Month: July 2015

Rollin

Monday night group chat with Juan and B Rich.

B Rich:  “I’m going to Miami.  50% chance I fly tonight at 10pm.  50% chance I fly tomorrow at 6am.  Juan are you available?”

DJ Cab is always available. 

I happened to be in driving to Miami the next day, and after handling business, met up with B Rich at the famed Fountainblue Hotel on Miami Beach to talk hoops.  Jason Williams was a third party to the conversation via text offering that Wesley Person was the best shooter he ever played with, and B Rich was “8”.  The beauty in the statement was that he offered nothing on shooters two through seven, or any elaboration on B Rich ‘ s rating.

We were joined later by Cliff Smith and Mark Cruz, who were already three sheets to the wind.  Twenty minutes after arriving Cliff was in the pool, fully clothed, playing catch with a random guy and three eight year olds.  Cruz buried a relative in the morning, but seemed remarkably festive.  The balance of the night was a clinic in team bonding and revelry with drinking, eating, tall tales and hypothetical beastiality.

Thursday, I was back in the 407 on the Community Sports Report 91.5 FM with Juan and Jay Rome Brown talking basketball.  After the show, juan entrusted me with the Pedro’s Posse jerseys and a rough draft of the roster for our games on Saturday and Sunday.  Before I reached the house, the roster had changed and continued to evolve and contort right through tip off on Saturday.

With the arrival of NBA and Euroleague veteran Nick Calathes a few minutes after tip off, we had a nine man unit of Calathes, Alex Castillo, Mike O’Donnell, Dee Proby, Luke Loucks, Joey Rodriguez, Deivedis Dulkys, Alex Blessig and scoreless Frank.  We played very well winning by 25 against an over- matched foe.  The guys were great about sharing minutes and Dulkys produced a pair of great dunks that made there way to the orlandoproam instagram account.

By nightfall there was growing concern over the big roster.  It was tough to manage nine and we didn’t even have regulars Jason Williams, Rocky Trice or Andrew Bachanov.   On Sunday, all three returned and I considered myself fortunate that Dee Proby and Mike O’Donnell sat out.  I was left with ten guys including two NBA guys that generally get to play as much as they want.  Thankfully, the guys embraced a Kentucky two platoon system.  J Will put in a 2-2-1 press and we won by 32 with contributions up and down the roster.

The consensus was ten was too many though, and with the playoffs approaching some tough decisions on roster spots awaited Juan as he returned from Atlanta for Monday night’s game.  Throughout the day as many as 13 possible players were discussed with Juan cautioning that it will work itself out.  It did.  We fielded a strong 9 man squad and played some delightful basketball, but so too did our opponents.  For the first time in 8 games, we were in a tight game.  For much of the third quarter we trailed by 5-7 points, but our second unit made a great run to get the lead at the end of three.

Sometimes it’s  the little things that make a big difference.  In the closing seconds of the third, juan wanted to sub Courtney Lee in for Mike O’Donnell, but Courtney waved it off, and Mike hit a rainbow three from the deep corner at the buzzer to put us up 7.  B Rich struggled for much of the game, but hit three big threes to maintain the lead before succumbing to a foot injury.  Juan drew up a “play called Indians where everyone runs around in a circle”, and Rocky Trice blocked 4 shots in the second half and stole the ball at the buzzer to seal the 92-91 win.

At 12-0, we stand atop the league. 

There is a haphazard way in which our roster comes together for each game, but our bond is deep forged in some instances from childhood friendships to a contemporaneous, but common vision of the game.

Pedro’s Posse: A Summer Tradition Like No Other

Fuck Christmas. I haven’t enjoyed that time of year since I got on the buying side of gift giving. Thanksgiving isn’t much better eating turkey while watching the Lions and Bears disgrace the game of football before drifting off to the sound of your own farts. Easter, please. Fancy clothes, chocolate rabbits and the indelible image of our savior nailed to a cross. My favorite time of year is the summer when Orlando’s Pro Am League is in season, and Pedro’s Posse is at full gallup.

The Pro Am is a summer basketball league open to anyone from current NBA players to who the hell thought it was a good idea to give that guy a uniform guys, and everyone in between. The games are played at the Orlando Downtown Rec, and officiated by current and aspiring professional officials. Admission is free, and the fun is unlimited.

Pedro’s Posse is Juan Bernal and his hustle. He has led the team from it’s inception, coaching, playing, procuring players, washing uniforms, working the officials, and on one glorious occasion winning a title. Nobody has invested more of himself into the team and league over the last seven years than the Hood Legend.

On the court, the Posse is 7-0 this season and embody the virtues of team basketball leading the league in passes completed and offensive possessions involving more than one pass. Transition defense can be spotty, but no team closes games better.

I missed the first two games of the season, a Saturday double header on June 27th, but I was on the bench as first assistant for game three on Sunday. We had six players available Rocky Trice, B Rich, Mitch Woods, Fletcher Magee, Alex Blessig and Alex Castillo. We were mildly undersized and had great difficulty with our pick and roll coverages, but scrambled to a late win.

On Monday night, we were joined by NBA champion Jason Williams, big man Drew Bachanov and sharpshooter Kyle Kozuta. The game started slowly, and for the second time in as many games Juan walked down the bench and said, “we got our heads half way up our asses.” Minutes later, Juan called time out demanding the players pull their heads out of their asses. At the end of one, we led 22-10, but Juan continued to talk of heads being pulled from asses.

During our run to get the lead, B Rich hit five consecutive 3 point shots in a with his mother and young daughter sitting behind the bench. When he missed his sixth attempt, his mother yelled on to the court, “You can’t miss!”. I turned back noting that he had just hit five in a row, but received an icy glare, “He can’t miss. When he was growing up, we couldn’t afford to pave the driveway, but we paid to have a court paved so he could shoot a thousand shots a day. He can’t miss.” B Rich is 33 years old and a successful business man in the community, but “basketball never stops.”

Home Team Hoops was in the house and posted a youtube video from the game featuring White Chocolate Jason Williams that got over 700,000 views in 48 hours. JWill is a pleasure to have on the team, and his interactions with Juan are legendary. After making a fantastic steal in the third quarter, Juan praised JWill for his effort on the defensive end of the floor.

“Juan. Stop hoping. Stop praying. Get up off your knees cause it’s not happening again. I could get the ball so I got it, but I’m not trying any harder.”

Game five was a considerable downer as the other team had only two players. We won by forfeit, but with nine players on hand including Lake Howell and VCU legend Joey Rodriguez, scoreless Frank, Luis Brito and big man Dee Proby, we gave up some bodies and played a scrimmage. The core of our team went down 22-4 before drawing the obligatory get your head out of your ass speech from Magic Juan.

We crawled back into the game, but Magic Juan left at the half leaving me in control. Dee Proby and Drew Bachanov shot lights out from three point range down the stretch, and we trailed by 2 with 11 seconds left. Joey Rodriguez drew up a sideline out of bounds play that got Proby an elbow jumper, but he missed. Alex Castillo got the tip in to tie the game. Our opponent threw the ball the length of the court and out of bounds untouched with 6.5 seconds left. Rodriguez drew up a screen the screener action that freed B Rich for an open three and the lead with 2 seconds left. Bachanov missed at the buzzer on the other end, and we capped a double win.

Game six featured the Posse at it’s best. JWill was back in the lineup with former FSU player Luke Loucks and veteran Kyle Methany, who had been declared out indefinitely earlier in the week. Austin Rivers sat on the bench bemoaning the lack of quality in this year’s Pro Am and contemplating the availability of a new Clipper’s big man. Just behind the bench, Pausha regaled us with tales of his and Chandler Parson’s efforts to recruit Clipper big man DeAndre Jordan to the Mavs. Juan was on fire in pregame cautioning the team that our opponent had beaten a team with three professional basketball players.

JWill, “Which three?”

Pregnant pause.

Juan, “Well, I’m not gonna name names.”

JWill, “I thought that was a reasonable question?”

Juan relented and named the three players. We rolled by 20 and the game was stopped with 2:13 to play in the fourth.

Last night, I was standing outside the Rec five minutes before tip off and not one player had arrived yet. Texts to Juan went unanswered. I noticed a Mercedes enter the parking lot and a few moments later I was greeting Memphis Grizzlie Courtney Lee, who was making his 2015 Posse debut. Courtney was accompanied by two guys, but neither looked to have shoes to play.

Over the next few minutes Juan, B Rich, Luke, Rocky and Alex arrived, but that was it. We had five. It was a strong five and we played well from the start despite the fact Juan did not address the team. During the quarter break, there was a discussion of shoe sizes and Rocky ran out to his car to grab a pair of shoes for what turned out to be Courtney’s brother Cody, who was added to the score book and entered the game a few minutes later. Cody, a D-3 all american, had a solid game and Juan was quick to offer his assistance in finding Cody a contract to play overseas if he was “about that life.”

Juan left at the half for Atlanta. His estimated time of arrival was 4am. B Rich noticed Juan was gone, and I told him of his departure for Atlanta.

B Rich paused and asked, “Where’s his bag?”

Me, “Probably in his car.”

B Rich, “He rode with me and he didn’t have a bag.”

Which led us to the obvious conclusion that Juan left for a three day road trip without so much as a toothbrush or fresh drawers.

Rules of Physical Engagement

DeAndre Johnson will not play football for Florida State because he flipped a jab into the face of a physically aggressive woman in view of a surveilance camera at a bar. It was a jab. He did not turn his hips, roll his shoulder or otherwise transfer weight into the strike, and he moved away from her immediately after the strike without follow up.

As much as I enjoy Florida State Football, I am ok with the dismissal and some modest penalty from the “justice” system.

Actions have consequences.

And for that reason, I am not ok with this chick getting a pass. The video clearly reveals her to be the initial physical aggressor, and there are allegations that she was a verbal aggressor invoking racist rhetoric as well.

What the hell was she doing? Why was she so quick to get in the face of this man and initiate physical aggression? Was she so complacent in the notion that men should not hit women that she felt entitled to push the physical line as far as she could believing she could do so without consequence?

This woman willingly, perhaps with the aid of alchohol, engaged in a bar fight. This is not a woman being battered and intimitated behind closed doors, or randomly brutalized. She faced the same decision of escalation that Johnson did, and only backed down when she got hit.

We do justice a disservice when we only see good and bad. Human actions are various hues of gray, and much injustice arises from our refusal to accept this fact.