Many 14 year old boys sleep with posters on the ceiling above their beds. Generally these posters are of celebrity models or entertainers. From Farrah Fawcett in the 70’s to Paula Abdul in the 80’s. Cindy Crawford, Pam Anderson, and my boy Von’s favorite Kathy Ireland , were popular choices. I did rock Britney Spears and Tyra Banks on my walls. But I had Shawn Kemp dunking in the poster that was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep each night. I wanted to dream of catching lob passes and throwing down in someone’s face.
After MichalelJordan retired the first time, my basketball allegiance fell squarely on the now defunct Seattle SuperSonics. Those damn Sonics ripped my heart out by losing in the first round in 1993 and 1994. Those were the Vacuum years created by MJ’s baseball excursion that the Houston Rockets used to pick up the 2 titles that the Sonics left laying on the ground. Yeah, the Sonics were like 7 and 1 against the Rockets in the regular season those years and they choked in the first round twice!!! It was like a total collective team wise case of the yips and exhibit A in the case for my theory of emotional momentum.
Still, there was nothing more thrilling than watching the Gary Payton to Shawn Kemp allyoop. And those Allyoops occurred on fast breaks triggered by a vicious, quasi illegal at the time, frenetic trapping defense.
In the original 30 for 30, I gave Kemp all the love. But Payton was a force of nature that is unlikely to be seen again. A point guard who could dominate defensively. A guy feared as much for what he has to say as what he can do on the court. As a kid circa 1993 I went to a Bank sponsored (at the time it was Seattle 1st, Soon to become Washington mutual, and now owned by Chase bank thanks to multiple banking mergers and collapses) basketball camp. My cousins went to the same traveling circus, but with a different cast of guest coaches. I got Steve Scheffler.
They got GP.
So in the fall of 1995 when my dad took me to me and my brother to a preseason Sonics game in Spokane, I was still very much smitten with the these guys. To this day, I still have the mage of Kemp and Payton walking out of the Tunnel and on to the floor with this mentality of “let’s take care of business, and luckily for us , that business is basketball.” That became the guiding lighthouse by which I endeavored to navigate the sheer rock cliffs and crashing waves of misfortune in my life, up until, well Hoopfest 2016. That was all I wanted my life to be about, taking care of business, as long as that business was basketball.