Heading into last weekend, it seemed the NBA Playoff Marathon was lurching toward the tedium of two chest-thumping juggernauts slugging it out for more prized jewellery; the competitions most decorated club pitted against their most decorated coach. Paul Pierce didn’t even other watching the end of Game Three against Orlando. The lopsided run of the Conference Semi-Finals had proven contagious. Then, A’mare Stoudemire (42 Pts / 11 Rbds) and his be-mulleted Canadian companion – with 17 points and 15 assists – may have gone and made it interesting again. Stoudemire & Nash make a great pair. Mild-mannered, understandably politicised, community minded, fine ball players, and at their best they come close to that other reliable old no-frills pairing of Stockton & Malone (athletically and aesthetically). But as much as my heart is in Phoenix right now, and as much as I love watching Stoudemire stomping on the Lakers, the irresistable lure of nostalgia makes me pine for Arizona’s finest ever power forward personality The Round Mound Of Rebound.
Barkley Shut Up & Jam is often overlooked in the pantheon of great basketball video games. Perhaps rightly so. But what cannot go unnoticed is that, legitimacy aside, it has spawned easily the finest sports game sequel ever produced. Towering over its progenitor, it is the exception that proves the rule. Ladies and gentlemen, familiarise yourself with Tales of Games Presents Barkley Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Barkley Hoopz Saga. Check out the majesty of the trailor here.
In short: Sir Charles brings the apocalypse in the form of a Chaos Dunk. Carnage reigns, and basketball is outlawed in the Great Basketball Purge of 2041 – or B-Ballnacht. Flash forward to 2053, another Chaos Dunk goes down, and Barkley – as the obvious culprit – is on the run. Larry Bird is a priest. Vince Carter is a cyborg. Given the ratio of the avatars involved, Mugsy Bogues is conspicuous by his absence. And Air Jordan is the establishment’s enforcer.
As the storm clouds gather around the country, there is narry an excuse to be found for not living out your Neo New York fantasies right now. For more reverent Barkley revelry, check out the review by my good friend Mr David Large, as part of the ongoing 20 Cent Old School Game Review series, originally broadcast on Radio One 91FM in Dunedin, and this one in particular stored half way down this post on Professional Aesthete.
The men above have a combined age of 73, comfortably past pensionable in any nation on this earth, and well past the time when most sportsmen have become figureheads or locker room guys or whatever. Instead this Suns team is two nil up over the NBA’s answer to the Canterbury Crusaders (© Justin Warren), rendering all cheap jokes irrelevant. This Suns team, two years post-D’Antoni and at least three since they should have ceased to be relevant, are suddenly the most logical challenger to the Lakers repeating in the West.
I downloaded the game from bt.davka, only after being driven mental by my non-functional league pass subscription. Once again, do not buy that product. Stay on the illegal buzz. But anyway, something about the way the Suns play the game makes me think they might have the goods to stop the three bad old bears of the Lakers wreaking their havoc. Continue reading
Anyone notice that Milwaukee quietly took the lead in the series against the Hawks?
Any notice that the Milwaukee Bucks have quietly tied the series against the Hawks?
Note: due to continued f*** ups with their much-advertised, little-supported International League Pass broadband system (which has pretty much shut down since the playoffs arrived, happily), I’ve only watched the two ESPN games so far. So frustrating. I can heartily recommend not giving the NBA any of your money next year, no matter how tempting it might be. The system just doesn’t work.
Anyway, so the Kobe Bryant show did a really nice job on the Thunder last night, in what was one of the strangest games I’ve seen in a while. The Thunder were just manic, as their 17 (!!!) blocked shots/17 turnover performance will attest. And even though KD was able to make it happen a bunch more than in the first game, there was always the sense that LA were going to take this one home.
And, grudgingly, I’m coming round to the idea that this is an LA team you have to respect on some level (the same way you respect the IRD, I guess), and being a straight up Laker Hater is just a bit too easy. They won smart, dirty, tough and fair, hit shots when they needed to, got stops when they needed to, and generally played like NBA champions. The kind who might be banged up and aging, but still know how to break the hearts of a group of young men when their minds are focused.
And they did it all despite having both Ron Artest and Derek Fisher in their starting five. Which kinda boggles the mind. It’s like Phil Jackson’s playing chess against himself at this juncture, putting himself in ever more desperate situations just to keep himself interested. Because that pair are just awful. Continue reading
After the Celtics hyper-emotional run to victory in the 2008 finals, as a basketball neophyte, I was ready to fall in love with that team. Everything about it worked. The storylines were overblown but extremely engaging, and the way they played was similarly straight out of a hokey film. That voluble passion which manifested itself in odd ways, as the team snapped between lackadaisical periods before blitzing teams with a boundless intensity. The war cries of Garnett, Pierce’s eye for the theatrical and Allen’s quietly cerebral game – I loved them all.
And here I am, two years later, screaming at Miami for allowing them back into the game, telling my youngest daughter – not yet conceived during that dream season of ’07-08 – that she must never, ever cheer a Celtic. What happened? How did my love become loathing? I feel like to a large extent it came from the same place their current disaffection was born.
Put simply, the same factors which made them so selfless during that golden season have now come back to haunt them in the most infuriating way. The big three, once so committed to the team game, are mere shadows of their championship-winning selves, as if the mere act of getting a ring – proving to the world what they had always known of themselves – gave them free license to turn into the most selfish caricatures of that they had been prior. The movie stars:
The past month has seen one frankly incredible All-Star game (The NBA’s, of which more shortly) and one which, again frankly, I didn’t actually see (the NRL’s). Apparently, according to my source, the Indigenous All Stars vs The NRL All Stars was a thing of true beauty, and as a way to kick off the season it seems like a fine idea. Maybe the promotion was a bit lacking, but baby steps, right? At least it got off the ground.
The NBA’s All-Star game is an established institution, over a half-century old, and appearances in it go a long way toward gauging the relative worth of talents from era to era. The game we saw last weekend was jaw-dropping, groin-tingling sports, with talents allowed to roam free and points piled on from all angles. They played defence and made it a game in the final quarter, so it worked as game too. It was a festival, a celebration of the sport at its most liberated. Then everyone gets back down to business and starts to run at the playoffs (even the Wizards! Three out of four since they gutted their team!).
Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about our own venerable answer to the All-Star game, the North vs South match. Continue reading