15 years ago my dad ran round New York City to get me LeBron James’ rookie jersey (“make sure he doesn’t get Zydrunas Ilgauskas” I told a N.Y.C. native on the phone in the NBA Store). Now a decade and a half later I’m looking for flights to L.A. this November! Two years ago I shared an epic evening/early morning with a special someone watching him win Game 7 for Cleveland, embracing Love in tears. Now I wake up today and King James is a Laker. What a way to start the week! Hashtag, “Mondays”.
Swapping wine and gold for purple and gold…and maybe champagne, $153.3 mill over four are the finer details as the contract is set to be signed. The rest is history. Following the acquired likes of Wilt, Kareem and Shaq to be the next great Laker legend in a legacy line of the likes of the logo and Kobe. With a game like Elgin meets Magic. President Johnson and Rob (Lowe) have rewrote the NBA narrative like a Hollywood script that would even bring Jack Nicholson back out of retirement courtside. Watching from the hoop heavens even the great Chick Hearn or Jim Murray couldn’t come up with the right words to describe this with justice like everyone composing their internet breaking tweets last night.
There’s a new Big Game James in the city of La La LeBronland stars. And the new Lake Showtime is worthy of a crown. And you best believe the two most storied franchises in NBA history are about to begin the next chapter of their history book rivalry, green and gold. Wilt vs Russell. Magic vs Bird. Kobe vs Kevin. The King v Kyrie. Now how’s that for the next clash of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers titans?
There’s just that other team in California right now, crossing the Golden Gate to a whole new Golden State in San Francisco. For a deciding factor like the last time LeBron left the land for some real heat.
But we all know where the real gold lies in this game of thrones uptop ‘Bron’s Caesar. Heads will roll as the City of Angels now has a King. Now it may not be “et tu Paul George” after years of promising waiting. No King James and King George dynamic duo for you great Brits. Nixed like a CP3 injustice. But Kawhi is still on the trading table. And even if he gets taken off how can you front on, or even deal a young core of Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Hart and pray to the Basketball Gods without restriction Randle lead by one of the last straight out of high schoolers to change the game? An Instagram blocked, Warrior champion Javale McGee has even joined the show (Hey Shaq)?! Along with the and one of Lance Stephenson of all people (hey it worked with Matt Barnes and Kobe), ready to blow in someone elses ear. Cousins may even relate. Or Clint. K.C.P. has re-upped for another go round too. But will Isaiah still ride like J.R.? You know Jordan and Nance Jr. will want back like the ‘Bron bandwagoners.
We can’t wait for the SLAM cover. The three pillars of Hotel Figueroa. The number 23 (L.B.J. even called mid 90’s, post Magic/pre Kobe star Cedric Ceballos for his jersey blessing…enough said) next to 24 in the rafters with a few more banners. The bronze outside where big Shaquille, West and the Magic man who just pulled off his best, behind the back, rabbit out the hat trick yet reside. We can’t wait to see him toss up the chalk and never witness balloons fall on an empty Forum floor ever again in STAPLES.
Purple reign, purple reign…remember when the King dressed up as Prince?
All hail the new King of L.A. The Showtime will go on!
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Real MVP
Santa Monica, California was on an award tour like A Tribe Called Quest for the NBA’s end of season grand prize spectacle last night. Hanging out in the coolest performing arts theatre in all of Los Angeles (my apologies to the Hollywood Bowl), the converted airplane Barker Hangar played host to the 2019 NBA Awards. The Emmy’s, Oscar’s and Grammy’s of hoops Tony.
The best of the Basketball best and the cream of the future hops crop descended on this hangar, suited and booted like they were flossing injured courtside.
Shaq sized in the perfect setting in a place that houses feats of brilliance that take flight like Mike, this event could only be hosted by the one and only, Big Aristotle of the Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal (sorry Drake. Although you troll NBA players better than Kevin Hart telling Kenny Smith he’s so ashy if he smiles his lips will bleed as he goes to take a sip of his water). And the most entertaining NBA player ever (give him his award) laughed, joked, sang, rapped and danced his way to an enjoyable evening in the place he racked up three rings on repeat.
But how about the prize giving? Well your real Most Valuable Player this year is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Say what you will about last year’s MVP and this year’s runner up in the closest of recent races as tight as the Rookie of the Year voting, James Harden racking up triple-doubles like Charles Barkley says Lonzo Ball does triple-singles, but it’s the Alphabet’s time now after slaughtering this season gone. Sure he didn’t come away with the ‘chip like worthy candidate Kawhi Leonard and his (we still hope) Toronto Raptors, but that is his next challenge for the Mamba Mentality tweeted in congratulation by Kobe Bryant who predicted this MVP years back. And in a beautiful and emotional speech, Giannis dedicated all this to his dearly departed dad and his brothers and mom in attendance as every eye not dry in the house got out their seats in unanimous ovation.
And in a truly global game flying the flag outside the United States for each category winner, Antetokounmpo almost doubled up, finishing in second place for Defensive Player Of The Year, under the stifling Eiffel of French fly swatter, Rudy Gobert. As Paul George after an incredible season-no lucky shot-came in third place like he did for the MVP voting. Toronto not only got the ‘chip in the Six however as their X-factor Pascal Siakam came up with the Most Improved Player award ahead of Sacramento sophomore De’Aaron Fox and Brooklyn’s own (if they play their free agent cards right), D’Angelo Russell.
Coach of the Year was bucked by Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer dry-erasing for the MVP. And Bradley Beal was passed the Community Assist Award for all the good this All Star has done. Give him a hand for all the ones he has. Whilst the Sportsmanship award went to new Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr., who also racked up the Teammate Of The Year award for his grit n grind time with the Memphis Grizzlies. But who else for the Sixth Man of the Year award then the ‘6 Man’ of all-time, Lou Williams?
And the House Of Highlights Moment of the Year of course went to Derrick Rose. Can you guess for what game?
We have a ball rattling around the rim forever in Toronto that shoots for even more stars though.
But how about that Rookie of the Year award? Who you got? Because in narrowly beating out Atlanta Hawk Trae Young it’s clear the award belongs to superstar right now Luka Dončić after a Maverick season in Dallas. Where the Texan gunslinger from Slovenia is about to draw on them all next season. Look out for the kid like Pat Garrett.
Sager Strong, broadcaster Robin Roberts took home that award named in honour after the suited courtside with a microphone presenter. And her “make your mess your message” speech was the most inspiring of the night after her fight against breast cancer and bone marrow disease, raising awareness. Executive of the Year went to Jon Horst of the Milwaukee Bucks (sorry Rob Pelinka…jokes) but the Lifetime Achievement? Well that went to a former President who has just left office. No not Obama (although POTUS does have game…WAP!). But the Magic man, Earvin Johnson. The Laker legend honoured in California for all he’s done since starting the fast-break of Showtime, to changing the game behind the back without taking a single shot. All the way to walking away from it bravely when he was diagnosed with HIV and then making a comeback so beautifully for the man who will always be purple and gold with all this entrepreneur pulls out the empire of his top hat. Say what you will about his presidency residency but as we look to free agency this crazy offseason, remember who started all this off by bringing the King to Hollywood last Summer, waiting outside his house in his car at one in the morning.
Now that can’t be tampered with.
But all in all last nights NBA Awards show of All-Stars showed us one thing like the NBA Finals. No matter who took home the gold, we all came away winners.
Philadelphia 76ers’ make Marial Shayok Ottawa’s first-ever NBA draft pick
Ottawa’s Marial Shayok has achieved his ultimate dream — becoming the city’s first-ever NBA draft pick. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Shayok with the 54th-pick overall in the second-round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
The former St.Patrick’s Irish high school standout celebrated his special and emotional moment at home with family and friends.
“You did it bro, you did bro…”
“Let’s go baby! You going to Philly…”
For Shayok and his family the historic moment is a culmination of life-long sacrifices that started in South Sudan with his 6’9″ father Makor Shayok moving his wife and three-daughters to America. The elder Makor set post at Alvin Texas Community College and earned a scholarship to the Dayton Flyers, playing from 1990-1992.
Makor’s eldest, Shayok Shayok (born in Miami) and his sister Yar Shayok also followed dad’s footsteps and played NCAA basketball – Shayok going to Bradley and transferring to UMKC and Yar playing with Detroit Mercy Titans women’s program.
The family migrated to Ottawa, Canada in the mid-90’s and on July 26th, 1995 the youngest Shayok was born.
Marial left Ottawa for New Jersey’s Blair Academy after three-years with the St.Pats Irish — he originally committed to the Marquette Golden Eagles but transferred to the Virginia Cavaliers after the coach (Buzz Williams) that originally recruited him bailed on the program in 2015.
Shayok had busy NBA draft process – showcasing his versatile skill-set to 14 NBA front offices. Here is footage of his 76ers’ work-out.