Singer to the gods (and shammbogs) of New York hoops

Little remained in New York basketball except for the Knicks’ eternal search for a powerful leading defenseman. It’s a quest that has always been fired up, exacerbated and intensified by the abundance of city-bred point guards.

There was the flamboyant Pearl Washington, who rode a motorcycle and occasionally wore furs at children’s games, and whose stunning dribbling for Syracuse wiped out Georgetown’s dominating all-court press in the Big East tournament.

And God Shammgod, the revered Harlem quarterback who played the game of play by offering the ball to defenders with his right hand and then hitting it with his left. This move, which is still repeated in NBA games by Russell Westbrook and others, is known as Shammbog.

From them and others, New York point guards learned that audacity, flair and flawless play are just as important as the ability to initiate an attack. But the era that created the New York point guard archetype, which in the 1970s and 80s was supported by Catholic schools that have since closed for lack of funding, and playgrounds that have been stripped of discs during the Covid-19 pandemic , left.

For a rare moment Wednesday night, he was reanimated at a screening of “Gods of New York,” a feature-length Showtime documentary that pays tribute to the security guards who gave the city its reputation. The film was produced by Kevin Durant and his business partner and agent Rich Kleiman. Duran, a New York immigrant, wore Dior when he gave hugs to the subjects of the documentary. Kleiman, a local resident, gleamed in gold aviator glasses when he introduced the film to the cries of the audience, who called him Ace, after Rothstein, the protagonist of the film “Casino”.

The venue was Manhattan West Plaza, the cathedral of a real estate development force destined for utility in keeping with the New York tradition of hoopers paying homage to hoopers.

This term is an honorary title that does not take into account professional status and statistics and can only be awarded by another hooper. It doesn’t matter if you had a 20-year NBA career or your best performances are now remembered only by basketball giants. There is awe among hoopers. Have you made those who watched you play love the game as much as you do? Did you tell the crowd the story “I was there when”?

Outside the theater, camera flashes greeted Rafer Alston and Kenny Anderson as they walked the red carpet with their mom. Sabrina Ionescu of the WNBA’s Liberty hugged Nancy Lieberman and Nisha Butler. Jason Tatum of the Boston Celtics folded Anderson’s hands respectfully as Paul Pierce spoke his name to a puzzled publicist.

However, after the footage rolled, the guards’ signature toughness washed away as they listened to each other’s stories. “It was very emotional, not only for me, but, you know, I lived and witnessed those stories of other guys and girls,” said Mark Jackson, a former Knicks point guard who starred in St. Louis. John. Sitting next to his four children, he wiped his eyes when he heard Kenny Smith, the Queens-born former NBA champion, describe how Jackson’s mind had led him to a nearly 17-year professional career.

Essentially, “Point Gods” is a hooper oral history of how the city created the bloodline at that position. Shammgod developed his dribbling because his PE teacher Tiny Archibald told him it would make him forever valuable to any team. It wasn’t until he watched a VHS compilation of point guard moments called “Below the Rim” that he learned of Archibald’s previous work.

The revelation sparked a burst of laughter at the screening, where previously attendees hustled through seats and settled shoulder to shoulder in the cramped cardboard box parks of the city. Dao-i Chow, famous fashion designer, sat against the far wall in a Jackson Knicks jersey. Clark Kent, whose real name is Rodolfo Franklin and known by Rucker Park’s nickname “God’s Favorite DJ”, held a seat in the back row. Kent produced an excerpt from Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, which was released in 1996 when Jeff Van Gundy took over the Knicks.

For his part, Jay-Z welcomed Shammgod to the nearby rooftop patio before the screening. The rapper and mogul was a mainstay of Rucker Park’s Entertainer’s Basketball Classic in the early 2000s, and his attempt to poach Karim Reed from the opposing team with a sack of cash was revealed by rival rapper Fat Joe. The exact amount, rumored to be in the thousands, is omitted from the retelling when Joe recounts the mob-style meeting he had with Reid to convince him not to flee the ship. Reed, who had a cup of coffee with the NBA Hornets in 2003, stayed.

When the film showed LeBron James, Beyoncé, and NBA Commissioner David Stern (on Joe’s platinum and diamond chain) making their summer pilgrimage to the park, a woman seated four rows away from the screen yelled, “I was there,” “I been there!” “There too,” simultaneously counting her attendance and introducing Harlem into the room.

In another scene, rapper Cam’ron — a Harlem native who played on several high school tour teams along with some documentary characters — explained that the oohs and aahs from the crowd were worth “five or six points” to a point guard from New York. .

Transition to Anderson in a 1991 ACC game. He was a high school legend at Archbishop Molloy’s School in Queens, and New Yorkers who followed his career at Georgia Tech couldn’t wait for him to mistake Bobby Hurley for Duke, known for his weak defense. The point guard plays up the hype about what’s about to happen, and Smith convinces the director to pull out the game footage so he can narrate the grainy ESPN clip of the one-on-one clash.

Anderson meets Hurley by the elbow, then takes him by the back and between the legs before slipping past a stunned Hurley for a floating layup. What went unnoticed was the fact that Duke had won the game.

Small matter. When it happened, only Dickie V’s hyperventilation on ESPN marked the moment as something special. “NYC Point Gods”, however, is overdubbed with a soundtrack by the hoopers, who told and retold the story as one of many chapters in their glorifying mythology.

In the film, however, Shammgod is awe-inspiring. Stephon Marbury, who wore Anderson’s middle-parted haircut in high school and followed him to Georgia Tech, leans towards retelling. The unrecorded, ephemeral cries of NBA stars, high school coaches, and their peers rained down on Anderson again in the dark theater.