The Playground Gave Us Big John and Georgetown Basketball Uncategorized / Sep 2, 2008 / 11:43 am

So far, this space has been devoted to the transcendant talents that, through their athletic poetry and skills, have blessed the world and made the game exponentially better. Today, we expand that vision because the playground has impacted the game in so many other ways as well.

A prime example would be Big John Thompson, who turned Georgetown into one of the greatest Cinderella’s ever and was the most instrumental force in the growth and stature of the Big East Conference.

Big John grew up in a segregated public housing project in the Anacostia area of DC. In catholic school, he had difficulty reading and was labeled a slow learner. At the end of his 5th grade year at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the nuns told his mother Anna that he was mildly retarded and asked that he not return to school.

A sixth grade public school teacher, noticing his vision problems that perhaps caused his reading deficiencies, was able to reach him and nourished the young man’s spirit, self esteem and intellectual curiosity. By the time he caught on academically, he also developed some serious hoop skills. When he got to Brown JHS at the age of 13, he was 6′6″.


Big John was a playground regular at the asphalt courts outside of Spingarn HS, as well as at the Boys Club on 1st Street that was run by the legendary Jabbo Kenner, where he ran with some older cats that included Elgin Baylor, whose playground nickname was Rabbit.

DC playground legend James “Sleepy’ Harrison schooled the up and comers like Big John, Dave Bing, Austin Carr and others.
“We were always tough on those kids,” said Harrison in the Thompson bio, Big Man On Campus, written by Leonard Shapiro. ” We didn’t give them nothing. We made them appreciate losing so they would know how great it is to win.”

By the time he suited up for Archbishop Carroll HS, Big John was a beast. Red Auerbach convinced him to attend Providence, where he earned All-American status as a senior, so that the Celtics would own his territorial draft rights down the road. He won two rings as Bill Russell’s back-up in Boston and after being selected by the Chicago Bulls in the expansion draft, he abruptly retired and went about the business of coaching. The rest, as they say, is history.


When he came to coach at G-Town, they were coming off a 3-23 season. Within 3 short years, they were playing in the NCAA Tourney. Over the next 27 years, they crashed the post-season 24 times, making the Final Four in ‘82, ‘84 and ‘85. If Villanova doesn’t play the perfect game in ‘85, the Hoyas would have won back to back chips. When they beat Hakeem and the U. of Houston in ‘84, Big John became the first African-American head coach to win the D-I men’s title.


With a stifling press and aggressive defense, Big John scared the establishment to death with the likes of Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Sleepy Floyd, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning and others. The players that bought in to the philosophy hit the books and got degrees from one of the country’s elite, most well respected institutions of higher learning.

Big John also took on Rayful Edmund, the notorious DC drug lord, and made it clear that his association with the program and Hoya players was not welcome. It was the only situation where anybody can remember Edmund backing down. And when AI was locked up in Virginia dealing with his bogus “criminal” situation in high school, Ann Iverson walked into Big John’s office, begging for him to guide her son through his college experience.


Big John is one of the game’s greatest coaches, a man who positively impacted thousands of young men. Without Big John, Patrick Ewing never chooses to attend Georgetown, the Big East never attains its stature as college ball’s premiere conference, the Hoyas never win the chip to attain the status the program now enjoys, not to mention the fact that they’d never have the current coach who brought them back to the Final Four last year, John Thompson III, aka little john (yeaaaayah!).


He learned his craft, and how to compete, fight and win on the DC playgrounds – developing the basketball mind that would alter lives, the collegiate b-ball economics/business model and the fortunes of a small, private catholic university whose program went from regional mediocrity to international acclaim en route to his Hall of Fame accomplishments.


55 Responses to “The Playground Gave Us Big John and Georgetown Basketball”

  1. illest says:

    He means so much to basketball in the 80s and 90s that somehow people forget. Watching Georgetown growing up I thought it was a black college. How could you not? The walkoff the court protest, the great defensive teams and that little white lady behind the bench are images I never forget when I think of Georgetown basketball in the 80s and 90s. Also the dope Nike Legends and Ralph Daltons Terminator Boots. They should of won 3 championships. Remember when Georgetown vs. St Johns was bigger than Knick games. Or when Pearl punched Ewing. Those Big East games were must see and you enjoyed them more than NBA games.

  2. Teddy "Doowop" says:

    interesting stuff, didnt know any of that.

  3. Elliot Rosado says:

    Being a fan of what i call the original Big East and not the watered down conference now. there was nothing better than watching The St. John’s Redman take on Georgetown. Or watching Syracuse And Pearl Washington break that Hoya press by himself. What made that conference so special was the fact that these players became good pros. Chris Mullin & Pat Ewing are top 50 N.B.A. all time. Cliff Robinson (UConn) Otis Thorpe (Providence) Mark Jackson (St.John’s) Ron Seikley (Syracuse) Michael Adams (Boston College) Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown) Charles Smith (Pitt)Ed Pickney (Villanova) Walter Berry (st. John’s) Who didn’t love the big East then.

  4. Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love says:

    i watched the g-town nova battle in ‘85, still the greatest game ever, playground, college, pro, whatever you want. nova hit something like 80% from the field on the #1 rated defense in the country, and only one of their players–ed pinckney–did anything in the nba. it was the biggest upset i ever witnessed.

    ali–great post as usual. i never knew thompson played for the celts behind russell. crazy.

  5. illest says:

    i couldnt believe nova won that game. they just couldnt miss. the cat jensen was hot. villanova did play georgetown close during the Big East season. It was St Johns who gave Nova problems that year.

  6. ali says:


    his nickname was “the caddy” while with the Celts. And he could’ve continued his career in the pros, but life on the road did not agree with him. his wife had small children and he was determined to provide a stable home environment. to this day, big john and bill russell are thick as thieves. he took the big man skills that he owned and the ones he learned from russ, and passed those along to pat, mutombo, mourning, jahidi white and the rest.


    nobody was better than the big east back in the day. i feel you on that. loved watching those games. how ’bout that ‘85 final four – st john’s, g-town and ‘nova. and that pitt crew with charles smith, jerome lane, demetrious gore was very ill as well.

  7. Elliot Rosado says:

    Ali, You bringing back great memories. I will never forgive Memphis for beating Boston college in 85 in the elite 8. the Big East would have had all 4 teams in the final four. I forgot who hit the game winner for Memphis but that game was a goody.

  8. ali says:


    can you imagine every Final Four team from one conference? but i liked that Memphis State crew with vincent askew, keith lee, william bedford, baskerville holmes

  9. ali says:


    how true. people forget and don’t really understand how phenomenal big john’s accomplishments were. g-town was doo-doo in a shoe before he got there. the term legend is thrown around so loosely nowadays, but he is one in every sense of the word.

    AND HOW NICE WAS PATRICK BACK THEN? before the knee injuries turned him into a fadeaway jump shooter, the youtube clip is a reminder why they instituted the first draft lottery, just for him.

  10. PFTB says:

    Ali ,man now ya talking.G-town Hoya Destroyas.The most intimidating college team EVER.Big John is a man’s man.He also took on that Prop 48,remember that? I was in my late teens and early 20’s back then stationed in the U.S.A.F.
    After every Georgetown game the gym was PACKED.Cats were so hyped to play after watching them play.The G-town Ewing was a much better defender than the NBA version.Once he continued to perfect his jumper,he said f#*! defense.Its funny Ewing essentially got drafted for his defense,but became arguably the best jump shooting center ever.Yo illest, I think Hubie Brown was the one who messed up Ewing’s knees.Back then everyone saw the success of “twin towers” and Ewing played PF next to Bill “‘Bows” Cartwright.Ewing had to chase around smaller guys.Post defense is much different than open floor D,and that HELPED contribute to Ewings KNEE problems.

  11. PFTB says:

    Oh yeah @ 1:21 on the “EW TUBE”, Ewing is dunking on Jim “I tasted Ewings’ nutz” Master,a 6′5″ guard from U of Kentucky.In this game, the Hoyas completely DESTRYOED Kentucky in the 2nd half, holding them to like 28% (or less)shooting.Kentucky had TWO 7 footers,Sam “I was picked ahead of MJ” Bowie and “Dinnerbell” Mel Turpin.This was my 2nd favorite Ewing dunk EVER.The funny thing is he was called for TRAVELING on this particular play.Another very little known fact about this dunk was St.John’s tried make this their basketball logo (just the silhouette of the players).Someone figured out it was Ewing on Master and “nixed” the whole thing.True,true story.

  12. funkalot says:

    This post is very personal for me, since I was a Freshman at G’Town during its inaugural BIG East Year, in which we won the BIG EAST chip and were eliminated by Iowa and Ronnie Lester in the EAst Regional final. Here are a few of my favorite recollections and responses to your always worthy story, in parts:

    Part 1
    * Red Auerbach lived in DC and had an affinity for the players there and steered John to Providence, to be able to get him in the NBA’s territorial darft, during the sixties.

    * John was no nonsense when it came to grades and if one person was slipping , he would call a three am morning practice to register his point.

    * All of the NBA teams practiced at McDonough Gym prior to playing the Bullets at the Cap Centre. If your schedule permitted, you could watch opposing teams practice. Andrew Toney was the best practice player I ever saw, missing something like 1 fg in 20 plus attempts. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it is close to the truth!

    * G’town always hosted area high school games at Mcdonough Gym prior to their BIG EAST Tilts. For instance, I watched Anthony Jones, Earl Jones, Billy Mrtin and others in high school contests. Additionally, the G’town JV played the area prep schoolers and I remember Ralph Dalton, standing out.

    * G’town during my freshman year opened up a Recreation Complex, with 6 full courts and it stayed open from 7am – 1a. The run was crazy, I got to run pick-up with the players; John “BeBe” Duren (who played on the Pan-Am team with Isaiah in 1979), Eric “sleepy” Floyd (purest shooter I’ve seen and the nicest dude), Craig Shelton (A brief stint with the Atlanta Hawks) and my boy Eric Smith (you know him the dude closing out on Jordan, for “the shot”).

    * Additionally, since the RecPlex was new it attracted all the top talent in the area for runs, including Larry Spriggs of Howard and the LA Lakers, whose brother Ed, played center and whose brother Greg(a body guard for Sugar Ray Leonard) would invite Sugar to burn, he was quick but did not have “basketball skills”. He cried alot, but nobody was challenging his calls, for fear of “No mas”, comprende!

  13. PFTB says:

    My favorite Ewing dunk was when he CRAMMED it on Ralph”I don’t wanna be a center “Sampson in December 1982.Pat was a soph and Ralph a 7′4″ senior at U of Va., and returning player of the year.This was a big matchup of the best centers going head to head. SI even had a fold out cover previewing the matchup.Let me set up the sequence:Ralph has the ball on his end goes up with a weak attempt to dunk….BLOCKED BY EWING,he goes up with another “Charles Smith” BLOCKED AGAIN BY EWING.He got smart now and gave Pat a head fake,DUNKED IN BY SAMPSON.The next, I mean the very NEXT play,Ewing goes right to the blocks,posted up STRONG,I mean COOKED FOOD strrong,called for the ball,caught it, and in one motion turned around and HOOKED dunked it on Ralph.CRAZZZZY.If it was Rucker(EBC),Dyckman,Tri-state,Nike pro-city,W 4th,H.I.T.S,Watson or ANYWHERE ELSE,the “spillout” woulda been at least 5-10 minutes.I don’t even remember who won the game.I was just glad Pat got his and to Curry Kirkpatrick “L.B”.Kirkpatrick used to write for SI and was the biggest Ewing hater (prejudiced) EVER.Hey Kirkpatrick guess who’s being inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame on this weekend?

  14. Kenny Patt says:

    What ever happened to Michael Graham? Also, Dont forget Fred Brown, (Stevenson H.S. in the Bronx) threw that pass to James Worthy in the closing minute of the 82 chip. That was the first college game that I ever watched and it hooked me for life.

  15. funkalot says:

    Part 2

    * Bill Russell was on campus, alot, prior to Pat Ewing, working with John’s bigs, as his daughter, Karen, was a year behind me, in class with Gene smith and BX Stevenson HS – Fred Brown (1982 point shaver, just kidding). Note: Karen was a t Harvard Law School with then first Black Editor of the Harvard Law School Review- President Barack Obama. I partied with them at a Black Harvard Law School function. It was a stiff affair!

    * John’s program evolved with the recruiting of the aforementioned John Duren and Craig Shelton (both questionable students) from DC Dunbar’s National HS Championship team of ‘75. To seal the deal John had to give John Duren’s older brother Lonnie (a weak player) a scholarship in ‘74. Thus,he laid the groundwork for giving shorties from the hood a chance at a better life, i.e. – AI, PAt Ewing, Michael Graham (the real reason they won in ‘84), Wingate and Reggie Williams, Charles Smith (older brother of DC playground legend Curt Smith), to name a few.

    * John not only changed the culture of basketball in DC and G’town, but provided educational and social access to what was a lily white area of DC to blacks, at large.

    * All of John’s recruits stayed in the dorms with us, as players resided in regular housing like my dorm New South.
    So, cats like Ed Pinckney and Waymon Tisdale would hangout.

    * BIG East game memories involving G’town, John lost every game in ‘80 when he tried to employ Dean Smith’s four corners offense, remember he was Dean’s assistant during the ‘76 Olympics. Reggie Carter and Bernard Rencher made them pay for trying it at G’town. Winning the inaugural BIG EASt Tourney and beating Syracuse at their old gym , in the last game played prior to the opening of the Carrier Dome were highlights, too. G’town beat U maryland twice in ‘80, who had a cold line-up of Albert King, Buck williams, Philly’s Reggie JAckson, Dutch Morley and B’mores finest Ernest Graham. Sleepy Floyd giving Mike Woodson an ugly 28, while Frosh Isaiah Thomas tortured Senior and PAn -Am teammate John Duren.

    * John almost left G’town for Oklahoma after the ‘80 season, but instead used their interest as a bargaining chip to become the highest paid staff person at G’town; whose faculty included two UN Ambassadors and Henry Kissinger (Former Secretary of State under Nixon).

    * Patrick Ewing was said to have generated over 20 million in revenues for G’town, during his four years. A smart investment given that a four year scholarship was worth 48 thousand, at the time. And we say that the players should not get paid.

    * Strange pairing- G’town in ‘80 were wearing Adidas and held a clinic on campus that year, which featured Bob Knight as a speaker. John and Bobby seemed to get along well. Go figure1

    * Morgan Wooten of famed Dematha and John Thompson were bitter rivals, stemming from John’s stint as head coach at Saint Anthony’s of DC. As a result, NO Dematha players ever went to G’town under Morgan’s stewardship. He sent them to Umaryland and other ACC schools , but not G’town. I am friendly with Adrian Branch (Dematha ‘81 McDonald’s All-American, Umaryland star and fmr La LAker) who said that Morgan Wooten was open about his disdain for John and that it stemmed from recruitment of inner-city kids in DC. Note; Austin Freeman – is the first Dematha player to don a G’town uni.

    I hope that this was instructive for true “Hoya Saxas” – literal translation: “What rocks”. I was privileged to be at G’town, during its ascent into the basketball heavens and cathartically vented.

    G’town was black power personified and I will always be indebted to John Thompson and crew for inspiring and empowering the hood to become mainstream, with their integrity intact.

    Out on three wings, supa dupa fly!!!

  16. Seldom Seen says:

    To me John Thompson is larger than life. He is a gentleman, father and coach who I have always highly respected and admired. I went to Howard U in 80’s and spent a lot of time hanging out at G-Town (In D.C now and was actually at Spingarn H.S earlier today no lie)and think of myself as one of there biggest fans to this day. Back then Patrick Ewing would swing by our on-campus parties at the Blackburn Center and I will always remember the highly anticipated televised showdown between him and Ralph Sampson. It seemed like all of the G-town games had that big time game feel. It was truly an event. I still feel stung by the loss to Nova’. Ewing, Reggie Williams, Wingate, Sleeply Floyd, Iverson, Mourning, Mutumbo, Anthony Tucker, Charles Smith, Anthony Paige, Junkyard Dog, Sweetny, and so many others help put the Hoyas on the map but it was the fatherly like mentoring, counseling, guidance, caring and love that John Thompson provided which ultimately had the greatest and longest lasting impact. You did not have to attend G-Town to feel proud of the on court and off court accomplishments and strides made by our own brothers at the highest levels of academia which would transcend bball. John Thompson has a huge stature and presence and he has left us an everlasting legacy which is proudly being carried forward by his very able son. We should all be thankful that he occassionally but rightfully bucked the system and pressed for change standing up for those less fortunate or unspoken for. Beating all the odds he has made his mark on so many.
    Finally I close by asking whatever happened to Micheal Graham? Remember him…he was a beast!

  17. PFTB says:

    Yo funkalot and seldom seen y’all got some real history ’bout y’all.We all seem to be about the same age and I know y’all agree those years were the BEST.Cats staying in school at least 3 years,rivalries being built,the talent was crazy every Big East game was like a final four.I always wondered why Big John never got any DeMatha players.Thanks funk,But he cleaned up Dunbar in B-More,and DC(Anthony Jones) then he hit the bayous and got toughs like Perry McDonald and Dwayne Bryant.EVERYONE I know who was a G-Town fan at that time was a Michael Graham fan.Next to Ewing probably the most indimidating college player ever.I know opposing coaches always wondered what cell block did Thompson find this guy?Every time I think of Graham I am reminded of Damon in Cooley High.Same shaped bald head and its GONNA be trouble when he’s around.

  18. Risse aka Town Biz! says:

    SO happy that you posted this, Ali. The OG John Thompson is my favorite coach of all time…word. Does anyone remember when he was part of the walkout for black coaches in the NCAA? JT is the truth!

  19. Risse aka Town Biz! says:

    my bad, it he walked off because of the scholarships. But i remember it was 1989 & Coach Thompson was fighting the power!

  20. illest says:


    Ewings defense in those Hoyas days was Bill Russell.

    I went to Howard in the 90s and remember going to a game and John Thompson walked in the arena to the stands and everyone in the section he was trying to sit in just cleared out so he could sit. It was crazy.

    Ali….did you get the email I sent you?

  21. illest says:

    Risse…word it was those Prop 48 days.

  22. Risse aka Town Biz says:


    HU!!! i went to Howard in the mid90s…there was nothing better than the game nites at the Burr!!!! I definitely remember when the Georgetown players would come through, all us ladies were sweating a young tender known as Allen Iverson!!

  23. funkalot says:

    Yo PFTB,

    Thanks for the love and listen, John Thompson had an affinity for “thug” ballers, it provided him with an edge, an invincible quality that created fear/doubt in opponents, as played out during the “Hoya Paranoia” run, in the 80’s.

    They should have won three chips. John had recruited a Michael Graham clone called Arnie Russell, who was one of the top prep ballers in DC, in 1980. This cat was too thugged out that John could not get him enrolled. He was a 6′7′ power forward, complete with menacing scowl and his basketball skills were tight; a decent handle and could shoot the “jimmy”, in addition to rebounding. His presence, like Mike Graham’s would have allowed G’town to become more physical with UNC (especially Worthy) and potentially gain their first chip. Arnie ended up at San Diego State and had a decent career.

    “Funky is as Funky does”

  24. ali says:

    one thing i’ll always admire about big john was how he leveraged his visibility to publicize his stance on prop 48 and an athlete’s eligibility. One of the continuous travesties is the failure of black athletes to finish school. big john graduated 90% of his players while the national average for D-I programs hovered around 27%. for blacks in the revenue generateing sports of football and b-ball, that number was an even more atrocious 20%.

    Folks were, and still are, being exploited as the example of Kevin Ross at Creighton in ‘82 (spent 3 years balling in the ncaa and couldn’t read a lick) and dexter manley fully attest. prop 48 and prop 42 denied scholarships to those to didn’t meet the educational criteria and unfarly put the blame on the athletes, not to mention the inherent bias in standardized testing. remember that educators told big john’s parents that he was dumb, mildly retarded and had no hopes of a continuing education. and to see what he did with education and his later life as an educator of men, speaks to his passionate rebuke of a system that used and discarded people.

  25. ali says:

    and we haven’t even touched on the pop culture impact of that g-town movement. the apparel game hasn’t been the same since those nikes and georgetown jackets flooded the streets in the mid ’80s.

  26. g says:

    and also understated with coach thompson, 72% graduation rate as an average. he made it a point to have his players graduate from an established universtity that they ordinarily wouldnt have the chance to go to if it werent for basketball. he was one of the first big time coaches that i heard on tv say that the school owed it to the players to make sure that they graduate and and are better equipped to live and excel in society when they leave than before they came…… loved him for that

  27. ali says:

    and big john still has love for the playground. he comes through barry farms in dc to check out the goodman league on the regular.

    michael graham was dismissed from the g-town team because of his lack of committment to academics. most coaches would have made an easy path for a player with that talent level, but not big john. he was not going to do a disservice to a young man by letting him get by for the sake of national titles. not too many coaches can say that. same with victor paige. remember that backcourt with him and iverson? bananas! one of my all-time favorite college guard tandems.

  28. illest says:


    victor page was very sick. i like how big john just let iverson play.

  29. ali says:

    yeah illest. when you have a talent like that, you have to let it loose on the world. and that proved that big john wasn’t as intractable as people thought. he structured his teams around the talent he had and was flexible and smart enough to know that having AI walk it up and run half court sets would have been as disastrous as the dubya presidency.

  30. illest says:

    very true ali.

    How about the 88 bronze medal winning olympic basketball team. Thompson definitely got critized for this team losing the gold. And he shouldnt have. Danny Ferry wouldnt have got them the gold medal. Of course the result of this loss is the Dream Team.

  31. ali says:

    no doubt illest,

    big john got the raw deal on that one. the world was catching up, hoops wise and those international squads were cohesive pro teams that had been together for years. grown men against the college boys. the soviets won the gold with marciulionis and sabonis and yugoslavia took the silver with drazen petrovic, toni kukoc, dino radja and vlade divac.

    the u.s. crew w/ mitch richmond, the admiral, jr reid, hersey hawkins, stacey augmon, thunder dan, charles smith, danny manning, bimbo coles and others did not have enough seasoning.

    yet and still, they only lost one game – in the semis, 82-76, to the soviets. might have actually been one of big john’s best coaching accomplishments. wasn’t his fault that the rest of the world got better and had four years to practice and train for those games, while he had one month to get his crew ready.

  32. illest says:

    thats when sabonis was an unbelievable player.

  33. ali says:

    oh yeah, sabonis was legit, 7′3″ with serious skills, one of the world’s greatest big men ever. and the nba didn’t see him til he was way past his prime with a set of bad wheels. and he still got bizmark. had he joined the blazers in their peak years of the early ’90s, that might have been the missing piece.

  34. Russ M. says:

    I was never a Hoya fan because Big John never seemed to recruit any NYC boys at time when the rest of the Big East rosters were filled with them. I can’t think of anyone other then Fred Brown, and a one year stint by “Beetle” Washington. Anyone have any idea why he stayed away from the NY’ers?

  35. ali says:

    i don’t think it was an anti-ny bias russ. i think his connections ran so deep in dc and b-more, that he went to his area of strength. he recruited tough kids from poor backgrounds that were hungry and new yorkers fit that bill. but he probably wasn’t willing to dance around with lorch and d’almeida with riverside and the gauchos respectively. i know he came to brooklyn to grab shamel jones out of robeson

  36. g says:

    big john didnt discriminate,he had ny’ers. gene smith? dave edwards? reese gibson? jameel watkins? dean berry?
    (jesse sapp doesnt count cause hes under big john junior)….. there are a few other names that i cant remember right now……

  37. funkalot says:


    Illest was right, you have started a movement with this “The Playground gave us” series. As such, the team and impressario that warrants a feature is “Tark” and the “Running Rebels” of UNLV. PG (Post G’Town) they had to be black americas favorite squad in the nineties and have provided me with my biggest NCAA thril in the “thirty” point thrashing of “Duke” for the ‘chip.

    Had it not been for the NCAA’s harassment of Tark, they might have won three or more in a row. Consider this: Jalen Rose, Darrin Hancock, Glenn Robinson were all slated to attend UNLV, prior to the investigations/sanctions. If that isn’t enough that team would have also included JR Rider.

    Holla back, I know you hear me on this one! There exists plenty of stories, sub-plots and characters for a meaningful piece. Plus, you can throw in Lloyd Daniels and Jermaine “Sunshine” smith.

  38. illest says:

    funkalot….you know ali will get to tark and the runnin rebels. this blog is a must to check daily.

  39. ali says:

    funkalot, you let the cat out of the bag. great minds think alike. the tark, unlv joint is marinating right now. it will be cooked to perfection soon.

  40. ali says:

    yo funkalot,

    tark also had his hands on the iceman at long beach state! but ice got homesick, missed his girl back home in motown and transferred. years later, he told tark that he should have stayed at long beach to ball for him. turns out, he broke up w/ homegirl shortly after coming home. tark said that next time he had a talent like ice, he was gonna recruit the girlfriend too.

  41. Kenny Patt says:

    Tark also had Richie Adams, (BX) and Moses Scurry(BK).

  42. Kenny Patt says:

    And Sidney Green

  43. ali says:

    and tark’s nba stint was a disaster w/ the spurs not because he couldn’t coach, but because they moved rod strickland before he ever coached a game. can’t win in the nba without a point guard and vinny del negro wasn’t it.

  44. PFTB says:

    Yo I love the knowledge of all a y’all. Real deep.Hey Russ M.,I never knew Eugene “Beetle” Washington suited up for the Hoyas always wondered what happened to him.Hey Ali,how ’bout a “Where are they now?” segment of former NYC, H.S/PLAYGROUND stars.People like Beetle,”Bugeye”Davender,Lamont Middleton,”Yoda”(played with Middleton @Walton H.S),Billy Singleton(EZ Ed’s nephew),Carlton Screen and so on.Yes Ali I do remember that Iceman to L.B.State story.Thats classic.Tark didn’t know it was a package deal!

  45. Kenny Patt says:

    Haven’t heard Yoda’s name in 20 yrs. You dug deep in the crates for that one. He was a terror on the Gouchos , but stopped growing at any early age. Where is the kid that played at Walton after him who later played at Florida State ? (Drawing blanks right now on his name).

  46. Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love says:

    yo pftb–

    look at justin ‘no mustard’ solomon posts on our site, he always writes about ‘where are they now’ former stars. just write his name into the search box, he’s also in teh guestblogger roll.

    beetle washington played at university of new orleans to my recollection after being 1st team all-city.

    tark’s greatest player may have been ray lewis. read the back issues of bounce magazine, i think issue #9 or #10 we had a big feature on him . . .

  47. Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love says:

    oh, and that thompson-ewing photo up top has to be the biggest AYO basketball image i’ve ever seen. gulp! haha. actually, the recent nike hyperdunk poster campaign may have even been more flagrant. i had to stop in my tracks on teh train platform in shock the first time i saw it. PAUSE! HAHAHAHAA

  48. funkalot says:

    Please do not forget about his (Tark’s) potentially greatest recruit, a 6′10” monster Cliff Allen, straight out of a Detention Center, but like most troubled kids never made it.

  49. funkalot says:

    This post has to be one of the greatest, in terms of responses. It undescores the basketball and cultural impact that hoop has on folks. I’m an admitted fiend, I know you can relate.

    “Can’t stop, won’t stop”

  50. illest says:

    bob…that photo is an ayo for real!!!

    ali…i forgot that swee pea played for tark on the spurs too.

    definitely been a hoop junkie since birth. this site adds to it.

  51. ali says:

    ray lewis is one of those “greatest you never heard of” cats. he was downright nasty. tark thought he had him in the bag, but LA City College came through with a brand new sportscar and scooped him away at the last minute.

    and the cliff allen story is mad funny. unlv had a policy that they would admit anyone who was the valedictorian of their graduating class. since allen was the sole graduate in the detention center, tark tried to slide him into school as the valedictorian of his class of one. hilarious.

    ya’ll gonna make me exedite the unlv joint, i can already see it. i’m glad to feel the shared passion. “the playground gave us” is just getting started, like MJ and his 63 against the Celtics in ‘86.

  52. illest says:

    ali…its a movement son no doubt!!!and there are so many more players and teams left to be discussed. this could go on for years.

  53. ali says:

    no diggitty illest. we’ve just started to scratch the surface. i look forward to digging through the crates with “the playground gave us” crew.

  54. PFTB says:

    Yo Thanks KBL,I’m a check “No Mustard”Solomon’s posts.Yeah Thompson and Ewing definitely a top “AYO” basketball photo,moreso on Big John’s part.The real question is:Where is Pat’s right hand? Just jokes,no offense to the defense.Kenny Patt,I think the name of that player is Kerry Thompson.Also big up to my baby bro Nigel “The Black Stallion” Palmer who also played at Walton and did damage at Gun Hill and UDC.

  55. john meares says:

    I hope someone has gotten back to this site. Man o man the bb history is amazing. As a DC kid and Maryland teen. I remember seeing John carroll beat the U of MD. freshman team and later on the Navy freshman team. By far one of the best HS team i had ever seen. Hs. beating college freshmen Teams? John Thompson was a member. I have tried to get that full team. One was a guy name Leviwhich?.
    One was Skinner? Black guys and one white guy?(Skinner, Ithink) Does anyone remember this John Carroll Team?

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