In 2006 this English writer was having a last meal with his parents before embarking on what should have been a year to once in a lifetime trip to Toronto, Canada to find work and his new version of the American dream, but up north in the 6. And as the waiter brought us over sesame toast to whet our appetite my dad asked, where else in the world intrigued me. And I had one, resolute answer a week after watching my favourite film ‘Lost In Translation’ for the first time.
“Hopefully I’ll go there by 30,” I told them as a wide-eyed 21 year old, eager for adventure. Little did I know it wouldn’t be long before I was back from the T-Dot (much to my almost decade long regret, although I am still connected in a way to Canada. Hello!). And that I wouldn’t make it to Japan by 30, but instead see the place four times after then with my age standing at a Kareem jersey right now, about to be turned into a Shaq. Little did I know that my passion for writing, language and hoops (everything I’ve done has always been about basketball) would lead me to a teaching English dream in the Far East with a goal to get to Tokyo before the 2020 Olympics (Team USA and all that).
But guess who else is looking to Air Canada themselves to the land of the rising sun this fall?
The Raptors will play the Rockets this October in the same month the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets trade ice in their kingdoms veins in China’s Shanghai and Shenzhen. And with rumors having it that this year’s Wizards spell over the Knicks in Great Britain will be the last NBA London clash for awhile (or shall we say like the out on hold Carmelo to Lakers LeBron union, “paused”). It looks like Asia is the new hoops hotbed continent to be for more than just me this year. As as much as I love home and the Big Smoke, I may be leaving at the right time.
And it all comes circling around on court at the right time as Toronto, the Canadian and sole NBA franchise outside of the U.S. looks to expand their international appeal like trading for Spanish big man Marc Gasol at the deadline. Even if the smart move for the NBA would have appeared to be taking the team they picked up Pau’s (now stopping at the Bucks) brother from too. Not only did the Memphis Grizzlies used to exist outside of the States as Canucks in Vancouver (try finding a bear in Memphis. Let alone a Grizzly one. It’s all blue suede shoes Elvis to the relief of DiCaprio’s ‘Revenant’. You may find a teddy though). But the Grizz also play host to the first, biggest Japanese player in NBA global game history. As the seven foot rookie Yuta Watanabe has all the tools and pedigree to be the next big thing, not only in Japan, but the NBA as a world whole. Don’t believe us? Just Bruno Mars in ‘Uptown Funk’. He’s gonna give it to ya.
Someone swing a trade for this kid. Imagine the yen.
But with the Rockets taking off to Japan like a ‘Steamboy’ anime, the anticipation of a clash between two of the league’s top five players is too good to pass up like a Point Guard duel of underrated superstar Kyle Lowry and unanimous legend Chris Paul. Providing he’s still there after this Summer (and considering the amount of CA dollars he’s just dropped on Canadian Goose jackets it doesn’t look like he’s going to be joining King LeBron in L.A. with all that fur anytime soon), Kawhi Leonard will face off with the Beard of James Harden. The greatest offensive force this league has seen since the 100 points in a single game dip of Wilt Chamberlain, who will probably still be streaking 30 point games by then for most NBA players career-high dreams every single night.
And these two battling like kaijus in Japan for a pair of games, double heading on the 8th and 10th of October will be the perfect precursor to them suiting up together for Team USA for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next Summer. Just like this game series split as a whole will be as each team looks to take each other out in one punch in this Saitama Super Arena showdown in the Saitama City event in the Kanto Region of the Tokyo prefecture. The NBA last played a regular season game here in the year of 2003 after a calender worth of 12 games between 1990 and then, from Tokyo to Yokohama. As a matter of fact a 90’s classic between the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns in Tokyo was the first time any sports franchise in North America played a regular season game anywhere outside the United States. But with the big draw that both this globe growing league and city is right now, it has nothing on this exhibition of two of the top talents in the association.
And after these twin Tokyo Games partnered by Japanese media giant Rakuten, next year’s 2020 Olympics and the legacy making legend of Watanabe, who knows what all this could offer. A permanent fixture in the Far East? Or even a Tokyo team?!
It’s all set to blossom like cherry this season.
MVP Brandon Clarke dominates, leads Grizzlies to 2019 NBA Summer League Title
Canadian Brandon Clarke, the 21st pick of the 2019 Draft dominated the NBA’s annual summer showcase — becoming the first player to take home both tournament and championship game most valuable player honors with a dominant 15 points, 16 rebounds double-double. The No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 to win the 2019 NBA Summer League championship.
The former Gonzaga standout added 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal in 25 minutes.
In six games of summer league action, Clark averaged 14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. The Vancouver native shot 55% from the field and becomes the first ever Canadian to win MVP at the NBA Summer League.
Clarke was also named to the first-team all-NBA Summer League team. Other standouts included fellow Canadians Nickeil Alexander-Walker who joined Clarke on the first-team. Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher was named to the second-team.
New Knick RJ Barrett Treated Las Vegas Summer League Like A New York Playground
Magnitudes off the Richter. An earthquake hit Sin City like jackpot in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada out in the desert last week.
And as the Jumbo-tron still shook like the music it was pumping, many people in awe inspired attendance would have been forgiven for thinking it was Zion. As the Duke standout and the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Williamson made us feel more tremors than Kevin Bacon. As the new New Orleans Pelican burst out the hardwood and flew, man-handling a steal off an opponent who’s just a poster now’s inbounds pass and put back a viscous, signature slam that felt like they still tested atomic bombs out in the Nevada desert overlooking the electric, neon skyline. All whilst new and former teammates respectively, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Anthony Davis looked on with “here comes the big airplane” mouths.
But after the road to Mount Zion’s knee injury lead to more Patrick Ewing ice than up there in Japan’s Mount Fuji, it was better the Blue Devil you know. As the Knicks third pick RJ Barrett ended up moving the needle more over this scorching, seasonal tourney of the youthful future of this association. Looking as good as those beautiful blue Knicks Summer League jerseys that are so clean we want to see them fresh off the press in the the NBA Store in NYC. So much so that even if RJ handed you one of his autographed signatures post game you’d still be like, “you got this in a medium?”
Sounding better than all those thirsty announcers singing “Summer Leeeeague” like The Isley Brothers this time of year classic, ‘Summer Breeze’. Making everything feel fine as he blew through defenders like the Jasmine in my mind. RJ initialed his dynamic debut and mainstream moment. Making Knicks’ fans almost forget that they just lost out on their number one goal, Zion Williamson. Or their free agent duo desire of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who ended up on the other side of New York, across that bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn with the Nets…almost. Following the sweated out, hard nosed 90’s were only Jordan and Starks shots got in the way of golden era glory, the Knicks’ now have their first real leader in the post Porzingis era since Syracuse star ‘Melo for the Orangemen.
And he’s not alone. Barrett who was choosing Knicks’ mannequin heads to bucket on New York’s Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon nights before the draft cap has plenty to pass to in a Pelican rivaling young core of young guns, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, new free agent signing Julius Randle (this Pel is still a big ‘cat out of Kentucky like Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins reunited on the Lake Show like purple and gold fans hoped he would be too), Elfrid Payton and of course the soaring Dennis Smith Jr. Not to mention a bolstered bench of Taj Gibson and Reggie Bullock from more than midtown. Call it Chelsea, the Tribeca or even Battery Park after the High-Line of the Meatpacking District. The future of this franchise to the naked eye of ignorance is about to look better than the view from that new Vessel structure in Hudson Yards.
Barrett began in Vegas with some early snake eyes trouble. But rolling the dice again he turned into a killer like Brandon Flowers. The man. Come round. Nothing can break. Nothing can break him down. First he scorched California’s new look King sized Lakers for 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. But it was his spell in his last Summer forecast against the Wizards were RJ showed Washington that just like NYC, DC may be America’s capital, but there’s nothing like New York, New York. He was so good you had to check the instant replay twice, with another 21 and 10, two perfect precision passes off cashing in a triple-double chip like he was a team that had both James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their roster roll call. Houston, do you read me?
Averages of 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a televised tournament that is basically a glorified practice scrimmage (tell me, do you even know who won the thing?) show he will be above so. The Canadian Maple Mamba has that syrup for your bacon. Even without free agent big names like Kevin and Kyrie who are one more decision away from being journeymen, forget super-teams, the Knicks may have a lifer in RJ from Coach K’s Duke fraternity administration in the association now. Can you relate? Barrett could be brilliant and New York no longer a rotten apple. But a couple of big names away from having their title again in the Mecca of Madison Square Garden’s, World’s Most Famous Arena in bright Times Square lights.
It’s almost a New Year for New York, time for the ball to drop.
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