Did you know a lot has changed in Toronto, Canada over the last 10 years? Such as it has in life. Par exemple, did you know that the old Cuba Gooding Jr ‘Jerry Maguire’ cry of “YOU KNOW” is something the kids refer to now as “yanno” you know?! I’m sorry…I mean ‘yanno’.
And don’t even get me started on ‘YOLO’…this isn’t ‘Drake Night’, even if I am wearing a ‘We The North’ t-shirt whilst writing this like the tourist I am.
Sure these may be the ramblings of a thirtysomething realising he’s “too old” for this generation even if he is a millennial. More ‘Friends’ than BFF’s. Word to Chandler and Joey, the definiton of those initials. A 31 year old to be exact. Probably moaning about the fact he’s returning to a city and country he once lived in a decade back for the first time in 10 years now he’s no longer eligible for a working visa here again and how everything has changed. How the blue backpacker hostel house he first stayed and made memories in is now a “trendy” coffee shop painted all white and it’s not all right. Or how many a place that made Toronto the T-Dot is gone like the ‘Much’ music garage doors that opened up so fans could get autographs and pictures (before they were called ‘Selfies) with interviewed superstars from Gwen Stefani to Chris Bosh and T.J. Ford.
Am I showing my age again?!
The city that we now know as the 6 is on the rise and is coming on in leaps and bounds. Developing at an even faster rate than neighbour country America’s world famous New York, outshining them multi-culturally at a Tokyo neon rate. Old sky-lines are being dwarfed by new ones and countless condominium’s to deal with the pulsing population that has made this once calm city cluttered.
Even the Air Canada Centre’s former clear runway from the Roges Centre’s skydome has lots of restaurant and apartment traffic in this refurbished city which brings us to why we are here…Basketball.
Basketball Buzz was home for this writers holiday for a game during Toronto’s homestand after the Sixers fell by the 6 on Monday. And what better game to take in with all this chatter as the Raptors hosted a familiar beast of a foe. And what a place to find us in.
Because if you want to talk about how things have changed in this country. Toronto faced off with the Memphis Grizzlies. And if you know anything about blue suede nation you know there’s no bears there. Here’s a throwback hoops history lesson for your snapback, forget a snapchat story. Back in the clean cut Gasol days the Grizz found a home in Vancouver, Canada where they were founded alongside the Toronto Raptors for the leagues ultimate expansion pack in 1995. But whilst the Raptors survived big market extinction, the Grizzlies left the building for Elvis town in the new milleniuum quicker than a distraught Steve Francis on draft day.
Coming into town however the Grizz were armed with another former dunk champ in Vince Carter, a Raptor dino legend like cousin Tracy McGrady, or traitor like Chris Bosh…depending on who you talk to. Even though former Mr. Air Canada can still get up, at 40 it looks like this is the last call and curtain for the Vinsanity flight path. So what a storybook ending, Canada homecoming last night made. Except Toronto didn’t get Carter despite their chants as even though he wasn’t in a suit he didn’t sweat as his hip kept him in check. He joined Memphis’ elite of Mike Conley Jr, Chandler Parsons and Zach Randolph (for personal reasons) on the inactive list as Memphis came into town with more imposters than Presley.
But the Grizzlies can still grind even without all their true grit. Did you forget about the new Gasol making his mark (Marc) or defensive dog Tony Allen? It seemed like the Raps almost did turning the ball over a season high 20 times…what was Coach Casey just getting on your case about regarding defence?
Thankfully the Raptors wing slashers kept the team in it and everyone getting a slice of pizza for the new 100 point plus Taco tip (although you know real fans would never trade in their souvenir stubs for a portion worth a couple of bucks). DeMar DeRozan’s line of 24 points, 6 assists and 9 rebounds was right there with the league best like this underrated franchise face should be up north. Playing leader hot potato with just as underrated sidekick Kyle Lowry again who continued his Steph Curry impression against the Sixers with 29 points including a salty four threes from Spadina and King. Add native Cory Jospeh and Patrick Patterson connecting from distance for a combined 30 and it was enough for the Raptors to wrap up the Grizz 120-105 and send them packing from Canada again.
Sure it’s not a 5-2 win like Toronto FC (with most Raptor fans checking the soccer game on the concession stand T.V.’ as the Raptors were still playing downstairs), but after it was all said and done the north is still there’s.
No matter how much this Brit wearing the t-shirt says everything has changed.
Some things still stay the same.
Knicks RJ Barrett Basketball + Business
Canadian RJ Barrett sits down for a very candid interview with agent Bill Duffy and “The Boardroom” host and former no. 1 overall pick Jay Williams to discuss basketball and his business ambitions and aspirations.
Barrett is expected to be amongst the highest global sponsorship earners of his generation and is represented by agent Bill Duffy — who has done over 3.5 billion dollars in contract negotiations and also represented Canada’s greatest basketball player to date and RJ’s very own Godfather Steve Nash.
Under Duffy’s direction, Barrett is expected to capitalize on the immediate rise of Canadian Basketball and the national corporate entities looking for an immediate association with the sport.
Globally, with Barrett’s ability to speak french, Duffy also sees a market in china but as well as Africa.
When its all said and done, Barrett stands a chance at being Canada’s top earning athlete, both in salary earnings and corporate dollars.
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 court-side.
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? Joining Clippers teammate Jamal Crawford as the only player to win the Sixth award three times over.
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, Billy.
Sager Strong, broadcaster Robin Roberts took home that award named in honor after the suited court-side 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 honored 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 off-season, 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.