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The Kobe Series – Vino

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Better With Age.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY

Somewhere in past times in the heart of Italy a young mix of European flair and the things American dreams are made of is growing and fermenting between good food and soccer skills. Decades later after ageing for 16 years, through championships and father time, a death of a dynasty and a whirlwind of Hall Of Fame personnel, the one thing that stands the test of time in all its potency and purity is Vino. Vino being Kobe Bryant’s new nickname, lapped up by him pouring through his new Twitter feeds to find a fan who understands the final chapter of his career just as well as he does.

Getting even better with age, the former eight wonder of the world, wearing the number 24 still has venom in those Black Mamba fangs. It’s venom tinted with vino for a deadly but tempting taste. Cold blood red seeping out of the Celtic green bottle to purple and gold coronation. Sure these days it’s LeBron’s bubbly stung tear winning league and Jordan comparisons, but the only one who could ever even come close to the ‘money’-ball ballpark of the greatest is Kobe ‘Vino’ Bryant. Still crushing opponents like grapes, still always going down smoothly like Burgundy scotch. Even if his Hall Of Fame, dream team turned nightmare teammates are playing like champagne pretenders instead of contenders.

Shaq and Kobe part two but with just the arguments. World Peace in a world war. Gasol on the bench and Steve Nash on the last quarters of his career. No Phil Jackson. No Derek Fisher. No hope against Oklahoma. No playoffs even? We’d love to say no problem but Laker family Kobe has 99 problems right now, but at least a bitch of a downside of a career ‘aint one for the Jay-Z of the league. Even if this hero is watching the throne from a Hawkeye Avenger distance. The dark knight will rise again. Age won’t water this guys talent down. He’s playing like he’s been kept in a cellar for years now just waiting to be uncorked to get it popping. Now left to breathe through the bad times he’s ready to take his team from the cellars and the basements of the Western conference to the royal box and high-rises his franchise is used to.

To Kobe. Until Vino is drinking champagne from a glass again. There’s a quart of diesel and some Zen blessed in this wine, passed down through the ages. Like the Magic/Mike hybrid way he’s played of late, able to switch it up like he’s able to fill any statistical category when needed. Making new moments, memories like classic moments of spirited NBA’s past. There’s memories of 81, that was a good year, like the trifecta of championships, when Kobe, Shaquille and Coach Phil really where the holy trinity of professional basketball. These days the ‘afro may be gone, but the hops aren’t. Rising like yeast through all the sobering problems Kobe’s passion is still a dark red. No rose here, or mild white wine. The Black Mamba will still drink from the reservoir of his talents until his career see’s the toast or the roses.

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You don’t need to hear it from the grapevine that the Lakers are in deep trouble. Elimination trouble. This could be the worst ‘best’ team ever of things don’t change. This isn’t like Shaq, Kobe, Payton and Malone. They played through all their troubles…and brilliantly too. Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace must have the bottle to follow their aged and experienced leader through the vines. Times are hard, this is no secret…but Kobe is the truth. 100 proof like vodka, but just a little more classy. Red wine certified. The stuff of prestige. Prestige belongs with NBA royalty not lottery balls.

The American dreams, cultivated in Italy didn’t come this far to lose. So as Laker fans are drowning their sorrows at night to all sorts of intoxicants, Kobe remains alive and well through it all, playing some of the best ways in his career during the hardest times. Raising a glass to the memory of the recent dearly departed Dr. Jim Buss (rest peacefully), giving his legacy, the voice of Chick Hearn and the words of Jim Murray hope as they look down with pride. Kobe won’t rest until the critics labels wear off and the blood red passion he’s given this game results in glasses clicking with celebration. It’s not about the past, it’s not about the future. It’s about right now and right now Vino is still tried and tested, pouring and scoring. Time to let it breathe.

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NBA

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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NBA

Somebody Stop The Mask Of Kyrie Irving

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USP NBA: BOSTON CELTICS AT BROOKLYN NETS S BKN BKN BOS USA NY

Smokin’!

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?

No?

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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NBA

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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