“Why do I want the money from the Lakers if I earn more selling drugs”

This is how Julius Erving, the unforgettable Doctor J, tells it in the first person in his memoirs (“Dr J, The Autobiography): “The games at Rucker Park were so pure… You didn’t have to worry about being seated by a manager if you made a bad decision. There he could go from one side of the court to the other, run with the ball whenever he wanted. But you also knew that if you messed with a rival in one move, he was going to try to return it to you in the next. Since those games were not televised, some of the things that happened were exaggerated, they were maddening by word of mouth. But there were legendary matches. One against Milbank, a playground team that was supposed to have to the world’s least street player, Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond. My colleagues told me ‘man, The Destroyer is going to appear’ and I wondered ‘who is that destroyer?’. He was a 6-foot-3 guy with a reputation for being the best one-on-one player in New York, which was the same as being the best in the world. He never played in high school, but was drafted by the NBA Lakers and ABA Nets in 1971, and he refused to turn professional because that would have meant lower income than what he earned as a drug dealerof heroin and marijuana. He said that when the Lakers offered him $50,000, he had $200,000 stashed in his apartment.

I was sitting on the bench and I started to see people get nervous, start pointing at a limo that had parked on the other side of Eighth Avenue. The limo door opened and The Destroyer dressed in a suit appeared. Then they told me that he came from playing craps in a club. She took off her suit and shoes and underneath she was wearing basketball clothes and so she started curtsying to the four sides of the floor saying ‘I’m here guys, The Destroyer is here’.

Julius Erving (72 years now) was ABA and NBA champion (with the Sixers), MVP of both leagues, 16 times all star (eleven in the NBA, five in the ABA) and he retired in 1987 as one of the best, and most iconic, players in history. John Hammond? The destroyer He ended up in jail and later spent a few years practically destitute, selling what he found on the street and going through very hard times in Harlem, the neighborhood that was impossible to get out of, from which he never wanted to leave. He is still considered the great legend of playground, of the street courts, the milestone in the mystique of those tournaments that turned Rucker Park (155th Street, Harlem) into much more than a basketball court. Sacred Liturgies for Black Counterculture, no strings attached basketball in a heritage that mixed professionals, college players… and free souls (or prisoners of a deeply unfair system) from the streets.

In the early 1970s, the likes of Erving and Hammond built the legend of Rucker Park, with fans cascading in, climbing trees and rooftops to watch – much more than games. Hammond, they said, had a lethal shot but was, above all, unstoppable in penetration, a scourge for whoever defended him. Never went down on that 40 point court, or that It is said that. His record was 82. In the limo game, he came just before halftime and finished with 50 points. Julius Erving’s team, the westsiders, coached by journalist Peter Vecsey and with players who were already professionals on their side, needed two overtimes to win. He Doctor (39 points) took the title. Word of mouth was already fueling that feline silhouette with afro hair who was about to turn professional without ending his journey with the minutemen from UMass. The MVP, however, went to John Hammond. The Destroyer, The Destroyer. I was 21 years old.

Read Also:  RCB vs SRH Live: Sunrisers Hyderabad gets their first blow, Travis Head returns to the pavilion

On those memorable afternoons at Rucker Park it became clear, especially to the thousands of fans who gathered, that Hammond could be the best among the professionals as well. He big black pride. Wilt Chamberlain, absolutely connected to New York life as soon as his professional obligations allowed him, had no doubts either. And he told his team then, the Lakers, that he drafted whatever to that player. The angelenos, without having seen him, paid attention to his pivot/mountain and gave Hammond number 5 in the hardship draft of 1971. A secondary draft created to choose players who had not finished their university cycle; A strange response to the triumph of Spencer Haywood, who was given permission by the courts to be a professional and be able to feed his family earlier than was stipulated at the time. Hammond had left school at the age of 14.but he wouldn’t have graduated college (if he’d gone) until 1972, so the Lakers attacked via the hard ship…and with an offer of $50,000, a house, a car and a three-year contract. But they were met with a refusal that he himself, The destroyerHe explained thus: “They must have thought they were offering the world to a wretched black man from the ghetto, but he didn’t need their money. He sold drugs and played dice since he was ten years old. At fifteen I had a secret account with my father in the bank with $50,000 and when the Lakers made me their offer, I had $200,000 in my apartment. He made thousands of dollars selling heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana… He didn’t need $50,000 from the Lakers. I told them that I deserved the same as their best players because I was better than them, but they didn’t want to pay me more. They couldn’t believe a beggar was bargaining like this”.

Later, Hammond rejected another three-year contract from the Nets, still in the ABA and who had… Julius Erving on the roster. And he was dealt with an arrest and a sentence that sent him to jail when Ronald Reagan got tough on the war on drugs. He only got to play in the minor leagues, pushed by friends and without giving up the excesses and conflicts that kept him from being, perhaps, also one of the best in history on professional courts. He went down to hell, hit rock bottom, passed Cain’s and has ended up living a quiet life in Harlem, which was his kingdom.

Some say that he really did not score 50 points in that mythical duel, including Doctor J himself: “In no way, it was not as people later counted. The only one who could have scored 55 points on me was Bernard King, but because he could score them on everyone”. But they also agree that it does not matter. And in that any movement of the great professional stars, he could do better. That his dunks rumbled and his suspensions, when the line of three did not exist, flew from the same remote distances in which Stephen Curry later operated. Within the tracks, he could with everyone. Outside of them, in those same streets, the brand of drugs and marginality had already robbed him of any opportunity when he was a child. As so many times, the dark reverse of American dreamthat fairy tale that never was.

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here