After 48 hours and 29 games of straight summer hoops, the ‘09 Dolphin Basketball Classic is officially in the books. This is my third year covering the tourney, which is just 365 days shy of its silver anniversary. Attending this event for the last few summers, I’ve noticed the same faces grace the courts and crowd. The Dolphin community is a tight knit group and I’m glad they’ve all let me be a part of it.
This year might have been the most memorable Dolphin for me. I saw enough great battles, plays and dunks (Kevin Kemp, I’m talking ’bout you) to last me ’til NBA training camp. In an effort to keep this short and sweet, I decided to jot down my top five moments of the ‘09 DBC.
I do however need to set a disclaimer. I was not able to see all of the games over the weekend. Being it was like 90 outside (30 for my Canadian readers) – I needed to take a couple detours to the pool. Without further adu, here’s my fave five.
#5 Josh Masters Retires
If there is a such thing as a Dolphin legend, Josh Masters has to be one. He’s played in almost every tournament since the early 90s and has won an incredible 10 DBC dunk contests. In one contest in the 90s, Josh leaped over a Mazda Miata to win a contest.
Despite vowing last year that he was done, Masters decided to throw one more dunk down in memory of his late friend Aaron Chan. As you might have seen my post about it last year, Chan, who was also a frequent competitor in the Dolphin dunk contest, was tragically killed in a senseless murder last August. After a touching tribute to Aaron, Josh threw the ball behind his back off the backboard, caught it and threw it down with two hands.
This was impressive on two levels. One, Masters is 33-years-old. I find that amazing considering my hops and athletic ability vanished somewhere around 25. Second, I ran into him probably four times in the beer garden. So completing a dunk that requires great athleticism and timing with a couple of MGDs in your system, is pretty damn remarkable.
#4. Navi Sekhon vs. Jordan Yu
Two of the sharpest shooters in the tournament, Navi Sekhon of the X-Falcons and Jordan Yu of the Blues, went head-to-head Sunday morning. When the final buzzer sounded, Navi dropped 40, while Jordan one upped him with 42. I’m not going to try to pull a fast one on you and act like I saw the game. You know, Sunday morning, 8am…you get the picture. But I have to definitely give props to both guys, who put up monster numbers that contest. Yu has one of the most fluid jumpers you will see and when Navi gets going, it’s lights out.
#3. King Handles vs. Home Team
For a while now, I have been hearing about King Handles aka Joey Haywood. I’d never seen him play but know he is a world famous streetballer from right here in Vancouver. I’m not gonna lie, I was expecting him to be doing tricks and all that Skip to my Lou type stuff. But he was playing normal, smart, hard-nosed basketball. For majority of the Friday night match up between his Runnin’ Rebels and the Home Team from Seattle, King Handles was absolutely killing the opposition with a barrage of threes. He put the exclamation point by barking at HT coach Ed Haskins and the rest of the bench after every made shot.
But the Home Team, who were upset by Randy Nohr’s X-Falcons in last year’s finals, came to Dolphin loaded like the Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid, and made a furious second half comeback. While Haywood torched them for 29, it was the boys from the States who ended up with the 92-75 victory.
#2. The Dunk Contest
With my last post on Kevin Kemp and my half-dozen other references to him on this post, it is abundantly clear that I am riding this man’s coattail. While he certainly stole the show at this year’s contest, the other competitors definitely brought it. Not since the 2000 NBA dunk contest that featured Vince, T-Mac and Steve “I won’t play for Vancouver” Francis, has a contest been this talented. The high-flying twins from Calgary, Ross and Henry Bekkering, brought the heat this year too. And Stefan Hargrove who opted to be called “Batman” this year, is no slouch himself.
Remember, Ross took it down last year and Henry has been featured on The Best Damn Sports Show in the past for his dunking skills. In a brotherly effort, Henry threw the ball off the side of the basket and little brother came in and flushed it with one hand. As for Henry, who played a few years at Eastern Washington, jumped over three kids plus a slouching Josh Masters before windmilling it in.
But in the end, it was the Kevin Kemp show. In his first dunk in the finals, KK jumped over one of his teammates who was holding a ball over his head. Golden Child then grabbed the rock, took in between the legs and jammed it. Cue the fans rushing the court. The dunk was so sick, they skipped everyone’s final dunk attempt and just went ahead and gave KK the trophy.
#1. Rematch in the Finals
Hands down the best game of the ‘09 Dolphin. For starters, this was the finals. It was a rematch of last year’s finals with the X-Falcons, last year’s champs squaring off against last year’s losers, The Home Team. To make the drama even higher, the Home Team came out sporting Team USA jerseys.
On the American side, the team was led by brothers Rossel and Tim Ellis. Rossel is a seasoned overseas pro who was twice the Dolphin MVP in the earlier part of this decade. They also has the ultra-quick and savvy guard, Alvin Snow, who starred at Eastern Washington and has NBA summer league experience. The X-Falcons aka the Canucks were led by last year’s MVP, Randy Nohr as well as Navi Sekhon and former UBC standout Casey Archibald.
This game showcased one of the greatest one-on-one battled in Dolphin history. Archibald was absolutely unconscious as he sank three after three before finished the game with 44 points. On the other side, Alvin “The Snowman” Snow killed the Falcons both inside and out before accumulating 37 himself.
Although the tournament was on Canadian soil, it was the team from the Emerald City who came up with the 104-94 victory. Well there’s my recap. If you were there, feel free to share some of your favorite moments. Until next year…
Dolphin Basketball Classic All Tournament Team
Josh Whyte, Athelite
Alvin Snow, Home Team
Navi Sekhon, X-Falcons
Randy Nohr, X-Falcons
Novell Thomas, MGD
James Hudson, AIA
Joey Haywood, Runnin’ Rebels
Henry Bekkering, Athelite
MVP: Rossel Ellis