Tag Archives: NBA All Star Game

The Ave Podcast – The NBA’s Most Influentials

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 190: The NBA’s Most Influentials

Today on The Ave Podcast, in celebration of the NBA’s 75 Greatest Players of All-Time for the All-Star Festivities in Cleveland, we present our Top 5 Most Influential NBA Players Ever Between the Lines. We based the list on the influential impact these players have on The Game in terms of how it affected rule changes; how it influenced the next generation of players; if players & teams in and out of the league mimicked their style; etc. I’m joined by Bill Gagne of the Royal City Hoops Podcast as we present our Top 5 Most Influential Players; plus we share our thoughts on the Top 15 Head Coaches List; the potentially awkward encounters during the Top 75 meetings; and more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. The podcasts are available for download. You can check out South Shore Ave on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyTuneIn and Alexa, the South Shore Ave YouTube Channel, as well as wherever else you listen to podcasts. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 190

Stephen Curry stats: Why is Warriors star stuck in shooting slump after breaking 3-point record? | Sporting News


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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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The Ave Podcast – The NBA’s Midseason Special

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 149: The NBA’s Midseason Special 

Today on The Ave Podcast, I’m joined by Bill Gagne from the Royal City Hoops Podcast as we break down the first half of the NBA season. We discuss if the Lakers & the Nets are still the favorites to meet up in the NBA Finals; if Utah & Phoenix’s success is sustainable; if Kristaps Porzingis is still worthy of the Unicorn moniker; plus we select our midseason All-NBA Teams; discuss the Brooklyn Nets acquiring Blake Griffin; and a lot more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. The podcasts are available for download. You can check out South Shore Ave on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyTuneIn and Alexa, as well as wherever else you listen to podcasts. The South Shore Ave YouTube Channel is now up & running. You can get to all of those apps on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 149

NBA All Star Game Predictions: Picks and Snubs - The New York Times

(Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)


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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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The Ave Podcast – #TankCity

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 147: #TankCity

Today on The Ave Podcast, we discuss #TankCity, a place were NBA teams (whose season is essentially already over before the All-Star break) have moved to in preparation for their offseason, and most likely longer. I’m joined by SSA Family Member Julian aka Jules Commish as we discuss the new residents of the city; whether these teams should be leasing or buying; plus we share our nominees for the All-Star starters in each conference.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. The podcasts are available for download. You can check out South Shore Ave on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyTuneIn and Alexa, as well as wherever else you listen to podcasts. The South Shore Ave YouTube Channel is now up & running. You can get to all of those apps on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 147

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Photo: AP Photo/Andy Clayton- King)


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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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The Ave Podcast – The ’19 NBA Midseason Report #2ndTrimester

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 66: The ’19 NBA Midseason Report #2nd Trimester

Today on The Ave Podcast, I invite Jan-Michael Nation (Ryerson University Hall of Famer & Alumnist) to the show as we break down the 2nd Trimester of the 2018-19 NBA Season. We discuss the events of the latest All-Star Weekend, including the big game, Joe Harris’ star turn,  and Anthony Hamilton’s attempt to chase the ghosts of Marvin Gaye. We also break down the Anthony Davis drama in New Orleans, discuss exactly how Magic is doing as a Laker exec, plus dole out our NBA Awards for the 2nd Trimester (6th Man, ROY, DPOY, MVP, etc), and more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. You can now check out the podcasts on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. You can get to all of those apps on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 66

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(Getty Images)


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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to Jan-Michael Nation for his guest appearance on this podcast. For the ’18-’19 1st Trimester, click onto Part 1 and Part 2.


The Ave Podcast – The NBA’s Midseason Report #2ndTrimester

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 40: The NBA’s Midseason Report #2ndTrimester 

Today on The Ave Podcast, I invite O’Neil Kamaka (St. Mary’s Alumnist, Oakwood Collegiate Asst. Head Coach) to discuss the first half of the NBA season. We break down our selections for the NBA Awards at the 2nd trimester of the season, The NBA’s All-Star Weekend, Cleveland’s recent moves & whether or not this is the perfect team for LeBron James, and we wrap up the podcast with O’Neil sharing his thoughts on the blockbuster movie Black Panther.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. You can also check out the podcasts on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, & Stitcher on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 40

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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to O’Neil Kamaka for his guest appearance on this podcast.


The Ave Podcast – NBA Convos, #CanBall, & The Coaching Life

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 35: NBA Convos, #CanBall, & The Coaching Life

Today on The Ave Podcast, I invite Christa Eniojukan (Head Coach of Durham Elite’s Basketball Prep Program) to discuss the evolution of DeMar DeRozan, the Cavaliers dysfunction, and the NBA All Star Format. We then spend the 2nd half of the podcast discussing the genesis of her basketball coaching journey, break down her experience of being HC of Team Ontario’s U17 Girls team the last four summers, the Renaissance of Team Canada’s Woman’s Basketball team, and a lot more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. You can also check out the podcasts on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, & Stitcher on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 35


To download the podcast, feel free to click the link below:



Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to Christa Eniojukan for her guest appearance on this podcast.

Why Drake Releasing A New Album For NBA All Star Weekend Is A Great Idea

In a couple of weeks from now, Toronto will be hosting the largest (if not one of the largest) sporting events in this city’s history. Sorry CFL fans & Grey Cup Guzzlers, it’s the truth. The NBA All Star Game & Weekend is finally coming across the border. I personally have been waiting for this since the NBA announced that Toronto & Vancouver were getting NBA Franchises back in the early 90s. I assumed once the Raptors got settled in (much like Miami, Charlotte, Orlando, & Minnesota a few short years after getting an expansion team), they would get to host an All Star game. Nope. Instead we had to wait 20 years for the NBA to finally deem Toronto worthy. Now that it’s almost showtime, many people are extremely excited for the opportunity to see what all the hype is all about. Almost as big as the event itself, everyone’s wondering what Drake is going to do for that weekend.

The only things that’s been confirmed so far is that he will be coaching one of the teams in the Celebrity Game against Kevin Hart, & that he’s releasing his OVO Jordans the same weekend. Outside of that, no one knows what else he has planned just yet. It could be everything, it could be nothing. He could do concerts across the city, he could perform in front of Maple Leaf Square; or at Dundas Square; or take a heated flatbed down Yonge St & perform all his songs Carnival-style like Kendrick Lamar did in L.A. last summer; or he could just attend all the parties like everyone else (doubtful, but technically an option). No one knows for sure.* If I’m Drake though, none of the above listed items will have as much impact as him releasing “Views From The 6” during All Star weekend…. you know, IF that’s what he chooses to do. It would be the smartest of moves if he pulls that off again like he did for last year’s All Star Weekend. To recap, here’s what happened last February & the impact it had once If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late came out:

The Unexpected Album Drop. In today’s music climate, it has become hard to generate a healthy buzz for your album, and unless you’re a major superstar artist, it’s even harder to make that flip towards large amounts of sales. The music game has changed greatly in the last ten years as you know (think about it: when was the last time you bought a CD off the shelf? Or in a store for that fact?) Unless your album is filled with classic material & that fact is being promoted all throughout the music industry before your album release, generating an album release buzz is much more difficult than it used to be. You know what works in our social media/digital age instead? Unexpected Album Drops! (Let’s refer to it as “UAD” for the remainder of the article). Nothing sets social media on fire more than your favorite artist dropping a new album on you without warning. Not only does it create major news & help that artist trend everywhere, it’s also protection from the album being leaked earlier than its scheduled release date. In a way, it puts the power back into the artist hands. A few artists have done it prior to “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” (ie. Beyonce’s last album), but when Drake did it last winter, it set Twitter on fire. By the next morning, customized “If You’re Reading This…” memes & gifs were already on heavy rotation before you even heard a track. A lead-off single, or a pre-album write up in XXL wasn’t needed. The public literally determined what was hot from the album, & within a few weeks, 14 songs from the album made it on the Billboard charts, something only the Beatles accomplished in music history (until Justin Bieber beat that record with his Purpose album). Let’s take it a bit further…..

He Sent a Shot to His Competition. We all remember the whole Drake vs Diddy episode, so I won’t rehash it here. What was underrated about the UAD was its timing. At Madison Square Garden last All Star Thursday, Diddy had his first concert to kick off the All Star Weekend, as well as his 20th Anniversary of Bad Boy Records, his first concert in years. It had many, many big names from Snoop, to Nas, to Dr. Dre, to entire former Bad Boy Family + countless surprise guests performing on stage. Looked like an awesome time to be honest. On top of that, whoever couldn’t attend was able to stream the concert on their devices. Around midnight, while the concert was in full swing, Drake does a UAD on the masses. Within the hour, the streaming numbers took a bit of a hit, and even people at the concert took their attention off the stage for a few moments to check their phones respecting the breaking news. It was a chess move. By the time the concert was over, everyone focused their attention to digesting the album for the remainder of the weekend, therefore, putting the spotlight squarely back on Drake. What a time to have it on him because…..

His Album Dropped during “Black Super Bowl” Weekend. Shout out to Bill Simmons for being the first person to publicly coin that term as the “aka” for the NBA All Star Weekend. Since the mid-80s, that weekend has been known for when all the biggest black celebrities in the world get together to take part in the festivities and parties. The All Star Game & festivities take over wherever the host city it’s in like Bigfoot. So naturally, when Drake’s UAD happened, all the celebrities & athletes devoured it like everyone else that weekend, sharing their favorite songs & slangs from the album all over social media. Of course, this is all being re-tweeted & liked by their own followers hundreds of thousands of times, basically making the buzz now turn into The Hulk. You couldn’t possibly pay for better promotion that this.

His Album Dropped on Family Day Weekend. For those that don’t live in Ontario, starting in 2008, an extra long weekend was added to the calendar & was no longer to be the only province in the country with the lowest long weekend totals every year. The great part about Family Day Weekend is that every year it falls on All Star Weekend, so for you hoop junkies (myself included), this is a great weekend to kick back & watch all the festivities and old All Star Game marathons on NBA TV…… as well as spend quality time with family of course (coving my ass here folks). For Torontonians, Drake’s UAD became the official soundtrack for the weekend. Everyone riding around the city in the -45 degree climate to hit up clubs, get-togethers &/or house parties was bumping Drake’s most Toronto-centric album he’s made. I mentioned this to some friends after listening to it the first time. Anyone who was born & raised in Toronto basically stuck out their chests here. Pretty soon, the world would start implementing some of Toronto’s ebonics into their slang venacular. If Drake was the unofficial King of the City, this album added a couple of more rubles to his crown.

He Completed his Contract with Young Money/Cash Money? In one of the smarter moves around, with this particular UAD, Drake would have fulfilled his album obligations with Young Money/Cash Money. With the Cash Money empire in major flux, he may have jumped out the window of a burning house to free himself up towards his own OVO Sound Record Label. Although it keeps being called a Mixtape, it was sold on iTunes with YMCMB attached to it, and also scanned as one of the few platinum albums in the music business for 2015, therefore fulfilling his 4-album contract with his label in the process. If this is actually the case here, these strategies are almost Sun Tzu-like. (Here’s something that needs to be asked: Considering he put out an album that had no marketing or promotion of any kind, yet he still went platinum & broke records on the charts, does he really need to be signed to a record label with anybody at all? Do you really even need a distribution deal from a record label when you’re at his level, if his albums are being bought online & streamed exclusively? It’s an interesting thought.)

We can all admit now whether you love him or hate him, Drake is having an unbelievable 12 months. From winning rap battles, releasing another “Mixtape” with Future, dropping “Hotline Bling” which has taken off on the music charts, Serena, the Apple Deal, launching apps, & continuing to make OVO into one of the hottest brands in Hip Hop.

However, if he repeats the method & release an album’s worth of new material in a couple of weeks, it will further cement his legacy in Toronto. It’s one thing to do what he did in New York City, but putting out Views From The 6 when the spotlight will already be shining on Toronto (especially if the album is nice) will take it to another level. It could be an added event that nobody in the city ever forgets, especially for the ones that share his generational demographic. The Drake Brand can post another win locally and worldwide.

Here’s an underrated reason that’s potentially being glossed over…..

I for one, have always believed that Drake’s role as Global Ambassador of the Toronto Raptors was an underrated move by the Raptors. Just for the simple fact that he is either friends with a lot of major superstar players, or the ones that don’t know him personally (especially the younger players) revere him. In other words, because of who he is, he can put himself in places the average NBA GM cannot, simply due to his lifestyle. Please don’t get it twisted, some of your favorite basketball players love hanging out in this city for quite some time, & you can see a lot of them roaming the city during Caribana Weekend when Drake has his annual OVO Fest.

It lends itself to what Tim Lieweke & Masai Ujiri started in 2013, which is changing the narrative & perception to how NBA players feel about playing in Toronto. At the very least, you want to be respected enough to have the good Free Agents listen to your phone call to get you in the room to take a meeting. 2016 has been deemed as an important year for the Raptors for quite some time now in terms of being seen as a world class city (which is already established), a world class basketball organization, & as major players in the NBA. The Raps have the All-Star game, the new practice facility (which is supposed to be amazing by all accounts) that will be ready shortly, & will be pulling all the stops to show the world what kind of organization this is. Drake’s role on the team whether you believe in it or not, has helped in some ways with raising the awareness about the city with other basketball players & pro athletes. IF Drake does a UAD, the momentum of the aftershocks of that might play a part in how some of these athletes feel about playing for this city in a few months. You might laugh at that & say that’s ridiculous, but a couple of years ago, would you ever think you’d see Kevin Durant wearing a David Price Blue Jays jersey at a concert in Toronto either? I want to make this clear. This is not about believing that Drake can sign players. It’s about changing the perception about how people view a franchise to the point that you’re respected enough for Free Agents to listen to your pitch. That’s all that matters in these cases, that you get a chance to get your foot in the door & make a pitch.

As long as he’s affiliated to the Raptors, doing things like dropping UADs on All-Star weekend to help alter the environment for Player X’s enjoyment for example, helps market the Raptors down the line. It’s almost like dining at an upscale restaurant. You go there for the main course, but if the side dishes are incredible, the wine is aged just right & the service is top notch, you’re going to remember that restaurant experience once it’s time to decide where to dine out again, right? While I’m not relegating Drake’s UAD potential to a side dish, in the case of the Raptors place in the NBA Landscape, experiencing that on a weekend such as this could be placed in a future Free Agent’s memory bank, whether he’s there or hears about it from his peers.

It could be an interesting time in a couple of weeks in Toronto IF this album drops that weekend, going along with all the all-star festivities. Stay tuned…..

* I’m also hearing rumors courtesy of Jacky Jasper that the City of Toronto is banning Drake from headlining any after parties during All Star Weekend due to the aftermath of the shootings from the OVO Fest After Parties at Muzik nightclub last summer. You can read about it here, more as this develops of course.


– Everyone keeps making fun of LeBron’s hairline issues & begging for him to cut his hair off. So, you guys are just gonna keep ragging on LBJ, but let Marcus Thornton walk these streets freely huh? That’s actually going to happen?

– If the over/under for Half American/Half Canadian babies being born in late November that were conceived in Toronto is 100, I’m taking the over. I’ll also bet about 8-10 of those babies will come with annual six-figure attachments by way of the Child Support Express…..

– The narrative of LeBron being totally unaware about David Blatt being fired like the rest of society……I don’t want to call someone an outright liar or anything, but I also have no frigging idea how to finish this sentence so…..

– If a condom company was smart, they’d have a kiosk planted at every major hotel across Toronto in about two weeks……

– Do I have to apologize for liking Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” song? I mean, I don’t have to hold onto that secret any longer, right? Ok, cool. Phew!!….

– After watching Steph Curry dismantle the Spurs on Monday, is there any way that the NBA could just announce the regular season MVP award to Curry during the All Star weekend? There really isn’t any point of waiting until May to officially give it to him….

– You’ve seen Josh Smith & Lance Stephenson slapboxing on the bench during OT of that Clippers game a couple weeks ago, right? #KnuckNation

– Speaking of the Knucklehead Awards, did Blake Griffin submit his registration forms too late for this year, or was he getting an early jump on next year’s awards? How do you do that to your boy (Assistant Equipment manager of the Clippers), & what the hell could have been said that you punch him (at a packed restaurant apparently), then follow him out the restaurant to punch him again, repeatedly? Did he sleep with your woman? Stole money from you?? Wore your underwear??? What’s the story here?!?!

– As far as David Blatt is concerned, his major problem was that he wasn’t meant to coach this team. He signed on to coach a rebuilding team with young players headlined by Kyrie Irving & Andrew Wiggins being the faces of the franchise. Then LeBron decided to come home & changed everything. They went from “let’s hope to make the playoffs in the next couple of years” to “championship or bust” by the time training camp started. It’s asking a lot out of most coaches, much less Blatt to coach that kind of team, especially when you have never coached in the NBA before. Once LeBron started treating Blatt like someone who showered every 5th day but always wants to hug it out, everyone else followed suit, including Tyronne Lue who used to call timeouts behind his back.

Unlike Miami’s situation a few years ago, Blatt did not have the backing from management & ownership to stand firm with LeBron. So it was only a matter of time. On top of that, personally, he always seemed a little pompous to me, always reminding people in interviews that he won a million championships in Israel, as if he had to continually validate himself to the public that he was a good coach and not Lebron’s wash cloth. He may have been doomed to fail from the start, but between that, and what Brendan Haywood had to say about the situation, it’s not as if he exactly helped himself either.


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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The Raptors Plight…

Where do I begin?

No, seriously. Help me. Where do I begin?

After all the goodwill the Raptors have made on their City with their hard playing, never-say-die attitude for most of the past 12 months, they laid down a lack-of-heart effort during Game 4 vs. Washington. It was to the point where some Wizards players were laughing, taunting, & trolling the Raps both on or off the court. They also let Paul Pierce’s “It” statement seem prophetic, which was only worsened by Paul’s continuous dagger 3s throughout the series. Don’t forget, Bradley Beal not only played some of his best basketball, but he turned Kyle Lowry into the little stepbrother than he hates, cussing him out every chance their parents turned their backs. Getting swept is never good obviously, but going out the way they did is way worse. When Boston and New Orleans got swept, you could tell they gave it everything they had, but they just weren’t as good or talented enough to beat Cleveland and Golden St. respectively. This was bad. A really bad series for the Raptors. It opened your eyes as to who this team really is.

Now, I let a few days breeze by before I offered this response. I know everyone is disgusted with the Raps, from the biggest basketball lover to the most inconsistent casual fan. Believe me, every Raptor fan has that right. Personally, I stopped watching the series with any consistency after halftime of Game 2, where the Wizards were up 11 at halftime. I pretty much knew at that moment, that the Wizards were going to go up 2-0, and unless Toronto did a 180-degree on their performance, they were not going to win four out of the next five games to win the series. In my mind, the series was already decided. I initially picked the Raps to win in seven, mostly because I was hoping that the team that started the season 24-8, would reappear, instead of the team that ended the season 25-25, & has consistently been mediocre since Jan. 1st. Basically, it was the equivalent of thinking with your heart, and not your head…. and I got played. I would like to be like everyone else & start the movement of blowing up the team, but I won’t do that. Honestly, it’s going to be a very interesting off-season for the Raps, but I don’t think blowing it up completely is the way to go. Here are some reasons why:

  1. You can’t blow up a team that won the division handily in back-to-back seasons. Even if the division is as shitty as the Atlantic division is right now. It’s hard to go into rebuilding mode after the team has won 48 & 49 games the past two years. If anything, you retool. After the way the team collapsed in the playoffs, I think you definitely have to explore the option of finding another coach. Dwayne Casey is one of those coaches that you build with when you’re at the bottom, but I’m not 100% sure he can take you over the top. We can look at Scott Brooks as an available candidate, but I always felt he’s in that Casey mold: good, but not great. His players at OKC were unreal & that pushed his career further along than anyone expected. Plus, I can see him in contention for the intriguing Orlando coaching vacancy (OKC familiarity/ties with GM Rob Hennigan + young solid assets). Someone who I would be looking at is Mark Jackson. Jackson of course has history with the organization (albeit a short one) playing for the Raps in the 2000-01 season before he got traded to the New York Knicks. Moreover, Jackson provides that confidence boost in his stars (ie. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson) & adds that overall mental toughness that this team lacked during the last three plus months. Maybe they can throw extra money at him to rest his head, after he spends two weeks in June announcing the NBA Finals, where his former team that just fired him 12 months prior, wins it all right in front of his face…. potentially.
  1. Raps can’t rebuild, not with this #WeTheNorth movement growing faster by the day. It may sound dumb, but man…… there was a lot of time, money, promoting, marketing, and merch spent, sold, and invested on this #WeTheNorth movement thing. You can say, “Who cares?! Scrap the whole thing!” if you want to, but the fact remains, this is the best promotional branding push in the history of this franchise. The #WeTheNorth idea is cool, unique, it reps the city, and allows for the rest of the country to get in on the fun. The younger generation has engulfed themselves in it, to the point of wearing the merch like a flag. It’s one of the best trend-setting things the Raps have done, period. The new path of branding is real, but harder to sell if the team is going back to winning 30 games a season. Now, are some people looking at their #WeTheNorth Tees and fitteds sideways after what they saw these last four games? Certainly, but as long as they continue to play hard, improve, and present a quality product each and every night on the floor, they will still stay with the movement.
  1. Toronto is hosting the All Star Game in less than 10 months. We want the rest of the basketball world to take us seriously, right? Do you really want them looking at a losing, starting-from-the-bottom franchise again, while they are stealing every available groupie walking in the downtown core in February 2016? The moves that have been made (including a new practice facility currently being built) is showing that the franchise are ready to take the steps to change the perception that they aren’t anything but a world class organization, especially regarding future free agents. It’s a process, and it will take time, but showing another era of a rebuild is not the way to go, and they won’t go that route.

With everything being said, “the sweep” did take the shine off this season somewhat, and left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, including Raps management, that’s for sure. However, there were some good things that did happen throughout the season. They officially have an All-star backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, a developing big man in Jonas Valencuinas (who is still waiting to get major minutes), and Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams as a solid scorer off the bench (IF he resigns). They also won a franchise record 49 wins, which was one game better that their record last year (shoulder shrug?). However, they need to get a big man that can score around the basket consistently in a serious way (like a David West type), and some veterans that can make a real impact on and off the floor. As much as not resigning fan favorite Amir Johnson would hurt, Toronto will get over it if it meant challenging for the conference Finals &/or the Finals each season with a tough, scoring big. Easier said than done for sure, but somehow, some way, Raps GM Masai Ujiri has to figure out a way to improve the team. This playoff disappointment put the team at a bit of a crossroads, but it is not dire. One thing we know for sure, they cannot come back with this same roster intact. Not only will Atlanta, Cleveland, and Chicago still be around, Washington will also be there ready to slap the Raps down again. Milwaukee will be improved with Jabari Parker back in the fold and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be another year improved; Indiana will have Paul George at 100% optimal health (and was looking pretty good in limited minutes when he came back); Miami will be rested, healthy, and loaded once they resign Goran Dragic; depending on who the Knicks get in Free Agency + their top lottery pick (ie. Jahlil Okafor possibly), they could get right back into the swing of things.  Even young teams like Orlando (with the right coaching hire) and Philly (depending on how you feel about Joel Embiid) could be much improved from this season. The East isn’t good right now, but it will get better as quickly as next year. The Raps management will have to figure out what has to be done, or else the momentum they have built since that Rudy Gay trade will cease, and they go back to fighting the Maple Leafs, FC, and Blue Jays for the crown to be the Kings of Mediocrity all over again.


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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NBA’s 1st Half Rundown: 2015

With the second half of the NBA underway, and the most wide open season we have had in years (and all the contenders stocking up on players like an arms race between warring countries), let’s have a quick rundown on some of the stories from the 1st half of the NBA season.

Who’s the 1st Half MVP?

I’m sure there will be some candidates rising in the second half of the season (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Marc Gasol, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, etc), but it’ll be hard pressed to surpass anything that James Harden and Steph Curry have been doing this season, especially if they continue to play like this. Harden, in fact, has put the team on his back (27.4 PPG/5.7 RBG/6.8 ASG/2 SPG/45% FG/87% FT/38% 3P), taking whatever spare part of the alpha dog mantle that Dwight Howard had, and has carried the Rockets all season & kept them high in the pecking order of the Western Conference. He deserves to be saluted to be honest, he’s basically been unstoppable. You know who’s been slightly more unstoppable this season? Stephen Curry.

When he first became known at Davidson during his freshman year, his shooting exploits were beyond explanation. By the time he was a Junior, he was easily one of the best players in the country despite his slight build and small school pedigree. In fact, I used to argue with one of my friends (I won’t name said friend here….. but Marco was that guy. Ok, sorry Marco. Actually, I’m not that sorry…) about his NBA potential. I always believed he’d be able to hang in the pros, because if all else fails, he can live off of being a deadly spot up shooter. Secretly, though, the way he used to get his shot off & set his defenders up to create space, I would hope he’d be better than that. I never thought I’d see what I’m seeing from him now. He’s treating the league like it’s his little brother. He’s somehow mixed the best parts of Steve Nash & Allen Iverson’s game & combined it with his. It’s become comical how well he can shoot from anywhere & under any scenario (23.6 PPG, 48% FG/90% FT/40% 3P), how his handles have become Isaiah Thomas-esque, how he’s reduced b-ball fans into giggling schoolgirls whenever they watch him, & how he’s turned Golden St to not only the best team in the West right now, but also the most entertaining team in the NBA.

I want to go back to his ball handling for a second. When it comes to basketball, my belief is that having great handles is like having a universal master key that allows you to open any door. It creates opportunities to set your defender up to better control the game. Curry has improved that part of his game so much in the last couple of years, that it has now become as lethal as his jumper, and that alone makes him completely dangerous. It’s allowed him to become one of the best slashers in the NBA as well as one of its best passers and creators (8 assists per), and it also provides him with supreme confidence that the entire Warrior team feeds off of. There is nothing in the NBA right now, as enticing as watching Curry get hot (no pun intended) during a game. When he gets going, Twitter blows up, Vines start popping up from everywhere, & if you’re included in some chat groups on your phone, then it starts vibrating like crazy. The greatest part of Klay Thompson’s 37-point 3rd quarter vs. the Kings (on his way to a 50-point night) outside of the fact that you couldn’t believe what you were watching, to me was being slightly surprised that it actually wasn’t Steph doing this first. Meanwhile he was laughing almost in hysterics at what was happening as well, enjoying the moment as much as any Warrior fan in the building. About two weeks later, he dropped 51 on the Mavericks scoring 26 of his own in the 3rd quarter. The way this season has been going for Curry so far, that honestly sounds about right.

Will Kevin Love stay with the Cavaliers?

I can’t see how. You have to think about it in these terms for a second. In last year’s All Star game, he started for the West. In this year’s All Star game, he didn’t even make the team…..for the East. That alone has probably made him second guess this move to Cleveland if he hasn’t already, despite what he says publicly. After watching his franchise fail time & time again to put him in a position to win in Minnesota (which included the screw up of only offering him 4-year extension instead of the 5-year franchise max offer), Love wanted to be part of a winning culture. So getting traded to Cleveland where LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was a win in his case. I’m positive he knew he was going to sacrifice certain parts of his game to make this work, but I’m sure he wasn’t expecting this.

He’s become a 3rd option on offense, someone who spends more time spotting up for jumpers and threes, than controlling the boards & the paint…. you know, something he’s getting paid almost $16M this season to do. His stats have come down pretty much across the board which is expected (Last season: 26.1 PPG/12.5 RBG, 3 offensive/46% FG/37.6 3P; This season: 17 PPG / 10.4 RBG, 2 offensive/43% FG/34% 3P), however with the trade of J.R. Smith, it’s not surprising to see him with the 4th most shot attempts on the Cavs most nights now, which I guarantee he did not sign up for. Then he has to hear his coach David Blatt state the he is not a max player (though he predictably backtracked afterwards) & then LeBron calling him out on Twitter in a passive aggressive manner (which he also backtracked, then admitted the Twitter comment, to only moonwalk again).

Where it becomes sticky is that despite his struggles, this is the best team he’s even been on by far who’s gotten hot over the last month (won 14 of its last 16), so it’s hard for him to complain when his team has been winning. But obviously things are not going well for him this season so far, so he has to hope things get better sooner than later. If not, he’ll have to look at his options. I think the only way he stays in Cleveland is if he opts into his contract for next season, & tests the market in 2016 when the cap will skyrocket. The problem is, if he continues to go up & down in play until then, will it take enough of a hit to his value that he won’t get the max? K-Love’s got a lot to consider in the upcoming months.

Most Disappointing Teams?

You can consider a few, but for me this season, it’s definitely Charlotte and Denver. After the way the Hornets played this season, I assumed they would build on that success while adding Lance Stephenson to the mix. This season however, has been marred with injuries, Lance has been inconsistent and him & Hornets coach Steve Clifford has not seen eye to eye in philosophies, rookies Noah Vonleah and P.J. Hairston has been coming along extremely slowly this year having little to no impact whatsoever. As far as Denver is concerned, when a coach from a professional NBA team has to try banning his team of NBA professional players from cell phone use in team meetings, pretty much says in all. Kenneth Faried —  after a huge performance in the World Championships this summer & $50M contract extension — has stayed pretty stagnant. Danilo Gallanari seems like he’s still recovering from his knee surgeries, they played with an overall flair of indifference, as of yesterday, started the process of cleaning house (although most teams are probably upset they didn’t get Wilson Chandler before the trade deadline) & at this point, it seems like the team has pretty much quit on Brian Shaw and vice versa. I’d be surprised if Shaw comes back to coach the team next season.

Predictions for 2nd Half of the Regular Season:

Steph Curry will win his 1st MVP award……. Mike Budenholzer will win his first Coach of the Year award…… Golden St will finish with the best record in the West & Atlanta will hold down the top spot in the East…… I said this last year, I stop doubting what the San Antonio Spurs do every year. With that said, barring health, they will finish in the Top 3 in the West & that will help Tim Duncan land the Defensive Player of the Year. If that doesn’t happen & the Spurs don’t make that leap, count on Draymond Green winning it…….. 6th Man of the Year: See Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” album, Track 12…… Hassan Whiteside will win Most Improved Player (my wild prediction)…. Paul George will come back in time for Indiana to make a playoff push, but it won’t mean anything….. The Raptors finish again with the 3rd seed in the East & will fight Chicago for the #2 spot right until the very end……. Isaiah Thomas will cry his way to Boston. Can you imagine leaving the desert, for a city that’s experiencing the worst winter in history? And the team sucks??? I’d be bawling the whole flight complete with snot bubbles & hyperventilating episodes…… Reggie Jackson will channel his inner Westbrook until he gets called into Stan Van Gundy’s office, and only Andre Drummond & Greg Monroe are waiting for him. Then the door locks behind Reggie……. Reggie Jackson will be top 4 in assists for the rest of the season after that meeting……

Predictions for final Regular Season Conference Standings

  1. Atlanta – Barring a major collapse, I can’t see them losing a 6.5 game lead over the conference. Huge game tonight vs. Toronto.
  2. Chicago – Getting healthier. Week off is especially huge for Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose to recover from their knee issues.
  3. Toronto – Should solidify the 3rd seed at the very least with one of the easiest schedules remaining in the NBA.
  4. Cleveland – Team LeBron is rounding into form. Next step: Showing Kevin more Love.
  5. Washington – If I’m correct, a potential 1st round series vs. Cleveland will be one of the most intense playoff series in a couple of months.
  6. Milwaukee – Getting Coach Kidd to mold MCW will be one of the most underrated things to watch. I like what the Bucks are building so far.
  7. Miami – I would actually rank Miami higher (especially after acquiring Goran Dragic yesterday), but everything hinges on Chris Bosh’s health right now. If lost for the season (blood clot in his lung), Miami stays where they are.
  8. Detroit – I almost….ALMOST put Brooklyn in this spot, but adding Reggie Jackson yesterday is a slightly bigger upgrade for Detroit than it is for Brooklyn scooping up Thaddeus Young. Have a feeling this will go down to the wire.

Western Conference

  1. Golden St. – This might be the strongest a conference has been in my lifetime. The 8th seed could beat the top seed and no one will bat an eye. Anyway, they’ll hold onto the top spot.
  2. Memphis – Picking up Jeff Green fills the one flaw this team had (athletic wing that can score on his own). This might be the best team in the West when it’s all said and done.
  3. San Antonio – Now that everyone is healthy, I can see them going on a late run. Gregg Popovich says everything hinges on Tony Parker to repeat. 21-3-13 with 0 TOs (in a loss to the Clippers last night)? I’d say he’s off to a good start so far.
  4. Portland – Threw themselves in the Western Conference arms race by scopping Aaron Afflalo to make their bench that much deeper.
  5. Houston – Shhh! Don’t make any sudden movements…. but Josh Smith is playing better these last three weeks. Could be a huge lift for the Rockets (& my fantasy team) if he stays this consistent.
  6. L.A. Clippers – DeAndre Jordan is playing like a grown man, especially since Blake went down. Bench isn’t strong enough to win the title this year.
  7. Dallas – I’m personally rooting for Amare to be healthy for the rest of the season at least & give us old Amare for 3 months. Wishful thinking I know. But solid pickup nonetheless.
  8. Oklahoma City – Potentially the scariest 8th seed in NBA history… that also got stronger by adding Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, & D.J. Augustin to the mix.

Bonus question: Will the population increase in Toronto in December 2016?

Seems that way. By the time the local groupies here in Toronto ditch their morals, dignity, and panties for potential life changing “opportunities” for next year’s NBA All Star Game in Toronto, the maternity wards in hospitals will be extremely busy, & may have to hire volunteers off the street to help deliver all of these new people. Honestly, if someone can put together a Thirst Trapping seminar between now and next February, they might become Toronto’s next millionaire. Think of the lessons that can be taught:

  • How to Trap a Celebrity & Keep Them Happy at the Same Time,
  • How to Sexify Your Way to Any Baller’s Bottle Service (which provides a follow-up co-op program to any lounge on King St.),
  • #TeamTwerk Workshop,
  • Rich Wax Poor Wax: Financial Planning Your Way To a Better Brazilian Wax,
  • Personal Training Discounts at all Goodlife locations in the GTA (which will really only consist of a rotation of lunge exercises & stairmaster sessions)…

….well you get the point. At the end of the seminar you have to get a #THOTSZN tattoo on your lower back to prove that you really are about that life. I’m not sure this city is quite ready for all the black celebs that will import themselves into Toronto for that week, & I’m not quite sure the black celebs understand just how “nice” these Canadian groupies are willing to be. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see these worlds collide north of the border. I just can’t wait to watch!

Seriously speaking, I have been speaking about having the All Star game here for at least 15-20 years, ever since the Raptors were still playing at the Skydome. Previously, when the NBA had their expansion team run in the early 90s (Miami, Orlando, Minnesota, & Charlotte), that city usually got to host an all star game within the first five years of existence. So when Toronto & Vancouver had their turn, I was certain the Raps would get one. No way did I think it would come 20 years later. So now that it’s less than a year away, it will be wonderful for Toronto to be able to celebrate (as well as Canada) it’s own underrated history with this sport. With the direction of where the Raptors are headed these days, & what Drake and his OVO team will have planned for the weekend, as well as all the major festivities, I’m sure it’ll be a incredible experience. Can’t wait….


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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