Thursday, June 24, 2021

Limpag: Lenny Cooke

Fair Play

One of the best sports articles I read that still resonates with me was the one written by The New York Times about Lenny Cooke. I loved it because I got to read it about a couple of years after I learned who Lenny Cooke was.

Thanks to the internet and social media, I learned that he was the guy whom LeBron James beat in an elite basketball camp with a last-second shot. James’s stock rose after that and Cooke, in that New York Times article, told the writer, “I went from being a basketball superstar to being a cook!”

Now that’s a great line and great work from the writer.

A few days ago, I accidentally stumbled upon the “Lenny Cooke” documentary on YouTube and boy, is it a wonder to watch.

They even captured that moment when Cooke, who was preparing the meal, looked at New York Times sportswriter Harvey Araton and said, “I went from being a basketball superstar to being a cook!”

Based on the video, the writer stayed with Cooke for hours, watching him prepare the meal while the sun was still up, and then hours later, he was interviewing his mother about how the hawks surrounded her son early, offering money.

My first thought was the most I’ve spent interviewing a subject was an hour, I guess that’s why they’re the New York Times.

The documentary, too, had that famous game between James and Cooke. Now, if you’ve prowled the basketball sites, you surely have encountered this story, about how Cooke supposedly got so nervous before the game that he locked himself in the CR. There was none of that but yes, James did score the winning shot over him.

Surprisingly, the views on the YouTube video, uploaded in June 2020, is at 12,100. It’s a great video. You get to confirm for yourself the things you’ve read online and not just about Cooke.

You’ve all heard about the talent vs. attitude debate, right?

In the early part of the video, there was Cooke, showing up at 8 a.m. for a camp that started at 6:30. The camp adviser talked to him about responsibilities and discipline and such, and Cooke asked why the camp can’t start at 8.

I’m sure that by the time the documentary came out, the basketball world had learned of the legendary workout Kobe Bryant did before a practice.

The video is still up on YouTube and I tell you, you have to see it.


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