Bobbito Garcia: "Freedom is the difference between streetball and the NBA"
Bobbito Garcia: When I was younger I played pro basketball in Puerto Rico for Capitanes de Arecibo. And the fact that, at 38, I still can play at a pro level for the Bounce Magazine team [Garcia is the the co-founder of this streetball mag] and in the Project Playground somehow makes me feel very proud of myself. I'm not a physically gifted man, so I work out every day. My greatest passion is basketball and I'm still learning something every day. Last day, I did some move I had never done or seen before. We were running the break and I threw an elbow pass to a teammate that was coming just behind me. That's the beauty of this game. It has no limits.
What was your motivation in order to write the sneaker book "Where'd You Get Those?"
BG: I had written a lot of articles about sneakers and I guess it was kind of a challenge to write a book about that. It took four years, I stayed in touch with many sneaker collectors and brand companies to get all the necessary information and pictures. It took a lot of effort, but it was worth it. When people said, 'Hey, that new design is the shit,' I replied 'Man, this is a 70's design!' I felt that I had to do something to show everybody the legacy and the influence of the 70's and 80's.
How many sneakers do you have?
BG: Between 10 and 15 pairs. Actually, I'm an ex-addict. I'm not a collector anymore. I've been giving away all my sneakers to friends, family – even to a project to help young children in Africa who cannot afford a pair of sneakers. Right now, I like to wear the newest sneakers. Those that will help me play better basketball (laughs).
What's in streetball that you can't find in the NBA or other pro basketball leagues?
BG: Maybe freedom. In the NBA, there are coaches, refs, police officers... Meanwhile, in the streets you are in a boundless environment. You rely only on your basic instincts, reacting to everything that comes your way.
Many people say streetball is not true basketball. What can you say about that?
BG: What the hell does "true" mean? I mean, Mr. Naismith created basketball to keep guys away from the streets, to keep them away from trouble and to have fun. For example, when a guy is dribbling the ball between his legs in front of a mirror, watching his moves. Isn't that true basketball? That's the greatness of basketball. It has a lot of ways to express itself. And all of them are true.
You have Puerto Rican blood. Who are the biggest legends in the island?
BG: Right now, Carlos Arroyo is an icon for the kids and everybody. I would also have to say Raymond Dalmau is a superstar. And Butch Lee, who won the NCAA title playing with Marquette back in 1977 and in the the NBA helping the Lakers in 1980. Jose Ortiz has also been great in the last 25 years.
What are your plans for 2005?
BG: A lot! (laughs). We have the "Bobbito's Basics to Boogie" DVD to teach dribbling skills. I'm the speaker in the "NBA Streetball Vol. 3" video game. I have to work on the next Bounce issue, I'm touring with my team...
I see basketball is your life.
BG: That's true. If I'm focused on the whole sneaker stuff, it's only because it's basketball, not fashion or something else. That kind of passion made me write for magazines, work on the radio and TV... Music, sneaker design... Basketball made all of that possible because this sport teaches you discipline – how to work hard on everything.
Raul Barrigon writes for Gigantes and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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