Monday, 28 December 2015
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMON-A Tribute To Meadowlark Lemon
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Dunkin' Donuts. New York City thats where you can find me when this Englishman writer in New York is on holiday, or as our U.S. neighbours call it 'vacay'. Call it tradition. Every time I go to my Eden M.S.G. to watch the Knicks play. After watching the team with no middle (maybe thats all changed now Porzingis) I grab a donut at the shop ajacent from Madison Square. Some Dunkin after some dunking. It has to be done. But last night Carmelo and the boys where at another Garden in Boston so why was I here? A kid passes the window bouncing an ABA blue and white basketball. He's got to be careful though as he tries to spin it on his finger...its got autographs on it from all members of the Harlem Globetrotters. Thats why! He's palming himself a piece of history...legacy.
The oldest, best and most original basketball team...did we mention most fun? Icons thats can still bring the Worlds Most Famous Arena, The Garden down even when the New York Generals are playing and the Knickerbockers are not. Even when Tom Brady's uptown doing his thing and hundreds of orange and white jerseys downstairs from M.S.G. descend to where Penn Station will take them. The Globetrotters can still take the world by storm on earths biggest stage, just blocks away away from the electrical, entertainment core of the universe in Times Square, that in just a few days will have a million eyes in it watching the ball drop, as a billion watch on T.V.'s worldwide, as New York meets New Year. Every calender year these Globies from uptown N.Y.C. in Harlem tour more than the Rolling Stones, no matter how old the franchise gets. Celebrating 100 years in this game. Bringing another countless contest to yet another high-wire dunking, worldwide record shot, glitter bucket throwing, the court circus is in town, game winning close last night.
But tragically and coincidentally this morning we where awoken by the news thats its founding father, its first star has left us to join the hoop heavens.
The original Harlem Globetrotter, Meadowlark Lemon has died at 83 years of still ever young age.
"Better than M.J. and Kobe combined"-Chris Rock.
Did you see that? I can't believe my eyes! A hoops head see's a lot of things in Harlem-Bobbito Garcia, Kobe Bryant just turning up-but nothing like this! This kid is crazy! He's dribbling around what represents the whole of New York, like these nationals are paper towers. Not the Chrysler and Empire State Building skyscrapers they are supposed to represent. He's sliding on the floor, like grease was used to clean this court and he's staying there like the static in his shorts wont relent. He's still keeping the dribble though, as close to his chest as it is to his hand. Spinning around on the floor like he's breakdancing to a Run-DMC classic. It's like that and that's the way it is! But here's the hook, he rises, keeps control, spins some more, fakes more times than cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills and flashes a genuine smile that is, like this game, what it's supposed to be all about...fun! Even the defenders can't help from having their cheeks break into smiles along with their ankles, as they are all left for dust. Some opting to mop up that greasy mess that should be back there down court, because right now they would make a better living cleaning and paving the floor for the greats. The rest of defence are now spectators, like the audience that's drove miles in their masses to witness this. The paint is this young mans red carpet now as the flashbulbs make camera moments...but...wait! He pulls up like people in their cars on the outside who can't get a seat. Here comes the shot as jaws drop, like eye-lids be damned refuse to. Blink and you'll miss it. The ball goes up. Rising like yeast for the bread! It's all beautiful like the rotation, now just wait for the butter. Then...wait! What!? SNAP! Suddenly, the ball pops back from mid-air right back in the opposite direction and right into this kids palms! What in God's great earth was THAT!? Call that a gooseneck?! This is some Houdini wizardry. Forget Magic! Everyone's shaking their heads and looking at the Mexican Wave almost, in-sync head disbelief to either side of them for an explanation. Only in Harlem right!? The guys still smiling as someone finally finds the words to ask, "Meadowlark! How do you do that?!" (From the Harlem Globetrotters article 'Harlem World' published in 2014).
When life gives you Lemon...he changes the game. And everybody that loves it. Personally as a basketball writer I have to thank Mr. Lemon for all his inspiration to me. Although I never had the pleasure of knowing him, or the honour of meeting him and although I dont want to lay claim to things like this in his passing, I have to thank Meadowlark for reaching out to me. Following this above article two years back he shared it with his followers, which hopefully means he read that above paragraph about him (so he knows what he means to a kid from a country where they dribble ball with their feet) and then he also started following me on Twitter. Although its only social media and something small it meant a lot and will always be appreciated. I tried to reach out for an interview but alas he was still busy at 80. The Global Ambassador (you see him bringing this beautiful game to the love of Parker's Paris) who taught Betty Ford how to dribble on the Oval Office carpet in the White House was probably schooling someone else. Retirement? Nah there was nothing senior about this citizen. Breaking ankles whilst most are replacing hips. Till death do them part? Nah bury Lemon with a red, white and blue basketball, this American hero and flagship Globetrotter will still be dribbling it all the way to the pearly gates (I mean this was a guy who shot his first milk carton basket at an onion sack propped up with a coat hanger...and then went on to play 16,000 games with the Globes). They say heaven is green...well it really is a playground now. With meadows of Lemon. All for this kid from Harlem who dribbled and trotted the globe until he changed both basketball...and the world. In fact forget a cliche...for his names sake he was more like Naismith. Forget changing the game...he re-created it. There's no M.J. No Kobe. No King without the Prince. On the throne as the most famous Globetrotter despite everyone from Nelson Mandela to Scooby Doo becoming one in his honour. Give this man a statue, series, or even a movie. Here's to Meadowlark Lemon. Hall Of Famer. Minister. The Clown Prince. The worlds most entertaining basketball player. THE Harlem Globetrotter.