This was arguably the greatest Obituary / Eulogy ever written in the history of
Manhasset Basketball! You seamlessly integrate historically accurate
details with compelling evidence from several different sources.
You showed exceptional
understanding of this legend and you featured his "hall of fame"
Well done my friend..
CJ; Hope you, Diane & the boys are well. Hope to see you @
the wake and funeral. As we say Goodbye to a Dear Friend...
On the North
Shore of Long Island there is a Love Affair (like a lot of towns) with pickup
Basketball. The people you meet as you play wind up intertwined in your life.
Some you see in other Basketball activities (Leagues, Closed Runs, Open Runs,
etc). Very few enter your regular life. This is a story of One of the BEST, One
of Special Ones, One of Regular Guys who was not only Great @ BBall, but Great @
Life. This is: "The Legend of Mike Idaspe."
By the Mid 80's, Christopher
Morley Park had a Great BBall run on the weekend. A run that by that time was
being well played for well over a decade- Dominated by guys in their prime from
different neighborhoods, schools, other parks and athletic generations. The run
was about to get an infusion of a blurring blend of youthful talent and desire.
One day while walking across a court I notice one guy dominating some very good
players. Watching Mike Idaspe play back then (and for the next 20 years)
always a pleasure. The first thing you notice is the speed, he catches an outlet
pass and explodes down the court like a Hall
of Fame running Back in the
clear. His head was always up looking ahead. The next thing you notice is that
he steals so many passes you think it is a drill. The next thing you notice is
the passing. To the right guy, at the right time, with the right speed, with the
right English on a bounce pass. He never stops moving, and with all the speed,
he is always under control.
What is amazing about the observations is
that while you are paying attention to all of that you just begin to notice how
rarely he misses a shot, and how easy he makes it look. We all know guys who
shoot very well. We all know Terrific practice shooters. Mike is just not a
Premier Game Shooter (especially at Point Game), but it is the amount of
shooting techniques he kills guys with. In no special order: Bank Shots from the
right or left side 2-14 feet out. Hook Shots going right or left over any sized
defender. Blazing Drives to the hoops off of tremendous speed. Fifteen to 20
Foot jumpshots. Then the killers; The turn around jumpers off the dribble, Full
Speed Reverse layups to both sides that did not use a bank shot- just a perfect
swish, and the one that has never been duplicated- The Mike Idaspe Tear Drop in
the Lane, the ball would just hit the rim and fall in everytime.
did we all know as we started playing with and against each other then, how
long, how involved, how special this would become over time. We had a group of
guys around Mike's age and a larger group of guys 6-9 years older than him. The
Playing would take us to Leagues (the Legendary Town of North Hempstead, The
Long Island Corporate, The St. Marys-Cluess), Tournaments (Hoop it Up, Bar
Beach) the all important special pickup runs (The Bobby Anastasia series, The
Port Lutheran Gym,
The CJ Coleman Series, The Legendary Herricks Thursday
Night Adult Ed (circa '91-94). In addition to Morley, the very intense Bar Beach
A few things about dealing with a Legendary Player like
- You virtually always won playing with him, which is nice- But,
you better win, because if you lost, you sat, he did not. As you were playing,
players waiting were always wishing you lost so they could play
- We played with very talented guys, Players that earned reputations
from HS, or College, or Adult Leagues. It did not matter what the reputation
was, In most cases Mike was the #1 pick.
- Mike loved the Banter of the
games and on the sidelines. He was also Great at giving nicknames.
is hard to remember Mike turning the ball over. His handle was quick and very
low to the ground, his decisions very seldom made under duress. Much easier to
win when your main ball handler does not turn it over.
- We would see
some newer guys come down and want to "shut him down". Which we all found very
funny. We had a run where defense was not only emphasized, but had players who
were dedicated to it. Everyone struggled when defending Mike. So when someone
new came down and said "I can play him" our response was "Good Luck (you idiot)"
After a short while we
would see first the look on the guys face and then
watch him exclaim "Did you just see that", "Yes pal, we have seen 'Little Mike'
that many times a week for years"
Nicknames are special and Mikes
nickname was oxymoronic because although his nickname was 'Little Mike' his
game, persona, how he carried himself and his team was Big in every way. In many
cases Great playground players have games that do not translate to organized or
League Basketball. Not the case with Mike Idaspe, if anything, it helped his
overall game. After playing on numerous teams, Mike and Brian Brady formed their
own team for the Town of North Hempstead League and had tremendous success with
their teammates like Jim Ritterbusch, Steve Sebetic, Eric Carlson etc. When
playing against them you better have your 'A' game and track shoes on. Mikes
ability to find and use whatever was positive about a teammates abilities for an
advantage was paramount in his winning BBall management style.
was a perfect time when it all came together for Mike in BBall was the weekly
summer games at Bar Beach. He would be set up there with his Beach chairs for
him, Alyssa and the boys. We would play, talk about the weeks League games, talk
about his Yankees, talk about sports trivia, enjoy the sun. We would go home, he
would stay with friends and family to soak up the sun and play with his boys.
From what I could see, this was his Camelot time. When all was well, and life
was fulfilling. For as much as we all Love and sometimes were obsessed with
BBall, we know what is truly important. Mike knew this from a very young age.
His Life was his Love Alyssa, His Real Joy was found with Tyler and
The Complete Sadness that is with our Basketball Fraternity is
For those of us who believe in the Good Lord and Heaven, we
look forward to seeing Mike again. I believe that Mike is in Heaven right now-
Young, Healthy, Dynamic, Speaking with family (especially his brother). I hope
to do the same when the Good Lord calls me. I look forward to seeing my family,
but I have hope that after I see my family, I will be drawn to someone waving to
me. As I walk closer, I will enter some courts that look just like Bar Beach and
there will be Mike, shooting around. I will
say "They play Ball here?' Mike
will reply "Yes they do, but sorry, you are number 11.....Heh, heh, only
kidding, you are number 10 and you are on my team". As I look all around me I
will notice Mike has his lawn chairs set up for him, Alyssa, Jordan and Tyler. I
will say "Thank you God, I Know I am in Heaven now."
God Bless Mike
Idaspe. God Bless His Family. We were Blessed to have known him.