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Matthew Morris Matthew Morris BVM Sports Journalist
God Shammgod on ‘NYC Point Gods’ and New York City basketball

God Shammgod on ‘NYC Point Gods’ and New York City basketball

NEW YORK (BVM) – God Shammgod is one of the many New York City basketball legends that is featured in Showtime’s “NYC Point Gods,” a documentary by NBA superstar Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman. The film focuses on the history and legacy of New York City point guards from the 1980s and ‘90s that changed the game of basketball while coming up in the city that has been known as the “Mecca of basketball.”

Shammgod was at the premiere of “NYC Point Gods” in New York City and got a first hand look at the film that he took part in making.

God Shammgod NYC Point Gods Rucker Park Showtime New York City
God Shammgod, center, and his guests attend the “NYC Point Gods” premiere at The Midnight Theatre. (Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports)

“For me it was an amazing atmosphere,” Shammgod said. “It was a well done documentary so it was amazing. Left me with chills, left me with laughter, sadness, all types of emotions but in a good way. It was just a great project to see and a great project to be a part of.”

He is of course required when talking about New York City basketball, as you can’t do it without talking about Shammgod. Whether it was hearing about how he looked up to Kenny Anderson, growing up playing against Rafer Alston and Stephon Marbury, or the fact that his PE teacher was Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Shammgod was great in “NYC Point Gods.”

“There was no doubt I’d be a part of it,” Shammgod said. “Especially coming from New York City and especially going through all the stuff coming up, all the trials and tribulations of life and basketball. I was just honored.”

The documentary was broken up into different aspects of what makes a New York City point guard so special. Featuring interviews with Shammgod, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Marbury, Alston, Anderson, Mark Jackson, Kareem Reid, as well as others. Of course, when ball handling was talked about, Shammgod was the focus. Having a basketball move named after you earns you a spot like that.

The infamous “Shammgod” basketball move has become one of the badges of honor worn by any basketball player that regards themselves as a good ball handler. The move is just one of many that Shammgod has in his arsenal and stems from his very first interactions with the game of basketball at one of the games’ most hallowed spots, Rucker Park.

“The first time I got introduced to basketball was at Rucker Park… When I went there it was all about entertainment,” Shammgod said. “When I say entertainment, it was kind of like Harlem Globetrotters meet organized basketball. So of course everybody was up there dribbling, everybody had the handle, everybody had the fancy moves, and then I just saw the way the crowd took to it and what the crowd loved and how the crowd loved it, so for me it was like amazing and I wanted that energy.”

That energy Shammgod found at Rucker Park was coursing through the city during a tumultuous time that created many of these famous point guards, and that is talked about in “NYC Point Gods.”

“Growing up then it was an amazing time,” Shammgod said. “You know it was like fashion, music, money, drugs, everything you know. It’s just an atmosphere that gives a kid the energy, that give you that energy that you want to be somebody. Not necessarily a basketball player but you want to be somebody.”

For Shammgod, Marbury, Alston and Reid, that energy pushed them towards basketball and Rucker Park. For others like Shammgod’s friends Mason “Mase” Betha and Cameron “Cam’ron” Giles, who also appears in “NYC Point Gods,” the energy pulled them towards successful careers as rappers.

But being somebody didn’t necessarily mean doing it for yourself, and Shammgod is proud that “NYC Point Gods” showed the reasons behind deciding to be somebody. For the guys in the documentary it was about helping their family.

“In that documentary you see it’s not about the player, why they wanted to get out or why they wanted to become a good basketball player,” Shammgod said. “It always starts with the kid wanting to do it for someone else before himself. You get a pure representation of basketball like it’s a purse basketball at its finest.”

“NYC Point Gods” highlights the motivation of the players, but then also shows their impact on the sport for each generation. Anderson influenced Shammgod who then influenced others. Shammgod’s era in particular was interesting because it introduced big time rappers like Fat Joe and Jay-Z fielding teams at Rucker Park, taking the popularity of New York City basketball to new heights.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to be a part of that, to know that, that time in the history of New York, that that was my era,” Shammgod said. “That was my era, like I wasn’t a part of the culture, I was the culture, you know, when it came to basketball. You know me and Stephon Marbury, Rafer Alston and Kareem Reid like we wasn’t bystanders, we were setting the tone for the culture.”

They took the streetball that had been played at Rucker Park for generations and took it nation wide. A part of setting the tone is having a move named after you. The move has immortalized Shammgod in the game and highlights one of the points made in the documentary; that through technology, everyone can see how to become a New York City point guard.

“With me I’m kind of living like Benjamin Button,” Shammgod said. “I’m kind of living backwards because all the stuff that people didn’t get to see now with Instagram, Youtube and stuff like that, they can Google me.”

Not only can they see his highlights, but they can see Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul doing the “Shammgod,” or anyone else who does the move and then goes viral. Even prior to social media, Alston’s And1 Mixtape took streetball nationwide. Technology has opened the door for anyone from anywhere to become a true student of the game. As they say in “NYC Point Gods,” there are New York City point guards all over the country now and that is thanks to technology.

Technology has been a blessing in allowing the game to reach billions of people and it also allows a guy like Shammgod to know he has fans all over the place because they’ll DM him and tell him that. But for a guy that grew up before the advent of social media, it is bittersweet.

“Everything for them happens in real time,” Shammgod said. “Me growing up (now) if I did a move in the ninth grade everybody would have saw it within an hour on Instagram and stuff like that. It’s kind of bittersweet because, you know, when I was coming up, everything was word of mouth, so when you heard about somebody being good, somebody took their time out to tell you that this person was good, nine times out of 10 you were good.”

That word of mouth is what Shammgod grew up with. Hearing about the great Pearl Washington or Anderson. Then becoming the person that everyone was talking about alongside his contemporaries like Marbury, Alston and Reid.

Word of mouth meant that you were memorable enough for someone to want to talk about you after they had seen you play. There was an aura about those who were famous during that time.

“I remember walking into a gym and the gym being quiet like, ‘Hey there go Shammgod. Hey there go Stephon Marbury. Hey there go Rafer Alston, ‘Skip to my Lou,’” Shammgod said. “When I was young I would see Kenny Anderson and I’d be like, ‘Man, that’s Kenny Anderson,’ you know. I would get a part in the middle because I wanted to be Kenny Anderson, I wanted to walk, talk, chew gum like Kenny Anderson. Those are like intimate moments and now there’s nothing wrong with social media or YouTube, but you kind of lose some of those intimate moments.”

Seeing those greats in the gym is different than seeing them online, but the game is still better because everyone can see. It has helped Shammgod in his role as coach at his alma mater, Providence, and with the Dallas Mavericks. Those players know who he is, have seen what he can do and want to learn from him.

Passing down his knowledge and inspiring the next generation, “NYC Point Gods” showed how the whole of New York City and the great point guards that came from there have inspired point guards all over the place. For Shammgod, that’s also shown on a personal level and specifically with ball handling. There will always be somebody whether it’s at Rucker Park or halfway across the world trying to master the ‘Shammgod.’

“I get to see who I inspired everyday and that’s the beauty of basketball,” Shammgod said. “If I’m not the best dribbler ever I know that I’m going to spark the brain of the best dribbler one day. I’m happy with that because any job you go to, you want to make something better than how you found it, and one thing in life that I can say that I can live with and I’m so proud about is that when it’s all said and done, I know I left one aspect of basketball better than how I found it, and that’s true.”

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