Excitement was beyond palpable in the STAPLES Center last night. Even more than this weekends behind jersey, lip service between rookie Lonzo Ball and free agent to be with a home in L.A., LeBron James, doing their best Joe Pesci and Frank Vincent in ‘Casino’ impression (“whose this guy?”). As last night in Los Angeles Lakerland became ‘Kobeland’.
Forget Hollywood down the downtown road even if Jack Nicholson’s bald dome is clear to see in the above shot courtside, because last night off Chick Hearn Drive, La La Lakerland was the real city of stars as all the living legends that the storied Lakers hold in their history books came out to pay tribute to another and possibly the greatest who was about to join them in the rafters either side of Chick’s microphone.
The fire and ice of Elgin Baylor and the logo Jerry West. Big Game James Worthy. President Magic introducing his last Laker wish with Jeanie. Cap Kareem and of course the big fella and dynamic duo partner in crime Shaq amongst other teammates like Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher where in attendance like the Kevin Hart and Kendrick Lamar celebrity elite for the biggest ticket at STAPLES since Bean Bryant said goodbye to basketball with 60 points.
See Kobe Bryant was so good the Lakers had to retire him twice like the achillies and shoulder injuries that crippled his career but didn’t close it until he called it. After years of debate between eight and the one better than Jordan 24, the Lakers in the end decided to immortalize both numbers of the five time champ in the retirement rafters.
And in an evening of celebration that even featured a Santa Monica pier like ferris wheel in the ‘Kobeland’ amusement arcade outside the arena, number 8 and 24 had a hard time putting it all in words with his wife and three daughters right beside him. But after a stirring speech that passed respect to everyone from fan to teammate, when asked who would have the upper hand in a young, dunking number 8 and the court scientist of 24, all the retired Bryant could think of was at least ‘Fro8e’ could grow hair.
That was halftime. As for the actual game itself against the champion Golden State Warriors that these young Dubs to be bogey team beat last year that was a different Los Angeles Times story. The young Lake Show came close to honouring their tributed legend, but in the end faced disappointment like the eventuality that they didn’t rock those rumoured Black Mamba snakeskin jerseys that looked to Nike make-up for the lack of Hollywood Nights in all black this season. Rookie steal Kyle Kumza followed his dinner date with Kobe with 25 off the bench. Whilst number 2 Lonzo Ball pointed to 16 points and 6 rebounds and assists for a devilish line. Even returned from injury Larry Nance Jr. caught a slam as good as his dunk of the year against Brooklyn last season. But in the end after taking the champs to overtime like New York last week, the Young Golden State of California took the Showtime swag out of Hollywood, as after K.C.P. failed to drain a game winning three at regulation, Kevin Durant’s 36 points had its own muse cage, Mamba moment with a 116-114 game winner.
But despite this heartbreaking loss for team purple, this night was all about the soul of Lakers gold.
Dear Basketball here’s to the eighth wonder, ‘Ko8e24’…forever!
Time to start carving that statue…
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.