Connect with us

Black Life Texas

George Gervin Superstar Early Spurs Black History



Since this is the 50th anniversary of the San Antonio Spurs coming to the city, it is important that we take a trip into the past and write about the first superstar who arrived here one year after the team came from Dallas, Texas to San Antonio.

On Jan. 30, 1974, George “Ice” Gervin changed the fate of the San Antonio Spurs and brought a sense of pride to the city and all its sports fans. It was on that day that Angelo Drossos and Red McCombs brought Gervin’s exceptional skills to the Hemisphere Arena. It was not an easy or smooth accomplishment. When Gervin arrived in San Antonio, he was quickly whisked off to the Hilton hotel with instructions to stay in his room, only coming out for short periods each day.

The problem stemmed from a dispute between Drossos and Earl Foreman, the owner of the Virginia Squires, where Gervin had played ball for the past two years. Foreman, who had sold Gervin’s contract to the Spurs, decided he would renege on the trade and return the $228,000 to the Spurs. Drossos and McCombs refused to take back the money and insisted that a deal is a deal and Gervin was a Spur.
Fearing what Foreman might do in a desperate attempt to keep his young superstar, Drossos insisted that Gervin make no public appearances and could not return to Norfolk, Virginia (home of the Squires) and get his clothes, all his personal items, his car and close out his apartment. The Spurs staff bought new clothes for him at the local Dillard’s department store and delivered them to him in the hotel.

Finally, on Feb. 6, 1974, the court decided the dispute in favor of the Spurs, and on Feb. 7, Gervin took the floor at Hemisphere Arena in his first game as a Spur. From that night on, he would dominate the team as its star and leader for the next 11 years, two while the team was still in the ABA and nine in the NBA. The fans now had a superstar to rally behind. The New York Nets and later the Philadelphia 76ers had Julius Irving, the Indianapolis Pacers had George McGinnis, the Denver Nuggets had David Thompson, and the San Antonio Spurs had George Gervin. These four dominated the ABA and it was because of them that these four teams were admitted to the NBA in the 1976 season. Without George Gervin, the Spurs would not have been one of the teams the NBA chose when the re-alignment took place.

“Ice” brought excitement to San Antonio and gave the city a major sports hero to rally behind. The first opportunity for the fans came during the 1977-1978 season. All season long, Gervin maintained a slight scoring lead over Thompson for the scoring title. That stretched right to the last game, with Thompson and Denver scheduled to play an afternoon game against the Pistons at Cobo Hall in Detroit. The Spurs last game was in New Orleans that night also. The schedule favored Gervin because he would know just how many points Thompson scored that afternoon and how many he would need that night to keep his lead and win the title.

That afternoon, Thompson went on a scoring rampage and lit up Cobo Hall. After the game, a reporter from the San Antonio Light called Gervin in his room in New Orleans and told him that Thompson had scored 73 points and taken the lead. Thompson also dropped 32 points in one quarter, setting a new record for points in a quarter. Gervin had to score at least 56 to win the title. Fans in San Antonio also knew the situation, and that evening, every radio was tuned into the game. Even though New Orleans’ defense double-teamed Gervin, he not only scored the necessary 56 points but added seven more for a total of 63 and also broke Thompson’s short-lived record of 32 points in one quarter when he scored 33 in the second quarter.

San Antonio proudly proclaimed that the holder of one of the most prestigious titles in professional sports resided in our city, and that created an atmosphere of unity among all races, religious groups, and political groups never experienced in the past. In his humble manner, Gervin acknowledged that his scoring title was not just for him but also for his teammates and thousands of fans cheering for their hero.
The cheering continued for the next nine years as Gervin dominated the basketball court in the NBA. He won three more scoring titles after the one in 1978 and scored double figures in 407 consecutive games. Gervin also played in 12 straight all-star games, winning MVP in one. He placed second in the voting for the regular season MVP for consecutive years and should have won it in 1978. As the Spurs’ main scoring threat, the team’s high-powered offense brought home five division titles and, in 1979, was one game short of playing in the finals for the national championship.

George Gervin was one of the most admired basketball professionals ever to play the game. The great Jerry West told reporters, “He’s (George) the one player I would pay to see play.” While coaching the Denver Nuggets, his former coach, Dick Motta, proclaimed, “You don’t stop George Gervin. You just hope that his arm gets tired after 40 shots.”

In 1996, George was admitted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and designated as one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA. He was undoubtedly, the first of three franchise players helping the Spurs rise to the status of one of the best teams in the NBA. He set the pace for David Robinson and Tim Duncan to follow that, ultimately leading to the five NBA Championships the franchise can now claim.
In this celebration of the team’s 50 years in the ABA and NBA, the city, state, and country must acknowledge that George “Ice” Gervin was the first great superstar for the San Antonio Spurs.

Black Life Texas

Power Book II: Ghost Debuts in Starz




The “Power” franchise is back again and adding some Mary J. Blige flair to its latest sequel.

This time, “Power Book II: Ghost” is told through the eyes of young Tariq St. Patrick, the central character, trying to navigate his life to shed his father’s legacy and coming up against the mounting pressure to save his family. Along the way, Tariq gets entangled in the affairs of the cutthroat Tejada family, adding further complications as he tries to balance his drug operations with his education, love life, family affairs, and mounting pressure from Cooper Saxe. He divides his time between school and hustling to pay for his mother’s defense attorney, but Tariq turns to a familiar drug game when he runs out of options.

The “Power” franchise is a television series created and produced by Courtney A. Kemp in collaboration with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Upon release in 2014, the series, which airs on Starz, earned positive reviews and is one of the network’s most highly-rated shows.

This spinoff stars Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq, Shane Johnson as Cooper Saxe, Method Man as Davis Maclean, Mary J. Blige as Moet, Larenz Tate as Councilman Tate, Lovell Adams-Gray as Dru Tejada, and many more familiar characters.

Since 2014, the franchise has spun off into “PowerBook II: Ghost,” “PowerBook III: Raising Kanan,” and “Powerbook IV: Force and BMF.”

Last September, Jackson announced he was leaving Starz. And recently, in February, he announced a multiyear broadcast direct deal with Fox, which is offering him the platform to develop scripted dramas, comedies, and animated series that would air on the network.

Continue Reading

Black Life Texas

American Red Cross: On the Right Side of History




On June 1, 1921, over 7,500 angry white Tulsan, armed with weapons and a determination to destroy, crossed the Frisco Railroad Tracks into the segregated Greenwood section of North Tulsa, also known as Black Wall Street. They slaughtered over 300 men, women, and children within seven hours while literally burning down all the businesses and homes within a 33-block area. 

After the State National Guard finally arrived in the city and ended that savagery, over 7,000 Black American citizens were left without homes, no food, and their hospital had been destroyed. At that time in the country’s history, it was the worst single-day massacre of fellow citizens and their property.

In 1921 no organizations were willing to assist the 7,000 distraught, homeless men, women and children, except the American Red Cross. Founded in 1881, the organization had never assisted victims of a manmade disaster, especially when those victims happened to be Black. However, Maurice Willows, director of the Southwest Division of the Red Cross, insisted that the organization come to the rescue of what he considered his fellow citizens of the country. He called on his workers to respond as a matter of human life and led a team of volunteers from across the area into the ravaged community to assist what he termed the Black “riot victims.”

Willows’s first act was to order “the incumbent city officials to abdicate power to him for a 60-day period.” He then set up his operating headquarters at the Booker T. Washington High School. For some reason, the high school was not torched. He also set up a makeshift hospital inside one of the classrooms. With the extreme possibility of disease spreading due to the number of dead bodies lying in the streets, Willows obtained vaccines and inoculated 1,800 people against tetanus, typhoid, and smallpox. According to the Red Cross records, 163 operations were conducted in the make-shift hospital, saving a considerable number of lives. The Red Cross also attended to 763 lesser wounded men, women, and children.

The Red Cross workers set up tents throughout the community for the residents whose homes had been burned to the ground from turpentine-soaked explosives thrown from low-flying airplanes. Many of those residents lived in tents throughout the winter of 1921-22. One special tent was erected and filled with sewing machines. The women were put to work making clothes, quilts, cot pads, sheets, and pillows, while the men helped to erect the tents. 

The Red Cross stayed in Tulsa for seven months and spent over $100,000 in its sustained relief effort. Along with the material necessities, they also provided the angry and often depressed residents of Greenwood with a much-needed psychological uplift. When it appeared that all was lost, Willows and the other white volunteers showed up and immediately gave the distraught residents hope. They were extremely grateful for Willows and the others that accompanied him to Tulsa. In a letter sent to him years later by a collective assembly of Black Tulsa residents, they wrote, “Thank God for the Red Cross helping us to shut out of our lives that what is evil.” 

No doubt that early in its existence, the American Red Cross was on the right side of history.

Red Cross Black History Facts (from the website of the American Red Cross)

Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist, orator, and author, first met Red Cross founder Clara Barton shortly after the end of the Civil War. During the war, Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers, including the all-Black Massachusetts 54th Regiment, which Douglass recruited. The story of the 54th Regiment formed the basis for the 1991 film “Glory.”

Douglass offered advice and support to Barton in her efforts to gain American acceptance as a member nation of the global Red Cross network. Douglass signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the Red Cross, which later documented the creation of the American Red Cross.

Frances Reed Elliott Davis was the first officially registered African American nurse to be accepted into the Red Cross Nursing Service, where she provided medical care for the families of service members during World War I. 

Mary McLeod Bethune was an advisor to the U.S. president. She was invited to two American Red Cross wartime conferences to discuss African American representation within the organization. As a result of these conferences, the “Committee on Red Cross Activities with Respect to the Negro” formed. Bethune was one of five committee members who made recommendations on the blood plasma project, the use of African-American staff in overseas service clubs, the enrollment of African-American nurses and the representation of African Americans on local and national Red Cross committees and staff departments.

Dr. Jerome Holland became a member of the American Red Cross Board of Governors in 1964. President Jimmy Carter later appointed him as chairman of the American Red Cross Board of Governors in 1979. He was the first African American to hold this position (one of the highest-ranking positions at the Red Cross). Because of his commitment to the Red Cross, he was appointed again in 1982. While serving on the board, Dr. Holland showed a passion for blood research and took the lead in consolidating growing laboratory operations for the Red Cross Blood Services program. After his death in 1985, the organization named its biomedical research facility in Rockville, Md., the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences.

Continue Reading

Black Life Texas

Game, Match, Set – Part Five 




A Mother’s Justice – A Short Story by Caleb Alexander

“There’s been a lot of strange things happening around this case, your honor!” Defense Attorney Gabe Kline said, standing next to his client. He had been hired by the Fraternal Order of Police to represent the man who killed my son.  

“We have mysterious USBs showing up at the police station, at the local and national news stations, at the district attorney’s office, and God knows where else. I find it mighty disturbing that police body camera footage, footage that was completely lost, was somehow found and then distributed in this manner. 9-1-1 calls that were lost have magically turned up and somehow found their way to the media. Don’t you find this a little strange, your honor?”

“Make your point, counselor,” Judge Phillipa Bass ordered.

“My point is, judge, my client has rights,” Gabe Kline argued. “This body cam footage is highly prejudicial and misleading under the best of circumstances. It doesn’t convey the full picture of what happened that day. And having it spread all over the news is going to deny my client his Constitutional Right to an unbiased jury and thus a fair trial.”

“To my understanding, in every single similar case, where there has been an officer-involved shooting, the police departments themselves have released incident footage to the public,” Judge Bass replied. “Why would it not be in this case? The media has been highly opinionated in this case from the very beginning. When they were insinuating drug involvement before the autopsy report was made public that showed that narrative was false, I didn’t hear a peep about public scrutiny or potential bias.”

“Judge, I move for a mistrial,” Kline stated. 

“On what grounds?”

“The release of the body cam footage.”

“Denied,” Judge Bass said. “Take it up with SAPD.”

“They aren’t the ones who released that footage!” Kline said forcefully.

“They’re the only ones who had access to it,” Judge Bass told him. “If it came from anywhere, it came from there.”

“Judge, I move for a motion to suppress the body camera footage and the 9-1-1 tapes,” Kline said.

“Let me get this straight,” Judge Bass said, leaning forward and peering over the spectacles resting on her nose. “You want to suppress evidence that the world has already seen, and that came from the police department?”

“It shouldn’t be considered, it’s misleading and prejudicial.”

“Oh, I think it’s very relevant, and I think that the jury should see it as part of the truth-seeking function of the trial process,” Judge Bass said sternly. “Your motion is denied.”

“This is bull crap!” Officer Vincent Mayorga shouted. “This whole thing is a setup! It’s rigged!  The whole thing has been rigged!”

I stared at the monster who killed my son. I wanted to run to the defense table and choke the life out of him. I knew that I was squeezing the blood out of my husband’s hand. 

“Order! Order in the court!” Phillipa shouted, banging her gavel. “Counselor, control your client, or I’ll find you both in contempt!”

“This is a setup!” Officer Mayorga shouted. He rose from his seat, causing the bailiffs to rush to his table and constrain him. “How could I have an all-Black grand jury? How? In this city? How?  And then a Black prosecutor? And a Black judge?”

“You have a problem with my ethnicity?” Phillipa asked, peering over her glasses.

“No, your honor!” Kline said, grabbing his client. “He’s just a little distraught right now!”

“This system is rigged!” Officer Mayorga shouted.

“Bailiff, remove him from my courtroom!” Phillipa said, banging her gavel. “Officer Mayorga, you are hereby in contempt of court. Your bail is hereby revoked. All motions are hereby dismissed.  This trial is set for Monday! I will have you restrained and gagged if you try this on Monday, Officer Mayorga. And if that is the way you want to sit in front of the jury, that is fine with me! Court is dismissed!”

Assistant District Attorney Genevieve Kingston gathered her materials and then walked to where I was seated. “I have this, you can stop now.”

“Vivi, what are you talking about?” I asked.

“Really?” she asked, tilting her head. “Girl, stop. I don’t want anything coming back on appeal. I got him.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The 9-1-1 call? The body cam footage showing up at my office?”

“Not me.”

“Then you tell Tenayson that I’m going to kill her!” Genevieve winked at me and walked off. “I got this, girlfriend! Trust me, I got this!”

To Be Continued ….

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

Continue Reading

Hot Topics