* The nickname “Mr. Excitement” really fits Bong Alvarez well, because when you watch him play, especially in his early years in the PBA, he really does generate a lot of excitement.
* Not a lot of people thought Bong would do as well in the PBA, one reason he wasn’t the top draft pick when he came into the league. I remember, it was only Jerry Codinera who bravely (& rightly) predicted that Alvarez would be BIG in the PBA. It turns out, that the PBA’s No-Zone rule was perfect for Alvarez’s natural athletic skills. He was fast, quick, & (the main reason for his phenomenal success), had at AT LEAST a 36″ vertical leaping ability.
* That tremendous vertical leaping ability resulted in Alvarez becoming one of the very few PBA players to average more than 20 ppg on his rookie year, averaging 23 ppg in his very first year in the PBA. He was just as prolific in his sophomore year, again averaging 23 ppg.
* My most vivid memory of Alvarez was him on the left side of the basket, being guarded by a tall import. He went straight up to the air, w/ the import right beside him trying to block his shot. What he did, was to bring the ball down to his waist, then bring it up again for a shot to the basket. All that while he was in the air. W/ an import beside him. And he made the shot.
* Another vivid memory about Bong, was how easily he dunks the ball. It seemed it didn’t take him a lot of effort in doing so: ‘Konting talon lang, nasa ere na siya,’ dunking the ball w/ one hand. And he didn’t just dunk the ball, he did it gracefully. Its as if he was in slow motion going up to the air. Bong didn’t spring up for a jump: He levitated. It almost seemed that he was wearing anti-gravity shoes, & just rose up in the air. Just watch the old games, & you’ll know what I mean.
* The end of the slow, graceful dunks came I think sometime near the end of his 2nd season in the league. If I remember it right, it was a championship game, and he had just come down from a rebound, landing on his feet, then fell to his back. It turns out, that he had torn the Achilles Tendon on both of his legs. It took awhile for Alvarez to recover, & when when he came back, it was not the Mr. Excitement we knew before. The quickness & speed was still there ….. but not the leaping ability. He could still dunk, yes, but not as effortlessly as he did before. His numbers after that injury never really reached the same levels as in his first 2 seasons in the league.
* Thank you, Mr. Excitement, for all the graceful-dunk highlight reels, which was at least 2 seasons worth.
(Thanks for Anthony Servino for the ppg stats)
Next up: Remembering The Tower of Power