For those that have ever had a conversation about basketball with me, I think it would be fairly obvious that I have an affinity for the game and players of yesteryear. Some call it nostalgic, some say it’s holding on to the past, some say it’s hating on the new school. I say shut up and let this old man sit in his rocking chair and relive the past.
Now let’s be clear, I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination. I will only be turning 33 in July. But as the old folks would say, “I’ve been here before” lol. The old school is back though. And it’s being brought back in a couple of ways. One way you already know about, Ice Cube’s Big 3 League and another way you need to know about, The Legends Coalition. Both genius ideas. Both flawlessly executed. Big 3 features retired NBA players in a 3 on 3 game to 60. Feels like an old fashioned pick up game (losers outs is wack though. Come on Cube, gotta be make it, take it!!!!). Legends Coalition is a little different. This is a local league in my hometown, Washington D.C., that features some of the best high school players that have come through the Metropolitan area. It’s 30 and over. No youngins (well relatively speaking). It’s 5 on 5 so the old guys have to get up and down the court. 18 min halves with a running clock helps a little bit but not much lol. Still some gasping and walking going on. It’s still good to see those guys get out there because there are flashes of former brilliance. I think more cities need this type of format. It’s a great vibe and great atmosphere. The bellies are a little bigger and the moves are a little slower but it definitely takes you back.
Leagues like this are great for basketball. If anyone has ever listened to Drink Champs, you will hear N.O.R.E. often say that in rap, we want to throw away our legends after a short period of time but in other genres they celebrate them as long as they have breath. I feel the same way about basketball. Once a dude ain’t lacing up the sneakers, people seem to take that as a signal that it’s time to attack their legacy. Hell folks today are determined to prove why MICHAEL JORDAN wasn’t as great as he was proclaimed to be. Michael Jeffrey Jordan. This can’t be life. That’s disgraceful. People say that hindsight is 20/20. When some of y’all offer your opinions on former players, I think y’all hindsight is legally blind.
We need more platforms like this. People are obviously interested. More than 11,000 went to the Barclays Center to see the kickoff of the Big 3 and folks are coming to see the local guys get it done in the Legends Coalition every week. A.I. didn’t give us the highlights we all used to see on a nightly basis in the NBA but all the fans still cheered for him to get back on the court in the waning moments of the game, to which he obliged. And people are still coming out every weekend to see what kind of show Lonnie Harrell aka Prime Objective (Georgetown Univ., Northeastern Univ., NBA, D League, And 1, Overseas) is going to put on even with a broken finger. I will never understand why it’s considered a bad thing to pay tribute to those who laid the groundwork for what the current guys are doing. I agree that there are extremists on both sides of the coin. There’s the “everything new is trash” contingent and the “those old guys weren’t better just because they’re old” mafia. Both are incorrect.
But I have to admit, I’m an old man stuck in my ways. I like the feel of the old school. The competitiveness, the emphasis on skill, the trash talk. Nowadays trash talk gets reported in the media instead of responded to on the court. I feel like there’s an aspect of “rugged-ness” that is missing from the game today. They basically want these guys to play without touching each other and without showing emotion. Maybe it’s just me but I need to see some guys hit the floor. I need to see tempers flaring, guys getting in each other’s face. I need to see some cheap shots (Not too cheap though. We’re not trying to hurt anybody). I’m not going to call the new era of hoops soft. I’m not about being disrespectful. But I think a lot of these guys didn’t spend that much time on the blacktop growing up. That certainly explains a lot.