Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:17 pm  |  66 responses

SLAM Classic: Scoop Jackson on Ricky Davis

SLAM 69′s most famous story.

by Ben Osborne

The Steph-KG post I did the other day was fun. This might be more so. Few stories in our history had more of a cult following than Scoop’s totally unique piece on Ricky Davis, titled “The Price of Fame,” that ran in SLAM #69. Moved by yet another email asking where it is, this time by a fellow media member, as well as some recent comments from folks who miss reading Scoop’s work in SLAM (as I do) , we decided it was time to finally run it in its entirety on Slamonline. I’ve run it with the original paragraph breaks, as well as indicated original line breaks (as in, first lines after a break that Scoop/we inserted for effect) with BOLD type. Enjoy.

words Scoop Jackson  portrait Ian Londin

You’ve seen him before. You just don’t know it. Different look. Same game. Same image. Same misconceptions. Same birthplace. Same person. The sequel. Think. The points. The style. The demeanor. The hops. The range. The fire. The ice. The life. The talent. You’ve seen this man before. But it wasn’t him.

Isaiah. Not Thomas—check the spelling. Rider. JR. Think not? Look again. With mind, not eyes. Everything fits. Down to the headbands. One hell red, one baby blue. One left, one centered. The game. Their games. Erratic. Unpredictable. Fearless. Ghetto. Beautiful. Often, unstoppable.

Both: Dark skin. Deep eyes. Hard to figure out. Harder to explain. Easy to love. Madison Avenue? Never. The block. Forever. Always. Til’ death or separation. At birth they must have been. Too similar. Maybe reloaded is better than the original. More complete. More focused. More appreciative. Maybe. Part II learned from Part I’s existence. Analogy. Removed. Maybe, Ricky Davis has something to live for. Maybe, JR Rider didn’t.

ATL. ASW. Packed. Thick like Chunky. Crunchy. Crunky. Ts and Ps. Faux.

T and A. Real. He chills. Marquis. Marriott. He sits in the lobby stretched out. 6-7, 195. Uncut. Rasheed Wallace jersey. IFE. AF1s, too. He reps. Fam’s all here. Always are. No sleep. Three days. Eight rooms. Action. No lights. No cameras. Game day. No play. Not upset. “Should I be playing in the All-Star Game this year?” he re-asks the question tossed at him. “No. Not really.” Breakout season. 22, 5 and 5. Per. Hummin’. No Hummer. Human highlights. Humbleness. “Next year.” His words. “I plan on playing in L.A.” Plan. Mission. Voted or chose. “I want to prove that this year is not a fluke.”

Out of nowhere. He came. It seems. Drafted. Lockout year. Faded. From Charlotte to Miami to here. Slohio. Emergence. Overcome pain. Injuries. Plural. Three years. Congruent. “I broke my right foot in the summer of my second year in the League and it’s been slowing me down ever since…” This season. This campaign. First time. Healthy. Hoopin’. Outta control. Gaining fans. Collecting enemies. HDGAF. But still, he feels it.

To prove yourself. And win. Simultaneous. “It ain’t easy.” An admittance. Losses pile. Play shines. Coaches fired. Season gone. Another one. The
I on this team. Has to be that. Wagner. Miles. Z. Him. The one they point the finger at, the one they blame. To prove himself and win at the same time. Ain’t easy! He shakes his head. “I don’t know why they don’t talk about the fact that we have like only 10 wins, instead of just focusing on Ricky Davis.” Burden. Heavy. The price of fame. Unpaid.

Hate. Omnipresent odiousness. Ill will. Apparent between animus and abhorrence. Amoral. A baptism. Sinking in. Through skin. Cruel words. “Undisciplined.” “Unruly.” “Unworthy.” ESPN. Spotlight. Tim Legler: “Not the guy you want to be following.” Sean Elliott: “Loads of talent, but…” “Runs off, goes nuts.” “Lack of discipline.” An NBA assistant coach. Nameless: “He can’t shoot for shit and you can’t tell him anything.” An NBA superstar. Famous: “You wanna find him? Barhop.” Abomination. Aversion. Anarchy. Acceptance? No time soon. He knows.

rickydavisportrait1“They just don’t know what type of person I am. It doesn’t bother me though, not at all. It makes me work harder. I look at it like if I have to change, I’ll change. If the bad rap and the perception of me is hurting my career, then I’ll change.” The politics of the game. Brotha can’t be true to self. Pain ain’t love. “The politics sometimes bothers me, I ain’t gonna lie, sometimes it bothers me a lot. But I gotta learn to deal with it. Or else it will drive me crazy.”

The process. Learning. That’s what he calls it. But he’s not been given time to learn. The machine needs another clone. Immediately. He ain’t it. He don’t fit. He won’t acquit. The machine lacks patience. Lacks understanding. Has fear. Doesn’t consider background. The life before this. Constant movement. Vegas. Germany. Chicago. Iowa. All before 14. Stability? Please. Straight from the block. Survivor of the block. Unchained talent trying to leave the block. But not leave it behind. Not like that. High school? Davenport, Iowa. Less than one percent like him. Stay true or lose yourself like Rabbit. Therefore. Ethnicity. Embraced. Embedded. Emancipated. Exoneration? Unexpected.

Environment. Product of. The opposite. Excuses. Excuses. Wants none. Gets less. Critics say. Look at Amare Stoudemire’s life: Death. Jail. Six schools. Four years. Had nothing. Look at Baron Davis: Crip-Blood wars. He chose. He escaped. Look at Rafer Alston: Concrete raised. No fam. KG. GP. P-Double. All adapted. Adopted. League acceptance. Why can’t he? Ricky D? Be them? Why thug? Why rebel? Braids. Unshaved. Grime. Calling out teammates. Another AI. Mo’ gully. Bob Ryan: “I don’t understand why [these people] can’t change.” Fact: He, Ricky, shouldn’t have to answer. Then again. Whose world is this? To get past, to stay sane, he raises above. Grips family. And tells himself this: “I can play. I can win.” Repeatedly. Daily. Therapy.

“When you come into the League as a young guy, you have to fit into a system that the NBA guys are used to. Most rookies and young players don’t know it. It can make us look crazy, like we’re cocky, crazy or talking back. But in reality, it’s not like that. We’re just playing. We play the way we know.”—Tyree Ricardo Davis

Shot. After shot. After shock. Some miss. Most don’t. Each. Release. Teach. Points. Increase. Solo. On his own time. Also. Game time. This will happen. Away from everyone. No one will see. Offseason. Summer ’03. Workout. Diet. Six packs. Not beer. Chisel. Cut. Weights lifted. Miles run. Not Darius. Lifestyle change. “I’m trying to lead the League in scoring next year.” The promise. Imperfections, perfected. Weaknesses, vanished. Results. Fall ’03. Out of JR’s shadow. Into new uniforms. All for one reason: LeBron.

Trade. Rumors? He hears, he knows. Pays no mind. Stackhouse motto: “As long as checks can get cashed in 52 states, it don’t matter.” Davis, understands this. Five years, three places: Charlotte, Miami, Cleveland. Sound familiar? Stability? Please. Irregular. Can’t control it. Six years left. Contract up. Won’t get comfortable. Knows the game. Show business. Five percent show, 95 percent business. Cut throat. Only wants to play. Preferably Cleveland. One GM’s leftover. Another GM’s entrée.

The 50 Cent of the game. No, the Chino XL. Flashes of brilliance. Nothing to show for it. The outsider. Don Cheadle. Jeffrey Wright. Luis Guzman. Performances, remembered. Player, not. The flushes. Twelve highlights. So far. Steve Nash. Victim. ESPN’s Play of the Year. Midseason. “Yeah, buddy.” The reminiscence. “I didn’t expect it to go down like that. I didn’t expect me to go up that high. Different times. Different take offs. Different heights. I guess.” The contest? No show. No invite. Conspiracy. “They said I couldn’t get in because I had more than three years’ experience. They know. I thought it was pretty weak anyway.” That smile. “Plus, I only like to dunk on people now. I like when people jump.”

Moms. Clad. Burberry plaid. Proud. Pop’s also around. Military. Retired. Sister, Marie. Fine. Off-limits. Brothers. Three. One brother, EB. Younger. 15. Ballin’. Part III. Revolutions. Walks like, moves like, runs like, rolls like, tires like, grabs shorts like, braids hair like. Supposed to attend St. Vincent-St. Mary High. Akron. You know the one. Practiced with Bron in the fall. Technicalities prevented. D1 game. Needs role model. Looks up to. Who but he? The legacy. Like Steph (and Jamel) to Bassy, Kobe to JC (John Cox); but closer.

“Irresponsible?” Often heard. This is what they don’t know. Or care to learn. “I know my brother watches everything I do, doing everything I do now. He’s
following me. This is why I have to show a good image. I don’t want to mess up his chances. I have to lead him the right way. I have to show him right from wrong. I have to do that because I’m the one that’s here now and my life isn’t all about me. He could easily fall into a trap. And I can’t let that happen.”

These words sink. Ricky looks. Finds his brother. Eye contact. He knows the words he just spoke are real. He knows that regardless of what the media, other coaches or other players say about him, he is not about to not be his brother’s hero. Jaron to Kareem. He knows he will not go out like that. This is what he lives for. Word to God.

Locker room. Ethnic. Many hues. Beats bumping. Lovely sight. Mood somber. Another loss. Damn.

It’s late. AM. Plane flight. Return home. No sleep. Every player goes home. Practice in the morning. In a few hours. Ricky stops off. Has to. Store’s open. Obligation. Priorities. His niece. Jax. Just turned 3. Asleep. Don’t matter. Special order cake and ice cream. From Uncle Ricky. When she wakes up. The type of person he really is.

The papers. Next day. Ride Ricky. More hate. Despite 23, 8 and 8. The blame game. All eyes on him. The Cavs can’t win. Neither can he. The cloud gets dark. Hovers. Follows him. He can’t shake it. He doesn’t even try. He holds a benefaction inside. No one knows. That of his best friend. The one who took him in. Rescued. Saved. His mentor.

“When Ricky first came into the League, he really didn’t know anyone,” his sister tells of his professional introduction at age 19. “The one person that really showed him everything, took him under his wing, showed him love, was Bobby Phills. He really misses him.”

How different would Ricky Davis’ life be had there not been that loss? Not the loss of another game, but one of a special individual’s life? If Bobby was still here to co-sign on Ricky’s character and activities? As opposed to the perceptions. To oppose the perceptions. Talk to him on the phone when the heat gets hot. Make him understand why the world looks at him as it does. Like Malik Sealy to Kevin Garnett, it’s not easy when an NBA player befriends another and then is taken away by more than a trade. It becomes difficult to trust others, to lean on grown men. Fear of the worst follows them. Their circles get closed. Nothing new enters. They live for them now. Those that are gone. “This one’s for you, dawg,” gets said a lot. Heard less. Basketball becomes a business, an outlet. Smiles evaporate. Sadness escalates. Numbers get written onto socks. Mementos get hung up in cribs and lockers. Index fingers directed toward the skies. Simple memories turn into life-long lessons. This has become his life, regardless of the outcome. Imagine what Ricky Davis must really be going through right now. Imagine the pride Bobby Phills is feeling.

69_yao-steve_05-03Story told. Incomplete though. Missing? One lyric. Hip-hop classic. Speaks his life. MC? Namesake. Ricky D. No eye patch, no deportation. Just words: “La-di da-di. We like to party. We don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody.” Replace “we” with “he.” Still don’t get it? He don’t bother nobody!

Anyway. One question remains: Rider? Will his career end up the same? One answer: No. Difference? Never take talent for granted, never let the hood take him under. Burned up cellies and weed busts. Dysfunctional play and organizational disruption. A path he won’t follow. But on the court? The continuance. The sequel. Same image. Same misconceptions. Same story.  Different ending. Just watch. And believe.

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  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    One. Of the. Most Memorable. Ever.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    damn. scoop on his griiiizzy. He killed this. kiiilled it. This is why Scoop is a dude I look up to in the game.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Man…..I love all the current writers from Myles to Russ to Ryan to Jake to Cub to Holly to Lang, etc…..but Scoop will always have a special place in my heart for the writing style he formed. This was so good in it’s original form and thanks for printing it again for any of the new school SLAM fam who may have missed it, Ben.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I remember getting a headache the first time I read this. I also remember smiling and nodding the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. times I read it. Scoop’s a legend.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Also, R.I.P. Bobby Phills. I had forgotten about him.

  • ab_40

    wow nice never red this but it’s fresh too bad he went away… from y’all hehe

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    Ricky is too real for the League, son.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    If Ryan ever kills me, it will be because of this story. And I’d deserve it.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    i really miss scoop.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    I don’t know what’s more hysterical. Reading an article saying Ricky Davis was snubbed as an all-star or seeing a Yao Ming/Steve Francis cover.
    Great article though.

  • http://allanzuss@yahoo.com Mendel

    Where in the world is Stevie Franchise? I miss him.

  • truthteller

    We love you Scoop!

  • https://twitter.com/Neuronautuk mat smith

    Scoop = The Dude, allways gave time to educate us English people on Ch4/Ch5 coverage too.

  • http://www.alloutblitz.com cordeazy

    thank you!!!!

  • underdog

    “Plus, I only like to dunk on people now. I like when people jump.” – one of the best quote I’ve ever read in Slam. I miss Scoop. Him left the mag, was one of the worst thing ever happened around SLAM. IMHO. But it was a loooong time ago. Ben, thanks for sharing. Now, I go and grab that issue off the shelf, and check out the other features.

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  • http://iballforreal.blogspot.com Trey

    This is the article that made me wanna write. For real. No disrespect to any current staff, but Slam slipped a smudge when Scoop left. It’s still great, but Scoop was on another plane

  • http://slamonline.com/ Double R

    Did Bob Ryan really say “why can’t these people change?”

  • karma

    My fav Scoop article was the “season on the brink” article he wrote about Kobe before the 2003-2004 season; it was LEGENDARY. However, Scoop’s writing has sucked b*alls since he went to ESPN. 90% of his articles seem like they’re just written to spark some type of debate on race, and the issue of RACE is mentioned in almost every article, it’s annoying. Plus some of the things he talks about have no relevance or are just incorrect and biased. I didn’t bother reading this article in its entirety because I dont like Ricky Davis, but I’m sure it was well-written. Scoop, if you’re reading this, go back to your SLAM style of writing and stay true to yourself…you need to stop bringing the issue of race and colour into every single thing you write about on ESPN.

  • Randy Brown

    Quite hard to not hear this in Rorschachs’s voice

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    The comparison of Phils for Davis to Sealy for Garnett is f’ing scary. Too soon on both accounts.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Anyway, powerful sh**. Real original. Can’t be duplicated. One would look stupid if they tried. My only wish: For scoop to comment on this beast. Oh. and for Scoop to come back to the fam.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Scoop made me believe I could be an NBA writer… and still be me.

  • jb21

    Will definitely never forget this one. I remember writing a letter to my landlord in first year that set a record for sentences that ended way before they should’ve, haha. Like in MJ to the Max when the kid squats when MJ squats, some powerful ish.

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com B. Long

    Intentionally misses layup. Pads stats. Asshole. Great article.

  • https://twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Scoop Jackson doesn’t care about white people.

  • Stilesy

    Man, Scoop jus told it like it is, He framed players with the artistic style of writing that suited them and bought focus and perspective. Scoops social comment in terms of race will never match his ability to give real colour to his articles. Anton, why should Scoop care about white people when the only white person that made his dick hard doesnt play ball anymore..

  • Pieman

    Pity it’s on Bricky Davis though. 29 going on 47.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Man. I LOVED this article back when it came out. It’s like the written equivalent of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video. So original and what a joy to read.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Scoop is an intergalactic treasure.

  • Beaker

    Oh yeah, this was the ish where everyone was freaking in TrashTalk the next month because Yao’s head was cut off on the cover. And I remember reading that article in the back of my mom’s car and thinking about how everyone was going to freak about this article too. Was it really that long ago?

  • birthface

    I remember this article from that issue. It sticks with me because it gave me the biggest headache ever. I know I am not alone on this.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Just for the record, f*ck Jason Whitelock.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    ^^Whoops… unfortunate typo…

  • http://www.myspace.com/mcnarrative Kieran

    just throwing it out there but i think this article is total sh*t

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Pacers…Boykins…davis…all names on the cover of this mag. How did that sell any? I wonder if it did

  • whooo!

    am i the only one that hated this article? i read the whole thing in its entirety when i copped that issue, but this article was just terrible. i guess it’s a love it or hate it thing, no middleground. i’m in the ‘hate’ camp.

  • serevei

    gotta love that cover… Yao and Stevie were the tits

  • http://sjsu.edu davidR

    ndudi ebi. whatever happened? to him?

  • Zabba

    Worst. Article. Ever. Ignorant. And. Annoying.
    Best thing about the issue was the fan mail it generated. The next issue some dude was like, “two guys on one cover, on the 69th issue? Coincidence?”

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq al Haydar

    I remember a lot of readers hated this when it first ran. I loved it. And it seems that Jake Appleman is Scoop 2.0.

  • http://www.mynameinorange.blogspot.com Hisham

    Scoop’s always played a whole deck of race cards even during his time with SLAM

  • DJR

    The best article that Scoop ever wrote (and bear with me on the details, it was a while ago and I was still a teenage when it came out) was I’m pretty sure about MJ when he was playing for the Wiz, and when 9/11 happened MJ didn’t say anything about what had happened. The article by Scoop was about the negative reaction of the basketball and fan-based community towards MJ for not saying anything, and it was incredible. It struck a chord with alot of people because we look to sports heroes for inspiration, and when America (and possibly the world) was going through a pretty emotional moment, the greatest basketball player ever stayed silent. Scoop captured the emotion, the essence of the response from people. Their internal and external response. It was perfect.

  • DJR

    BTW…Russ, Ryan, Ben…even Scoop if you ever visit these pages…please remind me of the exact details and what ish it is in…coz I can’t find it anymore. Fearing I may have cut it up to to paste it on the front of a school textbook.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    DJR: page up on your screen and look to the left for your answer. Your welcome.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Actually, nevermind djr. I just read your earlier comment.

  • Young Chris MP3

    What happened to Ricky Davis? He seemed to come into his own as a Celtic and then went to a weak Minnesota team and scored 20 per, then faded out in Miami (shooting 3′s and not much else) to barely cracking the Clippers line-up (can’t get time there then what gives?).

  • http://slamonline.com oliver aquino

    what is the meaning of “HDGAF”

  • Andrew

    Scoop is a legend in Great Britain. true story…

  • donovan

    Oliver: Probably “he doesn’t give a …”

    Thanks for posting this.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Where the hell is Scoop? Can somebody–anybody–get him up on this.

  • Ned Mahony

    Wow. First time I’ve seen this. Amazing Scoop.

  • http://www.nba.com/suns Dacre

    oliver aquino Posted: Mar.25 at 10:56 am
    what is the meaning of “HDGAF”
    It could mean Hoo dat gurl at fila? or…he might have just been clearing his throat…
    no one really cares.

  • http://slamonline.com oliver aquino

    thanks donovan..u know when i first seen the article im confused,i miss scoops in the backpages of slam

  • Beaker

    Scoop was on that ESPN First and Ten show with Skip Bayless the other day… I mean Scoop’s a good writer, but damn that was hard to watch. Scoop came across crazier than Bayless at some points, and that’s saying something..

  • ka

    this article reads better when i was younger and impressionable.

  • DruWil

    God Bless Scoop Jackson

  • tony

    Just because it’s different doesn’t mean its original. I’ve never liked his style of writing and this is why. Overly dependent on emotion and short on content. Scoop is a terrible writer.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I’m bummed I missed this when it was posted, but I need to say: I had the first edit on this. Meaning I saw Scoop’s draft before anyone else did. The experience is seared onto my skull.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    And for the record, there were MORE periods in the first draft. No sh*t.

  • larrylegend

    as a reader since slam#1, all i have to say:
    bring back scoop…for his good.

  • Wanda___

    This is not one of Scoop’s better features, but dude was brilliant when he wanted to be. A mediocre-to-crappy columnist, but a brilliant features writer.

  • Maurice Bobb

    This is the first time I’ve read this. This is why I love writing. It’s not easy to take liberties with the standard features format, but when it’s done like this, it’s a beautiful friggin’ thing to witness.

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  • TheMac

    The first time reading this in the mag back then, I tought WTF is this article(If I recall correct the typo was special & the colours too, maybe why some of us got headaches reading it..). But really liked it’s originality & reading it again reminds me how I liked this piece by Scoop. Most of his features touched me in a way or another. Too bad he left, I remember being kind of sad when he left. But his writing with ESPN doesn’t make me feel something special as when he was with SLAM! SCOOP COME BACK!

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