The Reign Man is Back!
The buzz in the building was definitely there. Just minutes before halftime during an ordinary round robin game at Seattle’s famed Rip the Cut Tournament on Saturday, May 24th, a ghost from the city’s past walked inside those Cleveland High School doors. Former NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp was in the house y’all.
Without stretching or warming up, the Reign Man immediately threw on a jersey and joined Team Old School, which also featured ex-Charlotte Hornet, Eldridge Recasner. He threw himself in the fire so fast that he actually played his first 10 seconds with his car keys in his pocket before throwing them off to the sidelines!
On the first defensive possession, the 38-year-old Kemp skied in the air as he nearly swatted a jump shot attempt. The effort drew a lot of oohs and aahs from the anxious crowd (including Knicks’ duo and Seattle natives Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford), who were on pins and needles waiting to see what the Sonic legend could still bring.
What he brought definitely was impressive. Not quite the same Shawn who banged on Chris Gatling, but he wasn’t exactly the same plus-sized Shawn in Cleveland and Portland.
He has lost weight and is in pretty decent shape. The bounce was still there, and so was the swagger. The ‘J and handles were a little rusty, but still extremely impressive considering his age and his past problems.
In his second game a few hours later, his Old School Team matched up with the Home Team, which boasted Seattle’s favorite sons, Crawford, Brandon Roy and Spencer Hawes.
In the game, Kemp stripped Jamal at midcourt (and we all know what kind of handle JC’s got) then took it coast to coast for a thunderous yoke. Matched up with Hawes, Kemp took the 20-year-old Sacramento King and former lottery pick off the dribble several times and even emphatically blocked one of his lay-up attempts.
It is unclear whether Kemp is attempting yet another comeback, but one thing is clear for sure. The man still loves basketball.
“Ah man, I play ball in all kind of tournaments across the United States, from New York to Hawaii,” Kemp told Bounce after the game. “I play basketball every week bro.”
By Gerald Narciso