GREAT MOMENTS IN
HANG TIME HISTORY PART TWO
How I Learned
About Hang Time and That I Didn't Have It, by Jim Valvano: "In my senior
year at Rutgers we were in the NIT against New Mexico. They had Mel Daniels
then, and all the scouts were there to see him, but I figured I'd play
great—walk onto the court a schlepper and walk off a first-round draft choice
of the Celtics. So early in the game I get the ball in the corner, and Daniels
is all the way over on the other side, but here he comes, running at me. I give
him my smart little Long Island pump fake, the one I learned at summer camp,
and he takes off. Now I've got him, right? He's up in the air, and everybody's
saying, 'Sharp kid, that Valvano.' So I take off for my jumper, and I'm so
pumped up you probably could have slid a thick piece of toast between my feet
and the floor. I mean, I'm skying. But now that I'm up in the air, I'm waiting
for light, because Daniels is 6'9" and he has to clear the area for me to
see the hoop. I keep waiting, and now I'm on my way down, still holding the
rock, and he's still up there. I'm thinking, 'Mel, gimme a break. My whole
family's here to see me play, gimme a chance.' Finally, I shoot it, and the
ball actually hits him in the armpit and lodges there! He was shocked. He
wanted to block it with his hand, but it never got that high. I see the ball in
his armpit, and I'm done for the night. I'm so embarrassed. So I turn to the
ref and say, 'That's a foul, ref. Gotta be a foul. It's a foul on the
playground, ref.' That's when I knew I had a career in coaching."
The alltime hang
team—those players who most eloquently posted up Isaac Newton and facialized
him—includes Baylor, Hawkins, Erving, Thompson (although some say he is more of
a leaper than a hanger, because he wasn't as creative in the air as the
others), Jordan and, as sixth man, Cunningham. One common behavioral thread
among them, according to Erving, "is that we all were given the green
light, we were all given the opportunity to dare to be great."
West on Baylor:
"Defenders would come to cut him off, and he would just step to one side
and go around them. It was like he had radar. He never extended himself on a
jump; he never had to. And once he got beside you, you were whipped. You'd get
to the moment of truth, and he was all alone."
Kansas coach Larry Brown on Hawkins, an ABA opponent of Brown's: "He was
Julius 20 years ago. In his younger days, he was just incredible. By the time
he got to the NBA, he was already bored with it."
Erving: "I always had the feeling that one time he would lift off and rise
through the glass, out of the arena, and disappear into space."
Thompson: "Remember now, when he was in college dunking wasn't allowed. So
he'd jump on the alley-oop, and sometimes he'd have to hang around for a while
before they'd get him the ball. Then he'd get it, move it around a while and
gently put it in. If that's not hang time, what is?"
Jordan: "He's the guy with the real motor up his behind. He goes up, then
goes up some more, then he goes up even more. You could eat a sandwich in the
time it takes him to come down."
Cunningham: "All of us are black except Cunningham, and maybe you'd better
check on him."
And now, for
today's Advice to the Hanglorn, we turn to Philadelphia and that noted pundit,
philosopher and practitioner, Dr. J. Julius, some people have written in asking
if you have to jump as high as you can to hang.