In the summer of '89 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, I busted Sam Mitchell's ass in a game of one-on-one.
At the time, I was a 17 year old kid, down south for Georgia Tech's summer basketball camp. I was shooting hoops at a neighbourhood blocko, when an unassuming guy rolls up. Now this was a time before fantasy basketball, or the internet, where I know who every scrub in the league is, so when he told me that he played in the NBA, I refused to believe him.
I mean come on, what's an NBA player doing shooting hoops in a driveway with me? He told me he's playing on the new expansion team, the Minnesota Timberwolves and his name was Sam Mitchell. Well I figured I'd know an NBA player when I saw one after just watching Kenny Anderson, Mark Price, Dennis Scott and John Salley playing down at Tech, so I challenged him to a game of one-on-one.
While I don't remember all of the details of the game, I knew I used a combination of drives, pump fakes and tenacious defence to soundly beat him. "How can you be going to the NBA if you can't even beat me?" I said. "Sure you're playing for the Timberwolves, now go get me some punch." That part I clearly recall. Oddly enough I passed Sam in the mall today, and I forgot how tall he actually is, (he's 6'6"), and I thought to myself, I must have been what, 6'1" at the time tops? Likely weighing 165 lbs, (depending on how many hot dogs I ate). How the hell did I smash this guy in a game?
It wasn't that hard to figure out really, he let me win.
I've been telling this story for almost 10 years, which wasn't really a big deal until he came to coach the Raptors, as many people didn't know him as a player. Maybe he saw how badly I wanted to win, and how hard I worked at each possession that he just gave it to me.
Regardless, I still have my victory, but if you'd like to get a rematch Sam, you know where to find me.