ON I-95 SPORTS NET
NEW YORK LIGHTNING
KINGS BAY YOUTH ORGANIZATION
2670 Coyle St, Brooklyn, NY
SUNDAY JULY 2nd at 2PM
By Hans Themistode
The New York Lightning is more than just a semi professional basketball team out of the Bronx New York. The Lightning will be officially starting it’s first season in the APBL this summer, with the league starting July 1st and 2nd. The APBL is known for having some of the most recognized and talented players from around the world participate in their tournament. Including former NBA players Smush Parker and Flip Murray. The Lightning will undoubtedly have their hands full but with their collection of talent they feel as though they have a chance against anyone that’s placed in front of them. “I’m very confident in our abilities as a team, we all truly feel that we have a really good chance to bring home a championship.” Said Ny Lightning
combo guard Thomas Richardson who played collegiate basketball at Siena college.
Richardson’s thoughts were echoed by many of the players on his team as well. “I’ve been with Willie for about 8 years now and we’ve always had talented teams so I’m not worried about the level of the competition we play.” Said 27 year old Andre Martin. Why would a league that often times is infiltrated with former NBA players not intimidate this Ny Lightning team? Two words,
confidence and focus. “Were not just happy to be here, or feel as though were overmatched.
We’re here to win.” Said Power Forward/Center Charles Jones.
The Lightning are more than just a team filled with talented players trying to win a championship, they all play for something that’s much bigger than themselves. On April 17, 2016 former Ny Lightning player Paul Flowers tragically died while having a night out with friends. Paul was a great man and it’s much too easy to write paragraph after paragraph explaining how
great he was as both a basketball player and human being. To often when loved ones pass away their character is exaggerated to show who they were while they were still with us, this is not the case with Paul Flowers. In high school Paul was a standout player at Robert Bownes averaging a triple double. 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He than went on to Mercy college where in his senior year he averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds. As impressive as he was as a basketball player he was an even better person. He was a constant volunteer at basketball camps such as basketball city and 5 star. He was beloved by his teammates and those that knew him best.
Although losing someone as amazing as Paul is devastating, the story of his death brings a smile to anyone who takes the time out to read it. It was a late April night when Paul went out for a boat ride with a few friends. What was supposed to be a night of fun turned into a night of horror as violent waves, unforeseen rain and vicious wind attacked the boat. There was a total of 15 people on the boat that could not maneuver out of the way because the anchor was stuck. Paul did what quite frankly many of us would have been to scared to do. He jumped into the water, yanked the anchor free allowing his friends to get away safely, essentially giving up his own life for the people he cared about. “It was unreal when I heard the news, we were definitely really close and I know he always wanted me to play for the Lightning. So I just don’t want to disappoint him.” Said Thomas Richardson.
In addition to Paul Flowers the Lightning are also playing for Robert (Surrob) Negron who died suddenly and tragically in June, 2010. Robert was a photographer who was a constant fixture at major tournaments such as Hoops in the Sun in the Bronx and Tri-State in Harlem. Rob loved the game and passed away of a heart attack doing exactly what he enjoyed doing most which was playing basketball. It was a normal day at the Fashion Institute of Technology where Rob was playing a pickup game when suddenly he collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital where unfortunately he did not make it. The Lightning will be playing with heavy hearts but they feel as though it gives them extra motivation going into the APBL.
APBL owner Brian Graham has done an amazing job with the league pulling it from the abyss to make it one of the most popular and competitive leagues in NYC. “I bought the league 6 years ago after it went bankrupt. I felt as though the league still had a lot of potential and just needed to be changed a bit. We’ve made a major turn around and were in a much better place now.” Said Brian. Willie Negron, brother of Robert and head coach/owner of the Ny Lightning is a well respected person throughout his community. Hardworking is an understatement to describe his personality. “Willie is probably the most hardest working guy in the entire league. You can just tell that he really cares and wants his players to reach their goals and he’s extremely professional.
I felt that I had to give Willie and his team an opportunity because I know how good of a man he is so I felt that he deserved it.” Said Brian.
The competition will be fierce to say the least but the Ny Lightning seem up to the task.
by Derrel Johnson
As owner and general manager for the semi-professional New York Lightning basketball team, Willie Negron is always looking for opportunities for his talent to showcase their skills in hopes of landing a position on a professional team. That opportunity came up recently, as Coach Willie, as he is affectionately known as, sent four of his players to a recent showcase in Mount Vernon, New York.
Gamble Sports Management held its fourth annual men’s basketball showcase at Hopperstown earlier this month with coaches, agents, and scouts in attendance from as far away as Europe and Latin America. The showcases are designed to offer college seniors and free agents a chance to secure contracts with overseas teams. We spoke with Charles Gamble, () about the showcase.
Tyrone Mitchell had the following to say. “I’m trying to get a contract and Willie Negron.”
“Willie’s an honorable guy. He lives up to his word and puts people in good situations.”
Anthony Baker said “It means a lot. Throughout my whole career, nobody’s really had faith in me but me,” adding “Willie having faith in me just gives me so much extra confidence and makes me work harder every day.”
Charles Jones seemed extremely appreciate of the support from Negron. Coach Willie is a great guy, he told me to come out and show my talents. With the confidence of my teammates with the New York Lightning, they gave me the confidence to come out and do what I had to do.”
Coach Willie works had to stay in communication with his players, Jones says. “He stays in contact with me every day to make sure we are always on the same page,” adding the Coach Willie is the guy to call when you need information on available opportunities in the basketball world.
Though no contracts have been secured for his four players as of yet, Coach Willie still believes in all of the players on the New York Lightning. Through tireless effort and the use of his own resources, Coach Willie is helping to make hoop dreams come true for many young basketball players.
Basketball is thriving in The New York Metro region, home to professional basketball teams of the NBA (N.Y. Knicks and Brooklyn Nets), WNBA women’s professional basketball (N.Y. Liberty), NBA D-league teams (Westchester Knicks and Long Island Nets), a new women’s D-league (Westchester Shooting Stars Basketball League) and semi-pro teams of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and Elite Basketball League (EBL). The region is also rich in college and high school programs, amateur programs such as the A.A.U. and, of course, urban streetball leagues played on such notable venues as Dyckman Park, Orchard Beach, Rucker Park, West 4th Street, and the Neppa Gallery. MetroSports Magazine has brought you coverage of many of these in recent years.
The Justice Sonia Sotomyor Community Center in the Bronx was the site of this most recent game of the Lightning semi-pro basketball team playing in the Elite Basketball League (EBL). The EBL is comprised of teams in New York, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta and Arkansas. Also calling the NYC area home are teams from the American Basketball Association (ABA) including the N.Y. Court Kingz, Long Island Jaguars, New Jersey Express, Bronx Holy Flames and their development league team the Bronx Holy Storm.
High Scorer for EBL Ny Lightning
Andre Martin 20 points
Tryone Mitchell 20 points
Stanley Hamp 11 points
Jahrod lide 10 points
High Scorer for ABA Bronx Holy Storm
Eric Bush 20 points
Isaiah Holman 17 points
Charles Thomas 15 points
Box Score by Quarter
End oF 1 Quarter
ABA Bronx Holy Storm 22
EBL Ny lightning 15
ABA Bronx Holy Storm 38
EBL Ny lightning 33
End of 3 quarter
EBL Ny Lightning 57
ABA Bronx Holy Storm 50
End of 4 quarter
EBL Ny Lightning 81
ABA Bronx Holy Storm 78
By Rich Mancuso
Inside the front lobby of the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in the Rosedale section of the Bronx, Willie Negron waits patiently with a net of basketballs, uniforms and energy drinks. He is the owner, GM and coach of a semi pro basketball team that carries a lot of responsibility.
“I am carrying out a commitment to my late brother,” Negron explains about his New York Lightning semi pro basketball team that participates in the Elite Basketball League. The team is dedicated to the memory of Willie’s brother Robert “Surrob” Negron, who passed away in 2010 and also to Lightning player Paul Flowers who passed away in the past year.
For Negron, a school aide by day and employed by the NYC Department of Education at nearby James Monroe High School, basketball is everything and so was his brother. So it was appropriate that he lived the dream.
You can also see Negron attending various high school basketball games and at courtside for home games at Fordham University, Lehman College and Manhattan College.
Yes, it is his love but the Lightning is his first bolt that provides strength and gives players another, and perhaps final opportunity at stardom in the NBA or other professional basketball leagues around the globe.
Thursday night the Sotomayor center was reserved for Negron. His roster is comprised of former high school and college talent and they travel extensive miles from the tri-state area. Negron pays fees to the Elite league and for practice time at Fordham and other courts when available, and there is no funding except for selling of candy.
There is a student trainer he recruits for games that will tend to an injury or two and of course Negron has a fee to pay licensed officials. A mission to get a permanent home court at the Fordham Rose Hill Gym, or the Lehman Apex Center is that final bolt that Negron is trying to achieve for the Lightning.
In the meantime they continue and play organized league games. The crowd is minimal, there are no admission fees to watch the Lightning and information is distributed in the website http://www.nylightningbasketball.com/
On this night as his guys suited up for their game against Bronx Holy Storm. Negron was giving last minute directions. There is no game plan because practices are limited at the Lehman College Apex Center, Fordham Lomardi Gym and the Stuy Dome in Brooklyn.
But these are basketball players and they know the game
“I love the game, Love Willie the passion and commitment,” said Andre Martin. The 6 ft. guard at 26-years of age played college ball at FIT in Manhattan and is employed as a teacher for kids with special needs at a Bronx school. He is aware that the Lightning is that one last opportunity as time marches on.
There are so many opportunities that are limited in the game. The Lightning offers that chance and Martin has that philosophy to continue until the body says no more. Of course, Negron is there to assist players with his numerous contacts in the game that include scouts and personnel from professional leagues.
The overall goal is to keep this team running and keeping afloat so that more like Martin get that opportunity to continue.
Martin would score 20 points and Tyrone Mitchell, a 6-2 guard from Mount Vernon also scored 20. There was no game clock or dressing facilities and the guys ran the ball as the final and unofficial seconds clicked down before the Lightning came away with a tight 81-78 win.
During timeouts, Negron sat in a chair or kneeled down to provide some direction and no plays were devised. It was basketball and his players enjoyed their time on the court and all got playing time.
“Never stop living the dream,” said Anthony Baker a point guard from the Bronx. And for Willie Negron and the New York Lightning that puts it all in perspective about continuing a quest no matter how long or difficult the task.
After those final seconds clicked off the clock there was no time to celebrate. Without a proper home court setting they quickly took away the chairs at court side and dimmed the lights. It was time to go home as Negron discussed the outcome with some of his players and digested a bad call that almost cost his team.
The players scattered to their homes in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and most by mass transit.
“It’s all about the effort and a good cause,” said Negron. The next home game for the New York Lightning is set but the venue is not. That final bolt for Negron is hopefully nearing in and for the moment the legacy continues for his brother and the dream goes on for his players.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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