Features for Sports Illustrated:
From comic relief to Comedy Central: Two ex-UCLA hoopsters find their niche in TV with new animated series (9.14.16):
UCLA basketball benchwarmers Josiah Johnson and Quinn Hawking didn’t think they’d sub in. It was way, way too early, as 15 minutes remained in the 2003 game against powerhouse Arizona, whose lead ballooned to 20. Rarely rising from the bench, Johnson and Hawking usually shimmied, swayed and stomped for teammates like future NBA players Matt Barnes, Trevor Ariza and Jason Kapono. They discovered the best camera angles in timeout huddles in hopes of appearing on TV after the commercial break. “They called themselves ‘The S— Crew,'” said Brian Morrison, who played for the Bruins from 2002–05. “They entertained everybody.” Shortly after entering the Arizona game, Johnson almost got dunked on by future NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. “I remember seeing my life flash before my eyes,” Johnson said. Hawking, too, tried to defend Iguodala. “Please don’t drive to the hoop,” Hawking prayed. Finding humor at the end of the bench, Johnson, 34, and Hawking, 33, have turned splinters into punchlines, becoming co-creators, executive producers, writers and voice-talents of Comedy Central’s upcoming animated series, “Legends of Chamberlain Heights,” set to premier Sept. 14 after South Park. The show, which features animation by The Simpsons’ Brad Ableson, follows three high-school freshmen, Jamal, Grover and Milk, who are benchwarmers with big dreams. (READ FULL STORY HERE).
Inside the nation’s most intense high school hoops rivalry between L.A’s Westchester and Fairfax (3.1.16):
Two hours before a recent game between fierce Los Angeles high school rivals Westchester High and Fairfax High, the gym is packed. The Fairfax band plays alongside a D.J., while fans jockey for seats on the wooden bleachers to catch the freshman and junior varsity games. “If you don’t get there early, you don’t get in,” Westchester coach Ed Azzam says.Red banners displaying Fairfax’s City and state championships remind all what’s at stake for the Jan. 22 Western League matchup between the two schools separated 13 miles apart. It’s a rivalry that runs deep. “My uncle told me that if I lost to Fairfax—this is my freshman year when I played JV—you gotta find your own way home,” says USC associate head coach Tony Bland, an All-America on Westchester’s 1998 state championship squad. (READ FULL STORY HERE).