The first time I ever played organized basketball was in the 6th Grade. Truthfully speaking, prior to that I was absolutely trash at hoop! All of my friends either played Rec or Travel (the serious ones played AAU). I despised being one of the last picks on the playground, day in and day out during recess. Growing up in Piscataway, NJ alot of basketball careers were launched at Fatima. That church gym was a battleground for sure. Reputations were built and destroyed in that hot and steamy gym. I remember going to Fatima with my best-friend (New Jersey Rapper: Foe-Hun’ed) and being envious of those dope purple or blue jerseys. So in brief, my motivation was quite simple. Practice, practice and more Practice. Coming from a die-hard Allen Iverson fan, that last sentence is highly comical.
(Notice Foe-Hun’ed in the #25)
I played soccer from the moment I opened my eyes in this world. In my family, soccer is religion. Pele, Maradona and Cruyff were the gods you prayed to. There were no alternatives. Michael Jordan quickly changed all of that. I was obsessed with basketball from the moment I first watched it. I can tell you exactly where I was when the Bulls beat the Suns in Game 6 of the 93 Finals… Mind you, I was only 4 years old at the time. My household was a Bulls safe haven until Jordan’s first retirement. My mom aligned herself with the enemy New York Knicks soonafter. So every Bulls-Knicks matchup was volatile in our house thereafter. However, soccer was always my priority despite my feelings for basketball.
I moved to the Bay area in August of 2000, in the midst of the Kobe/Shaq NBA Takeover. The And1 mixtape was HOTTT back then, as was Allen Iverson. So my courtship of basketball could not have happened under better conditions. By this time, my practice had paid off in one aspect, I possessed one of the deadliest crossovers known to man (at least I thought). I couldn’t really shoot the ball, but I was a natural athlete, as has been the case my whole life. I asked my dad if I could try out for the basketball team and he obliged, to my grandest of delights.
Going into that tryout, I was nervous. Forget butterflies, I had wasps and hornets flapping in my stomach. I just wanted to do each drill the right way and soak up as much information as I could. Besides my friend Terrence Willis happened to be in the gym watching. Terrence aka Nu, was not only the best basketball player in the school; he was one of the best hoopers in the bay. I copied countless moves of his and probably annoyed him a bunch in the process. Yet he reassured me that things would go well. I was named the starting point guard, had a very solid season for a first time player, and found a new love in the process…
-To Be Continued