Arpith Siromoney đź’¬

Billy Ray Bates in the Philippines

There was no way to overstate Filipinos’ passion for hoops. Over the years I heard hundreds of stories about the Philippine game. One of them was about a player I’d already read about, Billy Ray Bates. An ex-NBA player whose talent on the basketball court made him seem like his sport’s answer to Roy Hobbs and whose habits off the court made him seem like the 20th century’s answer to Caligula, Bates’s pro career in the States sputtered, and he landed in Manila as an American import on local rosters. The people who saw him play have never forgotten a man they nicknamed the Black Superman. Nor have those who ever saw him drink.