Who says you can’t go home? Isn’t that the tune that Jon Bovi laid out there for us???
Well Jon Bovi, John Cassels came home this weekend and I’m not sure if it was a triumphant return or not, cause John came back to town or the area, to see the North Carolina Tar Heels battle Virginia Tech in Kenan Stadium, on Saturday night and the Heels ended up on wheels, trying to keep up with and catch the Hokies…..
John did feel a sense of victory on Sunday afternoon, as he and his dad stopped by the old neighborhood basketball court at Forest Valley, over off of Hobbs Road….John, Jack and little Jack returned to scene of the crime, where John used to rob the neighbors of their hoops acumen and dignity….John had game and his game was to get hot and then not be stopped and more times than not, you could not or would not stop him, once he got rolling….John was the Most Valuable Athlete at Grimsley High School back in the early to mid-90’s and he was named the best in football, basketball and baseball….
John in from New York City, was by the old court at Forest Valley on Sunday, asking about Stuart Albright, Ethan Albright, Billy Thanos, Kenny O’Fallon, George O’Fallon, Jimmy Hollifield, Bart Manning, Chase, CD, Big Doug Land and many other players, that have long gone the route of Forest Valley All-Stars….John knew them all and could take them all, even George on his best day and John might be the best all-around player to ever come off of that court….He did not have the best outside shot, only I know who holds that special distinction, but John probably flat-out, had the most complete game of anyone that ever set foot on that court….
John would be deadly from the outside left….It seems like everyone has gone to the left and they are more comfortable shooting from that side these days…In many case studies with John Cassels on the court, the game would be getting tight and it was almost as if a kid like John was part Italian and it was pretty much like we saw it in the Rocky movie, where Pauley said it looks like Rocky is getting tired and Mickey said, “He ain’t getting tired he’s getting mad”….So look out and John would get that look in his eye like, “you think I can’t do this, you think I can’t take over this game?”, John would glare at the opposition and he would look to his teammates and he would call for the ball and you better get it to him cause he was ready to go off…….And he did…..John could compete and he would compete with a cause and did what he did for a reason and that was to be the best, or to give the ultimate effort, every time he set foot on that court or any court anywhere, for that matter…..
John said he ran into Raymond Felton the other night at a gym down on either First or Fifth Street, up in New York and he said Felton should fit in nicely with the New York Knicks…..Felton was doing some promo work down at that gym, on the lower side and John said they didn’t get to crank up a game or any special shoot-around, with the former UNC Tar Heel and Charlotte Bobcat….
John Cassels wasn’t all too happy about the Tar Heels’ football loss on Saturday night and he was also saddened to hear of the recent death, of former Central YMCA basketball coach Mike Harris….John said Mike taught players to get the ball right over the front of the rim, “just over the edge of the iron”, said John….”Mike was a great coach and I know they miss him already”, Cassels went on to say….
John’s dad Jack, who coached for close to 25-30 years up at the ‘Y’, with Sneaky Williamson said the same thing…..”Mike was one of the best coaches the ‘Y’ ever had” said Jack and it will hard to find a man that can fill his shoes”….Jack Cassels and Sneaky Williamson were on the travel circuit back when all you had on the road/street was Triple A(road-side assistance) and long before AAU became the king of the road……Jack and Sneaky, were two key pillars in the formation of youth basketball in our city……
Now we have come full circle and Jack and John are ready to pass on what they know and what they learned to little Jack, who right now wants to be the next Derek Jeter for the New York Yankees…..Jack passed the torch and the ball on to John and now John will doing the same with Little Jack…
I still remember reading some of the old articles from the Charlotte Observer on Jack Cassels from back in his sports heyday, back in the Queen City….The fine pieces were written by Max Muehlman, the same man that put together the promotional campaign, that successfully landed the Charlotte Hornets and brought the NBA to Charlotte for the first time….John had his spots on his sports, in the local papers in Greensboro and I remember listening to John’s football and basketball games on radio, back when he was with the Grimsley Whirlies……
Now it’s Little Jack’s turn and we will see and hear from him in big way, in about 10 years when he is tearing up the streets of New York or when he comes home and joins Jack Cassels, John Cassels and Jon Bovi in a tune, out in front of the Bob Sawyer Gymnasium, on the Grimsley campus……We might even see Little Jack back at the court when, “Cassels returns to Forest Valley”…….
Who says you can’t go home?