I was watching NBA TV the other night and while Devin Harris was killing the Phoenix Suns, it made me take a minute and think about how rich and talented this area is when it comes to basketball players.
It started during the "Downtown" Freddie Brown-John Johnson era of the mid '60's and just kept rolling... and rolling... and rolling, but you would never think of it that way because these guys just did their thing without a lot of fanfare (except Latrell Sprewell).
Just think about guys who have or are playing in "The Association" and had good solid runs in the league from this part of the state. These are their roots; this is their foundation.
Some names are familiar to anybody that follows the league; names like Terry Porter, Sprewell, Tony Smith, Jim Chones, Devin Harris, Joe Wolf, Steve Novak, Travis Diener and Nick Van Exel. Then there are the guys from the city like Carl Landry, Mike Wilks and Mike Taylor who fly under the radar screen who carve their place in the league quietly.
The next time someone tells you how Memphis, Dallas, Oakland or Atlanta are basketball hotbeds, tell whoever is hollering to bring their best up to Milwaukee-Racine-Madison area of Wisconsin or -- from this point forward -- known as the B-Ball Triangle and play some of the best AAU and high school teams in the country. They will find out the hard way that teams will get their @*ses run out of the gym, because there is some serious talent up here.
That being said, there is a big-time tournament this weekend at South Division named after a former NBA, South Division and UW-Stevens Point great...The Terry Porter Classic will pit the best teams in the region against each other Friday and Saturday at his old school. The stakes go up the following week, when the Converse Eastbay College Scholarship Classic comes to town at the Al McGuire Center, sponsored by Milwaukee Public Schools and Jim Gosz, the long time coach at Rufus King High School.
The Converse Eastbay College Scholarship Classic is putting some of the best high school teams in the country on the floor at the Al in Milwaukee and, trust me, Milwaukee will represent itself very well. The next wave of NBA talent will be on the floor to watch and enjoy.
If I was you I would go see for myself.
Steve Haywood is the host of That Being Said, which airs weeknights at 6 p.m. on Milwaukees ESPN Radio 1510 Days / 1290 Nights. A lifelong Milwaukee resident, Steve has been working on the radio since 1996 and also is executive producer of Sports Perspectives on MATA Community Media.
After graduating from Milwaukee Tech High School in 1985, Haywood attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he graduated in 1991.
He has covered a number of major events, including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2002 and the NBA All-Star Game in 2003.
Haywood, 39, is married with two kids, a dumb cat and a dog described as a real curmudgeon.