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Reggie Lewis - The Heart of Basketball

The Basketball's Disease

Reggie Lewis - The Heart of Basketball  The Basketball's Disease

For some people, the heartbeat has the same sound of a basketball thumping on the court. The Boston Garden’s parquet used to speed up (and still does) the heartbeat in an unique way for adrenaline and sensations. In this building, even before to find a seat, every person get hypnotized by all the banners hang on the ceiling. Between these many banners, you can admire all the retired  names and numbers which made the glorious story of the hosting franchise. There’s Bill Russell’s number 6 and K.C. Jones’ 25, together with Red Auerbach’s dynasty key players. There’s Maxwell’s 31, McHale’s 32, Larry Bird’s 33 and then there’s Reggie “Big Truck” Lewis’ 35.


Reggie was born in Baltimore, a city where you didn’t wanna live between the seventies and the early nineties. Carmelo Anthony, just for an example, grew up in a neighborhood in Baltimore called “The Pharmacy”, because of the massive amount of drugs produced and managed in the streets. The Paul Laurence Dunbar High School basketball team, in Lewis’ last academic year, won the league with 31 wins a zero losses.

 Lewis is literally a basketball “Young Devil”. He scores, blocks, steals, assists, all with an astonishing simplicity. In 1984 against VCU he was almost unstoppable and he did 15/17 from the field with a crazy buzzer beater with 16 seconds to play. Unfortunately, Ronaldo Lamb shattered Northeastern’s dreams with another shot. He will close with 23,3 PPG and enter in 1987 NBA Draft along with David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Horace Grant and Mark Jackson.


Celtics got him at the 22nd pick, and coach K.C. Jones made him Danny Ainge’s substitution from the bench. Something weird happen, because he’s not so good as guard with his dynamism and he has to wait too much for the ball. After loosing the NBA finals against Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons, the Celtics decide to change. Next year, with the complicity of Bird’s injury, he starts to play as small forward, with more minutes and a converted game system. The result was: 18,5 average points, some steals and 39 points dropped in Charles Barkley’s face (he didn’t enjoy that).


He becomes the key player for the Celtics and the dominating athlete, destined to smash some historical record. Everyone in the “Cradle of Liberty” remembers that night when he treated MJ like anyone else, stopping him for four times and closing a fast break with a two-handed slam. He never replied to Bulls and Jordan’s trash talk, and for that Brian Show remembers him as a “Silent Killer”.


In 1992 he’s summoned for the All Star Game in Orlando. In the same year’s playoffs’ game 3, he dropped 36 points and 7 assist on the Cavs. 42 points, 6 assists and 5 steals in game 4. A superstar, unaware to be as such. In 1993 playoffs against Muggsy Bogues and David Wingate’s Charlotte Hornets, Lewis attacks since the very beginning. Rebounds, points, steals. But after only 6 minutes, and with 10 points already, he fell down, unable to get up. He has dizziness and heavy breath but after a short rest is able to come back and finish the game with 17 points.


Boston will loose the series against the Hornets 3-1, but the worst things still has to happen. The 27 of July, 1993, during a training session in Brandeis University, in Massachusetts, Lewis fell down again. Unfortunately, this time he won’t get up again. He dies for a heart condition at 27.

What’s the real meaning of “What if”? It’s not easy to explain, but it’s used to indicate those players with massive talent, but unable to accomplish what the could have. And Reggie “Big Truck” Lewis is one of the biggest “What if” in NBA history. And the only Celtic player with 100 rebounds, assists, blocks, steals in a single season.