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The Jordan Series/The Kobe Series – 23/24



The Greatest & The Chosen One.

It’s after midnight. In the back-yard a young boy is dribbling a basketball, spinning left, pivoting right like it’s the championships final game and second. He fades away as his father watches from the window with pride, not yet ready to tell him it’s time to come in. The ball sinks through the chain-link net with a familiar metallic swish. The ball goes through the hoop again, and again and again. Until it goes through the hoop for an NCAA Championship game before the nylon nets are cut down by a victorious North Carolina alumni. The ball goes through the hoop again, and again and again as the North Carolina jersey comes off and one embroided 23 and embodying Michael Jordan comes on.

The back-yard dreams become front page news as Michael Jordan made his father and the city of Chicago proud as the NBA and the whole world watch a Basketball and entertainment revolution, redeeming the sport and the phrase ‘excitement’. Complete in a shaved dome (“baldy?!”), gold necklace and Nike trainers. The air of excitement was pumped back up like ‘Back To The Future’ trainers, the present legend and legacy. Flying more than hover boards his airness, switched hands and dominated lay-up lines (see, the Lakers) and Slam-Dunk contests (whether against Dominique in February, or the rest of the league on a nightly basis).

From shrugs to last shots. The flu to the number 45 and Madison Square Garden to the NBA Finals Michael Jordan played through it all on the biggest stage of world basketball and focus of a million camera lenses flashing. Picture anyone having this kind of impact. All the opponents defeated. All the teammates carried. All the young kids inspired to pick up a ball that will always mean more than the old men now able to pick up any cheque because Michael made them rich. He even showed baseball and his smiling down father he could proudly play. Before showing a gang of space aliens the door with Bugs Bunny. Warner Brothers certified with Walt Disney dreams come true. This fantastic man even came back and cast some spells as an old Wizard in Washington. He did that for free too and for you, and those devastated by September 11th, donating his entire salary to the 9/11 relief fund. Yes, it’s not just the rings, gold medals, MVP’s, titles and endorsements that tell you he’s the greatest.

It’s after midnight. Somewhere in Italy a young boy is dribbling a basketball, spinning left, pivoting right like it’s Michael Jordan’s championships final game and second. He fades away as his father comes home from playing a professional game in the Euro-league and watches with admiration. The ball sinks through the chain-link net with a real familiar metallic swish. The ball goes through the hoop again, and again and again. Until it goes through the hoop and across the world again and again up in Lower Merion. The ball goes through the hoop again, and again and again before skipping college for a Los Angeles Laker jersey embroided 8 (and some years later one more for 24) and embodying the next, great one Kobe Bryant.

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The Italian work became the American dreams as Kobe Bryant made and continues to make his father and the city of L.A. proud as the NBA and the whole world watch a Basketball and entertainment redux, giving new, post-Jordan life to the sport and the phrase ‘greatness’. Young Kob’ came back home, grew an ‘fro and dominated the game. Save for a few missed postseason years where airballs where thrown up to go with contest worthy and winning dunks. Still, soon after, armed with a new uniform, coach (Phil Jackson), big partner (Shaq) and a Hollywood supporting cast led by Big Shot ‘Bob Horry, Kobe made his game ‘Big James’ as the city of Los Angeles dominated the NBA with its Laker team to the tune of three-Jordan like, back to back, to back championships.

The scoring titles and MVP’s came later as Kobe strived and survived it all, from court to court, even the death of a dynasty, the departure of Shaq (as his Miami Heat cooled off California) and his coach (twice…and almost three times). From the number 81 to Madison Square Garden, just ‘Like Mike’, Kobe made the world of basketball his Mecca with big numbers worthy of Hollywood’s biggest picture. That’s why Jack Nicholson and everyone was watching as Kobe won championships without the Notorious B.I.G. and made the Los Angeles Lakers his own before remaking himself as the ultimate team player who now has more big help with Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. A guy who refuses to let critical doubt, father time, or any injury (see the menace of his Phantom face-mask), or Miami Heat player deny him and his Los Angeles Laker gold shining at the beginning of Summer once again like California. The venom hasn’t been drained from the Mamba yet. That’s why he’s the chosen one.

Just look at this classic picture. Beautiful like the game isn’t it? It says it all. We all know whose the student and whose the master. The God of basketball, offering psalms of wisdom to his young disciple. This isn’t just another comparison, head to head piece. Look at the picture. Two very different players and men with the same impact. Still, we all know who the greatest of all-time is and we all know whose the closest to the greatest. The one chosen to take 23’s career to 24 and show Spike, Scoop, the fans, players and the world of basketball once more that there was still hope once the best ever retired for the third and last time. Can you believe in less than three years the chosen one will hang up his Nike sneakers too. It’s been a long time since that number 8 Afro. Still, before Kobe Bryant finally relinquishes the torch to LeBron James that Michael Jordan handed down to him we will get to see just for a few more golden years just how much two men gave flight and helped this sport soar. Next to each other 23 and 24 forever more. Now that’s Basketball.

For Holly.

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Millsap Mishap Could Keep Forward Behind 3 Months



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Poor Paul Millsap.

This campaign after becoming one of the biggest free agent pick ups of the offseason, one of the leagues leading Power Forwards has been put down on the medical report with an injury that could call him off sick for a quarter of a year.

The most reliable player over four periods has spent the bird share of his career helping his former Atlanta Hawks make it to the first round knockout stakes of the playoffs each year. But following the season where they didn’t make the cut of the second one, it was time for a change for the 32 year old number 4 who once looked to be the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone replacement Carlos Boozer didn’t turn out to be early in his career alongside former leading Point Guard Deron Williams.

And in the mile high city of Denver with a would be big-three of sophomore sensation Emmanuel Mudiay, dreaded defender Kenneth Faried and of course The Joker with the last laugh Nikola Jokic, these Nuggets in their new Nikes looked golden and finally past that baby blue Carmelo era (they may as well be as Anthony, now with the blue, white and orange of the Thunder isn’t even a Knick anymore (it’s ‘Old York’ now Knickerbockers)). But now like Ben Affleck looking at the ‘Justice League’ box office returns it’s time to ask the Nugs “why so serious” Batman as an injury to their versatile veteran forward of seasoned upon seasons of experience doesn’t exactly put a smile on their face.

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The All-Star was averaging a helpful handful of exactly 16 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists before tearing the ligaments in his left wrist in a 127-109 loss to the Lakers who themselves recently lost all dunking son Larry Nance Jr. to a broken wrist, but are thankful to be having him return after they cut the turkey this thanksgiving. Millsap and the Nuggets are looking at second opinions from docs offering the same sort of speedy recovery that doesn’t sap their frontline. But if they concur with the original diagnosis, it’s three months in a suit and tie and not to mention cast for Paul who will return in late February after the All Star break he normally never takes off.

The man with the three year, 90 mill deal helped make this outside eight seed threat Denver the new gritty, grinding Memphis of the West. Now without him the older than Richard Jefferson roster is thinner than the air up there in Colorado.

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Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving





Even that phrase delivered at a perfect Jim Carrey pitch can’t quite put into perspective just how hot Celtic Kyrie Irving is right now. Especially in the Boston green, Rip Hamilton face-mask.

Maybe those three little letters would do more justice for this league leader?

You know Menacing, Versatile, Phantom?


How about M-V-P?

Kyrie joins Kobe, former Cleveland Cavalier teammate LeBron James and the man whose about to pass him the Maurice Poldoff torch, Russell Westbrook to be an absolute menace in the Phantom of the Opera face-mask, leaving other teams dead on basketballs biggest stage. He may have fractured and broken some bones in his face, but that won’t stop him as he fractures and breaks the backs and hearts of the faces of all the other franchises he faces off with night after excruciating night.

Those who used to say it must be the shoes (and have you seen his best in show sneaker designs complete with shamrocks like Starbucks on St Patrick’s Day this season heads? Those halloween pumpkin ones were the spice), are now saying it must be the mask.

Sure the plastic profile guard makes for some meme worthy Pinterest fan art appreciation but this guard has made a point at hating it…the sweat inducing mask that is, not the love. These kind of covers can blind you, but like the concussed legend of Celtic great Larry, letting it fly like a Bird above the baskets in the Boston Garden all the way to the rafters (as he saw too hoops like 80’s girls earrings and just aimed for the top one), Kyrie plays through all the pain and frustration. Taking it out on the ball (like opponents on Lakers rookie Lonzo) and the other teams hoops that to him seem bigger than those ones Bruno Mars sang about.

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Take Dallas for example. Irving just masked all his pain by taking the Mavericks for 47 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists in the last contest that took the Celtics to a sweet sixteen straight. After dropping two games following Gordon Hayward dropping out of the new season before the second quarter of his opening game one even played out, everyone was calling time on these new Celtics as soon as Gordon turned his ankle counter-clockwise. But now one of the best in the association Kyrie is showing LeBron and them he’s just as good as them or anyone alone like this man from down under always wanted to prove. This definition of clutch, who leaves everyone else in the fourth with straws has already shown on a championship scale against Curry of all hot guards that he can take the last shot that really matters. Now forget the Most Valuable Player award for a waning second or even the time his dynamic duo partner in pine Hayward comes back, Irving has the power to dribble drive all the way to the crown on his own.

And it’s going to take more than a mask to stop him.

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The Wind Brings The 2020 All-Star Game To Chicago



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1973. And the first NBA All-Star Game to play in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois features the last All-Star game in the last season of two lasting Los Angeles Lakers legends. One man who scored 100 points in just one game, Wilt Chamberlain. And one man who was and still remains the one and only logo of this National Basketball Association, Jerry West.

1988. And arguably the greatest All-Star Game of all-time and an even better, best ever All-Star weekend sees Michael Jordan become Michael Jordan. M.J. scored 40 in an 138-133 O.T. A.S.G. win for the East meeting the West. But a day before all that he and the Slam Dunk Contest became even more legendary. As mere moments after storied Boston Celtic great Larry Bird asked “whose coming in second place” before raising his finger in victory before the ABA coloured moneyball ripped through the twine (no Nick Young swag), Money took off from the free throw line like a good doctor for his above the rim J and jumped over everybody including Atlanta Hawk wing spreading, sky-soarer Dominique Wilkins.

Now more than 30 years later after next years All-Star Game in the purple and gold city of Los Angeles and the 2019 one in the redeemed city of Charlotte, the 2020 and 69th All Star Game will be played in Michael’s old town of Chi-city. In the same year as Tokyo, Japan will hold the next Olympic Games, the game of basketball will go back to it’s 90’s roots and an inspired iconic landmark of hoop heaven that didn’t really have the same spirit in the seventies, but really Jumpman took off in the golden era eighties. So much so that the old ’88 All Star Weekend t-shirt is a historical thrift store must find for more than it’s 80’s Tron like, cool, retro logo.

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And with mid-February lovers big blockbuster basketball coming back to the city of wind like the river that runs through it, Chi-town needs this like out of towners need deep dish pizza. You only have to listen to the news or the Common album ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ (you know the legendary M.C. who used to wipe up Jordan’s sweat off the old Chicago Stadium hardwood has to perform at the mid-season classics halftime show) to know this classic city is marred by violence that burns through this second city like fire. The beloved Bulls have even become a “garbage team” to root for too, losing the big-three likes of last seasons Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade (who may even be on a farewell All Star tour once his hometown All Star weekend comes crossed off the calendar and everyone is united in the airlines center).

Now this team who relies on sophomore stud Denzel like Oscar hopeful movies will hopefully be back by the next few valentines. As the heart of the city in twenty twenty will want to see something as visionary as Sinatra’s kind of towns history.

That’s just the Chicago way.

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