Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray? (TNT)|
By Marcus Allison
Narrated by Chris Rock
Premieres February 16, 2000
I never liked basketball. Call me crazy, but I always thought the game a bit strange: Abnormally-sized men, bouncing an orange ball, with
the sole objective of putting the damned thing through a hoop laced with a white net; a bit prurient if you ask me. But that's just me. Whilst around other Brothas, and there is talk about statistics and layups, I always feign surety saying at the appropriate times "ˇbut Jordan is somethin' else!" Emphasizing the 'is', to give the impression that I know what the hell I'm talking about. I made the mistake on one occasion, an early moment, to unwisely use my basketball parlance in a way that revealed how little I know. It was an early error. In a room full of brothers talking about basketball, I said, "But that Jordan guy is really good!" Needless to say I felt real small in that room. But that was then and this is now. I am still not big on playing basketball, and neither do I care to watch the game. There are too many points scored in the time allotted. Table tennis -- now there's a game! Soccer, also one to be reckoned with. Basketball isn't my cup of tea. And tea is important; must be my British-Jamaican upbringing. Nothing like a good cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon!
Well, enough exclamation points and waxing about days long gone. I remember sitting in my undergraduate dean's office, prayin' to Jesus, to allow me to make a well-overdue exit from my alma mater Shitty College. I had more than enough credits, but lacked a third and final required credit in physical education (i.e. gym). I guess Jesus tried but there was no charming that woman, and, to my dismay I had to sit it out one more semester in that God-forsaken place, taking a class in basketball. It was one of the hardest classes ever, and I passed it only by the skin of my teeth.
But none of this has anything to with 'Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray?' a documentary narrated by the acerbic Chris Rock, and soon-to-be-seen on the TNT cable network (February 15, 2000). The documentary tells the story of a one Micheal (yes, that's how is
name is spelled) Ray, a dude who, at his best, played for the New York Knicks, and on his long spiral downwards, made his presence known on lesser reputed teams. Apparently he was touted to be a really good player by the standards of most basketball aficionados, but frankly, I didn't see it. Anyway, to make a long story real short, this Micheal Ray guy was considered to have more potential than most, and he blew it all away by partying and bullshitting, getting high; you know the routine. So he messes up time after time after time, snorting coke, going in and out of treatment clinics for his addictions, proclaiming he was cured time after time. It's pretty easy to not like this guy; to lose all sympathy for him and his ilk.
Initially I had no sense of empathy. In fact there was a wonderful sense of schadenfreude ( I hope I spelled that correctly) to find near the end of his career that even the NBA grew tired of his antics, kicking his ass out. The film does a good job of fomenting curiosity. Though never hearing of Micheal Ray before this film, I wanted to know what became of this guy. At one point, dire straits of his life are seen when he bemoans not having a father. Shit, I felt for him then -- and a bit guilty about my earlier pleasures of his demise. What ever happened to Micheal Ray?
The film does deliver, thankfully. Micheal Ray is spotted on camera in Europe. A Camera panning the crowd at
a basketball game involving America's best, spots him. You can tell that even the dude behind the camera is wondering, "Damn, ain't that Micheal Ray?" Yup, it is, and there is an unconscious sigh of relief to see the Brother looking healthy and well fed. His stutter is not as noticeable, and he looks calmer. His demons seem under control. Micheal Ray is doin' okay. Would I recommend it? Well, yeah, if you like basketballˇ