"The number one question people always ask me: what was it like comin' out of high school? Second question: whatever happened to Ronnie Fields?"
- Kevin Garnett
Ronnie Fields was a Chicago basketball legend in the mid 90s... as a high schooler at Farragut on the city's south side. To give a modern day analogy: think Derrick Rose at Simeon kind of hype... multiplied. And for good reason. After all, future hall-of-famer Kevin Garnett still gets asked about his Farragut teammate to this day.
Fields and KG were the talk of Chicago basketball in 1994-95, stealing the spotlight from the three peat of the Bulls as Michael Jordan was in Birmingham taking his swing at baseball. Garnett moved from his hometown in South Carolina to Chicago to play against tougher ball players, and play with Ronnie Fields. If that doesn't speak volumes to Ronnie Fields, how about this: Fields jumped over defenders for a dunk before Vince Carter famously did the same on the Olympic stage. Watch that incredible highlight, and first get acclimated with Bounce Back in the trailer below.
Bounce Back: The Story of Ronnie Fields [Full Trailer]
A Documentary by: Ryan Mayers & Thatcher Kamin (Taste Media Group)
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Bounce Back premiere and found out the answer to that question KG always gets asked: whatever happened to Ronnie Fields?
The documentary unfolds to that answer by first doing justice to how much Ronnie was revered in Chicago as a high school star. The highlights and interviews really show that Ronnie had all the makings of a future NBA star. An unfortunate car accident, however, left Ronnie with a broken neck at the end of his senior season and thus began his digression from the path to the NBA star everyone thought was a certainty.
As Fields was recovering, he couldn't get the grades up to be accepted at DePaul University and play D1 ball, and then he got caught in a sexual misconduct case; both events tarnished his reputation on top of the injury. But, as the title suggests, Fields bounced back. He played professionally in the CBA and overseas for over 10 years and became a charitable figure in those locations (often donating entire wardrobes to the needy) and a motivational speaker after retirement.
As Scoop Jackson so poignantly said in the documentary, the best thing that ever happened to Ronnie was not making the league. Ronnie himself agreed with that in the Q&A after the film. The way his path was illustrated in the film... it's just flat out inspiring to see how much good he's done for others and how he still made a career of doing what he loves.
A few more takeaways:
- An especially emotional and candid Kevin Garnett. KG doesn't do interviews, yet opened up about his former teammate Ronnie Fields, as personified in the trailer with his confusion that Ronnie never got a shot at the NBA. Producer Thatcher Kamin told me that their interview with Garnett could have been its own documentary. (Need an extended verson!)
- The documentary's soundtrack is entirely Gemstones, who is a fitting parallel to Ronnie Fields as he's bounced back and transformed himself as a person and throughout his music career. Gem performed an original track "Ronnie Fields" LIVE as the film was rolling its end credits.
- The documentary happened in the first place because of a successful Kickstarter campaign by the film's director and producer Ryan Mayers & Thatcher Kamin. Great to see the people behind this, as the money was used to officially use NBA and other footage that helped give the documentary its authentic feel.
- Meeting Ronnie and seeing his gracious personality first-hand. He stayed after the film for over an hour signing autographs and talking with friends, family, and fans.
- Chatting with Red Eye sports writer Jack Silverstein (whose interview with Fields is a great read) provided more insight on who Ronnie is with his experience. Jack also put in perspective more stories from the 90s, which, as talking with people after the film, I found out that everybody has a Ronnie Fields story if they saw him at Farragut. It's amazing to see the impact he has had on everyone in Chicago, and now, the whole world can feel that too with the new #BounceBack documentary.
A must-see for any basketball fan and even if you're not.
Carmelo Anthony is benched for one game costing him $176,000 of his $19.4M salary. Though Garnett may have started the altercation in the Celtics-Knicks game Monday, Anthony waited for Garnett outside the Celtic team's bus. Anthony, though claiming to only want to have a "talk" with Garnett, but Vice President of the NBA, Stu Jackson believes otherwise. Was Jackson out of line here?