Back in the day, if you wanted to mix basketball and romance, you fired up the VCR, blew the dust off the VHS jacket, and popped in Love & Basketball. If your heart didn’t burst into a million pieces during that spring dance scene when Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan are dancing with their dates, and longingly looking at each other from across the room while I want to be your man by Zapp and Roger played, then there is something clinically wrong with you.
With the 13th season of the Bachelorette upon us, we once again have a potential love story that cross pollenates basketball with reality television – the acting won’t be as good as it was in Love & Basketball.
Among the contestants vying for the affections of the Bachelorette this season is Mike Black. From 2009-2013, Black was an important member of the Albany Great Danes basketball team. As a point guard, Black appeared in 128 games for the Danes, averaging 12 points and 3 assists for his career.
PopGates editor Sam Perkins covered Black for One-Bid Wonders, during Black’s four collegiate years. We talked with both Perkins, and Peter Hooley, who was a teammate of Black’s for two seasons (11-12, 12-13) at Albany.
I was pretty close with Mike. He kind of took me under his wing as a player when I was starting out, which was something I needed. There’s no doubt he’s a great guy and he definitely looked out for his teammates. I have a lot of funny memories with him that I’ll always remember from my college days.
When I found out [he was going to be on the Bachelorette] I was shocked for a minute. I actually thought it was fake until I saw how photoshopped his headshot was. Then I realized even that was too much effort for Mike (laughs). I read on one of his bios how he doesn’t like to be the center of attention and that’s true. I think being himself and just doing this thing in the background should go well. I have never watched the show, but I could imagine that anyone who is doing too much would be an easy target to get rid of.
His charm (laughs)? He definitely has something there to win over a lady, but not sure about the word charm. He’s got his own personality that makes him enjoyable to be around, so if that’s what he means by charm, then yea the rest of the competition doesn’t stand a chance.
All the Albany guys that I’m friends with were sharing his picture. I didn’t think it was him at first, I thought it was a doppelganger for Mike Black. I was like ‘that looks a lot like Mike Black, but no, no that can’t be Mike Black.’ And then it said his name was Michael and I was like holy shit that might be him.
He was a humble dude. Not outspoken, a really steady point guard. Didn’t put up huge numbers but didn’t make mistakes. He hit big shots when they mattered most. He wasn’t flashy, but was cool under pressure – he could get to the basket.
He hit a couple big shots in the America East Championship game in 2013 (against Vermont). He was the high scorer in the game (14 points) – It was another classic ugly Albany championship game. They pulled off the upset, I just remember he hit some big shots in the second half.
He was their starting point guard, he was team captain. He was like the straw that stirred the drink – he was their leading scorer that year – he was the guy that kind of mentored Pete.
He was a nice guy. He was quiet. He wasn’t outspoken. It’s just funny he is on the Bachelorette – he was not like a flashy dude or a guy who commanded the spotlight. But he was always a really good, genuine kid who picked everyone up and kept everyone calm. He was a quiet leader – hopefully that comes through on TV because Mike Black is a great guy.