Hoop Dreams: Malik Newman’s Summer Vacation, Part II
By Travis Gordon (@lilhookermack) Edited by Veair Green
Malik Newman has garnered national attention for his basketball skills. The 6’3” combo guard out of Callaway High School (Jackson, MS) averaged nearly 23 PPG and 5 RPG during his freshman season in leading the Chargers to the 5A state championship. I was able to do what a lot of high school coaches couldn’t do and that is slow him down for just a few minutes.
The MaxPreps Freshman of the Year and No. 4 ranked player on the 2015 ESPN 25 has agreed to sit with “A Good Sports Hang” and the “Jackson Advocate” to give us his version of a summer basketball diary. The ESPN HS Freshman of the Year will join me periodically throughout the summer to give updates on his travels. In Malik’s second entry (June 16th), we sat down with his father Horatio Webster for a special Father’s Day discussion. Here’s a sample version to Part 2 of our series. For the entire interview go to: agoodsportshang.com (Podcast section)
TG: Now that Miami has tied the series 1-1 with Oklahoma City, have you changed your mind on your NBA Finals prediction? (He predicted the Western Conference winner would win the NBA Finals)
MN: No sir I haven’t. They have one player that no one can stop in Kevin Durant. Westbrook is starting to calm down and I don’t know if Chalmers can maintain him.
TG: What do you think Horatio?
HW: I’m going to go with Oklahoma City too. I think they have an all-around better team. If Westbrook gave Kevin Durant the ball a little more, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion about it being 1-1. It would be a clean sweep.
TG: Being that Father’s Day is tomorrow, what did you get from your dad in terms of basketball?
MN: He gave me his jumper.
TG: Horatio do you agree that you gave him your jumper?
HW: Nope, I just put him on this earth and I prayed over him every night. All I gave him was life.
TG: You have to be proud that your son is excelling the way he is at such a young age and taking after you.
HW: I am ecstatic. Sometimes I just sit back and I’m like, “Is this really happening?” A little kid from Mississippi getting this much recognition and then on top of it, it’s my son. It’s sorta amazing sometimes.
TG: As a father, what kind of advice do you give him to keep him grounded?
HW: I never worked hard. I never knew what hard work was, I just played ball off of God-given ability. I tell him whatever you put in to whatever you do, whether it’s going to be a doctor, lawyer, dentist or garbage man, what you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it. If you put in the work, positive things will come out. That’s my best advice.
TG: Do you take that advice to heart?
MN: I listen to everything. I know he’s my father, so he wouldn’t tell me anything wrong.
TG: How are those backyard battles now?
MN: We can’t even play them anymore. I think he’s afraid to play me.
TG: He’s afraid? What’s going on Horatio?
HW: I’m not afraid; I’m not going to let my kid beat me. With saying that, I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the game. Whether it’s to cheat, whether it’s to bully him and call all of the calls and take the ball out of bounds. To save the confusion in the household, we just don’t play anymore.
TG: I can guarantee you he will choose a shooting game instead of playing a one-on-one game.
MN: He’ll play me O-U-T, but he won’t play me one-on-one.
TG: Are you getting old Horatio? You can’t move around like you used to?
HW: I work out every day and now I’m beginning to have flashbacks. I’m beginning to scare myself, I run off so many shots.
TG: Are you willing to promise me by the end of the summer that you’ll play Malik when he’s back healthy?
HW: At the end of July, the first of August we can play one-on-one. We can record it, we can do whatever and I’m going to play a fair game.
TG: How is the foot?
MN: It’s doing much better. I’m still doing therapy and now that I’m in the boot I can’t really do anything.
TG: You have any special plans for you and your pops for Father’s day?
MN: I MAY take him out!
Follow Travis on Twitter: @lilhookermack