August 15, 2018

Surprised to see an old friend

I was in a walkway in Minneapolis this week.  They have tvs in some of them now - walking past I saw a game in that new three-on-three basketball league for old guys.  I recognized some of the players: they looked like older, fatter versions of their former selves not quite as quick and vertical as they used to be, generally about 60-70% of what they once were (which is still better than most people ever get).

As I prepared to turn away, with the dark thought that the first heart attack would end this league, I noticed the grey-bearded point guard bringing the ball up.  The big man - Rashard Lewis I think - posted up.  The other guy went to the high post to set a pick, but the point guard stopped short, crossed over his man, and drilled a 25-footer.  Wha....!?!

As he turned away the name on his jersey told the story:  Abdul-Rauf.

Ah man, you kidding me?  Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf?  The former Chris Jackson?  The only person afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome to achieve stardom in the NBA?  The proto Steph Curry?  The guy they ran out of the League...who ended up playing in his 40s?

Why yes, thank you for noticing.  He is 49 now, and is running amok in this league:

God I love watching him play.  As discussed in my 2010 post, I saw him in person once and a very good Celtics team really didn't know what to do with him.  Like Curry now, he could drive or spot up; he had handles and could shoot.  You couldn't stay with him, and you couldn't leave him alone.

(The link to the fine article I quote in that 2010 post is busted, so here's one that works.)

The comparisons with Curry are fair, but unlike Curry his coaches and teams really didn't know how to use him.  It was, as they say, a different time.  He had a decent career anyway...short but sweet:

Before we get too carried away, no I don't think he'd be a big star in today's NBA.  Like Curry he's thin and short (6-0), and the switch-mad defenses of the modern NBA mean that the little guy has to be MVP-material at the offensive end to compensate for the damage LeBron or Giannis is going to do to him when he's on defense.

That don't matter to us though.  Nothing matters now - not the money, not the stats, not the anthem.  I came here to see you.  Cause I know I'll see the Truth.

I don't believe in role models - but you're mine

See also Sports Illustrated, 11/15/93: "Quest for Perfection" (link)


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