Holly MacKenzie

Holly Mackenzie

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.

Recent Posts

This is a rap video, so it’s NSFW.

This lockout needs to end more and more with each passing day. While there has been some good — the Goodman League, the Drew League, Rucker Park games, etc.– there has also been some not so good. Right, Michael Beasley?

Today, we get this rap video from World Star Hip Hop featuring Stephen Jackson. Appearing in Alley Boy’s video for “Wonderful” — which is the intro from his mixtape titled, not kidding, “Definition of F— S— Part 2″– the video features lots of curses, smoke and Jax chilling in the back of a car flashing lots of symbols with his hands. If that happened in an NBA game, he’d be getting fined several times.

Not entirely damning by any means, but not awesome. I don’t want to see NBA players in rap videos. I want to see them on League Pass. Or hear about their workouts. Or know we’re only a month away from training camp. This stuff needs to be sorted out. Soon.

And I don’t know who Alley Boy is, but he needs a different director/cameraman. This thing will give you a headache.

(via Jim_Ice)

We’ve seen a lot of Dennis Rodman over the past few months. First there was the jersey retiring in Detroit, then the Hall of Fame enshrinement in Springfield earlier this month. But today there’s even more of Mr. Rodman to see. While Matt Moore was all about the Pearl Jam/Rodman connect over at HP a couple of weeks ago, late last night, Spurs beat writer Jeff McDonald tweeted this gem out to the basketball world. And let us be clear: it really and truly is absolutely and entirely precious.

The scene: Pearl Jam concert in Dallas, Texas, in 1998. A bare-footed Rodman wearing only basketball shorts and a straw hat barrels onto the stage to do a mini-jig alongside the band as the crowd goes wild. He rocks out with Eddie Vedder, then takes a seat on-stage to watch the performance. Eventually, the gravelly-voiced singer ends up on the Hall of Famer’s shoulders (3:16) and things go a little crazy.

If you’re scoring at home, Vedder gets a solid 9.8 for that dismount. Very, very impressive.

Yay! Kevin Durant’s going to be in a movie. This is going to be awesome. Great news.

OK, maybe we shouldn’t get excited just yet.

When I heard the news that Durant had signed on to star in a movie with a basketball subplot, I cringed a little bit. I’m not sure the general reaction to this news, but if I was cringing — I enjoy just about everything in the world — I have to think I’m not the only one.

Why did I react this way? Because it makes me a little nervous. Right now, we’re all about Kevin Durant. That’s a great thing. There are many worthy players to root for and support in this league, and Durant is at the top of the list. He’s ridiculously talented, unfailingly polite and as genuine as they come in the world of pro sports. He’s great for the league and the excitement and interest in Durant works for me.

When the media falls in love with a player, it’s fun. But when they decide to break up with that player, it’s always ugly. We build him up, place him on a pedestal that’s so precariously high, even the most levelheaded of professional athletes aren’t able to keep their balance forever. When they don’t, when they trip and stumble, that’s when we’re done with them and when it all starts to go downhill.

Of course, I don’t expect Durant to make the same moves that have come back to haunt LeBron James, but this does remind me of how people jumped on Dwight Howard when he hadn’t made the appropriate improvements to his game while he was making significant moves off the court. The harshest critics turned toward his non-basketball ventures and wondered if he wasn’t paying enough attention to his game and to getting better. I don’t see this happening with Durant because he’s been playing basketball all over the place and he’s been dominating at each of these stops, but I’d hate to see people judge him for wanting to expand outside of basketball a little.

Today’s professional athletes find themselves in a difficult spot with these things. They have to be on social media, they have to engage with fans and followers in a way never expected of them before, they have to sell their brand. Not taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them seems silly, but if they spread themselves too thin or if they don’t perform the way that is expected of them on the court, those opportunities are thrown back in their face.

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I recently had a chance to catch up with DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors. While we had a wide-ranging conversation that will largely be featured over on Raptorblog (Raptors talk and all), it was fun to hit the high-flying third-year player with some rapid fire questions about the league and game that he loves so much.

While some of these answers are exactly who andwhat you’d expect, it’s always better hearing it from a fellow NBAer than it is from a fellow blogger. There are also a few twists and turns and a couple of answers you might not have anticipated.

Another thing that’s nice about these quotes from DeRozan is that he has such a high level of respect and appreciation for the game that we all love. He gets it. He fully realizes he’s living the dream that he fell in love with years ago. Here’s DeRozan, on his NBA peers:

Holly MacKenzie: If you had to pick a starting five in the NBA, who would you go with?

DeMar DeRozan: From the NBA? NBA, let’s see. We’ll start with Center. Imma go with Dwight Howard. Power Forward, Amar’e Stoudemire. My three, my three is LeBron James. My two is me, and my one … who do I want as my one? Imma go with my man, John Wall.

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Chris Bosh is just one of the players who has been in China with Nike Basketball for the past week. Yesterday, he tweeted a link to a video on his WhoSay account of a fan in China asking him about that massive back tattoo that has been a work in progress over the past two seasons.

Check the video, but here’s what Bosh had to say about his sizable back piece.

Bosh: I mean it’s ummm … I like art. You know, so it was pretty much just a collage of everything that I like and a lot of it, all of it has meaning. A lot of history. My history, it’s my history. Everything has, you know … it’s not done yet. It’s a work in progress, so people are “Ohh, what’s that? It’s ugly.”

Interviewer: Is there a little spot open for the NBA championship trophy?

Bosh: Yeah, I mean, it worked for Jason Terry. I might as well do it too.

Nice. I enjoy the joke about Terry. However, I do have to ask, what part of his history does the skull-eating woman represent? I know he’s recently been in court over this “Basketball Wives” drama with his ex, but damn. I wouldn’t wish skull-eating women on anyone.

While each and every move that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have made this offseason has been reported, Joel Anthony has been spending his time in a sweltering hot college gym sweating away the pains of the season as he trains with the Canadian national team. After a whirlwind season with a level of media scrutiny that had never before been seen in professional sports, Anthony can breathe again. Unlike his superstar teammates, he gets to have basketball back, without all of the things that were inescapable when you have the perk of playing alongside James, Wade and Bosh and he’s been enjoying it.

Just how low key are things right now? After a recent practice at Ryerson University, I sat down with a sweat-drenched Anthony as he motioned around the empty gym, smiling at the lack of media presence. There was Cory Joseph getting in extra shooting work, guys getting tended to by trainers on the training tables and head coach Leo Rautins talking with son Andy while two guys who had made their way into the gym had taken over the court and were shooting around opposite Joseph. A far cry from the Heat practice courts, home and away, that had been stalked by media members all season. There was zero hype in this gym, but perhaps even more importantly, zero pressure.

Talking with Anthony, I asked him to take me through his season, the media, the journey and what it does to a player when they are thisclose to winning an NBA Championship.

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While we all lose during this NBA lockout, there are some players that are going to lose out more than others. You’ve got to feel for the rookies who started their NBA experience by getting drafted in Newark, New Jersey, rather than getting to walk across the stage of Madison Square Garden like draftees usually do. After getting drafted, they had a week to go to their new cities, meet their general managers and coaches and teammates, do a press conference to get their jersey, take some photos, and then that was it. No more contact with their coaches, no summer league, nothing.

That’s rough. Spurs rookie, Cory Joseph took advantage of the time between the draft and the beginning of the lockout, spending his time in San Antonio with some of his teammates. Because he hasn’t played in a few months, the Spurs wanted him to stay active and encouraged him to play for the Canadian National team.

After a recent practice with the team, Joseph couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face when he was talking about his new team. “It means a lot,” Joseph said of the Spurs decision to make him their newest player. “It’s one big family. First class organization. First class fan base. The way they treat each other is unbelievable. I know they’re unselfish and I’m an unselfish player. I’ll fit right in.”

Despite the lockout, Joseph has already began to build relationships with his new Spurs teammates and talks with them regularly. While he’s excited to get started when the work stoppage ends, he isn’t allowing himself any time to wonder about the draft-day deal the Spurs made to send George Hill to Indiana in exchange for rookie Kawhi Leonard.

“George Hill was a great player for them,” Joseph said. “I don’t try to get too much into that. That was obviously a decision they had to make and I’m just trying to go in there and do whatever Coach Popovich wants me to do.”

What Popovich and co. wanted, was for Joseph to spend his summer playing against international competition, so that’s what he’s going to do.

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