Rolando Blackman was my favorite basketball player when I was a kid.
Well, that’s not true. Michael Jordan was. But everybody loved Jordan. Jordan wasn’t human. He was Zeus mixed with Willy Wonka splashed with Dr. J and Flubber.
In actuality, Rolando Blackman was my first non-superhuman basketball hero. And what a forehead! Little known fact: Germany almost accidentally knocked down Rolando Blackman’s forehead in 1989, mistakenly thinking it was the Berlin Wall. Luckily, they spotted his tiny, tiny green shorts and stopped before anybody was hurt.
Really, I love Rolando Blackman for one reason and one reason only: He was the first athlete to ever sign a basketball card for me.
When I was 12, in 1991, I became obsessed with the NBA and basketball cards. I memorized every single player’s stat that was available in the early 90s. Don’t believe me? Shawn Kemp averaged 15.0 and 8.5 rebounds per game in the 90-91 season. Boom. How’d I know that? No, not Google. I had zero friends. I had a basketball board game that involved dice and a calculator that I played by myself. You could ride a chuckwagon to Oregon faster than you could finish a game. Another thing about Shawn Kemp: He fathered more illegitimate children than Bob Marley and Dominique Wilkins combined. And ‘Nique allegedly paid money on 20 paternity suits. “Human Highlight Reel” indeed!
I used to mail out self-addressed stamped envelopes and basketball cards to all the NBA teams (or index cards when my allowance/can recycling fund was depleted) and waited months, years, decades for them to send something back. It was probably only a few weeks, but you know how time moves when you’re a kid. Rolando Blackman was the first one to send a card back. Almost suspiciously fast. I actually checked a couple times to make sure he wasn’t squatting in my garage. He beat the second fastest by a good three months. And screw you, Kevin Johnson. You think I can’t spot a stamped signature when I see one? I hope your assistant got carpal tunnel from doing all your dirty-work and sued your autograph-avoiding ass. I bet you’re a lousy mayor!
So yeah, the Timberwolves got stomped by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. But Rolando Blackman was a Maverick. Twelve year old Mike Brody is giving you a pass. Thanks Rolando.