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Turning New Leafs

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Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh NBA 2010

So it’s a done deal right? Even as no contracts have changed hands and no ink has dried it’s still almost a certainty that Chris Bosh will only look like a Raptor next season. Well nothings for certain but even the most optimistic of GM’s, Bryan Colangelo admits that CB4 is most ‘likely’ taking his underrated game to a bigger market.

The Toronto Raptors have some rebuilding works in process already but with the free agent signing period looming they should think about making a better push at keeping their cement guy.

Bosh may be where the franchise starts but he’s not the be all and end all. Toronto has some other issues that they need to take care of before this franchise becomes a dinosaur team in this league.

At the peak of this team’s power over the last decade they were almost unstoppable. They actually had a solid, decent squad of players running from 1-15 and had a legitimate shot at being a contender for the first time since Air Canada made his departure. They need to get back to this level of play.

This was back in 2006 where the Raps came out of nowhere to be the Phoenix Suns of the East. A lot had changed about the franchise, ownership, money, court design, color schemes etc. The franchise was refreshed and invigorated. Gone where the previous childish logos, the team wasn’t playing kids games any more. Colangelo’s input had given this team the push they needed. Even the red and white uniforms spoke volumes for their patriotic stance towards their country. The Raptors weren’t about to take the Memphis Grizzlies route, they where here to stay in Canada.

Hip-hop music was being played between timeouts; an attractive presenter was keeping fans interested. The whole setup in the Air Canada Centre breathed new life into this team. The fans came out in capacities and gave the team those all important energy boosts.

As for the players Bosh was becoming more and more comfortable with himself resulting in him becoming more and more of a force and one of the premier players in this league. He let his hair grow out and he let his game spill over on to the court. He even came back from injury to clinch a game winning three from the then Iverson and C-Webb led 76ers. Basketball was getting exciting up north now. It was time for the network anchors to grab their warm clothes and take a trip across the border to see real ball. Basketball without borders, yeah the Raps showed that.

The rest of the team stood out as well. TJ Ford made sure that fans soon forgot about Charlie V and Fred Jones was throwing mid- second quarter dunks down hard, making it almost impossible for fans to go get some snacks. If concession profits fell then Freddy would have to be fingered for that one.

The team had a real international flavor as well. This brought extra options to the team and extra dimensions to the game. Anthony Parker shot the lights out most nights, he was one of the most slept on role players in the league as he was capable of lighting up to 20 quicker than most bench players in the league, he was pure. A player who was dirty on the other hand was Jorge Garbajosa. Garbo however was dirty in a good way, take Chris Oakley, Rick Fox and ‘The Junkyard Dog’ and mix them all together then you’ve got ‘The Garbage Man’. A loyal worker who handled all the rough plays, hustled hard and had a pretty stroke to counter his gruff look. It’s amazing Garbo is no longer in the NBA as he’s the type of role player that champions are made of, but then again this is the league where amazing happens after all.

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All though he showed some Rookie teething problems Andrea Bargnani was showing real promise especially in certain runs in the game. Jose Calderon was drawing most of the non-Bosh attention however. He was so quick, talented and prolific that he was taking Ford’s drive for the starting position of point guard away. He showed a rare mix of speed and scoring prowess for a small guy that Tony Parker had shown before him and that Rajon Rondo has showed since. When Jose was taking off court on a stretcher during a home game against Golden State fans looked like the Raptors season was in jeopardy. That game was only in earl December, that’s how little time it took for Jose to make a certain impact.

So this T-Dot team where putting their exclamation point on a league that had disregarded them as the ‘last remaining Canadian franchise’ or ‘that team Vince Carter’ used to play for (You can still hear the boo’s and hisses right?) The Raptors where playoff bound and the future looked bright but since then over the last four years they have looked less and less like this team. This franchise is far from becoming extinct but their glory years are looking more and more like memories for youtube then current highlight reels. The time for buffering is over this team needs to be seen clearly for what they can be.

Toronto is one of those underrated cities and their basketball team was looking like that too. With that being said however Toronto is still one of those big market, tourist cities. All the foreigners coming for a visit back in ’06 (Whether holiday or visa related) would have been pleasantly surprised to see a Raptors game. Nowadays they’ll just stick to Leaf games because Ice Hockey is Canada’s bread and butter.

This can all change however. Some of the Raptors core may have rotted but this basketball team can still eat if they just show their still hungry for success and so long as they don’t make a meal out of the good things they have. This type of fire and determination which was displayed in 2006 is still here now but if it was shown more however than just maybe Bosh wouldn’t be looking to make real Heat in Miami with ‘Bron and Wade or looking to add his celebrity to the Lakers Hollywoodland.

Bryan Colangelo is a business man, and a smart one too so even though a sign and trade looks like his best option financially it may be time for ‘angelo to get his ‘Mark Cuban’ on and show some heart over money. It may be time for Bryan to show that he’s all about rebuilding the foundations that he laid with this team back in what was arguably the franchises best all-round year. Then Bosh may even stay and it may just feel like 2006 again.

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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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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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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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