I’ve never been a fan of basketball.
I suppose part of that is my physical makeup. I’ve always been a tall person, and even though I wasn’t 6’5″ in grade school, I was generally much bigger than my classmates. It was inevitable that people at school suggested I play basketball and I attempted to do so. My height had zero chance of making up for my complete and utter lack of coordination.
Sixth grade is an era of my life I wouldn’t mind forgetting.
Beyond that, though, I’ve just never found the sport all that interesting anyway. Baseball may be boring to some, but it was what I grew up with, so I’ve always had something of a passion for it. Wasn’t a football fan in my younger days, but latched onto the NFL with a vengeance in the late 90’s. Yeah, that would be when Peyton Manning came to town and well, I’ve loved football ever since.
But basketball? Nah.
That said, there is always something fun about this time of year when people get so excited about March Madness and the NCAA tournament. I know a lot of folks totally dig it, so I thought it would be fun to do a tie in of sorts here at the old website. And thankfully a helpful reader sent something my way that features both wrestling and basketball.
Better yet, it’s some of the worst basketball I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
That’s what we call a win-win!
So let us venture back to 1988, as the Charlotte Police Department takes on the stars of the National Wrestling Alliance!
Usually a charity game would feature a lot of clowning around and light heartedness, potentially being nothing more than a three point competition or something fun like that. That ain’t the case here, as we get a full blown 40+ minute game of honest to God BASKETBALL.
And what was the skill level on display?
Does THIS give you an idea?
To be fair, the NWA pulled out all the stops on the court this night. Again, generally in a situation like this, wrestling companies send out ‘representatives’ of the company ranging from jobbers to jobbers to the stars. If this were to happen today, it would be like, “Get in there Viking Raiders – you’re taking on the Rotary Club!”
No one would risk their top guys being hurt in a pick up game of basketball, right?
Well, lemme tell ya – that is NOT the case here, as we get a veritable who’s who of the babyface side of the company. Check out this line up!
Yes, the guy who at the time of this writing is still wrestling and jumping off balconies in AEW was here running up and down the court, taking shot after shot.
I mean with a basketball.
What he did afterwards isn’t really my business.
It’s kinda amazing to think just how far big Barry would fall in the years to come, but in the mid 80’s this dude was awesome, doing 60 and even 90 minute draws with Ric Flair around the loop. If you’ve never seen this game when he was really good, stop reading this and go do so.
So weird to see him here in his prime, knowing that just a couple years later he’d be THE STALKER in one of the first gimmicks I ever inducted.
ROAD WARRIOR HAWK!
The legendary Legion of Doom represent!
No idea why he was wearing a do rag, especially one that was a hideous pea green. Also I am kinda bummed that neither he nor Sting felt it necessary to put on their face paint. I get not dragging the spiked shoulder pads onto the court, but would it take that long to just slash on a just a tiny bit of color?
I had no idea that Kenny was around in 1988, let alone with the National Wrestling Alliance! If someone can get me tapes of him vs. Flair, I would greatly appreciate it, those matches had to be incredible.
Wait, apparently that’s Brad Armstrong.
Or is it LUGAR?
No, it’s Luger. What is it with Crockett Promotions never telling people how to properly spell their wrestlers’ names? Anyone remember that belt that had RicK Flair on it?
I didn’t just imagine that did I?
No, of course I didn’t.
Even before it was WCW, it was WCW in so many ways.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t all grade A talent on the roster.
In addition to Horner, we also had Pablo Cruz, not to be confused with Pablo Cruise. (Say what you will, but Love Will Find a Way is still a fantastic song to groove to as you’re taking a road trip.)
That said, I’ve saved arguably the three biggest stars for last.
Because I don’t know about you, but when I think about who would be unstoppable on a basketball court, I naturally picture THIS MAN:
Yes, kids, the one and only American Dream himself!
You may look at the guy and think he’s not very athletic, but I give you this GIF-tastic evidence to the contrary, where Dusty hogs the ball, runs all over the court like a goober, before finally…
…launching an airball in a truly laughable manner.
And if you think that was the only shot he took that came nowhere near the net…
Still, you have to love Sting playing hard at this celebrity game. And make no mistake, some of the guys did, especially Lex Luger who was playing like a madman, running over guys on his way to the basket like his last can of tuna fish was on the line.
These men are unquestionably real athletes and thus were competitive by nature. All that said, I believe there was a much larger reason such effort was on display.
And that was the fact that the boss was there.
Not only there, but playing!
JIM CROCKETT JR!!
With the good Lord above as my witness and I am NOT making this up, Jim Crockett Jr. was not only part of the team, but on the court PLAYING as well!
Please note I said playing AS well, not PLAYING WELL. That’s because poor Jim was on the court for about 90 seconds before collapsing in a heap.
As if that weren’t bad enough, one of the announcers actually questions if this was a fake injury. “They’re wrestlers”, we are told. “They’ve been known to do that!”
But don’t you fret, as Jim Jr. was not the only member of ownership on the sideline!
And do you know what he is saying to his brother there?
“LOOK AT HIM, TONY! LOOK AT HIM! HE’S A…”
BALD HEADED GEEK!!
Now I should point out that it wasn’t just the wrestlers that got chyron and nicknames, oh no.
The cops did as well!
WILLIAM (TOO TALL) STITT!!
Good thing I typed that man’s last name out, as the deteriorated tape this came from may have caused you to think his family was a bunch of potty mouths.
Also, I should note that according to the play by play duo, “He’s too tall alright…too tall to be a midget.”
CURBY (DUNK MAN) SWINDELL
The Charlotte police force also features such luminaries as the Dunk Man (who, for the record, never came close to dunking a basketball in this game) and…
FREDERICO THE BAKER
While this poor guy didn’t get chyron, I think we can all agree that he is the hispanic brother of Fred the Baker, aka the Dunkin’ Donuts guy.
And let me tell you folks, this was a barn burner of a game, see-saw match up, back and forth. You wouldn’t think a bunch of pudgy cops would be able to go toe to toe with the stars of the National Wrestling Alliance, but going into the final seconds, the police actually had a one point advantage.
Despite having the ball, and thus the ability to run out the clock, one of the officers made a fatal error, throwing up one more shot. Bouncing off the rim, Windham gets the rebound, launches down court to the Stinger, and…
…over to Dusty (who was just standing in the paint!) for the lay up and the win!
I may not like basketball, but even I can appreciate the thrill of victory on display here.
Enjoy March Madness, kids!