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Uneasy Rise of a Brooklyn Star
Rick Telander
August 23, 1976
The kid was just 14 when the kingmaker took over, and that's when the pressure began to build through a ghetto summer
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August 23, 1976

Uneasy Rise Of A Brooklyn Star

The kid was just 14 when the kingmaker took over, and that's when the pressure began to build through a ghetto summer

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"Leave me alone!" he roars. "I don't want to talk to anybody. Not you, not Rodney, not anybody!"

He grabs his jacket and rushes out of the office, slamming the door. I look over at Jerry Davis and ask him what is happening.

"I don't know," he says. "I don't know."

A short while later Albert calls Winston.

"All people are sick, Winston," he says. "I hate them. I'm not talking to anyone anymore. I don't even think I should play basketball anymore."

Winston tries to settle Albert down.

"Hey, Big Al, you're the man," he says.

"No, I'm not the man. I'm just like anybody else. And tell Rodney I'm not playing in his park anymore."

Ever since I met Rodney I have been trying to determine exactly what it is he gets from all his wheeling and dealing; why he works so hard discovering downtrodden boys and sending them to school, running up huge phone and food bills with no apparent recompense. Does he simply get money for delivery? Is he looking for the one big apple to make him rich, or is it something more prestigious, that mythical "super-agent" job? Or is it simply good will—Rodney the hyperthyroid Samaritan in gym shoes? I've begun to believe it's all of them, perhaps in fluctuating unknowable degrees: Rodney the Mystery Man. "He could keep an analyst busy for years," says his friend Bob Kalish, a part-time author. "He's an angel with unhealthy parts."

Albert King did not return to work after walking out in a fit of rage two weeks ago. "He could have at least called," says Jerry Davis, the nervous, elderly partner. "I guess he was too embarrassed."

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