yohji yamamoto adidas Lincoln’s Tiny Morton’s ready for his next act
World Politics Entertainment Gossip Movies TV Music Theater Arts Crosswords Entertainment Pics Horoscopes Daily Weekly Monthly Lifestyle Health Food Viva Games Opinion Autos Buyer’s Guide Ratings Reviews News Views Photos Galleries Covers Classifieds Trending: North Korea Stormy Daniels Ruthie Ann Miles RUSSIA GUN CONTROL
Select Sport Football Basketball Baseball Hockey Soccer Golf College More Sports Yankees Mets Giants Jets Knicks Nets Rangers Islanders I’d Click That Odds Share This facebook email
Sitting at his desk on a recent morning in Coney Island, Dwayne (Tiny) Morton looks upset. His students are misbehaving. Some are talking out of turn. Some are passing notes.
Looking up from a pile of papers, flanked by a picture of Garfield the Cat that hangs on a nearby wall, the man known for his obscenity laced tirades on the basketball court does something that might seem out of character.
He slaps a tiny silver bell.
“You kids are too much into your commercial breaks,” Morton says. His students sit up in rapt silence, watching to see what their teacher will do next.
Morton says that dealing with seventh graders in his math class at the Shirley Tanyhill School, where he has taught for 14 years, gives him an advantage on the court.
“As a middle school teacher, I understand the upbringing of kids,” he adds. “You have to understand what you’re dealing with before you deal with the kids who are in high school.”
Getting an early look at the youngsters of Coney Island may give Morton another, more measurable edge.
Lance Stephenson, a former star at Lincoln, attended this Pre K to eighth grade school, and Morton notes that another rising eighth grade star, Isaiah Whitehead, is a student there now. Whitehead happens to play for the Juice All Stars, Morton’s AAU team, and is rumored to be going to Lincoln next year.
“They both have come through here,” Morton says with a grin.
To his critics, Morton, 39, is a ruthless recruiter of talent, a man who exploits kids for financial gain while stretching the rules of the PSAL. In his 14 years at Lincoln, he has won seven PSAL titles including an unprecedented four in a row and three state titles. He sent one player, Sebastian Telfair, directly to the NBA and became one of the few coaches to secure a lucrative deal as a consultant to a shoe company.
But spend several days with Morton watch him in action, at his job and on the court, and talk to his family, his critics and rivals and a more nuanced portrait emerges.
The demystified Morton is a cold blooded competitor, to be sure, a coach who believes that recruiting is acceptable. But he’s also a caring father and teacher, a man who spent a chunk of his early childhood in foster care, rose from humble beginnings and positioned himself to play a starring role in the city’s notoriously cutthroat grassroots basketball scene. He says he hopes to one day coach at a college or in the NBA.
“For him to be where he is and accomplish what he’s accomplished, to have a degree, a Master’s degree, to be a math teacher, it’s a success story,” says New Heights athletic director Kimani Young, who roomed with Morton at LIU. “Whether he bent the rules to
get it done, circumvented certain things, that’s debatable.”
That, of course, is the biggest issue one must reconcile when it comes to evaluating Morton. It’s fairly easy to find his detractors, those who maintain that Morton has cheated his way to the top.
“Is Tiny 100% legal?” asks one person who is close to the Brooklyn basketball scene. “No, he’s not totally legit, and you know that.”
It’s not hard to see why so many have harbored suspicions. Every time he seems to be nearing the end of the line, Morton finds a way to extend his success.
This fall, he has imported a fresh set of faces to help replace the four starters who graduated in June. He has secured a new sponsorship deal to replace the one that expired earlier this year with Adidas. In a season in which the PSAL field seems more level than it’s been in a while, it’s hard to find many who doubt that Lincoln will still be there in the end.