Proust has Lysergic in his Spine

Yesterday the eminent professionals of FD-dom, DLIC & BR Esq., offered insight into their ephemeral sojourn into the divine lair of the saints. The tale was filled with whimsical humor, tense moments of consternation, and a scholarly analysis of “swag” in the post-“Kingdom Come” milieu. Prior to this wonderful read, I had full intentions on writing a piece exalting the honorable and virtuous nature of Salim Stoudamire. Don’t worry gentle readers, that tome in my “Good for Nothing College Guards I Will Rep to the Death” series will come when I deem you MFers worthy. For reference, peep the 1st installment of the series.

Yesterday’s starshower inspired me to revel in memories of my scant few brushes with the immortals. Since childhood, I’ve held myself to a strict code of “no dick-eating”. In the flesh, I’d be more inclined to spit on the stars that illuminate and bring hope to my marish days, than to hold them on high. Well, spitting is probably an overstatement, but I definitely am predisposed to give famous people plenty space and as little attention as necessary. In my mind, they have no right to feel special simply because they’re renowned for some specialty. Famous people are shitbirds just like everybody else are shitbirds, no more, no less.

This dictum of star-fucking restraint held true except for one unit of men, err, TITANS that slung victory over their shoulders and bore it valiantly to the altar of my downtrodden city. They were brash yet disciplined, firm yet fluid. They were champions, yes, but more importantly they were men of character. They were the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers and they gave basketball meaning for a young Rocco. Dick-eating was more than acceptable when it came to this crew, it was mandatory. While there are many influences in my life that have impacted me deeply and for which I have held affection, there is no entity or creation that provides a better fast-glance understanding of me than that team. I’m a black, 80’s baby, from Philly. That’s me and that’s them (Bobby Jones, Mark Iavaroni, & Mark McNamara will have to forgive being cast with the coloreds in this case).

While I lionized “Fo’,Fo’,Fo’” Malone, Dr. J, and “Boston Strangler” Toney, Mo Cheeks was my man. Like so many little black boys growing up sans a steady paternal presence, I wanted Mo to be my dad. He always seemed competent, self-contained, and most importantly he just seemed decent. He evidenced that perception of decency for the world to see a few years ago with his assist to Natalie Gilbert.

Mo could do no wrong, in my opinion, for the majority of my adolescence. Then I met him.

As chronicled here before, I was a bit of a sneaker head in my teen years, so the obvious choice for work at the time was sneaker and sporting good stores. I shuffled around 3 or 4 stores in 4 years making shit money but loving every minute of it.

I knew the products pretty well so I had quite a bit of repeat business from all corners athletics: high school ballers, cheerleaders, marathon runners, even Professional ECW wrestlers.

[As an aside, those ECW guys were great people. They were like dinner theater actors. They made next to nothing but worked their asses off for the love. They had no insurance but were doing the biggest wrestling stunts around. Back then fans would bring props, like old Nintendos, down to the abandoned bingo house known as "ECW Arena" and threw them into the ring and the wrestlers would incorporate them into the routine. Amazing stuff!]

Now back to the issue, one day in ’96, I guess, while explaining performance and wear differences associated with Nike Air cushioning and the Asics Gel system (I know heady stuff), I glanced over to the corner of the store in which I was working and saw a slickly dressed, 6’ man perusing the footwear wall. Mo was an assistant for the Sixers at the time so I immediately knew it was him. I wanted so desperately to walk over and talk to him. But I couldn’t walk because my nuts were in my sternum and my rectum had prolapsed. I completely ignored the customer I had been speaking to and simply stared at Mo. I was looking at the man I had wished to be my father. I don’t know how to explain the feeling without delving deeper into genital mutilation, so I’ll just say, it was a big moment. When I finally got my senses about me, I got a co-worker to handle my customer and head over to Mo. Upon approaching him I, with no sense of volume control, blurt out, “Hheeeeyyyyy, you need any help with anything or anything?” Without even flinching, even though I had just pretty much screamed in his ear and without taking a moment to look me in the eye, he pulled a shoe off the wall and said, “Go ask your manager what type of discount I can get on these,” and then replaced the shoe on the wall.

I don’t remember specifically what shoe it was. I think the trauma of the event has caused me to block it out, but I do remember that the shoe retailed for $47.99.

At that moment I came to a startling conclusion. My dad is a cheap asshole. When I write that he's a cheap asshole, what I mean precisely is that he's cheap person and also happens to be an asshole.

Hey Mo! You could have at least looked me in the eye, ya prick.

Mo Cheeks is a dream shatterer.


At 12/06/2006 4:00 PM, Blogger T. said...

I've heard similar stories - a friend of mine had Magic Johnson hit on her - post-annoucement, post-marriage.

She cried for days later.

At 12/06/2006 4:29 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

Salim is the man on court and off. Besides, he's got the same shoe size as Damon. Who needs to buy shoes?

At 12/06/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger whitefolks said...

rocco, your fair city and my family's originating city never had such a fine series of performances as there were at the old bingo hall.

i would say the only celebrity, including athletes that ever impressed me in person was mike bivens from new edition/bbd. we were both hanging out at the philly wyndham bar and ended up having an hour long conversation about music. really thoughtful guy and super chill.

long live nick's roast beef.

At 12/06/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger zombie squirrels said...

I just noticed the conspicuous garment choices (or lack thereof) in the Cat Power pic. Nice.

At 12/06/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Great story. It's tales like this that make FreeDarko's recent encounter with Gilbert so amazing. He had an off night and his team got trounced but Gil still managed to not only tolerate a couple of fanboys, but to give 'em that un-troubled smile. I mean, if that fateful meeting goes badly, this blog and many others would probably have to close up shop.

At 12/06/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

First off, word on Shawn Respert (I must have somehow missed that piece first time through). I don't think I've been more wrong about a player than ShawnDolph ChilPert (they were roughly the same player, no?)

Second, true story from MSP circa the lockout. KG and Starbury are trying to a get in a run at a local health club. Standard gym-rat crowd (fading former HS-stars, sweaty old dudes, intramural superstars).

They're on opposite teams. Before the ball is checked in:

Garnett: "alright dawgs, bring it in, let's do this" (etc.)

Steph: "Get me the ball, I'm a trained professional."

Of course the biggest prick in the history of MSP is Randy Moss. (Actually it's his half-brother, Eric, former borderline O-Lineman who threatened to beat the shit out of me for not giving up a call in a pickup game. Not that he had 6 inches and 80 pounds on me, or that I held a grudge or anything. But I digress)

At 12/06/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mo is actually a pretty good guy. I went to school with his kid a few years back and there were tons of nostalgic teachers/parents who felt the need to ask constantly ask him innane questions and for favors and things that they had to real business asking him. Anyway, he coulda just been the typical celeb and politely declined or avoided them but for the most part he was really accomodating and would go out of his way to help people out, and just in general was a cool guy.

At 12/06/2006 7:58 PM, Blogger David Stefanini said...

Everything I heard, up until now about Mo was good. I guess you shouldn't believe everything the media says... who knew?

At 12/07/2006 12:23 AM, Blogger "rem" said...

a scrooge story with X-Mas just around the corner

keep em coming...classic

At 12/08/2006 9:29 AM, Blogger doublenicks said...

I'm late to the game on this one but a couple things struck me. First, I grew up in Lawrence Township in NJ so I too was a fan of those 80s Sixers. Of course I loved Dr. J but Andrew Toney was my favorite by far. I didn't want him to be my Dad (not that mine was around) but I share your love for those squads.

Second, I've had limited brushes with fame - I was a PR intern for the Magic in the summer of 1994 - but I've always been fascinated by the equation that the more money you have, the more you expect to get for free. I don't remember what whizbang we were giving away at the 1994 Draft Party in Orlando but I do remember Nick Anderson requesting a bunch of them. Seems weird to me . . . you make millions (or at least hundreds of thousands) but you still are looking for handouts.

Of course, not all athletes are like this. Sticking with that 94 Magic squad, Anthony Bowie was a great guy by all accounts and Otis Smith, retired by then and working for the organization, was extremely nice to all the poor folk (interns).

Greg Kite might have been a nice guy but a dude that tall, ugly, and with a voice like rocks rubbing together, I didn't stick around to find out.

Great piece.

At 12/09/2006 10:53 PM, Blogger PeteJayhawk said...

Far and away the biggest basketball assholes I ever have had the displeasure of meeting are...believe it or not...Dane Fife and Bill Bayno. I've been mostly OK with, if not necessarily impressed by, the NBA types I've had the opportunity to encounter in my basketball travails/employment.

Said travails are 95% CBA and 5% NBA, but still...

At 12/10/2006 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy Bayno, the former UNLV hack job for a head coach?

You know, he was knee deep in blow and whores at the time you prolly met him, right? LOL.


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