Forgotten Stars: Remembering Rodney Rogers’ Impact On The Game Of BasketballBasketball, Bull City — By Joe Simmons on December 3, 2012 at 4:00 am
I remember taking some time and visiting a friend in Durham, North Carolina, for the first time. I lived about two hours away, and my friend who had gone to school a year earlier was there. I was visiting one of my friends who attended Duke University, and he along with everyone else kept talking about a kid still in high school and how good he was.
Seriously, it was like people telling old wives’ tales about guys who were superhuman. At one point I thought the guy they were describing was eight feet tall and could jump as high as David Thompson. They kept talking so much about this kid that it started to sound suspect and hard to believe.
I was still in high school myself so I thought why in the hell would I ride all the way to Durham from my house to go see a high school kid play. It just didn’t make sense to me.
I am a skeptic, and honestly I wasn’t going to go watch a guy play high school basketball when I was on a campus full of fruitful college women, but my homie and his suitemates made me feel like this was the thing to do.
So we geared up and headed over to Hillside High School. At the time, Hillside was across the street from North Carolina Central University, which was essentially a buffer between the university and the hood. We roll up into the gym, and all I see are signs that say you are in Mr. Rogers’ House.
I am not going to lie: I got caught up in the hype at this time. The visiting team was warming up, and then I heard an eruption. The Hillside Hornets came out to the sounds of Big Daddy Kane’s “Ain’t No Half Steppin” blasting. Seriously, I have never seen anyone so fired-up to watch a game. Then Rodney Rogers came out looking like he was a giant on the floor. Naturally I was like, “He is supposed to be good; he’s bigger than everyone on the floor.” But honestly, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.
Off the tip, he tips it to Larry “Gene” Johnson, and then he goes left and throws his hands up. They throw a lob from half court, and he threw it down with aggression. Then he grabs a rebound, gets it to the point guard, and then runs to the baseline and knocks down a midrange jump shot. Two possessions later he comes down on the break. I am expecting a dunk, and he pulls up and shoots a left-handed three pointer and it’s all net. After that, he never looked back. He kept putting on a show for the people, but he was doing it without trying to. He was really just that good.
I went back home after that weekend and everyone was expecting stories of how drunk I may have gotten or how many chicks I got with, but all I talked about was Rodney Rogers. The only people that seemed to care were the Wake Forest fans who lived in my hometown because they were excited he was coming and that they had validation that he was as good as they had heard.