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The view from the inside
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti / May 16, 2005

Seth M. Ferranti

Soul Man is the world's leading prison basketball journalist. He also writes for Don Diva, Elemental, Vice and Slam.
If you want the 411 on convicts, street legends, prison gangs, the mafia and life in the belly of the beast, check out gorillaconvict.com/blog
Check out Soul Man's first book Prison Stories and watch out for Prison Basketball, out in March 2007.
You can e-mail him at info@gorillaconvict.com.

It's 40 games in 40 nights, the NBA said. And in prison, you know the convicts are just happy to have some basketball to watch. TNT, ESPN, ABC... Dudes in here go hard on their NBA. It's either showtime or be mine. And, trust me, you don't want to be nobody's punk.

So pull up a chair and watch the game, son. But be prepared to mark your territory. Draw that line in the sand and don't let anybody disrespect you. Because in prison, it's either speak your piece, support your mob and cheer loudly or shut up, get exposed as a clown-ass buster and go back to your cell. But forget all that. Let's see who the cats in the belly
of the beast like to win the championship.

"Miami gonna win it all," says Dominique, a Virginia prisoner who can jump out the gym. "They too dominant on both sides of ball. They got that young cat D-Wade, who is a killer."

With the way Miami has played in the first and second round of the of the playoffs, Dominque's prediction might come true. But he's not the only supporting the Heat.

"They gonna win because Shaq is an important part of the offense, along with D-Wade, and their role players produce," says Love, a cat from New York. "Miami can match up with the Suns and the Spurs. It's a done deal."

He gives me a wink and he rubs his hands in anticipation. A lot of dudes put money on the games and a hit could mean 20 books of stamps (about $100 for us). So dudes are stacking their books and betting it all.

Mark, a white con from the Sunshine State likes Miami for another reason. "That's where I'm from," he says. "The Dirty South. I got all my money on them."

Big man Parker, who is known as Moneyball on the pound due to his sweet jumper, likes the Heat too. "I like Shaq as a big man. Nobody can hang with that boy. They got Alonzo too. Then Flash. Their whole team is like that," Parker smiles. "You can take that to the bank."

Big Tank also expects Miami to win it all. "They got a force in Shaq that can't be stopped," he says. "Plus they got Alonzo and that defense. They can pound Detroit and the Spurs and they can also run with Phoenix."

But his Muslim brother Rasou doesn't see it so clearly. "It's a toss-up," he says. "The champ is gonna come out the East. Miami or Detroit. Phoenix gonna run themselves out of the ball game."

Big Troy, the 300-pounder, disagrees. "Phoenix is gonna be the 2005 NBA champs," he declares. "They just so unselfish. And Nash is a beast. The MVP, too. The Suns play together. They brings out each other's talent. Everybody knows where to be at all times. They mean with it, unstoppable," says the DC convict with a glare.

Petaway, a big LeBron fan and Ohio native likes the Suns too. "They'll outscore everybody," he says. "And if no team can score with them, there's no way they can beat them. And besides LeBron, Nash is the best player."

So that's 5 1/2 votes for Miami and 2 for Phoenix. But what about the Good Ship Lollipop Spurs? And what about the defending champs? Detroit native R. Kelly speaks his piece. "Detroit gonna win it again," he says. "They got a big presence in the middle with the Wallace boys plus they got a fast backcourt."

With Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups turning it up, they can repeat. Miami-Detroit will be a great Eastern Conference Final.

In the West, it should be Phoenix-San Antonio. And for real, in prison pretty much nobody supports the Spurs. I guess Tim Duncan's game is too vanilla. But New York dude D spoke up for them. "San Antonio got the best team, the best coach and the best player," he says. "The Suns can't beat them and they already beat Shaq and them."

So there it is. The view from the inside. The word from the convicts. So make your bets and put your hard-earned money down. My money is on Shaq. I guess I got a soft spot for the big guy. And I see the Spurs coming out of the West. A Duncan-Shaq final with D-Wade and Manu Ginobili battling with And1 moves. With Brent Barry and Damon Jones trading threes. It would be nice to be live at the game.

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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