View Full Version : The Billy Ray "The Black Superman" Bates Thread

07-03-2010, 03:25 PM
The legendary "Black Superman" deserves his own thread, as news about him keep coming out every now and then.

Now, a book by BRB? I'd love to get that one.



New leaf for Bates

By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated July 03, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW JERSEY – Leaving behind a stormy past living on the fast lane, former PBA import and NBA veteran Billy Ray Bates said yesterday he’s ready to embark on a new mission as a role model for the youth.

“I’ve learned from my mistakes,” said Bates, now 54. “I don’t want to dwell on the past. I’m moving on and dedicating the rest of my life to doing positive things. I want to reach out to kids, to get them out of the streets through sports, to tell them to get it right the first time before it’s too late. It’s all about being healthy, doing good things for your mom and dad. I want to tell them it’s not cool to do drugs and alcohol.”

Bates was a cult figure during his prime with the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 26.7 points in a pair of three-game playoff series in 1980 and 1981. He was a high-flying dunk artist who shattered at least four backboards in the Continental league before jumping to the NBA. But it was in the PBA where Bates emerged as a hoop icon, gaining the nickname “The Black Superman.”

Bates was the epitome of the hardcourt hero, playing for Crispa and the Barangay Ginebra franchise in four PBA seasons, averaging a whopping 46.2 points in 98 total games. An addiction to cocaine and alcohol led to a tumultuous downturn in his life, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence for robbing a gasoline station at knifepoint and slashing the ear of an attendant to steal just $5 in 1998.

Today, Bates said he’s clean and on the right track.

“I’ve had a rough life but thank God, I’m still alive and surviving,” said Bates who works the graveyard shift from 6 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. as a floor technician at the Colgate recycling company here. “I’m focused on God and my family. I’m doing everything I can to be the best I can be the rest of my life.”

Bates said he’s in the process of joining the NBA retired players association.

“There’s an initiation fee of $275 and every quarter, you pay $150 for membership,” said Bates. “In return, you become involved with the NBA. You get four tickets to the All-Star Game and participate in special events, like golf tournaments, with retired players. I remember when I first played golf, I hit over 250 yards. But when I started to hit the bunkers, I realized it’s not an easy sport.”

Bates came with his wife Beverly, a front desk officer at a local Hilton hotel, for The Star interview at the Menlo Park Mall here. He showed up with a bag of mementos from his PBA days, including newspaper clippings and magazine articles.

“I can’t thank Beverly enough,” said Bates. “She’s been with me through thick and thin for 22 years. I call her my tough cookie. She has two kids – Yamnisse who’s now 31 and Markesha who’s 36. I have one daughter of my own, Jennifer, who’s 24. Jennifer lives in Switzerland where I played for two years after the PBA and I’m trying to get her over to the US.”

Bates said he has played all over the world – in Italy, France, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, the NBA, the World Basketball League, the Continental league and the USBL but his best tour of duty was in the PBA.

“Filipino fans are the best in the world,” said Bates. “They’re loyal fans. I love them to death. They make me feel appreciated, respected and remembered. Even in the US, my biggest fans are Filipinos.”

Bates said last year, he joined nine Filipinos, including former Crispa star Abet Guidaben (who now lives here), in a van for an 18-hour drive to play with the PBA Legends in an exhibition game in Memphis.

“It was a fun game,” recalled Bates. “Bobby Parks and his son Ray Ray played. I think I scored a point a minute and finished with something like 36 or 38 points. The Filipino community welcomed us with open arms. At our get-together dinner, our hosts served two lechons. Filipino fans treated us like royalty. That’s why I love Filipinos. They love me and I love them back.”

A few weeks ago, Bates saw action in another PBA Legends game organized by Abe King in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“I played as a guest with a local team and one of my teammates was former PBA player Etok Lobo,” said Bates. “The game was sponsored by the Phil-Am Postal Athletic Association of Chicago. We played against a PBA Legends team made up of Abe, Manny Victorino, Topex Robinson, Yoyoy Villamin, Ricky Relosa, Django Rivera, Tim Coloso, Pongky Alolor, Elmer Lago, Abet and my pastor Eddie Boy Mendoza who has turned my life around. I scored 19 points, including a basket on a dunk, and we lost by three or four in an exciting, competitive game.”

Bates said he keeps in close touch with former PBA players in the US.

“Abet lives in New Jersey and we’ve been in contact for three years now,” said Bates. “Eddie Boy is in Queens and he’s a pastor. Yoyoy is also in New York. Abe King is a great leader with the PBA Legends Foundation and two guys who play a big role in promoting former PBA players are Rufino Ignacio and Roland Abilo – they make things happen.”

Bates said he has written a 245-page manuscript for an autobiography tentatively entitled “Born To Play Basketball” and is looking for an editor to polish the text. He was set to meet “Pacific Rims” author Rafe Bartholomew here yesterday.

“I’ve got a publisher Michele Mako of the Florida Peach book house,” said Bates. “My book is about my life and sports. I’m hoping to launch it in August. I wrote it myself, no ghost writer was involved. I did it on my own. It took me over two years to finish writing the book which by the way, sets the record on a lot of things about my family. I talk about my mother’s brother who was seven feet tall in Mississippi. After the book is published, I want to do another one I’m calling “The Making of the Black Superman” and it will be dedicated to my Filipino fans.”

07-03-2010, 04:27 PM
To say he was the greatest import that graced our hallowed courts would be an understatement. To put together in one sentence the words exciting, sensational, spectacular, dominating, unstoppable, genius in describing his game will not be enough.

Maraming high lights dumadaan sa isip ko ngayon, pero what I remember most about him is his integrity oncourt.

Walang larong patapon sa kanya. Each game was there to win.

With Crispa and then the La Tondeńa franchise, towards the end of every elimination phase when games would be no bearing for his team, he played with the same intensity and caliber. Pag bumwelo na siya, pag umangat at lumipad, di mo iisipin na walang katuturan yung panalong ililista para sa koponan niya. Akala mo bawat laro ay sudden death play off sa tindi ng mga ginagawa niya.

This times when the word "petik" is frequently labeled on our very own PBA players; then, there was one foreign player who gave all and all in every game.

Too bad, the PBA doesn't have an archive of their games from those years. The few videos of Billy Ray I saw on Youtube are not enough to fully demonstrate the brand of basketball he plays.

Pero di kumukupas ang alaala at sarap pa ring balikan...

07-04-2010, 06:12 PM
I hope the book will reach the Philippine market once its already available.
Nice article from Quinito Henson.

Nakaka miss si Billy Ray Bates.
God Bless him and his family.

Sam Miguel
07-05-2010, 12:46 PM
Two images of The Black Superman will always be with me:

1) His favorite cradle-to-tomahawk dunk. Some guys do a cradle. Some guys do a tomahawk. He was the only one I ever saw who cradled the ball before tomahawking it.

2) His patented off-the-glass freethrow. At first I thought it was just a funky release. But that really was how he shot his freethrows, more unique than the underhand technique of Rick Barry.

09-18-2010, 10:55 PM
Bates is the most exciting import ever to graced the PBA scene, I remember the first time he failed to lead his team to the championship, which is Ginebra in 1987, he tried as hard as he could, averaging 54.9 points per game but the team was saddled with player injuries.