By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
A Tall Look At Basketball
“If You Are Tall and Play Ball; You Can Have It All.”NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — I heard a self-proclaimed street scholar named True Knowledge “kicking the actual factual” on the street corner one day while little kids as young as nine years old with hoop dreams of playing in the NBA listened attentively to his every word, say, “If you are tall and can play ball, you can have it all.”
“Plus, you get a pass in life. Because if I was 6-foot-8, I would make basketball my hustle and I would pimp the NCAA, the NBA, NBC, ESPN and live dope-boy fresh for the rest of my existence. Yes, indeed. It’s the American way, baby.”
As stupid as True Knowledge’s words may have sounded to some, there was a bit of truth in his ignorance. Matter of fact, to tell the truth most of us believe in his twisted logic on life. “If you are tall and can play ball; you can have it all.”
Wow, what if that was Barack Obama’s presidential campaign slogan, I thought to myself.
But this wasn’t Washington, DC; this was street politics, Harlem hood economics, the ghetto gospel, sports philosophy 101 from the belly of the beast coming from the mouth of one of our own street scholars, who didn’t obtain this kind of wisdom from no “Ivy league college or university”.
Oh yeah, this was the “actual-factual” from True Knowledge.
And we all loved listening to him kick “the truth” to the young Black youth.
Because when he began preaching, you could see the hopes and dreams in the eyes of those young kids holding those basketballs tenderly under their arms as if it was some type of magical crystal ball while standing on their tippy-toes trying to look taller.
Because even though, I didn’t agree with everything True Knowledge said, I appreciated the fact that he gave those little kids hope. He allowed them to dream. He allowed them to play.
He allowed them to fantasize that they were 6 feet tall playing against Lebron James.
You could see it as they dribbled off in all directions pretending to hit the winning jump-shot against Kobe Bryant saying to themselves “If you are tall, and can play ball. You can have it all.”
With the rhythm of bouncing basketballs pounding against the hard concrete court, True Knowledge looked at me and said, “I don’t give pep talks; I give life talks” as he laughed before given me a pound.
After a few days went by, I sat down and tried to critically analyze True Knowledge’s sermon on sports as if his words were equivalent to one of Minister Farrakhan’s Sunday address to the Nation at Mosque Maryam in Chicago.
I shamefully, agreed with most of what True Knowledge had said, but it was the last part of his statement that bothered me the most when he said. “Plus, you get a pass in life.”
What did he mean by that? “You get a pass in life.”
Now, let me example those words. Because in America where athletes are considered gods, we allow it, accept it, promote it, and celebrate it.
Why? Just like True Knowledge said because “you are tall and can play ball”
As a result, most of our children have adopted this basketball over school mentality. This one-and-done philosophy.
They believe their teachers should give them a pass when they don’t come to class.
They believe their high school principals should give them a pass when they don’t graduate. They believe college recruiters should give them a pass when they can’t read or write.
They believe their coaches should give them a pass when they don’t come to practice. They believe their team mates should pass the ball to them even when they don’t hustle.
And they believe the police should give them a pass even when they get arrested.
Why? Because they are tall and can play ball. But what happens when:
The jumpers stop falling. The fans stop cheering.
The coaches stop caring. The groupies stop calling.
The agents stop grinning. The rims stop spinning.
The team stops winning. The ball stops bouncing.
And the “checks start bouncing”
Because in the end, you’ll just be a tall fool with a ball and a bus pass.
Now, that’s some True Knowledge.