Thursday, 18 August 2011
From one writer to another
By Tim David Harvey
I start this letter off with what has little significance: who I am. I’m the guy that doesn’t like what I’m told I should like, or that a person like me is supposed to like. I don’t follow trends and I definitely don’t try to please anybody or be something that I’m not in order to ‘fit-in’. I can’t even remember the last time a thing I liked fitted in with the norm of where I’m from. It’s never been about trying to separate myself from others or from where I come from however. It’s only ever been about liking what’s true to me. So when all my peers kicked around a football and ‘Bent it like Beckham’ I picked up a basketball. I wanted to be ‘Like Mike’.
When you’re indulging your passion, you go all out. Some are gifted with athletic skills, which helps…however I wasn’t. No jump shot and no hops. That did not deter me from my love of the game though, nothing could. One game a week (if that) wouldn’t deter me. Watching games live when I should have been in bed two hours earlier couldn’t deter me. You see before league pass, before television rights and before holidays to America, I only had one way of keeping up… and that was reading up. Imagine for a second how far you or SLAM reaches. When there was no voice to be heard the history, depth and culture of this game was taught to a young, white teenager in a small town in England by Scoop Jackson.
We only have two courts open to the public here, but I lived basketball. I had to beg my newsagent to get SLAM, had to remind them every month but I kept up. Reading this magazine every month I was inspired to write, to contribute. You and every one else that worked in SLAM gave me that inspiration (and I’d go as far to say even one writer has mentored me). Now I’ve been given the opportunity to contribute on some level and you deserve my thanks as well as the man that put me here.
I’ll cut to the chase. What I’m saying is my own words. Although I know full well I’m not the first person to ask this and I know I won’t be the last, but Scoop…come back. SLAM is in real good hands, we can see that, everyone is on point like acupuncture but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss you. I know you’ve got to do what you got to do and you’ve moved on, so I’m just saying even if its one article, grace the pages again. Talk about whatever you want. People yearn for nostalgia, groups reforming, people reuniting. I’m not asking for everything, just give us something.
You see we still follow you and all your articles. Your word is basketball gospel. Your insight incredible. You’re putting ESPN on game for sure. Great writers stay true in every one of their lines. Magazine journalism may be dying, but you and others keep it alive. What you say may not be set in stone but it’s imprinted in our psyche.
You do what you need to do however, because when you did television you weren’t selling out, you were branching out. Bless us with one more article though, for old times sake. You see Scoop as good as other basketball writers are you tell the game a different way, your way. That’s why I’ve been in this coffee house for the last hour and a half, reading your Jordan articles back to back, two cold cups by my side, with a girl at the counter who served me- who I should have asked out by now. You captivate people, I’ll have to ask her tomorrow.
Everyone’s read their favourite Scoop. ‘The Large Professor’, your first one in SLAM about Shaq, the Iverson joints, the Jordan homage’s. For me the first time I could ever brought an issue of SLAM I decided to read the cover story first. SLAM 41, it was your article about Vince Carter, ‘The Life and Times Of V. Carter, So Far, So Good’. Your probably wondering now what was the line that caught my interest and started everything? Well it was this “Eleven-and-a-half feet above the ground. A left hand print stains the glass. Seconds later, the right hand touches the top of the backboard. The quarter rule. He gives a glare, he gives off fear. He slightly smiles.” Suddenly I didn’t need regular televised games to capture the imagery of basketball anymore.
Then you talk about Vince, matching him up with the legends, predicting his legacy in a way we all tried to imagine but only you could convey. So it didn’t turn out the way you predicted, for one there definitely will never, ever be a statue of Vince outside the Air Canada Centre. Some tell it how it is, however you told it like it should be. You ask the questions that should be asked; you asked Vince about mistakes, about being pissed at you, about living up to promises. You speak the truth, you don’t bullshit. You pay respect, you don’t kiss ass. The phrase ‘real talk’ is thrown around to much these days, so I’ll use it just this once.
Your as important to basketball and hip-hop as Bobbito Garcia is to hip-hop and basketball. You’re the guy that made Iverson’s first cover happen. Ok so it was the worst selling issue of all time but look what it started. You can put that soul on ice. You’re the guy that wrote some of the best A.I. pieces, having his back the whole time, even when ‘things done changed’. You’re the guy that lived Michael Jordan more than Mars Blackmon. You’re the guy that made us shed a tear reading about Baron Davis. You’re the guy that made haters see the real David Robinson and how he isn’t a sell out (far from it). Hell you’re the guy that helped us see the ‘real’ in most players. You wrote arguably the most important article about Kobe Bryant ever written. Back then I can’t imagine how difficult that was to write, but you spelt it out the right way, “If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a basketball story. This is not about what did or didn’t happen in Eagle County, Colorado, nor how or why it did or didn’t happen, nor whether this thing Kobe Bryant is accused of actually happened at all”. You maintained dignity and professionalism whilst writing about a touchy subject, all while still making your point clear.
Obviously you write about more than basketball. We understood your article about Tiger Woods and we loved what you did for 'Vibe', 'The Source' and 'XXL' but we miss your ‘Game Point’. Just like SLAM you perfectly illustrated the perfect marriage of hip-hop and basketball. You didn’t just put rap references or lyrics in your articles to look cool, you put them in there because they had relevance. I would never have done the same without you being so bold first. Just like the culture of true and real hip-hop you aren’t afraid to say what you think, just as long as it’s profound. Brilliance over bullshit, love over hate, creativity over controversy.
You know what I’m talking about. Ricky Davis. Some people may hate. The rest. Got it. The talent. The Style. The fire. The writing. So enlightening. The truth. Sometimes lost. Amongst false media. But you. Handle it. Like Jason and the rock. The meaning. Bought to the light. When the words said. All right. Some people. You Failed it. For me. You nailed it. “Story told. Incomplete though. Missing? One lyric. Hip-hop classic”.
You see Scoop we will continue looking through the archives online or through the stacks in our cupboards and under our beds and we’ll reminisce like Mary, appreciating all you’ve wrote. We will also check you out on ‘page 2’ but lets just turn the page back one more time, to where it all started, the roots. Come back and give us one more. Hell I’d put the money up if I could, but I’m just an aspiring writer, but I probably wouldn’t even of been that without your inspiration. You kicked in doors so I could put a foot in one, so thank you. If you come back for ‘one mo gin’ then we’ll always appreciate it but if you don’t its cool. “A mans gotta do just what a man has to do” and we respect that, but you always know where we are.