Here’s all you need to know about Robin “Sik Wit It” Kennedy. At a juco all-star game, maybe his only shot at D-I ball and, of course, the League, he served up multiple halfcourt alley-oops and, to end the game, had a teammate lift him above the rim for a two-handed stuff. Scouts might have seen him as the class clown except, oh yeah, he handed out 15 assists and earned himself a scholarship at Nevada. That’s the kind of showman Sik is.
The man gives “service with a smile” new meaning. His alleys are the stuff of legend—between the legs, behind the back, three-quarter court, whatever—and no matter what ridiculousness he’s inventing off the top of his head, he somehow does it with the grin of a man who’s done it so many times, failure just isn’t an option.
That’s the confidence of a man who’s seen it all before. Kennedy cut his teeth on the courts of Pasadena, California, and after an ACL tear took away his first year at Nevada, he came back with a breakout season, dropping 14.6 PPG and leading the WAC with 6.7 dimes a night. Sik made a brief stop in the ABA, but by 2001 he was a full-time Tour member, playing the game the way he loves to play it. He proved himself at every level, but we’ll remember him for how much fun he had while he did it.
We had our first buzzer-beater of the playoffs last night when Chris Paul went bully-ball on Tony Allen to put the Clips up 2-0. (Yeah, they put a tenth of a second back on the clock, but when the crowd reacts like that, that’s a true buzzer-beater).
Check this video, courtesy of the NBA. The finish is crazy, doing it on a two-time All-Defense lockdown artist is crazier, but what grabs us is the look in his eye after Allen bumps him the first time. You can see it around the 15-second mark—when CP3 gets that look in his eye, yeah, you know how this story ends.
Streetball is full of flair, bravado and self-promotion. Too many guys are more about getting themselves over with the crowd than getting their team over their opponents, and that’s what set Lonnie Harrell apart. To him, being the best was always the Prime Objective.
That’s how he got his nickname on the street, anyway—in reality, the prime objective was to make the league. The DC native starred for the Georgetown Hoyas in the early 1990’s alongside Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning, and was the last man cut by the Orlando Magic in 1996. From there Harrell slogged through minor-league ball and, after being cut by the New Jersey Nets in 2001, made himself a name in the street game. At a lean 6’7”, he looks the part of a slasher, but remember, scoring isn’t the objective: Harrell was all about setting up his teammates.
PO did play three years in the newly formed NBA Development League, but felt his streetball background hurt him with scouts. (“The second I dribble through my legs at a tryout, scouts…say, ‘That’s the street in him.”) Imagine that from the man who, when the D-League tryout questionnaire asked what causes him stress, wrote, “Not being in the league.” He never did make the league, but there’s no shame in being one of the best ballers to ever suit up for the Tour.
You might not remember it, but our boy Lance Stephenson made his name at Madison Square Garden. An unprecedented four PSAL titles for Lincoln High. Led his Cincinnati Bearcats in scoring for two of three Big East Tournament games in 2009. Seems like every waypoint of Born Ready’s career has come at MSG—hell, the Pacers even drafted him there.
So it should be no surprise that Lance isn’t intimidated by Broadway’s bright lights. Last Sunday, he walked into the Mecca and did his thing: 22 points (his third straight game in double figures), including four treys, with 4 boards and a pair of steals. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story—for maybe the first time in the League, Lance was the go-to guy over 48 minutes. Indiana leaned on him the way Lincoln and Cincy leaned on him…the way the Knicks leaned on Melo. And, maybe foreshadowing his future, Lance responded like a star.
Although it didn’t get a W, the game couldn’t have come at a better time: Lance’s Pacers are set to face the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. We know he’ll be Ready.
Last night we saw a playground game break out in front of the world. We’ve always had love for the passion of the college game, but usually it’s about running your offense, staying disciplined and capitalizing on your opponents’ mistakes. Good life skills, but not always great viewing when the game becomes a science. Last night, we saw art.
Late in the game, when you’re expecting a college point guard to pull it back out and look at his coach for help, Peyton Siva cut so hard he fell down a half dozen times…and somehow kept his dribble going right to the bucket. On the other side, no team has Michigan’s shooting and one-on-one skills—when they get it going the way they did last night, they look like an NBA team. And of course, no great pickup game is complete without a kid showing up with a haircut from 1975, everyone thinking he has a game to match…and then he goes and steals the show. Last night we had two, in Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock.
We saw two teams trade alley-oops one after the other. We saw them burn up the nylon, and not because of bad D. For some, we even saw the old “One Shining Moment” cliché take on some actual meaning. Wrapped in the emotion that only the college game can bring, it was everything basketball should be. It was art. And it was our kind of ball.
Most professional athletes, you really can’t go up and touch them. But little kids come up to me like I’ve been knowing them. And I think that [makes them think], ‘Yeah, I can actually talk to 50, I can talk to Flash and Hot Sauce’…So if a little kid really looks up to you, he can see you, and meet you, and talk to you—oh, you just made his day.
-Antoine “Flash” Howard
You can hear the sincerity in Flash’s voice, and the expression telling you he’s as awestruck by his teammates as anyone in the stands. You see the guy who used to call his fellow Tour members every week— not with anything in mind, but just to make sure they were okay. And with that, “oh, you just made his day,” Flash sounds like if he couldn’t have done it through basketball, he’d have kept trying until he found a way.
Antoine “Flash” Howard passed away March 13, 2004, after battling multiple brain tumors. Flash was a 5’11” guard with incredible leaping ability and an all-around game that rivalled anyone’s on Tour. But the beauty of Flash is, when you ask his teammates to remember him, you won’t hear a word about basketball.