HankABOUT FRANKLIN (2005-10): A true center is a rarity: he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so fantastic as a pure center, and no scales can measure his excellence. Russell. Shaq. Kareem. Franklin.  Pure centers. True big men. The mighty giants of basketball have a way of growing even larger as legends when their playing days are long past.

The world of pickup basketball is full of gunners and ballhogs; finding a real center who lives to play in the paint is a breath of fresh air. Franklin, aka “Hank”, aka “Blanklin”, aka “Wahlrus”, was as true of a center as ever may be found on an asphalt court. He was a mountain of a man, who played for blocks, rebounds and glory. “Hanklin” joined Lunchsketball in 2005, a raw player, built like a draught horse, and with God-given basketball talents that were a match for a draught horse as well. Finesse was never a priority for the Wahlrus, but over the course of his five year career with Lunchsketball, Franklin experienced a metamorphosis into a high-impact player. When he was in the game, the court seemed to actually decrease in size; there was less room to shoot on the baseline, and less space to dribble in the lane.

NAME: Franklin, aka “Blanklin”, aka “Tina”, aka “The Wall”, aka “Meathead”, aka “Optimus Prime”, aka “Franklinstein”, aka “Hank”, aka “Hanklin”, aka “Wahlrus”
BALL HANDLING: Not a dribbler. Thought the term “Ball Handling” was funny
MUSIC: 90’s grunge rock and Beatles
BEST SHIRTS FOR LUNCHSKETBALL: “Faux Paw” shirt, with image of wooden legged dog, or dinosaur shirt with words “Never Forget”

He was not shy about committing a foul. If you came into the lane, Franklin would take a swing at you, no questions asked. He didn’t aim for the grandeur of a clean, high-flying shot-rejection; no, he was just trying to hit the guy running past him, and he made no apologies. There is a certain noble sincerity in that; even if you got clothes-lined, you at least had the satisfaction afterward of knowing it was meant to be a clothesline all along. It is nice to know where you stand with somebody.

There hasn’t been a player like Franklin since. Lunchsketball will never forget.

6 thoughts on “Franklin

  1. Awwesomme post about Franklin…you forgot to mention the “Liger” shirt though……..and even though he is NOT as big as Franklin……Kracker has taken over Franklin’s propensity to “clothesline” people coming his way…….especially the shorter players! The sultan of swing is now Kracker, the meathook, the happy hooker, the fly swatter, the penitent, the flogger, the goon, like the fighting carpenter of ventura….no one is safe in his “zone”! he has done franklin pround in ONLY that respect…..

  2. Benjamin Button, which I realize now is accurate, because if one gets younger one also gets less experienced, i.e., suckier, at sports says:

    I never played against Franklin, but I had tears in my eyes reading this heartfelt tribute. The lunchsketball scribe as the eye of a reporter and the heart of a poet.

    1. One of the highlights of re-visiting SD has always been playing “America’s finest pickup basketball…”. Looks like we’ll be out there for my cousin-in-law’s wedding mid-February 2014. Wife already pre-approved a game. I’ll follow up when I can nail down some more specific dates. Great post George. Wish I still had my Liger shirt but Scooter made me burn it. I’ll have to find a suitable replacement.

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