Wednesday, July 30th, 2008...1:46 am
Ron Ron: Hunter College to Houston
I moped off the subway last night a bit dejected as a result of a first round playoff loss in my wiffle ball league. In the second inning, Sitman’s little bro threw a change up that hung like Nathan Hale and that, along with a healthy dose of Tim Donaghy like umpiring, was the difference in the 2-0 defeat.
But the pain of another season without a ‘chip didn’t last long. As I was walking home from the subway stop I had the good fortune to run into my old pal Levine. Although he wasn’t delivering any any night club passes, he did let me know he was heading over to the Hunter College gym to watch the Pro City summer league. Then he mentioned Artest and his team was playing. Without any hesitation, I turned around and walked the half block back to Hunter College with him to check it out.
When I got to the gym I felt like I had just entered some kind of underground basketball mecca. The gym was packed, the atmosphere electric and Artest’s team (Queensbridge) was locked up with their opponents late in the third quarter. The intensity form both teams was notched up way higher than what you would expect for an exhibition game. In fact, Artest was going at it pretty hard at both ends of the court and at one point even received a technical for jawing with another guy. Artest shared the scoring load with none other than the one and only Daryl “Showtime” Hill. Hill never panned out at St. John’s (mostly because of a bum knee) but he was around for a hot minute to pull off this cutesy move — http://youtube.com/watch?v=oDGvNI8RHw0.
The obligatory streetball DJ was in full effect and the gunshots sample after every basket seemed to unnerve Levine. The crowd was roaring and was strongly behind Artest and his squad. Ron Ron had a few key buckets down the stretch to help pull the game out for his team.
Afterwards, Artest entered the stands to sit with his boys in the as the second game began. Artest was rocking a Mets cap and, damn it, he actually made the blue and orange look cool. Literarily, a few minutes after he left the gym solo (Levine wanted to follow him to see if he jumps on the FV and heads back to Queensbridge) a buzz went through the crowd that Artest had been dealt to Houston to pair up with T-Mac and Skip (and don’t forget Yao!). At this point, I was in total amazement. I wasn’t sure if these guys were talking about the NBA or if Artest was just swapped to the Houston (as in the street in downtown Manhattan) Tru Warriors summer league squad. Levine was thinking that two guys in the crowd might have just made a fantasy trade. Lo and behold, it seems that Artest actually was dealt last night.
The second game featured a talented team that starred Smuch Parker, Omar Cook and first round picks Michael Beasley and Donte Green (who ironically was part of the Artest swap). Smush was having it out with some fans that I believe may have carried over from last game when he hit a buzzer-beater trifecta to win the game. I was shocked to see Beasley on the court as he has no obvious ties to New York City and it baffles me how NBA teams let their guys play in these kind of leagues/tournaments. Although he had some jaw dropping dunks in warm-ups, Beasley didn’t really do much in the game. Even more baffling was the bench warming skills of Marco Jaric who looked totally overmatched on the court, spent most of the time nestled on the bench, and stuck out like a Serb at a Croatian day parade. Doesn’t the dude have better things to do like collect his paycheck and spend time with his way to hot wife, Adriana Lima.
Interestingly, when I left at half time that team was being spanked by a squad led by Eugene Lawrence (worst four year starting point guard in history of college basketball) and bruiser turned ball handler Tyrone Grant. If you’re into the streetball scene you might have appreciated the battle between John “The Franchise” Strickland and “Big Chicken”.
Hit me up if you want to check out the basketball this Thursday or next Tuesday.