This is where you will find all things related to Harold Bell and his landmark and historic YouTube videos. Click here to visit Harold’s YouTube Channel. Click here to visit Harold Kickstarter Page for his Muhammad Ali film project.
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.
AN AMERICAN SPORTS TALK RADIO PERSONALITY– AND AN UNTOLD STORY
Harold K. Bell is a pioneer who embarked upon sports talk radio – a relatively new medium for black broadcasters in the 1970s. Bell’s first five (5) minutes of radio stardom was at the helm of two-time Emmy award winner, Petey Greene in 1967. In 1971, Bell founded the original “Inside Sports.” The radio show would air, first, on WOOK-AM. Its span included WYCB-AM, WUST-AM, WPFW FM and WKYS-FM. In 1975, Bell became the first Afro-American to host and produce a television sports prime time special on WRC-TV 4, an NBC affiliate in DC. His special guest was The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Bell has the copyrights to an interview collection that reads like a “Who’s Who” in sports.
Bell’s commentaries spotlight the trials and tribulations of the black athlete and have become a trilogy of classic proportions. Prior to Bell’s introduction, media roundtables and message music were unheard of in sports talk formats. He challenged athletes for hard truths regardless of their stature. Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, Don King, Jim Brown or his partner in crime, the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar.
In 2007, Bell was referred to as “a little known Black History fact” by syndicated talk show host, Tom Joyner. Sportswriters, Jim Beathea and Dick Heller of the Washington Star; Donald Huff, of the Washington Post; Dave McKenna of the City Paper; in addition, radio and television critic, William Taaffe of Sports Illustrated Magazine have all cited Bell for his pioneering contributions to sports talk radio and television. Heller called Bell “The Godfather” of sports talk in Washington, DC. Earl Lloyd, the first black to play in the NBA, was a guest on ESPN 980 radio with former Georgetown Coach, John Thompson. He was quoted as saying, “Harold Bell may be controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”
Harold has actively advocated for the rights of children in DC, Maryland and Virginia. In 1965 after spending two years chasing his NFL dreams without any success he returned home to Washington, DC. The United Planning Organization (UPO) hired three Neighborhood Workers for its self-held program, Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and Harold Bell. The three would each leave their mark on the black community.
In 1980, Washingtonian Magazine named Bell “Washingtonian of the Year” for being a one-man community action program. His wife, Hattie, is the daughter of the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., a modern day civil rights leader of the pre-Martin Luther King epoch of the early 50’s. He founded and started Voter Registration in the state of South Carolina. He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame.
In 1968 Harold and his wife Hattie founded the non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. They have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon, cited in the Congressional Record by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for their work with at-risk children. Today, Harold K. Bell is a contributor on the Maggie Linton Show, heard on Sirius XM Radio-Channel 110 and the DC Historian for the World famous Ben’s Chili Bowl.
“We consider Harold’s pioneering contributions prominent. His legendary interviews are the portrait of history Harold interprets in real time. He not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.” – Kamal Ben Ali, CEO and Owner, Ben’s Chili Bowl, For additional content, visit http://bmia.wordpress/harold-bell and http://www.theoriginalinsidesports.com.
For requests to interview Harold Bell, contact Salim Edwards at 202 427-9247.
- “Black Men In America” – is a popular online magazine which examines the truth, the tragedy and the triumph of ordinary black men, living extraordinary lives in America (www.blackmeninamerica.com).
- Brian McIntyre – (http://www.nba.com) – Senior Communications Advisory to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
- The Tom Joyner Morning Show – (http://www.tjms.com) is heard in 132 markets across America.
- The Maggie Linton Show features positive lessons and successful stories to inspire listeners within their own journeys; heard on Sirius XM Urban View channel110.
About the Ali/Harold Bell Project
October 30, 2014 is the 40th Anniversary of one the most profound fights in boxing history – Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. The fight was called the “Rumble in the Jungle,” On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali did the unthinkable and against all odds when he defeated Big George Foreman. However, what took place days following that great fight is just as historic and it’s a story that has never been told — until now.
In early November 1974 a sports talk show host by the name of Harold K. Bell and his camera crew, (Rodney Brown and Wilfred Williams) were able to get an exclusive one-on-one interview with Muhammad Ali. This event was just as historic as the fight, as Bell was the first person from the media granted access to Ali immediately after the fight.
Bell and his team scooped legendary television sportscaster Howard Cosell, 60 Minutes and the entire sports media world. The champ didn’t just focus on the fight and his historic win, but he talked about the most important game being played in the Black Community–THE GAME CALLED LIFE! Ali, who sustained a black eye in the fight, was candid, uncensored and “uncut” in his conversation giving Harold Bell full access to all of the facets that make up Muhammad Ali.
About the Documentary Interview
40 years ago, fresh from his victory over George Foreman, Muhammad Ali sat in a New York City hotel room for an exclusive interview with his good friend Harold Bell, an independent radio sports talk show host with no connection to any major newspapers, radio or television networks. In this historic one-on-one interview Ali discusses the differences between a boxer and fighter, his boxing career and shares his perspective on women, children, violence in the black community, friendship and more.
Ali tried to get Bell to attend the fight so they could conduct the interview over there. But Bell was reluctant to flying over the ocean and was skeptical about the level of security in a jungle setting—a decision he now regrets. Despite refusing the invitation Ali promised Bell an interview once he returned to the states.
A man of his word, Ali called Bell shortly after arriving in New York City. The next morning Bell along with his camera crew arrived in the wee hours of the morning to tape the interview. Emmy award winner and legendary Actor/Producer Robert Hooks interviews Harold Bell, Roy Foreman, the younger brother of George Foreman and Wilfred Williams, one of the original cameramen who filmed the interview. Hooks, a native Washingtonian and a longtime friend of Bell, is best known for his television roles in N.Y.P.D and in major motion pictures such as Sounder, Hurry Sundown, Troubled Man, 1972 and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The interview ends with a poem titled “THANK YOU MUHAMMAD ALI” written and performed by renowned spoken-word artist Ty Gray-El.
Goals and Objectives
One of our objectives is to generate enough media and attention through this documentary to be picked up by a major television or cable network in the United States. A secondary goal is to tell the untold story of a Black American radio sports talk show host Harold K. Bell. Together, Ali and Bell are two who went often found themselves at odds with societal norms and yet comfortable with themselves because they were always guided by “the truth.” Two men, who exercised courage and acted on what they believed to be true. Perhaps, that was part of the formula that led them to be icons and pioneers in their field. The narration of the documentary was recorded on October 4, 2014 at Tony Bell’s Gym in Washington, D.C.
Top KICK-STARTER sponsors will be given signed autographed copies of the film, “Up Close and Personal: Muhammad Ali with Harold Bell.” There will also be access to VIP screenings to donors and sponsors of this project. Once successfully funded, the money will be used for final editing and production costs, including camera and lighting equipment and distribution costs as determined by the Don Baker Digital Group. Once we exceed our goal we will reach out to marquee boxers, athletes and sports commentators who have shown an interest in this project to add their perspectives in the film. If you would like to contact the filmmakers regarding production, investment opportunities or other related endeavors, e-mail Harold Bell at email@example.com. You can learn more about Harold Bell by visiting and subscribing to his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsjirjSZBSyzaq7M6jIpWcw and witness Bell’s interviews with some of the greatest athletes of the past century.
ERIC HOLDER GUARANTEES FAIRNESS IN FERGUSON WHERE NOBODY PLAYS FAIR
August 23, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Associated Press
I experienced the 1968 riots in Washington, DC up close and personal as a Roving Leader for the DC Recreation Department’s Youth Gang Task Force. The riots in Ferguson, Missouri brought back bad memories. On the mean streets in the U Street NW corridor during the riots my co-worker and former Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood and I teamed up with the late U. S. Marshall in Charge, Luke C. Moore. Luke was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first black in modern day history to head the U. S. Marshall Service in America.
The three of us walked arm and arm through the tear gas streets of NW DC trying to maintain peace. Luke would go on to become a DC Superior judge and Willie Wood would be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989.
When President Lyndon Johnson ordered all businesses to shut down during the riots it was Luke Moore who called the White House and asked the President to reconsider and allow Ben’s Chili Bowl to remain open for first responders. Request granted—when the dust, tear gas and military personnel had cleared the streets, Lee’s Flower Shop, Industrial Bank, and Ben’s Chili Bowl were the only black businesses still standing.
Luke Moore’s contributions to Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports can never be measured in time or money. He helped me get the Bolling Boys Base for juvenile delinquents off the ground on Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC. He went directly to DC Mayor Walter Washington and Department of Human Resources Director, Joe Yeldell and said “Let’s do it!” The longevity of the Kids In Trouble Christmas Toy Party (1968-2013) can be directly attributed to him.
Luke encouraged other judges to get involved in the community including, Chief Judge Harold Greene with the opening of Bolling Boys Base. The athletes, politicians, radio and television personalities would all follow his lead when it came to community involvement. We had a great crew of judges from the DC Superior Court where the perquisite was fairness for all. They included “the one of a kind” Harry T. Alexander, Chief Judge Greene, Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton, Chief Judge Ted Newman, and Henry Kennedy Jr. The community and children were really first and they led by example.
The riots in Ferguson made me remember that there was once equal justice for all in the DC Superior in the Nation’s Capital. A white cop would dare not show up in Judge Harry Alexander’s courtroom and not properly address a black defendant as Mr. or Ms. Judge Moore demanded the same type of respect for minorities from lawyers and cops with attitudes. Somewhere along the way I lost Federal Judge Alex Williams when he received his Federal Judgeship for the state of Maryland.
In a recent interview the Chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department said, “Ferguson would never happen in Prince George’s County!” Are you kidding me? When it comes to police brutality in America Prince George’s County is second only to the LAPD in California (remember Rodney King). The PG County Police Department was monitored by the FBI for over 2 decades as it relates to police brutality.
Have we forgotten that a young Afro-American man was recently found hung by his neck in a jail cell in Upper Marlboro, MD? He was waiting to be tried on the hit and run death of a white PG County police officer. He was the victim of police vigilante justice, here and now in the 21st century. The renegade cops were never brought to trial. A black correctional officer was paid off and took the fall for the renegade white cops who are still in uniform patrolling our streets.
A black Federal Judge Alex Williams had an opportunity to say “Enough is enough” but instead of sending a message he sentence the correctional officer to 1 to 3 years. The sentence condones the department’s outrageous behavior. If this would have been the former black Prince Georges County Judge William Missouri, I would have said “Business as usual.” Missouri was known as “The Hanging Judge” when came to sentencing black folks, this made him a hero in “The Plantation” style halls of the Prince Georges County Court House.
Thanks to Alex Williams and Bill Missouri the KKK is still alive and well in the PG County Police Department.
Let’s not forget there was the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin walking through a white neighborhood shot to death, or the black teenager Jordan Davis shot to death in a Florida parking lot for playing his music too loud, a black man strangled to death on a NY Street in broad daylight for selling loose cigarettes, a black female college professor is dragged across street by her hair for jay walking, a white California State Trooper caught on video sitting on top of a black woman beating on her like a punching bag.
And now an 18 year old unarmed Michael Brown is shot 6 times and killed in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri for reasons still unknown. The common denominator, all the acts were committed at the hands of white men who want to take America back? Brings back memories of Emmitt Till! Chicago, New York, St. Louis, LA, Baltimore, Detroit, DC, Maryland and now Ferguson, a suburb in Missouri have become breeding grounds for brutal and corrupt cops who in the final analyst are nothing but cowards with a badge and gun. They hide behind a Code of Silence!
The most organized gangs in America are not “The Crips & Bloods” it is your local police departments.
USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!
Eric Holder’s track record during his tenure as U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was not encouraging when came to addressing police violence against the black community. As the U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1993 to 1997, Holder was in charge of policing the local police. When police violence spiraled out of control, he did little to protect Washington residents from rampaging lawmen. The number of killings by Washington police doubled between 1988 to 1995, the year 16 civilians died due to police gunfire. Washington police shot and killed people at a higher rate than any other major city police department, as a Washington Post investigation revealed in late 1998. The Post reported that “Holder said he did not detect a pattern of problematic police shootings and could not recall the specifics of cases he personally reviewed.” Holder declared: I can’t honestly say I saw anything that was excessive.”
But in 2009 as U. S. Attorney for United States of America in President Barak Obama’s administration I heard and saw a different Eric Holder. In a speech during Black History Month at the Justice Department he declared, “Americans wrongly consider the United States a melting pot. In things racial, we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” It took a whole lot of balls to make that statement as a black man and politician, but it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
His stance reminded me of the best seller “The Spook That Sit by the Door.” I said to myself, “finally, a black man who is not scare of the truth.” The sad part of this charade in Ferguson, the right hand does not have a clue to what the left hand is doing and don’t seem to care. The so-called experts, the talking heads and the writing hands in media are just as clueless, but as boxing promoter Don King once said, “They are a necessary evil. They bring light to Justice & Just-Us!”
The country is based on a racist court system of Justice & Just-Us. A court system where a white man caught stealing millions of dollars can have a new law written into the books on his behalf and it is called “White Collar Crime?”
How can people who call themselves human beings allow an 18 year old to lie in the streets dead for over 4 hours with his parents present and no one in authority is sensitive enough to try comfort them?
One of my favorite television shows to watch on the weekends is “Animal Planet” and it is times like this I am left wondering, who are the Real Animals?
It is easy to understand why politicians like Harry Reid are also clueless. He recently said, “I cannot believe that the scenes unfolding in Ferguson are taking place in an American city in the year of 2914.” My question, ‘Harry where you been?’
The problem, he and his Republican counterparts across the aisle have is they never have been black and have never spend any significant time in the war zones of our inner-cities and therefore have become a part of the problem.
Police shootings and hanging of black men and black on black murder have become the norm in America replacing Apple Pie.
USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!
Why is it that the media and others with hidden agendas want to make a point that “Outsiders” are responsible for the violence in Ferguson?
They evidently think that American citizens don’t have a stake in this charade? Have they forgotten Selma and the march on Washington where outsiders could be seen as far as the eye could see and made a difference—where is the beef?
There was a Kodak Moment in Ferguson when a white reporter put his microphone in the face of a young black man who was involved in the protest. The reporter was inquiring about “Outside Agitators” from Chicago, California and the violence they had brought to the city. The young brother took a deep breath and said ‘There are no outsiders we are all in this together.”
Where and when will this madness end? I once thought in my life time—I now have serious doubts!
USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!
“Hands up Black Men in America”—Fairness not on my watch.
“The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, it is dangerous because of those who do and say nothing.” — Albert Einstein
August 9, 2014
THE HONORABLE JAMES SPENCER: HERE COMES THE JUDGE!
A MAN ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF GOD and JUSTICE IN RICHMOND
By Harold Bell
In the game called “Life” where every black face you see is not a Brother and every white face you see is not your Enemy—meet Brother Rev. James R. Spencer aka U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer of Richmond, Virginia. He is the sitting judge in the most political corrupt trial in the history of Virginia. Former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are facing charges that they took $165,000 from a Virginia businessman.
Judge Spencer is the first African-American to serve as a federal judge in Virginia. He recently stepped down from active status to become a senior judge on March 25, 2014. He is now in semi-retirement from the Richmond division of the federal court system’s Eastern District of Virginia. As a senior judge he is allowed to take a smaller caseload.
“The Smaller Caseload” suddenly became a Giant when he was assigned to hear the biggest corruption case in the history of Virginia politics.
Judge Spencer was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, then 37. The appointment made him one of the youngest federal judges in the country. His background includes some accomplishments shared by few, if any, federal judges: He has a black belt in karate, he is a avid tennis player and hold a degree in divinity.
In a sermon heard at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia in the early 90s interview after he became a judge, Rev. Spencer gave credit to his parents, Hannah and Benjamin, and one teacher, Mattie Lou Perkins for his lifelong love of reading, his faith and his Southern civility.
He said, “In 1986 I felt my judgeship would be a source of pride for many older black lawyers who paved the way, such as Oliver W. Hill Sr. Being the first black to accomplish something like that did not mean that much to me. I have always … been the first black or the only black, he said at the time. That’s not a victory. I think it is too bad. I long for the day when it will be so insignificant that it will become irrelevant,”
The White House will solicit recommendations from his home-state senators, which carry great weight.
A spokesman for Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said his office has informally discussed with newly elected Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va., the process used by Warner and then-Sen. Jim Webb to fill an earlier vacancy.
The process includes asking bar associations for a diverse list of potential nominees, said Warner spokesman Kevin Hall. “We will jointly vet those potential nominees and then schedule face-to-face interviews involving both senators.”
Rev. Spencer was raised in Florence, S.C. He is a 1971 graduate of Clark College in Atlanta and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1974.
Reagan nominated Spencer for the district court seat in September 1986. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and was commissioned in October 1986, filling the seat of the late D. Dortch Warriner.
Rev. Spencer was the chief judge of the 11-judge district, which includes divisions in Alexandria and Hampton Roads, from 2004 to 2011.
Federal judges who reach the age of 65 with 15 years of service — or one less year of service for each additional year of age — are eligible to semi-retire at full salary.
“It’s important he’s announcing his intent early to give plenty of time for a new appointment so there will be no long vacancy,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.
“This gives the President and Senate time to select a successor and get the benefit of another senior, experienced judge,” Tobias said. The division’s two other judges are Henry E. Hudson and John A. Gibney Jr.
Robert E. Payne is the other senior judge. Tobias said he believes Judge Spencer, like Payne, “will continue to be very active and continue to carry a substantial load.”
“They can stay as busy as they want, but a half load is typical,” Tobias said of a senior judge. In more than a quarter century as a judge, Judge Spencer has handled thousands of criminal and civil cases, Tobias said.
Perhaps the highest-profile case was the patent-infringement suit by a Virginia company against Research In Motion, the manufacturer of the Black-Berry. A jury ruled that RIM had infringed on the Virginia firm’s patents.
A federal appeals court sent the case back to Spencer, however, prompting negotiations that Judge Spencer steered to a $612.5 million settlement in 2006 amid long-running, national media coverage, Tobias said.
President Barack Obama will nominate a candidate to replace Judge Spencer. He will be hard to replace—he is definitely a tough act to follow. The courthouses and judges around this country lack the characteristics of a Judge James Spencer. There seems to be no sense of fair play, integrity and honesty.
My wife Hattie introduced me to the Rev. Spencer in the early 90s at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia where he was the guest speaker.
His sermon “Role Models & Heroes” was the best I have ever heard as it relates to the demise of the Black Community. Two decades later his sermon is still the most inspiring I have ever heard from the pulpit. Looking at the state of Black America today, he has become a prophet.
Rev. Spencer laid the blame directly at the feet of black politicians, preachers, hero athletes, entertainers, drug dealers, thugs running loose in the streets, shooting and killing our children and raping and robbing residents of our community.
Unlike other ministers and pastors in today’s black churches, he kicked ass and called names. He belted out familiar names like, Marion Barry, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ben Hooks, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, Len Bias, etc. During his sermon anonymity was not an option.
His heroes were my heroes, his parents, Hannah and Benjamin and one outstanding teacher, Mattie Lou Perkins. He hit close to home, for me it was my mother Mattie, grandmother Amy Tyler Bell and my high school Coach Dave Brown. The entire church stood on their feet and gave a standing ovation that seem like it lasted forever at the conclusion of his sermon.
Since that sermon Congressman Charles Rangle, Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson, Detroit Mayor Kwame Fitzpatrick, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, DC City Councilmen, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, and Harry Thomas all have run afoul of the law.
“The Mayor for Life” now City Councilman Marion Barry continues to have encounters with law enforcement in DC. He was involved in a recent minor automobile accident while driving on the wrong side of the street. He was driving a car that was not registered and without insurance. It was later discovered he had accumulated almost $3,000 in unpaid traffic tickets. All this followed the arrest of his son Christopher in July. He was pulled over because of a faulty signal light and was arrested when drugs were found in his car.
When I spoke with Judge Spencer after the sermon he mentioned he worked as an assistant in the office of the U.S. attorney in Washington, DC and had received his Master of Divinity degree from Howard University in 1985. I told him DC Superior Judge Luke C. Moore was my “Big Brother and Mentor” he lit up like a Christmas Tree.
Spencer gave me his contact numbers in Richmond and said to make sure the next time Hattie and I were in town to call him.
The next time I would be in Richmond would be February 1993 the last at (Central Inter-collegian Athletic Association) in the city. I called him and we met for a game of tennis and lunch.
During the tennis match I discovered his competitive nature. He played the game of tennis like he played The Game Called Life—he played to win. I beat him in a close match. And during lunch he kept asking me, “When are you going to be in town again.” He wanted revenge. What really impressed me with Judge Spencer was how he played the game of tennis. All close calls that were in doubt he gave to me. Honesty and integrity is something you cannot teach, especially, in this win at all cost world today.
You can bet the McDonnells will get a fair trial. The only payroll Judge Spencer is on—–is God’s.
The day we spend together I knew I had been in the company of a Super Star in the Game Called Life. He had not forgotten who he was and where he came from. I know our friend the late DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore is looking down and smiling on him for a job well done.
With the CIAA Basketball Tournament leaving Richmond and with his busy schedule there was no re-match but the final score was Love-Love-Love.
March 29, 2014
MARCH MADNESS: Dr. Leo Hill–Willie Jones–Dick Heller
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
IN DC THERE WAS ELGIN BAYLOR & WILLIE AND EVERYONE ELSE FOLLOWED
Dr. Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller, the common denominator, they were all DC Institutions and were Superstars in the Game Called Life. They touched hundreds of lives in the DVM and beyond. I owe each one dearly for my success in the community and in sports media. They loved me in spite of myself.
Dr. Hill’s coaching career began at Spingarn in 1952 where he taught and coached for 10 years. During this span of time Dr. Hill coached 9 championship teams: One in football in 1954, 2 in baseball in 1953 and 1957 and 6 and won 6 cross country team championships from 1955 to 1960. He taught me that the most important game being played in the world today was not football, basketball or baseball, it was the game called life. It was the only game being played where being called a Super Star had real meaning. In my early years as an athlete at Spingarn High School in Washington, DC I was a mess and trying my best to go to hell in a hurry.
My savior Coach Dave Brown allowed me to dress for the DC Public High School football Championship game against Cardozo High School at Griffin Stadium in 1955 (freshman) but I never left the bench. Poor grades and bad attitude were the deciding factors and two 6’5 wide receivers by the names of Dickie Wells and Charles Branch. I could barely see over the line of scrimmage but I could catch a football. Spingarn played Cardozo in the championship game and we tied 0-0.
The game was decided on a rule called Penetration. The rule states, “The team that crosses the other’s 50 yard line more frequently is the winner.” Cardozo was declared the winner.
When I finally got some decent grades I went out for the baseball team in my junior year. I made the team and earned the starting position in left field for a talented team that had promise. For some odd reason I thought I was the Willie Mays of high school baseball. Dr. Hill watched me run from under my hat and make basket catches on routine fly balls, steal bases without permission and swing at pitches that he signaled for me to take. It all came to an abrupt end in a game against Fairmont Heights High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
It was a close game with Fairmont Heights leading 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th inning. I bunted my way on to first base with 2 outs. I would steal second base successfully without the go signal from Dr. Hill. He called time out and came on to the field of play. He reminded me that our best hitter Donald “Cornbread” Malloy was at bat. Before Dr. Hill could get back to the bench I had stolen 3rd base. I dared not look his way.
Donald stepped out of the batter’s box and just stared at me. He fouled off the next 2 pitches and the next pitch I took off to steal home—I was out by a mile game over.
I remember sitting in the Spingarn locker room when Dr. Hill walked quietly up to me and asked me to turn in my uniform. He reminded me that there was only one Willie Mays and he played in New York City. Spingarn would go on to earn the right to play Wilson for the DC Public High School Championship. The game would be played at Griffin Stadium home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Senators and where the Negro League Homestead Grays played their home games. It was a stadium I dreamed of playing in one day. Donald Malloy never let me forget that Spingarn lost 5-4 to Wilson. He reminded me years later that the player who replaced me in left field made 2 errors that cost Spingarn the championship.
My junior year was a tough one. Coach Brown locked me on the school bus during half-time of a game against rival Phelps because I needed an attitude adjustment. Basketball Coach Rev. William Roundtree gave me my walking papers my senior year. It looked like I was trying to make my Middle School Principal William Stinson’s prediction come true. He told my mother, “He won’t live to get out of high school.”
It took years but I finally learned the lesson that my coaches first tried to teach me. The lesson, no one is indispensable and baseball like the game called life is a team sport. Thanks Dr. Hill.
Willie Jones was “One of a Kind” in DC basketball history. There was Elgin Baylor and Willie and everyone else followed. Elgin was like poetry in motion on the court. He could rock you to sleep. Willie was like an AK47 (mouth almighty) on the court no time to sleep—he had everyone’s attention.
If he had a basketball he would travel. He was a winner at every level, playground, middle school, high school and college. If he had been given the opportunity he would excelled at the pro level.
As a coach in DC he was second only to the legendary Red Auerbach. There are three coaches in the District/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area who won National NCAA basketball titles, John Thompson, Gary Williams and Willie Jones.
Thompson and Williams were never in his class when it came to the Xs and Os of coaching basketball. Willie not only played the game at an extremely high level—he coached at an even higher level. He was a great recruiter because he had been there and done that. The young players loved him. He spoke their language (with many, many bleeps).
There have been many basketball discussions in pool rooms, on street corners, playgrounds, and the sports bars in DC. The topic: What if Willie had the talent that Big John had at Georgetown—how many championships would he have won? Every discussion I have heard it is unanimous, Willie would have won at least 3 National NCAA Championships.
The bottom–line, Georgetown is building a 60 million dollar sports complex on its campus in the name of John Thompson. This is a legitimate pay-off for putting them on the sports map and bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the school and himself by any means necessary. The million-dollar question now is—can he save his son’s job?
Willie Jones put two universities on the basketball map, American University and UDC. But there will be no statures or sports complexes built in his name—which proves crime does pay.
What I will remember most about Willie is that he was flawed like most of us human beings but he was trust worthy to the point if he gave you his word you could carry it to the bank. He also took coaching seriously, especially when it came to his players. They were always first.
If you were a friend, he would go to war with you or for you. I am reminded of his co-worker the legendary athlete and coach Bessie Stockard when the UDC Administrators targeted her for dismissal from the school, it was Willie who went against the grain and testified on her behalf in court—she won.
He was like a brother to me. I could never stay mad at him. Whatever our difference of opinion, the next time we saw each other he would be joking and smiling like it never happen. A family member said it best, “You two where Kindred Spirits.” Thanks Willie.
Sports columnist Dick Heller was a class act. He was an officer and gentleman and a man of integrity. His word meant something unheard of in media today. He was a loyal friend and mentor to me for over two decades. Thanks to him I am still in the fight for truth in media and my eyes are still on the prize—our children. Dick was there for me and anyone else I supported. Especially, homegrown talent like Willie Wood (NFL), Earl Lloyd (NBA) and LA Dodger great Maury Wills.
Willie Wood was a benefactor after the NFL had blackballed him because he would not go along to get along during his NFL coaching days. There was some drug abuse by several NFL players on the team. He spoke out against the abuse and was not asked to return the next year. He was out of pro football for several years until the Canadian Football hired him as the first Afro-American Head Coach. Willie was voted one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play in the NFL. His coach, the great Vince Lombardi said, “Willie Wood is my coach on the field.” Still the powers-to-be shut him out of the NFL Hall of Fame. I went to Dick and brought him up to date. Willie was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989 two years after some timely stories appeared in sports media outlets (radio and print) spearheaded by Dick Heller.
Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in the NBA in 1950. He was from Alexandria, Virginia and played in the CIAA (BHC). He was overlooked for his contributions in the CIAA and NBA. I turned to Red Auerbach and Dick. They took charge and suddenly there was a story on Page One of the Washington Times talking about the trials and tribulations of Earl Lloyd early NBA days. The photo on the page showed Earl and Red in a forum at the Smithsonian during Black History Month. In 2001, over fifty years later Earl Lloyd was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Thanks Red Auerbach and Dick Heller.
Dick tried his best to help our homeboy Maury Wills get his just deserts. Maury revolutionized offense in Major League Baseball. He made an art out of the stolen base. He made the fans forget about the homerun in the 60s. He was master of all he surveyed in ballparks around the country but his off the field antics of drugs and domestic abuse have been hard to ignore by the voters. He is still on the outside looking in as it relates to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dick’s first love has always been baseball and he tried his best to get Maury inducted with a brilliantly written two page story in the Washington Times over a decade ago but “The Haters” have refused to budge. Dick, Maury never said thanks but I will.
Dick was not only a talented writer and editor but he was also a risk taker. He never sit on the fence to see whether it was safe to fall on one side or the other. He loved his hometown of DC and all of its sports teams but you could never mistake him for a cheerleader if the home team made a wrong move. He would take them to task. For example, in 1977 he exposed several Maryland University players for poor academic records during the watch of Charles Driesell, aka Lefty.
He gave the players and Lefty the kind of fame they could have done without. He published their names with photos and their academic records in the sports pages of the Washington Star. Talking about opening up a “Can of Worms.”
The university student newspaper, The Diamond Back followed Dick’s lead and published the player’s grade point average. Six players on the teams sued Dick, the Washington Star, and their own Diamond Back newspaper for invasion of privacy, publishing confidential university records and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The players sued for 72 million dollars in damages.
In 1979, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a lower-court decision and ruled in the paper’s favor in the case known as Bilney v. Evening Star.
The court ruled “The Players had achieved the status of public figures solely by virtue of their membership on the university basketball team. Therefore, their possible exclusion from the team—whether academic or any other reason was a matter of public concerned.”
The decision continued: “Having sought and basked in the limelight, by virtue of their membership on the team. Appellants (i.e., the players) will not be heard to complain when the light focused on them on their potential imminent withdrawal from the team.”
Bilney vs. Evening Star remains an important case in the first amendment law and has been cited in legal proceedings, in text books and courses taught in media law.
Tim Kurkjian ESPN broadcaster who started his media career at the Star said, “Dick was a kind of mentor to the younger guys, I cannot stress enough how helpful he was and how patient he was with us.”
Dick Heller was not only a mentor to younger guys during his long and distinguishing career in print media. He was also a mentor, friend and brother to Old Guys like me. I am a better writer today thanks to Dick Heller.
I look at the sports media sitting at press tables, media newsrooms, talk show host and analyst they are “The New Jack City Spooks That Sit by the Door” and have blocked the door extremely well. They see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil and write no evil. All they care about is show me the money and “Look at me.”
Some even claim that it is okay to use the N word as a term of endearment. You would think that it would be names like Michael, James, Jason, Stephen, etc. leading the fight to right the wrongs of a Willie Wood, Earl Lloyd, Maury Wills and Spencer Haywood, but it was names like Dick, Rick Snider (Examiner) and Dave (McKenna, City Paper) kicking down the doors for other brothers of another color.
Coach Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller—–we never could have made it without you (RIP).
The N-Word According to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon
By Harold Bell
STICKS and STONES MAY BREAK HIS BONES BUT THE N-WORD WILL NEVER HURT HIM?
John Feinstein a former colleague of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon at the Washington Post was on the record saying “Michael Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media.” Those words were rather harsh and hard hitting. In other words, Feinstein was saying, “Wilbon is sports media’s biggest cheerleader!” This was after Wilbon’s co-host on ESPN’s PTI was suspended for making fun of co-worker Hanna Storm’s dress on national television.
Wilbon’s response to Feinstein:
I don’t need Junior (Feinstein) to get suspended. Junior caught an earful of language and heat that was both deserved and will stay private. I’ll match my credentials as a journalist with John Feinstein anytime. Junior has often mistaken his opinion with fact and with legitimacy. Thing is, my father didn’t raise me to be subservient to Junior, or anybody else. My opinions about Tiger Woods or any other issue are mine and I could give a damn about what Feinstein or anybody else thinks about them. The only thing special about Feinstein’s opinions is that they’re his. And I let him know that in very specific language that best belongs on HBO.
This isn’t the first time Wilbon has been called out for “sucking up” to athletes (he has written books with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan). In what we think is one of the 10 best sports books we’ve ever read, Michael Leahy of the Washington Post beautifully deconstructed Jordan in “When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan’s Last Comeback,” and in the process took a shot at Wilbon.
“All along, I thought that Wilbon’s treatment of Jordan highlighted the basic danger in getting too cozy with a subject,” Mr. Leahy writes. The access that Mr. Wilbon prized, Mr. Leahy argues, came at the cost of ever being able to write something critical about his celebrity subject.
Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are immensely talented individuals and about 15 years ago, they were our sports writing idols. In their prime at the Washington Post, they were among the best sports writers in the country. What they don’t do well is take criticism from colleagues. They’ll definitely make the thin-skinned sports media member list
I missed the initial viewing of ESPN’s Outside the Lines show that aired on Sunday February 23rd. The show hosted by Bob Levy examined the use of the N-word. I heard from several different sources that Michael Wilbon lost a lot of credibility when he justified his use of the N-word as a term of endearment.
Since I had not seen or heard the show I held back judgment and waited until it re-aired on Sunday March 2nd.
It is rather ironic that Wilbon and I had a recent conversation about the use of the N-word. The conversation took place in the Press Room before a Wizard’s game at the Verizon Center. He told me ESPN wanted to have a conversation on the use of the N-word on Outside the Lines. The show would be hosted by Bob Levy. He said, “I am not comfortable doing the show with Levy.” Wilbon cited that he had no problem with Levy as a journalist but he had “No horse in the race” and he refused to participate.” These words out of Wilbon’s mouth got my undivided attention.
I have questioned Wilbon’s mindset on different topics on several occasions as I have questioned others in media. It has never been anything personal it is a price we all pay for writing or voicing our opinions in public.
He said folks had asked him about our relationship and he said “I told them everything is cool with me and Harold Bell, we have talked.” But what Feinstein said about him sounded real personal.
I first met Wilbon when he became a sports writer for the Washington Post in the 1980s. He and members of the sports department were often regulars on my radio sports talk show Inside Sports. Sports Editor George Solomon was a regular participant. Since he was the leader of the staff most of the black writers followed his lead. He even allowed me to write a couple of freelancing articles for the paper. When the paper established their own television sports show I became a regular guest. I was up close and personal with the sports department.
Dave Kindred and Norm Chad were talented writers but you could not trust them, Kornheiser and Feintstein’s talent, they easily blended in with the landscape of the paper. Feinstein called Wilbon the biggest ass kisser in sports media, if that is true he had great teacher in Kornheiser. When Solomon tried to kick Kornheiser to the curve (fire him) in the 80s he was able to move to the Style section of the paper. He carried the toilet paper around for Post owner Donald Graham. One black female Washington Post columnist wrote a book titled “Plantation on the Potomac.” She was describing her employer.
During his days at the Washington Post Wilbon and I bonded and became good friends. We often discussed the politics of sports media. He has called me a mentor. I was proud of him taking a stand and refusing to participate in the forum on the N-word because I agreed with his logic as it related to Levy.
Wilbon has sought my advice on several important topics, but not since he has become an ESPN celebrity and I don’t take it personal. I think my friend former NBA player/coach Al Attles said it best recently, “Some people it is not that they forget, they just move on.”
My problem with Wilbon is that he never kept his word after the Washington Post.
I thought to myself, “Why with all the blacks working on the Plantation/Set of ESPN why would they choose Bob Levy a white man to host an important forum on the N Word?” The bottom line—no respect. Former 60 Minutes and CBS Investigative Reporter Byron Pitts had a horse in the race but was given only a bit-part in the forum. Remember, this is the same 60 Minutes that has yet to find a black reporter to replace Ed Bradley.
For example; if I tried to host a forum on the Holocaust with the leaders of the Jewish community—it would never happen.
Bill Rhoden a sports columnist for the New York Times wrote a book several years ago titled “Million Dollar Slaves,” as it related to black athletes in pro sports. Rhoden could not see the forest for the trees.
When it comes to segregation, a media pressroom at “deadline” is second only to a church on Sunday morning in America.
During the reign of George Solomon as overseer of the Washington Post sports department, there were some great writers and columnist who crossed its threshold. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, my favorites, the greatest was Shirley Povich, followed by Tom Callahan, Byron Rosen, Donald Huff, Michael Wilbon, Dave Aldridge and Dave Dupree. The worst, were Leonard Sharpiro, Norman Chad, Dave Kindred, Tom Boswell, John Feinstein and Tony Kornheiser (aka Howdy & Doody). The common denominator separating the best from the worst, was H&TWW (Honesty & Integrity While Writting). Huff once told me that Solomon ran the sports department like Adoplh Hitler ran the Nazi Army.
The panel of Common (Rapper/Actor), Jason Whitlock (ESPN writer), Ryan Clark (NFL Player and ESPN Analyst) and Michael Wilbon (ESPN PTI) I found it to be rather odd and not well thought out.
There was no Dr. Harry Edwards, Hank Aaron or Jim Brown who can be a contradiction. Jim can often be found talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the black athlete and community involvement. Especially, when it comes to where the black athlete spends his money.
His rallying cry, “Show me the money.” The common denominator is that all three black athletes have a track record of being forerunners in the Civil Rights Movement in America. Hopefully, they were asked to participate and were of the same mindset as Wilbon not comfortable with Mr. Levy as the narrator for the forum.
There were several legit participants like Joe Lapchick a white man who has been in the war zones of the Civil Rights Movement and has the scars to show for it.
Another contradiction, the policing of the N-word by the NFL is hypocritical. The NFL owners are members of the“Good Old Boy’s Club.” They have shown in the last few decades that they are not interested in having blacks or other minorities as owners.
How can you police the N-word when in your own background you have one owner say to the media “No matter how offensive the word is I will never change the nickname of the Washington Redskins? You can put that in CAPITAL LETTERS!”
NFL owners are paying Commissioner Roger Goodell $44 million dollars a year and they think the players are making too much money? Goodell makes more than any player in the NFL and he never has to make a tackle or catch a pass.
The owners recent pay out to the players for injuries suffered on their watch was peanuts compared to the billions they make year in and year out. I thought it was an insult as soon as I hear it. A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for more financial analysis from the parties, a week after players’ lawyers filed a detailed payout plan.
I mean who is zooming who?
I never thought there would be the day when I would see and hear Jason Whitlock sound like he was smarter than Wilbon. There were two previous blogs I read by Whitlock and one said, “Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson had revolutionized college basketball by opening up the game for other black coaches. The other said, “I see NFL legend Jim Brown to be a hero in the black community?” Both observations were totally out of focus. I was thinking that John Feinstein could add Whitlock to his list of bigger than life ass kissers in sports media.
Common and Wilbon cited the use the N-word as a term of endearment and Jason having an opposing view was both logical and smart. The introduction by Common proves he knows the history of the Civil Rights Movement but has no respect for the sacrifices of those who prepared a way for him. When he refused a request by his mother to cease using the word and a similar plea by poet Maya Angelo. The brother just don’t get it—he lost me.
In my conversation with Wilbon back in January I told him I once used the N-word and the MF words as a regular part of my vocabulary. My wife Hattie stepped in and made me re-think my position. My work with youth and as a radio personality helped convince me that I needed to make a change and lead by example.
Common’s opening introduction was a compelling reason for all of us to stop using the N-word because it was not our word in the beginning. It was our oppressors who use the N-word to violently destroy us by any means necessary.
The N-word can still be found in our work place and in organizations that are overrun with black folks. Thanks to envy, jealousy and self-hate white folks no longer have to take the lead as oppressors, blacks are now their own oppressors.
There are blacks who think since they have two more dollars than their employees or neighbors they have arrived. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are just N—–rich.
It has been 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington and 46 years since his assassination in Memphis, Tenn. The facts: a white man still doubles the salary of a black man, black unemployment doubles that of the white community, 60% of the inmate population is black, segregated schools are returning to American neighborhoods and the list goes on and on.
Stand Your Ground Laws have given whites a license to shoot and kill blacks for no other reason then, “They looked suspicious or the music was too loud.” Have we forgotten, how the system has use bankruptcy, redlining, white collar crime, crack cocaine laws, minimum wage and now the Stand Your Ground law? I recently read that Stand Your Ground laws are like bleach, it works miracles for whites and ruins colors.
Use of the N-word is comparable, whites use the N-word to keep their history alive and blacks using the N-word as a term of endearment insures and measures how far we still have to go. Someone once said, “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.”
Sticks and stones may never hurt you Wilbon, but the N-word is slowly stunting the growth and progress of our black community.
Dribbles: David Aldrige on DC Sports Legend Harold Bell (March 6, 2014)
By David Aldridge, NBA Analyst
If you want to know why Harold Bell is the way he is, start with his grandmother.
“My grandmother used to tell me, ‘A lie will change a thousand times. The truth will never change,” Bell said. “If I leave here today or tomorrow, nobody owes me anything. What I’d like to do is pay back some of the people that have helped me. They can’t say I stole from any kids, or done drugs, or anything like that.” I was not perfect but I was taught it was best to lead by example.
For four decades, Bell has told the truth as he saw it, on the airwaves or in print in Washington, D.C. He was the first African-American sports radio talk show host in DC. More recently, he’s been a no-holds barred Internet columnist who regularly calls out sacred cows who forgot who they are and where they came from. He honors those in the black community who often don’t get recognition—both sports figures and regular folks.
In February, he was the host of a forum honoring his father-in-law, the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., whose family led civil rights demonstrations in Orangeburg, S.C., in the early 1950s, before Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and Rev. Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963. He’s honored both Doug Williams, the Super Bowl XXII MVP winner, and Gary Mays, a multi-sport athlete in D.C. in the 1950s who guarded Elgin Baylor. Mays played catcher for Armstrong High School and almost made it to the majors despite having only one arm.
Bell advocated behind the scenes for the release of former University of Maryland basketball star Jo Jo Hunter from prison last year. Hunter had been convicted in 1997 of robbing two jewelry stores and was sentenced to serve up to 43 years in prison. Bell had several prominent sports stars and other Washingtonians write letters on Hunter’s behalf. He was paroled last summer. Bernard Levi a DC basketball playground legend and NFL legend Jim Brown have also benefited. Bell campaigned for Brown’s early release from jail after charges of spousal abuse in 2007.
“I’ve come to know Harold in the last few years,” says Brian McIntyre, who was the NBA’s longtime Vice President of Communications through 2010. “He’s a guy who’s reached back and touched an awful lot of people’s lives. He’s a fighter. He believes in what he believes dearly, and he’s not going to give an inch. You have to respect somebody who is as passionate as he is.”
For 45 years, he and his wife, Hattie, ran Kids in Trouble without grants or loans. The organization went into the D.C. neighborhoods in which Bell grew up while playing at Spingarn High. NBA Hall of Famer and Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing was the first pro athlete to reach back into the community. In 1967 there was a shooting after a basketball game between Spingarn and McKinley Tech. A Spingarn student was shot. Bing an NBA Rookie was playing in his first All-Star Game in Baltimore. Bell working with the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program (Youth Gang Task Force) was assigned to the shooting. There was talk of revenge among the Spingarn students. The quick thinking Bell drove to Baltimore to solicit the help of his friend Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing. After playing in the game on national television on Sunday, on Monday morning Bing walked into a Spingarn assembly and got a standing ovation from the Spingarn student body. His plea for peace was heard and further violence was averted.
Bell tried to improve the lives of at-risk youth by using pro athletes as a vehicle in his community programs. During the 1968 riots he and NFL Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer defensive back Willie Wood walked the 14th U Street corridor trying to quell the violence and save lives.
He was a multi-sport athlete at Spingarn, Bell has remained active in D.C.’s community as an adult. He and his wife have raised money to send kids to summer camps and coordinated Christmas toy parties for kids that otherwise wouldn’t get any toys. The Washington Redskin’s players Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Ted Vactor, Dave Robinson and Doug Williams often played Santa’s Helpers. Hattie and Harold started and found Kids In Trouble, Inc., and the Hillcrest Saturday Program for neighborhood kids and their families after the 1968 riots. They gave away Thanksgiving turkeys and organized tutoring programs. In 1971, he founded the only halfway house for juvenile delinquents ever established on a military installation. It was called Bolling Boys Base at Bolling Air Force Base in the Nation’s Capital.
He opened community centers that had previously been closed on the weekends to neighborhood children. Washingtonian Magazine named him Washingtonian of the Year in 1980 and called him “A One Man Community Action Program.” He was the first sportscaster to receive the honor from the magazine.
Bell and his wife Hattie have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon. He has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Bob Dole (R-Kan) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for his work with at-risk children.
“I think you’ve got to live by example. The only reason I’m still standing strong is because my high school and college coaches, Dave Brown and Bighouse Gaines were there for me when I was going to hell in a hurry. It’s not always financial when it comes to helping people. I made decent money as a talk show host with The Maryland Lottery, Coca-Cola and Nike as sponsors of my radio talk shows. Plus, I moonlighted on the weekends as a wide receiver playing minor league football. I tried to keep it real for my young people making sure they went “First Class.” I think I’m more proud of that than anything else. When I see my former youngsters today, it’s still Mr. Bell and Mrs. Bell. They show respect because I never misled them” Bell said.
Working in the streets, Bell came in contact with Petey Greene, a local legend who hosted a highly-rated radio show (and, later, television show) on WOL-AM. Bell had met Greene while caddying on the weekends at the prestigious Burning Tree Golf Course located in a Maryland suburb. It would be years later when Greene would give Bell five minutes of air time on his Sunday show to talk sports.
“It was a short lived honeymoon, Petey would later tell me to get the hell off his show and get my own show. Waiting in the wings was WOL radio personality Bobby Bennett, he picked me up. Bennett was the No. 1 DJ in the country at the time and was known as ‘The Mighty Burner. We talked sports on Saturday afternoons and the rest is sports media history” Bell said.
But within a few months, Bell was ready to go it alone with Bennett’s blessings. Station WOOK-AM another black oriented station hired him for a solo host job, allowing him to express his strong opinions with no filter. The show was christened “Inside Sports,” and for much of the next 20 years, Bell held court with a Who’s Who of sports figures. It was his relationships with Muhammad Ali and Red Auerbach that gave him instant credibility.
“Every sports talk show in this country is now formatted after the original Inside Sports,” he says. “Outside the Lines? I was Outside the Lines long before the show. I was real sports before Real Sports. I was discussing tough issues when everybody else was just giving the scores, batting averages and telling you how tall a player was. I played message music when no one was playing message music (Wake Up Everybody, What’s Going On, Black & Proud, etc). That was unheard of and now that I’m transferring my old shows to CD, I can understand why so many people liked the Inside Sports talk show format.”
His interviews with Jim Brown, Spencer Haywood, Sonny Hill, Don King and John Chaney are classics. He did panel discussion shows with pro football players on the difficulties they faced after they retired, decades before it became a national issue. He was the first to convene a Media Roundtable with other members of the media. He gave John Thompson and Sugar Ray Leonard their first airtime when they buy their own (and fell out with both).
I asked him if any of the high profile athletes he called out on his radio show had ever confronted him on any issues. He said “No, because there is no defense for the truth just like my grandmother had told me.”
“My friendship with the late Red Auerbach and his wife Dotie who lived in D.C. was like family” he said. There are others who have reached back like former NBA referee Lee Jones and Jim Clemons, who played with the ’72 Lakers championship team and went on to be an assistant coach on the Bulls’ and Lakers’ title teams of the ’90s and 2000s. He said, “I owe them dearly.”
“Good man,” former player/coach Al Attles of the Golden State Warriors says of Bell. “Good man. He does so much trying to help others. He’s good people. We go back a long way. He’s just been outstanding. I grew up in New Jersey and went to school in North Carolina, of course, and moved out to the west coast. But I have always been partial to people who give back to the community. He did so many things. I’m a community guy and he always was. It’s not easy. As we get older, and new people come in and do things, I don’t think it’s that people don’t appreciate what you’ve done, it’s just that people move on.”
In 1975, Bell produced and hosted a half-hour sports special on WRC TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington. His special guest was Muhammad Ali. It was the first prime time sports program produced and hosted by an African-American.
“I met Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967, when I was a roving leader,” Bell said. “He was there speaking to the students. He was going through all his problems with the draft and being black in America. We hit it off and walked from the campus down Georgia Avenue to 7th & T Streets together. We talked about my working with young people. He was really [impressed. We had about 40, 50 people walking with us it was like a parade. I didn’t see him again for at least three or four years. The late J.D. Bethea a sports writer for the Washington Times and was contemplating on writing a story on me, he and Attorney Harry Barnett invited to ride with them to see Ali fight an exhibition for a Cleveland hospital. Barnett at the time was representing George Foreman. And damned if Muhammad Ali didn’t recognize me during the press conference. He was like, ‘Harold Bell, what are you doing here?”
Bell hosted Inside Sports well into the 1990s at different radio stations. He never compromised (he once gave boxing promoter Don King a five-figure check back after he claimed King reneged on a promise). He chastised those whom he believed didn’t give enough back to the communities from which they came. Players, media, coaches, it didn’t matter. If you were on Bell’s bad side, there was hell to pay. “Radio is a special medium. I enjoyed taking calls from my listening audience (Bell, however, says he never hung up on a caller, and thinks many of today’s radio gabbers are “rude” to their listeners.)
“You’ve got to be able to distinguish between constructive criticism and destructive criticism,” he says. “I knew when people were trying to help me and when they were trying to hurt me … you always have to consider the source. When When Red gave me advice, I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Or when Al Attles pulled me to the side, I knew he was trying to help me, not to hurt me.”
Bell is still working. He now has his own YouTube channel, which airs his collection of star maker interviews on his radio shows with the likes of Ali, as well as Auerbach, Sam Jones, Attles, and Connie Hawkins. He sometimes can be heard on Sirius XM’s Maggie Linton Show, co-hosting a two-hour special on Sirius (Channel 110) last Friday to commemorate the end of Black History Month. He still has historic events at D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. And he’s still telling the truth and calling it like he sees it.
“If you know Harold,” McIntyre said, “and if you haven’t had a difference of opinion over something, then I don’t think you know Harold Bell.”
Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA described Bell best when he said on the John Thompson ESPN 98O radio sports talk show several years ago, “Harold Bell maybe controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”
HISTORY DENIED IN BLACK AND WHITE!
By Harold Bell
(Original Posted February 2010)
He grew up in the cotton fields of Mississippi where his mother earned two-dollars a day picking cotton. He would leave those cotton fields for the city of Detroit and leave behind the mental and physical chains of slavery.
Spencer Haywood left those cotton fields for the playgrounds and high school basketball courts in Motown. Instead of picking cotton he made a career out of picking rebounds off the backboards and scoring baskets at record rates.
His high school basketball performances earned him a scholarship to Trinidad College where he averaged 28 points and 22 rebounds a game for one season. He returned home to play at the University of Detroit and averaged an eye popping 32 points and 22 rebounds.
Trinidad and the University of Detroit were just warm up stops on his basketball journey. He would be only 18 years old in 1968 when he led the United States Olympic team to the gold medal in Mexico City. This was the same year sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos made their historical statement against racial segregation in America. During the presentations of medals they silently raised their black fisted signature gloves in protest. The protest was heard around the world.
George Foreman followed their act of defiance by waving the American flag in the ring after winning a Gold Medal in boxing. Those were three unforgettable moments and one moment Spencer would later say “I would rather forget. Tommie and John were putting their futures in jeopardy and were banished from the Olympic Village for their defiant act. If you were black and you were not going to support them, it was best you kept it to yourself.”
Instead of returning to the University of Detroit Spencer joined the newly organized American Basketball Association (ABA). In Denver he immediately became the face of the new league when he averaged 30 points and 19 rebounds a game. He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.
Despite his basketball glory and bright lights and big cities, Spencer never forgot the cotton fields in his native Mississippi. He remembered the long hours his mother labored in those fields picking cotton for pennies on a dollar. His choice to leave college was easy, turning pro he would be able to make those cotton fields just a bad memory.
In 1970 with the support and encouragement of his mentor and high school coach Will Robinson, he decided to challenge the NBA’s volunteer slavery rule, “No college no play.”
The challenge would be a very lonely journey and sometimes it was hard to tell whether his new NBA Seattle Supersonic teammates were playing with him or against him. The one man he knew was in his corner was team owner Sam Schulman. Schulman was the NBA’s Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavs) long before Cuban.
He marched to his own drummer; while Spencer was suing the NBA for trying to bar him, Schulman was suing the league for violating anti-trust laws. If those were not enough headaches for Spencer, the University of Detroit and the ABA was suing him for leaving school early and breach of contract respectively.
Those were difficult times for a young man who had not yet celebrated his 21st birthday. There were times when he was served with injunctions just before the tip-off of a game and banished from the arena. He slept in cars and in the team bus waiting for the game to end. The injunctions became a guessing game. It was hard to tell where and when the next injunction would be served.
Spencer played in only 33 games in the 1970-71 NBA season, starting, stopping and starting again with each temporary injunction.
The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, ruled in his favor and he later became “Public Enemy No. 1” in the NBA.
He had to grow up early and he became a “Man Child” before his time. There will be 24 players playing in the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, Texas in 2010, 21 of the All-Stars came into the NBA and became instant millionaires thanks to Spencer’s kicking down the door to free agency.
He blazed the path for the likes of Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dywane Wade and Kwame Brown. There are too many of them who don’t have a clue to who Spencer is as he relates to them and the NBA.
They don’t know, thanks to the NBA and brothers in so-called major media who refuse to take a stand and have fallen for just anything as it relates to Black History. It looks like most of them (media) have been brainwashed by the NBA and have followed their lead in pretending Spencer Haywood is just a figment of their imagination. For proof, do a Google search for “NBA History: African-American Influence and Breaking Down Barriers.” Spencer Haywood’s name is nowhere to be found. The sad part of this puzzle is that no one in the media has asked the question why?
Spencer’s groundbreaking accomplishment was more important than Earl Lloyd becoming the first black to play in an NBA game or Red Auerbach playing five black players for the first time. Free agency impacted every NBA player black and white.
Earl Lloyd was denied his rightful place in NBA History for 50 years until I asked NBA legendary coach the late Red Auerbach to join me in a campaign to get him inducted into the hall of fame. Earl was finally inducted in 2002. NFL Green Bay Packer legendary safety Willie Wood was also ignored for decades. He stood by and watched as his teammates were voted into the hall of fame one by one. He was left on the sidelines and reduced to a cheerleader. In 1985 I started an “Induct Willie Wood” campaign on my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports,’ and he was inducted in 1988.
Boston Celtic coach and benefactor, Doc Rivers was recently quoted as saying, “For the most part, Spencer has just been taken for granted by many of us. But what he did was huge for everyone. We should all be thanking him.”
After the court ruled in Spencer’s favor he continued to play heads and shoulders above the rim. In 1972 and 1973, he was on the All-NBA first team and became a chartered member of the All-Star game. During that era he was one of the five best players in the league.
I met Spencer Haywood shortly after his arrival in the “Big Apple” New York City. I was introduced to Spencer by CBS and NBA color analyst Sonny Hill. Spencer would later become a regular on my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports.’ Sonny Hill played an important role in my success as a talk radio personality.
The trade to the New York Knicks took Spencer over the top when it came to the fast life and drugs. He took the Big Apple by storm and made all the rich and famous parties driving a Rolls Royce and with his wife, Iman, one of the world’s top fashion models on his arm. Frank Sinatra once said in a song, “New York, New York if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.” Spencer Haywood had made it!
Bighouse Gaines, Spencer Haywood and Harold Bell and UM Coach Gary Williams (Far right)
When Spencer was at the top of his game as a NBA “Power Forward” he was one of the best. There were several other players who I thought was his equal, Gus Johnson of the Washington Bullets and George McGinnis of the Philadelphia 76ers. They also put the POWER into the forward position. They had the finesse of ballet dancers with a linebacker’s mentally. When they met head to head it was pro basketball at its best. I would take anyone of these guys and match them with any similar Power Forwards in the NBA’s 50 Greatest (Barkley, DeBusschere, Lucas). I would bet Spencer, George and Gus would win.
Spencer’s love affair with the Knicks was over before he could say “Where is the next party?” He suffered a knee injury and that didn’t help his career. Spencer had more time on his hands than NBA games and depression set in and the drugs were breakfast, lunch and dinner. In 1979 the Knicks shot an air ball to the Los Angeles Lakers and traded him, it was the beginning of his end.
Evidently, the Knicks thought, with the Lakers Spencer would feel more at home. The Lakers were known as Drug Central of the NBA. It was said the best high in the NBA was found in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room. He hit rock bottom at the end of the 1979-80 season when the team suspended him in the midst of the NBA Finals because of his drug use. Spencer went to sleep on the court while stretching.
The Lakers met the Philadelphia 76ers in game six of the NBA Championship finals, and 6’9 rookie Magic Johnson started at Center in the place of the injured Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The Lakers defeated the 76ers and Magic scored 42 points, handed out 12 assist and pulled down 15 rebounds. Spencer never got to see the game because he was high on drugs. The Lakers released him. His next stop was Italy, France for a year and he then returned to the NBA to play with the Washington Bullets from 1981 to 1983.
When his contract was up in 1983 I could tell that Spencer had a lot on his mind and he still had a mission to fulfill. One of the things we talked about was him getting his ring from the Lakers for the 1980 championship season. He was voted a share of the money but never got his ring. He was also concerned about his daughter Zulekha now that he and his wife Iman were having their problems. He seemed to be more concerned about reclaiming his NBA name.
Spencer had a passion for children and had no patience for politicians who used children only as a sound bite. He was proud of being sober from alcohol and drugs and the constant battle it took to stay that way. I took him for his word because he never did drugs or alcohol in my presence. Spencer knew all the athletes and sporting personalities who had drug problems in DC. The celebrity drug community in every city is a small and close knit group. The names he gave me I already had because of my street network. Some these same personalities are still sitting on NBA benches and hiding behind television microphones.
The great Power Forward I once enjoyed watching was now just a shadow of himself, his greatness seldom found its way on to the basketball court at Capitol Centre. Despite his diminishing skills he was still a great human being and a joy to be around. He always kept it real.
He cared little about material things. I remember when he was leaving town for over a week on a road trip with the team. He wanted to leave his Rolls Royce with me to have it serviced while he was gone. Hattie my wife almost had a fit and refused to allow me to keep his car. I called Spencer and told him the bad news about her being worried about me having an accident. He then asked me to put her on the telephone. I gave Hattie the telephone and two minutes later she was saying “Okay.” I don’t know what he said, but Spencer had away with words. She later told me he said “Hattie I have insurance and Harold has a license, what’s the problem?”
I was disappointed when I read the story by Tim Povtak senior NBA writer for the blog FANHOUSE how the NBA had pimp him and brought him to his knees while he tried to re-claim his name.
The story said that Spencer had tried to lobby the league for several years to name the NBA entry rule after him, like the Supreme Court that still bears his name, but that effort wilted.
I appreciate the writer Povtak being diplomatic and using the word “Lobby” instead of begging, because that is exactly what it sounded like to me.
According to Povtak, the rule has been altered a few times through the collective bargaining agreement with the union, yet the premise has remained the same. Thanks to NBA Union Representative Billy Hunter if it ain’t about him you can count yourself out. The Billy Hunter that I know is not going to stand up for anyone but himself. He sold Spencer out to the NBA.
Povtak goes on to say “It took the league years to gradually warm to Haywood after what he had done. He has been sober now for 24 years. He has spent the last 15 years as a league ambassador, traveling the world to promote the NBA. He served as a board member for the NBA Retired Players Association. He speaks often to young players about the pitfalls that once swallowed him.” It sounds like the NBA made him do community service to re-claim his name and they are now throwing him a bone during NBA All-Star weekend.
I am going to address the first sentence in the paragraph above, “It took the league years to warm up to Haywood after what he had done!” What had he done? I am reading between the lines that what Spencer had done was drugs and he fought the system that wanted to keep him from earning a living playing professional basketball. Were the crimes he committed, crimes enforced across the board?
If the NBA is punishing Spencer for doing drugs and if drugs are the issue then the NBA Hall of Fame should be half empty.
I would hope the NBA is not punishing him for standing up for his civil rights against their bias rule on free agency. If that is the case according to the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court they were the problem and not Spencer Haywood.
But there is a problem that is Spencer’s and his alone. When I read he said “I have two daughters who play basketball, but even they don’t know who I am in regard to what I did once, there were times when I was beaten down so badly, I felt almost ashamed of what I did.” That was not the Spencer Haywood the proud black man that inspired me to keep telling the truth, keep my head up and stay strong!
First, Spencer, have you heard of Home Schooling? Who can teach your children about your history better than you? Your children are your legacy and you and only you must make sure they are armed with the real story as it relates to you.
Our history is being stolen, ignored and others have used it for their own financial gain for over 400 years, for example; “Inside Sports” was a title my wife Hattie thought of in 1973 for my new radio sports talk show. John Walsh a writer for the Style section of the Washington Post decided in 1978 to take our title to New York City and discover Inside Sports Magazine. He followed the same pattern of Christopher Columbus when he discovered America with native Indians already occupying the land.
This was my fault I should have trademarked the name as I was advised from the very beginning. I made it easy for him. Guess who owns the trade mark to Inside Sports, how about News Week Magazine and the Washington Post newspaper? When I changed my show title to The Original Inside Sports, Walsh changed the magazine’s title to The Original Inside Sports Magazine! Walsh left a paper trail that Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder could follow (http://www.espnmediazone.com/bios/Walsh_John.htm). It is too bad it was not murder he committed in America what he did is called “White Collar Crime,” people like Walsh don’t have original ideas of their own so they take from others.
Spencer, you had a front row seat as the NBA and Billy Hunter proved they could care less about your pioneering efforts. There will be black brothers in media who will congratulate you on your pioneering efforts at NBA All-Star weekend. The faces will look familiar so ask them “where have you been for the past 24 years?” See if Billy Hunter can look you in your eyes and say “Spencer I tried.” Keep it real!
Our history will be overlooked and made out to be a joke if we don’t take charge, for example; Mike & Mike celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday recently on their morning show heard and seen on ESPN nationally. Mike Greenberg in a discussion about Rev. King called him out of his name when he referred to him as “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Coon King, Jr.” The silence from blacks heard, seen and read at media outlets like PTI, FANHOUSE, AROUND THE HORN, WASHINGTON POST and USA TODAY was deafening. Not a protested word was heard or read!
Boxing promoter Don King says “Racism is the biggest business in the world.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB8aUCvjUnY).
Spencer, if we don’t keep our own history it won’t be kept. Most will celebrate Black History Month the same way NBC television tried to do in New York City. The cafeteria’s black chef made up a menu of fried chicken, collar greens, potato salad, chitlings, yams and cornbread and a drink of choice (no desert, watermelon was out of season). The menu title “Black History Month Menu All You Can Eat.”
What happen to food for thought with names on the menu like, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, William DuBoise, Paul Roberson and the list goes on and on?
In 1993, Jill Nelson penned a book titled “Volunteer Slavery” as it related to black writers and employees of the Washington Post newspaper. According, to her book when she joined the Washington Post in 1986 she became a Volunteer Slave. Jill and Spencer have something in common, twenty-four years later little or nothing has changed.
In all honesty and fairness we cannot continue to lay all the blame of racism at the doorstep of the NBA and the Washington Post. We (Blacks) must take some responsible for not being able to see the forest for the trees!
Check and see who owns and calls the shots at BET, Essence Magazine, Radio One and TV One. Ebony Magazine recently sold their archives to the Internet giant Google. This means in the future if we want information about our history we are going to have to buy it from Warner Brothers, Comcast and Google.
In 2010, forty-two years after the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, I have to ask myself why is it we have not developed our own giants in media? Where are our media outlets that can compare with or challenge, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, etc?
Where are the voices in black media who we can compare with or challenge Larry King, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Russ Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Diane Sawyer, Barbra Waters and Katie Couric?
The more things change the more they remain the same. Mississippi and two-dollars a day are not as far away as we think!
If you see my friend Spencer give him this message from Smokey Robinson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_KKyw8V-l0.
To learn more about Spencer Haywood, click here to buy his book, “Spencer Haywood’s The Rise, The Fall, The Recovery.”
UPDATE: PATUXENT RIVER NURSING HOME COMMITS FRAUD: DECLARES PATIENT INCOMPETENT WITHOUT NOTIFICATION OR JUSTIFICATION!
In December 2012 my brother Earl K. Bell a resident at Patuxent River Rehab in Laurel, Md. signed Power of Attorney papers giving me permission to oversee his health needs at Patuxent River Rehab. His 2 adult children had abandoned him. Since their shameless act I agreed to take on the added responsibility for the simple reason, he is my brother.
Earl Bell is a former U. S. Army Military Policeman (8 years) and a former cop on the DC Metropolitan Department (13 years). A head-on automobile accident on his way to work ended his career in 1978. He was a Sgt at the time of his accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
He has been at Patuxent River Rehab for over 5 years. The staff has been rude and unprofessional during his entire stay. They have dropped him from a harness while trying to put him in a wheelchair that does not meet his physical needs. They pretended that it never happen (cover-up).
I have spoken to the Administrator Jodie Dyer and her staff in the Rehabilitation Office as it related to his wheelchair. They claimed his insurance would not pay for a wheelchair and would only do so if he was out living outside of the facility?
They are taking money from his police retirement, Army retirement, Social Security, etc. I don’t understand how is it that they cannot afford to get him a new wheelchair!
His “Wound Doctor,” Dr. Ernest Scruggins has been playing a game of Russian roulette with the sores on his backside. He changes his scheduled visits from weekly to bi-weekly whenever he sees it meets his needs. He leaves residents like my brother in jeopardy of developing infections from his bed sores.
It is a known fact that anyone whose mobility is hampered or who is confined to a bed or wheelchair is at risk of developing bed sores (also called pressure sore or decubitus ulcers). These wounds are serious injuries that can lead to sepis, infection, and death.
To prevent bed sores, the nursing staff is responsible for regularly adjusting the position of residents to encourage adequate circulation. According to experts, this is often not done. Staff members often fail to take the time to adequately move residents. They are mostly overworked and underpaid and they develop “I could care less attitudes.” I have personally witnessed these type of attitudes on my brother’s unit. I have heard Dr. Sruggins remind the staff nurses (Mariann and Oloue) that they are to clean my brother’s wounds. These nurses allow residents to sit or lay in bed unattended for hours causing these serious sores to develop. What makes matters worst the nursing staff lies to him about the status of his sores. They are telling him the sores are getting better. He can’t see or feel them but I can. This is negligence and a criminal act!
In November 2012, my brother did develop an infection and had to be isolated from the other residents. He was moved from room 202 to room 301 on the unit where his friend Harry Horton and I witness the transfer. They denied this ever happen also! What makes this so appalling is that Dr. Sruggins was outside of his room 4 days earlier and never bothered to examine his wounds. When I question why he was not examining my brother’s wounds, he said “Your brother is going to the DC VA Hospital next week (November 11th) for an evaluation and I will examine his wounds then. I want the report to be fresh.” Four days later I was called and told that my brother had developed an infection—once again an act of negligence.
Journalist Jackie Jones in an interview with Ombudsman Ms. Alice Hedt was told that an Ombudsman from her office had visited my brother. The Ombudsman found him in good spirits and he was never isolated from the other residents—another lie.
In a visit with Ms. Jones on Thursday, March 7, 2013 I recorded a videotaped interview with him and Ms. Jones. This marked the first time he had been out of his bed in 2 weeks.
I have alerted the local politicians, Steny Hoyer, Ben Cardin and Donna Edwards. They are so busy passing the buck from one to the other you would think they were in a relay race in a Track & Field meet! The senior citizen vote continues to be the most loyal vote in politics; hopefully they will remember to forget Hoyer, Cardin and Edwards at the polls next time around.
Evidently, Jodie Dyer and Corporate VP John Spadaro think they are immune and can get away with this type of abuse and negligence. Their act on Wed February 6, 2013 made me realize what a really dangerous place Patuxent River Rehab really is not only for my brother but for the entire residential population.
During a mandatory “Family Meeting” on Feb 6th a meeting that should be held monthly (the last one for Earl was October 2012). Conducting the meeting was a Social Worker I had never seen before. She brought to my attention for the very first time, “Patuxent River Rehab had declared Earl K. Bell incompetent.” By the way the Social Work Office in Patuxent River Rehab has become an office of ‘Musical Chairs.’
First, there was Crystal King, who told me in 2012 she didn’t go to college to get a Master’s Degree to have me question her about her duties as a Social Worker. She has since disappeared! Following her would be Diane Wilson who didn’t seem to have a clue. In the last “Family Meeting” in October 2012 Ms. Wilson made it clear to me that if I kept being augmented (I was trying to get some questions answered about the cover-up of the staff dropping my brother) she was going to cease having Family Meetings for my brother. She was true to her word another meeting was not held until Feb 6, 2013.
On Feb 6, 2013 she was a no-show and the news that my brother had been declared “Incompetent” was delivered by a NO-NAME who had been assigned the duties once held by Ms. King and Ms. Wilson.
What this state needs is another courageous prosecutor like Emmet Davitt who is not scared of these corrupt politicians and greedy nursing home administrators. While elected state’s attorneys and the attorney general pass the buck he follows the bouncing ball that leads to corrupt politicians who think they have a license to steal from its constituents. Mr. Davitt recently took down powerful Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold.
Pat Carter in the Prince George’s County Office of the Aging and Alice Hedt in the Ombudsman’s Office are all frauds and major players in this shameless charade of nursing home abuse.
There is little doubt that the paper work and the doctor that they claimed was used to declare my brother incompetent are all a part of this fraudulent act. They back tracked the paperwork to make my Power of Attorney (health) null and void. I have yet to see the paperwork!
The nursing home staff and administrators have left a trail of fraud and negligence that Ray Charles could follow. Family members and friends of nursing home residents are now calling me with other incidents of abuse in the facility.
I have since videotaped my brother in a conversation with witnesses proving he is anything but incompetent! I have advised him not to take any medicine he is not familiar with. I don’t put anything pass this staff. I have asked several of his police buddies to check on him on the weekends and let me know if they notice any change in his behavior. I watched my brother beat prostate cancer, colon cancer, racism and he now fights for his life in a nursing home that has anything but his best interest at heart. But it ain’t over until God says “It is over!” God does not like ugly.
I agree with Dr. Ben Carson when he asked: “Whatever happened to common sense?” Dr. Carson, I think the NEW COMMON SENSE is now spelled ‘DOLLARS & CENTS’ all in the name of the GREEDY!
For more information / contact number 240-705-3447.
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.
There’s A New Sheriff In Town
By Harold Bell
“THERE COMES A TIME WHEN SILENCE IS BETRAYAL”
Rev. Martin Luther King
Chairwoman Marcia Fudge of the Black Congressional Caucus says, “My colleagues don’ think there is poverty in America. They are crazy, nuts, evil and nasty people. They wanted to cut $16.5 billion from the food stamp program. I have never seen anything like them!”
Ohio’s Finest / 21st District: Marcia Fudge
During Barack Obama’s run for President in 2008 Tavis Smiley and his commentaries were a fixture on the Tom Joyner Morning Show heard in over 100 markets. Tavis abruptly quit the show which seem to come as a surprise to Tom and his morning show staff.
On April 11, 2008, Tavis Smiley announced that he would resign in June 2008 as a commentator. He cited fatigue and a busy schedule in a personal call to Joyner.
However, Joyner, referred to several commentaries in which Smiley was critical of then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, indicated otherwise on his program, stating: “The real reason is that he can’t take the hate he’s been getting regarding the Barack issue—hate from the black people that he loves so much.” Prior to the public controversy and being elected President, Obama had been on Smiley’s PBS show several times.
In the 2008 Presidential campaign Tavis invited then Presidential candidate Barack Obama to participate in one of his forums but Barack send Michelle in his place.
Tavis took Barack’s absent as a slight and many claim he still has not gotten over it! I have always thought if a man sends his wife to represent him it is a sign of respect for the person in charge.
During his first term as President, Barack Obama was giving anyone and almost everyone in black media an interview (except Tavis). Blacks in media seem to have carte blanch to President Obama and the First Lady Michelle (genius PR move). He became “The Darling” of black media.
This was unheard in the White House press corps before a black President occupied the White House.
The backlash from Tavis bashing the FIRST black President was sometimes real ugly during the first term.
Tavis said on more than one occasion that the President didn’t care about black people or the poor and down trodden. It didn’t play too well in the black community, but since that time some opinions have changed in favor of Tavis.
On October 1, 2010, Tavis Smiley turned the second hour of his PRI program into Smiley & West co-hosted by his longtime friend and adviser Dr. Cornel West.
Congress Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), his 21st Ohio District extended to blacks everywhere.
Tavis was in Washington, DC on Thursday January17, 2013 hosting a forum titled, “Vision for a New America: A Future without Poverty” at George Washington University. Let me say for the “Record” good luck!
The panel was made of Author Jeffery Sachs (Columbia University), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Author Jonathan Cole, Mary Ann Chilton (Drexel University), Rose Ann Democo (National Nurses United), Author John Kozol,U. S. Rep Marcia Fudge, John Gramm (Indiana University) and the brilliant Professor Cornell West (Union Theological Seminary).
One member of the panel described the perils of poverty best when they said “There is a highway into poverty but there is no sidewalk out!”
The most compelling personality on the panel and the most courageous was Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge. She brought to mind, the late Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) and the eloquent and powerful speaker Barbara Jordan (D-Texas). Their courage had no boundaries when it came to leading by example and speaking out against the injustices of a system that was supposed to be serving its people.
During the discussion Ms. Fudge said, “There are people working the House of Representatives who don’t believe there is poverty in America. I just left a retreat with my colleagues of the Congressional Black Caucus. These are the craziest people I have ever seen, we are dealing with a bunch of nuts who are evil and nasty and don’t care about anyone but themselves!”
These same colleagues voted to cut 16.5 million dollars in food stamps. We are sending people to Congress who do not understand what their job is and do not understand that they are there to represent the people.
Donna Edwards does not understand her role.
Ms Fudge made it perfectly clear from the very beginning “I am not owned by anybody. No corporations or anyone.”
For example; When Tavis reminded her there was tension between the Black Caucus and the White House during the President’s first term. He said, “There was a time when the President would not even meet with you.” She admitted there was some tension but reminded him that her job was different from the President of the United States.
Ms. Fudge did not allow Tavis during the forum to make her a part of the bashing of the President.
She pointed out that The FISCAL CLIFF is nothing but “Smoke & Mirrows.” It is just a cover-up for the debt that we owe for two wars, Bush tax cuts and Medicaid part D, it is all a game.
Ms. Fudge also said, “Democrats have given up on poverty and that is no no different from giving up on the gun issue. When you don’t have the answers you give up!”
She then pointed to the legislation that the President had passed to help the poor and downtrodden.
There were two major pieces of legislation, Obamacare significantly helps poor people. In the Stimulus, there was more money put into the Head Start program than ever before, Pell Grants were increased, unemployment was extended, more money was put into poor schools and two billion dollars was put into food stamps. I am not saying it was enough but let us put all the facts on the table.”
We are in a state of emergency our children are not only dying in our streets (Chicago) but they are dying in our classrooms (New Town)! Senior citizens are dying in our nursing home across this country but no one seems to care.
“The rule of money makes everybody and everything up for sale. There is a culture of fear where folks are scare of the TRUTH.
They are scare of losing their jobs, losing their status, scare of not being invited to the White House or the next Tea Party. There is a shameless silence in this country. It is the rule of money that has this country so corrupted (former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagel, the latest crook). There can be no integrity or trust when there is the rule of money.
Government can be corrupt and repressive against the people they are supposed to be helping. We must stop the silence, call your congressman and voice your displeasure. Until they see hungry babies or homeless—they are not going to believe it” said Ms. Fudge.
It looks and sounds like the New Sheriff is looking and asking for our help.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich without a doubt came up with a proposal and suggestion that just might help turn this country around.
He suggested to Caucus Chair Fudge that he would recruit Republican politicians to volunteer to spend 3 days each with a Democratic politician in their voting districts and vice-verse.
Her response, “You make it happen and I am in.”
I am thinking that would be a feat that you could compare with getting the Jewish Community to double date with the Palestinian Community! The Nobel Peace Prize would definitely be a possibility for both Newt and Ms. Fudge.
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more aboutHarold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.
Giving Nursing Homes A License To Kill?
One Man’s Fight To Save His Brother
By Harold Bell
Left to right: Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin
On Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 I was visiting Patuxent River Rehabilitation/Nursing Home in Laurel, Maryland. Wednesdays are when the assigned “Wound Doctor” Dr. Carlton Scroggins makes his rounds visiting patients. My brother Earl K. Bell, a U.S. Army vet and former D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer, is one of his patients.
Earl K. Bell Former Sgt. Military MP (U. S.Army), Sgt. DC MPD and Heavyweight boxing Champion (All-Army)
During this visit, Dr. Scroggins informed me that he would be visiting my brother every other Wednesday, biweekly instead of weekly. Shortly after that, however, he had a change of heart!
Dr. Scroggins told me he was going to admit my brother to the DC VA Hospital on Nov. 11.
“It looks like your brother is going to need surgery,” Dr. Scroggins said. “I think the skin on his amputated foot is too close to the bone. He will be admitted for evaluation.”
While visiting my brother on Nov. 10, the day before his scheduled evaluation at the VA Hospital, I was informed by his unit nurse Mariann that his evaluation trip to VA had been cancelled!
When I asked why, she responded, “It has something to do with his Medicare Insurance.” I didn’t see Dr. Scroggins again until weeks after the cancellation.
My first question to him was, “Why was my brother’s admittance to VA cancelled?”
First, he acted as if he knew nothing about Earl being scheduled to go to the VA. I had to refresh his memory of our one-on-one conversation. It was then that I knew there was a problem with the “Wound Doctor.”
He also seemed to be involved in the fabled 3 little monkeys’ game familiar in nursing homes around the country “hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil.”
My next encounter with Dr. Scroggins would be on Wednesday Nov. 28. When I arrived at Unit 2 of the facility, I observed Dr. Scroggins making what I would describe as “small talk”(laughing and grinning) with Patuxent staff.
When I walked into my brother’s room, his nurse Mariann was changing the bandages on his wounds.
I asked my brother if Dr. Scroggins had already seen him. His response was, “Not yet!”
This was highly unusual. When I visit on Wednesdays Dr. Scroggins first examines my brother’s wounds before clean bandages are applied. Since I was confused by the change in routine I returned to the hallway to get an explanation from Dr. Scroggins.
I found him still holding court with the unit staff. I waited patiently until he was through to ask him if he had seen my brother.
I was shocked when he replied, “No I am going to wait until next week. Your brother is due to be admitted to VA Hospital on the 14th (December) and that way I can write a fresh report!”
I said to myself, “Something is wrong with this picture.” This is a doctor who definitely does not seem to have his patient’s best interest at heart.
My fears were confirmed on Sunday, Dec. 2, when a staff member named Gladys, initially mistaking me for my brother’s son, said she had been trying to reach me concerning my brother. She informed me that his wounds had become infected. She said he needed antibiotics to combat the infection, but his son had not returned her calls.
This was just four days after Dr. Scroggins said he wanted to wait a week to write “a fresh report.” This means, while Dr. Scroggins was on the unit on Nov. 28, Earl was lying in bed with infected wounds that evidently the doctor knew nothing about or he was ignoring.
My brother was then assigned to another room away from the general population. I was told I would need to put on a mask and gloves during my next visit.
On Wednesday Dec. 5, Harry Horton a childhood friend and an old Army buddy of my brother visited the nursing home with me to see him. We found him in a room different than his 202 in isolation away from the general hospital population.
For the past 2 years I have asked the administration, futilely, to provide my brother with a new wheelchair. I was told his insurance would not pay for it. The social work staff led by Crystal King has had “Family Meetings” without notifying family members of the dates and times.
On more than one occasion my brother was denied scheduled visits to VA Hospital because of insurance claims and lack of transportation, most recently on Friday, Dec. 14.
On Friday Dec. 28, I received a telephone call from Patuxent River nurse Mariann. She wanted to know if I would be available to accompany my brother on a visit to a urologist in Greenbelt, Maryland because he needed someone there with him to interpret his needs to the doctor!
I explained to her it would be impossible because my wife was just coming home after an extended stay in the hospital. I asked her to call his son and daughter and Mariann said, “I have tried on several occasions but they won’t respond.”
Earl’s pensions and Medicare are paying Patuxent River Rehab to take care of him, but the facility cannot provide transportation and staff assistance to him for hospital visits and doctor appointments.
When they take responsibility for his care, am I the only one who finds something wrong with practice?
As we head into 2013, Earl K. Bell has not been admitted to the VA Hospital as scheduled. His last scheduled admittance date was Friday December 14, 2012. When I went to check on him on Monday, December 17, 2012 at the VA Hospital I was told he never arrived!
On October, 1st I wrote to Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) about my brother’s welfare, but it seems everyone was too busy passing the buck.
Edwards’ Chief of Staff Adrienne Christian said Patuxent River was the territory of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), not Edwards.
Ms. Christian passed the buck on to their office in Montgomery County, which passed me on to no one in particular. There was no follow-up.
Rep. Hoyer has been the exception among the Maryland politicians. He will get involved and will take up your fight but every fight cannot be his.
I have had up-close and personal experiences with Presidents (Kennedy and Nixon)and Congressmen like Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Parren Mitchell (D-Md), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Barbara Jordan (D-Tex) Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), all of whom kept it real and took their roles as public servants seriously when it came to helping others.
The problem lies with these “New Jack” politicians like Donna Edwards who could care less. They come into office with nothing but “Book Sense” and no people related qualities.
The sad part of this political process is that they hire staff that is just as clueless as they are.
Congresswoman Edwards’ indifferent behavior can be equally shared by the Patuxent River administrators and staff (John Spadaro and Jodie Dyer), the Wound Doctor (Carlton Sroggins), my brother’s son (Kenneth Bell), AARP (Addison Rand), the Maryland state ombudsman’s office, as well as the Ombudsman Program of Prince Georges County (including state ombudsman Alice Hedt and her colleagues (Stephanie Numer and Jeannie O’Brien), and The Office of Health Quality (Pat Carter).
There is no integrity or honesty in office of the Ombudsman program which is suppose to be there to protect nursing home residents.
In an interview with Tom Joyner’s (Black Americaweb.com) correspondent Jackie Jones, there are contradicting versions of what I witness taking place at Patuxent River Rehab and what the ombudsman’s office is reporting.
For example, Ms. Hedt who works out of the State office told Ms. Jones, that an Ombudsman told her that he had visited Earl Bell and that he had not suffered an infection and had not been isolated. Mr. Bell had a special cushion added to his wheelchair to alleviate the pressured sore. The Ombudsman told Hedt that Earl’s son was active in his father’s care.
He also told the ombudsman that his son had the Power of Attorney and he was a active participant in his care and that there were no problems. This is definitely a contradiction of what I witness at Patuxent River Rehab.
Gary Johnson, the Founder and Publisher of Black Men In America.com tried to contact administrators at Patuxent River Rehab in October of 2012 and never could get a response.
It gets worst, I am watching television (Fox News 5) during the month of November there is a segment on nursing home abuse. The story being aired was similar to my brother’s at Patuxent River Rehab (out of control bed sores).
A lawyer who claimed to be an advocate for nursing home residents was a part of the interview process. I am impressed by his concerned and response to nursing home abuse.
Attorney Michael Winkleman is on the show representing the law firm of McCarthy, Winkleman & Morrow, LLP. The next day I call information to get a contact number for the firm. After obtaining the number I leave a message for Attorney Wickleman.
Several days later Attorney Wickleman returns my call and we discus my brother’s problems. He says “I will get back to you”and he does (see e-mail response below).
Do you have any of the medical records? Do you have time to speak on the phone today?
McCarthy, Winkelman & Morrow, LLP
4201 Northview Drive
Bowie, Maryland 20716
On November 16, 2012 I received a second e-mail from his partner Attorney Tom Morrow (see below).
Dear Mr. Bell:
Thank you for speaking with me today regarding the unfortunate plight of your brother, Earl. You indicated he has been at Patuxent NH for 5 years and has recently been suffering from decubitus ulcers (bed sores). You believe this is the result of neglect and inattention from the staff of the nursing home. You advised that he is to go to the VA hospital on December 14 for surgical evaluation of the wounds.
I will be meeting with Mike Winkelman in the next several days to discuss an approach. I or Mike will be in touch after we have reviewed the issues in your brother’s case.
McCarthy, Winkelman & Morrow, LLP
One Town Center
4201 Northview Drive, Suite 410
Bowie, Maryland 20716-2668
I waited to get a response from them leading up to the Thanksgiving holidays. As we head into the New Year they have disappeared without a trace or call back!
Shakespear once cried out “Kill all the lawyers” I wonder why?
Last but not least, the politicians who passed the bill in 1996 that created HIPAA, supposedly designed to protect patient privacy, but which has created nightmares for families trying to get help for their loved ones because the law gives hospitals and nursing home administrators the power to sit on information they don’t wish to divulge under the guise of privacy.
The AARP has lost all credibility with its hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil representation of senior citizens.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley should be ashame of the way the State Ombudsman’ Office allows nursing homes to mis-treat and abuse senior citizens who deserve better.
They all are equally responsible for giving nursing homes around the country a “License to Kill.”
Politicians & HIPPA are creating more Dr. Jack Kevorkians (the Death Machine)?
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on, do and say nothing.–Albert Einstein
I REMEMBER EMANUEL STEWARD: FAST and FURIOUS—A PRINCE AMONG THIEVES!
By Harold Bell
The out pouring of love showered on Emanuel Steward after his surprising and sudden death was well earned. His death shocked the boxing world. He was a genius in the confines and corners of a boxing ring on any given night or day.
He was affectionately known as Manny to some but I preferred to call him Emanuel (I liked Emanuel because it was biblical).
His friend and colleague the late boxing historian Bert Sugar once described him as being “The Energizing Bunny” of professional boxing. To me he was much like the character starring in the epic television series Richard Boone “Have Gun Will Travel,” instead of a gun he had boxing gloves. Emanuel was always just a telephone call and plane ride away from his next boxing assignment.
There was always some champion, former or potential champion who needed to have his “Mojo” fixed and he was the man often called on to fix it!
His roots were in West Virginia but his heart was in the Motor City of Detroit. He moved to the city with his mother when he was 12 years old.
Emanuel easily adapted to the bright lights and big city of Detroit. He quickly learned the language of the streets. He became a boxing hustler of young men in the good sense of the word.
He had an outstanding amateur boxing career with 94 wins and 3 losses and he quickly learned pro boxing was not his calling and turned to coaching. The rest is boxing history.
The three biggest institutions in Detroit in the 70s and 80s were General Motors headed by Lee Iacocca, Motown Records headed by Berry Gordy and the Kronk Boxing Gym headed by Emanuel Steward.
I met Emanuel in the late 70s when he was making his mark as one of the great trainers and forces to be reckoned with in boxing.
U. S. A. amateur boxing. The first thing that attracted me to him was his outgoing personality which made everyone around him a friend. It took him a little while to warm up to me.
My personal relationship with Emanuel grew out my friendship with his partner Prentis Byrd. Whenever I would enter in their space Emanuel would yell, “Prentis, here comes your man Harold Bell” and this big smile would break out on his face!
Emanuel knew I was closely attached to Sugar Ray Leonard and maybe this was his way of saying “no secrets discussed please.”
There was definitely a distinct difference in the two camps. The Kronk Gym was built on a foundation of love, family and loyalty. Team Leonard’s foundation was built on one of mistrust, lies, theft and “Player Hating.”
Emanuel was flawed like most human beings. He was not tall, but he was dark and handsome and two out of three is not bad.
These characteristics along with his taste for fashion, quick wit and infectious smile made him a lady’s man. He had a girl in every port. He never saw a crap table he didn’t like and a pipe he could not smoke.
This was the fast and furious world of boxing, but these character flaws did not make him a bad human being, but I do think they shorten his life. I had his cell phone number and it was very seldom that I called when he was not on the run to an airport or meeting. It seems like he always had a cold; we would be talking and he would be sneezing and coughing. I would say “Emanuel you have got to slow down and take better care of yourself.” His response was often, “I am okay. I will call you when I get back in town.”
His heart was as big as the boxing ring when it came to his fighters and the people he loved. He would literally give you the shirt off of his back (if he had not already lost it).
I remember after one fight in Vegas when Tommy’s younger brother Billy got a hot hand at the crap table. Emanuel and Tommy walked away with a bundle (I won over $1,000 betting scared)!
On the way to get something to eat he put another $1,000 in my jacket pocket.
It was business as usual for him to take one of the fighters off of the mean streets of Detroit. His home would become their home. According to him, this and other missteps cost him his first marriage.
Television personality Geraldo Rivera once described the world of pro boxing as a place where the rats were bigger than the lions (Don King).
There was a lot of stress connected with Emanuel’s boxing success. For example; I remember one year in Atlantic City he was working the corner of Mike Tyson for Don King Promotions. After the fight Don had him running back and forth to his room and made him wait in line for his money.
When you work for DK (Don King) there are a whole lot of mind games played devised by him and a lot of going along to get along!
Emanuel often had money problems and during preparation for the Tyson fight he asked DK for and got a “Pay Day Loan.” Big mistake. After the fight DK acted accordingly–like a jackass. Despite his human flaws, Emanuel Steward was one of “The Good Guys.”
His very first champion out of the Kronk gym was Hilmer Kenty (a gentleman and class act). However, his crown jewel and meal ticket was the warrior known as “The Hit Man” the one and only Thomas Hearns.
I was in Detroit covering the fights when Hilmer and Tommy won their first titles. Tommy and Emanuel were as close as brothers. They were like shoes and socks, one could not go anywhere without the other!
Hilmer stopped Ernesto Espana in the 9th round in March 1980 to win the Lightweight World title at Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit.
Five months later I would return to Detroit to watch Tommy knock out Pipino Cuevas in two rounds to win the Welterweight title.
It was during this visit to Detroit I would introduce Emanuel to my friend Wayne Davis who was the Director of the FBI field office in Detroit. Wayne and I had become fast friends when he was working in DC during the late 60s. It was that same time period I was working in the streets with youth gangs for the DC Recreation Department.
I knew Wayne and Emanuel would like each other because of their outgoing personalities. Neither man was a phony in any sense of of the word.
Wayne would later write and thank me for introducing him to Emanuel.
When I became a trusted member of the Kronk Family Gym it was nothing for Emanuel or Prentis to call me and say “Harold we are going to be in DC this week and we are bringing Tommy and Hilmer, line something up for us to do in the community!”
I think they got a kick out of coming to DC and pissing Sugar Ray Leonard off and exposing him for forgetting who he was and where he came from!
In 2007 at the 37th Annual Christmas toy party for needy children we honored Emanuel with the Kids In Trouble, Inc., Life Time Achievement Award for his support of Inside Sports and our many community endeavors.
Emanuel had a lot in common with the great boxing guru the late Angelo Dundee. They both were class acts and generous with their time. Emanuel was definitely the Godfather of boxing in the Motor City.
When Emanuel’s passing was officially announced, words of love came in from around the world.
HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said, “There are no adequate words to describe the enormous degree of sadness and loss we feel at HBO Sports with the tragic passing of Manny Steward. For more than a decade, Manny was a respected colleague who taught us so much not only about the sweet science but also about friendship and loyalty. His energy, enthusiasm and bright smile were a constant presence. Ten bells do not seem enough to mourn his passing. His contributions to the sport and to HBO will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Washingtonian and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said, “With the loss of Emanuel Steward, we have lost a true Detroit icon. Emanuel Steward embodied our city’s toughness, our competitive spirit, and our determination to always answer the bell. We are grateful for Emanuel Steward’s many contributions to our city and his impact on generations of young people.”
There were words of condolences from former heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis and reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko said, “I will miss our time together. The long talks we had about boxing, the world, and life itself. Most of all I will miss our friendship, rest in peace Emanuel.”
“(My brother) Vitali and I, along with the entire Team Klitschko, send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Emanuel’s family and friends,” Wladimir Klitschko said in a statement. “It is not often that a person in any line of work gets a chance to work with a legend. Well I was privileged enough to work with one for almost a decade.
“I will miss our time together,” Klitschko said. “The long talks about boxing, the world, and life itself but most of all I will miss our friendship. You will be greatly missed.
My team and I will carry on with the goals we had set while Emanuel was with us because that is exactly what Emanuel would have wanted. I know he will be with us in spirit along the way and we will accomplish these goals in his honor, until we meet again my friend.”
Klitschko, is training in Austria for a November 10 title defense against Mariusz Wach, knew the gravity of Steward’s illness and was forced this week to announce a replacement for Steward for the fight, tapping Steward Disciple and pro heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a Kronk Gym product.
Emanuel began working with Klitschko in 2004, and their first fight resulted in a knockout loss to Lamon Brewster. But under Steward’s steady hand, Klitschko rebuilt himself into a heavyweight force and one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in history.
He got a lot of the credit for helping Klitschko mentally as much as he did for training him physically. Klitschko and Steward shared a close bond that went deeper than simply trainer and fighter.
The words of Lennox Lewis I think summed up the feelings of those who knew and loved Emanuel Steward when he said: “I’m completely devastated by the passing of my long time friend, mentor and trainer Emanuel ‘Manny’ Steward, Manny has helped me get through some of the biggest fights in my career and I only regret that I couldn’t return the favor and see him through his biggest fight.
We’ve maintained a close relationship and the last time we spoke he seemed his usual upbeat self so it was very disturbing to hear about his illness and rapid decline. It is with a heavy heart that the realization of what I hoped were just rumors, are now in fact true. Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, he was the best and I’m grateful, privileged and honored to be counted among his many historic successes. We’ve truly lost one of boxing’s crown jewels. Manny was giving, selfless, compassionate and stern. He always gave back to the community and never forgot where he came from. He was an institution unto himself and I’m proud to have had him in my corner for so many years.
I’m extremely grateful for the time that I was given with him and he will be severely missed by all who knew and loved him. I’ll miss his smile, his frank no-holds-barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. My prayers and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
In this time where a lot of attention is being focused on sports figures and their struggle with finances, I hope Emanuel’s decade long employment with HBO, his relationship with Lennox Lewis and the Klitschko brothers will mitigate any potential financial woes.
Muhammad Ali, I think described Emanuel best. I remember asking Ali how he distinguished his true friends. Ali said: “Friends are like our shadows they are with you as long as you are in the sun, but once you cross over into the shade your shadow disappears. A friend is always doing something for you and never expecting anything in return.” Sounds a lot like my friend Emanuel Steward!
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside Sports.com.
The Legendary “Uptown Janice Brown’s” Greatest Roles –Mother and Friend
By Harold Bell
I checked Google, Twitter and Facebook, the social media vehicles for the world. I was looking for all the articles and comments on the Internet as it related to the life and times of the late Janice Brown aka “Uptown Janice Brown.”
I just discovered my friend had died in Washington, DC on August 20, 2012. She was just 55 years old. The most accurate account written about Janice was found in a small newspaper published in North Carolina called the “Bald Head Island.” The first paragraph described her right on point “Janice Lee Frink Brown affectionately known as “Jan,” was a selfless, loving mother, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher and friend, impacting countless lives. She loved much and lived life to its fullest.”
The accounts of her life written by the local know it all yokels in Washington, DC described her as a “much-loved jazz vocalist in the DMV (District/Maryland/Virginia), known for her wit and warmth as well as her exceptional timing. She was a regular performer at Monday Night Jazz at Vicino’s Restaurant in Silver Spring, MD., and a fixture on the annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. She also released a CD, “Two Shades of Brown.”
Janice was also a respected journalist, serving for many years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Afro-American newspaper. But she was probably better known for her efforts as a broadcaster: Janice was a veteran radio personality, including a long stint as an on-air staffer for WPFW-FM radio; in addition, she taught public speaking and broadcasting at the University of the District of Columbia (where she also took classes in the Jazz Studies program). She held a Master’s degree in communications from American University.
There was much more to JB than being a vocalist, dancer, comedian, radio and television reporter, editor and a slave to fashion. Her most important accomplishments were as a mother and friend.
I remember JB or “Little Bits” as I called her when she was just a cute little bag of bones. WUST radio was her first media gig. WUST was the gospel voice of radio in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was gospel radio legend Lou Hankins who gave JB her first break. He became her mentor, Big Brother and lifetime friend.
History should record her foundation for success was first laid at the front door of WUST radio. Years after the doors of WUST closed Lou and JB stayed in touch. They were in constant contact until she told him she was going home to beat a cough she had developed—shortly after that conversation she died of lung cancer.
When I met JB at WUST in 1980 I was already a well known sports talk show and community personality. I had just been named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. She would always tease me each morning after her traffic report by opening the studio door and saying “Good morning legend” and crack up laughing.
JB would always remind me, she was also someday going to be a legend. My response would be “Only in your mind.” Her sense of humor kept us laughing. JB’s never say die spirit and her smile made the station a great place to work.
On her way to becoming a legend she took time out to make sure her number one priority was her daughter Whitney. She wanted to make sure Whitney had an opportunity to grow up to share the America Dream of being somebody. JB was a single parent, and against all odds the struggles sometimes would become overbearing. The hard times made her more determine and she hung tuff, thanks to Lou and the WUST radio family who was always there for her. The family consisted of Jay Marie Morris, Reggie Hales, Wendell Henderson, Ralph Colbert, Levi Conley, Carl DeShazio and I. We were family in every sense of the word.
Despite the tough times her focus remained on little Whitney and making sure she was always on the right track of life. JB’s warrior mentality paid off in spades. Her legacy is in good hands, Whitney is a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC. She is an accomplished dancer and teacher (Debbie Allen School of Dance). She has appeared in movies with Martin Lawrence, (Big Mamma’s House 2) and with Queen Latifah (Hair Spray). Whitney recently returned from a stint with the Broadway Musical cast “Memphis.” This proves the theory that an apple does not fall too far from the tree.
My last encounter with JB was in 2010 when her friend Dr. Carl DeShazio (former co-worker at WUST) called and asked me to help them coordinate and in-school event “The Michelle Obama Fight against Childhood Obesity.” The event was being held at Amidon Elementary school in southwest Washington, DC. Legendary boxing champion Roy Jones was the guest speaker.
When JB saw me the first words out of her mouth was “The legend” and my response was ‘You waited to get old to get fat.’ We both burst out laughing.
I will never forget when the late NBC TV 4 sportscaster George Michael (The Sports Machine) called the radio station wanting to speak with me while I was preparing for the evening broadcast. Janice brought the message from Lou for me to pick up the telephone.
George was pissed off because I had singled him out in a Washington Post story relating to sportscasters covering the Washington Redskins; I had called him the town’s biggest cheerleader.
When I had finished, I called George every name but a child of God and hung up the telephone. Janice peeped through the door and said, “Calm down legend,”and walked away laughing.
Janice Lee Frink Brown was always good for a laugh. She was a rare lady—she could laugh at herself! Heaven and God’s Angels have just been blessed with the complete entertainer (move over Sammy Davis, Jr.).
JB, you believed that you could fly and fly you did throughout the Washington, DC metro area for over 30 years. Some people are legends in their own mind and others are legends in their own time, you are truly a legend in your own time. RIP my friend.
There will be a final goodbye to Janice Lee Frink Brown on Saturday October 13, 2012 with a memorial service in her honor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts from 7 pm until 9 pm.
Bill Raspberry: A Love Lost
By Harold Bell
When I learned of the passing of Washington Post columnist William Raspberry on Tuesday July 16, 2012 I was moved to remember the song “The Way We Were.”
I met Bill along with my mentor and friend the late legendary radio icon Petey Green in Face’s Restaurant in Washington, DC. This was shortly before the riots in 1968. Face’s was a hang-out for the so-called “In Crowd” in what was then known as “Chocolate City!”
Petey and I were sitting at the bar debating whether the Redskins would win a game during the upcoming season and he looked over at this little guy sitting a couple of bar stools away and asked “My man what do you think?” Bill looked up from his plate and said “Man I don’t have a clue I am from Mississippi!”
As only Petey Green could the conversation went from the Redskins to picking cotton. He made Bill laugh so hard he had to get up and go to the bathroom before he peed on himself. The three of us would become fast friends and football, kids and politics would be our topic of conversation for the next several hours.
Petey was than working with the self help group the United Planning Organization as a Neighborhood Worker, Bill was working for the Washington Post (he never mentioned he was a writer) and I was working for the DC Recreation Department as a Roving Leader (Gang Unit).
We would meet at Face’s on Friday (lunch or Happy Hour) for its legendary fish fry. Ms. Booker cooked the best fish in town. I don’t remember when Bill told us he was a writer but there were two things Petey pretended to hate, the Redskins and anybody who wrote for the Washington Post! But, Bill passed the smell test because he and Petey got along fine.
My wife Hattie and I founded the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program and Kids In Trouble in December 1968 (the result of the 1968 riots). The Center was located at 14th and W Street s in northwest DC. The program was housed in the old Turner’s Arena where legendary entertainers once performed and it was the first home of the now world famous WWE and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon ,Jr., (he took over the mantle handed down by his father and James Dudley). Mr. Dudley lived directly across the street from the arena and was Don King before Don King. He was the first black to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was also my “checks and balance” guy.
The building was then the Hillcrest Children’s Center. The Center was run by Children’s Hospital and catered to children with behavior problems.
During the riots there was talk of burning the building down because the neighbor children resented the fact that they were not allowed to use the building. The center had an indoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor basketball courts and classrooms. It didn’t make it any easier when black neighborhood children would see white kids parading in and out of the building during the week. The building was closed on the weekend (special needs children would sometimes stay over night and into the weekend).
The administrators became concerned when the neighborhood children begin to harass the staff and their clients verbally. Someone in the community brought me to the attention of Center Director Nicholas Long as “Mr. Fix It!”
A Monday morning meeting was arranged for me to sit down with Dr. Long to discuss how to mend the fences between the center and the neighborhood. Without my knowledge Dr. Long had already devised a “Game Plan.”
The plan was for me to coordinate and oversee a Saturday recreation program for the neighborhood kids! I didn’t think much of the idea because it would intrude on me moonlighting as a wide receiver for a minor league football team on the weekends. The Virginia Sailors was an affiliate of the NFL Washington Redskins. I still had dreams of becoming a player in the NFL. I left the office of Dr. Long saying “I would think about it.”
What I was really saying was “No way Hosea!”
I could not wait to catch up with Petey and Bill on Friday at Face’s to get their opinions on how to get out of making a commitment to this “Dream Buster” of an idea! I called Petey and Bill to make sure we were still on to meet because sometimes one of us would be a no-show because of prior commitments. Petey could not make lunch so we agreed to meet at the evening “Happy Hour.”
Bill had never seen me play for the Virginia Sailors but Petey would come out to the home games played on Saturdays in Reston, Virginia. He would leave usually at half-time without acknowledging he was there (Hattie would see him coming and going)! He was a student of the game. Petey could tell me precisely what pass patterns I had run and exactly when I would be free lancing on my own. He would always say “You would have made a great actor!” It was all a part of the on field game that I played with the defensive back to get the upper hand.
The meeting at Face’s took a turn for the worst when both of them jumped on me for putting football ahead of the kids. I was surprised when Bill said, “You need to do this and we got your back.” Petey just looked at me and said “Don’t look at me!” The decision was made and the rest is community history.
My Spingarn high school teammate Andrew Johnson was a DC cop in the neighborhood and my brother Earl both physically covered for me on the weekends when the team was out of town.
Bill Raspberry’s word was good (unheard of today in media), during our relationship he never lied to me. You could carry his word to the bank. Folks in media run a close second to politicians when it comes to telling a lie.
Bill and I didn’t always agree, if I brought something to his attention and he didn’t feel comfortable addressing, he would say “Harold I am going to pass on that one you handle it” and I would!
For the next decade Bill’s columns would challenged the DC Police Department when they refused to allow my brother Earl K. Bell employment because of his juvenile delinquent past. Shortly after his story was published the department back tracked and hired him. There would be several other stories in his column with me as the focal point. He really had my back as he followed my trials and tribulations in the community as it related to kids in trouble.
With Bill and Petey showing their support by participating in my community endeavors others would follow their lead (athletes, judges, politicians, entertainers and media personalities, etc. joined the team). It also didn’t hurt to have their VIP wives Sondra and Judy in their ears as back-ups on my behalf!
William Raspberry’s support allowed me to excel and blossom as a Youth and Community Advocate. He also gave me an earful when he thought my radio show the “Original Inside Sports” was politically incorrect, but it was always “Constructive Criticism and never Destructive Criticism!”
We went our separate ways over a trivia disagreement and for the past 2 decades we have been like ships passing in the night (never seeing each other). Much like Petey, Bill died without me telling him how much I appreciated and loved him.
In December 2012 Hattie and I will celebrate and coordinate our 44th Annual Christmas Toy Party for needy elementary school children (without grants or loans). The first was held at the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program in 1968. It only happened because Bill Raspberry kicked me in the butt and made me get my priorities in order when I truly needed to.
Thanks Bill and Sondra.
American University Finally Remembers Dickie Wells
By Harold Bell
On Saturday February 25, 2012 the last weekend in Black History Month American University will welcome a native son back to its campus. The late Richard “Dickie” Wells will be finally inducted into the school’s basketball hall of fame. Fifty-six years ago he was a trailblazer and pioneer on the basketball court. The school is located in the far northwest corridor of Washington, DC, at the intersection of Nebraska and Massachusetts Avenues NW.
It was the last outpost of higher education in the Nation’s Capitol. Westmoreland Circle was minutes away from the Maryland suburbs that could lead you to all points south.
When a student/athlete talked about going out of state to attend college he could have easily been talking about American University!
Dickie grew up on Benning Road a corridor located in the far Northeast section of Washington, DC.
Benning Road was minutes away from Kenilworth Avenue. This road led you to the Baltimore/Washington Parkway leading you to all points north (New York City, etc).
He was an all-around athlete at Spingarn High School where he was a starter and star on the football and basketball teams.
In basketball he was a tenacious rebounder and defender, according to his teammate Andrew Johnson who grew up in the same neighborhood.
Andrew also remembers other qualities and characteristics that made Dickie the ideal candidate for his pioneering role at American University, he said, “He was unselfish and coachable!” Dickie would often take younger guys under his wing and help them improve their athletic skills.
I remember I was one of those young athletes who benefited from Dickie’s unselfish behavior. When I arrived at Spingarn I was going to hell in a hurry and he became my mentor.
Dickie was a starter on the 1956 Spingarn football team that beat the legendary QB Willie Wood and his Armstrong teammates 13-7 to win the East Division Championship. The win earned Spingarn the right to meet Cardozo HS for the DC Public High School Championship.
Spingarn tied the Clerks 0-0 but Cardozo was awarded the championship on a little used and never heard of before tie breaker system called Penetration. The rule stated the winner in a tied game is the team that crosses the other team’s 50 yard more frequently—winner Cardozo.
The burning question is how did Dickie Wells find his way on to a campus on the other side the city using only public transportation (bus)? It was a two and a half hour ride each way going and coming to the school’s campus and back home.
Enter, American University Coach Dave Carasco. He could have easily played the leading role in the Sidney Poitier movie classic “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner!”
Evidently, Coach Carasco had been watching Dickie’s exploits as a DC Public High School athlete and after graduation he found his way to his home on Oklahoma Avenue, NE. Dickie lived directly across the street from Spingarn.
When Dickie graduated from Spingarn it was still a time of “Civil Uncertainty” recalls his big brother Ed Wells, a basketball legend in his own right. He was a star player at Armstrong and North Carolina A & T in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It was just a couple years (1954) removed from Brown vs Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in the public schools in America.
Dickie’s teammate the late Spotswood Bolling was the lead plaintiff for the DC Public School system it was Bolling vs DC Board of Education.
The DC Public Schools for example; were still wrestling with the process of integrating or desegregating their schools.
-There had been no march on Washington
-No Million Man March.
-No I had a dream speech—by Dr. King
Big brother Ed remembers that several of his classmates at North Carolina A & T were holding meetings to discuss the possibility of the now historical “Sit-ins” at the lunch counter of the downtown Kreslers Five & Dime store in Greensboro.
It was during these times within this social climate that Coach Carasco came to dinner.
He sat at the Wells’ dinner table and spoke passionately of his vision of a racially integrated basketball program at American University. After several home visits and fried chicken dinners he was able to convince Mrs. Wells that Dickie was the right man to join him in his quest.
Ed said he found it kind of strange that the coach never talked about a “letter of intent” or basketball in general.
He never mentioned SAT scores, but he thought that he already knew that Dickie was academically endowed. Mrs. Wells was a DC Public School Administrator and Ed would follow in his mother’s footsteps as a Principal. Coach knew that an apple does not fall too far from the tree! Dickie was truly a student/athlete in every sense of the word.
When Mrs. Wells inquired about the duration of Dickie’s scholarship, Coach Carasco simply said, “He can stay as long as I stay.” American University had already made a commitment to integration, Coach Carasco was Mexican American.
The thing that I think impressed Mrs. Wells was Coach Carasco’s honesty, he said repeatedly “This undertaking was not going to be easy and could be very, very unpleasant at times.”
Coach made it clear to Dickie, there was to be no fighting, no matter what the score of the game. He said, “If we fight we lose everything.”
The conditions for this unlikely union still puzzles Ed to this day, he says, “My brother was not one to turn the other cheek. I still can’t understand why he would commit to such an undertaking. Plus, I thought I knew my brother far better than anyone. This was not the Dickie Wells I knew.”
“There was nothing in his DNA, nothing in his day to day persona that would lead anyone to select him for this Jackie Robinson role,” according to Ed.
He had several scholarships more prestigious than American University.
Dickie grew up on the playgrounds of Washington, DC and was most at home on the basketball courts of Henry Blow, Kelly Miller, Brown, Bannecker and Park View recreation centers.
Dickie held more than his own on playgrounds like Park View in NW DC where they played hard core basketball—-it was NFL style without the helmets and shoulder pads. It was truly Bump and Run basketball.
In these vineyards—you asked for no quarter and no quarter was given! It was protecting yourself at all times and at all cost.
Dickie was 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds of muscle and grit, and when provoked he could be as mean as a snake.
George “Dee” Williams was his Spingarn teammate, best friend and confidant. He said “Dickie was a greater human being than he was an athlete. Dickie was a man of integrity and of high character and he could be brutal with the truth!”
American University Coach Carasco was a visionary and he saw something in Dickie that far exceeded rebounds and jump shots. He hugged Mrs. Wells and shook Dickies hand and the two stepped into the history sport pages of American University.
Mrs. Wells cried when she first saw Dickie run out of the dressing room with no. 24 stitched on his white jersey across his chest, but they were tears of joy.
Ed asked his mother “Why are you crying at a basketball game?”
Her response, “I am so proud of Dickie and overjoyed to see him do something significant with his life.” American won its first game.
But the tears of joy were short were lived they became tears of anger. The team went on the road to play its first road game in the Mason/Dixon Conference. The experience was surreal!
The host was Mt. St. Mary’s and its student made it perfectly clear that they resented the distinction of being the first college in the conference to host a rival team with a minority coach and a minority starting player.
There were hundreds of disgusting placards reading N—– go home with vile epitaphs and vulgar language directed at Dickie and Coach Carasco. Ed remembers there were several black cats released upon the floor delaying the game for what seemed like a life time!
The name calling and verbal abuse went on throughout the game and only subsided when Dickie fouled out early in the fourth quarter. It was than the student body stood in unison and locked hands. They rocked back and forth with eyes closed as the band played “Bye Bye Black Bird.”
The song was sung with such furor and enthusiasm as if they had practice this ritual many times in anticipation of the moment.
His mother cried tears of anger and rage and asked “How could anyone do this to another human being?”
American University lost the game but won the battle, there were no fights and no physical confrontations.
After the game Mrs. Wells asked Coach Carasco, “Are you expecting all the remaining away games to be this volatile?”
His response was “I certainly hope not, but I am proud of the fact that we maintained our composure. I think we are going to be okay and we will be back, we will be back!”
The American University basketball team was like General Douglas McArthur when he promised during World War ll “We shall return.”
The next time they returned they had playground legend and the pride of Dunbar HS, Willie Jones! He was the jump shooting and trash talking guard who would eventually take the conference by storm. On the team’s next return Willie would help reduce the “Bye Bye Black Bird Choir” to only two choruses and the next year they added several other “Black Birds” that now included Dickie, Willie, John Carroll HS standout Jim ‘Beanie’ Howell and Spingarn’s jumping jack, Gene Johnson.
The student body choir was now faintly heard singing only one chorus in the far, far corners of the gym.
Dickie’s senior year they were operating on all cyclers. The brash talking and jump shooting Willie Jones and Dickie’s rebounding made the school a “Show time” experience. You would have thought the offending school had changed its name to Gallaudet. The silence was deafening.
There were no more Bye Bye Black Bird songs, before, during or after the game.
Ed now says, “I doubted if they would ever sing Bye Bye Black Bird songs again anywhere, at any college or university and in any conference.”
Dickie Wells’ impact on American University men’s basketball is still apparent when you look through the record books. He is second all-time at American University with 1,184 career rebounds and sixth and eighth with 433 and 412 rebounds in a single season, respectively. He also ranks third with 16 free throws made in a single game at Towson State.
Dickie was the first African-American player at American University and in the Mason Dixon Conference. His presence paved the way for Washingtonians like, Willie Jones, Jim Howell, Gene Johnson and all the other black athletes who have followed in his footsteps.
He was also the school’s first Afro-American to receive All-American honors when he was named a Little College All-American Honorable Mention in 1958. He was also named an NCAA college Division Honorable Mention in 1960.
The pioneering efforts didn’t occur by accident it took American University and men of grit and courage to silence the Bye, Bye Black Bird songs sung across this nation. Dave Caraso was such a man, Willie Jones is such a man and 56 years later American University has finally remembered and realized Richard “Dickie” Wells was such a man!
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site H. B. Sports Legends.com.
By Harold Bell
On Saturday December 10, 2011 Golden Boy Promotions hitched up its wagon in the West and headed South to Washington, DC. Golden Boy is a boxing production company based in California headed by boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya.
Their travel plans were based on a talented home grown Washington, DC heavyweight boxer who goes by the name of Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell and a talented super light weight boxer by the name of Lamont Peterson.
These two would headline a boxing card of local boxers from two different worlds even though they co-exist in the shadows of the Nation’s Capitol and a section of Maryland that is called the richest black county in America—–Prince George’s. Rich is a word that would never be used in association with Seth and Lamont.
Seth is a former High School All-American linebacker from Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Maryland. He took his academic and football skills to the next level, Michigan State University where he was a shining star until an injury cut his NFL dreams short. He never looked back and graduated on time with a degree in Criminal Justice and Security Management.
On Saturday Seth lived up to his advance billing as a potential next “Heavyweight Champion made in America.” His nickname is ‘Mayhem’ and his opponent Timor Ibragimov must have thought that he was in the ring with a tornado named Earth, Wind and Fire. The fight was over in flash with a TKO in the second round. Seth improved his record to 24-0.
The best was yet to come!
Lamont Peterson lived parentless and homeless with his brother Anthony on the streets of Washington D.C. from age 9 to 14. He was a 7-to-1 underdog against Briton’s Amir Khan (26-2, 18 Kos).
HBO analyst and native Washingtonian Bert Sugar is recovering from heart surgery at his home in New York but said, “This kid Amir Khan is on the verge of being one of the best all around pound for pound fighters in the world. If Lamont brings his A game this could be a great fight!’
Lamont not only brought his ‘A Game’ he brought along the entire alphabet from A to Z! He gave the hometown fans something and someone to root for and that has not happen since the boxing era of Sugar Ray Leonard!
On Saturday night Lamont took a page out of the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns “Play Book.” Sugar Ray had a heart as big as the ring and Lamont shown his was just as big!
In the first couple of rounds Bert Sugar’s words clouded my judgment because Khan had Lamont looking like he was a tune-up for the great Floyd Mayweather!
Khan came at the opening bell like he wanted to make fast work of Lamont. He was beating him to the punch with one-two combinations before he could blink.
Khan looked like everything that Bert said he was and more. I began to hold my breath just hoping that Lamont had enough to hold on without being embarrassed before his hometown fans of family and friends. The first round ended with Khan knocking down Lamont twice but the referee ruled the first knockdown a slip.
In the second round Khan picked up right where he left off, making Peterson back up with a six-punch combination. Khan seemed to be the faster, bigger, and a cleaner puncher, but Lamont started to get his act together. He was beginning to find his legs and range by jabbing and returning punches on the inside.
In the third round Lamont really came alive he was connecting with flurries to the body and head. This is where “Home Field Advantage” took on a life of its own. The chants of “D.C., D.C.” began to sweep across the Convention Center.
When the dust had settled Lamont had won a controversial majority decision thanks to referee Joe Cooper who deducted two points from Khan in the 7th round for hitting off the break and two more points for pushing off in the 12th and final round.
This was beginning to look like it really could be a “Rags to riches” story, from homeless to World Champion!
Legendary trainer Freddie Roach, Khan’s trainer was highly pissed off about the decision. He said, “The first knockdown was clearer than the second one. He did a terrible job, the referee shouldn’t decide fights, he is not a judge. He made himself a judge tonight.”
Amir spent too much time on the ropes. He gave him too much momentum, but I never thought he was in danger.
He took two points away for nothing and he didn’t give warnings. This is like an amateur referee. A referee at this level of competition shouldn’t make those mistakes. He decided the fight, not the judges. The referee took it out of the judges’ hands, which is bull—t,” Roach said.
The President, Oscar De La Hoya, of Golden Boy Promotions was heard during the press conference explaining the controversial decision saying, “If the first point isn’t taken, Khan retains the title on a draw and if both are ignored, the 25-year-old Khan wins a unanimous decision.”
Khan said, “It was like I was against two people in there. I knew it would be tough in his hometown but this is why boxing hasn’t been in D.C. for 20 years, you get a decision like this.”
Welcome to “Black America,” where we face 2-1 and 3-1 odds everyday!
It is too late to cry the blues now, it was Khan’s idea to fight in Washington after he was invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a White House dinner for prominent Muslim athletes in connection with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Someone in his camp evidently told him that Lamont would make a good “Tune Up” for Mayweather who is on his radar for somewhere in the near future! Man, did they dial a wrong number!
They forgot to include in the equation, Lamont’s heart, his life on the streets and the pride and hunger of being a black man in America.
Lamont said, “Things were always rough for me, recalling to his extraordinary origins. Things have never come easy for me. I was prepared for a backyard fight and that is what it was.”
This fight could have easily gone in either direction and I hope Lamont understands this same scenario could easily take place in Khan’s hometown, remember “What is good for the Goose is good for the gander!”
I found it interesting that everyone seemed to agree on — from Peterson to Khan to Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya — was that an immediate rematch was necessary.
Khan was heard saying while pushing for a return fight in the United Kingdom, “He won the fight tonight and I’m ready for a rematch, straight away, immediately. I came to your hometown. Let’s see if you’ve got the same balls as me.”
Lamont, the newly crown champion, seemed happy to oblige “I would definitely give him a rematch. Why not? He gave me a shot at the title. I will give him a rematch anytime.”
Khan earned $1.1 million for the fight and Lamont will cash a paycheck of $650,000 a career-high purse for him.
He is now in the position to determine where he will defend his title—he is the world champion! Lamont should now earn the lion’s share of the gate receipts (double of what Khan will earn).
I would advise Lamont to sit down with true family and friends and watch “Godfather 1” and carefully watch the scene where Marlon Brandon tells his son Michael, “beware of the messenger!”
The folks who tell Lamont that it is okay to travel to England to defend his title—they don’t have his best interest at heart—-they are the enemy!
Khan, remained upbeat about his future. He said, I am trying to position myself for a move up to welterweight but I need to win back my titles back from Peterson.”
Khan said, “I’ll come back even stronger I promise. This is what boxing is all about, how you come back.”
He hopes to move up to 147 pounds and a possible and much-rumored showdown with Floyd Mayweather. This fight could easily draw 80,000 fans to Wembley Stadium.
For over two decades I was able to watch up close and personal “The Greatest” boxing promoter of all time as he shrewdly moved fighters from city to city, country to country. He negotiated contracts like no one else ever had, his name—Don King!
Lamont, I am going to advise you like I tried to advise Sugar Ray Leonard when his promoter Mike Trainer was spending more time at the bank than he was.
Please, have an independent lawyer and accountant as means of checks and balances. One of the biggest mistakes Sugar Ray made was his checks were being opened and cashed before he could see them!
You need to make sure every Eye is dotted and every Tee is crossed and ask to be a part of every negotiation.
Trainer walked away from Sugar Ray and not vice-versa. You want to be the one to walk away on your own terms (aka Bernard Hopkins). Remember, this is business and nothing personal!
Black athletes beware, fraud and theft are now American as Apple Pie! Hats off to referee Joe Cooper my “Man of the Year.”
The Christmas Bells Story and Beyond
Harold and Hattie Bell just recently celebrated 43 years of marriage and are coordinating their 43rd Annual Christmas Toy Party for needy children. Their party is the longest on-going community based toy party drive America.
The party gave birth to Kids In Trouble in December 1968 shortly after the riots in DC and other inner-cities in America. There have never been grants or loans to sustain the project. The two have truly walked by faith and not by sight.
For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts about this unique and one of a kind community involvement of the Bells. Their lives are rich because of their love for children and society’s underdog regardless of race, creed, color or religion.
I think the “battle of the balance” between Harold’s good works and intentions vs. the controversy that often surrounds him are what make their relationship work.
Hattie is a former DC teacher and her father Dr. Charles H. Thomas Jr. is a legendary Civil Rights advocate who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King. The family hails from Orangeburg, South Carolina.
In the late 50s Dr. Thomas and his wife Elease had their children marching on the picket lines and on many occasions were marched off to jail as a result their strong belief in equal rights for all. Hattie was among the jailbirds!
Dr. Thomas was a professor on the campus of South Carolina State University and President of the local chapter of the NAACP. He founded and started voter registration in the state of South Carolina. He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007. Hattie is just a bump off the log when it comes to fighting for the civil rights of others.
Their stories and life experiences range from heartwarming, to jaw dropping to “know he didn’t…” Harold is a 6th generation Washingtonian. He has lived through and can recall historic moments in sports, DC politics, Black American and in US History. His association with sports figures, politicians, entertainers and every day people are unique. As a community advocate and personality he has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions. He was the first sports media personality named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine.
Harold has stood heads and shoulders above everyone else in the community and media. The reason, he was an athletic and community personality long before he became a media personality! He didn’t wait to become an expert on the black community after he became a pioneering radio personality. He had already been there and done that.
He was an all-around athlete at Spingarn High School in NE DC where he stayed in hot water with his teammates and coaches. The reason, he wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. This was seen as selfish by his teammates. His mentor and savior Coach Dave Brown saw it an endearing quality and made sure he had the ball, but those same qualities got him kicked off the baseball and basketball teams.
Those are the same selfish qualities that have helped make him a success in the Game Called life when it comes to children. He has a no cut-card and no patient with politicians, community personalities and Pimps in the Pulpit who claim “Children First” and steal in the name of the lord and our children!
He caddied for President Richard M. Nixon and has broken bread with Congressman Lou Stokes, Senators Bob Dole and Strom Thurmond and some of the greatest athletes of our time including, Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, Jim Brown, Hank Aaron to name just a few.
Ali’s business partner Gene Kilroy once said to him, “Harold you would be a millionaire if you were white.”
He took it as a compliment but it has never been about “Show me the money but more like show me someone in need!”
His feuds are legendary. There is no shortage of people willing to criticize and take pot shots at him behind his back. Why so many? Who starts them? Who fuels them? Are they true? Why have they lasted so long? The names are legendary. Don King (he returned a $10,000 check to King based on principles and he was dead broke), Jim Brown, Larry Brown, James Brown, Jim Vance, John Thompson, Dave Bing, Sugar Ray Leonard. The list goes on and on.
He says “When you have been to the mountain top with Muhammad Ali, had Red Auerbach co-host a sports talk show with you and helped get the great Jim Brown out of jail, where do you think they rate on my measuring stick?
Why do folks fall out with him? Is there something about Harold Bell that causes these blow ups? If so, what is it? Inquiring minds want to know. People want to know!
Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA summed it up best when he was heard on the John Thompson ESPN radio show saying, “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” That statement speaks volumes.
His honesty and adherence to his principles are unparalleled in a political oriented Washington, DC where almost everyone goes along to get along.
He has his share of Haters because he speaks the TRUTH as he sees it.
Harold Bell’s humble beginnings and the lessons he learned from growing up in a single parent home where mental illness was present shaped how he viewed the world. His late mother was his hero and continues to be a HUGE influence in his life along with his late grandmother Amy Tyler Bell.
He watched his mother battle her demons and that continues to shape how he views portions of the world today. He is dedicated to his brother Earl a former DC cop who now resides in a nursing home is another example. For all the toughness that people see in Harold Bell, many disengage early and don’t get to see the other side of him and he could care less.
They miss his huge heart, his love for children and his willingness to help anyone who needs help. He is a tough guy in regard to his principles, but he’s a “softie” for children and those who need help.
Harold and Hattie are role models for relationships. People don’t stay together like them for over four decades. Their love is a Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee type kind of love.
And then there are the battles of balance. Harold Bell has walked the tear gas mean streets of Washington, DC trying to keep the peace during the 1968 riots. He has also quietly walked into homes in Potomac Gardens and Barry Farms at Christmas bearing gifts.
How many people you know who do this? This is the story of legends in our community. Like it or not, their story is credible and there are thousands of benefactors to verify it.
Let me give you a list of the Who’ Who of benefactors who came through Harold and Hattie’s organization Kids In Trouble and Harold’s sports show Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame and many who have yet to look back:
JAMES BROWN (NFL/CBS), JOHN THOMPSON (ESPN), SUGAR RAY LEONARD (BOXING), MICHAEL WILBON (ESPN), DAVE ALDRIDGE (NBA TBS), ADRIAN BRANCH (NBA), ALFRED LIGGINS (RADIO & TV ONE), CATHY HUGHES (RADIO & TV ONE), BUTCH McADAMS (RADIO ONE), JEFF MAJORS (RADIO ONE), LONNIE TAYLOR (FIRST BLACK CHIEF OF STAFF ON CAPITOL HILL), JAMIE FOSTER BROWN (SISTER 2 SISTER MAGAZINE), JAIR LYNCH (OLYMPIC GYMNIST), DARRYL HILL (FIRST BLACK ATHLETE TO PLAY AT NAVY AND IN THE ACC), OMAR TYREE (AUTHOR / BEST SELLER SIMON & SHUSTER), CHRIS THOMAS (COMEDIAN BET), ADRIAN DANTLEY (NBA), GLEN HARRIS (TV 8 SPORTS), ODEN POLYNICE (NBA), *EARL LLOYD (NBA) ,*WILLIE WOOD (NFL) *JIM BROWN (NFL), FATTY TAYLOR (NBA), BILL RASPBERRY (PULITZER PRIZE) , TONY PAIGE (NFL), RANDALL KENNEDY (HARVARD LAW Professor/AUTHOR), *DON KING (BOXING) , TIM BAYLOR (NBA), DAVE BING (NBA), BOBBY GARNER (NFL), KEVIN BLACKISTONE (ESPN).
*BENEFACTORS AFTER THE FACT
His one of a kind Inside Sports radio show talk format is now copied around the world.
Harold Bell sometimes suffers from self-inflicted wounds. He also is a self-reflective man who has no problem apologizing when he is wrong or when an apology is warranted.
If you want to gain a better understanding of Hattie and Harold Bell, you must dare to explore the logic that drives Harold Bell’s behavior. It is along this journey that you will gain answers to a lot of questions and you will be able to put the Bell legacy in its proper perspective.
At the end of the day, Harold Bell is human. He is stubborn. He is demanding and he will hold you accountable for what you say. When did that become a crime? He grew up in an era of where high expectations were required of us. A handshake and a man’s word would carry you to the bank. Those character traits today are bankrupt. Honesty, loyalty and integrity are lost arts!
The bar has been lowered for many, but not for Harold Bell. He has never lowered his standards for himself and expects to be treated as he has treated others. That might be the source of much of his conflict with others—they have forgotten and he has not!
That’s my two cents for now on the Christmas Bells. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Source: Adapted from a commentary by Gary A. Johnson
November 14, 2011
MAGIC STICKS BY HIS MAN: WHEN IS A PLANTATION NOT A PLANTATION?
By Harold Bell
NBA billionaires and millionaires play what could be a costly game of chicken.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has given the NBA Players an ultimatum: “Agree to 50-50 split of revenues or the season is lost. Stern said, “There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating, and we are.”
During labor negotiations HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s host Bryant Gumbel called out NBA Commissioner David Stern and said “The Commissioner is an overseer of a plantation and that he considers the players his BOYS!” NBA Union Attorney Jeffrey Kessler jumped on the band wagon and said almost the exact same thing! He has since apologize but don’t expect the same from Mr. Gumbel.
Remember when NY Times newspaper sports columnist Bill Rhoden penned his book “Forty Million Dollar Slaves” several years ago, where was the outcry of racism?
Since the trial of NFL football great and legendary running back O. J. Simpson, this shout-out is simply known as “The Race Card.” The card is often used when the deck runs out of Jokers and it can only be used in The Game Called Life!
The Jokers in this “Game of Chicken” are NBA Union Representative Billy Hunter and NBA Players Union President Derrick Fisher—-who will blink first the owners or the union?
Have we forgotten in 1998 the players negotiated a salary cap between 53% and 57% of the NBA’s revenues (gate receipts, local and national television and radio revenue and preseason and postseason revenue + $500,000 a year in licensing revenue and a guarantee that the owners maintain 253 jobs even if there was a reduction in the number of teams? This sounds like “Indian Givers,” first we give it to you and then decide we want it back!
How can you tell who is the boss and who is the worker? When none of the owners move back home with their parents, they won’t miss a car note or mortgage payment or have to wonder where their next meal is coming from. The owners will win this game and they will be losers in the long run!
I remember being in the NBA office in New York City in 1981 attending a meeting with Nike Representative John Phillips. He was there questioning why the NBA was trying to stop a Nike sponsored charity benefit game on the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas. It was a game that Nike had sponsored the year before.
St. Thomas was the home of NBA player Michael Thompson one of the participating players along with Magic Johnson.
In that meeting was former NBA player Ron Thorn (NBA Player Personnel), Gary Bettman (NBA attorney) and Horace Balmer (NBA Security).
In a moment of frustration Mr. Bettman shouted at John Phillips “You can’t do that we own the players!” Bettman has since been rewarded with a league of his own—the National Hockey League (NHL).
Magic Johnson and the participating players all tucked in their tails and ran for parts unknown. This was 27 years after Brown vs. Board of Education and 13 years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King.
The number one theme song in Black America was “We Shall Over Come,” and still they ran for parts unknown!
It came as no surprise to me that it was Magic who stepped to the front of the NBA bus three decades later. When Atty. Kessler tried to use the Race Card, Magic said, ‘David Stern is my man and he has always had the NBA player’s best interest at heart.’ Again, we must consider the source!
It is said on any given Sunday the most segregated institution in America is a Church!
A newspaper media press room at deadline, NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball franchises, are all running a close second. On any given Sunday check out the owners’ boxes of these teams and see how many minorities you can count! I am not talking about the “Window Dressers” who are there in the background to add a little color.
The absence in 2011 of black newspaper sports editors in major media outlets around the country is appalling. Last count there were only 5 out of close to 100 newspapers.
Bill Rhoden’s “Million Dollar Slaves” was like the kettle calling the pot black!
During my sports media career I have been in the company of David Stern on several occasions. I think he is a class act and he can be very charming. The problem is that he does not know when he is being a racist because he has never had to walk in a black man’s shoes!
I have had the opportunity to interact with NBA Vice President and PR man Brian McIntyre on several occasions on issues dealing with the media. There still remains a double standard, one black and one white.
I am sure Mr. Mac would deny the observation but once again he has not walked in my shoes. Racism is an engrained quality that is embedded in America. It is not going to be erased in my life time, but that is no reason not to challenge it when it crosses my path.
My first encounter with Mr. Mac was in the 70’s I was attending my first NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas. He denied me credentials because he claimed he never received my request in writing. I didn’t think he was denying me because I was black. I thought he was denying me access because he thought I was a con artist trying to get into the game free. We eventually worked out everything thanks to a mutual friend.
In a recent e-mail correspondence with Mr. Mac on another matter, I made it clear I greatly appreciated the access and hoped he had left some” good people” in place as he heads into retirement (I think he took it personal).
During homecoming one year at Winston-Salem State I encountered NBA legend and Winston-Salem great Earl Monroe in a local barber shop. He was with several of his homies from Philly, Smiley and Smitty.
They sounded like a church choir when I walked in, “Man your ears must be burning they have been talking about you up in the NBA office.”
We all broke out in a laugh, but no one said what was the topic of conversation and I never followed up. I thought to myself, ‘at least they were talking about me!’
Mr. Stern has received the “Good Housekeeper Seal of Approval” from Magic, Bob Lanier, Earl Lloyd and my friend Sonny Hill. Some of the “Buck Dancing” I have seen some of these guys do in his presence embarrass me! They dance so well they could be finalist on “Dancing with the Stars.”
I would change the title of the show to “Buck Dancing with the NBA Commissioner.”
There are no blacks in his circle of friends who have the balls to take him aside and say, ‘Dave that was a racist statement or racist act!’
Magic was heard saying, “The NBA is the most integrated and progressive sports franchise in the history of pro sports. Look at all the brothers with high profile positions in the league for that we have to thank Commissioner Stern!”
“Sometimes it is best to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” meet Magic Johnson—-another brother who does not know his own (NBA) history!
The two white men who are responsible for the progression of blacks in the NBA were Boston Celtic owner Walter Brown and Coach Red Auerbach. Come on man!
All that I am saying is ‘Don’t blame the messenger.’
Remember, “Every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy.” White folks don’t have a patent on racism in America. Some of the biggest racist can be found in our own community.
Many times white folks just don’t know any better. I just can’t figure out, what is our excuse?
I for one don’t think Stern’s negotiation tactics with the players has anything to do with racism—as one of the gangsters said in the movie Godfather “It is nothing personal its just business.”
BALIS DUNLAP and JO JO HUNTER: WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
In September 2011, I was pulling into the parking lot of JB Jenkins Funeral Home in Landover, MD, for the wake of Charles “Tommy” Branch Jr., playing on my car radio was the Earth, Wind and Fire classic ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone? : A long time passing, when will we ever learn?’
The song and words made me reflect on the early deaths of Tommy and Lionel Harris two young men associated with Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports. Their early demise left me asking the question, how and why?
In too many cases in Washington, DC they have died or are in jail!
The student/athletes who came through Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports are on a long list and short time in passing!
Charles Branch, Jr. was 51 years old the oldest son of Carolyn and Charles Branch, Sr. The father was a football teammate of mine at Spingarn High School in DC. Charles Jr., was known as “Big Tom” to family and friends. In 1978 he was a first team All-Met basketball and football player for DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, MD.
“Big Tom” played for Morgan Wooten the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach. He was the anchor for Coach Wooten’s first undefeated basketball team in 1978 (28-0).
He was also the best athlete in the family of the four boys I called him the gentle giant, but the hero and role model in this family never caught a touchdown pass, hit a walk-off home run, or dunked a basketball, the Shero’s name is Carolyn Branch.
When “Big Tom” had to drop out of college because of ill health his mother picked up the ball and ran with it for him. For the next three decades as a single mom she took care of her “First” and encouraged the other three to be all that they could be!
Carolyn (Adrian Branch NBA) even found time to give back to the community. She worked with and supported Kids In Trouble, Inc and Inside Sports and whom ever else needed a helping hand. She took it to the next level by encouraging her friends, Currie Lowe (Sidney Lowe NBA), Rita Bailey (Thurl Bailey NBA), and Grace Paige (Tony Paige NFL) to join the KIT Team and reach back to help others! When hard times hit me she was there encouraging and trying to help me. I was honored when I was able to say thank you in 2006 by presenting her with a Kids In Trouble, Inc Life Time Achievement Award (Currie, Grace and Rita were also honored). Thank you my sister!
I attended Tommy’s wake on Thursday and attended Lionel Harris’ wake the next day. Lionel was also a first team All-Met basketball player at Cardozo High School in 1969-70.
I first met Lionel in 1968 when I became the assistant coach (wide receivers) for the Cardozo football team as a favor to my teammate, head coach, Bob Headen. Bob and I played against each other in high school and college and became teammates on the Virginia Sailors (a minor league team for the NFL Washington Redskins). Bob talked a half-dozen other Sailor teammates into volunteering their services. Cardozo football and basketball teams were top contenders in the West in the late 60s.
The classy Harold Dean was the head basketball coach during that era and Lionel Harris and Big Michael Jackson were the glue that held the “Clerks” together. They went into every game thinking that they could win and most times they did.
Lionel’s friend and classmate Earl Boone made sure his home going did not go unnoticed. During the wake he read letters from former DC Public Schools student/athlete (Dunbar) DC Mayor Vincent Gray and a basketball player wanna-be, President Barack Obama. We all should be so lucky to have the two leaders of the Nation’s Capitol say “Great Game!”
September continued its death march and claimed three other athletes as the month was coming to a close.
On September 25th Balis Dunlap a former basketball player at Spingarn and Fairmont Heights High Schools died suddenly. I had seen Balis in August 2011 at a birthday celebration for a mutual friend. He came through the door apologizing to me because we had a luncheon date that we had yet to keep.
I remember him saying “Man I did not forget I have been having some issues with my health.”
Balis grew up on Bass Place in SE DC in what would be called a middle class neighborhood during that time. I remember his mother Kayretha Dunlap “Ms. Kay” as a single mom who made her children First. Their home was immaculate and his neatness and attention to detail was not by accident.
Their next door neighbor was a lady by the name of Mary Young. Ms. Young was my mother’s oldest sister! When I met Balis he must have been about 7 or 8 years old and I was playing varsity athletics at Spingarn. My Aunt Mary (Aunt Sis) had taken me in after my mother was hospitalized during my senior year. When I met Balis I was going to hell in a hurry. I was sleeping in my Aunt’s basement and following her rules and not mine. I was a mommy’s boy and this was a bitter pill for me to swallow.
I would come home from practice in the evenings and sit out on the front with Balis. We talked sports or throw a football around in the backyard until my Aunt caught us and made us return to the sidewalk to continue our game of catch.
With my Aunt Mary it was her way or the highway and I ended up on the highway (the streets) before the school year ended. I left Spingarn for Eastern after I had a fall out with my basketball coach Rev. William Roundtree.
Instead of graduating with my Spingarn class of 1958 I ended up graduating from Fairmont Heights High School in Prince Georges County in 1959. There I was allowed another year of eligibility to play football and basketball but basketball would be a no go. Basketball Coach Kenny Freeman made it perfectly clear after the football season that my services would not be needed. He and my Spingarn Coach Dave Brown had agreed that I would spend the rest of the school year in the classroom and basketball would not be an option! The decision probably enhanced my chances of graduating and saved my life. Their good judgment provided me with my next educational vehicle; Winston-Salem State in Winston-Salem, NC to play football and basketball for the legendary “Bighouse” Gaines.
I would find out years later Balis would travel that same rocky road from Spingarn to Fairmont Heights to extend his basketball life, he would later say “It was one of my better decisions.”
He would encounter numerous obstacles and roadblocks in his life’s journey. Some of those roadblocks and obstacles he helped to create (Street Life). Balis was a risk-taker and playing it safe was not a part of his make-up, but every time he got knocked down he would get back up—he persevered.
My life’s calling after college would be working in the streets with at-risk youth. There on the “Mean Streets” of DC is where Balis and I would often encounter each other. He had become a kid in trouble. He was involved in hand to hand combat and that can be risky business in the inner-city. We were like ships passing in the night, but we would toot our horns acknowledging each other (small talk) and I would always end the conversation by saying “be safe.” He knew that I knew the life and death game he was playing and there was no further discussion necessary!
I was happy and relieved when I encountered Balis in Ben’s Chili Bowl several years ago and he told me he was now working for Giant Food. He was proud and all smiles thanks to Ollie Johnson. Balis is just one in a long list of “Homeboys” Ollie has reached back quietly to help in ‘The Game Called Life.’
Ollie is a former playground and DC basketball legend. He was an All-Met and All-American at Spingarn High School, the home of NBA basketball legends, Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing. Ollie graduated from the University of San Francisco and broke all of Bill Russell’s basketball records. He was the Number One draft choice of the NBA Boston Celtics and when that didn’t work out he put his degree to work. He returned home to become a Giant Food front office executive. His reach back legacy at Giant has easily out distant his basketball legacy!
When I asked Ollie what made him give Balis a second chance he said, “Hiring Balis was a gut feeling more than anything else. I was impressed with his upbeat attitude and the sincere effort he wanted to make in getting his life back on track.”
Fatty Taylor (American Basketball Association Legend) and former Captain of the NBA Denver Nuggets was Balis’ best friend. The two grew up together on Watts and Kelley Miller playgrounds in DC. Fatty says, “Balis was fun loving and a special friend, he loved me and I loved him. We had each other’s backs. When the jealous Player Haters started to talk about me and my shortcomings as a pro basketball player, Balis always came to my defense. In order to have a friend you must first know how to be a friend—and Balis Dunlap was my friend.”
In 1995, Balis met the love of his life, Judy Harris and two years later they were married. “We were married for 14 years. There were ups and downs but he was a very caring and unselfish human being. If he gave you his word you could carry it to the bank. I am going to miss him dearly,” says Judy. Balis was 61 year old.
The month of September would close the book on two more “Flowers” with the passing of Greg Spriggs and Orlando Brown.
Gregg played high school football in Prince Georges County at Northwestern High School. He later became a member of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard’s security team. I remember him coming to the radio studio with Ray. He was a quiet, unassuming and he was always a gentleman. Greg was 55 years old.
Orlando was a former high school All-American and NFL player. He played for Bob Headen at HD Woodson High School in NE DC. He also played his college football at South Carolina State in Orangeburg, S. C.
He signed with the Cleveland Browns in 1993 as an undrafted free agent. Orlando spent three years in Cleveland before the team moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. He stood 6’7 and weighed in at 360 pounds. Players in the NFL nicked named him “Zeus” because he was high energy and an intimidating player. In his prime he was one of the highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL.
He will also be remembered for an incident during a football game at home in Cleveland in December 1999. The game was against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he was accidently hit in the eye by a penalty marker thrown by referee Jeff Triplette. The referee immediately apologized to Orlando who was being taken to the locker room by the medical staff. As play resumed on the field Orlando ran out on to the field and shoved Triplette knocking him to the ground. He was ejected from the game and suspended by the NFL, although the suspension was lifted when the injury did not heal.
Orlando was cut from the Browns after the 2000 NFL season. He was forced to sit out three seasons because of the eye injury. He sued the NFL for damages and they settled out of court for a reported $25 million.
Orlando was just six years removed from the league when he was found in his Baltimore condo dead. He was 41 years old the youngest of “The Flowers.”
I am happy to write that DC basketball legend Anthony “Jo Jo” Hunter is alive and well in a Cumberland, Maryland prison and he is fighting for his life!
In 1994 a Washington, DC District Federal Court judge sentence Jo Jo to 50 years in jail for armed robbery and money laundering (first offense)!
Since that time Jo Jo has been to 5 different prisons in the Federal system, locked down in solitary confinement and had to face the good, bad and ugly side of prison life just to survive. He says, “No one promised me a rose Garden and it surely has not been one!”
A prison basketball court is a far different animal from Jo Jo’s days on the playgrounds, high school (Mackin) in DC and college basketball (Colorado) courts where he became a living legend.
NBA Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley said, “I played against him when I was a senior and he was a freshman. I knew he was going to be a great player. DC is known for basketball legends and Jo Jo Hunter is one of them.”
During Jo Jo’s days at Colorado NBA Phoenix Sun’s head coach Alvin Gentry was an assistant, he said, “Jo Jo Hunter was a terrific player for us and he hit some big shots to win several big games.”
Former NBA player Jay Humphries played eleven years in the league. Jay was lured to Colorado by Gentry, he said “I was in awe of Jo Jo Hunter, when he rose up to shoot his jumper he was a happy guy. In practice he was a player who played hard in the gym. We went after each other and that made me a better player because he was so good and I didn’t back down.” Jay has since re-united with Gentry as his assistant on the Sun’s bench.
I have known Jo Jo since his high school days, to his college basketball journey from Maryland University to the University of Colorado. He was a bright and honesty young man. He was a role model for others who came after him, but somewhere during one of his many fast breaks he made a mistake and lost the ball in the Game Called Life!
In 1993, Jo Jo reached out to me looking for employment he desperately wanted to work. He said, ‘Harold you have got to find me a job I have got to get out of these streets.”
I was at a crossroads in my life and radio career the Player Haters were attacking me from the back and from the left side to the right side—-just out of sight. And while I was trying to keep my head above water I forgot Jo Jo! When I read the reports in the newspapers of his arrest I knew I had let him down.
It is now almost 17 years later and he is reaching out to me for a second time and it is time for Jo Jo to come home.
The criminal justice system for blacks in America still remains Justice and Just-Us. Prisons around America are now BIG business. They can be found on the Wall Street Stock Exchange and all the wardens are white millionaires. We (blacks) are their main source of business. We make up 12% of the American population, but we are 60% of the prison population.
I have found it very interesting that black scholars like Harvard Law School Professor Randy Kennedy and Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University are now experts on the black community when it comes to crime and punishment. How and when did they become experts?
I know Randy is from Washington, DC and his father the late Henry Kennedy Sr. was my dear friend. He and his wife Rachel were Big time supporters of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports.
Henry and Rachel raised and educated three children, Henry Jr., Randy and Angela. He worked for the Postal Service and Rachel was a DC school teacher. I call them the original Huxtables (Bill Cosby TV family).
The oldest son Henry is a District Judge, Randy is a Professor at the Harvard Law School and Angela is an attorney here in Washington, DC.
During his high school years Randy was given a first hand up close and personal orientation about the mean streets of DC. He and his father walked the U Street NW corridor with me where I worked with youth gangs. Randy and his brother Henry were regulars at my Christmas Toy parties for needy children and Celebrity Tennis Tournaments. In fact Henry’s first date with his then future wife was at one of my Christmas toy parties held at the Foxtrappe Club.
Randy was so over whelmed by my stature in the streets of DC he promised in front of his father “I am going to write about Mr. Bell one day!” Somewhere along the way Randy forgot and his father was the first to notice.
When I reminded his father about the promise that Randy had made to me shortly before his death, his response “Harold Randy has gotten so busy he does not even have time for his own family.” He was saddened by the oversight because he didn’t raise him that way, family was always first! Randy’s emotional response at his father’s funeral had many puzzled but I understood.
I read a recent response in a interview Randy had with a magazine, it touched a nerve as it relates to Anthony Jo Jo Hunter and the minority population in prisons around this country.
The interviewer asked: “What might you do differently if you were starting to write Race, Crime and the Law today (his best selling and highly acclaimed book)?” His response: ‘I should have devoted more attention to prisons. I discuss prisons to some extent. Given their unfortunate significance in society, particularly American society (he should have added the black community), I should have had a more elaborate analysis of their functions and failings.’
Randy Kennedy and his kind are the best examples, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” He lacks an important ingredient that made his father such a great human being, “Street sense and common sense.”
I recently e-mailed a retired judge and asked him to write a letter to the Parole Board asking them to grant a parole to Jo Jo and give him a second chance to live life to its fullest! His response “I am bind by Canon’s rules of judicial behavior. Sorry but I can’t.” I was floored by his response because I have always thought he was a part of the solution when he was and is a part of the problem!
He fooled me by walking around wearing dashikis’ after court, hanging out at the local bars and showing up to support my community programs. I understand there are laws and rules that must be followed to maintain a sense of order. But when do we say “These laws and rules were written without any sense of protecting black people and they are changed when ever the mood strikes the writers?”
The rule the judge was referring to was written in 1887 by the Alabama Bar Association. This the same state that gave us Bull Connor, fire hoses, vicious dogs, KKK assassination of Civil Rights Leader Megar Evers and three little black girls blown up in a church while they worshipped! Something is wrong with this picture. Why are we the only ones who insist on playing fair?
The one thing that bothered me about the judge’s response—he never even suggested an alternative! Which makes me think that he is happy with Jo Jo doing the entire 50 years!
Someone once said “The world is a dangerous place not because of people who do bad things, but it is dangerous because of people who sit around and do nothing.”
See link below to Judge Mathis’ comment on the execution of Troy Davis
In the meantime let us try to FREE Anthony Hunter by remembering Troy Davis and not forgetting Jo Jo!
Mail your letters to the address below.
Send Letters to:
U.S. Parole Commission
555 Friendship Blvd
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
Anthony Hunter Reg. No 09817-007
Attn: Isaac Fulwood (Parole Commissioner)
Send a copy to:
Anthony Hunter (Reg No. 09817-007)
P.O. BOX 1000
CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND 21501