Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone. We're taking the day off on January 1st, but in the meantime I've got a couple conversation starters for you to wrap up the year:
1 -- Who was the best basketball player you ever saw at the small-college level or below? I was lucky enough to see Stephen Curry play against Butler last year (when he and Gordon Hayward were the two best players on the floor), and against Winthrop the year before (when he had a tough game), but I'll never forget seeing Rob Jones dominating the West Catholic Athletic League. For what it's worth, my dad saw Leon Powe when Powe was at Oakland Tech, and he told me at the time that Powe was breathtaking on the court and a surefire NBA player.
2 -- What's the most surprisingly impressive athletic feat you've ever seen? Here's my example: Sometime in the mid to late 1990s, the San Francisco Giants held an old timer's game before the real game. Reggie Jackson was there. Gaylord Perry. Joe Rudi. A lot of Bay Area icons. But the highlight was Bobby Bonds, at the time, I believe, the Giants' hitting instructor and about fifty years old, stepping to the plate against some poor sixty-something dude and clubbing a monster home run over the left field bleachers at Candlestick Park. I don't remember anyone else ever totally clearing the bleachers, as it had to have been at least a 430 foot shot through the swirling winds.
3 -- Finally, you've probably seen this already, but in case you haven't, I bring you Kadour Ziani. He's Algerian, and he's the best show dunker in the world.