“NYC Point Gods,” a Showtime documentary that premieres on July 29, is certain to make basketball people from other cities cringe with its unabashed pro-New York point of view on the history of point guards.
But New Yorkers being New Yorkers, no one else’s opinion really matters, does it?
“We don’t care about that, for sure,” Kenny Anderson said with a laugh in a recent interview with Newsday, his Queens accent still strong after all these years. “People get annoyed by it, but at one point in the '80s, it was all New York.”
Some of that had to do with Anderson, a high school prodigy at Archbishop Molloy who later starred at Georgia Tech and played in the NBA for nine teams over 14 seasons.
He is among the late 20th century guards featured in the film, along with Rod Strickland, Kenny Smith, Mark Jackson, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, Stephon Marbury, God Shammgod and Rafer “Skip to My Lou” Alston.
The documentary was produced by “Boardroom,” one of whose owners is Kevin Durant, who (for now) is a Net, the team that drafted Anderson No. 2 overall in 1991.
Anderson was an All-Star starter in 1994, but his pro career is not what landed him on Durant’s list.
It was more his storied play as a teenager, including four consecutive New York Newsday All-City selections — even though coach Jack Curran never allowed him to play in the first quarter as a freshman.
Adulthood has been a bumpy ride, with both personal and financial struggles along the way and a DUI bust that cost him a high school coaching job in Florida in 2013.
More recently, he suffered a stroke in 2019, shortly after his first season as coach at Fisk University, a historically Black school in Nashville.
Anderson recovered from the stroke and says he now eats healthy and regularly visits with doctors at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
“For me, I got it too early,” said Anderson, 51. “I was a superstar at 15 years old. So high school, college were my glory days, and some of my pro days. I did make the All-Star team in ’94.
“Basketball has been easy, but life has been difficult. And I've gotten that together now.”
He said he does not see his NBA career as a disappointment. “I look at it as on every level, I did it,” he said. “You can’t say anything to me about the game of basketball. I did it on every level, and that’s a blessing.”
In the documentary, he grows emotional talking about what his Molloy experience meant to him, from personal development to lifelong friendships he began.
“Growing up in New York, going to LeFrak City, Queens, where back then in the '80s it was kind of rough, drug-infested, I went to Molloy and that was my safe haven,” he said. “I went from 7:30 in the morning to like 9 at night.”
In his current role, Anderson tries to channel what he learned from Curran, who died in 2013.
“When he passed away, I thought about it,” Anderson said. “I said, man, I can just sit back and do nothing, but I wanted to give back. That’s why I'm coaching, to give back to the young men athletically, yes, but more of just life lessons.
“I can teach these guys because I went through it. We’re all going through it, but I went through it back when and I can give them some things they can work on to help them with their future.”
As for being a so-called “point god,” Anderson is pleased to be part of the legacy.
“I was so blessed and happy they were doing something not just with me, but all New York guards, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, for sure,' ” he said.
The film includes a trove of vintage video from the '80s and '90s to document it all, plus a wide range of interviews, including with college coaching stars of the era such as Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino.
While the film mostly is over the top in its lauding of New York guards, it does briefly address the elephant in the room: their decades-old reputation as poor shooters.
Was Anderson offended? “No, it was true,” he said. “We’re about ballhandling.” But he added there have been plenty of exceptions, including himself.
Anderson does not mind talking about his younger days. But that was a long time ago, and he is happy where he is today.
“It’s better, much better, now,” he said. “Some of my family members are gone. But I'm doing well. I have to take care of my health. Other than that, I see life differently now and it's a blessing that I do see it differently.
“I’m only 51, so I have a lot of life to live and I just want to live it the right way.”