Legends of the basketball-playing ability of eccentric rock star Prince have been floating around for years, but now a reporter at Prince’s hometown newspaper, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, has unearthed some hard evidence that the legends may well be true — along with an amazing photo of Prince at Bryant Junior High School in his basketball uniform.
Libor Jany, a crime reporter for the Star-Tribune — or the “Strib” as it is known in Minnesota — dug up the incredible photo of Prince Rogers Nelson at what is most likely age 14, or sometime around 1972.
Another Prince-related clip from the Strib archives, looking back at his hooping days at Bryant Junior High. pic.twitter.com/LrIQZ3LhSg
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
As to be expected of any photo that surfaces from the 1970s, the reaction from fans in 2015 was not only astonishment but delight, mainly at the hairstyle sported by the confident-seeming young hoopster.
Prince has recently reverted to a full “Afro” hairstyle at the age of 56, but at this point, that hairstyle on Prince seems more like a calculated attempt at making a fashion statement, especially coming from a star known for his self-consciously “outrageous” sartorial displays.
But in 1972 (or thereabouts), the teenage Prince was most likely wearing the hairstyle because that’s the hairstyle worn by many young African-American kids. A closer inspection of the photo reveals that Prince doesn’t even have the biggest “Afro” of the bunch.
That would seem to belong to the player in the No. 12 jersey at right.
Not only did Prince play on the Bryant Junior High team, he was good enough to be a starting player and the only obstacle holding him from that goal was his height. Even as a grown adult, Prince stands only 5’2″ tall.
“I knew he wanted to be starting and felt he should be starting,” Prince’s junior high basketball coach Richard Robinson told the Strib. “He was unhappy and he expressed that many, many times.”
According to the Star-Tribune story, while Prince, of course, became wealthy and famous as a result of his success in music, Prince was not exactly a music geek or “artsy” kid at that young age.
“He mostly hung around with the jocks… He played football, basketball and baseball and, in ninth grade, he even coached a basketball team at church.”
Robinson described the young Prince as “an excellent player… He was an excellent ball handler, a good shooter and very short.”
One only wonders if Prince had been taller, would he have opted for a basketball career and kept music as a hobby, depriving the world of such classics as “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” “Raspberry Beret,” and dozens more memorable songs.
[Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images]