As a kid aspiring to become a better ball player, I was used to hearing this opening spiel from Norman Black sharing the fundamentals in basketball.
“Hi, I’m Norman Black and welcome to another episode of our Burlington Basketball Tips.”
This catchy phrase stuck to my mind. I would then look forward to his inputs on some of the basics of the game—from rebounding, dribbling, shooting and passing—and I would wake up early to play on the streets at the time when there was no one there except you, the goal and the basketball, hoping to practice what you’ve learned from the PBA’s Mr. 100 Percent.
That was during the mid-1980s, the time when coaching tips could only be learned when you have face-to-face sessions with a more seasoned baller ready to share his knowledge of the game.
When it comes to fundamentals, Black had a wealth of ideas.
Back at the time when bigger imports would dominate the rebounds or when The Black Superman Billy Ray Bates would soar high to slam the ball to the deafening roar of the fans, Black would do it the old-fashioned way.
He would outwork everybody—bigger imports or locals about his size.
On rebounding, I’ve first seen this ploy from Black: Sitting on his opponents’ lap before beating them on the battle of the boards.
When it comes to providing energy, Black had boundless of it, he would stay on the game for 48 minutes and could play solidly on both ends of the court. That means Black would not only produce 40 to 50 points a game during the peak of his playing years, he would also play the difficult task of stopping the opposing team’s best import. Through the years, he had waged battles with Bates, Michael Hackett, Francois Wise, Lew Massey, Bobby Parks and even bigger players like Andy Fields and Larry McNeil, among others.
More than three decades later, a grand slam, 11 championships, a Hall of Fame award and a COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world, Black is back at it as he he has gone full circle by reviving his Burlington Basketball Tips.
The last time I saw the session, he did it with his son, Aaron Black, then an incoming PBA freshman, who would play for his own team, the Meralco Bolts.
As kids are mostly quarantined at home at due to the pandemic, Black is able to share some home workouts that would keep young players stay glued on the screen while being given the chance to stay productive.
In his most creative way, Black is able to teach young players in the comfort their homes with his stretching and warm up exercises, controlling the ball with one’s fingertips, ball wraps from different parts of the body and dribbling skills.
Learning never stops and Black is making true to his commitment to share his basketball knowledge, culled from nearly four decades of being involved in the game.
“We hope you’ve enjoyed our episode in our Burlington Basketball Tips. See you next time.”
Gets me everytime.