I alluded to this story here, and many of you have been clamoring for it (ok, none of you have), but I thought since it's black history month and all, it would be a good time to tell it now. So here goes:
Like any normal, half-jewish kid raised in an upper middle class all white suburb in the late eighties, I thought I was a black dude. This may sound outlandish, but a quick look at the facts reveals that it's not as crazy as it sounds. As a 15 year old:
-I had seen Bell Biv Devoe in concert...three times
-I could go grow a fro - a jew fro, but a fro nonetheless
-I was a freakishly great dancer
-I could jump into the worm
-My personal heroes were Magic Johnson, Tony Gwynn, R. Kelly, and Malcolm X (in that order)
Well maybe not that last one, but I have witnesses for the rest (Sadly, there were no witnesses for the last one at 15...or 16...17 - thank you, Virginia Miller!)
I don't know what it was about this time in our country's history, I guess the emergence of rap had a lot to do with it, and possibly Michael Jordan and the explosion of professional sports and black people's dominance of them, but something about living in a comfortable home surrounded by whites made me identify with the struggle of blacks. But it wasn't just me feeling this way, no, this was the time in which the wigger was born. And we shouldn't hate, because it gave us Eminem and a lot of bad movie characters (um, see "In the Mix, or don't). It's an undisputed fact that everyone from my age group went to high school with a kid who did his hair and eyebrows like Vanilla Ice, and came to school dressed like him for an entire year. These were strange times indeed.
I was a kid who famously refused to do a book report because I didn't feel like reading whatever book I was assigned and took an F, yet picked up Malcolm X's autobiography "for fun" and read it...twice. I even shaved the letter X into the back of my unfortunate haircut. When I played basketball at other schools, I would get made fun of by their crowd - but I don't think they knew that the X stood for Malcolm, I think they just thought that it stood for me being a loser.
So anyway, I was into the blacks. And I am an extremely loyal person. Tony Gwynn is still my favorite baseball player, and he retired 4 years ago. And you already know about the R. Kelly thing, and Family Ties (Skippy Handleman), and carrots, etc.
But above Tony, and R., and even carrots, there was Magic Johnson. I loved Magic. I had his posters, the Laker videos, I even read HIS autobiography (his life story might be more impressive than Malcolm's, did you know that he invented the high five in 1979? Top that, X!). And I played like Magic - no look passes, the back down, the spin move, one handed-length of the court bounce passes, I did everything he did - even the high five he invented lo those many years ago. But since I was small and white, people would call me "Little Stockton", as in, the little white point guard from the Utah Jazz. That would enfuriate me, cause I hated Stockton and I was being Magic and any logical person should've seen that in my game. I mean, try and look past the fact that I was 4 foot 10 and 85 pounds and white, racist motherfuckers!
Well, my life changed forever one day when there was an advertisement in the newspaper for Magic Johnson's Basketball camp, which was to take place at San Diego State University in 1989. I was going. And unfortunately, I invited Mr. Douchebag to come with me, and it was the next school year where he stole Christy Boyer from me, but you already know that story.
In the weeks leading up to camp, my dad delighted in making fun of me about Magic's lack of participation in it. He kept saying that the only Magic I was going to see was when his limo drove by and he stuck his hand out to wave. My dad's hilarious. And also, wrong.
Magic was there everyday. He ate lunch and dinner with us in the cafeteria, he lectured twice a day, he hung out, he was fucking awesome. It was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. Until something better happened.
Being the incredibly talented player that I was in those days, my coach at camp took a liking to me. Okay, he loved me. I was the stud on my team, there's no two ways about it, people. Anyways, my coach and I were hanging out one afternoon and he said to me: "Have you met Magic yet?" My heart suck into what would later become my testicles. I had been around Magic, but I hadn't "met" Magic. I said no and he said "let's go".
Magic was standing alone in the middle of the gym. We walked over. My coach introduced me as his "star point guard" and Magic and I shook hands. My coach left. It was me and Magic. We talked. He likes asian girls too! Just kidding, but probably not. I really don't remember what was said because I was freaking the fuck out. And then the whistle blew.
All of the kids at camp (hundreds of kids) came over to center court and we all sat down. It was time for a Magic lecture (writer's note: none of these lectures mentioned monogomy). When Magic would lecture to us, he would always have a basketball in his hand. And if he caught you not paying attention, he would throw the ball at you (this was back in the day when that was considered "teaching"). But if he threw the ball at you when you were paying attention, that meant you got to play one on one with Magic. 15 minutes into his lecture, the ball was in my hand.
The kids "ooohhhhh'd". I stood up and went to the top of the key with Magic in front of me. It was time to see who was the real Magic man and who was the half-jewish wannabe. I hoped Magic was that half-jew.
Before I say what happened next, I must mention that Magic was not only the coolest guy ever because he hung around all the time, he was the coolest guy ever because he didn't treat you like a kid. The man is competitive. And when you played anything against Magic, he was trying to beat your ass. I've seen him swat the shit out of a 6 year old's shot. He doesn't care - you're not scoring on Magic. So this wasn't going to be a fuck around game where the big timer lets a kid win. This was real. Back to the story:
So there I was, staring down Magic looking to score. He's 6 foot 9, 220 pounds at least. I hadn't yet cracked 5 feet, and when I wouldn't eat stuff that my mom was asking me to eat and she'd ask "what? Do you want to be a 98 pound weakly?" I would respond "I wish".
The game was to 1 point. Magic got into his defensive position. He was doing what all bastards do who think they're better than you. He was daring me to go left. Motherfucker. But I used to be a cocky dude myself, so I took the bait and started left. I like to think he was surprised by my quickness, and he overreacted to my move and went way left, so I crossed over to the right (I crossed over Magic!).
I'm not lying to you when I say that I had him beat. I took it to the motherfucking hole and went up for my layup. Ok, against kids my height, that was game, set, match. I crossed you over and went to the hole, you were done. But this wasn't some kid like my douchebag friend, this was Magic I was playing against. And as I went to shoot, a giant black hand suddenly emerged in my way. I altered my shot and put it over his hand. But I put too much arc on it - it went off the rim and missed.
He got the rebound and looked to quickly end it with a three ball from the top of the key. Missed. Front rim. Rebound to me.
I saw an opportunity and went to the wing before he could come back and play defense. I quickly setup for my patented jumper. Again, game time. I don't miss the jumper.
I let it go and it felt pure. Pure! It arc'd up to the hoop. And then that black hand came back. Out of nowhere. And swatted the ball out of the sky. Literally, the fucking sky!
Magic retrieved it, wheeled, and put in a three pointer, nothing but net. Game over. I lost. And it was awesome.
1 month later I would discover douchebag making out with Christy Boyer to the sounds of Guns N' Roses "Patience"
1 year later Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" would be released and change the course of music forever
2 years later my mom would throw out the autographed picture of Magic and I together at camp
3 years later Magic would get HIV and I would cry
4 years later Bell Biv Devoe would officially break up and I would cry some more
5 years later R. Kelly's "12 Play" would be released and everything would be right with the world
It's now 16 years later, and:
-I've seen Bell Biv Devoe in concert...5 times
-I can still grow the 'fro (but choose not to)
-I'm still a freakishly great dancer
-But can no longer jump into the worm
-My personal heroes now also include: Raphael Saadiq, Chris Rock, DJ Quik, Larenz Tate, and Nate Dogg
-And finally, let's face it, I've got the black man's soul...but the white man's dick