Holy Name Schoolyard, February 2017
What we’re gonna do here is go back, way back, back into time.
Brooklyn, New York in the late 70’s and early 80’s to be exact. It was a different Brooklyn back then. The Barclay’s on Flatbush and Atlantic? LOL. My friends and I played outside from early morning to late into the night. Some nights we didn’t go home. It was called, “Breakin’ Night.” Holy Name schoolyard was our favorite spot. The priests would kick us out at 10:00 PM. We played all sports. No such thing as specialization. But basketball was my favorite.
We rode the F-train to Coney Island and back (never paying our fare). We hitched on the back of the 68 bus and rode our bikes. We broke balls. We broke windows playing stickball (accidentally of course). We didn’t have cell phones. No one owned a gun. Our parents were not watching our every move. We learned to be tough. We learned to fight our own battles. We didn’t run home, tell mommy or daddy what happened. Wait a minute, daddy? My dad left for good when I was six. Mom didn’t blame the teacher when I failed a test nor did she complain to the coach if I came off the bench for the basketball team.
Most of all, the friendships formed and nurtured were unbreakable. Sure we argued with each other, we even had a fistfight or two with each other. But the next day in the yard we were teammates playing two-on-two. We were loyal to each other. We cared about each other…Those were the days my friend.
With Jason Kidd on his way to Milwaukee, the Brooklyn Nets should take a look at Mark Jackson.
I recall watching Jackson run the point for the Loughlin Lions back int he day; just minutes from the Barclays Center.
Sure there other solid candidates but Jackson is a heck of a coach.
Friday morning, May 2
Someone once said, “an alarm clock is not an alarm clock, it’s an opportunity clock…”
Usually when you’re on a vacation you sleep in, right?
Well not if you are back in your old Brooklyn neighborhood.
I’m up with the birds and the sun. In the shower, dressed and out the door.
I have an opportunity to check in with some old friends and make some new ones.
Making my way up to the Avenue I see people walking along the Parkside. Health conscious for sure.
I also see people rushing to work, trying to catch the early morning train to Manhattan.
Instead of stopping at Connecticut Muffin I walk to the Windsor Cafe for the best scrambled eggs and ham. But first I grab a newspaper.
Three guys working in the cafe, George, Nick and Gus are three of the coolest people I have met on this trip. These guys run the show, they make things happen at a high rate. Might be the first time I have ever sat at the counter in a diner.
Next stop is Terrace Bagels for a bagel and coffee but the joint is packed; all the tables are taken. I head down to Connecticut Muffin and grab a latte.
Camping out for an hour, sipping on my latte I don’t recognize one single person. I’m so pissed I forgot my MacBook Pro back home. I could have had these diary entries up to the minute.
Time to go see my guy Carl down at Sport Prospect on seventh avenue. But first I stop off at the Armory on 8th avenue. They have done a great job with this place; it’s a basketball court and they have a nice running track.
Now it’s time to hop on the train and head to Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.
I had thoughts of walking but I had to meet someone up at Bishop Ford at two. Can’t be late.
Jumping on the F-train one stop to 4th avenue where I switch for the Manhattan-bound R-train for two stops.
I come out of the station and I’m overwhelmed by the Barclays Center. Boy has this area changed.
Flatbush and Atlantic.
You know the place, where the big clock is. Better known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.
“Red, you remember back in the day you needed to carry a pistol around here?” my boy Johnny P. reminds me.
Sssshhhhhhhh…Don’t mention any stories from back in the day.
It’s game-day; tonight the Brooklyn Nets play the Toronto Raptors in game 6 of the NBA playoffs. You remember the Nets, right? They used to be in Jersey. But don’t forget, at one time they were out on the Island; Strong Island for the Public Enemy fans.
This place is amazing. I walk around a bit and grab a Starbucks in the lobby. Around the corner on Dean Street I see the employee entrance and maybe I’ll see J-Kidd coming in?
Across the street there are a few apartment buildings. It must be mint living across the street from an NBA arena.
Never got the chance to go in Barclays Center but some day I will check out a game.
I did make a pit stop in their gift shop. It was empty. Nice merch out on the floor but a little overpriced for me. Guy on the floor was a bit chatty and friendly; said he graduated from Xaverian out in Bay Ridge.
I head back to the neighborhood taking fifth avenue all the way to ninth street where I hop on the B75…oops, I mean the B61. No more 75.
As we all know, Ford is closing its doors in June. As I get off the bus and cross the avenue there’s a big sign on the black picket fence. Someone took a bed-sheet, hung it on the fence and used a black Sharpie:
SAVE BISHOP FORD.
I head down the block and meet up with Danny Piselli. Danny was my coach way back in the day at Holy Name and he also gave me my first high school coaching job. He was the JV coach and brought me in as his assistant. I had a ball.
Hey Dan, I took mental notes of that season; I use a couple of your drills with my team, thanks.
We chat about old times and he fills me in on the situation at Ford.
Time to split, head back to the apartment and get ready for the Old Timers dinner later tonight out in Bensonhurst.
Looking forward to seeing a lot of good, basketball people.