Raw Sports

The LEGENDS WEEK Series is a HIT!! Personal Reflections by Big Star

How do I begin, so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind, mixed with questions to myself in the form of.. “Is this really happening”? Growing up a high school basketball fan if you would have told me that around 30 years from now I would be interviewing some of my favorite players from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, I would have said to you “yeah right”!! Anyone who knows me or has followed Raw Sports over the years knows that I have a special place in my heart for collecting basketball archives and posting classic high school games in the Lost Tapes section of the website. It started with Tyreke Evans games from his Team Final days, and evolved into Kobe Bryant archives, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and much more! I had developed short term and long term goals of eventually making attempts to connect with some of the legendary athletes and telling their stories, but I wasn’t aware that it would come on the heels of a national health crisis. Early in March 2020 I filmed a classic PIAA Class 6A round 1 game between Coatesville and Roman Catholic. Little did I know this would be the last high school basketball game I would film to date due to the remainder of the season ultimately being cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic health crisis. I vividly remember people talking on social media, news reporters, and writers all being optimistic and hoping that this new crisis would end and the state playoffs would resume after a few week delay. It didn’t happen, and things ended up being more serious than anyone could have imagined. Only because i’m a hoop junkie, there was a slight sense of frustration or sadness due to there being tons more that I wanted to do with the camera, and ton’s of potential classic state playoff match ups I anticipated seeing. My heart also went out to all the seniors who wouldn’t get to play out the rest of their season, schools who were picked to win a state title, and players who were looking forward to the next few games for college recruiting purposes. None of those things would even be a thought once the Corona Virus became more of a reality, and more people began contracting the virus nationally and losing their lives. Like the rest of the globe, I became consumed with watching the news, checking the internet for updates, and obsessing with keeping my family healthy and out of harms way. At the same time I recall walking by my video camera daily as it sat on the ground near my computer desk. This was a reminder that the weeks were going by and I wasn’t able to film anything new which was killing me on the inside. Through my faith in God and daily prayers I was able to get to a place where I wasn’t worrying and I didn’t have my initial fears of the Corona Virus that had developed initially from indulging in the news and listening to all of the horror stories. With a clear mind, my mindset now switched to… “What can I do, and how can I be creative to keep Raw Sports moving despite the global crisis”? An idea came to mind, and I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to start utilizing the Instagram “Live” platform to connect with the athletes, my audience, and to stay on the cutting edge of creating new content for my YouTube channel. I decided to continue with the “Off The Court” basketball interview series which featured current athletes and gave an exclusive behind the scenes look at their lives. Guests include Sam Sessoms (Binghamton, Penn State), Andrew Carr (West Chester East HS), Oscar Tshiebwe (WVU), Isaiah Wong (Miami), Quadir Copeland (Gettysburg HS), Collin Gillespie (Villanova), and more! I then had an idea to add new categories to the series so I came up with the “Future Stars Edition” and featured Olin Chamberlain & Malachi Palmer, both Middle Schoolers in PA. As I sat and reflected on the positive response from the people, I challenged myself to be even more creative and to really find my own lane because there were tons of other people online interviewing current high school athletes. Simultaneously as I had these thoughts I was also uploading classic high school games to the YouTube channel from the 90’s and early 2000’s, and that was the moment I had the thought to start interviewing past players. Hence, the “LEGENDS WEEK” series was born. I started to create a list of legendary players, and started reaching out to them 1 by 1. This was actually very easy because God has blessed me to build relationships with the majority of these individuals in one form or another. Since the LEGENDS WEEK series has gotten underway there have been 3 weeks of interviews, and guests have included Mo Howard (St. Joseph’s Prep, Maryland, NBA, and father of La Salle University Head Coach Ashley Howard), Rasheed Brokenborough (University City, Temple, Overseas Pro), Marques Green (Norristown, St. Bonaventure, Overseas Pro), Jarett Kearse (Simon Gratz, UVA), Billy Owens (Carlisle, Syracuse, NBA), Lynard Stewart (Simon Gratz, Temple, Overseas Pro), John Allen (Coatesville, Seton Hall), Zain Shaw (Chester HS, WVU, Overseas Pro), Michael Jordan (Abington Friends, UPENN, Overseas Pro), Flip Murray (Strawberry Mansion, Shaw University, NBA), Alvin Williams (Germantown Academy, Villanova, NBA), Junie Lewis (Abington HS, NBA), Marc Jackson (Roman Catholic, VCU, Temple, NBA, Overseas Pro), Marvin O’Connor (Simon Gratz, Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, Overseas Pro), Sean Colson (Franklin Learning Center, Maine Central Institute (Prep), Rhode Island, Hagerstown CC (JUCO), UNC Charlotte), and Donnie Carr (Roman Catholic, La Salle, Overseas Pro). These interviews have been amazing and the response from the people has been outstanding. One thing that sticks out is that it is bringing together all generations. Old school fans of the game are tuning in as well as current high school and college basketball players. Coach Chuck Grasty (Abington HS) recently called me and gave some encouraging words about the series, and expressed his appreciation for me helping to tell Junie Lewis’s story from Abington HS. He then mentioned that his middle school aged son has also been enjoying the series and listening to all of the history from the players in Pennsylvania that have paved the way. Each of the athletes featured have thoroughly enjoyed telling their stories and reliving the classic memories of growing up, high school basketball, Summer leagues, memorable games, talking about other legends they’ve played against, college experiences, and for most of them reflecting on their pro careers. One priceless thing about the series is all of the “NEVER HEARD BEFORE STORES” that are being told by these guys. These are the unique things that keep the supporters coming back night after night, and week after week to hear the legends speak. Some rare snippets include Alvin Williams sharing that the original plan was to attend Villanova along with Rasheed Wallace & Tyrone Weeks, Mo Howard recalling playing against Dr. J in a Summer League when no one knew who the Doctor was, Marc Jackson sharing the interesting way he transferred from VCU to Temple, Marques Green recalling almost going to Roman Catholic his senior year to play with Eddie Griffin (R.I.P.), John Allen talking about his relationship with Dajuan Wagner and destroying Dwyane Wade in an AAU game before he was aware of who D-Wade was, and the Season 3 Grand Finale with Donnie Carr telling tons of Kobe Bryant stories including the origins of the Mamba Mentality. It has also been a blessing to hear some of these guys say to me “I’ve been following your movement” (Marc Jackson), “Keep doing what you are doing because it’s different bro” (Marvin O’Connor), “I appreciate what you’re doing giving all the kids history and the legends are coming out of the woodwork because of who you are” (Donnie Carr), and so many other encouraging things. The series has become such a hit amongst Pennsylvania HS hoop fans and online that it has gained press from local newspaper writers Brian Linder who featured a piece about Legends Week on PennLive, and also Jake Adams who wrote another amazing article for The Sentinel (Carlisle PA based newspaper). People have been sending me messages of appreciation for the memories, the emotional journeys, and encouraging me not to stop. Many have also been giving recommendations of other Legends they would like to hear from. This journey over the last few weeks has been a Blessing in disguise, and has allowed me to grow in may ways regarding my interview skills and being in front of a camera. These interviews have been very special to me because they allow me to do my part with accomplishing 2 goals in which I state before every Legends Week interview, “Educating the younger generation and providing history on all the players who paved the way, and doing my part to solidify the legacies of all the greats so that the people who were there to bare witness NEVER FORGET. SO, a special thank you goes out to all the athletes and LEGENDS who have participated and allowed me to journey with them back down memory lane, and thanks to anyone who has assisted in helping me make connections with some of the guys. I just wanted to take this time to write my thoughts down because things have happened so fast, and I have an idea that they aren’t going to slow down anytime soon. More Legends on the horizon, and as the world slowly becomes safe again i’m looking forward to what God has in store for me and all the other Legends waiting to have their stories told around the globe. I’ll leave you guys with a message that one of my college friends sent to me recently, thanks for reading and keep it locked for more LEGENDS WEEK!

“Yo bro, wanted to say i’ve been thoroughly enjoying these interviews and they have to me been entertaining and cool to watch. I’ve seen you grow every episode as an interviewer and I believe this precarious time we’ve all been in has given us and in particular you an opportunity that you’ve taken full advantage of. This is preparing you for something great”- Keith Ford