(Editor’s Note: if you are unfamiliar with Logan please watch the trailer.)
In the orange skies of the scorpion moon he sits alone in the locker room as his left hand trembles. There is the dull roar of metal on the tile as a rusty old wheelchair rolls in. Gregg Popovich gently pats his aging pupil on the back of the head.
“Manu, what did you do?”
“Pop, the world is not the same as it was. …Mutants, they’re gone now.”
Indeed, the old Spur is right.
Much has changed in the dystopian hell of 2017 South Texas. The president is a lunatic and the uncanny Duncan and Parker are no longer of this earth. Agents of evil like Draymond Green are on the hunt—Pop and Manu are all that is left.
Chapter 1: Narcissism
Many moons ago, Professor Charles Xavier found Logan (then known as Wolverine) in the vast northern mountains of Alberta, Canada—a bare knuckle brawler working in saloons, running from his past. RC Buford stumbled upon Ginobili the same way—the flowing hair and chaotic cowboy roaming the outback of Australia.
There was a sense the young man was as misunderstood as he was talented. In the mythology, there’s the tale of an unknown Manu in Indianapolis for a FIBA tournament, throwing down a dunk that silenced the 20,000 people in attendance. No video exists of the event; only torn limbs in the police report.
Logan film director James Mangold says something that drew him to Wolverine was that he was the least narcissistic comic book character you’ve ever seen. There was no need for a shiny costume; jeans and tank top would suffice. He was a man of duty and principle above all else.
Popovich had asked as much of Manu in those early days: Come off the bench; lead the second unit; sacrifice for the team. Things unheard of for a Hall of Fame talent.
The adjustment first challenged his ego, then the Spurs trait of “getting over yourself” began to settle in. It manifested even in his appearance. Manu started losing his hair, and in a league obsessed with appearance, brand, and youth, the old man never covered up for one moment with a headband.
Chapter 2: Bravery
Logan was the bravest of the Marvel Universe—a soldier who gave everything to those around him. No shot was too big for Ginobili. No pass or move too insane. He left his guts out on the court every night. So while Tim Duncan became the soul of San Antonio, it was Manu who possessed its heart.
Chapter 3: Healing
Both Logan and Manu lived with metal fused within—one of adamantium, the other of flowing silver.
Wolverine had the mythical healing factor, quickly regaining full health from any wound or bullet. His true age was a mystery—he’d traveled the world for over a century.
Manu had a previous life in Italy, Wolverine somewhere in Japan. Ginobili aged like no other. His benching may have been Pop’s greatest gift. Well into his 30s he was capable of preposterous things like this.
In the opening scene to Logan, the drunken mutant stumbles out of his limousine and almost regretfully unleashes his metal claws. Briefly, we see that one metal claw on his left hand is half-erect. He notices it before being punched in the face. Violence ensues. He unleashes his fury.
Old Man Manu had a similar impotency, losing his right testicle in the fog of war. After surgery, he returned quickly to practice with a military grade athletic supporter. Immediately, he was diving on the ground, drawing charges, attacking ruthlessly.
Ginobili vowed that once he returns, he would play with the same reckless abandon that has cemented his reputation around the league for more than 14 seasons.
“I’m not hesitating, I’m not in doubt, I’m not afraid,” he said.
Glance at footage of Manu on the bench: Muscle t-shirt; legs stretched out; no ice. It’s like he’s sitting in a cinema eating popcorn. Pop calls his name and he locks and loads. The man has only one gear. …It’s the way it’s always been.
Chapter 4: Family
In Logan, Charles Xavier tells the family of farmers at the dinner table that he used to run a school for gifted students. He laughs at how he had to throw Wolverine out a few times. Pop admits the same—he had to learn the greatest of patience for the Argentine. With time, it was trust that bonded them without fail.
Logan cared deeply for an aging Professor Xavier—getting his meds, feeding him, taking him to the toilet. The idea was to buy a SunSeeker and sail away together into the ocean’s dying light. Manu couldn’t walk away from Pop, either. Philadelphia’s front office offered him a suitcase of cash. Argentina promised a hero’s retreat. But Manu simply couldn’t leave, especially now that there were kids involved.
In a secret lab in Mexico City there was the birth of a group of young mutants now on the run for their lives—they had powers like the X-Men they had been cloned from.
The Spurs followed the same model. DNA of Tim Duncan was used to clone the quiet, iconic grace of Kawhi Leonard. Then there was Dejounte Murray, the unheralded 20-year-old point guard extraordinaire who fell late in the draft a la Tony Parker. …And then there was X-23.
She’s like you, very much like you.
Jonathan Simmons spent his life in the shadows grinding for something better. Bouncing around from college to college. League to league. Barely putting food on the table. But he was fearless and a swashbuckler and willed his way into the NBA in his mid-20s. Athletic and hyper-instinctual, he chases down blocks with the best of them, plays lockdown D, and has no mercy attacking the rim.
Manu couldn’t let these kids take on the world alone.
Yet people were saying the old man was washed up. At the start of the 2017 playoffs it looked like he had nothing left to give.
Player to watch tonight: Manu. He’s not washed, he’s just in a nasty funk. Trust me, the wizard still has something up his sleeves.
— Marc Griffin (@montrealmarc) April 26, 2017
Chapter 5: One Last Ride
There was an urgency to the man—an urgency that pulses when you know the end is near.
An uncanny villain appeared: a mutant clone of Wolverine called X-24—a larger, meaner version of himself. Manu faced this offspring with his own eyes. Houston’s James Harden—a big, burly, left-handed spawn—was sent out to kill him. Simmons did all he could to defend the bearded beast. And the old man dug deep and did this:
Alas, there was no time to breathe. Warriors were now in hot pursuit, with Kawhi hobbled and hope fading fast.
Logan, you still have time.
There was the mighty growl of the Argentine, running through the Alamo with his claws out one last time.
A frenzy of the Old Man scoring against Golden State: behind the back dribbles, nutmegs, and a ferocious dunk that nearly secured a victory.
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) May 15, 2017
Alas, Father Time caught up. He always does. You could see it in Manu’s eyes as the final buzzer rang.
Yet the children had found their freedom, their courage, and had lived to fight another day. It was indeed a silver lining to all the collateral damage.
And with that, they buried the old man. The last of the great X-Men was dead. Tears swelled and hearts bled, as a glowing daybreak rose just over the horizon.
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?
Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.
Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.
Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.
Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting.
These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA:
- 14.6 Points
- 7.6 Assists
- 6.0 Rebounds
- 1.8 Steals
- 0.8 Blocks
- 55.1 FG%
- 41.2 3P%
He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.
Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.
He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.
|2012||Damian Lillard (co-MVPs)||PG||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Josh Selby (co-MVPs)||PG||Memphis Grizzlies|
|2013||Jonas Valančiūnas||C||Toronto Raptors|
|2014||Glen Rice Jr.||SG||Washington Wizards|
|2015||Kyle Anderson||SF||San Antonio Spurs|
|2016||Tyus Jones||PG||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2017||Lonzo Ball||PG||Los Angeles Lakers|
With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.
The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.
Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.
If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.
Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You probably knew this before you laid eyes on these words.
It honestly doesn’t matter much who the Thunder traded away for “Melo” and who the Knicks received, because they weren’t anywhere near Melo’s overall value. But, it matters that Melo himself is gone and away from New York City, and for all his accolades, he honestly had a major part to play in his exodus.
New York has agreed to a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to OKC for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 23, 2017
Melo altogether is a player that both outplayed and underplayed his own potential. No one that saw him at Oak Hill Academy as a high schooler could for-sure say that he’d be a superstar, and everyone that saw him at Syracuse University might say he was a can’t-miss by then.
And he didn’t miss on most of what he’s teased, he’s delivered in a lot of ways; but, the reason why he didn’t work out in New York was because he was selfish to a fault in the key places that required compromise.
Do you remember how he got to Kings County in the first place? He forced a trade to the Knicks from his then-Denver Nuggets, a team that was teasing with talent abundant, but not unlike today, stuck in the mighty Western Conference. With title contenders like the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers at that time of the NBA, the 2010–2011 season, the Nuggets just weren’t going to make the noise they wanted to make. Melo was a free agent-to-be at the completion of that season, and it was likely that he’d leave. His time with the Nuggets, a very successful time, had run its course. The change was coming, and he was catalyst to the change he wanted to see in his world. Nothing wrong with that.
The problem was that Melo didn’t want to wait for New York. He wanted New York then and there, and it didn’t matter how it was going to happen.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks weren’t in a position to compete for a title during that season, something he long wanted to bring to New York upon his eventual arrival.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to gut their team’s best assets in a trade for the Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised native. It didn’t matter that if he waited until the season was over, he could be playing with a young and promising Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov (a revelation upon his arrival to the States from Russia), amongst others.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to sacrifice draft picks for him, instead of keeping them upon signing later.
It didn’t matter to Melo.
And so, when he arrived in New York, in early 2011, he received the adulation and praise of a prodigal son. Sure, the team lost some valuable talent and depth, but surely Melo would will the Knicks into wild success — just like he did in Denver, right?
And sure enough, after he rebuked the Linsanity of 2012 when Jeremy Lin became an overnight NBA superstar and balked at the prospect of Lin’s resigning, he gained some success.
The 2012–2013 season saw Melo as the closest thing to being an MVP candidate that anyone had ever seen from him as a professional in an 82-game season, but not before being totally indifferent to former head coach Mike D’Antoni’s wishes for him to play more at power forward to stretch the offensive side of the ball for the Knicks and the defenses of the opposing league teams. D’Antoni quit before the end of the 2011–2012 season, because of Melo’s loathsome resistance to D’Antoni and the coach’s embrace of Lin.
A big aspect of Melo’s failure to bring glory to Manhattan was his resistance to doing what has made him a legend in USA Basketball. Having won multiple gold medals as a stretch-four shooter, that he refused to embrace that positioning as an NBA pro limited the ability of his teams to win.
As a four, Melo, who had gained grown-man weight from natural maturity and strength and conditioning, didn’t have to be the cavity in his team’s defense as he struggled as a man-to-man defender. Moving from his formerly-natural small forward slot could allow him to defend more ably and allow someone more fleet of foot to stop the dominant wings that Melo often matched up against. Becoming something different and better in a new place would’ve allowed him the opportunity to be greater than anyone had known him to be in an NBA uniform.
But, he refused and rebuked such a change.
And one last thing: Injuries and front office politics aside, Melo was loyal to the Knicks organization through and through. But, he had a choice to go.
So, to recap, Melo forced a trade to New York that gutted the talent of the roster, and then he refused to change to a position that would behoove him and the team in the journey to championship gain.
Well, he also had a chance to leave for greener pastures and become a Chicago Bull, where he could experience more success with a front office committed to his development and surrounding talent. He didn’t want to do that, and that’s fair. New York was home, but if he was going to win in New York, seeing as to how being the way that he’d always been wasn’t helping — that is shoot-first, ask questions and defend later — why return to The Big Apple if you aren’t going to change?
He saw what being a score-only wing was giving his teams — it gave his teams very little success for the vast majority of 14 years. Sure, his Nuggets and Knicks made the playoffs (not so much New York) much of the time, but he said he wasn’t playing for that.
In the end, Melo and the Knicks not working out could be seen before he even became a Knick, when Melo stomped his way out of Denver to play immediately for New York when it would’ve behooved him to stay put for two more months.
Championship or bust, they say.
He couldn’t really compromise too well for the chip, it appears.
In the end, Carmelo Anthony — despite years of league-leading jersey sales, runway appearances, and bright lights on the New York City streets with LaLa — was a big, fat, shining, New York bust.
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 18
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 16
Hardwood Battles | The Break | Episode 15
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
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