by Harold Bell
I am not surprised by the stand taken by Phil Knight and NIKE for Human Rights.
In 1977 I was hired as the first ever NIKE Sports & Marketing rep in Washington, DC. My job was to outfit the DC In-Crowd with NIKE shoes and apparel at no cost to them. The benefactors included; Jim Vance (TV 4), Petey Greene(W-O-L), Maureen Bunyan (TV 7), Fred Thomas (TV 7), Cathy Hughes and her little Alfred, (Radio One), politicians, Walter Fauntroy (D-DC), Lou Stokes (D-Ohio)and DC Superior Court Judges, Luke C. Moore, Eugene Hamilton and Harry T. Alexander.
Congressman Walter Fauntroy is seen here with me in his Capital Hill office sizing up a pair of NIKES. NIKE store manager Laura looks on approvingly.
In 1977 founder Phil Knight allowed me and NIKE rep John Phillips to meet in the NBA offices in New York City to challege NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien’s refusual to allow NBA players to participate in Reach Back Community projects.
In 1976 John had organized and took a group of NBA All-Stars to the Virgin Islands to play in a charity game for Island native Mychal Thompson. Thompson was a star player for the LA Lakers. The game was a success. When John tried to organize the game again in 1977, Commisioner O’Brien said, “Hell No!”
Phil Knight was advised and he gave John and I the green light to meet with the NBA brass in New York City. In that meeting was NBA Counsel Gary Bettman (NHL Commissioner), Executive Vice-President and former player Rod Thorn and a brother in charge of NBA Security, Horace Bordam. Commissioner O’Brien took a leave of absence he was nowhere to be found.
The meeting open with introductions around the table. John looked Rod Thorne straight in his eyes and asked, “Rod what seems to be the problem with players participating in community projects. The trip to the Virgil Islands was a success all around?” Rod Thorne was one of the good guys according to John. His response did not convince me he was a good guy. He said, “John we think that there could be problems developed from these types of community projects. Players could be hurt, and security could be another issue.” John looked at me as if to say, “Is he kidding?”
He then reminded Thorn that players have been participating in these type of All-Star Games for decades. Starting with the Sonny Hill Basketball League in Philadephia and the annual Rucker League games in New York City without serious injury or security problems! It looked like these guys just wanted to rain on our parade. Before Thorn could respond I reminded him I watched Elgin Baylor vs Wilt Chamberlain participate in one the biggest playground basketball games of all time. The game was played in NE Washington, DC in 1959 at Kelly Miller Rec Center & Playground. There were no referees, no injuries and no security problems.
To me this seem like a double standard now that NIKE wanted to do the exact same thing with NBA players like Mychal Thompson, Magic Johnson, etc who were on board to raise monies for their communities. I looked Bettman who was sitting directly across from me in his eyes and asked again, “Whats the problem?”
Bettman stood up defiantly and said, “Because we own the players!” I countered with, “Are you saying the players are your slaves?” All hell broke loose. Everyone was shouting but Horace Bordam (security) who looked very dis-interested during the proceedings didn’t say a word. Ron Thorn literally jumped on the table and said, “lets take a timeout and comeback”—they never came back. And Magic Johnson and Mychal Thompson changed their phone numbers and disappeared until the 1977 NBA season started.
NIKE was also a sponsor of my popular radio sports talk show Inside Sports. I use the show’s one of a kind format to organize Celebrity Tennis Tournaments, Fashion shows, community outings and my annual Kids In Trouble Christmas Toy Party for needy children with pro athletes from all over the country.
Bullets MVP Elvin Hayes visits Nike store in Georgetown for NIKE shoes and apparel before the 1978 World Championship tribute to the Bullets at the Hyatt Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, NW. The tribute was sponsored by NIKE!
Bullets’ player Elvin Hayes thank the fans and NIKE for their support and the great tribute. John Phillips and I look on.
Media personalities Maureen Bunyan (co-host), Lark McCarthy and Donnie Simpson attend annual Christmas Toy Party for needy children at the Foxtrappe in NW DC.
NIKE hired NBA Legend Sam Jones as a rep later that year. He was all over town hustling shoes and apparel out of the trunk of his car for a dollar bill. In the meantime, Georgetown Coach John Thompson went behind my back and sold all of us out to Phil Knight.
WHUR Radio personality Melvin Lindsey (Quiet Storm) and WRC TV 4 anchor Jim Vance co-host Celebrity Fashion Show. The show was held at the Shorham Hotel in NW DC. Washington Post sports columnist Dave Dupree looks on.
During my time as a NIKE rep I honored my heroes, my mother and grandmother and my high school coach and savior, Dave Brown. His wife and daughter look on.
In the meantime, it took America decades to understand the position taken by Muhammad Ali when he said “Hell no I won’t go” to the U. S. Army as it related to the Viet Nam War. Ditto; the raised fist of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City is another great example, there is no comparison. Ali, Tommie and John were dead broke. Colin walked away from the NFL a millionaire. Still I admire him for his courage.
The Greatest and I sit on the Mountain Top at his training camp in Deer Lake, Pa while his head of security Pat Patterson keeps the peace.
The protest heard around the world, sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stand tall in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Since Trump and Colin have exploded on the American landscape some black and white folks are contradicting themselves as it relates to TRUTH and who should tell it. Thursday Night Football kicks off the NIKE/KAPERNICK ad campaign and watch the double talk begin. Phil Knight has not only upset Jerry Jones, and Donald Trump, but he has thrown the NFL players and Corporate America for a lost.
Colin Kapernick’s historic kneel with Eric Reid (cannot find a job), Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Malcomb Jenkins will make hundreds of present day players look like cowards. Phil Knight and NIKE will be on the right side of history—too many NFL players will be off-side and on the wrong side of history.
Some are legends in their own mind-Bernard Levi was a legend in his own time!
Growing up in a NE DC neighborhood yesterday and today, its a different world. Today you can live next door or on the next floor for years and not know your neighbor. The recent passing of Bernard Levi brought back memories of the way we were.
“The Ties That Bind” lyrics by Bruce Springsteen
‘You been hurt and you’re all cried out you say
You walk down the street pushin’ people outta your way
You packed your bags and all alone you want to ride
You don’t want nothin, don’t need no one by your side.
You can run but you can’t hide.’
On Tuesday July 31, 2018 Bernard Levi went home to be with the Lord, he was 78 years old. He was known as ‘Sonny’ to family and close friends. He grew up in a neighborhood off of 44th & Sheriff Road in NE called Deanwood. My brother Earl and I grew up in a housing project called Parkside aka Parkside/Mayfair in the late 40s and 50s. Our communities were in walking distance of each other.
His mother Rosa Lee, my mother Mattie and Bobby Dozier’s mom Annie were all close friends. The three were like sisters. Bobby and Bernard were cousins, but we were All In the Family!
Sonny and his niece Dorinda Parker take in a little sunshine in Ocean City
Bernard was a very private person even as a youngster. He and my late brother Earl were closer in age. They became good friends, because of the bond our mothers shared. Deanwood and Parkside were rivals when it came to athletics. Parkside was mostly a baseball and football community and Deanwood was a basketball community. The games were always competitive, but seldom played dirty and vicious. There was always a certain amount of respect earned among the players. We all hated losing, but winning at all cost was seldom broached.
Deanwood was my basketball homebase before Kelly Miller. The Deanwood basketball court was ajacent to Carver Elementary School. On any given weekday evening or weekend you could find a good game among the homecourt grown talent of brothers, Sleepy and Willie Harris, Bernard Levi, James Davis, Vaugh Johnson, Herman Roebuck, Paul Barnes, Floyd Cummings and his brothers, and the Jiles boys. Parkside was represented by John Tilley, Sackie Lee, Bubba Lanham, Duck Wills, Charles Hill and yours truly. It didn’t matter if it was 3 on 3 or whole court, the games would always be fast and furious and in your face basketball.
Bernard, Herman, Vaugh and James were just young bucks, but they blended in well and held their own with the older heads. As we got older we moved the games to Kelly Miller and the games got bigger and better as the competition level leaped forward.
I would go on to play football, basketball and baseball at Spingarn High School before eventually graduating from Fairmont Heights in Prince Georges County.
I never played Boys Club sports my foundation as an athlete was laid on playgrounds that included, Parkside, Carver and Kelly Miller.
In 1957 Kelly Miller was the host of one of the most talked about playground basketball games ever played in the Nation’s Capitol. It was Elgin ‘Rabbit’ Baylor vs Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain. People and cars were everywhere, it was like a basketball festival!
Just in case there is someone unaware that the greatest basketball player ever to lace up a pair of basketball shoes in DC–his name is Elgin Baylor. Let me remind you, Elgin was a NCAA Final Four MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year, named to the NBA All-Star First Team 10 straight years and he still holds the record for most points scored in a NBA final’s game, 61 points. His NBA career scoring average of 27 points rank only behide Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Elgin Baylor invented “Hang Time” in the NBA.
My Brown Middle School Principal William B. Stinson told my mother I would not live to get out of high school. I was trying to go to hell in a hurry. In 1959 against all odds I graduated from Fairmont Heights thanks to my savior, Spingarn coach, Dave Brown.
Coach Brown would make arrangements for me to attend Winston-Salem State on a football/basketball scholarship and play for the legendary Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines–my travel down Tobacco Road saved my life.
In Chicago receiving the first Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines “Community Service Award”
In the meantime, I lost track of Bernard, but I would encounter him again during the summers at Kelly Miller with another hotshot upcoming player by the name of Dave Bing. I always liked the challenged of guarding guys that thought they were great or were predicted to be on the fast-track to greatness. On those ocassions I chose to play Bing one on one instead of Levi. I immediately discovered Bing was a “Cry Baby” and didn’t like contact and I loved it!
My senior year at Spingarn Coach Rev. Roundtree kicked me off the team because I decided I wanted to be a scorer instead of a defender. he had created the Box-in-One Defense. It was designed especially for me to play the other team’s top scorer, which should have been an honor. But I decided to spend the summer perfecting my jump-shot. I shot myself in the foot and off the team.
All was forgiven after my freshman year in college Coach Roundtree allowed me to return and play in the alumni game. Spingarn had a tradition back in the day former players/alumni were allowed to return to the school during the Thanksgiving break and play against the varsity basketball team.
During this time Levi and Bing had become ‘Playground Legends.’ During the in-between times Levi and I would meet at his house on 44th Street. It was there wI would bring my mother to visit his mom. We had moved to ‘Simple City’ located on the DC and PG County line my new address was 58th & Blaine streets NE. While our moms visited we would head out to the basketball court at Carver Elementary School and we play one on one. I don’t ever remember being victorious in any of those confrontations. He never talked trash about those one on one games I never won.
I remember Bing being a cry baby all the way up to his sophomore year at Syracuse University. I will never forget that hot summer day at Kelly Miller when I discovered there was a new Sheriff in town (DC) and his name was Dave Bing. He ran circles around me, blocked my shots and he jumped over me like a pogo stick and dunked the ball! It was then I decided to pick up a tennis racket and I never looked back.
Me and Dave together before he forgot who he was and where he came from!
Some way, some how Bernard got lost in the shuffle, St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital became a revolving door for my mother. I was trying to concentrate on college and keep a close eye on my mother and brother Earl. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd. When I called home to check with family and friends no one had seen him. My sophomore year he surprised me and hitch hiked to Winston-Salem for our homecoming, I had no clue. He came to tell me he was joining the Army–I cried in relief. He had hoped to see me play, bad timing I was in Bighouse Gaines’ doghouse, I never got off the bench as we crushed St. Paul’s College 61-0.
Still no sign of Levi and time was not standing still.
Bing had become an All-American, Earl was now serving in the Army in Mannheim, Germany. He was moving on up and was promoted to Sergeant as a Military Policeman (MP), Heavyweight Boxing Champion, the base Table Tennis Champion and softball umpire. I always said, he was the best athlete in the family. Despite all of these accomphlistments he could not escape the racism embedded in the city of Mannheim. Jet Magazine would publish a story in August 1969 citing his frustrations, trials and tribulations with racism on an American Military Base.
In the meantime, the same Jet Magazine showed me at the Richard Nixon White House visiting an old friend who happen to be the President of the United States. I caddied (golf) for him when I was in high school. I had no clue as it related to the difference between a Democrat and Republican. I now realize I had broken bread with two of the most controversial personalities in American history, Richard Nixon and Muhammad Ali.
In 1966 Dave Bing was the No. 1 draft choice of the NBA Detroit Pistons and he was named the Rookie of the Year. In the summer of 1967 I encountered Dave and an old friend the late Arnold George while having lunch at Frank’s Restaurant on Florida Ave. in NW DC. We exchanged waves and when I looked up again Bing was walking toward my table with his hand out. I stood up to greet him and told him how proud I was of him. He said, “Harold you help prepare me for the NBA!” In 1967 he won the NBA scoring title, in 1969 he was named to his second straight NBA All-Star team. Still no Levi.
My brother Earl divorced the U. S. Army after his tour of duty ended in 1969 citing irreconcilable differences. He returned home to face the same racism he thought he had left behind in Germany. He applied for a job with his hometown police department only to encounter “The Spook That Sit by the Door” Ass’t Police Chief Maurice Turner (black–Afro-American–Negro–colored and the Big N). He told Earl he was not eligible to become a DC cop because of his juvenile record! I knew this was a lie because the DC code states “A juvenile’s record cannot be held against him/her while applying for employment in the DC government.” It took Washington Post columnist Bill Raspberry to blow the cover off of this police discrimination sham led by a black Ass’t Police Chief.
My brother Earl from ‘Street thug” to Military policeman to DC cop.
In the meantime, Earl had taken a job as a DC Correctional Officer at the DC jail. He was waiting for approval to join the DC Police Department when he received word that Bernard Levi had been spotted in prison in Allen Wood, Pa.
He called me and gave me the information to check on Bernard’s status. I found that he was serving a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. It didn’t look good, but I called Herb Klein the Director of Communications for the White House. I asked him for the number to Norman A. Carlson the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I called Mr. Carlson and scheduled an appointment to meet with him. He in turn scheduled a meeting with the Warden of Allen Wood Prison.
Earl and I drove to Allen Wood to meet with the Warden. He took us on a tour of the prison and had Levi meet us in his office. One month later Bernard Levi was a free man never again to return to a life of crime. Something I never talked about pubulicly until now. The subject is one Bernard wanted to quietly forget. I have had at least a dozen brothers released from prison by early paroles or released outright, including NFL Legend Jim Brown. The number of brothers that I have help keep out of jail are to numerous to count. Only one found a need to return.
Bernard spent the rest of his life working to help others overcome their addictions and being a big brother to dozens of young men who’s life once resembled his very own.
The rumors that have been spread that Dave Bing had anything to do with the release of Bernard Levi from prison is a lie! I called Dave before the drive to Allen Wood and asked him to write a note of encouragement to Levi. He refused and rumor has it he told his cheerleading buddies that he wanted nothing to do with a criminal. This was when things started downhill with our relationship. He never dared to disrespect me, but I didn’t like the way he treated Levi. Guess who has been recruited by his Washington base cheerleaders led by Donald Hicks to speak at Levi’s funeral–Dave Bing! All this was made possible by a “Family House Divided.”
I made it clear to his sister Ruthie I wanted nothing to do with or to enhance “The Family Feud” that was taking place between Bernard’s sisters and his daughters. Bernard would not have approved, but I promised I would attend the funeral.
In the meantime, Levi’s friends are going door to door (restaurant to restaurant) raising money for the Repass? If Dave is so rich why are they collecting money from each other, is it to feed their egos? Dave Bing the man they are recruiting to showcase at the funeral is suppose to be a Multi-millionaire his wrting a check for the Repass should be a slam dunk!
I want to remember Bernard like I last saw him in June at the Washington Hospital Center with friends Harry Horton and Bobby Thompson. He was happy to see me as I was to see him. I surprised him with a copy of my new book titled, “My Walk through Sports History With Champs & Chumps!” In the book there is a page where I name the 20 Greatest DC Play Ground Basketball Players of All-Time. He is among the 20 names. The smile that spreaded across his face was PRICELESS!
What Dave did to Bernard Levi he did the exact same thing to our homeboy (Alexandria, Virginia) and friend NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd. He and Bob Lanier ran Earl out of the coaching ranks in Detroit. This came out of the mouth of the man himself–Earl Lloyd. Guess who was his presenter for his NBA Hall of Fame induction–how about Dave Bing?
The 2003 HOF induction of NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd with presenter Dave Bing with knife in back.
He sold KC Jones out when he came back home for his farewell NBA tour with the Bullets in 1975. He had a little help from Bernie Bickerstaff who helped him stab KC in the back. Bing told me that KC was a running drunk and didn’t have a clue as a coach. I was shocked when those words came out of his mouth about KC whom I always saw as a class act. I suggested he talk to KC ‘Man to Man’, he said, “Its too late.” It gets worst, Bing threw our high school basketball Coach Rev. William Roundtree under the bus and then backed the bus up and drove over him again.
KC and Bernie guest on Inside Sports
In a story published in the Washington Times Newspaper dated Monday May 12, 1980 titled “Happy Youngsters Flock to Roundtree City Mission.” This is Dave Bing’s most damaging quote in the story, ‘I have promised Coach Roundtree that I will support him financially (on a new center) and I fully intend to do just that.’
He not only didn’t build Coach Roundtree a new center, but when he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, he never bothered to contact and invite his coach to the ceremony. This is the same coach who he claimed saved him from being a petty thief. I talked Coach Roundtree into going to Springfield, Massachusettes for the NBA HOF induction ceremony. We drove to Philadephia and boarded a bus that playground basketball legend Sonny Hill had booked for the trip. His friend Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe was also being inducted into the HOF.
During the induction ceromonies Rev. Roundtree and I were seated with Sonny when Dave made his induction speech. After minutes into his speech he introduced Rev. Roundtree as his high school coach. As expected he ignored my presense, but the next inductee Earl Monroe introduced Sonny and me as brothers in the community he was working with to help improve the lives of inner-city kids. Dave looked stunned. Another interesting note our homeboy and Spingarn alumnus Elgin Baylor said “No” when asked by Dave to be his presenter for the HOF ceremony. It is rumored Elgin spend the day on the golf course.
Bing would later threw ‘The Pearl’ under the bus. After both of their careers had come to end Earl ran into some hard times financially trying to be a music mogul. He borrowed $10.000 from Bing. Bing told his cheerleading buddies that Earl had messed up his money doing drugs and made some bad investments. In the end these guys deserve each other. They have no idea as it relates to the definition of integrity and loyalty.
Earl Monroe gets faked out by Dave Bing in the NBA and again in the Game Called Life!
Bing has a knack for showing up for funerals and playing “The Big Shot”, there was Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor and now Bernard Levi. When Coach Roundtree died he was in attendance to pay for the Mausoleum and the Repass at the Fort Lincoln Cemetery. I bet you a dime to a donut Rev. Roundtree’s wife and kids are wondering to this day where was he when coach needed money to keep the lights on at his church and where was he when the kids needed toys and clothes on Christmas?
Rev. Roundtree host the Kids In Trouble annual toy party at his SE church with former players HBell and Byron Kirkley.
It is amazing how these brothers like Bing get two-dollars more than the brother he left standing on the corner and thinks that it makes him smarter. He ran for Mayor in Detriot and he thought he was smart again. I warned him it was a “Dead End Street” but Donald Hicks and the cheerleaders won out. When they threw his hat out the door behind him in 2013, the city of Detriot had declared chapter 9 Bankrutcy. A fool and his ego are soon departed.
Stay tune, all you wanted to know about “Champions & Chumps” and didn’t know whom to ask look no further. See my new book @ http://www.blackmeninamerica.com it is here you will find “A lie will change a thousand times, the truth never changes.”
“I love it when people have a problem with me and manage to tell it to everyone but me?” author unknown
Legendary radio and television talk show host and DC icon Petey Greene first brought Neal Henderson to my attention in the Early 70s. Petey’s Sunday radio show “Petey Greene’s Washington” was the talk of the town. He made me his designated expert on everything sports when the show made its debut in 1965. In 1970 I parlayed Petey Greene’s Washington into my own radio talk show, Inside Sports.
Much like my God-Aunt and designated co-host Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley of “The Jeffersons” sitcon, I moved on up to NE DC and W-O-O-K Radio and the rest is sports talk radio history.
Inside Sports was the first radio sports talk show that Neal appeared on to discuss “Blacks in Hockey!” It was Black History Month and I knew absolutely nothing about hockey, but he gave me and my listening audience a 101 Lesson Plan. In 1974 Mike Marson was drafted and became the first black player to play for the Washington Capitals. Marson was drafted in the second round and was the 19th overall pick. I remember Neal calling and asking if I was interested in having the Capitals first black player Mike Marson on Inside Sports? It was a no brainer–I said, “Yes” and we have been networking ever since.
My mentor and friend Petey Greene and now CBS/NFL studio host James Brown are seen in a joint venture for BET in the early days of Brown’s career.
Neal and I have a whole lot in common other than our black skins. I found my non-profit organization Kids in Trouble in December 1968 several months after the DC riots. Neal found his non-profit the Ft. Dupont hockey team in 1977. We both went where there was no path and left a trail for others to follow.
The two programs are both dedicated to enhancing the lives of inner-city youth through education and sports. The success stories that have come out of these two storied franchises read like a Who’s Who!
In May of 2018 I celebrated my 80th birthday and Neal celebrated his 81st birthday several weeks later. Neal was born in St. Croix, Canada, but moved to the DMV as a young adult, instead of trying to teach his son the traditional games of the inner-city, football, basketball and baseball, he decided to teach him the game he played while growing up in Canada–hockey. Out of this teaching moment he found the Ft. Dupont Hockey Club and the rest is youth ice hockey history, today it is the oldest minority hockey team in the country.
Neal is responsible for producing a generation of black hockey players and fans in the DMV.
Kenneth Martin is the NHL’S VP for Community Affairs, said, “Neal’s relentless commitment to children has been a trademark of our ‘Hockey is for Everyone Program!’ When it comes to ‘hockey is for everyone’ Neal was decades ahead of the NHL when it came to that thought. On any given practice at the Ft. Dupont Skating Rink you will see a rainbow of colors participating on the ice–diversity is more than just a catch-phrase to him.
For the past 40+ years on Mondays and Wednesday the lobby of the Ft. Dupont ice rink is loaded with kids from 8 to 18 in their uniforms and carrying worn mostly donated ice hockey equipment. It gets a little loud as teams shuffle ice times,and parents workout carpool arrangements. The faces have changed over the years, players come and go, they graduate from high school and move on to college and jobs in new cities, but they never forget Coach Neal Henderson.
For example; Donnie Shaw the 3rd, has gone on to play hockey in college. Still others, like Daubte Abercrombie, became so hooked on the game through Neal they are now pursuing pro hockey opportunities. “Coach Neal is a true living legend and a man with a long list of accomplishments that continue to grow,” said Shaw, one of two first recpients of 2013 NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarship award. Shaw played for Elmira College in New York City. “I cannot thank Coach Henderson enough for all that he has done for me, as well as the devotion that he personally puts into every single kid who joins his hockey program.”
Donnie Shaw III joins mentor Neal Henderson as guest of Caps owner Ted Leonis
Some folks are legends in their own minds, Neal Henderson is a legend in his own time.
by Maggie Linton
TV-7 On Your Side Anchor Paul Berry and I co-host a Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show.
TV-9 Anchor Maureen Bunyan and I co-host toys for tots with Santa’s Helpers TV-5 Anchor Lark McCarthy and WKYS Radio personality, Donnie Simpson.
There will be several milestones for Harold K. Bell to mark in 2018. First, April 4, 2018 marks 50 years ago our Prince of Peace the Rev. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennesee. He found himself on the corner of the 9th & U Street corridor in the middle of the worst riot in DC history. May 21st marked his 80th birthday, November 28th will mark 50 years of marriage to his wife Hattie,and December 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of hosting their first ever Christmas toy party for needy elementary school children.
There is one more important milestone we missed, in 1967 the legendary radio and television icon Petey Greene gave him five minutes to talk sports on Sundays. The show was “Petey Greene’s Washington” heard on W-O-L radio.
In 1970 Harold Bell embarked on his talk show career as an independent sports talk show host-a relatively new medium for black broadcasters. thanks to the introduction by his mentor and friend Petey Greene. Bell’s first five-minutes of radio stardom was at the helm of the two-time Emmy Award winner and sports talk has never been the same.
In 1970 he found the original “Inside Sports” heard on W-O-O-K radio in Washington, DC. The rest is sports talk radio history. Long before the late George Michael’s Sports Machine, Inside Sports Magazine, ESPN the Magazine, Outside the Lines and HBO’s Real Sports (Byrant Gumble) there was Harold Bell and “The Original Inside Sports.”
He grew up in a NE DC housing project called “Kenilworth Parkside.” He is a 4th generation Washingtonian. His great-grandfather Alfred Johnson Tyler laid the first brick to build historic Mount Airy Baptist Church located at North Capitol & L Streets NW in 1893. The Tyler House located at North Capitol & New York Ave, NW is an apartment complex for low income residents named after his great-uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler. He came by community service “The Old Fashion Way” he followed in the footsteps of his Grandmother and Great-Uncle after church each Sunday.
Bell received his education in the DC Public School system where he was an All-Star athlete at Spingarn High School. His Coach Dave Brown was his mentor and savior. Coach Brown talked the late legendary coach Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines into giving him an athletic scholarship to Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina—he said, “It saved his life.”
He has been called a living legend around Washington, DC for his work with youth gangs and at-risk children. His first job was as a “Neighborhood Worker” for the United Planning Organization and later as a Roving Leader for the DC Department of Recreation and Parks (Youth Gang Task Force). Fifty-plus years later his legend continues to grow with his non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble. His radio sports talk show format “The Original Inside Sports” is a tag given to him by his wife Hattie over dinner one evening. The tag is now copied by ESPN, HBO and every radio, television and print media outlet in the world.
His pioneering contributions in sports talk radio and television in Washington DC, impressed Washington Star radio and television critic William Taaffe so much that he wrote, “Inside Sports Blazes a Trail. The show rules the roost because of a crusading kind of honesty and the show actually says something. You never have to splash water on your face to stay awake. Bell has always delved into the athlete’s personality with the eye of a reporter, and never the ‘Fluff’ of a talk-show Host.”
Legendary Washington Times sports columnist the late Dick Heller later wrote “Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk, the good kind.” He has interviewed hundreds of leading sports figures from “A to Z.” The list includes his dear friend the late Muhammad Ali and Redskin Mascot, Chief Zee.
His credo for the game called life was given to him by his grandmother and mother, “A lie will change a thousand times but the truth never changes and every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy” says a lot about him and his talk show format. There would be less racism and hate in the world if everyone followed his talk show format, dialogue on racism is always open for discussion.
He was the first sports talk show host to play message music on air as it related to his community. There were popular tunes like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “Wake Up Every Body, and the classic by his homeboy and childhood friend, Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On.” He established a no holds barred Media Roundtable with local and national media, unheard of during the 70’s. The Roundtable included, locals like Dick Heller, George Solomon and national sports writers Bill Rhoden of the NY Times and Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. a writer for the Minnesota Spokesman. In 1980 Bell was the first sports media personality honored as ‘Washingtonian of the Year’ by Washingtonian Magazine along with Washington Redskin QB Joe Theisman for their reach back efforts to enhance children in the DC community. Poems have been written about his exploits with youth gangs and at-risk children. The late poet Murray Brooks penned a poem titled, “For Whom the Bells Toll and family friend Earl Tilmon wrote, A Grieving Mother’s Tears.”
The sports media personalities who have benefited from Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who. They include, James Brown (NFL CBS), John Thompson (ESPN), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TBS), Kevin Blackistone (ESPN), Sugar Ray Leonard (ESPN), Adrian Branch (ESPN), Oden Polyniece (NBA), Cathy Hughes (Urban Radio & TV One), Glen Harris (TV 8 Sports), Butch McAdams (Urban Radio One sports), Adrian Dantley (Comcast Sports), Omar Tyree (Author Fly Girls, etc), Jamie Foster Brown (Sister2Sister Magazine) Jair Lynch, Grant Hill, and Comedian Chris Thomas (BET). Each one of them came through Kids In Trouble, Inc and Inside Sports long before their 15 minutes of fame. He has more media personalities working in main stream media than anyone in the history of black broadcasting.
He was the first media personality to encourage pro athletes, judges, politicians, entertainers and newsroom media personalities to get directly involved with the community. In 2018 every pro sports franchise has followed his lead.
When the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames had overlooked his friends pro football pioneer Willie Wood and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd, he led a campaign with NBA legendary coach Red Auerbach and DC sports columnist Dick Heller to get them both inducted into their respective hall of fames. Willie was inducted in 1989 and Earl was inducted in 2003. According to one African maxim, “Until the lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” His passion to make sure that the Black Athlete receives his just deserts not only in Black History but also in American History is unmatched.
Main stream media has sent their designated “Hit Men” to try to discredit his efforts to make it an ‘Even Playing Field’ during the most segregated time in media—a pressroom at DEADLINE! The Hit Men include; Tony Kornheiser, Norman Chad,Dave McKenna, David Kindred, Mike Wise, and John Feinstein. If you notice each one had a connection to the Washington Post, they own the copyright to Inside Sports.
Earl Lloyd best described Bell in a interview heard on WTEM ESPN all sports talk radio in Washington, D. C., when he told John Thompson and co-host Doc Walker, “Harold Bell maybe controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” Recently a scam artist tried to run a scam on the Earl Lloyd Estate with a documentary titled, “The First to Play” relating to Lloyd’s NBA pioneering efforts and his life story.
Scammed players, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Mike Finley and Carmelo Anthony.
Bell exposed the scam to NBA Commissioner Adam Silva, Coach Gregg Popovich and TNT NBA sideline reporter Dave Aldridge, but not before bad checks had bounced and money had passed through the hands of several NBA players and the scam artist Arka Sengupta. The NBA has since made the documentary disappear. When NFL great Jim Brown known as “The NFL Godfather of Domestic Abuse” found himself on the wrong side of the law and was sentence to six months in jail for domestic abuse in 2000, he had his wife Monique call Harold Bell. Bell led a media campaign to get his wishy-washy friend an early release. Many other high profile incarcerated personalities have also benefited from his intervention on their behalf.
Sugar Ray Leonard was in a self imposed lock-up. He was under house arrest by local media. He came home from the 1976 Olympic Games with his Gold Medal looking for a ticker-tape parade but instead encountered a hostile media. He made headlines for having a baby out of wedlock with girlfriend Quanita.
Love Birds: Sugar Ray Leonard before the multi-titles and 100 million dollars. His agent Mike Trainor scammed millions from him before I pulled his coattail.
Sugar Baby lost his self-esteem and refused to come out of his house in Palmer Park. With nowhere to turn trainer Janks Morton and Melvin Weasel Jackson came to Anacostia Park one evening while I was playing tennis and asked me for my help. The next morning I was knocking on Ray’s door, he opened with tears in his eyes and the rest is boxing history. He went from not having two pennies to rub together to becoming the first pro boxer to earn 100 million dollars in the ring.
TV 7 Anchor Fred Thomas (class act) and NBA Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley. He is clueless, I exposed his agent David Falk for scamming him out 2 million dollars+.
His historic up close and personal one on one interview with Ali in 1975 on NBC WRC-TV 4 is a masterpiece. The interview reveals every side of Ali, his funny side and serious side. It is an interview of how we all would like to remember Ali before Parkinson’s disease robbed him of his ability to speak and move. Emmy Award winning actor Robert Hooks followed up the Ali interview with an interview with Roy Foreman, the brother of big George Foreman. Roy explained the state of mind of his brother before the 1974 big showdown in Zaire with Ali—it is priceless. Harold Bell was once asked by a friend, “If you had to describe your life in a song what would it be?” His response was, ‘Running Against the Wind’ by Bob Seger. Harold Bell is a man for all seasons—his race against the wind is a photo finish.
The late DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore with Santa’s Helpers, LB Harold McLinton (Santa), LB Dave Robinson and WR Roy Jefferson host a KIT toy party.
Maggie Linton–is a radio and television talk show pioneer. Her career spans over four decades on radio, television and movies. She is a former sports anchor and feature reporter for XM Satellite Radio USA News Channel.
Spingarn High School teammates Andrew Johnson and Harold Bell
I just finished addressing a topic centered around the most expensive places to live in America and how we got there and how DC became one of them. Those of us who have been in the war zones of the inner-city all of our lives understand how we got there. We have been SOLD OUT by our own. We have watched “Chocolate City” go to vanilla in one scoop. Simply by making the proverbial Even Playing Field, UNEVEN. Its called GENTRIFICATION (higher taxes to force people of color out of their homes by any means necessary).
The criminal Justice system continues to be based on JUSTICE & JUST-US! America incarcerates more people than any other place in the WORLD. People of color make up 60% of the prison population. Prisons are now big business and can be found on the NY Stock Exchange and they are controlled by all white millionaires (sounds like the NFL)! As long as the 1% doubles the salary of a black man and the white woman is considered a minority, there will never be an EVEN PLAYING FIELD in America. All the blames does not fall at the doorsteps of white folks. This plan was implemented and helped along by every Black politician in office in America, including the Mayors in the Nation’s Capitol starting with the “First” Walter Washington, and our Mayor for Life, Marion Barry and now Muriel Bowser has picked up the ball.
In PG County you had Jack Johnson stealing the system blind and Rushern Baker going along to get along. There is no help in sight. In PG County Donna Edwards needs a job. She has decided to run for County Executive and play “Dirty.” Politics are “Dirty” so she is right at home. The front-runner is the best bet, but she has some of The Usual Suspects” in her closet waiting to pounce. The most courageous politicians in the state of Maryland are the ones who are trying to unseat “The God Father” of Maryland politics, Mike Miller. Their slogan, “Mike take a hike.” You have County Executive Rushern Baker and former NAACP President Ben Jealous running for Governor against incumbent Larry Hogan. No help in sight on either side of the isle.
We have to understand when the definition for success in America is determined by a dollar bill, there will never be an EVEN PLAYING FIELD. How can there ever be an EVEN PLAYING FIELD when the 1% makes double the salary of a minority man and a white woman is considered a minority? Whether you have noticed it or not America has become one of the most dangerous places to live for children who want to grow up to be healthy, wealthy and wise. And by the way, I have never been to Africa and I am not interested in going back.
My friend community and youth advocate George Hodge recently ask the question “Why have our kids turning in their books for guns—I think the answer is that they see the greedy never making it an “Even Playing Field.”
There was a recent story on NBC News with Lester Holt reporting, the story was relating to a former DC Detective teaming up with a former DC Drug King Pin. The two grew up together and played on the same middle school 9th grade basketball team. One chose a career in law-enforcement and the other chose a career in drugs—great story, but it sounded too much like the story of Andrew Johnson and Harold Bell(native Washingtonians). We played 12 and under baseball and were high school basketball teammates. Andrew and I both played in college.
My success was not built on selling drugs or being locked away in a penitentiary. Andrew and I started to work with at-risk children in the early 60s. He was a DC cop walking the beat in the U Street corridor and I was a Roving Leader working with youth gangs in the same community. My life on the mean streets of DC is legendary.
Andrew and I became a “Team” working with at-risk children and the rest is community and law enforcement history. I found my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble after the 1968 riots almost destroyed our hometown. Andrew would move from walking a beat to become the No. 1 DC homicide detective. He would later travel the world as a DEA agent. He retired as a DEA supervisor. Today he is still a mentor to at-risk children. Our story was already documented and the NBC News story was repeated history, history that had already been made, but ignored. NBC NEWS just didn’t do their research or homework. The bottom-line give credit where credit is due. My non-profit organization Kids In Trouble has hosted more Youth Gang Summits and Police Community Relation forums than any other non-profit in the DMV. Hats off to the two childhood friends who decided to pick up the ball and continue the journey. Wishing them much success.
MC and long time friend Maggie Linton share a laugh with Lucille Hester during Community Service presentation to Hattie and Harold.
There are two words in the English language that are easy to say and repeat and they are “THANK YOU!”
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who helped me and my wife Hattie T celebrate the year 2018 starting with my 80th Birthday on Saturday. My birthday is actually Monday May 21st. Saturday’s celebration included our 50th Wedding Anniversary on November 30th and the 50th anniversary of our first ever Christmas toy party for needy elementary school children in the DMV. April 4th also marked a 50th year anniversary I would rather forget, the assassination of our Prince of Peace, the Rev. Martin Luther King. The riots that followed set us back several decades with no recovery in sight.
The first thank you goes out to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the day of our celebration it had rained in Washington, DC for a record 15 straight days, but God smiled down on us on the 16th day and said “Let there be sunshine.” Under the threat of rain dozens of Family & Friends traveled to the SE White House for our Celebration of Milestones and Life’s ups and downs. All the glory goes to God.
The second thank you goes out to the SE White House and its Director Ernest Clover (host), staff member Tammy and volunteer Yvonne. Thank you to the Master of Ceremonies, Maggie Linton and Gary Johnson, the D. C. Music Ambassador, Royal Height, video tech Cecil Gentry, Bruce and Byron of Bruce Brown Film Makers. They all orchestrated the celebration. Not bad for a brother whose Brown Middle School Principal predicted he would not live to get out of high school.
Hattie and I would like to thank our friend and sister Lucille Hester (the first woman to be named President of the Pigskin Club) for making special presentations of an autographed football from the inductees of The 2017 Pro Football of Fame in Canton, Ohio and an autographed helmet from The Black College Football of Fame. The presentations brought back memories that in 1988 Doug Williams became the first black QB to start and win a Super Bowl game and be named the MVP. The 2017 Super Bowl the NFL finally recognized that they had 28 NFL Hall of Fame players who played at black colleges. I am still trying to figure out why two former Redskins have been denied entry into the NFL Hall of Fame, RB Larry Brown and QB Doug Williams? In 2019 two schools from the Historical Black Colleges and Universities will be added to the weekend festivities to play against each other in Canton.
The celebration of life included the great food and drink provided by, Joan (jambalaya), Walter (jerk-chicken) Ms. Mac (chicken-salad), Mary-Ann (sandwich tray), Frank Smith (chicken), Gloria (blue berry & peach cobbler), Clara (lemon pound cake), Gloria/Robert (macaroni & cheese), Lucy (chicken salad), Bro Lawrence (devil eggs, casserole), Gil (pizza), Youngum (pizza), Mary (potato salad), Charles (water), Q Ball (water) and Hattie T (Chili).
Thanks to all the friends and Family who were in the house on Saturday. And thanks for the cards and gifts. Thanks to our friend June Bug for closing out the celebration with his great vocal rendition of “Happy Birthday.” He brought
the house down.
Dr. Denise Wright, Linda and Rich Jones, and Donnie Shaw share birthday moment with HBell.
I would also like to remember, “The Brothers who are no longer here”, Roland Taylor, Gary Mays, Levi Coates, Wilbur Filmore, Frank Hart, Clint Hall, Cecil Fryer and one special sister, Darlene Roberts. We are given little or no credit while we live and no credit when we die—RIP.
Classy ladies, Ms. Emma Ward and Dr. Mattie Giles share in celebration of life festivities.
Proud big brother walking his little sisters to church in Harlem (1920s)
My brothers, cousins and I pose in suit and tie for family picture in church with Grandma Bell. Top Left-Right Cousin Carol, me, brother Earl, and brother Bobby. Bottom Left-Right Cousin Ronnie, Grandma Bell and cousin Tommy (1950s)
Inner-city youth seen on any street corner in U. S. with pants hanging down and no church in sight (2018).
When I saw the top photo taken in Harlem in the 1920s it reminded me of my family’s church on Sundays at Mt. Airy Baptist Church in NW Washington, DC. The photo looks like big brother is proudly escorting and holding hands with his sisters on the way to church. It was how me and my cousins attended church on Sundays leaving Grandma Bell’s house in NE DC. The other photo reminded me how we have hustled backwards in time. In the 1920s black children in Harlem, could not wait to get to church and now in 2018 children are standing on street corners on Sundays in inner-cities across America with their pants hanging down waiting to go to jail, harden criminals are waiting there to pull their pants down further.
My question is, where and how did we lose it and why? Lets start with the greedy black church, black politicians taking money under and over the table and Justice & Just-Us and lets not forget black folks who think they have made it, especially the dysfunctional black family who steal from each other.
Amy Tyler Bell was a Grandma in charge. She was the head of the Bell clan in the late 40s and 50s. She was Clint Eastwood (Make My Day), Charles Brunson (Death Wish), Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator) and Wesley Snipes (Demolition Man) all rolled into one. Her swat team was made up of my Aunts, Sara, Helen, and June all had backhands that would have made Venus and Serena proud. My uncles Dwight, Ralph and Hope were cool cats. They were the peace makers when a kind word was needed when Grandma Bell’s New Jack City enforcers (aunts) were on a rampage. My aunts and uncles were like, “Good Cop and Bad Cop” and sometimes they would switch roles within the blink of an eye. You could not play one against the other. Grandma Bell ran a tight ship.
Church on Sundays at Mt. Airy were like revivals. My Great-Grandfather the Rev. Alfred Johnson Tyler laid the first brick to build the church in 1893.
Grandma Bell played the organ and led the choir that consisted of my aunts and uncles and they could sing like humming birds. My Great uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler was the preacher in charge and he could preach like Martin Luther King and sing like Paul Roberson. Services started at 11 am and if you were not in your seat by 10:45 you didn’t have a seat and you had to stand against the wall. Grandma Bell would give us youngums with seats that look and we have to get up and give it to a vistor or an elder. If you moved too slow she would call your name out loud and embarrass you. Grandma it seems knew every youngster in the church by name. She would call one name out loud (usually one of us) and every young person in the church would get up and give their seats to an elder.
We could not wait to get to the dining hall in the basement of the church after services. The Sunday meal of hot rolls, fried chicken, potato salad, greens, macaroni and cheese, home made pies, cakes and sweet tea were meals to die for. After eating we would walk our meal off with Uncle Earl and Grandma Bell by visiting the sick and shut-in at Freeman’s Hospital. The Tyler House is named after my Great Uncle, the Rev. Earl Tyler. The 199-unit is a low-income housing complex for senior citizens, located two blocks north of the church at North Capitol Street and New York Avenue, NW.
Legendary vocalist Bill Withers lyrics describes my grandmother to a “T” in song with his classic rendition of ‘Grandma’s Hands!’
He opens up with “Grandma claps in church on Sunday mornings and plays the tambourine so well.”
Interpretation: Every Sunday Grandma Bell clapped in church on Sunday mornings and played the organ so well.
*Bill then says, “Grandma issues out a warning, baby don’t you run so fast there maybe snakes in that grass.”
Interpretation: When I became a radio sports talk show host Grandma Bell advised me to always tell the truth. She explained a lie will change a thousand times, but the truth never changes. The advice help make me a success as a pioneer in sports talk radio and changed the way we talk sports in America. There were plenty of snakes, but they were not all in the grass, most were found crawling in political office–no change there.
*His next stanza was, “Grandma Hands soothed the local unwed mother, she said I know that you really love that man, but put it all in Jesus hands.”
Interpretation: The local unwed mother was Mattie Smith, my mother a country girl from Sumpter, S. C. She was 6 months pregnant with me when my “Dead Beat Dad” Alfred Bell a native Washingtonian and Grandma Bell’s son decided to move to Brooklyn, New York. My older brother Alfred ‘Bobby’ was the first son Grandma Bell had taken into her home. My mother was pregnant with me and he leaves DC and she follows. I was born in King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Grandma tried her best to get him to do the right thing, but he wanted to be a ‘Play Boy!’ He finally marries my mother after she gets pregnant with my brother Earl. Having babies today and then getting married LATER is the norm, but Grandma Bell was having none of it in the 30s and 40s from her sons and daughters.
*Bill’s next lyrics really hits close to home when he says “Mattie don’t you whip that boy, what do you want to spank him for, he didn’t drop no apple core.”
Interpretation: Grandma Bell would not allow my mother or father to spank us. She and my aunts were the only ones allowed to discipline us. When my mother finally came and got me and my brother Earl to take us to live with her in a new NE housing project, we cried bloody murder. We did not want to leave Grandma’s house. Grandma Bell made my mother an offer she could not refuse, she would keep my older brother Bobby and raise him–case closed.
The Urban League’s new foundings on “The 2018 State of Black America” is mis- leading, they point fingers at Bill Gates and Silicon Valley the tech giant of America. The claim, “Silicon Valley Slow Hiring Blacks Despite Our High Use Of Tech.” And don’t forget President Donald Trump!
In February 2018 a report surface saying, “No progress in Black America in 50 years after the 1968 Kerner Report established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate why there was so much unrest in Black America. The findings clearly stated we were headed for ‘Two Americas, one black and one white!’ It closed saying, ‘high school diplomas and college degrees made little or no difference in the hiring practices of White America.’ Welcome to “One America” 2018.
I find it laughable when I hear or read the 1% claiming black folks cannot get ahead in America because we are lazy and shiftless and don’t want to work. If that is the case who were those lazy and shiftless black folks who built this country?
There will never be an “Even Playing Field” when it comes to equality in Black America.” Why? The 1% will never share the power or the dollar bill. Success in America is based on the dollar bill. The safe guards the 1% put in place to protect their interest is as follows; The Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that unlimited money could be given to political candidates running for office was the beginning of the end to there ever being a ‘Even Playing Field’ in America.
In 1987 the Supreme Court use another to keep us behind the proverbial “8 Ball.” They voted 6-3 extending preferences in employment for white women and minorities? I am still trying to figure that one out! Justice and Just-Us is another tool being use, thanks to the criminal justice system our jails are overrun with people of color. According to a recent report by Global Research: The Prison Industry in the U. S. is now Big Business. Many question whether it is another form of slavery? The jails are run and controlled by white millionaires. These institutions can now be found on the stock market on Wall Street. The U. S. has more people in jail than any other place in the world. Private prison stocks are up 100% since the Presidency of Donald Trump.
Genification is another tool, white folks are taking back the inner-cities in America and displacing people of color by imposing higher taxes leading to their exits to parts unknown (ghettos and section 8 Housing). This is a well thought out plan that has led to black on black murder in our streets and our communities. When people of color are packed into these type of environments they are going to commit crimes of violence against those who are closest to them.
My heroes to this day are black women, they laid the foundation for who I am. Grandma Bell could not shoot a jump shot, hit a baseball 400 feet or throw a football 60 yards in the air, but she was a superstar in the game called life. A game where people of color are fouling out minute by minute, especially our children. A change is not coming until our children pull up their pants and their parents (most are children themselves) grow up and lead the way.