I wanted to post a few comments from around the internet about Billy "the Kid" Harris who was voted "Best Playground Baller Ever" by Slam magazine in 1998.
"As a little boy in the early 70’s i was fortuante to meet Billy Harris through my father John Frencher, who was coaching a basketball team in a league at Washington Park on 55th and King Dr. in Chicago. We were the Dating Game and Billy played on the Feather Merchants. There were some other great Legends from Chicago that played in that league, like Hubbie Marshall, Tim Bryant, Lloyd Bates, Mario Brown, Steve King,Chilli Harris, just to name a few.The gym would be feeled to the top to see Billy go at it against these other greats. People would be coming straight from church and you would think you were at the Old Chgo Stadium waiting to see the NBA Championship. Dating Game was pretty stacked and would beat the Feather Merchants but Billy would always get at least 40 points or more no matter who would stick him. Billy would always be talking stuff but he always would back it up. People would bet on the games all of the time and you would think you were at the OTB. Billy would sit back after the game and have a few beers and continue to talk about his game no matter if they lost or won. He would always play with my brother and I every week and show us some of his moves. Billy would tell us his stories and we were so young we didn’t understand why he wasn’t in the NBA because he was better than any player we ever saw on TV. He told me how he was black-balled but he never gave up on showing his talents. He was like an uncle to my brother and me and I am just proud to be able to say I saw the legend do everything that he said he could do. RIP my Uncle and you will always be remembered."
"I knew Billy and was in the same class as his brother Jimmy at Dunbar when the Mighty Men were a Chicago powerhouse. Basketball did’t mean much until I saw that half court shot he had. His game was way ahead of his time. The whoop must have looked like a garbage can to him. My daughter loves basketball and I took her to the services so she could learn about the greatest player I ever saw and was blessed to know. God bless Billy and all his family, we all will miss him."
"I am a Robert Taylor Project homie.
I remember Billy Harris as a great high school player. I went to DuSable High and was on the frosh-soph team in 1969/70 when Billy came to play our varsity team at the Panther Paradise (the name for our high school gym). We went to Dunbar to play them also. After one game there we were talking on the back of the bus to one of our best varsity players Mitchell Mosley. Mitch described the shot that Billy made from Half Court: I was sticking Billy the best that he could then suddenly at half court Billy started to rise up so Mitch said I better jump up some, but Billy kept rising up and up and suddenly his feet was in my face and he looked at me and said GET DOWN!! and the ball went through all net…Mitch said that he jumped as high as he could and Billy’s feet was still in his face. that was enough to intimidate him for the rest of the game.. We all laughed because we new Billy was great and no could stop him. I am not sure but that was probably a 50 point game for him.
I really wish there was movie because there is great story that the world should see. Told but not sold."
"I grew up playing basketball on the 39th street the same courts Billy Harris played on. I had game and build up enough balls to ask Billy lets play one on one. He said I will spot you 22 points and the game is 24. I couldn’t score a basket cause he stayed talking shit and talked his way all the way to 24.I must say he is a legend and is the best player I’ve ever play against, with. I would never change my life growing up in Stateway Gardens because I wouldn’t never met the greatest hooper to lace em up.R.I.P. BILLY YOU WILL BE MISSED"
"I’M NOT A BROTHER, BUT I IDOLIZED “THE KID” I WAS AT NIU, AND SAW BILLY LIGHT UP NOT ONLY THE GYM, BUT THE CAMPUS. HE WOULD WALK THROUGH UNIVERSITY PLAZA [THE DORM] WITH AN AWESOME HAT, COCKED TO ONE SIDE. JIM BRADLEY WOULD BE AT HIS SIDE. I USED TO WATCH BILLY WORK OUT [ALONE] IN CHICK EVANS FIELD HOUSE. [OR WITH “BRAD” AS HE CALLED HIM. BILLY WOULD TALK TRASH, AND TALK TO HIMSELF, OCCASIONALLY GIVING THE WHITE BOY A GLANCE. HE WAS SO COOL AND SMOOTH…AND HANDSOME AS HELL. HE COULD JUMP OUT OF THE GYM!HE WAS “AIR” BEFORE MICHAEL. I FOLLOWED HIS CAREER. AT NIU IN THOSE DAYS, THERE WAS A LOT OF RACIAL TENSION, BUT I ENJOYED PLAYIBG BALL WITH THE BROTHERS IN THE FIELD HOUSE. IT WAS A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE. I MADE SOME GOOD FRIENDS WITH THE BROTHERS.I HEARD LATER, THAT DICK MOTTA CUT BILLY AND I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. THERE WAS SO MUCH ELECTRICITY IN THE AIR WITH THAT NIU TEAM..BEATING INDIANA ETC..AND BILLY AND BRADLEY WERE THE CENTER OF IT. I REMEMBER BOSTON COACH, TOM HEINSOHN AT THE NIU FIELD HOUSE, SCOUTING BILLY. THAT TEAM PUT NIU ON THE MAP, AND BILLY THE KID HARRIS WAS THE MAN..I EVEN MADE MY OWN “KID” JERSEY JR. YEAR, WITH HIS # 12 ON THE BACK. WHAT MEMORIES..MAY HE REST IN PEACE
MY CONDOLENCES TO HIS ENTIRE FAMILY"
"I was at that game back in 1969. I’ll never forget it. As a matter of fact, a group of us Dunbar-ites actually took a jitney and walked from King Drive to DuSable High School to watch that famous game that Billy played. Nobody in their right mind would dare walk through “DuSable hood” and into their gym — but we did, because we loved and supported Dunbar and Billy. The moment that I will always remember was how he hushed the crowd with what we now call the “3-pointer”. And he shot them all day! I believe he scored 50 points that day. Billy was so awesome that he would actually intentionally step behind the half-count line and shoot. Thanks for the memories, Billy. May God Bless and Keep You."
"I met Billy when I was a kid 12 years old at Abe sapersteins camp in Lake Forest >He took an interest in me I am 48 years old living in Miami Florida and throuhout my basketball career and life I have never forgotten how niece he treated me as a kid rip Billy"
"I had the honor of seeing "The Kid" play every home game of his college career at NIU and several road games as well. My father Tom was his coach. He was an incredible talent. Range of 30+ or throw down in your face (dunking was illegal in college then for you youngsters). Think Dell Curry jumper (with 18 more inches off the ground) and Nate Robinson explosion on the dunk (but taller). Things were a tad different back in 1971. The NBA was nervous about players like Billy because they were revolutionary. His teammate, Jim Bradley, had no NBA success, though Dan Issel, his Kentucky Colonel teammate, said his talent was equal to Julius Erving or David Thompson. So i will quote Scoop himself here, "Their contributions never fully appreciated, legacy never fully documented, story never fully told. "It's life as an afterthought. But for those who know ... they know. And they know for life." Thanks Scoop and RIP Billy."
"I had the privlige 2 see Billy 'practice' & play as a student & former athlete at Dunbar.Some of the things that he did in practice that people did'nt see were unbelievable!!!!!!!!!R.I.P."
"I went to Dunbar H.S. with Willie and Billy, while I played football I watched both Harris brothers play basketball.Michael Jordan should consider Billy Harris as his "idol" that is how good of a basketball player he was. Rest in peace."
"I can remember everyone
saying, "Who is this Kid name Billy, Who is this Billy Guy",
It was a Lot of Talk about Him, He was the Talk,
When the Game was over, Everyone knew who Billy "The Kid"
Harris was. He Shot 57 pts From the Double Green line.
I never seen anyone ever did that in a Game. And I still
say, "I never seen anyone to yet still do what he did,
High school or Pro".
The Pro's Missed a Great One, The professional Game was not ready for Billy.
"My Man" the KID for all Real Ballplayers, You got my Prop's."
"We found that the stories were true as he talked a little trash while dropping that one-handed release jump-shot from long distance. It was always a treat to watch him in the Dr. King Boys Club summer league, and also at Chicago State. He put on a show like non-other. Billy had athleticism as well as the long range shooting skills. He could put it on the floor and throw it down with the best of them."
"For those of us who played in the Chicago Public League in the late 60s, Billy was a giant. I had the privilege of getting to play against him and get to know him a bit because,as you know, my HS coach at Harlan (Lee Umbles) and Billy's HS coach (Jim Foreman) were good friends. As a result, Mr. Umbles would often take us to Dunbar in the summers to scrimmage against Dunbar's teams. Billy's skills, particularly his long-range shooting and "hops" were off-the-charts. Also, off-the-charts, was his engaging personality, or what if referred to today as "swagger". He had it more than any other player of our time. My memories of playing against him, watching him play at Dunbar, Northern Illinois and in the Summer Leagues at the Martin Luther King Boys Club and Chicago State, are everlasting."
"I left Dunbar in 1966, the next thing I hear in 1969 is about this kid at Dunbar who is 6' 2'' scoring 30 points a game and I said to myself, "You got to be kidding. It's the little kid who we never took with us." Some of us from that era realize that the reason he never played pro-ball was because at that time a lot of players, especially Black players from Chicago, were blackballed, and he happened to be one of them. Rest in Peace Billy."
"Billy the greatest basketball player from Chicago. I learned so much from you. I incorporated some of your style of play at the small and power forward position. I remember the times when we would visit each other when you were at NIU and I at Aurora college. I also remember when you were at the Bull's training camp and I was practicing with you and the team though I was still in school. I know the real reason why you did not make the team. I enjoyed playing with you and against you. Thank you for showing and teaching me how to play this wonderful game of basketball. RIP love you always"
"His quickness, elevation, and accuracy of his jump shot was phenomenal. He would make three or four of those long range jumpers in a row and you could see it take the heart out of an opponent. When you played against Billy you knew it was going to be extremely competitive and verbal; and he hated losing. I had great respect and admiration for his game and his competitive spirit. There have been many great players to come out of Chicago. Billy “The Kid” Harris was at the top of the list and he will surely be missed by us all. Billy, thanks for the memories."