Hoops stars shine again

Published 8:33 am Friday, January 15, 2010

FRANKLIN—Basketball fans in Franklin will have the opportunity this winter to watch four former professional players on the same team in the Franklin Parks and Recreation Men’s Winter Basketball League.

The Superstars, a team composed of players from Suffolk, has members who have played in the NBA and in Europe.

The Superstars are headed up by Michael Britt, a graduate of Suffolk High School and the University of District of Columbia. Britt, now 49, was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) in 1983.

Also on the team is Tony Smith, a graduate of Suffolk High School and Pfeiffer University. Smith, 40, played professionally overseas for 10 years, mostly in Spain.

Derrick Bryant, 35, a graduate of Nansemond River High School and Norfolk State University, played 10 years in Europe.

The three played Wednesday night at the Franklin National Guard Armory. The team lost to a much younger Uptown squad, 69-57, but showed signs of the old spark.

“This is the first time I’m playing here in Franklin. The competition is pretty good,” Smith said after the game. “We just want the league to be competitive, so we came out here to get some rec.”

Although the Armory is nowhere near the atmosphere of an NBA or European arena — Butch Turner, an athletic specialist with Franklin Parks and Recreation, had to duct tape part of the floor in the baseline back together during the game — Smith said the players are out for recreation.

“I’m not really used to playing on a floor like this because you really can’t make your move, but no excuses. We are here for the rec anyway. The competition is great, and you just want to come out here to have fun,” Smith said.

Bryant said playing in the recreation league was a wake-up call of sorts.

“These guys were right at you. It’s one of the good things about coming home to play. You get back to your roots. That’s the type of play that got me overseas and I love to play a game like this. These are the guys who bring me back to Earth,” Bryant said. “It was a good wake-up call for me. It lets me know that I’m not in the shape I used to be.”

Britt, the elder statesman of the team, and a player-coach, saw limited playing time on Wednesday, but still enjoyed it.

“I still love the game. This is my first year in this type of league. I wish I could turn back the hands of time,” he said. “At the same time, it’s good for the community and the group of guys that’s giving up their time to have great sportsmanship.”

Lamont Strothers is also on the team but did not make the game Wednesday night. He also played high school ball in Suffolk and at Christopher Newport University from 1987 to 1991. He was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. He also played for the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, and in the Philippines and Turkey.