"I hope you live forever," I say.
A week later Fly is sitting outdoors by the softball diamond at the Brownsville Recreation Center. It hurts him to stand, so he has a folding chair. He is waiting for a special visitor. We talk, and then the man walks up, smiling hugely. It is Albert King. They have not seen each other for years. They have never really spoken.
Now they hug and talk and share stories about the old days.
"You were something," says King in true reverence. "You were the man."
Time has passed. The world has changed. People have departed. But these men are forever linked by their dreams, by Dr. Naismith's wonderful game.
Basketball is to Brooklyn as motherhood is to apple pie," says Ratner, using images that can get confusing. But under his arena are subways that can take one anywhere, bring the world here. "We prevailed," Ratner says proudly of his exotic team. "They did think I was crazy, putting an arena in an urban area. But this is a place where young people, everyone, can come to get away from business, from their troubles for a while. As Jay-Z said, 'We can be the new Dodgers.'"
Or as onetime criminal Shawn Carter from the Marcy Houses hollers to the audience at his hometown shows, the ghetto poet now running with the Russian, the hoopers, the mainline: "Stand up, Brooklyn!"
Consider it done.