Bhatie Demus

chicago, Illinois, United States

I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. My introduction to basketball came in the form of publications and music. I didn't know anything about the game of basketball until I was 12 years old and the year was 1984. Just like most kids from the 'hood' I started out playing alley ball on bicycle rims or milk crates in Englewood. I also played in my friends backyard in Roseland better known as the hundreds. They were some creative brothers that nailed a rim to a wooden backboard on a tree. The popularity of he game of basketball culminated from a long standing rivalry. I remember coming home late at night in the spring time and my older cousin was home for summer break. He was glued to the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics. I had no interest in what he was watching but I saw the affect that the game had on him. Throughout that summer of 1984 the Olympics was taking place in Los Angeles and occasionally I would catch the basketball competition. Michael Jordan was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in his USA uniform and was looked upon as a savior to the Chicago Bulls organization who drafted Jordan 3rd in the draft out of North Carolina. Everyone was excited in the city of Chicago about the incoming rookie who put his talents on display throughout the Olympics on his way to leading USA to the gold medal.
No doubt I was influenced by the neighborhood kids who saw basketball apparel as a style symbolizing a "hooper" look that spawned prodigies throughout the city. Nike created the epitome of the "hooper" shoe with the Air Force 1 and the Vandal sneaker. It's canvas solid color patterns with the strap was ill. Where I'm from we gave shoes like these are own neighborhood names like Air Ships (Air Force 1) and "Terminator" (because we saw the Vandal shoe in the movie Terminator). Later on I would find out that Nike already had a shoe out called the Terminator that was designed for the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team. The Hoyas won the 1984 NCAA championship with a black coach in John Thompson. Coach Thompson was the first black coach to win a NCAA championship and it had a tremendous effect on the game of basketball in the black community. There was a sense of pride and confidence in the game that was unspoken but yet felt. With Chicago's native son Isiah Thomas winning the 1984 All-Star game MVP and Ben Wilson out of Simeon high school dominating the 1984 national Nike summer basketball camp it was hard not to be impacted by the game of basketball as a young black male in the city of Chicago. Thomas and Wilson were from our community and we felt connected to them even though we did not know them personally. In Chicago the basketball fraternity is family. That was evident when thousands of people showed up to Ben Wilson's funeral after he was shot to death over a quarrel with some students from another high school.
Before the Chicago Bulls intense wars against the Detroit Pistons the best rivalry in town was Simeon high school vs. Martin Luther King high school. The city playoffs were do or die to advance to the the Illinois state playoffs and there was a lot at stake. Bragging rights and neighborhood reputations were on the line. These two programs produced high school legends like Nick Anderson, the Butler brothers (Cody and Deon), Marcus Liberty and Jamie Brandon. These two programs also produced some of the best memorable match-ups in Illinois high school basketball history with both teams ranked high in the top 5 basketball polls according to USA Today during the 1985-1986 season. When I entered high school Michael Jordan was starting to dominate the NBA however all the attention was on Simeon and King. My high school Kenwood Academy was in the neighborhood of Hyde Park a very conscientious basketball community that held the best summer basketball playground tournament in the city of Chicago. It was called YVI and it stood for Youth Varsity Integrity. Throughout my high school years I seen them all. The highly ranked ball players that were going to major schools then the NBA and also the playground legends who did not go to school but instead hustled on the streets and sponsored teams. At the same time i was intrigued by basketball journalism and scouting reports by Bob Gibbons that would come out in the Pre-season Big Ten magazines. Those scouting reports educated me on who the best players in the country were and gave me a heads up on who to look out for in college basketball. As I started to get into the high school All-American all star basketball games I would measure the players game based on their performance. Later on I would start to look at the players overall game and understand that their game was predicated on their team's offense.
After graduating from high school my love for the game of basketball increased because of Da Bulls great run to numerous NBA championships and all the great college basketball teams that emerged in the early 1990s namely the UNLV squad and the Duke teams. My interest would peak because of the Fab Five out of Michigan. By 1996-1997 I began to freelance write basketball articles and submit them to magazines like Slam and The Source. One of my articles appeared in SLAM #30 under the title 'Ghetto Superstar'. I also created and coached my own 14 and Under AAU basketball squad named the Park Manor Panthers. My players were kids I taught in an after school program called Backstop at Park Manor elementary school. We participated in the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) tournament at St. Benedict the African and also played against teams at various park districts. That summer of 1997 I worked as a counselor for a National Youth Sports Program at a Community college on the Westside of Chicago. I gathered a few kids in the NYSP program and created a team that participated in a 12 and Under tournament at the Golden Dome in Garfield Park. That was a long summer. When I began working as a full time counselor with juveniles my coaching days were over. I didn't have the time but my scouting juices began to flow. I started devising my own scouting reports and created a fantasy league way before it became popular.
When I relocated to Washington state in 2006 I came at a time when Seattle high school basketball reached it's peak. I attended the Martin Luther King Hoopfest and the Washington State high school basketball state playoffs in the Tacoma Dome. The atmosphere was tremendous. I realized then that you can get good high school basketball anywhere. Since I've been here in Seattle my goal is to be well rounded in the game of basketball with aspirations to scout for a university.