February 13th, 2013
My paper is due in less than a week, and I have nothing and no one to write about. I beg and plead with my Proffesor, increase the deadline, give me more time bro. He strokes his chin and gives me the same damn line he has since I walked in his classroom, ” excuses are frowned upon in the Sports world Mr. Jouganatos, get a topic or fail the paper”. So now I’m forced to find something, and at about 2:30 on the West Coast on February 13th, my friend Austin looks at me and says one word to me, “Dakarai”. See that’s all you need is one word to say to get people to recognize Sheldon’s All Star Swingman Dakarai Allen. Now to describe his game? You’d need more than just one word. He’s # 84 in ESPN. com’s High School Hoop Rankings, he stands over 6 ‘ foot 6, equipped with the ability to jump out of the gym, swat shots out of the sky, and a jumpshot that stretches beyond the 3 point line. I’m against it from the start, there’s no way in hell he’d let me talk to him, let alone let me get near him. Austin convinces me, ” You have to do it! you’ve always defended him when people tried to talk bad about his attitude, plus your out of ideas, so he’s your last hope to get an A”. Damn, he’s right. I use Social Media tactics to get in touch with him. I go to his Twitter Page and shoot him a Tweet. His 1,500 followers make my 1,000 look like 100. I get a response and to my surprise he agrees.
( Progress Kid!)
After we Follow-Tag each other, I shoot him some possible days when he’s free. He agrees, gives me his phone number, and tells me to text him. We immediately shoot texts for days, and he agrees to meet me after the opening Playoff Game against No. 17 Bear Creek on Wednesday, February 20th. He also is available for me to text him some follow up questions, just to get a feel for who he is as a person. He tells me about how the loss to Mater Dei in the State Championship groomed him for this season, saying he’s a more offensive minded player now and how his determination has increased ten fold. I ask him about the outcome of this year, and would anything less than getting back to State be a disappointment and he corrects me by saying, “Anything less than the State Championship is a disappointment”. I thank him for the time and let him know I can’t wait to see him play Wednesday Night.
Monday, February 18th, 2013
Before I talked to Dakarai, I want to get opinions from people that know him or have watched him. I talk to his teammate, Bruce Crawford about the one thing that stands out when he watches him play, “Athleticism” he tells me. I go to fans and get reactions on everything from his play, to his attitude. One guy calls him a ball hog, one says he hates his attitude, one calls him a crybaby, and as my good, gigantic friend Sam Alnassiri puts it to me, ” Dakarai is the N***a”. I tell my Dad, who follows High School Basketball as well and ask him about his attitude. ” You know something, people give that poor kid a bad rap, I bet he’s not even that bad, people love to create problems that just aren’t there”. I finally go to his good friend, and rival Guard from Pleasant Grove High Malik Thames to ask him about the friend he’s had since the 3rd Grade, where he tells me about the first time he knew his friend Karai was going to be someone, ” Sophmore year, you just knew he was going to be somebody” he tells me, ” you could just see the potential”. I tell him about the people I’ve come into contact with, and how they regard him as cocky or arrogant, and that’s where I find out about Kari, ” he’s so funny” Malik tells me, ” he cracks jokes left and right, I could never have a bad time around Kari”. I text Dakarai again and ask him if it bothers him what some may think about the attitude, he responds and explains that his emotions get wrapped in the game, and that he doesn’t worry about what people think half the time, ” as soon as you step on the court, you have to have some type of swag when you step on the floor, so people can have their opinion, basketball junkies would understand.” It’s a brief, respectable, and understandable answer. Swag, that’s the word that stands out. He goes on to throw out the knock that he is a selfish player when I ask him about what his main goal is every time he steps on the court, ” I just want to win at any cost” he tells me. Yeah, so much for being a ball hog Sacramento.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
( From left to right; one of my Former Vice Principals, Band member Kyle Campbell and…some random guy I don’t know, Sam Alinassiri thinking of what to write about Dakari, Austin with our good friend Tom, and Kyle directing the band after the win)
I sit half court at my former High School’s Gym, where I meet Tom, a middle aged African American man who asks me why I have the pen and pad. I explain to him my situation with Dakari, and I’m here to do a story on him. He flips out, ” You know Dakarai!?”, he asks me. . He then begins to talk to me about anything and everything Basketball. He explains what’s wrong with the game today, ” no ball movement between the youngsters young fella!” he says, ” no passing, no communication, all these clowns on ESPN show is the dunk, and the alley-oop, but never an outlet pass right?”. Meanwhile, a guy with a mustache picks up five bucks off the floor, ” I love it when they give it away!” he says, ” If they dropped more of it I’d never have to work”. And then the band begins to play Tyga’s “Faded”. And the DMGMB squad takes the floor, and the crowd goes nuts. As the intros come to an end, Sheldon does their famous, “we reaaaaaady, AHH!” chants. A Center for Bear Creek, # 44, beginst to smirk at the Center Line as he awaits the tip. I think to myself, “poor soul, if he only knows what awaits”. Dakarai starts by not scoring in the first quarter, picking up two fouls, and looks disgruntled as he can’t get in a rythm. I know that any of his critics would try to credit that face to his bad attitude. But I know better, ” he’s just frustrated” I tell myself. I know how much he wants to win, anyone else in the gym does too. After the first quarter it’s lights out, He racks up 11 points, 4 rebounds, blocks a shot into the second row, and dishes out 5 assists, as Sheldon breezes to a 94- 40 route.
Keith meet Karai, Karai Meet Keith
I wait for Dakarai after the game and after only ten minutes out steps Dakarai. He comes out in a San Diego State sweatshirt and sweatpants, he takes the headphones out of his ears once he sees me. I look up at him and realize how tall he is, it’s one thing to watch him play sitting down, but when face to face he’s taller than me by a good half a foot. I begin by saying it looked like he was struggling, only 11 points. “I wouldn’t say that”, he calmly and clearly tells me with a grin,” you also said I had 5 assists and 3 rebounds right?, there’s other ways to make your team better, as long as we get the win that’s all that matters to me”. I’m shocked, impressed, and have to resort to simply cracking a smile as I begin to walk through the parking lot. Someone from the crowd calls out, ” Yo Karai!, which way you going?”, he laughs and starts to walk to the Staff Parking Lot. And that’s where I begin to get to know Karai the person, and not just the High School Blue Chip Prospect. He begins to tell me about his likes, dislikes, the Electric Blue Dodge Charger he’s always wanted and hopes I don’t think weird of him for wanting that specific color, I tell him, ” Dakarai, I don’t even know what Electric Blue looks like, so your still cool with me”, and he finally lets me in on the secret to Wing Kingdom.
( Not a bad pick Karai, if this isn’t the right car I’m going to look like an idiot.)
K: Alright Man, what in the hell is the Winged Kingdom? I forgot to ask Malik so you have to tell me.
D: (Laughs) It’s WingStop, It’s nothing special.
K: So what do you get from this Magical Winged Kingdom?
D: Oh gotta get that 10 piece combo
He then reharps with me on winning the State Championship,
D:I still think about that game
K: The State Title Game?
D:I can remember peoples faces in the crowd, how it felt afterwards. I promised myself that I’d do anything to get our squad back there and win it this time.
He tells me more about his dream of reaching the NBA, and how the main goal he wanted out of Basketball was to go to College, and make sure his Parents never had to pay a dime for it. He talks to me about his Mom, ” she means the world to me” he says, I respond, ” same with mine”. And with that, he tells me he has to go home. We shake hands one more time, I thank him for his time, what it’s meant, and I tell him that the paper should be done by the next day and posted. He says no problem and promises he’ll Retweet it to see. So no, Dakarai Allen isn’t a bad kid, he is not selfish, and he is definitely a team player. Everyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know the real him. They just think they do.
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