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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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Carlos looks at Rodney and smiles, a gold front tooth shining in the morning sun. Then he tilts his head and closes one eye, staring as hard as he can at the man below him. He leaves the window and dashes downstairs.

"Rodney, you're just slinging it. I can tell."

"I'm dead on the up, man. Would I be playing jokes at this hour? You got about 14 minutes now."

Carlos stares at Rodney for another instant then sprints back up to his room. While he is packing Rodney asks him if he has a high school diploma. Carlos says, "Yeah, sort of," grinning knowingly, and throws out a faded piece of paper resembling a Xerox of a cafeteria menu.

"What the hell is this?" Rodney says. "It's in Hebrew or something."

He shows the paper to the two boys who have followed him up from the park. One of the boys looks at the piece of paper. "Something about...refer...refer-ation...well, I'd say maybe refrigerators. It's got his name in the middle, though."

"Carlos," hollers Rodney, "what's this about refrigerators?"

Carlos shrugs. "It's 'refrigeration.' I was going to be an air-conditioner repairman in Panama."

On the way to the bus stop Rodney tells Carlos that the citizenship business will be taken care of in Texas. Then he asks him if he ever thought he'd go to college.

"No," says Carlos. "I just came here to visit for the summer. My parents were terrified of me being in New York. My mother told me never to sit in the window at night with the blinds open."

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