The black asphalt is unforgiving. About as merciless as the feds who are giving out football numbers like it's nothing. But in the pen, cats are balling – in the gym and on the blacktop. Some dudes talk about the hard double rims and unrelenting concrete like it’s a crime. They prefer the soft inside rims and gym floor. But out in the blazing heat of the Appalachian summer, some dudes find their game and thrive. They're going hard like there's no tomorrow. Don't call no weak fouls on the blacktop. And if you come, you better bring game – because they're ain't no refs. It’s straight gutter all the time. I'm talking about murder ball, and in the pen Blacktop Bob rules.
Blacktop Bob is DC native Warren "Cut" Cunningham, a 34-year-old lefty who bangs, throws it down and shimmies with the best of them.
"I've been playing all my life since fourth grade," this 6-foot-2 slasher says. "The blacktop is my specialty."
Dude ain't faking it. Outside in the heat, he just seems to turn it up a notch. As the heat rises, so does Bob's game.
"My game on the blacktop is like I step it up another level," he says. "It’s better then my inside game."
He is no pretty finesse player. He brings it all the way raw, southeast style. On the court, he's a rough-off artist.
"In the post, the power left with the dunk," Blacktop Bob says. "That’s my move. I play small or power forward. My inside game is like Charles Barkley. I don't show off, I just get the job done. But you must watch your head."
Because Blacktop Bob got mad hops. He's really explosive. He'll fly through the lane with the ball and boom – he's posterizing dudes. He can power dunk with the best of them. And dude has hoops pedigree, too.
"I played high school ball at HD Woodson and averaged 17 and 9 my senior year," he says.
Blacktop Bob also played football – even receiving scholarship offers from the likes of Florida State for his skills, which juxtaposed his big body, explosiveness and pure speed.
But it wasn't to be.
"I played all sports, but I love football and basketball. I just got caught up in those streets."
And the streets of DC led him to prison.
"I've been in seven years, and got three more to do," he says. "I'm doing time for narcotics conspiracy. Most of my time was done at Lorton Detention Facility and FCI Gilmer."
During his time in jail, Blacktop Bob has always been athletically inclined, winning chips and prison glory on the court, and in the flag football league.
"I won two championships in Lorton and three at FCI Gilmer, including two back-to-back football championships and back-to-back summer leagues on the blacktop," he says.
Bob usually makes all the All-Star team, and also gets picked up for free rec. If dudes want to hold court, then they know they better get Blacktop Bob on their team because he's throwing it down. And for real, he was holding it down on the streets too.
"I hold it down for the east side, SE Condon Terrace, and NE Clay Terrace," Blacktop Bob says. "I played AAU, Boys and Girls Club, and in tournaments at Barry Farms against Curt Smith, Mike Smith, Greg Jones and Moochie Morris."
Dude ain't no scrub. And on the blacktop, he is king holding court with the Monkee Man and winning the last two summer-league championships. Blacktop Bob cites Monkee as the best he's played with in jail.
"Monkee is the best in prison. The best shooter, the best leader. I'll play with him any day and win."
Even with Monkee on his side, Bob knows things get a little rougher in prison.
"The difference between prison ball and organized ball is in prison they show their man up and bang a little more harder in the paint," he says.
You really don't want to get caught in the paint with this dude banging against you. Imagine a criminally-minded Barkley.
So remember when you think you're going hard in the paint, you aren't. Not until you've gone up against Warren "Cut" Cunningham, federal prison #07954-007, the hardest man on the blacktop.
Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti, federal prison number 18205-083, is housed at FCI Loretto. Previously he resided at FCI Fairton, FCI Fort Dix, FCI Beckley and FCI Manchester. He has been a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com since 2003
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