Postgame Talk: “The Legend Continues”

Sports

The jaw-jutting, finger licking legend officially returned to the Los Angeles hardwood tonight in dramatic fashion — an excited crowd, countless camera flashes and Darth Vader’s theme song welcomed him onto the court.

Coming off his achilles injury, Kobe Bryant looked human for once. He air balled his first shot, he tossed passes that weren’t open and he missed a couple free throws. His stat line read nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and eight turnovers.

Laker Nation wanted a triple double return. Two nights ago, an NBA TV anchor joked the Black Mamba might drop 81 again. That didn’t happen. The Toronto Raptors (7-12) showed up to win and spoiled Kobe’s homecoming by comfortably cruising to a 106-94 win.

Raptors’ starters Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry posted dominant figures: 32, 26 and 23 points, respectively.

On the other hand, no Laker starter scored double digits; they totaled 23 points. It was the Los Angeles bench that kept the team afloat — all five bench players scored double figures. Xavier Henry played almost half the minutes of Kobe and scored almost double the amount of points.

Postgame, Kobe said he would be watching game tape for the duration of the night and Coach Mike D’Antoni noted that Kobe’s performance wasn’t unexpected.

Judging his first game back, Kobe’s doing work. He didn’t play scared. He even attempted to draw a charge. And in the press conference, he talked like the classic Black Mamba that Laker Nation admires. He calmly sat in front of reporters and flashed a few smiles.

The nonchalant attitude he displayed to the press may have been an act, but I think that alone should have every other NBA team scared. He said he “played like horse sh*t,” he called himself a failure, he graded his 27 minutes as an F, yet he’s obviously still having fun.

As long as he enjoys the game and can find the bottom of the net, he’ll continue to find unique ways to elongate his career. Expect nothing less.

Started from the bottom now we here

Sports

The Toronto Raptors haven’t seen “glory days” since Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter donned the jersey with the dinosaur. The dynamic duo led the franchise to its first ever playoff appearance, yet shortly after, they took their talents elsewhere.

Chris Bosh roared his way onto the squad in 2004. He stuck around for two consecutive first-round playoff outs in 2007 and 2008. Then, Bosh left too.

The Toronto Raptors have recorded five total playoff appearances in their history. To put that in perspective, the Lakers boast 60. The NBA gods have frowned upon Canada for a long time, but now there seems to be a glimmer of hope.

Toronto Raptors make Drake 'global ambassador'

Drizzy Drake is the team’s global ambassador. What does that mean? No one knows exactly, but since being appointed the title, the news has gone viral. He put on a suit, rocked a fresh cut and rolled out a promo video. In it he says that “everyone is dying to support Toronto.”

While I’m not sure if that implies everyone wants to root for Toronto, or everyone wants to support Toronto because Drake does, the team roster isn’t too shabby this year.

They have potential with Rudy Gay, Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Steve Novak among others. The season has barely started and they put up a fight against the Miami Heat — I’ll give them that.

The Raptors aren’t anywhere near the lowly level of the Charlotte Bobcats. With the boost from Drake and fans filling seats, maybe, just maybe, the team could pull off a wild “Warriors, We Believe”-type season run.

The good thing is that no one really hates them. Fans hate the Heat, they hate the Lakers, they hate the Spurs, but no one hates on the underdogs. If the Raptors dig deep and go on a winning streak, I truly believe America will stand behind them (even if they are in Canada).

To amp up the media coverage, personally I’d recommend that the retro jerseys with the actual Raptor on the front be brought back into rotation.

When Jay Z designed Brooklyn, he pushed them into a simple and clean, black and white image. In my humble opinion, I say Drake should go the opposite route — loud, bright and in-your-face — with Raptors everywhere.

Regardless of what direction Drake leads the team’s image, I predict that by the end of this season, no one will take the Raptors lightly. I’m saying that they’ll become as much of a threat as the Blazers or the Pelicans. At any moment, their record might be slipping, but if you overlook them, they’ll double cross you.

The Raptors promo video gave me the chills, and it caused me to develop a small inkling of faith for the fans in Toronto. Within the next few seasons, will the Raptors chant, “started from the bottom now we here,” or will Drake be fed up, say something and leave like all the rest?

As published in the Pepperdine student-publication, the Graphic.