Love & Basketball, & Cliff Hodge Any day of the school week I’m walking down Fort Street Mall and I see a boy who’s extremely tall. His 6’ 5” stature compared to my 4’ 11” stature seems almost unreal; he’s like a giant to me. He’s either wearing a wife beater or a shirt, shorts, and more times than not, some kind of colorful hat that makes him stand out; as if his height doesn’t already do that for him. Speaking of height, his leads me to believe that he’s a basketball player – and if it leads you to believe the same thing, you’re absolutely right. Now you know he’s a basketball player, but who is he? He is Clifford Hodge (or Cliff for short). A transfer from Lemoore, California’s Reedley College, Cliff begins his second season playing for Hawai`i Pacific University. He is a starter in the power forward position wearing jersey number 42. So he’s a starter and a power forward . . . and what? That doesn’t tell you much about who Cliff is, I know. But it wouldn’t be in this article if it were something you didn’t need to know. When I start interviewing athletes who have been playing for a while (Cliff’s been playing for six plus years), I begin to wonder why they got into their specific sport. And when I asked Cliff why he started to ball I was taken aback by his response. He said, “Well, growing up in Chicago I was singled out because I was Asian and everyone else in the school was either Mexican or Black. The only way I would get respect or popularity in school would be to join a sports team. So I chose basketball.” I don’t know how to respond to that, I don’t know what to say. His answer resounds in my head. In all my years, believe it or not, I’ve never known anyone who has had to face an adversity like that; so I have to give him a lot of credit for that. Come to think of it, I have to give him credit for a lot of things! This season, for example, Cliff has already hurt his wrist as well as his ankle. I honestly, don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more bruised then his ankle, but injuries like that are minor to him -‐ he won’t
let them get in his way, he won’t let it stop him from doing what he loves; at least that’s the way it seems. Aside from that, I also give him credit for being manly enough to admit that his favorite movie is The Notebook (but his other favorite is Love and Basketball – hence the title of this article). No guy I know (well, besides Cliff now) would even admit to liking that movie. And it doesn’t stop there either. He says that his favorite music to listen to are the slow jams. I bet I know what you’re thinking. Cliff’s not the “typical guy”. That’s what I thought when I first got to know him. He’s a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean a lot different from most men out there. It’s kind of hard for me to put into words what Cliff is like. I believe that his personality is something you have to experience and get to know yourself. So my suggestion to you . . . if you ever get the chance, get to know him. He says, “I’m kinda shy at first, but it’s real quick ‘till you get to know me.” You might have to be the one to introduce yourself, but trust me; it’s definitely worth it. He’s an amazing guy with an amazing talent in a sport everyone’s got to love. The season has just begun, so there’s still plenty of time for you to get out and watch one of his games. I’ve been to two of their four games this season and from what I’ve seen – Cliff’s definitely got game. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. One day I walked into class and my friend and I started talking about the game we had attended the night before when my friend said, “I really wanted to watch 42 play. I was watching him at Hoopla and that guy’s a beast! I can’t wait to watch him! His dunks were crazy. He’s good isn’t he?” “He’s good isn’t he?” You already know what I think, so now it’s your turn to be the judge (speaking of judge, Cliff’s majoring in Justice Administration) and answer that question for yourself.