Scholastic Roundup: New York City basketball is on point

July 29, 2022 Andy Furman
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Finally – New York City’s basketball is getting some national recognition thanks to SHOWTIME Sports Documentary Films.

NYC Point Gods, spotlighting the enduring impact of New York City point guards who honed their craft and developed their legendary showmanship on the city’s iconic playgrounds and high school gyms in the 1980s and ‘90s, premiers tonight (Friday) at 9 p.m. ET on SHOWTIME and will be available across the network’s on-demand and streaming platforms at premiere.

The film features a who’s who of point guard deities: Rafer Alston, Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, God Shammgod, Kenny (The Jet) Smith, Rod Strickland and Dwayne (Pearl) Washington.

They brought theatrics, dizzying ball control, stylish misdirection and a shake-and-bake game from the asphalt to the city’s hallowed high school gyms and to the NBA, orchestrating successful offenses at every level.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

NYC Point Gods explores not just how the city shaped these distinct players, but how these wunderkinds shaped and advanced the game under their watch, and whose impact continues to shape the game today.

“Everyone knows a NYC point guard when they see them,” Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Net said in the film’s pre-screening media kit. “And the point gods of this film were instrumental in changing the game for everyone. We are really excited to honor them through this doc, and I know basketball fans will really appreciate it.”

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Three of the eight-point guards have Brooklyn roots.

Bishop Loughlin’s Mark Jackson was a local hero who played his high school ball in the borough, and his college basketball at St. John’s University.

Jackson was a 17-year NBA veteran and remains a prominent voice in the sport as an NBA analyst.

Stephon Marbury – The prodigy. Born and raised in Coney Island, “Starbury” was rated the No. 1 player in the country year-after-year while starring at Lincoln High School. He played one-year of college basketball at Georgia Tech before being drafted fourth overall in 1996.

Dwayne (Pearl) Washington – A true showman, he embodied what a New York City point guard was an inspired an entire generation.

A playground phenom from Boys and Girls High School, Washington brought his flashy play to Syracuse University. He tragically passed away from cancer in 2016 at the age of 52.

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NYC POINT GODS features extensive interviews and rare footage of the point guards, plus prominent New York voices. Stephen A. Smith, Camron, Fat Joe and iconic college coaches Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino lend their firsthand knowledge from personal interactions and share surreal stories involving the “Point Gods.”

NYC POINT GODS is a collaboration with Durant and entrepreneur Rich Kleiman’s Boardroom (Basketball County: In The Water). NYC POINT GODS is executive produced by Coodie and Chike and directed by Sam Eliad.

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Dave Newmark – the seven-foot gentle-giant who played at Lincoln High – and made history while playing for Columbia University (1967-68) by winning the ECAC Holiday Festival, tying for the Ivy League Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament—posed an interesting question on social media.

Was Pete Maravich better than Stephon Curry, he asks. Facts: The Atlanta Hawks, formerly from St. Louis, were one of the strongest teams in the NBA, Newmark, who was the 31st overall pick in the 1968 draft by the Chicago Bulls, noted.

They won 56 games in 1967-68 to place first in the division, 48 games in 1968-69 for second place, and 48 again in 1969-70.

Newmark was a member of the Hawks in ’69-70.

That team leaped over the Lakers – a team that featured Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.

“We had Lou Hudson, Walt Hazzard, Bill Bridges, Joe Caldwell and Walt Bellamy, a team full of All-Stars and seasoned vets,” he said.

After the 1969-70 season, Newmark said the Hawks signed Maravich to a record-shattering $4 million contract. “Our vets were shocked and angry. Management had always aid that the team couldn’t afford huge salaries, but here they were giving away the store to an untested rookie,” he said.

Newmark says there were jealous vets along with an aloof Maravich, and an inept management who were not up to the task of handling the difficult situation. Bellamy retired, and Newmark was in line to be the starting center.

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“I refused to get a haircut a few hours before a big exhibition game in Baton Rouge, where Maravich – coached by his father (Press) – had averaged nearly 40 points-a-game to lead all college players. I was cut for defying them, and blackballed from the NBA,” Newmark said.

Bob Christian, a muscular seven-footer who really didn’t move like a basketball player according to Newmark, was the replacement. “Our bench consisted of Jim Davis, Butch Beard and me. I was gone and so was a fading Bellamy and Maravich and Christian were added,” he said. “The Hawks only won 36 games that season, 12 games less than they did the season before. I would rather have Curry on my team than Maravich,” Newmark said.

“Curry,” he said, “is more of a team player, whereas Maravich would look for the spectacular play first. One other factor to keep in mind was dissension. I don’t know if the dissension that started in the exhibition season persisted into the season,” he said, “but from what I saw from a management team that was out of its depth, my guess is that it did.”

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected]  Twitter@AndyFurmanFSR

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