With the big gap in games before the NBA Finals, I got bored and tweeted out an old story from my days working in the NBA. Here it is in full form, still broken into 140 characters.
Helping offset low pay and long hours of entry-level NBA life was the full access to basketball courts and random games with players.
One such occurrence took place in 1999 when myself, Kevin Grigg and Warriors mascot Thunder played with Donyell Marshall and his crew.
After a long workday trying to come up with ways to make an awful team sound good, me and Grigg, now VP of PR with the Pistons, went down to hoop.
Sadiki, aka Thunder, was there working on his trampoline dunks. Kevin and I played 1-on-1 on the court next to him.That’s when we heard, “Uh oh, looks like we got ourselves a game!” We turned and saw Donyell walk in with two of his friends.
One friend was a legit player – about 6’4”. The other was the dude we called “White Snoop.”
White Snoop had red freckles to match his red hair and always braided his Brave-like locks in cornrows.
He had a smooth whispery drawl – if you closed your eyes you’d think he was Snoop.
He was also called White Snoop because he was always high. This was the case when they walked into the gym.
Donyell and his friend were fitted properly for hoop.
White Snoop had on a wife beater, Karl Kani jean shorts, knee high socks and Air Force 1s.
Donyell set up the full-court 3-on-3 game. 1s and 2s to 11.
Donyell put me and Kevin on his team.
Thunder matched up against Kevin. White Snoop guarded me, immediately requesting that I don’t take any shots on him because he was hella high.
In these types of games, the NBA player usually goes about half speed and rarely shoots.
After I realized playing against White Snoop was like being guarded by a statue, we got Kevin involved.
Kevin’s main asset was his shot. He was a bit slow, not a great dribbler, but when he got hot, he could be Curry-ish.
Sadiki/Thunder was a great athlete and gymnast, but just a decent ball player.
We thought Thunder’s long arms and athletic ability might make it tough for Kevin to get his shot off. But on this day, it didn’t matter.
After I scored on two open drives passed White Snoop, Thunder scored his second basket of the game on Kevin. 2-2.
Thunder was very competitive, playing aggressive deny defense on Kevin.
But Donyell drove and kicked out to Kevin, who drained a three. 4-2.
Thunder came down and tried to drive by Kevin, but Kevin stripped him and hit a fast-break three. 6-2.
Donyell lit up with a giant smile: “KG is heating up! He’s killing you Thunder!”
Thunder didn’t like being called Thunder when he didn’t have his super hero costume on.
Thunder came down and drilled a three in Kevin’s face. And started talking trash to him. 6-4.
Kevin didn’t say a word. He got the ball, backed down Thunder at the 3-point line, turned and nailed a three in his face. 8-4.
Donyell went crazy. Kevin was calm. Thunder was pissed. He came down and bricked a three.
Donyell got the rebound, passed up to me. I dribbled under the basket and kicked out to Kevin. From several feet behind the arc, he drilled another three. 10-4.
Thunder threw the ball against the wall in anger. He came back down and drove on Kevin and hit a tough layup. 10-5.
Kevin brought the ball up, and got about half way between halfcourt and the 3-point line, pulled up as Thunder jumped at him and swished a 30-footer. Game.
Thunder grabbed his trampoline and went home. Donyell chanted, “KG! KG! KG!”
Next time you see Kevin Grigg make sure to give him a pound and tell him, “Way to school Thunder back in ‘99.”
He’ll know what you mean. You don’t forget a game like that.