Monday, October 6, 2014

NY $ugar Daddie$ are Going Back to Indiana!!

When I hear the name Indiana, a few things immediately come to mind.  Corn Fields...
The Big 500 Auto Race...The Jackson Five...And of course...Larry Bird...The Movie
"Hoosiers" and that clown Bobby Knight throwing a folding chair across the court or
grabbing up some freshman's jersey in his fist.  I had never been there...I did not know
what to expect.  What we got in Indiana was a hell of a lot more than corn fields and
Gene Hackman.  Let me start at the beginning.  The New York $ugar Daddie$
participated in the 2014 Showdown in Naptown, that was held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This is Masters Basketball.  This is the Final Chapter...the Last Dance...This is were
middle-aged and elderly Ballers work-out, compete and get their last Hurrah!!
They do it BIG out here...Great Competition...Great Facilities...Great People. in the
immortal words of Michael Jackson... "We're Going Back To Indiana!!"

                                       The Jackson 5- Five Famous Native Sons of Indiana

Thursday Night [NYC], almost 10 PM...The uptown #1 Train/Broadway Local roars
out of the tunnel headed towards Dyckman.  There are two men across from us, soundly
sleep on the subway.  No doubt hard working men...Sound asleep...on the subway. Not
the move...Sleeping on the subway...On pay day.  I'm not quite sure where we are going
but we've got a small window of time to go to a Press Conference for the Dominican
Sports USA age 45 & Over Tournament [October 10 & 11th] that will be held in NYC
with teams representing The Dominican Republic, Team DR-USA, The Puerto Rican Pro
Legends and one of our basketball clubs TEAM ALKEBULAN Harlem, USA.  I receive
at text from Gene Ali Jennings [A $ugar Daddy]...He's arrived at the Port Authority Bus
Terminal on 42 Street from Syracuse, NY...I buzz him and ask him to sit tight and then
meet us at 125 Street near the Apollo Theater in a hour.  He's not sure if he should take
the D Train, the A Train or the C Train...I told him to "Take the A train...It's
the quickest way to get to Harlem."

That is where we could link up with him and head over to the east side to catch our
13 hour ride with the $ugar Daddie$ to a far away land called Indianapolis, Indiana. 
My brother Eddie and I walk a number of blocks...[Should have caught a cab]
through the edge of Washington Heights [Little DR].  We got off at the wrong train
stop, so now we hoof it back towards where I believe the restaurant is.  We pass the
dimly lit housing projects on our left, and cross the busy street and see the bright
flashing lights of the 809 Lounge on Dykman Ave.  We walk into a quiet,
sophisticated restaurant, dim lights...elegant.  I sense that we have missed the event,
or we are in the wrong place.  In my best Spanish I say, "Come Estas Hermano...
Donde es la Press Conference?"  Silence. And then the gentleman smiles and
points us towards two large gold doors.  We push through and there is a room full
of people...Press, lovely hostesses, ballplayers, basketball fans, etc...They begin

   Team managers, coaches & players hold the Legends Tournament Trophy.

to applaud us...We step further into the room, the bright lights swing our way and hit my
eyes and I hear the announcer, "Ladies and Gentlemen this is Lahh Woods!...! Team Alkebulan! Lahh Woods!  Come up here and have a word
with us!"

I turn to my brother with that "Can You Believe This?" look on my face...He's laughing that,
"Yes we can do this" laugh, and I just shake my head and walk up towards the press table.
Welcome to my world my Brother...Welcome to my world.  The Tournament of Legends
is in it's second year and with it's international teams, blaring Latin music, and standing
room only attendance it is becoming one of the hottest basketball tickets in Harlem, NYC.

                              Larry Legend Bird-Always let his game speak for himself
Friday Morning 1:15 AM 125 St & Lexington Ave The Mercedes Van pulls up
slowly at the curb.  The curious stop and stare while others step lively on this busy
Harlem street corner. The age 55 and Over warriors board the team van after loading
their luggage in the back door. Some folks have so many bags it looks like they're
running away from home. Running away to Indiana, a long way from the dark
corners and crowded sidewalks of East Harlem.  This is not a common happening.
"Are you some kind of pro team?" "Are you musicians?"  "Where y'all going?...Yo
I still play ball!  How can I get down with this?" The attention and inquiries were
quite flattering, even for middle aged men, who have seen it all before in another
lifetime...But we still had to venture west and effectively compete after many hours
of sitting in the vehicle.  We said our prayers, thanked God, and begun our journey.

The  journey west has finally begun and for next 13 hours I have a captive audience. 
I get to VJ....I put into the DVD player videos of Alkebulan and Sugar Daddy games
from throughout the summer of 2014...Something to pass the time away before we
compete against the basketball legends from Chicago, and Indiana.

We were in the able driving hands of one of our big men, Warren "Snakes on the
Plane" Storey aka Captain Turnpike or Old Iron Kidneys himself...He breezed
through New Jersey...He flows through Pennsylvania.  He's a driving machine.  He
and his Chief Navigator Tony "$ugar Daddy" Greene were relentless time keepers

and they were determined to get us to INDY on schedule.  We begged them to stop
so we could use the bathroom...They ignored us...Thank God we eventually needed
to get some gas. 
                                         The Indianapolis 500: The Greatest Race on Earth

When we got to INDY we were joined by my personal team MVP, Carl 'The
Mailman" Colbert who also happen to be "The Hardest Working Man in Masters."
He had flown in from Florida for the weekend's athletic festivities.  He met us at
the Marriott and we packed for the game and headed to the gym.  We rush to the
gym.  Great facility. We watch some of the Indy All-Stars vs The Naptown
Players...These are two competing teams that are crosstown rivals and have a
competitive history that goes back for many, many years.

    Naptown Players; A Strong Ball Club & Great Host Tournament Committee

Also we must mention that the INDY All-Stars host their own Master's Tournament
that takes place in July in the city of Indianapolis. It was a close game when we left to
warm-up on the other side of the gym.  When we saw the final score we were surprised...
It wasn't close.  The Indy All-Stars, a very, very good team put away Naptown by
about twenty points.  Must have been some second half.

                      2014 NEW YORK $UGAR DADDIE$ AGE 55+ TEAM IN INDIANA

We are very excited that it is now our time to compete.  Our time to play.  We've
been planning for this moment for a few months.  As we stretch and lay the ball up
I notice that there is no team on the other court.  Are we in the right location? Do
we have the correct game time?  We were soon to find out that the Chicago team,
Double Nickel, last year's Champs in the Age 55 & Over Division was still in Chicago.

                The Double Nickels of Chicago 2013 Showdown In Naptown Champs

We have played them before...They had a come from behind win over us last year
at the Detroit Masters. [Madd Madd Shout to Mr Cal Dilworth and the Detroit
Masters Committee 2014/2015 and Zenobia's Stepping and Dance School, Inc.]
They've got a couple of mobile BIGS, and they have great perimeter shooting from their
back-court. They like to bump and grind...They prefer a physical contest.  We would
like to see them again...It would not happen on this today.  We got the forfeit win and
I started to get a headache.  After a thirteen hour ride...The last thing in the world
I wanted was a win by forfeit.  We scrimmage amongst ourselves....Then I make
the mistake of challenging Jake "The Snake" McConnell #11 to a game of H.O.R.S.E.,
jump-shots only. I get DESTROYED.  So by the end of day one I was 1 win-1 loss.

Saturday Morning 10:00 AM ...We sleep in a little late...and my brother Eddie
does a few video interviews with my teammates.  Indiana is a very quiet
community.  Most are modest, candid,
statements about being glad to be here on the good it is to travel and
still be a ballplayer after the BIG 50+.
                                    Cameraman/Producer/Chief of Security: Eddie Woods

We head to the gym, some of us without breakfast, and suit up for our contest
with the INDY All-Stars.  This INDY team is favored to win the tournament. 
They are a veteran ball-club where everyone knows their roll. They play
within their system, and rarely are they out of character or off of their game
plan.  They are basically led by "three gears" of basketball operation.  Nut,
CJ, and [You Fill in the Blank]  [Gear 1]-James "Nut" Adams is a rebounding,
defender who can score.  He's a vocal player/coach who is a solid foundation
to their three point attack. He brings the intensity...He's in your face when you
don't do your job...He's leading the attack on defense and on offense.  [Gear 2]
Carl Jordan is scoring ball-handler with a famous last name.  CJ can get behind
your defense with relative ease, and does a few of those intangibles that puts
a club consistently in the victory column. If you need a steal...He gets you a steal.
If you need a three to end the half...He gives you a three...He can hit the open
3-ball and he can facilitate and feed open players.  However, he is most
dangerous in the open court during transition. Keep your eye on him [Gear 3]
The INDY All-Stars' third gear is any one of an assortment of players who can
rebound, play 'D" or hit the open shot...From the low post to the 3 point line,
their players have to be accounted for at all times.  Fundamentally sound,
athletic and knowledgeable of the game...They've got a low post presence
and they've got more than a few snipers who can hit that 3-ball with confidence
and consistency.  I believe that they are a consistent Top 3 National Team in the
Age 55 and Over Division.  A great Club and they are great Individuals.  Their
sportsmanship and professionalism is second to none.  It wasn't always that way
with us.  Let's just say we had to get to know one another over a period of time. 
We look to the near future where we can compete against one another again.
I'm still trying to crack the code and find a competitive way to get that INDY
All-Stars "W" 


To Be Continued!!

Friday, August 22, 2014


Latino Sports Inc. is once again hosting the
Celebrity Basketball Game and Family
Day at Hoops In The Sun
[Orchard Beach Bronx, NY] 
                               THE CROWD AT ORCHARD BEACH, BRONX, NY

There will be music, prizes, and entertainment for
the entire family and a couple of community
basketball games that will have the local crowd
cheering on their feet.  Game ONE, at 12 noon,
also known as the "Mystery Game of Ringers "
will feature community members from the
Bronx/Harlem social, political and entertainment
scene, including the staff of  Hoops In the Sun,
Latino Sports Inc.vs Bronx-Net Cablevision, 
who is the local cable television station for 
this area. Historically, anyone might show 
up and put on a great show on or off the  
basketball court.  You may see a dance 
performance at half-time, or even a  
Hip-Hop fashion show....We've witnessed a 
mass ZUMBA class and even a man on a unicycle
dribbling a basketball and doing wild tricks.  Every
year this entertaining game comes down to the final
possession and every year we all have a grand time. 

GAME TWO, at 1PM will feature non-other than the
Puerto Rican Pro Legends coached by Santos Negron,
Roberto Guilbe, and Charlie Cotto.  They will be
matched against Team Alkebulan/Men of Respect
who will represent the Harlem Pro Legends 
and [Madd Shout 
to Bob McCullough and Each One Team 
One]  This should be a classic match-up of 
two veteran ball-clubs who have in one way 
or another been competing against one 
another for over thirty years.  This will be a 
match-up that will pit Size and Low Post 
Play vs Speed and Defensive Strategy. 

Latino Sports Celebrity Basketball Game & Family Day
                                            THROW-BACK FLYER FROM THE ARCHIVES

The Puerto Rican Pro Team will be lead by Andre
"Corky" Ortiz, who is a scoring machine and veteran
of not only the hard NYC Playgrounds...He is also
a clever veteran of the Balocesto Superior League de
Puerto Rico for many, many years.  He will have a lot
of help from a Puerto Rican Pro front line of players
who tower in the 6 foot 6 inch height range as they
pound the ball inside until their opponents say, "No
Mas!"  Undoubtedly, ALKEBULAN will have their
hands full, and will counter with defensive strategy,
speed, and the leadership and experience of Whimp
Ranson, Predator Vaughn, Gil "DOC' Alvarez, and
the former New York Technical College standout
Kelvin "KJ" Jones.  Team Captain Lahh Woods
stated, "We know them very, very, well.  We've
been battling with them for years.  Off the court
these are the greatest brothers,...calm, loving,
gentlemen, you would ever want to associate
with...On the court, [Lahh laughs] that's a
different story, they play hard and take no
prisoners...Let's just say they don't like to 
loose and neither do we.  Should be a great
game. I've known Santos for years.  He let's
me play on their "B" Team every now and then.
Those are great guys."  There is no official
record of who leads this inner-city, competitive,
series in "Ws",,,However, it is the humble
opinion of this writer that the Puerto Rican Pro
Legends have established a substantial lead
over the Harlem Pro Legends. But, all that
means nothing. Because, Sunday is a brand
new day, and the day for a brand new game...
with old friends, at Orchard Beach.

At the time of this story, the following is the ALKEBULAN ROSTER for the
Latino Sports Celebrity Game and Legends Classic 2014
Coached by Bill Robinson
Orchard Beach Was Basketball Heaven For 19th Annual Celebrity Games and Family Day
          PLAYER NAME & #                 HT/WT           HIGH/COLLEGE         HOMETOWN
#1-LAHH "BABA" WOODS              5'10"/150 lbs    AVIATION HS/CCNY         BRONX, NY
#2-TOM "SHOWTIME" SINGLETON 6'1"/178 lbs        /ESSEX CC                   BRONX, NY
#3-KELVIN "KJ" JONES                     6'2"/175 lbs            NY TECH U               BRONX, NY
#4-CALVIN "GHOST" WALTON        6'6"/240 lbs          CENTRAL HS              BRONX, NY
#5-LARRY "BUCKETS" SHOY       6' 0"/220 lbs.     VIRGIN ISLANDS            BRONX, NY 
#6-SAM "STICK MAN" HOLLINS     6'1" 170 lbs.            DODGE HS                 BRONX, NY
#7-ERIC "E-MAN" CAMPBELL        6'0" 175 LBS         CLINTON HS                BRONX, NY
#9-LINZELL "PREDATOR" VAUGHN  6'6" 250 LBS        WALTON HS            BRONX, NY
#10-JAMES "TRUCK" SUTTON              6'4" 235 LBS         WALTON HS        BRONX, NY
#12-WARREN "CLYDE" STOREY            6'3" 189 LBS     VIRGINIA STATE    BKLYN, NY
#14-MIKE "SET-SHOT" ALLEN               6'2" 185  LBS    LAGUARDIA CC    QUEENS, NY
#15-GIL "THE DOC" ALVAREZ               6'5" 245 LBS       GRAPHICS HS   HARLEM, USA
#16-TONY 'SUGAR DADDY" GREENE   6'2" 185 LBS           CCNY               QUEENS, NY

                          PUERTO RICAN PRO LEGENDS 2014
                Coached by Santos Negron & Charles Cotto

   PLAYER NAME & #                        HT/WT      HIGH/COLLEGE   HOMETOWN
#6-TYLER 'The Difference" BROWN 6'4"/225 lbs.                                         NYC
#12-ANDRE "CORKY" ORTIZ          6'2'/170 lbs.                                   HARLEM, USA
#15-AL MORALES                              6'1" 185 lbs.                                         NYC
#21-OBET "TREE" VASQUEZ           6'6"/260 lbs.                                         NYC
#32-ANTHONY GAINES                    6'7"/275 lbs.                                         NYC
#34-JOE NAVARES                             6'4"/240 lbs.                                         NYC
#40-DERRICK LAWSON                    5'11"/ 190 lbs.                                  BRONX, NY
#42-LOUIS "CHICKY" ARROYO      5'11"/190 lbs                                        NYC                      
ALBERTO MALDONADO                                                                                 NYC
ORLANDO PACHECHO                                                                                    NYC
TONY DIAZ                                                                                                          NYC
MIKE CINTRON                                                                                                  NYC
                                 Team Managers: Roberto Guilbe and Henry Comas

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hoop 'N Que 3 on 3 Report [Medina, Ohio]

The Hoop 'N Que tournament, held in Medina, Ohio, is 
one of the largest community-oriented basketball 
tournaments in Ohio. It is an outdoor experience 
involving teams of all ages playing both full court 
4-on-4 and half court 3-on-3 basketball games. 

Food vendors and other entertainment draw a large audience 
for two-days of activities --- this year on August 2-3. Proceeds 
support the Mantrell Price Scholarship to help offset pay-to-participate fees for Medina high school athletes. Price, who 
passed away in 2010, co-founded the event was a 1993 
graduate of Medina where he played football and ran track.

As part of its mission to support youth basketball players 
who otherwise do not have the financial ability to play the 
game, Still Here Basketball, Inc., traditionally sponsors teams. 
This year we sponsored a grade school and a junior high team. 
We also entered an adult team in the 3-on-3 over-38 age category 
of the tournament and were fortunate enough to win the event.

[Left-Right] Kurt Miller,Jami Bosley, Mark Bruner, Rick Noland

The tournament draws some high quality talent 
including retired professional basketball players as 
well as numerous Division I, II and III college players plus 
local streetball legends from Cleveland and Akron. Of the 
Still Here team, all are recreational ballplayers except for 
Jami Bosley who is the all-time scoring leader in Stark 
County, Ohio high school history; played at Ohio State 
University and was a standout guard at the University 
of Akron from 1997-2000.

• There's also coverage of the Still Here Golf Outing, just concluded, at: We've 
made connections with an area wheel chair basketball program 
that we've begun to financially support and are planning some games in early fall.

Contributed by Mark Bruner

Friday, August 15, 2014 Hoop It Up for Cancer 2014 [West Atco, NJ] presents yet another stellar event with their 
Hoop it Up For Cancer 3 on 3 Tournament to be held in
the South Jersey Town of West Alto.  Organizers have 
planned a family friendly day of half-court compettion
that will benefit and support local Cancer patients.
Avery Watkins is one of the driving forces behind this
event and we hope to post an interview with him as 
soon as possible.  In the meantime, get your teams 
together [Women/Men & Children] and let's Hoop 
It Up for Cancer on Sunday August 31, 2014.  Blessings. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Great Day of Hoops NYC Style [YMCA 3x3-IBALL Mag & Forest Old Timers]

This is the NYC Basketball Express Train!  This is 
going to be a strong and bumby ride. So...Please hold 
onto the designated hand rails AT ALL TIMES...

Please fasten your seat-belts, and please give your seat to 
any elderly ballplayers, slightly balding referees, or pregnant 
women.  The First stop on this Basketball Express Train 
is the Jamaica YMCA's 3 on 3 Tournament, where young 
men respectfully challenge the old, and new nicknames 
and legends are born with every pulsating beat of the heart.  

First Annual YMCA 3x3 Basketball Tournament Report
    Score the basket for the young upstarts, Underground 
Brown, in their battle against the soon to be 
Open Division Champs The Terminators.

It was a day of great athleticism, sportsmanship and 
competition when the First Annual Jamaica YMCA 
3 on 3 Tournament took place on Saturday August 2, 
2014 at  P.S. 48, the Wadsworth School in Jamaica, 
N.Y.  The competition was originally scheduled
for Rufus King Park and was moved to the Wadsworth 
School in anticipation of heavy summer showers.
The days officials were from the local Queens IAABO 
Board and they did a superb job of keeping the 
basketball action just the way we like it...moving, 
competitive, and safe.  Speaking of officials...The 
young athletes were visited by none other than the 
retired National Basketball Association Referee Lee 
Jones.  Mr. Jones, who grew up in South Jamaica,
and attended P.S. 48 gave words of encouragement 
to all of the student athletes and adults who were 
present for the event.  He mentioned how everyone 
should continue to work and play hard, and how it 
was great to be back in the old neighborhood.

All of the participants played hard, and appeared to enjoy
the many features of the days event, which included
gift bags, play by play announcing, jerseys and water
supplied by the generous event sponsors; H&R Block, 
Walgreen's Drug Stores, Resort International Casino
and of course the YMCA of Greater New York.

Congratulations to the Jamaica YMCA Tournament
Committee for hosting a great community event in
a secure and uplifting environment. 

Here are the 2014 YMCA Champions

 The 12 & Under Division
1st Place-4 the Hard Way
Featuring: Mia Moore as the Most Outstanding Player

The High School Division
1st Place-Sabrina’s Ballers 
Featuring: Isaiah Brown as the Most Outstanding Player

The Open Division
Experienced overcame youth in what was billed as the "Battle
of the Generations"  as the Terminators edged the youthful
Underground Brown by winning two close games out of three.
1st Place-The Terminators 
Featuring: Most Outstanding Player - 

For Additional Tournament Information contact:
ylogo-sig.jpgCedric Dew, MS | Executive Director
YMCA of Greater New York
5 West 63rd Street 6th Floor New York, NY 10023
PH: 718-739-6600x1021 | |

Passengers...This is your conductor speaking.
If you see something...Say something!
If there is a steal in the open court...
Call the police.
If there's a no look pass or a heart stopping
end to a game...Call EMS.
Don't just sit there...Get involved, Scream,
Shout...and Say Something!!

STOP TWO!! Day at Rucker Park 2014

The Tournament of Champions 
took place Sunday August 3, 2014 at the historic
Rucker Park, New York City.  Invited  teams

played in the one day event that was part of
the Harlem Week Celebration 2014.

 New Jersey brings home the Gold in
the Open Adult Division

Competitive teams from New York City, New Jersey, 
Elmira, NY, and Atlanta GA got acquainted athletically 
and by the end of the was a Great Day in Harlem.
There was a High School Division game, a Women's
Division Game and an Adult Male Open Division.
In the Women's Game Atlanta defeated New York City.
In the Men's Division Game Elmira, NY was edged
out of the contest by a strong New Jersey team. 

 Richard PeeWee Kirkland tosses jump ball

Not only was the community treated to some 
high flying, bucket for bucket,  above the 
rim competition, there was nothing short 
of NYC Basketball Royalty in attendance.

 Rucker Legends at the 
   Retired Trotter, Pee Wee Kirkland, Joe Hammond, 
Fred Crawford, Harthorne Wingo 

The Connection at Rucker Park
The Watkins Brothers 2014
For more information 

Contact: Avery Watkins 1-856-842-4849 

Bronx Friends Old Timers Day
at Forest Playground
                 Bronx Legends  [Left to Right] Charlie Foreman, 
              Biggy Doward, Funny Kidd, Nate Tiny Archibald, 
                 Floyd Layne, Howie Evans, Bubba Gary

From Super-Biddys to Bald Heads....from
from new-jacks to the old-school The Friends
of the Bronx Old Timers always packs them 
in [SRO] as this 30 years event continues to 
grow larger every year.  In attendance...Sam
Worthen, Ernie Morris, Funny Kidd, Nate
Tiny Archibald, Myles Dorch, Johnny
Mathis [No he did not sing], Floyd Layne,
Bubba Gary, Al Colter, Fat Joe, Kelvin
Jones, Biggy Doward, Freako Bob, Predator,
Whimp Ransom, Clifford Weston, etc,
etc, etc...This years honoree was none other
than the journalist, activist, Howie Evans 
of the Amsterdam News.   Great times/

Monday, July 28, 2014 in Puerto Rico 2014 or How I [almost] gave Chris Mullin the Business

7:45 AM La Playa...Isla Verde
July 26, 2014

Lahh Woods at La Perla Courts, Old San Juan

The sweet intensity of the morning sun kisses my face, 
as the calm Caribbean sea dances beneath the soles of 
my feet.  My morning workout has ended as diligent 
hotel workers drag out colorful beach chairs and wrinkled, 
hung over, umbrellas.  I reward my mornings efforts with 
a quick dip into the gentle waters.  It is game day and quite 
an early morning after successfully defending me Familia 
Freestyle Dance Title [55 Years and Counting] on the 
ballroom floor the night before, at the El San Juan Hotel 
and Casino.  I take a quick inventory after running my 
miles, push-ups and stretching on the beach...Arms ok?
...check....Back ok?...check...Most importantly...Legs 
OK? Check...After showering and breakfast at the ESJ 
Towers, it's time for the 
business of the day.  I need to check my phone 
messages for a very important call from Senior Luis 
Vargas [Me Balocesto Compadre de Puerto Rico] 
for game today's location and time.    The only info 
I have from my mans and them, James Payne, out 
in California is that, "Senior Vargas will be calling 
you about a Masters Game in San Juan...Bring your 
tennis shoes and your A game."  Fortunately, my 
"A Game" is the only game I have.  I turn on my 
phone to see if there are any messages or text...Nada.  
No need to panic. Things are a little layed back here
..."Mira Hermano, Dame un frio cerveza y dos 
empanadas,  Por Favor".  I take a quick nap at 
poolside and enjoy the view...Welcome to Puerto Rico.

2:45 PM Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
July 26, 2014

I'm flying k-solo, un-seatbelted,  in the back seat of a fast moving  
caro publico [Taxi] as we cross over the Teodoro Moscoso bridge. 
The beaming afternoon sunlight rebounds off the sparkling river
water and swishes into my squinting eyelids.  I'm kicking it with
me hermano  Reuben, the taxi driver, who is also a local baller.
He also confesses that baseball is his first love. He's telling
me how popular basketball has become in Puerto Rico and
how, when, and where him and his friends get it on.  

As we pass busy tree lined boulevards and small
businesses Reuben reflects, "Yeah, we all play a couple of times a
week at different places...If I'm not bruised up after the game I don't
feel like I really played at all... I played some when I was younger, but
basketball injuries are more common than I had to stop
playing back then to protect my scholarship."  Reuben attended
college in Maryland, majored is Biz Admin and played NCAA Baseball. 
            I told him that I played ball, basically, my whole life and that I
was heading to play at an event for Master's Age [40 & Over] ballers,
that would include  many of the Puerto Rican Professional Legends
de Balocesto Superior...Famous players like Mario “Quijote” Morales,
George Torres [Not to be confused with Georgie Torres], Andres Gilbert,
Polaco Yantin, Richie Decklet, Mulero, Willie Quinonnez, Mario Sanchez,
Bobby Rios, my contact Luis Vargas...and more! I also told him
that I was under the impression that we [The Puerto Rican Masters
Players] would be playing against a Masters team from the States
that included the former NBA player Chris Mullin.

I told Reuben emphatically, "I could not pass on an opportunity to play
against Chris Mullin and to have the personal bonus of representing Puerto Rico
at the same time!  Are you kidding me?! Vacation time or no vacation time...My
ancestors, elders, and family in Toa Baja, La Pearla and the states would be proud
of me."  I'm talking loud in the cab and going on and 
on how I'm looking forward to giving Chris Mullin  
"The Business" this and I'm gonna put Mullin  on
"SMASH" that..and how Mitch Richman better not show up, etc, etc, etc...
And I'm getting myself pretty worked up back there, when I see that Reuben
is getting as hyped up as I am. He has a strange look coming across his face.
Reuben looks up, wide eyed, into the mirror and exclaims, "Hey wait a minute...
Oh my God! This is amazing?!!...Is that you?! Oh Wow! I heard about you!  I
know all about you!  WOW!! I can't believe this!" OK...Now I'm looking around for
the hidden cameras and microphones in this taxi.  I am not about to be "Punked!"
without putting up a good fight.  Reuben explains,"No, No what happened was I
was dropping some family off at the Barcardi Tour this morning and when they
were in my cab they we saying how crazy you were about playing basketball,
even while you were on vacation. [What else would I be doing on vacation in
Puerto Rico?] I wasn't really listening but the two ladies seemed very upset with
you, about you going to play ball while they were going on a tour...They said,
"That's Crazy!  What do you mean you have a game today?"  Don't say anything
to them, but they were definitely talking about you."  Don't worry Reuben, your
secret's safe with me.  I won't mentioned a word to anyone...Especially not a
word to my two loving daughters, my cousin, and my son in law.

      As we arrive at the Coliseo Ruben Zayas Montanez Arena, I see a
long, slow moving, line wrapped around the modern, stylish,white building. 
Many attendees in suits and ties...Ladies in fine dresses.  Looks more like
quinse-anos celebration than a
basketball game. I pay Reuben [my mans and them] and I tip him handsomely
for the family intel.  I crossover and side step people in the crowd and swiftly
knock on the closed, glass, coliseum door.  The door opens and I lead with my
game bag and a beautiful woman dressed in black smiles and ask, "Tu eres un jugador Si?"
[I'm not a player I just ball a lot] 
I respond confidently in my heaviest Latino accent, "Si Gracias" and I stepped 
past security and a line of corporate tables with exhibitors of various products 
and services that I could not make out at a glance.  [P.R. Wheel Chair Basketball/] 
There are food and beverage vendors doing a thriving business, with that official arroz
con pollo, and empanadas smell hovering in the air. I make my way
down to the coliseum floor as the security guards open the swinging
doors.  I see a good sized arena with a lower level that is almost filled. 
Overhead colored spot lights swing back and fourth, as a concert styled
sound system is kicking some serious, Salsa and Reggaeton with the volume
way past ten.  I feel very much at home...This is all so familiar to me. 
This is the "Big Time" "The Pros"...No it's not the NBA...It's bigger than
that...This is Balocesto Superior de Puerto Rico...In a serious sense of
Time and Space this all came about 34 years late.

8:35 PM El Barrio, Harlem, NY
March 1980

The year is 1980 and that winter In El Barrio, NYC my team has won
the National Hispanic Basketball League Championship aka The Schaeffer League.  The National Hispanic League was one of the best organized, and competitive leagues in New York City under the direction of Mr. Ralph Cora.
The Public School  building is now called the Tito Puente Education Complex M117.
I believe Mr. Cora's league assistant's name was Efran, and together with a great
staff they ran that league for several years.  I started in the back-court with Chicky Burgos,
we had a tall brother named Sandy, and an elder warrior named "Pops" that no one could
guard in the low post.   We battled against St Edwards, Goya, The Dominican
All-Stars, Carvel, to name a few clubs. The team I played on was named San
German and I got on the team when my Cousin Julio Vigoreaux introduced
me to a Mr. Carlos Martinez.  I had a tryout for the team under the
Cross-Bronx Expressway.  [He brought his own basketball rim and bolts to
the vacant location]  In this league, we played against the best players available
in the city at that time...Billy Goodwin, David Crosby, Pete Aguilar, Billy Santos,
Curtis Cornbread Phauls, Charlie Cotto, and many great players whose names I
have forgotten, but I will never forget their talent, their attitudes, and their
abilities. Part of the reason why so many National Hispanic League players
played so hard, physical, and even desperate at times was  because many
were attempting to get a shot overseas...they were hoping to get a look en
La Isla Bonita...Sometimes literally clawing at each others throats for
some kind of crabs in a barrel manifesting tough comp.

    In that league many of the elite players were recruited to play in
Balocesto Superior de Puerto Rico and had established careers as
professional and semi-professional athletes on the beautiful shores and
mountains of  PR.  Some of those players were childhood friends of mine, who
I played street-ball or Juniors/Seniors Division ball with...We all played
ball at P.S. 18 Center and other tournaments together where we were coached
at one time or another by Tiny Archibald, Myles Dorch, Bill Hill [RIP] and or
Mr. Floyd Layne. Players like Carmelo Rosa, Angel Cruz and George Torres.
All three had neighborhood nicknames...We called them, respectively, "Melo",
"Monchito" and "Pretty Boy"...By the time they were teenagers they already
had citywide reps from playing with PS 18 coaches [BX], The Boys of
Yesteryear League [Manhattan], and eventually laying the foundation
for the first successful New York City Gauchos Team.

We were mostly from Patterson Projects in the Bronx, and I felt that as talented as they
were I would some day have an opportunity to play with, or against, them again in PR.

This situation, or this opportunity dictated by Time/Space and Determination
becomes a small, tough, window of opportunity. [And I have the stitches to
prove it.]  Especially when you are maturing 22 year old with a beautiful
one year old child and a wife to be standing in the wings saying, "That's crazy!
What do you mean you have a game today?"  I was playing Mookie...
 and she really was Tina [Rosey Perez] so I had to Do the Right Thing.

Young adults have to maximize every opportunity that is presented
to them.  One must properly research the complete situation.  One
must write letters of inquiry and introduction, make the phone calls,
and knock on the doors necessary to make things happen for oneself.
Sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring, or waiting for a contact
or friend to "hook you up" is not the way to go.  Take ownership of your
careers.  Take ownership of your education and cultural development...
Take ownership of the direction of your life. Practice often and
accept the wise counsel of coaches and elders...They've been there.
Don't Drink.  Don't Smoke. Don't Sleep Around. Stay disciplined.
"Keep your eyes on the prize."

 We also played in the O.U.B. Tournament [United Organizations
of the Bronx] that was held at St Mary's Gymnasium uptown, that was
ran by a man named Moserat Flores.  It was a league that was modeled
somewhat after the National Hispanic League, however you were allowed
several more Americans [None Latinos] than the two American rule in the
National Hispanic League.  We won that league also and the prize for the
champs was...[1] A team trophy...[2] A purple and white plastic windbreaker
jacket with large white letters O.U.B. on the back...[3] A trip to tour and play
several games in Puerto Rico.  It was a great time in my life, and it was an
even greater opportunity, if only one had recognized that.

5:45  Coliseo Ruben Zayas Montanez Arena
July 26, 2014

We've had speeches by men in fine tailored suits.  We've 
had product testimonials. We've had an impressive and 
comedic performance from a bilingual mime/improve 
group...We've had water, the distribution of jerseys, 
cold cerveza and many fans and friends snapping 
photos with tightly held cell-phones and cameras of 
all sizes and colors...It is almost 6 PM and the one 
thing we have not had was a basketball game. I call 
my cousins back in Isla Verde and the music is so 
loud at the rented beach cabana that we cannot 
properly communicate...Un grande fiesta de familia
...Family members pass the phone around the beach 
to anyone within reach who doesn't have two drinks
in their hands, "Hello....Hello Lahh...Where are you?"
"We can't hear you!"  "How's the game going? You're 
missing a great party bro!"  "Get your A## over here!"
"Primo? Primo? Donde Estas?" Click.

            The broader magnitude of this event is finally 
hitting me.  Today's event is many things. This is a 
business and personal health opportunity for many 
in attendance who are introduced to the products 
of   Not only are the use of 
dietary supplement potentially of significant 
physical value to those that choose to take them
...There are also financial rewards to those who 
choose to distribute them.  So today's event is 
to rally and uplift the dedicated sales and 
distribution members of the Puerto Rican 
Regional Associates.  So many of the 
speeches in Spanish was also to introduce and 
explain the products and business concepts to 
those who were invited to the arena.  It was 
apparent to me, by this time, that Mr. Mullin 
was a supporter or spokesperson for the products...And it was my intention 
to test Mr. Mullins retention of his NBA skills, 
whether he used these fine products or not.

                 But before our game, there was a remarkable 
        display of athleticism.  There was a wheelchair basketball 
        game played by members of the Federation de Baloncesto
        En Silla De Ruedas. 
        They moved on remarkably on wheelchairs with strength, 
        balance, grace and speed. They ran their offense, set picks, 
        played "D", with numerous fast breaks and passing skills
        that would shame many a ballplayer throughout the US.
        The Federation has many talented male and female athletes 
        with strong understanding of the game.  They worked very 
        hard and were extremely disciplined and nice with the rock.

                FEBASIRUPR Wheelchair Game Highlights below...      

            Dilka Benitez, Hector Perez and Carlos Soto have 
           done a remarkable job at developing a phenomenal 
           program for the wheelchair athletes of Puerto Rico.  
          Any support or exposure opportunities for their athletes 
          and program would be greatly appreciated.  Even Chris 
          Mullen got into the wheelchair game, pushing himself 
          in the chair, attempting to keep up with the rolling 
          veterans, who swiftly danced past him on their way to 
          the basket.  To Chris's credit, great effort, good assists
          and if I'm correct I do believe he scored a basket or two.  
         At halftime of that game he flipped his jersey over and 
         rocked with the visiting team.  That was a great gesture 
         and a great game to witness.

                                  FEDERATION DE BALOCESTOS EN SILLA DE RUEDAS
                                      FEDERATION OF WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL IN
                                                               PUERTO RICO 2014

 6:55  Coliseo Ruben Zayas Montanez Arena 
Game Two the LEGENDS GAME 
Finally we get what appears to be our final warm-up 
for the game.  Both teams are shooting at their baskets 
and I notice two things.  [1] Most of these athletes are 
anchored around the three point line, while I feed the 
players trying to determine who the shooters
are. [2] When we started to do lay-ups Chris Mullin, 
the person I'm all psyched up to play against...The guy 
that I'm supposed to put on "SMASH"...The one I'm 
supposed to be guarding and "Giving the Business" 
is on the same layup line as myself!

Before the game begins, I was stretching again when a man about my age comes
over and asks me in Spanish, "Who are you? This is a Puerto Rican Legends game
and who are you? I've never seen you before."  I explained to him, slowly, 
in my best Spanglish..."Mira Hermano...Yo Soy Borinqua.  Me Madre Dia es Puertorriqueno. Si? De uhhh, pueblo 
de me familia es Toa Baja...Tu sabe Toa Baja?
Y ahora me playing aqui..pero ahoro me playing in de Legends de Balocestos
Superior!  Tambien?  He laughs loudly, looks at me sideways and shakes his head
as he slowly walks away...He glances back at me when he reaches his friends
and family to report his findings.  They curiously and nervously look my way with
frowns on their faces...They are not smiling...and neither am I.
Now I've been hyped for the last day or so to play against Mullin, who
is now on the layup line 3 players behind me.  Well maybe all is not lost
because in the wheelchair game [Game One] he flipped his jersey over at
half-time.  So all is not lost...In the immortal words of Gerald Henderson
[VCU/Celtics] and Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On!"
Now at this point Mr Mullin is being besieged by people wanting to take a picture
with him.  Old ladies, young men, active players, retired players.  I'm not going over
there to get a picture.  I'm not asking for his autograph.  As a matter of fact, I'm
still in uptown, attack, mode...Cause maybe in the second half, I'm going to
have to guard him...And he's going to have to try and guard me... 
"I came to bury Caesar, not to Praise him!"

Where I grew up, we didn't run up on people and ask for their autographs
and pictures...That was not cool.  What would I look like asking a grown
A## man for an autograph.  Hell! No! Now maybe if it was Michael Jackson,
or Michael Jordan...or...Uhh-err...Hell No! Are you kidding me? Hell no! Not
even MJ! [Pick One] I'm not waiting in line for none of these guys to take a
picture or to sign my year book or do anything. Never. Ever. Never.  Am I clear?
Not even Mr. Cooper [My fam took a flick with Mark Curry at the airport] 
Nah man, I'm from the Bronx, I got my pride.  I am not a Groupie.
**However, after everything is said and done...What will
anyone have at the end of the day?..Yes, we will have memories
we treasure...In retrospect, I guess a snap-shot or two with a well
known personality is not bad thing to have, to show the grandkids.

 The Greatest signs autographs for children in Florida

My brother, Whimp Ransom, met Mohammed Ali many,
many years ago as a teen. "The Champ" asked Whimp, "Do you
want my autograph young man?" Whimp quickly responded,
"No.  Do you want mine?"
Now that's some Bronx/Harlem SH## for you.

 LUIS VARGAS and CHRIS MULLIN at EVENT    Puerto Rico 2014
Now I've played in many of these single game, let's be happy, reunion,
old timers, 'We are the World", alumni, get together games...and
now we come down to the nitty-gritty..."Who is going to Play?" I'm OK
with not starting [we go up 5, Chris is on a roll]...I'm Ok with not being
subbed into the first Quarter of the game. [Chris and the other two
shooters on our team are draining 3 balls with ease...We are up 9] 
I'm a little concerned when I'm not looked at on the bench for the
duration of the second quarter. [Not only are the Puerto Rican Legends
and Chris having good games the Executive, who was on the
bench besides me is having a great run...You know you are in trouble
when "The Suits" are getting burn before you]   I quickly  scan the arena
to see if any of my famo are in attendance.  I cannot tell.  Too many
people in here.  Too many strobe lights.  I take a sigh of relief thinking
at least there are no witnesses here to see me riding the Latino pine.
I laugh to myself as I think I can go back and tell them I had 40.  We
are now  up bout 10-15 points and the crowd is having a wonderful time,
they scream, chant and OOhh and AAhh with every steal, block shot,
great pass or bucket. These are great fans and a great people.
From the flow of the game you can recognize the specialty, or roll,
of each of these veteran players.  They come from an industrial
basketball time, where player positions became numbered 1-5,
like interchangeable parts of a used car, or a jigsaw puzzle, and teams
were assembled like pasteles in PR or economy cars in Motown.
You could plainly see what coaches and scouts were looking for 35
years ago...The shooters, not to be confused with the scorers, the
rebounding big men and strong outlet pass men...The big enforcer
types that banged and proudly fouled players on the baseline or
even at mid-court right next to the colorful logos. But where were the
lightning fast play makers, under 5'11", who could barely make a
shot and who dished the ball well and played defense like their
lives depended on it.  Nowhere to be found...I guess there
was no number created for that position.

Chris is having a good game...Several assist, long range buckets from
downtown and he's running the floor very good for a middle-aged,
retired man.   Now it's half-time and I'm concerned.  Is Chris going
to flip his jersey over and allow me to step into Masters Basketball
history with a classic match-up?  Forget that!...I've got a more
pressing concern that I am dealing with...Am I going to even
get into the game?  At this point, there is some lively
discussion en espanol about who is coming out the game and who
is not...Chris steps in and translates for everyone within listening distance, "If
you have not played in the first half, you are STARTING! THAT'S IT!"
At this point I am El Presidente of the Chris Mullin in Puerto Rico Fan Club.
I am glad that Chris is my teammate.  I've always appreciated
his game, all the way back when he was shooting around
at Goucho's Gym in the Bronx. I never had any harsh feelings towards
Chris Mullin.  At this point, I never wanted to give him the
business.  I never wanted to put him on SMASH...That was Reuben the
taxi driver talking trash...As a matter of fact, I always wanted to play with Mullin...
You heard Chris, "Lahh is starting and that's that!"
Chris is a NBA Great.  He's Top 50 All Time.  He was on the
Dream Team...He's not flipping over his jersey and
Lahh Woods is starting in the back-court with him. Bueno.

             A rebound bounces high after a missed shot, I begin to fade
down court as our big man safely secures the rebound.  He pitches
wide right to Chris...Chris spots me almost at half-court...He hits
me in stride, and I dribble to the middle of the court...around the 
hash mark a trailer crosses behind me, to the right, as a couple of
defenders retreat into the paint.  I can hear and feel the buzz of the
crowd, and the quick beating of my heart, and it feels good.  In my
peripheral vision I see a sniper squaring up in the far left corner
pocket. For a brief moment I think where is NBA Chris?  I do the
calculus and unless he's got nuclear rockets for feet he cannot be
anywhere near the epicenter of this play cause we are moving fast.
I look quickly to my left and hit the tall wing-man with his right
hand up and he drains the 3 ball...The crowd screams.  It feels good. 
               They push the ball to me at half-court after an in-bounds
pass.  I see Chris paralell to me, on the left side close to the hash
mark, and I don't look ahead to check the defense or even glance
to my right. Instead I try to hit NBA Chris with the pass. The defender
is over playing him in the passing lane [The same way I was planning
to guard him].  Good thing I threw a decent, strong, pass 'cause
the defender almost gets his hand on the ball and I think to myself,
"Yo Lahh, Just play ball and don't be a groupie!" Several plays 
               later, we play decent defense for a moment and they score a basket. 
I come back for the ball and slowly bring it up with no backcourt 
pressure. I feed Mullin to my far left, just past half, and I start towards 
him to set a pick.  [STOP!] I think to myself and I hear Coach Floyd Layne's 
strong voice, "What the hell are you doing?...Get the hell out the way. 
Go weak-side and set a pick. 
So I listen to Coach Layne, in my mind, and I go weak-side and set a pick. 
The offensive player curls towards the top of the key.  I flare out towards
the right baseline as one of the horses [forwards] is now on the left
baseline dribbling with the ball. He is being doubled down on, and I
smile, and put both of my hands up, in catching position...non-verbally
communicating to him that,"Yes, I can comfortably hit this shot. If you
need me."  As the defense collapses on him, he smiles back at me
and looks around, then looks back at me.  He hesitates before he
hits me off.  What he has said, non-verbally is that, " I've never played
with you before. I don't know if you can hit this shot.  I'm in a bit of a
jam here.  I could force a shot up, but I'm going to take a chance and
pass you the rock."  I elevate in rhythm and follow through and hit
the open shot on the baseline and it feels good.  As we run down-
court on defense, I point [Thank You] to my large teammate with the
big smile.  We are both laughing in a language and code that only
ball-players and jazz musicians truly understand.
                I'm flying down-court...I've eluded a defender or two
and it seems like no one is moving as fast as I am.  It's like
they all are moving extra slow.  I realized later that these
are the "Star Players, The Elite." These are the 45 or 55 year
old guys who haven't left the game from jump-street. I'm in
good shape and I have fresh legs...and it shows.  On one play
I get into the paint and I've got a notion to throw up the floater,
the big man defender commits two steps towards me and I see a
small crease open for one of my big men on the baseline.  I
shuffle a pass to him under the arm of the defender and anticipate
the roar of the crowd when he scores.  I hear nothing but the
refs whistle...It's off his hands and out of bounds.  He runs down-
court and points "My bad. Good pass" to me. I tense the corners of
my mouth and frown and think,"Que Paso?   For the moment, I
don't feel good.  You have to bury those plays and play on. 
         I cross half-court at top speed, if I slow down a little
looks like a three on one...We can get anything we want...
however, I speed up and now it's a two one.  My teammate
is kind of too deep on the left side and I can either pull-up
at the foul line...slow down and hit [Chris or whoever is trailing
to my right]  Or I can try to be a hero and lay this 6'8" dude
standing under the basket.  What do I do?  Well, first I got
excited.  Then I got brave.  Then I lost my mind, and tried a
shot I have not tried since I played biddy ball at PS 18
After-School Center.. a running one-hander...half-hook...
from the foul-line.  As the ball is released from my hand,
I could see the PS 18 Center Director, Myles Dorch looking
at me with his hands up in the air saying, 'What the Hell
kind of crazy shot was that?!?" The shot almost went in. 
It hit the backboard, went around the rim and hit the backboard
again.  The crowd OOooed and AAaahhed...Thank God
somebody got a rebound and the play quickly resumed going
the other way.   I'm sure the NBA star probably gave me a
LLL Pass..."Local Loco Legend Pass" I still cant believe I
shot that...CRAZY shot... At that point, I don't feel good,
but I had to have fun and laugh it off.
   I run quickly to the top of the key and receive a pass
from the left sideline. I ball fake into the post, the defense
reacts, and Chris get a solid pass from me behind the 3-Ball
line.  What follows is a quick, strong lease with a high arching
trajectory.  Nothing but Net.  We are up a bundle as the quarter
ends and I slowly jog to the sideline.  After numerous high fives
butt slaps, and hand shakes...I am un-ceremonially removed
from the game.  It was fast and furious.  I am tired. I need a vitamin supplement about now, but I settle for some
bottled water.  I glance up at the scoreboard and then into the
cheering crowd.  There are children dancing, and elders with
hope in the corners of their eyes...The colored , swirling,
spotlights cross the coliseum logo at half-court and then passes
 across my jersey and face ...And it feels good to be in Puerto Rico.
Peace and  Blessings. Te Veo.  LW

Some of my game minutes on Youtube link below
thanks to Mr. A Gonzalez...