Friday, 23 September 2011
The iconic ten.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"That's for Mookie". Eddie Vedder, frontman of Pearl Jam on the title of their classic, debut album; 'Ten'.
Legendary grunge-rock outfit Pearl Jam recently celebrated 20 years of music with a movie, book and live show. From early photo's of band members rocking jersey's put out by Michael, to posters of a young Charles Barkley dunking on their walls in the early days photos it's clear these hoop heads where influenced by the peach and the basket. The cult, iconic act even have a legendary debut album by the name of 'Ten', a tribute to the jersey number of former ball player Mookie Blaylock, which was the bands name before legal action and the days the Point Guard became a fan of the band.
Mookie is a cult icon beyond the hardwood beyond one of Seattle and America's best band. The former New Jersey, Atlanta and Golden State guard. Google the name and you'll also look up the Tom Robbin's novel 'Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas' where the central character of the tale Larry Diamond goes by Mookie Blaylock's name during hotel stays...hey, we've all done it. Even in an episode of the cartoon 'Homestar Runner' an Umpire tells an Announcer that Mookie Blaylock gave him the ball. This guard sure does get along with all these pop culture references. Now what made this all-star guard so popular?
Sure the name's great, but so was the game. This dominant player played opponents close like butter plays toast, or Biggie played hunny's. This darling defender was B.I.G. Too, notorious for being a stopper. Even Michael Jordan could get it. Daron Oshay "Mookie" Blaylock was the real deal in his no luck 13 years in the league. His hard work defined his time and tenure at the helm of three teams. The Texan, 12th pick of the '89 draft out of Oklahoma College helped define nighties basketball in terms of popularity and prosperity. He was your all-star, steady veteran and consistent performer that showed that as well as him the league that Magic and Bird made popular was here to stay in the forefront of cult culture.
This push-and-pass point guard, kept pushing and moving on up like Curtis Mayfield as the assists and minutes totals missed the snakes and hit the ladders. This was no board game, Mookie was dedicated to the hardwood and his teammates and his time and unselfish play can attest to. He robbed the league of nothing but the steals records as he regularly hit those charts in the nighties like a different M.J. hit the music ones. This former Atlanta Hawk was that type of bird on defensive and his eagle eye and quick hands helped him get his talons on 200 or more steals in five seasons which helped garner him two, deserved NBA All-Defensive first-team selections. he also led the league in steals like legends Alvin Robertson, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson and Chris Paul two years in a row. Now tell me who owns the ball?
Don't front on this guys offensive skills either. This guy had a great set that he could even take it to Mike as well as take it from him. He was more than a competent outside shooter, especially in the clutch and this big-time player dished and brought as much to the table as he took, being among the leagues most affordable dime men. The record books and the memory banks recognise this fast break starter brought the show during his time. He started his own team and stopped the other. he won and lost games, it all went through him. This true Point Guard took charge of his teams and lead them with a matrimony of offence and defence, for better or worse.
From ruling the NCAA with Stacey King to having the best brought out of him by legend, Lenny Wilkens and then being traded for like-minded, big-time player in reserve Jason Terry, Mook has had an impact on fellow players the game and so much more. He's in top all-time categories from the 100's to the 20's for his steals, minutes and three's and he still holds the record in the ATL for steals (1,321) and three pointers taken (3,023) and made (1,050). Told you this 6 foot, 180 pound guy was big.
From 'NBA Jam' to 'NBA Live' this guy was a real selection, in the game like EA but more than a video game player. He really took it to opponents necks, wrapping around them like a pearl necklace, this thief had a way with the ball. With a game so silky smooth to the touch of the rock. Like another pearl, Earl Monroe, Blaylock was a top guard. Sure unlike the N.Y. legend he was no 'Black Jesus' but he was still a disciple of the game and he played by the book with every chapter and verse of his praised career. Even when he finished his NBA time off the bench in Oakland, like a true warrior he still had plenty in reserve with no substitute. That was Mookie. One and only. Ten out of ten.
Once this guy entered the league and our consciousness with his even flow his dedication was deep with every release, trip to the garden and jam finishing, break starting play that took it to the other teams porch. The legend of this number ten is still kept alive today like a Pearl Jam song and album and even if some people don't know the name Mookie Blaylock, the legacy lives on.