Like most independent filmmakers, Marcus Davenport had a dream! His dream was a make a movie about the significance of basketball in the city of Flint, Michigan. After years of hard work and roughly $40,000 later, the Grand Rapids native accomplished his goals with the 2003 release of his documentary “Flint Star,” which glorifies the sport at its purest level in one of the roughest cities in the nation.

The documentary includes exclusive highlights and interviews from not only the professional athletes to make it from the city like Mateen Cleaves and Eddie Robinson but also the college and high school athletes who were trying to make a name for themselves.

Although the movie was released nearly seven years ago, the Grand Rapids native, who continues to enjoy a successful teaching career, never shies away from reflecting on the overall process of producing his groundbreaking documentary.

I caught up with Mr. Davenport in an over-the-phone interview that went like this…

Eric Woodyard: What sparked your interest to start to start a Flint documentary? Was it just hearing all of the great stories…?

Marcus Davenport: To be honest, mostly everything that I’ve done in the last 12 years has always been based on what I do for a living and that’s teach and work with kids. So I’ve always heard about Flint basketball even prior to moving to Flint in 1995. I would come and play in the Pro-Am on the Grand Rapids team and we had a tryout for the team so it was like some of the best players in Grand Rapids had one team and we would come and play against the guys in Flint so then I knew a lot about basketball in Flint but I was working at Pierson Elementary School and I a game when it was Pierson against Gundry and I couldn’t believe some of the skills that some of the kids had at such a young age. Everybody knew about the Flintstones and you knew about the guys like Glen Rice and the guys that put Flint on the map but I couldn’t believe the level of talent these kids had at an elementary school age. You know what I’m saying? When I saw that, that’s when I really got inspired.

That’s when I knew it was something special because every city has that talent that can make it to college and then some cities are lucky enough to have that talent to make it to the pros but when I saw it was so much talent on a elementary school level, I was like ‘It’s something special here.’ That’s what really made me want to do the movie.

EW: So you’re originally from Grand Rapids right?

MD: Right, right…

EW: Did you play basketball in high school or growing up?

MD: I played basketball in high school, right. As a matter of fact, what’s so crazy is that my team lost to Flint Northern in Davison at the Quarters back to doing the high school state tournament.

EW: What college did you attend?

MD: Michigan State.

EW: So were you there when they won the National Championship in 2000?

MD: When they won in 2000, I was actually in Flint to do student teaching at Pierson Elementary School.

EW: So that was pretty monumental that you have so much history with the city of Flint even though you’re not actually from Flint…

MD: For me, it was like I moved to Flint at an early enough age where you know how it is being in college where you go away and you come home. Home is special when you’re in college. So for me, my whole college time, coming back home…home was Flint! So Flint had to become my home so on holidays and summer time, I kind of just learned the city quickly. I (also) kinda got embraced by the city. You know Flint’s a tough place? But I got a lot of love for Flint and the people from Flint and that’s why it was easy for me to give that love back.

EW: So what was the most challenging part of doing this whole process of producing a documentary?

MD: The most challenging part was probably the financial aspect of it because when you don’t have any true guidance or any experience in doing movies you don’t know what to expect. So you go in there and you say ‘I’ma spend $10,000,’ and before you know it you’re not even half way done with the movie and you’ve already spent $15,000. So for me just being able to financially doing what I needed to do to produce funds, to buy equipment, and editing equipment and travel and stuff like that…that was probably the most challenging. And then the simple fact of putting a movie together when you have never in your life did a movie. Just sitting there and saying ‘How could I make all of these interviews fit together and tell a story?’ I may have had 100 tapes of footage so I could have easily did two or three movies from what I had but you just try to cut it down and say ‘Ok, this is the story that I’m trying to tell so I will take this parts of different interviews and just try to put it all together.’

EW: I know you wanted to teach people some things about Flint basketball, but what did you learn while filming this movie?

MD: I think that one of the major things that I learned was that for most individuals who come from Flint, it’s a real genuine love for the city. I truly feel that I couldn’t have done a movie like this in a lot of cities and got the kind of support that I got. You’re talking about major athletes who at the particular time of their life were at the top of their career and were still willing to help me. In those times, I was just a guy with a camera and a dream! For people to say ‘Come here and come here, this is about my city and I’m gonna support you.’

That’s when I really understood when cats got those Flint tattoos and when people rep Flint that’s it’s something that’s genuine. It’s not just for show! It’s something that they really live and breathe and it’s something in their heart and they really wanted to help out and do anything they could for something that could represent their city in a positive way.

EW: As a matter of fact I got the Flint tattoo on my arm…

MD: Oh for real? (Laughs)

EW: It really is a genuine love, I’m the same way. I try to do all that I can for my city even in my profession so I know exactly what you mean…

MD: Right, right! I remember in high school, I had a partner who moved to Grand Rapids from Flint and he used to talk about Flint so much and he would get into fights with cats and he would be like ‘Wait to my boys from Flint get up here!’ We would be like ‘Dog they two and a half hours away man!’ But in his brain it was ‘Flint or Die!’ It was like ‘Man, I’m from Flint…I gotta rep it every day.’ So I couldn’t understand it until I moved to the city.

I was just like ‘Why is this cat so Flint crazy?’ and then you move there and you understand that Flint people got a lot of pride. Like if you go to other places, especially if you got to New York or California, a lot of times if somebody is somewhere from Michigan in a smaller city, they tend to say ‘I’m from Detroit,’ because that’s a city that everybody knows. But a true blue Flint cat will tell you he’s from Flint like you’re supposed to know like ‘You don’t know where Flint is?’ That’s just how it is so I definitely got an appreciation for how genuine about how cats are for the love of their city.

EW: What do you think separates you movie from all of the other documentaries about Flint that you would like the people to know?

MD: I think just in general that it’s authentic. It’s truthful, it’s not watered down and it’s just strictly that I gave the city back what was given to me. If you watch my movie, people had the opportunity to speak their mind and whatever they felt in their heart. They said it and it wasn’t like it had to be watered down or sugar coated and it was one of the first to ever come out of Flint on that level when I had it.

A lot of people talk about the NBA players that I had in the movie but more importantly, what made the movie so special was the everyday Flint individuals. The people that really live in the city and work in the city and they probably were born and will die in the city of Flint so that’s what means the most to me.


*For more info on the DVD visit http://www.flintstarmovie.com/

**This post can also be viewed on SLAMonline.com!

 

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His government name is Brandon Denta Bowdry, but those that know him best simply call him “B-Bo.”

Similar to Tommy “Tiny” Lister’s character from the movie Friday known as “D-Bo,” Bowdry is intimidating as they come. While D-Bo often stole everybody’s stuff in the movie, B-Bo does the same on the court stealing points and boards as if his life depended on it.

With a deep southern accent, dark skin, and dreads dangling from underneath a headband, I dare you to try to take something from B-Bo on the court. In the words of Chris Tucker, you might get “knocked the f*** out!”

For Bowdry, this intimidation is clearly a gift but has also been a curse as well. This was evident in Eastern Michigan’s final game against Akron this past Thursday in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Although the game was nearly out of reach in the second overtime, the 6 foot 6, 235 pound forward  picked up his second technical foul with 25 seconds left after he intentionally elbowed an Akron player. The contact was not initially seen by the officials, and they assessed the technical and ejection after consulting video replay.

While some may view this as a bad trait, I look at it as a player that is passionate about winning and I will take him on my team any day. Bowdry also finished the night with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field and grabbed a game-high 14 boards against Akron. This was his 16th double-double of the season.

Growing up on the mean streets of St. Louis, Mo., B-Bo often had to fight for what was his. In search of a better life, his family decided that it would be best for him to play his final two years at Truman H.S. in Taylor, Mich. for head coach Charles Suttles because it was really bad in his area. This explains why one of his recent Facebook statuses simply stated: “JUST WORK ON YOSELF AND YOU’LL GET WAT U DESIRE AND DESERVE.” He really means it!

At Truman, Bowdry flourished into one of the best players in the state. He averaged17.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.2 assists while leading Truman to the Class A quarterfinals and a 21-5 record. After the season, his decision to attend Eastern Michigan also turned out to be a great move. In his freshman year he would start in 28 of the team’s 32 games and was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team after averaging 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.

In his sophomore year, he would take a big blow as he was forced to miss the entire season with a broken foot. Instead of letting the adversity break his spirits, Bowdry simply worked himself back into shape and came back the next season even stronger. In the 2008-2009 season, Bowdry would go on to score double figures in 29 of the 32 games as well as lead the team in scoring and rebounds with 14.8 points 7.2 rebounds per-game.

Entering this season as a red-shirted junior, Bowdry once again realized that he would have to take what he wanted. Averaging grown man numbers with 16.3 points and 10 boards, B-Bo earned his second bid on the second-team All-Mid-American Conference this season. With the team now primarily in his hands, since senior point guard Carlos Medlock is now graduating, it doesn’t look like  B-Bo will be taking anything less from his opponents next season.

*This post can also be viewed on mlive.com!

Although he was nicknamed after Scarface’s sidekick, Manolo, if you’ve ever watched any Michigan games this season it’s clear to see that Manny Harris is far from that!

Despite the heartbreaking defeat on Friday afternoon that Harris and the Wolverines suffered to Ohio State following Evan Turner’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, the future still looks bright for the Detroit native. Going mano y mano with arguably the best player in the country, Harris held his own.

Manny finished with 26 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, and 1 Blk.

Turner finished with 18 Pts, 3 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, and  2 Blks.

Down the stretch, Harris stepped up when it mattered most scoring 11 of U-M’s final 14 points including a fade-away off the right elbow to give Michigan a 68-66 advantage with 2.2 seconds left. While Manny won the battle, Turner clearly won the war hitting the 37-foot three-pointer as time expired to give Ohio State the win. With that being said, Manny has a tough decision to make: Should he stay or should he go? Should Manny Harris enter the 2010 NBA Draft?

His partner in crime, DeShawn Sims, is a senior. His team didn’t live up to expectations. His name is hot right now.

Personally, I think the decision is an easy one…make the leap! Although that seems like the smart move the make, I believe that Manny will stay out of loyalty to his university. This was the whole reason he even decided to become a Wolverine.  

“It’s easy to go to a championship team or a team that’s already established but it’s harder to go there and try to establish it so that’s what I kinda was thinking about was going and changing it,” Harris said during UM’s media day earlier this year. “Plus I was talking to DeShawn and I just was dreaming big the whole time.”

I believe the same may be true with him going to the league. He probably is thinking the he has to try to fix what’s right at home before he decides to venture off into the professional ranks. The 6 foot 5, junior, may also want to stick around another year to add a few extra pounds to his bony frame, gain a little more experience, and to play with Tim Hardaway Jr. in his senior season.

While all of this may work in his favor there still is the possibility of injury which could pan out to be very fatal for a player of his caliber. Especially for one that’s worked as hard as he has to get to this level.

When Harris entered high school, he wasn’t initially viewed as one of the top players in his area. He went from nothing to something. Zero to Hero. Everything has been earned.    

“Coming up I was always kinda like the underdog, it was kinda like a will thing,” Harris said. “I kinda just had heart but I was just the smallest one out of everybody but one summer I just blew up and as far as getting taller I just shot up so that helped me a lot.”

For Manny, it’s deja vu all over again. The 2010 Big Ten Tournament has been a lot like that one summer he “blew up” in high school. His 26 points are tied for the second-most points scored by a Michigan player in a Big Ten Tournament game and he moved into the 10th spot on U-M all-time scoring list. He also finished the season averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 6 boards per game.

For Manny Harris, the time is now!

*This post can also be viewed on It’s Just Sports!

Letter To Allen Iverson

March 11, 2010

Dear Allen Iverson,

You’ve been marvelized, criticized and scrutinized,

But in this toughest time, just continue to keep your head up to the sky!

You’re the realest to ever step on the hardwood,

No disrespect to MJ, Kobe, or Magic but they never represented the hood.

You’re Tupac in gym shoes, Muhammad Ali in a jersey,

I remember when you killed my Lakers in Game 1 of the finals and showed Tyronn Lue no mercy.

That hurt me! But at the end of the day it didn’t surprise me coming from league’s MVP.

As a rookie you changed the game,

Even with the fame, you never changed, and always stayed the same.

For most people, being real on the highest level is a tough task,

But with your past, you did it with ease no matter what the media asked.

The passion, swagger, and hunger you played with has always given me inspiration,

So if you dont ever play another game of basketball, you will always have my admiration.

I remember meeting you for the first time when you played the Celtics in your first home game as a Piston,

It was the first and only time that I’ve been starstruck,

But you know what?

I’m happy to say that it was when I seen the great Bubbachuck.

Sincerely,

Eric Woodyard