Ramon Rodriguez and I met circa 1994. We lived on the same block in the Lower East Side, and I noticed his ill white/orange Nike Air Ballistics. “Where’d you get those?” I asked, and that opened an entire friendship that would encompass a mutual love for music, dancing, family, and of course b-ball. We started putting up jumpers at the 14th St. Y every morning at 8am, and eventually ran together in tournaments like Fireball, Tillary Park, Nickelodeon, Ham-Fish, on and on.
In 2002, he, Jack Ryan, and I formed Project Playground, a traveling basketball performance group that wound up doing halftime shows for the Mavs, Knicks, Hornets, U Conn, U of Tennessee, U of Florida, u name it! Those are all great memories, and I consider “Mone” my little brother, so you know I was stupid proud this summer to see him rock the big screen in Taking Of Pelham 1, 2, 3 alongside Denzel, and the blockbuster Transformers.
Recently, Ramon went on the Jimmy Kimmel Show for an interview. Towards the end he shows Kimmel some b-ball tricks–HIGHLARIOUS!
If you wondering if the brother can really play Read More »
Yesterday I slid the to the 14th St Y afternoon run after missing it for the last couple of weeks while traveling to Amsterdam, Paris, London, etc. All the regular friendly faces were there from Ramon Rodriguez (PPB), ol’ man Johnny (73-year-old who guards full court), Arnel “Bulletproof Wifebeater” Milton, etc. Lil’ Casey, who we’ve all known since he was 11 and is not so little anymore, brought down his homeboy Isiah who is supposedly a top 100 high school player and definitely has a nice game. So the stage was set. I couldn’t wait to get down.
In my first full, Ramon hit the game winner after he had pumped faked me into the air and I landed three feet behind him. Splash. Gee, thanks for the warm welcome back. Of course it was nothing personal, but in the next contest I wound up guarding my good buddy Jimmy “Bubba” Burke and we always go at each other. Dude didn’t play HS or college ball, but has been a life-time park run teammate of Jack “Black Jack” Ryan and knows the game and how to win better than most. In the first play I posted him down low, wiggled, stepped back, and hit a nice floater while saying, “He’s too light!” I rarely talk smack, but here at the Y where everyone is like a family, it’s accepted and never taken out of context. Plus Lil’ Casey and Isiah found it humorous cuz they grew up listening to me announce on the NBA STREET VOL. 2 video game.
Jimmy came back down and scored on me. Their next possession, he took me to the cup for two again. Now Casey and Isiah were screaming, “Oooh, you gotta get him back, Bob!” So I told them, “He’s light, and his clothes is tight!” to which they fell off the bench laughing! I went down court intent to whip whop him silly, but boom–Jimmy ripped me, sped down the court and scored again. Read More »
Dag, yo–I hate blowin’ up my man like this, but I had to do it! Cool Blake comes by the 14th ST. Y every so often, plays tough low-post, and everybody likes running with him, including me. Two days ago I reported on National Hyperdunk Day at the Y, well on that same fateful afternoon, this Florida native decided to rep too many teams from his home state. Nothing against the Miami Heat or U. of Florida, but when you put royal blue, team orange, black, team red, and bee yellow all together, uhhhhhhh . . . then side panel patterns that don’t match either, uhhhhh . . .
At least he had on black Hyperdunks on his feet! If he had some team colors on, he might have just created a cure for the common cold on the spot, too (achooo). I don’t know. Blake, we cool, yo–I’ll always continue to feed you the ball in the post, but please, oh, please, DON’T EVER COME TO THE GYM WITH THIS COMBO AGAIN!
A couple of weeks ago, maybe more, just before December 31st I think, I stepped into the 14th St. Y after having taken off some weeks to rest my shoulder injury. I hadn’t played in a minute, but all the same regulars were there in the gym–Jonathan Canter, Yuta, Roman Perez, etc. Curiously enough, though, I noticed that out of the 20 dudes in the gym that day, more than half where wearing Nike Hyperdunks! I don’t think since the early ’90s, when the Air Force 1 was on its last leg of on court dominance, had I seen one model so prevalent on New York ballplayers’ feets. Wow! Read More »
Back in September, I ran a letter from my homeboy Anthony Alonso here while he was still incarcerated in a federal penitentiary. Well, the former poet who appeared on a Nike NYC radio campaign in ‘94 is happily back home again! I took him to play ball in a free environment for the first time in 12 years, and he wrote me a wonderful piece about the experience below. These are the type of words that bring gravity to gratitude, and I hope that it helps some of you appreciate what we hold so dear–the ability to ball and share the joy of it . . . Positively 14th St
Verbals: Anthony Alonso
The weather was beautiful, 50 degrees on a December day and there I was for the first time in well over 12 years cold lampin’ in N.Y.C., 14th St. to be exact. The sweetness of this springlike vibe thawed the ice that nearly paralyzed the core of my being.
A week prior to this blessing, I was in a federal prison walking in and out of daydreams, longing for the streets of N.Y.C. to stretch beneath my feet. Read More »
On Monday, I was delighted to bring my homeboy Anthony Alonso out to play ball in New York for his first time in 12 years. He had been incarcerated for that stretch in a federal penitentiary. An avid fan of the game and participant in many tournaments while “inside,” him and I stayed writing to each other about ball the whole time. I actually ran one of the letters he wrote up on www.bouncemag.com, check it out here. I had never seen him play, and was delighted that even with the outer brolic shell of a former inmate, he had some fluidity to his game, and more importantly, a lot of heart.
Unfortunately for me, though, our first game that afternoon at the 14th ST. Y, I split two defenders going to the hole, and I don’t know how or at what point, but I bugged my shoulder again. I had injured it last Fall, and it took seven plus months to heal properly until this past summer. Now I can’t even raise my hand above my shoulder without wincing in pain. It sucks, man. Really sucks. Read More »
Ah, what a joy to play ball back in New York! And believe–I was enjoying Brazil last week to the fullest–but there is nothing like home, even when it’s 20 below outside, brrr! I hit the 14th ST. Y for the afternoon run. Same crew as always, the familiar faces and friendly, “Where you been?” cantor. I was fiendin’ to play, only had gotten one real run during my week in Salvador de Bahia, so i laced’em up even though my body felt worn from jetlag (the flight back was 10 hours overnight and had arrived at 6am, and that was after a three hour connection, 18 hours door to door basically). I don’t know if it was the special powers I received from the Acai smoothie, or that fresh mango off the tree I ate, but for whatever reason after the first game (in which Arnel, per usual, lambasted me on D hitting four consecutive 3s in my grillpiece), I warmed up crazy and was giving out Mango Tango left and right! Read More »