Holly MacKenzie is a lover of all things basketball, especially rookies and underdogs. She also enjoys the games, stories and triumphs of Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston. Getting her start interning for SLAM, the basketball Bible, her grandmother still has an issue of the magazine sitting on the mantle because it was the first time her granddaughter's name appeared in the masthead. The draft class of '96 holds a special place in her heart and she is currently wondering why she is writing in the third-person. For this slip-up, Holly is blaming the influence of LeBron James and The Decision and is wondering if this will result in James putting her on his list of haters. If so, she'll use this opportunity to say that it's all love over here, LBJ.
I’m on a plane flying back home to Toronto as I write this. I’ve decided that one luxury of being 5-foot-1 is the ability to stretch out your legs without being in an emergency exit. As I think about where I’d like this piece to go, there are two things that stick out to me.
The first is that I just called Toronto home. Three years after leaving Nova Scotia for the only Canadian city with an NBA team to follow my hoop dreams, it has become my home. The second is that I’m writing this on a plane. About four years ago, I flew from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, writing my first piece for SLAMonline.com after somehow convincing the guys I grew up reading to give me a shot for a New York-based internship despite living in Nova Scotia. From SLAMonline came The Post Up and from The Post Up came theScore and eventually The Basketball Jones and various other stops along the way.
In that time I’ve interviewed athletes I grew up watching, got to see the game I adore up close, had the privilege of developing friendships with many of my fellow writing colleagues and was also able to do some things that I couldn’t have even dared dream when imagining life as an NBA writer. One of the sweetest parts of being able to share your thoughts, words and experiences with people is that some of those people actually grow to care for you. The friendships and connections I’ve made with some of my readers are the single greatest gift I’ve been given as a result of this gig.
I think if you ask any NBA blogger they’d tell you the same. Our community is an amazing one and — no exaggeration — some of the most important people in my life are those I’ve met via email, tweet or Facebook message. Through the amazing times and the rough moments, the people who have experienced them all with me have been the people who cared enough to listen to what I had to say. Writing about basketball is a passion. Being able to write about basketball for an audience who actually cares about your words is a blessing.
For giving me that blessing I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading and asking and commenting. Thanks for hitting me up on Twitter, for flagging me down during halftimes at the ACC and for becoming such a part of my every day that I feel it’s necessary to explain why this will be my last post here at TBJ.
Once you make it to the NBA, you’ve got to figure out how to stay there. Depending on the situation you’re drafted into, the coach you’re playing for and teammates you’re playing with, some guys have it harder than others. Usually, though, if the talent is there, an opportunity will come. Former Tar Heel Rashad McCants didn’t quite get the opportunity he was hoping for, but he’s not holding his breath. That is, he’s not holding his breath unless Kobe Bryant plans to come knocking on his door.
That’s right. Over the weekend, McCants caught up with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe to talk about how he’s been living since his days in the NBA have passed. Unlike current NBAers who are wondering when the lockout will end and if they’ll be feeling a strain on their wallets, McCants says he is developing his own company and is getting to be creative, not having to think in “a one-dimensional box” like he did when he was in the league.
McCants also said he was happy with where he is today, and it sounds like he is at peace with how things shook out with respect to his career as a professional athlete. His take was an interesting one, especially when he said what it would take to get him back to playing pro basketball. Here’s more from Washburn’s conversation with McCants:
“I’m not bitter about anything. My NBA lifestyle was amazing. I don’t take anything back. I am grateful for the NBA for putting me in the position I am in now.’’
The NBA may have seen the last of Rashad McCants, unless he is allowed to return under one condition.
“The only way I would come back to the league is if I get to play with Kobe Bryant,’’ he said. “There’s nobody who thinks like me but Kobe Bryant. I just get criticized for what he used to get criticized for because I tried to establish myself the same way he did.
“I was just on a bad team.’’
McCants’ stance on only returning to the NBA if he’s playing alongside Bryant makes me wonder just how many players and/or free agents are in touch with the five-time NBA champ during the offseason. It worked for Matt Barnes and Ron Artest. Who will be the next guy to go to L.A. to work with Kobe? I’d like it to be Raja Bell. Who gets your vote?
As for McCants, whether we ever see him in an NBA uniform or not, it’s nice to know that former pro athletes can find happiness in other endeavors even when their hoop dreams didn’t turn out as they might have expected or hoped.
It was a tough day for basketball in Canada yesterday. There was the loss to Panama, the realization that there would be no Olympics and the head coach stepping down. It wasn’t awesome. While fans were angry and looking for answers and columnists were trying to provide them, Gary Forbes of the Denver Nuggets was speaking his truth and serving up a reminder that things could always be worse.
During the FIBA Americas, Forbes kept a diary for SLAM Magazine. In his final installment, he unloaded on some of the issues, challenges and barriers members of the Panama national team faced during the tournament. From training conditions, to coaching staff to support, it’s not a pretty picture.
I have to be honest with you guys. Team Panama is struggling on the court due to behind the scenes issues. Our team is the only team not backed by our government and probably the only team without any sponsors. Our president, who I will not name, has put the team in a lose/lose situation in my eyes. Our practice facilities are subpar, practicing on 9-foot baskets, as your regulation baskets are 10 feet. Panama has a facility, “Roberto Duran” Coliseum, which we can’t use because it is a government owned facility. There are two federations in Panama and basically we are a private club team. Crazy, huh?
Our President booked our tickets home for September 4th because he didn’t believe we’d make it to the second round. Along with that, we have one coach, no staff, no trainers, and once again no backing or support from our country. I was in a meeting before I left Panama with the Pan Deportes President who said that we don’t represent Panama when we play in these international tournaments, FIBA recognizes us but not the government. I had no clue of these conditions before I came to represent my country.
Props to Forbes for being open and honest about his experiences. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to say how he was feeling and then show up to suit up and play despite his thoughts on how the team has been handled. It’s really not a great scene. Practicing on nine-foot baskets? Not having scouting reports? Guys taping themselves in the locker room because of a lack of trainers available? That’s just not safe.
It made me sad to read this post. Playing for your country should be an amazing experience that you never forget because of the proud moments, not because of sub-par training conditions. Hopefully the candor of Forbes will lead to some changes. Regardless, he gets a high-five for honesty.
While we got our first real glimpse at Kevin Durant’s ink during the playoffs, it looks like he’s been logging some serious hours in the tattoo shop during these summer months. With all of the traveling he’s been doing to play at every streetball court known to man, he’s been using his down time to get some pretty elaborate pieces finished.
Last night, @TattoosByRandy tweeted these photos of the work he had finished on Durant’s back. Below the words Maryland is an angel holding a basketball with hands signaling a 3 and 5 on either side. Durant wears No. 35 for his former AAU coach Charles Craig who was shot and killed on April 30th, 2005 at the age of 35.
It’s definitely a huge tattoo, but it’s one filled with a lot of meaning. From his coach to his hometown, Durant continues to make it clear that he isn’t about to forget where he came from or who helped him get to where he is today. Read the rest of this entry »
How does a two-time NBA MVP follow up getting crossed over a fellow Canadian? By hanging out on stage with Nas during his Rock the Bells set (0:55 mark), of course. At least, that’s how Steve Nash does.
It’s been hard to keep track of NBA guys this summer. Your best bet is just hanging out at the local court because you never know who will show up. From Kobe and LeBron making appearances at the Drew League, to the rumors of Eddy Curry pairing up with Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony this week, there’s a lot going on.
Just check Bow Wow’s Twitter account. While the MTV Video Music Awards hype was in full effect on Sunday night in Los Angeles, Bow Wow met up with some bros to play a little round ball. His crew? DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, John Wall, J.R. Smith, and Game, of course.
On Tuesday morning, Mike Wise did what he does best: He wrote an article about a situation that the NBA is dealing with, one that a lot of us — myself included — are reeling from. He wrote with facts, he wrote with honesty, he wrote with the same feeling of dread and confusion that I have as I struggle to understand unnecessary strife and tragedy as I tap on the keys of my computer to type this.
While he eloquently explained exactly why this situation involving Javaris Crittenton is so tough to wrap our heads around, he spelled out the truth: this is a tragedy. A tragedy that police think the former Wizard has caused, enough to release an arrest warrant and a wanted poster and to take him into custody in Los Angeles last night as he was boarding a plane to return to Atlanta where his lawyer said he would surrender to police and try to clear his name. As Wise was explaining this, he also revealed something else.
A tiny detail from nearly two years ago serving as another reminder that people are not always who we think they are nor who they sometimes seem to be. While Javaris Crittenton is either behind bars or being transported to Atlanta to speak to police about a 22-year-old mother who is no longer with us, leaving behind four children who have suddenly been orphaned, Gilbert Arenas has been tweeting and deleting, jawing with a comedian, giving away free shoes and still managing to make people cringe because they’re wondering where that lovable joker with the sweet heart has gone.
Stop for a second. Look beyond the tweets and avatars. Look within Wise’s article. Here’s your detail:
Little-known fact uncovered in court documents in the spring of 2010: Crittenton, via text message, asked to borrow thousands from Arenas to help pay his ill mother’s escalating medical bills. Just two months after their confrontation, Arenas obliged.
While Arenas has been labeled as many things over the past few years, this fact unearthed by Wise shows once again that he still has that heart we’ve been wondering about, even if he doesn’t show it. Even if his actions would sometimes make you think otherwise.