New York City hoops legend and current Dallas Mavericks assistant player development coach, God Shammgod (real name, btw), discussed his signature move right after he learned Russell Westbrook used it against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Shammgod also talks Cam'ron being better than him in hoops as a teen and which NBA player owns the best handle.
How did you first hear about Russell doing your move?
One of my friends texted me and said Russ did the move. I said, "OK," and went back to sleep. When I woke up like five of my friends texted me the actual video. Then everybody started texting me stuff from different sports sites and Russell’s [post game interview]. Me and Russ have a mutual friend so me and [the friend] were texting last night and I told him to tell Russ good looking on keeping the name out there.
Is it annoying or humorous that millennials know “The Shammgod” more so as a move than the move of a hoops legend?
I’ve just learned to let stuff be the way it’s gonna be. The Shammgod move and the person go hand in hand. The reason the move took off the way it did is because I’ve been always able to dribble well. Some people say I’m the best dribbler ever. Some say I’m the best of my era. Either way, I would probably feel funny about [the move’s popularity] if I didn’t have the background to go with it.
Speaking of background, as a teen your hoops crew included a couple future rap legends.
Yeah, when I first moved to Harlem from Brooklyn, Cam'ron was like one of the top players in Harlem. Mase was good too. He would come get me every morning so we could practice my moves. For them it could’ve been either rap or basketball. When we were like 14-15 years old, Cam was better than me and Mase. When I got like 16-17 is when I started surpassing everyone in my neighborhood. But that's when Cam stopped taking basketball so serious and started taking rap seriously. If Cam would’ve kept going he would’ve been All-American. Cam was a scorer. But he didn’t really grow that much — he’s 5-foot-11. By the time he got to college they would’ve made him a point guard. So I’m not sure how that would’ve worked out.
Which of today’s music artists do you respect on court?
R. Kelly is aight. Chris Brown can play too. So can J. Cole, I played against him before. Also Dave East can play. I heard Fab could play. My brother used to always be by Breevort [the Brooklyn Housing Projects Fabolous is from].
Being a developmental coach, have any of the Mavs come to you asking to help improve their handle?
Yeah, but I think people get it confused. Having a handle don’t mean you gotta dribble like me. Jason Kidd had a handle, but he didn’t go between his legs and behind his back. But he didn’t get ripped. So when I try to develop people I try to develop them to their strengths and not try to change them. So however you dribble, I still want you to dribble that way. I’m just gonna try to help you enhance whatever you’re doing.
Who has the best handle in the NBA?
Kyrie [Irving]. No question. But also Chris Paul. Oh, and James Harden. He’s tough!
I think a lot of people sleep on Harden’s handle. He didn’t have that in college.
The people who play against him don’t sleep on him. [laughs]
Now you’ve had NBA players from Chris Paul to Manu Ginobli do your move. Where would you rank Russell’s “Shammgod”?
Russell’s was like the best I’ve seen in a long time. I think it was perfect for who he is. You can’t expect people to dribble like me. I’ve been dribbling since before I can remember. It’s totally different. But for who he is, he did great, because you don’t really see him do moves. That’s why it was more intriguing to everybody. He capped it off with the nice assist too. Had that nice mannequin challenge after.
Can you imagine if you were in this era with your handle and Russell’s athleticism?
Oh man, listen. If I was just playing in this era it would be crazy. It’s not even about the no hand-checking. In my era, if you dribbled as much as the point guards do now they would tell you to stop. That’s because you had centers like Shaq, Patrick Ewing, [Hakeem] Olajuwon and Rik Smits. So when you were coming down court, your first option was to throw the ball down low. You couldn’t dribble the ball for 20 seconds and then decide to shoot in my era. These guys today got it good.
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(Photo: Stanley Lumax)