Trust me. Trust the person confiding in you right now. I really mean it. My hands are shaking as I write these lines. Depression and anxiety are as real and raw as the ravaged feeling that infects the mind with an affliction that can’t be seen like another physical injury. It is a state of sorrow or panic that can leave an individual feeling empty or even full of worry and darkness. Sometimes it’s terrifying. Other days are manageable. Sometimes it feels numb. But it’s never dumb. I got you. Somedays it’s a wave. Tomorrow maybe a storm. But for you I hope not. And it’s never one and the same for any two people. I can’t do justice to anothers bravery with my words. I can’t describe properly my pain. Some hide. Some scream. Some meditate. Others medicate. Neither is wrong. It’s whatever works or at the very least helps for you. Because you best believe it doesn’t discriminate. For anybody. Hollywood hearthrob Brad Pitt has suffered from it. As has the person you just walked past in the street. Queen Beyonce has. As has that coworker who is always cracking jokes and making you smile, but cracking under pressure underneath. Everyone is dealing with something. Problems or demons. The girl of your dreams. This writer right damn now! But this isn’t a cry for help. It’s a call to action.
Even Kevin Love suffers.
The Basketball superstar. The NBA Champion. The new leader in King James’ departed wake of the Cleveland Cavaliers. A man whose about to remind us just how much of a franchise face and leader he is. One of the last true big man greats of the game with 30/30 Wilt like Goliath numbers and in the paint court vision. The only man who can put Steph Curry off his shot. A Beach Boy family kid. A cool Californian soul and UCLA grad as the most likely to succeed and take the prom queen to homecoming. The second best Minnesota Timberwolves big of all-time after Da Kid, Kevin Garnett. A grown man. A dapper dan attired in Banana Republic with GQ good looks. A gentleman over four quarters. A winner.
Yet he is still burdened by anxiety and depression. But putting it all on his back and broad shoulders. Kevin is willing to take it all and help carry the load for those who suffer in silence and need a voice in their corner from the shadows, when no one else is there.
You are not alone!
Read that again.
Just like former Toronto Raptor and new San Antonio star DeMar DeRozan, who put the whole country of Canada on his court carrying back and also spoke up about his own mental health struggles in solidarity to those who no longer have to live in solitude. Kevin Love penned a poignant and powerful personal piece on The Players Tribune blog/diary site for professionals in the sports arena. Candidly and courageously disclosing a previous locker room secret about him suffering a panic attack mid-game earlier this year.
Doing so to end the stigma in modern sports that these feelings aren’t manly. In a world of toxic masculinity that would probably tell most to just “man up”. Which cruelly is a million miles away from the right response (do you have any idea the harm that can do?). Doing so to further the support and truth today that these type of mental health problems are more common than you think and the furthest thing away from anything to be ashamed of. Vulnerability is strength. It contains the word “ability”. The ability to feel. The ability of empathy.
Keep that head up!
Your bravery knows no bounds.
And now talking to Jalen Rose and ESPN last week, Kevin is funding his own foundation which will also work with Hollywood movie star Glenn Close’s ‘Bring Change To Mind’ campaign and Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Just Keep Livin” charity. The Players Tribune tribute was just the beginning. Even after his court career ends, hanging his sneakers and jersey up to those retired Hall of Fame rafters. Kevin will lace them back up and go to work building a whole new team and coaching them against a different kind of opposition, in a whole new arena. But yet again one of the most selfless superstars will be doing it for all those around him and those who look up to him. Role models don’t get much bigger than this seven footer. And this number zero hero is about to extend his reach, from nothing to something.
Now if that isn’t Love then I don’t know what is.
Kevin talks about it best though…
“No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.
Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me.”-Kevin Love (Via ‘The Players Tribune’).
Kevin Love is supreme. And we aren’t talking about the shooting sleeve on J.R. Smith’s arm Coltrane. Look, I aint got much time left. But Love has bared his whole heart and soul. Leaving it all on the floor has a different meaning off-court. And Kevin’s and I quote, “life work” is going to inspire more than any big block, buzzer beater, or slam dunk. With his next move the new King of Cleveland is really ready to lead in the most important way. All in. All for one and one for all.
It’s more than a cliche when we say this is bigger than basketball, or more than a game. This is real life.
Praise The Lord, The NBA Is Back!
The headband King brought the chalk back, tossed it up, the ball came down and it was on.
The 2019/twenty, twenty NBA season.
But tonight in downtown Los Angeles it was the Clippers house and their fitting banner covering all the Lakers championships and retired jerseys, stating “L.A. Our Way” that said it all.
And the man or few words Kawhi Leonard did the rest. Finishing the sentence with the reigning champs’ Clippers bid for their own championship.
With his former Canadian champion, Toronto Raptor teammate Danny Green being the high-man on the other side of Los Angles with 28 (a new debut, opening night record for a Laker, beating all-time scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 27), fate looked to be in the purple and golds favour. He hit seven threes, including an off balance one that almost went around the whole rim of the world like Leonard’s infamous, processing winner against Philly last postseason. Whilst big-man for the new generation, still at age 26, Anthony Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds that could be his average for this season, to go with superstar dynamic duo teammate LeBron James’ line of 18, 9 and 8. And let’s not forget those vintage running back, dunking breaks that hit you like a sledgehammer or a slice of NBA nostalgia from the legendary one and true King.
They combined for just two in the fourth however as the Clippers bench outscored the Lakers pine with a line of 60 to 19 by the final frame. The Lakers began this homestand as the away team against the half century Clippers with a 60 years in Los Angeles (it doesn’t seem like a decade since their Minneapolis actual anniversary of that many years) inspirational video of all the greatest moments of history for the most storied team outside of Boston. Mikan to Magic, to Kobe to now. Assisted by the bass of another video from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers superfan Flea who also showed some of the lows from D’Angelo Russell (really Lake Show?) falling out of bounds with the ball. To the guy he snitched on Nick Young shooting his shot and missing whilst turning around and celebration leaving many as confused as his cult favourite GIF (shots literally fired anyone?).
But in the end this actual superstar Laker team looked like a laughing stock as even BIG3 owner Ice Cube took to Twitter to air his embarrassment like a Good Year, bad day blimp. Not enough Avery Bradley and too much KCP (someone had a point with the end of that Laker captioned Key and Peele infamous Obama handshake video). And the Lakers “consider this a warning” Golden State Warrior dub drubbing tweet which they will never live down now looked as Donnell Rawlings radio booth funny as Kawhi’s laugh on that equally hilarious ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ commercial tie-in with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, as Leonard said “Hasta La Vista” baby and “what it do” to the Lake Show.
The Lakers should have learnt from their opening night a few seasons ago, when the man they let go Patrick Beverly took the ball from their top pick Lonzo like it was never in his family name. And without their D Loading replacing point it looks like new Showtime is not running right now…at least in one side of L.A.
As in this new battle for Los Angeles that was only missing a Crenshaw versus Compton city jersey statement for Nispey, with two new superstar STAPLES and two new one, two punches going toe-to-toe for the K.O., it was Kawhi who went home with the belt. C(k)lawing the Lakers for 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block, to go along with former purp and gold Lou Will’s 21 (put the greatest 6 Man not named Jamal Crawford (you see his post? The Lakers need him like everyone else does) at the back of your cover looking as thrilled as Brandon Ingram to be a Pelican on SLAM now Sports Illustrated) and a clipping 112-102 win for the Clips. Partying like the Atlanta club of the same score name, singing like the R&B group.
It was all peaches and cream for this team…and they were even without Paul George looking like P. Diddy courtside in a dapper velvet and bow-tie suit Dan.
Meanwhile Paul George wasn’t the only month off superstar not making his debut on opening night, the New Orleans Pelicans were without their top pick Zion Williamson as half the former Lakers took on the reigning champ Raptors in Jurassic Park as they all got blinged out like amber sap (also in a moving move giving a ring to their real Six Man, superfan Nav Bhatia). What the NBA had billed as a defending champs versus rookie for the new year match-up turned out to be quite a game anyway. Going all the way to O.T as Canada’s very own team showed they were still hot without their man Kawhi and still big, like they were soaring past the Rockets in Tokyo, Japan with a 130-122 win.
The Raptors clawed this bird without Kawhi and Zion’s road thanks to Pascal Siakam’s super 34 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists and one block as he showed he could be the new superstar in this 6 God town. Freddy VanVleet also made his case with his own Shaq sized 34, as Lowry had 22 to go with Ibaka’s 13 against Ingram’s inspired 22 in a balanced attack from this New Orleans animal that was all about fight, not flight.
And what a game to begin a season we’re sure will be just as good…if not go big, or go home better.
The NBA is back and in the words of a retired Dwyane Wade now punching in as a pundit in another social media overshared reaction…
…”I love it!”
I hope you’re sitting comfortably in your banana boat because this is going to be a hell of a ride.
Great British Basketball Legend Luol Deng Retires Full Circle With Chicago
10 years ago this writer holding a microphone as nervous as if he was about to get his Bill Murray on in ‘Lost In Translation’ and perform karaoke for the first time in Tokyo, but with no Scarlett Johansson, palm sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy…moms spaghetti (and on the surface he does NOT look calm and ready) is taking part in his first press conference…let alone his first NBA one. All for a major magazine for his first writing job, just a mere month after he wrote his first ever article for what we the British call, “a laugh”. No Buzz, no blog. And who was my first question too?
No other but the commissioner…Mr. David Stern.
But as Stern as you could call him, the pre-Silver commish was the most warm and gregarious you could imagine. That’s when I got a little wind under my wings like I was wearing Air Jordan’s for this NBA London postgame Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz presser. I had a few questions for then Chi-town coach Vinny Del Negro. I don’t think I had the balls to ask Coach Sloan anything. But apparently I had enough confidence to tell the then Jazz leader Deron Williams that his team could test my Lakers…he didn’t agree (there’s the spirit D-Will). And then in walked the man of the hour. The whole reason this game was here and at the very least taking off on these shores. Sudan born but British raised Luol Deng. He too was kind enough to give me a quote worthy answer to my question. Then as he left past the cameras and tape recorders I reached out my hand and he shook it back.
Thank you for that Luol, and for everything you’ve done for British basketball…and also for being part of my beloved purple and gold Lakers for a season or two (or more as fate would have it). Although most fans who can’t look past that massive contract fail to see that the most underrated superstar of this era was worth every penny when healthy…no Lake Show aficionado talks smack about the Steve Nash cash.
Now as this writer a decade later pens this in a Japanese residence aiming to have his own contract to remain here throughout the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, a week after taking in the cities NBA Japan Games featuring the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors, I look back to that Chicago Bulls London game of 2009 and the 2012 Olympics that came in London a few years later and everything you’ve done for the sport in my homeland and host nation. Knowing that from Brixton to Sudan you truly are a global ambassador like Dikembe Mutombo and like that mountain of a man will be at many a London exhibition for the National Basketball Association post career, no finger wag. No one-apart from former Orlando Magic big John Amaechi who truly changed the game from an equality perspective in the locker room-has done more for this game in the British Isles.
But this article isn’t about the U.K. Or even NBA Africa. Although that, just like your incredible and inspired charity work is worthy of its own book…let alone article. This is about the untouchable city of Chicago, from De Niro to Capone. The Windy City and the changing season you brought in with a gust and the Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson team of the new millennium and hope…that in the legendary United Centre seems as lost as the elevated train town that surrounds it, albeit still so classic. As American as apple pie…or Michael Jordan.
As you walk past his Statue of Liberty to this city iconic statue outside in the unmistakable windy granite look of this area, cemented in the nostalgia of the golden era 90’s like a Pippen bronze bust once you and your pulled tight coat get inside out the cold, you know what it’s about. Post Jordan and Baby Bulls era you were the team to compete, bring it all back. And although Rose was the next 23 in line star to grow from concrete you were the dependable all-star from the start and a ten years of your own. You’ll go down as one of the best Bulls ever. Like the 1 and only Rose, your number nine will be shot up there in the rafters with all the twenty and thirty-three’s and all the banners bar injuries you could have put up there.
Two All-Star selections an All Defensive Second Team selection and the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for starters that’s why. But the Duke grad who also logged some time with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat (after Pat Riley called him one of the most important acquisitions after he came in for the post King era in South Beach) was much more than a number, even if his will end up with the air up there when it is all said and done…which it is. Because after playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves last year after his Hollywood divorce, Deng is calling it a career. But he isn’t retiring Minny with the Wolves oh no. And there won’t be one last dance of a season sadly for those practicing their steps.
But still he is galloping out this association as a Bull. After signing a one-day contract with the team he entered the league with as an all rookie, seventh draft pick, Luol will retire and leave the league with the same team. It’s a grand gesture and nice move from the Bulls (even though it leaves talented player Perrion Callandret cut (bring him back)), as Deng’s 15 year career-with the lion share being with these cubs-comes full circle in Chicago like this town’s Loop subway system.
As Chicago as Common, Deng is back where he belongs if only for a night as the seasons of change and cities weather brings him back to where it all began for a fitting end blowing in the wind.
Lakers Licking Warriors All Preseason
Number 23, James jerseys being burnt in fiery flames of anger and anguish. Just like a Cavalier when he left the land for a new flame with the South Beach talents of the Miami Heat.
Political commentators almost telling him to “shut up and dribble” like they were Trump.
It’s been a rough week for LeBron James.
But it has been an even rougher year for the people of Hong Kong…and that’s the point LeBron.
For all the controversy in China-from billboards coming down like it was a decade ago. To think before you tweet, hypocritical tweets being sent like the Donald (you could have waited ‘Bron…period)-James had to rebound on his return to Hollywood after the reality of the last seven days. And boy did he like Barkley. Running a power move on them like Chuck. Just days after being made a Public Enemy for failing to fight the power for a nation of millions, refusing to be held back.
And saying no more about the situation, whilst admitting wrong. Taking blame and hoping for an accepted apology, Business LeBron let his game do the talking.
And it SANG!
Answering back on the hardwood court at least…if not the one of public and social media trending opinion.
After failing to close out the China Games for the West and find the nets against Brooklyn in the Far East, James and his Laker gang returned to their regular preseason schedule for their California clash series with the former champion Golden State Warriors.
And right now it’s all Lakers like A.D., A.C., A.B., J-McGee, D-Howard, Danny Green, Quinn cookin’ against his old firm and K.C.P.
First the Lakers were too hot for the Warriors Chase Centre house warming in San Francisco. Then across the Golden Gate and state the Lake Show’s new young core manned up with the beard and the brow sitting. As rook Zach Norvell Jr. had 22 in his number 21 (hey Lakers maybe don’t trade this one), leading a youth in revolt featuring NBA family legacy members Kostas Antetokounmpo and David Stockton against the splash brotherhood and their newly adopted sibling, former Laker D’Angelo Russell, wetting everything on the Pacific Coast right now. Even Dwight Howard proved again against all the odds and odd looks just how big a back-up he’s going to be with 12 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals for the finest of lines.
And then there was the 126-93 candle blowing of last night for two teams who will meet tomorrow too. But right now with the Lakers licking the Warriors so much like a lizards tongue, Golden State are in the soft state of being the ice cream right now.
Let it melt!
But for all the cones like a kid holding two perhaps we’ve just SLAM cover jinked it all right now.
Still, tomorrow is another day.
As for yesterday all the Dubs troubles weren’t so far away as James’ La La Land company went full ‘Space Jam’ Monstar’s on the K.O’d champs. Playing some of the most beautiful basketball you’ll ever see…let alone in mere preseason play. Which rust dust off is taken so much more serious these days with the advent of social media allowing for instant replays in high-rises and hamlets across the world in the blink of a tweeting second. The drama is almost at a Shakespearian level…especially after last week. And to tweet or not to tweet (that is no longer the question) LeBron knows how to fine tune, orchestrate it all. Quarterback running it like the point position he was meant to take up like the number 6 and the chalk tossing headband days he’s strapping back on.
‘The Greatest Basketball Story Ever Told’ about the Milan miracle Hickory Hoosiers by Greg Guffey features many a classic line of inspired journalism. One being about how a big-man dunked the ball as gently as dropping an egg in a basket. This plagiarism aside perfectly describes one of McGee’s slam’s. But the rest he and the Ghidorah big-man three-headed monster put down was like the dunk contests they all used to partake. And this table of full courses was set perfectly by the King like a moat surrounding a castle, thanks to the arrow in the ground perfect picks hammered down and planted with the deepest roots by these seven feet high and rising pivots off the roll.
And that was when the King wasn’t American Football running his way through the paint to pastel his own touchdowns with easel ease. One touch pass from the palette to Dwight Howard had exquisite wrote all over it, alley to oop.
But that wasn’t even the best one.
That belonged to the contouring down court of LeBron’s falling out of bounds, M.J. against the Lakers switch hands pass to Danny Green, waiting at the corner shop to bag the three, paper or plastic and make the King look even better like the previous week didn’t even happen. After all the social media white noise to what was more a misjudgement and the mistake of a man that is still school opening and philanthropic more than an athlete, this master move, worthy of the greatest of all-time highlight package-let alone the regular season itself-inspired Instagram flame emojis from everyone from former meme teammate Lance Stephenson back in China to the merc with a mouth, Deadpool himself actor Ryan Reynolds here in Hollywood.
LeBron’s 18 to go along with four rebounds, 11 assists and one steal, next to Davis’ 8 points and assists, 10 rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Not to mention Cook’s broth of 16 points and 3 assists against his old Chef Curry boys, Howard’s end of 13 points and 7 rebounds, McGee’s 12, 6 rebounds, a steal and a block and Avery Bradley’s 18 was the most balanced of attacks and too much for friend to foe D’Angelo Russell’s Jordanesque 23, off some of the fresh pail of water purest buckets.
Sure this game the Warriors were without soldier Stephen Curry to match his soaked on the side-line Splash Brother and the departed Durant. But they still had Green on this day like the Lakers. And the purple and gold themselves are still without former Golden State big DeMarcus Cousins and the young Prince of the King’s men Kyle Kuzma whose just had the option on his contract exercised like ghosts.
Just wait until they get at least one of those guys back.
It’s going to be real scary in Hollywood this Halloween.
And we’re on the eve of seeing it all over again back across the Bay, to close it all out a week after this teams horror show.
Time to suit up in the league’s most famous costume.
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