Did you know that on March 22, 1986, the great Michael Jordan failed to break double digits against the Cleveland Cavaliers, finishing the game with an unimpressive 8 points? It was the only time in 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls that Jordan made so few baskets. But, as the saying goes, "It happens to the best of them." And just as you can Google that little factoid on Jordan, so will someone, someday, Google Aug. 25, 2013 -- Nyjah Huston's off night at the Street League Super Crown Championships, when Chris Cole bested Huston with $200,000 on the line.
The eight finalists competing at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. were Cole, Huston, Paul Rodriguez, Sean Malto, Torey Pudwill, Luan Oliveira, Mikey Taylor and Shane O'Neill. The anticipation of a close battle between Rodriguez, Huston and Cole was in the air, but many were hoping to see a surprise performance from one of the underdogs. Alas, it would not be their night.
The box scores say Huston narrowly lost by four-tenths of a point, but throughout the contest he never really looked like his typical, dominant self. Granted, he nailed his go-to tricks, like backside 270 noseblunts, and even spiced things up with big-flip front boards and kickflip frontside hurricanes, but he missed far more tricks than usual. Still, he managed to slide into second place ahead of Oliveira, who put up a strong front with a deep bag of technical and switch tricks. The Brazilian threw down nollie hardflip noseslides and switch 270 front boards with effortless style.
The level at which Malto was skating was undeniable. No one doubts his abilities, but there are times in Street League contests when he takes the safety run and plays the points strategy too closely. On Sunday night, though, Malto was on fire; it was obvious by his overcrooks nollieflip out in the Control section, followed by an attempted nollie overcrooks nollieflip out. Malto showed that he could turn up the heat when it counts, and for a brief moment I really thought he had a chance to take it all.
Then Zero Skateboards' Chris Cole dropped in, and as soon as his wheels hit the floor the rest of the competitors knew they were in his house. Cole was the only East Coast skater in the contest, hailing from Levittown, Pa., a short 58 miles from Newark. He made sure his wife, children and Reign Skate Shop friends and riders filled the stands.
Cole told me earlier how much effort and preparation he'd been putting into winning for the hometown crowd -- and he did not disappoint. He was nearly flawless all evening, making the hardest tricks -- like backside 270 noseblunts, front blunt kickflip out and switch backside noseblunts to fakie -- look easy. He also made difficult tricks, like backside tailslides to backside flip out on the quarterpipe, look like they were joke stunts done for his own amusement.
In the end, Rodriguez had the last chance to take Cole out. He needed only an 8.1 on his last attempt in the Impact section to go home $200,000 richer, and many thought he had it after his stellar night of switchstance wizardry, including switch kickflip front boards and switch backside flip lipslides. But it was apparent long before he started pushing toward the Hubba for his final switch backside tailslide attempt that it wasn't P-Rod's night. We weren't in his hometown of Los Angeles, and we weren't in the Niketown of Portland, Ore.
No, we were in Cole country, and there was no other way it was going to play out other than the local boy winning it for Levittown.
2013 Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championships