On Saturday at James M. Bennett high school in Salisbury, Maryland, Cleveland Browns running back Ben Tate gave back to his hometown and community by hosting a charity basketball game with all proceeds going towards his foundation.
The game featured former local high school players from the Eastern Shore’s Bayside Conference and included the likes of Craig Winder, Eddie Miller and Aaron Wyatt on the Hometown Greats team; names you wouldn’t know unless you have seen a high school game on the Eastern Shore in the past 15 years. They faced off against a team that included White Chocolate, Pat Da Roc and Future; names you might recognize if you’ve ever seen AND 1 mixtapes or Googled “streetballers.”
Tate was the only recognizable professional athlete in the building by all those who attended, but at the scorer’s table was another professional: Patrick Doughty, aka Big Pat, public address announcer for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, emceed Tate’s charity game.
Long time hoops fans in the building could recognize Big Pat’s booming voice from years ago when he was the announcer for University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, but just in case they forgot, he reminded the fans time and time again with some great calls during the game.
“Three from Winder!” as the former high school star drained a three.
“Pat, pat, pat… PAT DA ROC!” as the streetball star threw down a reverse slam.
After Tate’s hometown squad won the game 134-126, Big Pat was nice enough to sit down and do a quick interview with Dime.
Mitchell Northam: What’s it like being back on the Eastern Shore and being able to help out with something like [the Ben Tate charity basketball game]?
Big Pat: It’s always fun; anything for the community. Anytime I have time man, because, during the season it’s really hectic. But anytime that I have time I’m trying to get back here and do whatever I can to just, you know, help out. That’s all man, because a lot of these kids don’t get to see that the only way to make it from humble beginnings – or, not even humble, but rough beginnings is not necessarily how we see our athletes and entertainers; it doesn’t have to be like that. You can be in communications, you can be a lawyer, doctor or whatever, but a lot of successful people come from the Eastern Shore. You know? There were secret service people here tonight, and they’re from the Eastern Shore. People don’t know that, but these kids need to know.
MN: Where did you get your start as an announcer?
BP: I’m from Pocomoke – Pocomoke City. I went to Pocomoke high school and I started my announcing career at Pocomoke. Started calling their games my sophomore year and I’ve been doing it ever since.
MN: Pocomoke to the NBA is a big jump. How did you land the job in Charlotte?
BP: I auditioned in 2004 and out of 500 people I got the job. Been there for 11 years.
MN: So, what’s it like working for (NBA Hall-of-Famer and Charlotte Hornets owner) Michael Jordan?
BP: It’s absolutely wonderful. You’re in awe the first few times you meet him, then you see him and it’s in passing and, it’s still Mike, but you know, he’s a good guy. He doesn’t want you to call him Mr. Jordan, he wants you to call him MJ or Michael, and he’s very personable. Good guy.
MN: What’s it like now, being with the Bobcats for so long, transitioning to the Hornets?
BP: It’s great. The city is on fire and everybody is excited. They’re loving it.
MN: The Hornets had a lot of success in Charlotte in the 90s, so with the Bobcats making the playoffs this past year, is this almost perfect timing for a name change?
BP: Yes, perfect timing. Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry, who works in the building, are good friends of mine. So I’m able to hang out with those guys and it’s always fun to see them; those are the original Charlotte Hornets.
MN: I saw you sporting one of the backpacks tonight. What do you think of the new jerseys and logo?
BP: Love the logo; the logo is great. The jerseys are incredible. They released them last Thursday at 11:30 a.m. and it was incredible; social media blew up. It’s a good time, we’re excited man. Purple and teal is back.
MN: Watching some of the guys here tonight that played professionally overseas, played big time college basketball or played in the AND 1 tours, do you ever ask yourself, ‘How did these guys not make it into the NBA?’
BP: Sure, because there’s a lot of talent here. Yeah, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that you just jump up and you’re able to play NBA basketball, but a lot of these guys are really talented and I was pretty surprised that some of them didn’t make it. But I’m not a scout, so I wouldn’t know. You know, I’m probably a good evaluator of talent and I think that they’re excellent ball players. Eddie Miller went to Pocomoke and I remember Craig Winder at Wi-Hi and Aaron Wyatt and all the stuff that he did and Andre Foreman, who graduated from high school the same year that I did and he used to kill us at Stephen Decatur. So yeah, there are some really good ball players out here and it’s good that Ben Tate gives back and does this thing. And of course, everybody has watched White Chocolate, Future and Pat Da Roc on TV and these guys are incredible.
MN: In the off-season, when you’re not doing Hornets games, is this an example of what you do around the area and in Charlotte?
BP: Well, I come back here and I do some of the same things in Charlotte and voice-overs and things like that. But I have a grandson now so I try to come home and see my grandson. I’m 45, I’m an old man now.
What do you think?
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