XXL‘s SXSW Diary, Day 6: Team Hardknock Lights Up the Smokers Club
My work was pretty much done by Saturday, hence why I was up so late the previous night going in from spot to spot. I wanted to take part in The Smoking Section and Hardknock TV’s Hoop X Hang 3 on 3 Tournament, but I was initially supposed to leave on Friday. So, I told Nick Huff from Hardknock TV, I wouldn’t make it. But once I extended my trip, Nick said he could probably fit me in because some people cancelled. D-Ray from Monster Energy and Richie Abbott from Juggernaut Sound told me I could be their fourth player, so I didn’t expect much playing time. In fact, I intended on sleeping in and going to the tournament late. For some reason, I woke up at 11 a.m. with only a few hours of sleep and read a text from Nick: “One of our players cancelled, you’re playing with us.” Damn! Gone was the luxury of sleeping in. Nick counted on me to show up. There was one little problem, though, I was still intoxicated. So, I started drinking water, got ready and cabbed it down to the Austin Rec Center.
I showed up an hour late and surprise, surprise. Team Hardknock was scheduled to play in the first game. “Please tell me you’re not hungover,” Nick said. He could tell by the smirk. I grew even more concerned once I found out I’d have to play in KDs. I have bad ankles, so playing in anything mid to low top is a bad idea, especially with Vodka breath. You should have seen me in the warm up. Not pretty. My only goal was to not get embarrassed.
The team consisted of me, Nick and DJ Hyphen from Seattle’s KUBE FM. That guy’s jumper’s wet. Stalley was on hand, but he did not play. Skyzoo, Chase N. Cashe, Moonie of L.E.P. Bogus Boys, Smoke DZA, Dorrough and Dee-1, were only few of the folks taking part in the tournament. We played Team NOLA, Dee-1’s team in the first game and won relatively easily. I went over to the homie Erik Pettie after the game and told him, “I shot 100 percent from the field.” He replied, “What, you took one shot?” “Two,” I snapped back, happy to have survived the game.
We waited over an hour to play again, which gave me time to sober up a little. I was still shaky by the time we played Team Trackstar, but I definitely picked it up. I wasn’t as cautious. Just playing my game. We won pretty quickly. Suddenly, I realized that we’d made it to the semifinals. Crazy! Next up, we played this team. Their name escapes me, but they could ball. Their tallest player was 6′ 7″, so Nick, who’s 6′ 5″ matched up with him. I’m only 6’1″ and was guarding this lanky 6’4″ dude. That one was tough. Their length bothered us and they jumped out to an early lead, but we regrouped and won by 1. It was controversial. I got fouled with the clock running out. And the rules clearly stipulate that whoever’s ahead when the clock runs out, wins. No overtime. They ended up adding time on the clock. Not sure why. We pulled it off, though.
I was just happy to have made it to the finals. At this point, I was completely sober. And my confidence was back. We were playing the defending champs in the finals, The Smokers Club. The team was comprised of Smoke DZA, Brock and Young Roddy. Roddy had been crossing people over all day. He even made some dude fall this one time. I dreaded guarding him on a switch. Good thing it never happened. We were the underdogs. Smoke got on the microphone and started talking trash. “I don’t even know why we’re playing this game,” he boasted. We tried to convince ourselves that there was no pressure. That we were content with being finalists, but once the game started we were clearly on a mission. I was guarding Smoke and vice versa. I was aggressive right away. Jab step, drive. Jab step, drive. I had my best game in the finals—providing a good chunk of the offense for our team. Smoke scored once on a switch. We won 17 to 8. I’m still on a high from it. I went from being the fourth man on a team to being hungover and winning it all. Shouts to Nick and DJ Hyphen for taking me in. Shouts to Hardknock TV and shouts to Gotty and TC at The Smoking Section. I’ll definitely be back next year. Only, this time, I’ll be ready. —Carl Chery (@cchery)