn’t.

When Shaun Livingston entered the league as the fourth pick and a wide eyed kid with youthful exuberance above the rim in Hollywood. Him and the youngest Roc L.A. Familia (remember the classic SLAM cover?) crew of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling even took some of the bright lights of downtown L.A. from Shaq and Kobe of all dynamic duos from the basements of STAPLES. Arguably the most exciting Clippers team this side of Buffalo…yeah I said it Blake, Jordan and CP3…you too Kawhi and PG-13. It was an Iverson age of cornrows and tattoos. It was the generations hood to the storied Lake Show’s Hollywood history.

But then with a death of a dynasty a bunch of young Roc’s with the rock ended up all over the place too like State Property. The future of these young guns looked bleak like Memphis. Miles went to LeBron’s Land before the King. Elton ended up setting up his Brand in Philly. Whilst Odom went cross-court and stadium with the Lakers after a brief stint of talent in Miami when he was traded back to the bright lights and Kardashian city for Shaq.

But what happened to Shaun Livingston was so much worse.

With Charlotte as a Bobcat Shaun suffered a gruesome injury so bad it almost made Gordon Hayward’s opening night one look like a sprain…almost. Lets not front for the funny that injury was so bad and his comeback story so good too ’till this playing day.

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But no comeback story in this league is greater than Livingston’s, living for his career.

He almost lost his leg. Instead doctors saved it and then through the hardest of work and the most powerful perseverance Shaun saved his career…and then made it even better. And he could even still catch a few above the rim.

Number 34 ended up back in California with the Golden State Warriors via a comeback in the B.K. with the Brooklyn Nets. Out in The City of Oak Town he ended up winning three championships and going to two more finals before calling it a career yesterday and feeling “sad, fortunate and grateful” in his retirement. He was microwave more than just a super sub alongside legendary Sixth Man Finals MVP Andre Igudola (also gone this off-season with some guy name Kevin). He was an integral player to the dynasty influence that showed the Dubs were more than just the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson or Draymond and Durant. His jersey belongs up there in the new state of the art arena in San Francisco across the Golden Gate although his legend and legacy will always tram remain in the Golden State of Oakland.

Now that’s what I call a true Warrior King.

Don’t call it a comeback unless it’s like this.

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NBA

Charles Barkley’s Round Bronze Of Rebound

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Charles Barkley's Round Bronze Of Rebound
Legends Walk Of Fame...

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that skinny!”

Trust Chuck to have the best soundbite of the night.

But after all it was his day.

Yesterday the Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a statue of Sir Charles Barkley outside their Camden practice facility. Joining the bronze likes of his legendary teammates at the time Dr. J, Julius Erving and the late great Moses Malone for one of the most storied teams in NBA history from The Answer to The Process.

“There is not a lot I can say this is just a humbling experience but it really means a great deal because I think people know what the 76ers mean to the NBA,” Barkley said of the honour to those in attendance.

Your move Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns.

But after running a power statue on Chuck to join the Legends Walk of Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Mo Cheeks et al at the Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey there are still spots left for the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as Bark also remarked that he believes the new Sixers with Tobias Harris and this Summer’s free agent Al Horford will win the NBA Championship next year.

Isn’t he a TNT analyst?

You can forgive him it was an emotional day.

But stranger things have happened this Summer, Philly didn’t run out of bronze for the Round Mound of Rebound and one of the greatest players, especially Power Forwards the game has ever seen is finally getting his due in-between joking around with Shaq, Kenny Smith and E.J.

“You come here as a 21-year-old kid and now 40 years later – it has been pretty amazing – and it all started here so I just want to thank the 76ers Organization and the city of Philadelphia,” the great added. As Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown agreed, “We are privileged to have you a part of our past. You are referenced often.”

We all have our favourite stories about one of Basketball’s beloved, Top 50 players of all-time who averaged 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals during his time in Pennsylvania. And here’s mine…I don’t even think he was playing with Philly at the times but who cares? I tell this to people often-even non Bball fans-when they need some inspiration and I reach to my grab bag of top three stories that make me smile when I’m down. The other is an exchange between Wilt Chamberlain and playground legend Earl Manigault that Don Cheadle and Kevin Garnett as the Stilt recaptured at the Rucker for the G.O.A.T. movie (look it up), and the third being the time U2’s Bono made that “everytime I clap my hands someone dies” gaff.

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Anyway if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin…

Back in the golden era 90’s day there was a Nike commercial in a barbershop featuring then Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell boasting about one of them dunking on Barkley (I think it was Spree…see how good I am at telling this story Philadelphia?). I don’t even think I saw a Basketball in the whole commercial…let alone so much of a sneaker. But anyway the next time Chuck came up against those two in Oakland be hit like 50 odd points or something completely dominating the duo and game. With C-Webb and Sprewell down and out, draped in towels on the bench, Barkley after being a silent assassin all game and saying nothing in reply, backpedaled back downcourt after his last shot, finally looked at the distraught two and said…

“Put that in a f###### commercial!”

BOOM!

I hope the Dubs athletic trainer had some Aloe Vera.

I like this Charles Barkley quote too from back in the ’92 Dream Team Olympics heyday were he defined the fun that what his life and career by saying, “we’re here for a good time. Not for a long time!”

Well now in bronze he’s going to be here forever.

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