The nauseating noise of Tim Duncan hanging up the shoes for good had been floating in the air for quite a while now, but on July 11, 2016, the United States Virgin Island native made it a saddening reality.
Duncan was the leader of five world championship teams spanning over three decades. He was quiet, led by example, dominated, and never ceased to praise his teammates.
His retirement hurts even more since Kobe Bryant also retired a few months ago. In a span of two months, the NBA has lost arguably the two best players of the 2000s.
Bryant is also a five-time world champion, and he is also responsible for some of our fondest basketball memories. Remember the 81-points outburst against Toronto, or the 62-points in three quarters against the Mavericks, or the night he set the single game record for most points by a visiting player at Madison Square Garden with 61.
But, where these two legends’ greatest accomplishment lays is the fact that, along with Dirk Nowitzki, they never wore another team’s uniform in their entire NBA career.
For 20 years Bryant wore nothing but the Lakers’ purple and gold, while Duncan adorned nothing but the Spurs’ silver and black, and Nowitzki’s tunic has always been the Mavericks’ shades of blue.
However, LeBron James has begun a new movement. A movement inspired by NFL legends Deion Sanders, and Darrelle Revis, which consist of signing one-year contract worth maximum money, and betting on you for one year.
This mercenary ideology of betting on yourself over a short period of time has alienated many NBA fans, because players approach every season with a win now mentality as oppose to building a long-term winner.
However, this approach also presents players with a great deal of adversity because if they fail to produce both individually, and collectively, teams will not want to pay for their services, or at least at much cheaper price.
So, it comes down to what players want: money or stability.
But, what about the fans? What about building a connection with a city? What about building a home?
Once Nowitzki retires, there will not be another lifer in the NBA – I exclude anyone who has played less than a decade from the conversation. There could have a multitude of lifers, but they changed the course of the NBA by playing for another team.
LeBron James was in Miami for four seasons, Paul Pierce played in Brooklyn, Washington and Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Garnett suited up for the Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets before going back home, and Dwayne Wade just left South Beach for Chicago.
The ideology of a lifer, a player who will go through the long ups-and-downs of an NBA career with one team is a concept that may retire once Nowitzki calls it a career.
Younger players are about having fun, and winning a ring as soon as possible that way nobody will be able to criticize them for not winning it all. Some disagree with it while others praise them for maximizing their window of opportunity to make money.
Fans tend to say that the only thing that matters is a ring, that players should do whatever it takes to win, but if you join forces with other great players, we will have to add an asterisk beside your title because you needed help.
Think about it, would Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, or Reggie Miller’s legacies and careers be looked at differently had they been able to capture that elusive title?
Would they, perhaps, be mentioned more often in endless debates about who is the greatest this, or greatest that?
Or, would teaming up together to win a title would have led to fans putting an asterisk beside their ring, and led to the infamous phrase “you couldn’t win on your own.”
Will we see another lifer? I don’t know, but I hope so. It is better for the NBA to have lifers, to have players who will stick to their city, their team, and their organizations, and install, or re-install a winning culture.
Augustus In Los Angeles. Seimone Signs With Sparks
The balance of power in the WNBA has shifted like this league of its own has shifted the gender gap in this sport.
Google, “Seimone Augustus, Los Angeles Sparks” and you’ll find a picture of the former Minnesota Lynx running the break and howling like a Timberwolf, as Sparks superstar Nneka Ogwumike is left lying on the court like it was a canvas and she Sonny Liston.
But that won’t happen anymore.
Don’t worry the Roman emperor Augustus isn’t joining former Minnesota dynamic duo teammate Maya Moore in not playing this August…although this will be her final season (and as an aside we nothing but salute you for your stand Moore). But the Lynx now lose the legacy of this legend too in the same fortnight the Twin Cities celebrated the dynamic duo coupling of Karl-Anthony Towns and best friend D’Angelo Russell for their Basketball brotherhood. But like losing Showbiz and K.G. this WNBA big ticket will be back, all the way to the gate receipts.
Instead it’s because Seimone is now a Spark. Soon you’ll have no trouble finding her in the purple and gold as she follows the fast break of the twinning and winning Ogwumike sisters and superstar Candace Parker leading the charge for the best big four in L.A. all day since Shaq, Kobe, ‘The Mailman’, Karl Malone and ‘The Glove’, Gary Patyon brother a new trend in billionaire boy club basketball. Cue Candace’s Dunk Contest judge reaction face last weekend at All Star, Chicago. This one is all tens for a 50 that can’t not win.
This is straight unfair too “like” when La La Land script sent tried to combine Kobe and CP3. But with respect to the one and only commissioner (rest peacefully) nothing is nixing this (and I’ll always love that move because Pau stayed where the second best European player until Luka finishes this season belonged like Gasol does up in the same STAPLES rafters). WoW!
Champion Elena Delle Donne and Co may have resigned with the mystifying Washington Wizards, but D.C. aren’t going to have as easy a time re-upping next year…if they even make it that far. Especially in the same week of a freeing, free agency of players with their own one, almost as crazy as last years NBA one. One that has already seen Skylar Diggins-Smith rise to Phoenix to form Mercury with the one and only, G.O.A.T. Diana Taurasi. As the hardest player in the game and the one who played whilst pregnant last year (before a game changing CBA agreement finally gave the great expectations of players like Diggins-Smith her due after watching her work like that) form like the heat of voltron. All for the best legend and superstar one-two punch since the Sparks plugged both pioneer Lisa Leslie AND the prolific Parker.
AND we haven’t even mentioned that similar Seattle score of the Storm’s Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart still wanting that reign back like the city that wants the Sonics (respect to Shawn Kemp and his old Oskar’s Kitchen bar and grill downtown tuning into this league with his 40 piece handing behind the bar like a retired rafter). The West is going to be even wilder than when Will Smith did that one bad movie (yeah I said it Bad Boys…I loved ‘Gemini Man’).
From rivals to sisters the 35 year old, four time champ brings experience and pedigree to this powerhouse franchise in her Tamika Catchings chapter of what will surely be the swansong of another Hall of Fame career. Inking the last, lasting part of her legacy like the tattoos on her diving for loose balls, put the Spalding down arms as colourful as the magnificent and moving murals that honour the Mamba and Mambacita in her new City of Angels.
Now how’s this for a Hollywood ending in the Kings town? And with love to LeBron we’re talking about King Kobe. But now the sisterhood of the Sparks now has more than three queen’s as these crowns go for the throne in this game.
The 2020 vision of the Sparks is set to be electrifying before these best of the best go for gold in Tokyo, Japan for the Summertime Olympic Games. And even though legend Alana Beard ready for the rafters has retired her gold standard purple reign, the Sparks also have sharpshooting Chelsea Gray and another big name addition in Kristi Toliver to add to their who’s who roster of the elite.
Make that a Famous Five and 6 God, Sixth Woman.
Or how about a Sinister Six to marvel?
Soon the best Basketball team in L.A. won’t be the Lakers OR Clippers.
Clutch Lakerland and Coach Fish has really gone all, “Go Fish”.
In these Star Wars, they are the Sparks that will light the fire that will burn the house down.
Chicago, All-Star 2020 blows in the Windy City for Kobe
Like Eliot Ness, that’s what Common’s city of Chicago is when it comes to this court. All greatest of all-time thanks to the statue outside the United Center that they have to bring in from the cold when ice gets in it’s cracks like the veins of new Minnesota Timberwolves cold front player, D’Angelo Russell (he should be here. These lost Lakers are just glad Brandon Ingram is). Forming a duo with Karl-Anthony Towns as dynamic as that one of Star Marbury and the uncut gem of Chi-towns own Kevin Garnett heading for the Hall.
And just like the Big Ticket, the Rose that grew from concrete and the way of Wade who was moved to tears, the rapper slash actor, author and Microsoft poet Common (who fittingly won MVP of the Celebrity Game in his city. Even after Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith said “c’mon Common you can’t even dunk donuts in coffee” after giving Dwight Howard’s athletically graceful, camera flash freeze, cheese smile, spin dunk an 8 (Kobe?)) put on for his city like Barack Obama and of course the statue of the G.O.A.T. M.J. with a poetic rap that waxed lyrical on hoops history and it’s nuanced nostalgia.
Shouting out the real King MLK and Kobe before Magic made a moving speech, all players behind him dressed in warm-up white and Jennifer Huston brought the not a dry eye in the arena, house down with her tribute that beat the hardwood like the commercial Dr. Dre one for this California love in Chicago, like the National Anthem of treasure Chaka Khan in a 23 jersey.
Common also had rhymes for each player introduction for all those who would take to the floor dribbling across the Chicago skyline, as he rocked the mic like fellow Chicagoland legend Chance The Rapper halftime and injured All-Star Dame Lillard, who still got to play this weekend as Dame D.O.L.L.A. The first player to perform on this stage of Basketball’s Grammy’s, bringing out ‘Tha Carter’ himself Lil’ Wayne and a Mamba Forever leather that we all want to cop for this year’s Winter jacket.
From saying “Sixteen-time all-star, three-time NBA champion/ We continue to witness his reign / One of the greatest to play the game/ From the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James”, to “A four-time all-star / He handles the rock like Gibraltar / From the Boston Celtics / Give it up for Kemba Walker”.
But hey, I’ve got one for you all, “like the Beard and the Brow he runs the show/so where the f### is Alex Caruso”.
But to the beat of his own raps and his milk carton brother Kanye, even if every event was set off by the “GO” vocal of guitar hero John Mayer on his Common collaboration with ‘Jesus Is King’ walking God, Mr. West (from the bam, bam Bam Adebayo BAM Skills Challenge bucket win. To the Buddy Hield buzzer beating on the last ball of the last rack, Devin booking, beating and winning the Three-Point Shootout (still one of the best and most underrated events of the weekend)), this night of all the All-Stars was all about the one who should have been in the crowd cheering with his daughter courtside.
From Superman, Dwight Howard returning and bringing back the red cape out of the phone booth, with 24 on the chest, to Man Of Steel and former Lex Luthor like enemy Shaq filming on that old camcorder again. In one of the best but most controversial dunk contests that saw an all 50 and 7-foot-5 Tacko leaping Aaron Gordon robbed again like when he cleared the mascot (seriously I don’t mean to leap to conclusions, but these guys need to get over jumping over things…literally. Only Leonardo DiCaprio gets over this many people).
This time by the South Beach, bringing the Heat in the Windy City, tornado storm of Derrick Jones Jr. Air Gordon won’t be back (thanks for that judges. Dwayne Wade said in the Skills Challenge his mind can be changed…ain’t that the truth), but let’s hope the backboard ball touching, Woody Harrelson Venice Beach wear honoring Pat Connaughton will be. Because white men can jump too in an epic exciting weekend of Chicago, 2020 that in the Olympic year of Tokyo, 2020 showed all the world’s a Basketball stage like the Rising Stars game (Konichiwa Hachimura).
For the main event of the biggest weekend on the schedule itself Team LeBron all wore number 2 on their blue jerseys for GiGi and Team Giannis 24 forever for Kobe (a bald Khris Middleton even sometimes from the nose bleeds making it look like Mamba was there…which spiritually he was like his mentality), to another LeBron like Kobe dunk running the floor like Bean and the 24 second shot clock that decided the fourth quarter of an entertaining All-Star Game that was more than the legendary lay-up line and was actually a competitive affair.
That’s just what happens when you win the game on a free throw (157-155, King over Freak) as Laker and hometown Chicago hero Anthony Davis did the honors after filling the stat sheet with the game on the line. But, the All-Star MVP now beautifully renamed the Kobe Bryant award went to another Los Angeles King in Clipper Kawhi and his 30 points. Who dedicated his award to the late legend it’s named after, as fans had their fill of their favourite weekend of the mid-season they love like the hearts of a mid-Feb Valentine.
Just don’t ask him what he had for dinner.
For Team LeBron. For Kobe. For GiGi.