Monday, May 16, 2016

WHY YOU LION, WHY YOU ALWAYS LION - The Shot Heard Around the Basketball World

Within the elite high school and summer basketball apparatus, the whispers coming out of Hampton, Virginia this weekend seemed to be pure hyperbole. 

Not only did we hear that a seventh grader was proceeding to dismantle what is widely known as one of the top AAU programs in America; we proceeded to hear that on a team with multiple high major recruits, a 6’7 McDonalds All-American candidate and a dominant 6’10 post man that the 5’7 seventh grader grabbed a rebound with seconds left on the clock and hit a buzzer beater game winner over the aforementioned players and team to win the game.

Personally I will never forget a weekend years ago in a league boasting some of the top talents in the nation – one that will ultimately make claim to several future professional basketball player. A diminutive guard by the name of Zion Harmon playing a “single” year up would average 42 ppg over a five game stretch.  The heart and ferociousness it took to battle players often a foot taller whose only purpose was often simply to stop him and to still succeed on the highest level was nothing less than legendary in the world of youth basketball. 

If Harmon’s team(s) were coming it was the goal of each opponent to beat them to in some way say or share in saying “they” or “them” beat the best there was.  If he attended a camp Harmon was sought out by any player looking to make a claim as the best this or the best that.  The Zion vs Blank Youtube videos are endless yet "The Lion" always remained standing.  “Normal” strategies aside; resorting to bringing in ringers, physically attempting to intimidate or injure, and heckling were all normal and eventually common place to somehow take a youngster down a notch or two – to lessen the mystic, to say that the young man simply wasn’t as good as everyone else said that he was.

He made no apologies for who he was, and played with an unbridled hunger, joy and emotion that was so refreshing. The fearlessness that was wrapped up in his diminutive physical package was extraordinary and was a primary factor in what turned him into a Youtube sensation ~ a celebrity of sorts with over a million views by various people literally from all over the world.  What many didn’t know is that this “child star” didn’t and hasn’t lived a life style of a child at all; by choice due to a burning desire to succeed.  

When offered ice cream or a trip to an amusement park – his reply?  "Ice cream isn't healthy and I don’t want to put that in my body"…amusement park?, "I can do that later right now I need to use every moment to work on my game".  A elementary student who independently awakened in the morning to run several mile before school, only to end the school day back in the gym staying until the light were turned out and then often finding a court outside that may or may not have lights to continue working, simply wanting to get off a few more shots.  Watching him on road trips use a basketball as a pillow; you wondered what the dreams inside this young mans’ head consisted off.  

His spontaneous creativity on the floor, every time you witnessed it, was awe-inspiring, like watching an artist perform their craft.
His swag alone, was beyond compare to anyone in muddle school or high school in some cases; but what was it that drove, pushed, motivated him? Was he angry, driven by his naysayers, the locals in his area who questioned the validity of each of his accomplishments – the national persons and experts that would impede his social media threads to tell him what he was accomplishing meant nothing because at the end of the day, they could not currently and in all likelihood would never be able to duplicate the success he had in 14-years before ever stepping into High School in their lifetimes.

If it is possible to transcended youth basketball and become a counter-culture icon that defines as well was transcends the growth and popularity of basketball to the fan at the middle school level. His irresistible authenticity and maturation, and basketball sensibilities fused with perhaps the illest crossover, natural scoring acumen, and ability to raise his level play to perform his best when it mattered most, when the lights were at its brightest, and the the stage the biggest made him one of the most charismatic players to ever cross the threshold of our national sporting consciousness - I challenge you to think of another prior to High School.

He is barely 5’7 and had he proven his doubters right - that his exploits would never go beyond middle school he would STILL have a lifetime of magical memories that many would never have in three lifetimes as it pertains to the game of basketball at the highest level or any level for that matter this is how significant and special what is happening and it should finally be fully appreciated and understood for what it is.

Well, the “Pound for Pound” best player in the country has given the basketball world the proverbial middle finger by creating a perfect storm and scenario that only a movie script could duplicate.  Seventh grader leaves his state due to non-acceptance and negativity regardless of his innocent efforts to succeed; after his older brother was labeled, black-balled, and sabotaged by a local AAU giant who is recruiting all the top kids in his area to his program.  Said seventh grader plays high school varsity basketball; averages 18ppg, and it’s stated the competition is inferior. Player enters the non-disputed top league in the county; the NIKE EYBL at the 15U level and due to a set of circumstances is propelled into action at the 17U level against players who will be in high major colleges before he steps into high school.  His first game?  Well, that’s against the very hometown team and national power that shunned his brother and they happen to be top ranked team in the league – and his team? They have 1-win and they are in last place.

We all know how this story is supposed to end, but this movie preview says the seventh grader scored 19-points, dished out 6-assist, shoot 6-13 from the field, and 4-9 form the 3-point stripe, 3-4 FT – plays the entire second half AND hits the game winning shot.  So of course as you continuing reading the back of movie cover you say to yourself “who wants to watch this?” something like this would never happen in “real life” and if it did the mere mention of it would become celebratory by the locals in his hometown - the reality is mentioning it would result is accusations of classlessness and disrespect by the creators of those very characteristics!!!!!

Finally IF by some strange and “impossible” chance this did happen; it would of course be fluke, a lucky game, stars aligned, and it couldn’t be done again if ever; certainly not in the same weekend – well this movie says less than 24-hours later against another top national program the seventh grader would score 27-points dish out 6 more assist and average 18pts and 6 assist after 3 games.   Would you rent it or buy it?; well I guess if you are into fairy tales it might be of interest; maybe if you were a dreamer who needed a feel good pick me up story a tear jerker….

The description sound a little grandiose? Well DMV Preps has found the trailer below; maybe watching will catch your interest…I’m sure it’s not worth watching to many as nothing like this could ever happen in “real life”; Siskel & Ebert wouldn’t even consider reviewing it but DMV Preps gives it two thumbs up, 5-Stars, and we can’t wait to see the sequel.  

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