Tyrone Grant may not be allowed back in Brooklyn for a while, and the former Grady and St. John’s basketball star is all right with that.
Grant, who is in his second season as an assistant coach at Wings Academy, has made sure all of his friends from the basketball-rich County of Kings are hearing from him after the Bronx school won its first-ever Public School Athletic League Class AA boys’ hoops crown.
“I’m actually kind of barred from Brooklyn right,” Grant joked. “I was talking smack on Facebook just to piss everybody off.”
Grant has been flying high since Wings took down Cardozo 50–46 in the city title game on March 14 at Madison Square Garden. Grant had already been a winner at every level of basketball except for high school. He took home a travel ball national title with Riverside Church, reached the Big East tournament final at St. John’s, and claimed three professional championships overseas in Italy. But the best he ever did at Grady was consecutive semifinal losses to close out his career.
“I won except for high school,” Grant said. “Now I added this to my resume. I’m sky-high right now.”
The 38-year-old Grant got into coaching by chance after a long hoops career. Wings coach Billy Turnage asked Grant to come down and speak with the team two years ago. Grant hasn’t left the program since.
“I wanted to experience it, just to see how it was,” said Grant, who has turned down college coaching jobs. “It’s very gratifying to deal with these athletes.”
He isn’t with the Wings all the time, because he flies back and forth from his home in Milan, Italy, every few weeks. Grant will still watch practices streaming on his iPad or have videos sent to him. That dedication, his insight and his position as a role model have been important to the Wings players’ success this season, according to Turnage.
“I try to get guys who have done it at a high level, who have been where these guys are aiming to be,” Turnage said.
Grant’s responsibilities at practice center around working with the team’s big men, and that means Georgetown-bound center Jessie Govan. The 6-foot-10 post was complementary of the work Grant has done with him. The former pro taught Govan about being patient, and adapting to the defense instead of forcing the issue.
“He played at the highest levels of basketball, and to have somebody to teach you the tricks to the game, keys to the game, ways to get easy scores, has been a great help,” Govan said.
Grant and Wings head to the state Federation tournament this weekend to face Shenendehowa 9 pm Friday in the state semifinal at UAlbany. Win or lose, Grant is fine if he isn’t greeted as nicely in Brooklyn when he gets back.
“He loves it,” Turnage said. “He’s a Brooklyn guy. He has been talking so much smack to the Brooklyn guys. We have a running joke that they are going to revoke his Brooklyn pass.”