Rafer Alston turns 38 today. While he never reached superstar status in the NBA, the streetball legend went from the playground to a starting point guard playing in the NBA Finals. Today, we remember the man they call Skip 2 My Lou.
From a young age, Alston was known for his dribbling ability at New York playgrounds. He grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and would eventually play one season of college basketball at Ventura College, Fresno City College and Fresno State, respectively.
It was only after his college career, in 1999, when all of his playground brilliance was captured in an AND1 Mixtape. Over time, people simply refer to this 19-minute collection as “The Skip Tape”:
Alston finally got a chance to play in the NBA in 1999 with the Milwaukee Bucks. In three seasons with the Bucks, he never averaged more than 13.4 minutes per game, and was not a part of their regular rotation. Alston came in to the league with the reputation of a playground player. He would need to prove to coaches and teammates that he could adjust to the more systematic approach of the pro game.
At times, he would still show off some of his playground tendencies on the court, which invited more skepticism as to whether he could make the adjustment on the highest court in the land:
During the 2003-04 season, Alston played in all 82 games with the Miami Heat, starting 28 of them. With increased minutes, he averaged 10.2 points, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Even though Alston only shot 37.6 percent from the field, he was a 37.1 percent three-point shooter. He was not a finished product, but it appeared he was turning a corner.