Recently, I attended the TriBeCa Film Festival premiere of the ESPN 30 for 30 This Magic Moment. The narrative of the Orlando Magic blossoms from their inception to the glory days with Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
Prior to the screening, Shaq made a grand entrance on the red carpet. I patiently waited at the end with my friend and videographer Jose. We didn’t have much time to interview him so I kept it brief with two questions. The first thing I asked him was how the characters in the movie Blue Chips led to what became a legendary 1-2-NBA punch. My second question was a little more personal for both he and I.
Shaq and Penny are members of black Greek-lettered organizations. Specifically Penny is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, and Shaquille pledged his allegiance to Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. The reason I brought this to Shaq’s attention is because once upon a time, black Greek-lettered organizations helped the black players network, organize and find common things like a good meal and a place to rest on the road during the times of segregation and shortly thereafter.
Some of the all-time greats are members of these fraternities, like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson being Kappa men, and Michael Jordan an Omega. During the film there is a subtle nod to both fraternities from Shaq and Penny.
Penny Hardaway, Allan Houston, Kerry Kittles, Erick Dampier, and Lorenzen Wright, made such an impression on me as a collegian, that I joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated to one day connect and build with them.
The history of the NBA is intricate and the more we understand the game, and how things came to be, the better things can be as the game and League continue to move forward.