If first impressions are as invaluable as everyone says they are, then Jermaine Wright has it all figured out. When the 37-year-old showed up to Harlem’s Lincoln Playground sporting a bright yellow headband and crazy purple shorts, it was clear he wanted the attention of the crowd. But by the end of Saturday’s Red Bull 2-on-2 Revolution Tour stop in New York City, Wright had fans talking more about his game on the court than his getup.
“We’re just two cats trying to bring our energy and our intensity and see if we can make it happen,” Wright said after registering “Heart of the Bronx” into the tournament with teammate Tyshaun Valentine.
Wright, a veteran at the legendary Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at Rucker Park, has been playing at some of Harlem’s most famous courts for nearly twenty years. But for the first time in awhile, “The Maniac,” as he’s known in the streetball scene, was dealing with a new type of challenge: Rondo’s Rules.
“Usually when you play 5-on-5, the responsibility falls upon five players on the court,” says Wright. “But with two players on the court, you gotta be a little more aggressive because it’s just you and your teammate, so you don’t have anybody to bail you out.”
After a hard-fought 21-18 victory over Team Bodysnatchers in the first round, Heart of the Bronx moved on to a second-round match-up against small but athletic squad calling themselves “Happy Endings.” Amid fiery controversy over referee calls and dealing with difficult size match-ups, Wright scored the winning bucket to advance as one of eight final teams with another 21-18 victory.
“We wanted that win, but they were guards and we’re forwards,” Wright said after the tournament. “We had a problem containing them off the dribble, so we decided to go inside.”
Playing with passion and heart, Wright looked nothing like a grizzled veteran on the court. By diving for looseballs and slamming home dunks with authority, The Maniac was making his presence felt in every aspect of the game. Unfortunately for his team though, a quarterfinal match-up against a physical and athletic Team Stacks would mark the end of Heart of the Bronx’s quest for a championship and the $2,000 reward. Even in a 22-14 loss, the guys from the Bronx kept their hopes up until the very last whistle.
“The bottom line is we didn’t play hard enough,” Wright said after the game. “My teammate got his knee banged up, so he really couldn’t give me much down the stretch. We tried to fight through it, but we fell short.”
Even after a disappointing loss, Wright left the court with enthusiasm and passion that defined his game on Saturday, already looking forward to the next Revolution Tour stop in NYC.
“We had a ball out there. The other team played hard and got that win, they deserved it,” Wright said. “We hope we can return again.”
A FEW SPOTS STILL REMAIN FOR THE PHILLY TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND!
You can still enter the Philly, Baltimore and D.C. brackets! Enter a team to play for $2,000 and other prizes from Power Balance, Skullcandy and Kicker! Email us at REVOLUTION@DIMEMAG.COM, fax us at 212.564.9219, or call us at 347.316.1924.
You can also download registration forms here: