Back in the day, when I was new to New York City, my roommate was a guy named Russ Bengtson.
Russ and I go way back to the University of Delaware. We’ve been tight for a long timeâ€”have shared good times over Chips ’99 and the Magic Hour and his dead snake rotting inside of our mailbox (long story). Russ and I lived above a Chinese Restaurant on 2nd Ave., and the rats probably liked the place almost as much as we did (it was a cool padâ€”two studios merged into one).
Thanks to Russ, who was the editor of Slam Magazine, I always had a steady diet of basketball-related freelance work. Thanks to Russ, I also know waaaaay too much about guys like Yinka Dare and Chris Mills and Bimbo Coles.
Alas, I digress. Russ is a great writer who probably deserves more credit than he gets. Back in the day, Slam writers used to cover games wearing baggy jerseys and sneakers, and I think (actually, I know) this took away some of their mainstream credibility. Some in the Knicks press room (for example) probably looked at Russ (who also has a bushy red beard that houses flocks of pigeons at a time) and thought, “Whatever …”
Russ, however, can bring it. Really bring it. Hence, this entry. I was reading the latest Slam yesterday, and stumbled upon his Slam of the Month feature, which was below a photo of Juwan Howard slamming over Chris Kaman. I found his writing to be brilliantly funny/odd. Here it is …
Juwan Howard on Chris Kaman
January 4, 2010
Staples Center, Los Angeles CA
The shots werenâ€™t falling, the first half was going to hell, and the tall, weird-looking blond kid in the third row just wouldnâ€™t shut up.
â€œYo Webber, you SUCK! Hey Jalen, why are your shorts so big? Nice haircut, Juwan! And youâ€¦I donâ€™t even know who you are! How does it feel being NOBODY!!?? Duke is kicking your ass!â€
During the next time out, Webber motioned to Jalen. â€œYo, whatâ€™s up with that kid?â€ â€œNo idea,â€ Rose said, tugging on his shorts. â€œHow old you think he is? Twelve?â€
Somehow, the kid heard. â€œIâ€™m NINE! And my daddy drove me all the way from Grand Rapids to watch you guys play, not listen to you talk. Arenâ€™t you supposed to be the â€˜Fab Fiveâ€™? Why donâ€™t you try and win or something?â€
Try they did, forcing overtime, but in the end, the Blue Devils proved too much. And as the Wolverines trudged off, the kidâ€”who had never shut upâ€”drew himself to his full height and let loose one final salvo: â€œHEY LOSERS! MY NAME IS CHRISTOPHER ZANE KAMAN, AND YOUâ€™D BETTER REMEMBER ME!â€
Howard stopped and turned, looked him straight in the eye. For the first time all night, the kid seemed to shrink back. â€œYeah, Iâ€™ll remember you,â€ Howard said. â€œYou can count on that.â€