I used to play basketball with some of my boys from the hood. We’d get a few guys together to play every Wednesday night. These games were always a lot of fun, and could get pretty colorful in terms of smack-down talk. Prince caught wind of these games, and one day asked me “how come you never invite me to play?” He asked if he could join in on a game. I was surprised, but I knew that Prince liked to play basketball, in fact his brother Duane Nelson was an All-State basketball player (Prince’s lyrics “I wish I were handsome and tall like my brother” were truthful–Duane was a towering basketball star.)
Now, my crew and I were just “regular guys” so Prince’s request presented something of a dilemma. Because he’d become so famous, putting together a simple game of hoops was not just a matter of picking a court and playing. This task would require me to discover my inner “Julie McCoy”–you know, that girl from LoveBoat–who was always putting together events and people? This gathering had to be on the down-low. No flash, no calling undue attention to the game. I made a private reservation after-hours so that Prince could play without any fans or bother. The Powder Horn Park Gym was happy to accommodate us. The next hurdle was choosing the right guys to make a full team; these had to be guys who wouldn’t blab to their friends or the media. I recruited my trusted buddy Gary Webster first off and asked him to help me find guys to play. Of course, there was Duane Nelson and Gilbert Davidson. The other guys we invited were Rob Johnson, Pat Adams, Scott Marsh and Marvin Bond. We needed just one more guy and Davie Lewis came to mind. Davie was a great athlete; I’d known him since 5th grade and he was a competitive dude. If you looked up the word “Testosterone” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of him. It crossed my mind that he might be a bit of a problem, but we decided to go with him and set some specific “rules” for the game as a way of keeping him in check. Unbeknownst to me, this was like asking a bull not to charge when there’s a red cape flapping in the wind.
The guidelines for the game were: no guests, no girls, no shit talking, and no getting overly-physical. We were all big guys and our games could get pretty intense. We went over the rules again on the court before Prince arrived. They all agreed to them but as I found out later, Davie made the comment to Gary “I’m gonna block his shit as soon as we start playing.”
The guys all arrived at the court in sweats and T-shirts–the usual basketball attire. We awaited Prince’s arrival at the appointed time. Well, a long blue limo pulls up (so much for keeping things on the down-low) and Prince steps out, with two friends. He was a vision in black. He wore a black shirt with long purple lace sleeves, black shorts with a belt around his waist that was 6 inches wide with a huge gold medal buckle the size of a dinner-plate, long black tights under the shorts and what looked like Chuck Taylor shoes and socks. I turned to the guys–giving them all a significant evil eye that suggested they’d better not say a word.
We start playing; let me make this perfectly clear; Prince can hoop. What the guy might lack in height he makes up for in quickness and he has a nice jumper. Clearly, the guy’s got game. Davie is guarding him and Prince is schooling him. After awhile, the other guys on the team start talking smack and giving the big guy all kinds of grief about it. Prince is killing Davie and you can see he’s getting more and more frustrated. His nostrils were flaring; he’s stomping around clearly pissed-off. The wisecracks continue until Davie can’t take it any longer. Towards the end of the game Prince goes up to shoot another jump-shot and Davie charges. He hurls his 6 feet and 215 pounds of raging bull into the air to block it. He HAMMERS Prince and the basketball goes flying into the far wall as Prince falls into the bleachers and Davie hollers at the top of his voice “THAT SHIT IS OUTTA HERE!”
The silence that followed was deafening. Nobody moved; nobody said a word. All you could hear was Davie panting. Needless to say, he was ejected from the game. His departing words were: “I told you I was gonna block that fuckin shot.”
All-in-all, the game was a good time. I still laugh when I think about how “The Purple One” made Davie see red.
— Harlan Austin, Former Director of Security Services for Paisley Park Productions
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