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The Jordan series – Sweet Carolina

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The First Shot.

(The latest in ‘The Jordan Series’ and part three of our trilogy that started with ‘Money’-Ball’ and ’45’, also a prequel to our first Michael Jordan piece ‘The (Real) Last Shot’)

“I knew the magnitude of the game, but I didn’t fully comprehend what it meant. It was 1982 and I was a Freshman at North Carolina”.-Michael Jordan From ‘For The Love Of The Game’.

Let’s take it back. Back before the championships and the MVP’s, the legend and the legacy. Let’s take it back before Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time in the NBA. Let’s take it back to the NCAA college days. Where a star was born when Kobe and LeBron where just pee-wee basketball tall kids. Before Michael donned a Chicago Bulls jersey (or even before he wore a Washington Wizards one or a baseball one) with the number 23 (or 45) he was gifted with a North Carolina baby blue and white one. Before Scottie Pippen and ‘The Worm’ Dennis Rodman where his teammates, Sam Perkins and ‘Big Game’ James Worthy where. Before Phil Jackson and Doug Collins (twice) where his coaches, Dean Smith was once. Before Patrick Ewing was a great rival in New York he was one in Georgetown. Before he made out of this air making deals with sneaker companies bearing his name this Converse baller had tar on his heels. Before Nike turned him into a symbol, this basketball king was a prince in his formerly known college years. It was all made with a made shot that sent North Carolina and it’s young star to the Cinderella stories of basketball history.

Number 23-15 Footer-Left Wing-Right Time-Spare Change Seconds-MONEY.

My sweet Carolina that was a sweet shot that carried them home. The kid out of Brooklyn moved to Wilmington, North Carolina with his family to look to cut down nets in college. Daydreaming of hitting the winning shot and the first of many clutch, greatest hit numbers of his life, his dad James knew he would do it like he dreamed of his son playing baseball. Some things where just meant to be. Like Mike-now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats-moving back to North Carolina this week in a mansion where his money and basketball making dreams began. The now 50 year old and leader of the NBA’s top 50 built a basketball house during his home dorm time in N.C.

From a toddler to taking giant sneaker steps this Brooklyn born boy was raised in Carolina and on the basketball playgrounds was where he spent most of his days. At Emsley A. Laney High, Mike played baseball, football and basketball at school. Still, by the time college called it was clear which of the Holy Trinity of American sports the God of hoop dreams would choose. Still, can you believe this 5 foot 11 kid was deemed to small to play with the big boys? Can you believe this greatest basketball player ever got cut? Then again this is a world where Sam Bowie is taken higher than you in the draft. It’s a crazy world. One that in the 1990’s Michael owned…but it all started it the late eighties.

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A kid so competitive he would keep his dorm mate up all night until he won a game of Monopoly. If you thought he was a late night nightmare on the board game, wait until he got on the boards of the hardwood floor come prime-time, game-time. There was no playing around there, these are the beginning accounts of how Money would eventually become big business. It was more than dollars, it was a basketball sixth sense that invoked even higher spirits in those face-painted, brass band players. A chorus of North Carolina cheers, led by the pied piper of basketball and fellow later icon to Chicago like R. Kelly. Before ‘Space Jam’, Mike believed he could fly and take this game out of this world. You hadn’t seen nothing yet folks.

The All-American put up McDonalds numbers in High School, (29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists) making everyone else look elementary like my dear Watson. Before over a billion where served in the big leagues, M.J. majored in cultural geography before redefining another one all around the world. From a junior, to a sophomore and then the freshest prince of freshman Michael Jordan’s three years in college made him a star in the making for a formidable future like the other M.J.’s, Magic Johnson or Michael Jackson and it was a trick shot out of the bag at the end of a fourth quarter thriller that made Air rise above them all.

More than the prestigious Naismith and Wooden awards. More than the prolific 17.7 points per on 54.0% shooting, and 5.0 rebounds per game came a night in history which the greatest describes as the major turning point of his basketball career. NOT his college career, BUT his basketball one. Before Chicago, before Nike, before Larry O’Brien and before the hall came the college corridors of young American dream making fame. Before all that came a pass he received on the right wing with 15 feet and even less seconds to go. A perfect fluid rise of a prototype shot for a perfect wet jumper from basketballs ultimate figure, kissing the trailing net as this young kid back pedaled-as Ewing’s Georgetown (like his Knicks) backed-down-with the same confidence that would define his shrugging, smiling and sometimes finger-wagging career.

Before Mike downed Byron Russell and the Utah Jazz for his last Chicago championship winning shot of NBA history, Jordan drained a defining final one of NCAA legacy in college. More than a game ending winning shot. More than a Georgetown goodbye. This was the start of something. Something that at the time only Michael and his proud father James Jordan watching could see before all eyes where on him. It all started here. The first shot.

“Your life will never be the same after that shot. Your life is going to change son”.-James Jordan.

NBA

Kuzmania Starts A Forum For The Lakers To Play A Game In Inglewood Next Season

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For The Forum.

Holding the leather Spalding up in the air like it was the Larry O’Brien trophy, a game before the Los Angeles Lakers 2017/2018 season would officially end before the playoff campaign. Head coach Luke Walton, suit-jacket off and relaxed asks Andre Ingram how long he’s been playing in the D…excuse us, the G-League for. “10 years” the decade, 32 year old vet (who Brandon calls cuz, but isn’t actually a relation…although he’s now a Laker brother) replies after posting 19 exuberant points in his NBA debut. Just days before he would throw out the first, ceremonial baseball pitch at a L.A. Dodgers game. “Hell of an opening night man” coach says in kind as he shakes his hand, follows with an embrace and then hands him the game ball before ‘Dre’s day ends with a fingers to the sky team huddle of “together” on three.

That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.

But how can yet another losing one bring so much joy, let alone hope?

Let’s write it out again…

That’s just the kind of season these young Lakers have had.

And if it leads to free agents like hometown hero Paul George signing. Or even the King, LeBron James in La La Land for his closing Hollywood career chapter on court. Then you couldn’t even script it better than Lavar wanting all the Ball boys on the floor at the same time. King James and King George.

And who knows who they’ll win in the lottery when the draft balls fall this Summer.

But even if all this becomes a bust the Lakers still have an incredible young core lead by Lonzo, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and many more late round steals like Ivica Zubac and this years class class of Josh Hart and the new Bryant, Thomas. Kobe who? All this after even losing Six Man stud Jordan Clarkson and slam show stopper Larry Nance Jr to Cleveland. But they did get still all superstar shooter Isaiah Thomas in return and maybe more to join vets like downtown big Brook Lopez, K.C.P. and the milk carton of Luol Deng.

Even some of their young, South Bay Lakers affiliates have come up big like Ingram. From son of the glove, Gary Payton II, to Alex Caruso ending the season starting at the point with Ball at the baseline sidelines. Even Travis Wear has gone from 10 days to shooting the contract three like Mike Penberthy.

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Yet one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the season has been the Kuzmania (time to get your t-shirt) of the Kuzmanian devil, Kyle Kuzma. From a Nick Young jersey zero to one of the top ten Rookie of the Year heroes. From Summer League to preseason and now his regular one exit interview, K has had just as good if not better rookie year than his number two running mate with the second pick in the NBA draft.

And from bringing the Kareem sky-hook back to rocking the number nine Nick ‘The Quick’ Van Exel Champion jersey pregame, the kid is a throwback like the Clarkson fashion taking over chinchilla coat he rocks as he walks into STAPLES. But now Kuz wants to take that old school trend setting to Inglewood, like when he drove a burgundy 70’s Cadillac DeVille to an iconic parking lot for a recent feature shoot for SLAM magazine.

Kyle thinks the Lakers should play a game in the hallowed halls of The Forum next season.

And as much as we like the lights out downtown future of STAPLES (or as much as T-Mac warned him about the vintage facilities on ESPN’s The Jump) we couldn’t agree more for a league that loves to pay homage to their hardwood classic history like Mitchell and Ness.

Joining the Forum club again like when Magic and Cap made the 80’s Lakers ‘Showtime’ and put the Hollywood in basketball would be a nostalgia trip, especially for the clubs President. It would make a nice 20 year plus comeback (save 2009) after new millennium rival San Antonio swept them right out the stadium in ’97. This is the Lakers Boston Garden. Their Spectrum. Their court coliseum. And those marble pillars over red still stand strong like the statues of the greats from Chick to Elgin outside STAPLES.

Besides ‘Bron and P.G. would love it.

Time to get those baby blue MPLS jerseys ready.

And don’t forget about ‘Dre.

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Lakers Statue Preserves The Ice Of Elgin Baylor’s Legend

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Lakers Baylor Basketball
Brothers In Bronze

“Elgin should be here”!

That’s what the ever humble hero of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West said when the famous franchise unveiled Mr. Clutch’s statue back in 2011. That’s what the actual, still to this day logo of the National Basketball Association said about his symbolic teammate in his signature moment. The ‘Ice’ to his dynamic duo nicknamed ‘Fire’.

And now seven years sealed later Mr. West joined recent bronze brothers and goliath giants Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and President Magic, as the storied Lakers franchise finally gave the 82 year old Elgin the epic ending his Hollywood career deserved in engraved writing.

The number 11 in SLAM magazines recent ‘Top 100 Players of All-Time’ issue, whose 22 already belongs in the rafters with all the aformentioned, both of Oscar winner Kobe’s digits and all the other Worthy Laker legends now joins Shaq, Cap, Earvin and Chick in stone setting. So much so that the Lakers will soon run out of places outside STAPLES to put their legends (especially if they give Kobe two statues). At this rate if he does come over they may have to put LeBron over in the Nokia Theatre’s parking lot. That was just a joke King…please still exile from The Land.

Without Baylor we may have not had the Dr. J. like high-flying legends of M.J. or King James. As this guy revolutionized the dunk aswell as his sky-hook impossible to guard hanging jump shot that brought career averages of 27 and change, hung with around 10 boards. And this guy stood at a Chuck power move mound rebound like 6, 4. It was this kind of offensive arsenal that set the tone with a back in the day greatest one-game point total of 71. Before Laker great Wilt’s 100 stunted that in Philly, generations before Kobe tried to beat all that with 81 (the Mamba man via video tribute telling Elgin he stole so many of his moves, “it wasn’t even funny”).

Legendary Lakers Pulitzer beat writer Jim Murray-whose L.A. Times behind the desk deserve their own statue next to Chick-compared Elgin’s Empire scaling career to King Kong. Knocking away defenders like bi-planes, who roach scattered like bust up craps games. But Baylor was more to this game then just Hollywood Laker flash. One of the first African American sports superstars in Jackie Robinson’s time also lead a Players Union protest before the 1964 All-Star, which truly changed the game and gave these players the rights they have today. After he hung them up he also won an ‘Executive Of The Year’ award across the hall with the rival L.A. Clippers. R&B superstar Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, better known as Ginuwine was also named after the Hall of Famer and called a judge character off his coming of age album ‘The Senior’ after the NBA great who starred alongside both the Jackson 5 and Buck Rogers. Don’t believe us read all about it in Baylor’s new book named after the best damn Basketball drama, ‘Hang Time’ that will be put up on shelves to end this month.

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Elgin Baylor was the blue and white/purple and gold, post-Mikan and pre-Wilt Laker bridge between Minneapolis and Los Angeles. So it was only right his multiple arm dunking statue was curtain called at the half between a Lakers game with Minnesota. It wasn’t fitting however that donned in Mamba snakeskin black L.A. lost 113-96 to the Timberwolves with the black tux service of Jimmy Butler’s draped 18. An Elgin epic like 20 and 10 from both Lakers future Julius Randle and rookie Josh Hart (actually 11 rebounds) weren’t enough after Kyle Kuzma left the game in the third with a sprained ankle. Neither was big from downtown seven footer Brook Lopez’s starting 15 that was so tight it tagged ‘Lop3z’ Twitter trends.

But by the end of this almost 82 game closing playoff push it wasn’t all for the win, but the 82 year old that changed the game.

When you think of the golden days in Lakers purple, Baylor made this franchise like he did their storied history.

All you need is the record books to read his story.

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Will Three ‘LABron’ Billboards Outside Downtown L.A. Lead To A Hollywood Ending For The King?

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Screenshot 2018 03 28 11 35 31
Talk Of A New Jersey?

Hollywood comes calling…

…but still no decision…

…how come King James?

‘Dear Basketball’ last month Laker legend Kobe Bryant won NBA’s first Oscar (yeah I know how can the Academy not award ‘Space Jam’?). Putting number 24 ahead of number 23 in gold statues (the Mamba still trails the G.O.A.T six to five in gold rings though). When the closest STAPLES normally gets to award showcases outside the hosted All-Star game during the February love in is when they take a break to host the Grammys.

But it looks like another 23 could make another Lake Show stopper move this Summer straight out of the script of tinsletowns biggest picture.

Despite a decision that took his talents from South Beach, back home and to the promised land years ago. Cleveland’s own LeBron James may be playing his last campaign as a Cavalier. And the final chapter of his storied career could have a Hollywood ending for the King with one of NBA histories most storied franchises.

It could be ‘La La LeBron’ in Lakerland’s city of stars.

Especially if some billboards outside downtown Los Angeles have anything to do with it.

Taking a cue from ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand’s movie (who the actress sent up herself with Jimmy Kimmel with her own trio of billboards after someone stole her Academy Award. Don’t worry she got it back like the Cavs want ‘Bron), a superfan in Los Angeles set up some real estate with some advertising hoardings like Paul Rudd in ‘I Love You Man’ (“License To Sell…that’s hilarious!”) hash-tagging the new free agent trend of ‘LABron’.

Three other towns have hung ‘Bron billboards with an outside chance of landing the King. From his Akron birthplace who refuse to witness throwing rocks at the King this summer, declaring “There’s No Place Like Home”. To even hilariously a New Zealand ballclub wanting to turn the King into a Kiwi. But Philly started the process first. Although L.A. doesn’t want James to trust this but believe instead in the banners that could hang in the royalty of their rafters. Along with they hope his number 23 one day for the one who is still in his prime at a Kareem jersey age.

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And when the King was in town to witness all this last month he put on a show in President Magic’s city of Showtime. From the best damn no look pass of his career period. Which drew go fetch tennis ball, dog owner comparisons. To bounce passing the ball between Ball of all players legs.

And with a Lakers/Cavs deadline day trade that saw L.A. and Cleveland clean house and land for LeBron. Further fuel has been ignited to the ‘Casino’ like behind the jersey talk that has everyone betting on ‘LeBron Ball’ for the ‘Lonzo Angeles Lakers’.

The Lakers may have lost two of their sharpest shooting, youngest guns in ‘Sixth Man’ sure-thing Jordan Clarkson and all dunking Ohio son Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland. But they now have All-Star I.T. support. However whether LeBron reunites with former Cav superstar Isaiah Thomas remains to be seen in more ways than one.

It’s all up in the smoggy air of the summer breeze atmosphere whether Christmas will come early for tinsletown. Like whether another hometown hero superstar Paul George will leave the Thunder and align with the King in the city that never rains (but reigns in purple like Prince), to help make the Lakers young core of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and Ball be all they can be right now.

Then that will be something worthy like James to hang on the three pillars of Hotel Figueroa outside STAPLES.

The City Of Angels will be praying these billboards bring banners.

Only in Hollywood.

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