KEVIN TATUM II
 
Kevin Tatum was a stellar playmaking guard for those legendary McKinley Tech teams of the late 1960's, the ones that won city titles, and featured five All-Met teammates of his- Ernest Lewis, Ronnie Hogue, Tim Bassett, Michael Bossard, and Randolph "Apple" Milam. He took the time to share his memories of those days with DC Basketball. Kevin is a sportswriter for the Philadelphia News.

 
DCB: What playgrounds did you play on in your own community, and which were the strongest ones outside your community where you ran with some frequency?

 

KT: I remember in 1968 when Hubert Humphrey, who was the vice-presdent of the U.S. at the time, pushed through legislation to light up the outdoor basketball courts around D.C.

 

That opened up a whole new world for us, and I always said I'd vote for Humphrey if he ever ran for president. He never won, but that one act made him one of my all-time favorites, and he still is today.

 

 There was nothing like running under the lights during a summer night. You had to skip dinner if you wanted to get on the court. The idea was to go get a spot, and win a few because if you wait around, downs would be taken and teams already set and waiting their turns.

 

Of course, there were some players who always could get a spot, but being good wasn't always going to get you on the court right away.

 

Langdon Park is where I developed fond memories of playing under the lights.

 

There was a hillside where people would sit and watch the games, and the sidelines, as well as under the baskets, would be chock full of people. There were two fullcourts, and down the way, there was a swimming pool that also attracted folks.

 

'The Park' was a happenin' place.

 

Sometimes, a group of us would be together at 11 O'Clock at night, and all somebody had to do was say 'Let's go up The Park.' I can remember having late night runs where nobody was there but us who were playing.

 

Before Langdon Park, Holy Name was the court I actually grew up on.

 

It was located at South Dakota Ave. and Taylor St. N.E., and the site is now owned by Howard University.

 

It was previously The Franciscan Monastery, a Catholic organization that welcomed us on to its grounds, though we had to climb a fence to get in, or periodically make new holes in the fence to squeeze through. Some of the priests would come down and play with us. While we were faster and quicker, they were older and more cerebral.

 

Looking back, we never received any inkling from these men of the kind of behavior that has transpired in the Catholic Church in recent years. There were days when they'd invite us to the seminary for lunch. They treated us good.

 

Holy Name was a small court with two baskets, and you couldn't hardly see the court from the street.

 

The people who showed up to play were mostly neighborhood fellas early-on, but word of Holy Name spread and we'd get friends from other neighborhoods as well. 

 

At LaSalle in Chillum, Md., during my high school years, everybody who lived in the vicinity of Michigan Park would show up to play.

 

It was where I first played playground ball with and against players from DeMatha and Mackin, among other schools that were represented.

 

By the time James Brown was making it big at DeMatha and I was playing for McKinley, for instance, we had gotten know each other's games from playing at LaSalle. I became familiar and friendly with several of the DeMatha players who I would go against in later years as a high school player.

 

LaSalle was the first playground I saw that had chains on the rims instead of nets. There were three fullcourts, but one main one.

 

While Langdon Park, Holy Name and LaSalle were my main boyhood courts, I also found time to frequent other courts such as Turkey Thicket, Ft. Stevens (Luzon), Candy Cane City, Edgewood, Priory...the list could go on.

 

Click here for Kevin Tatum part 1

 

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