La Salle shot heard around the world came from 58th Street playground

That's how it's done: Isaac Breese, 16, demonstrates the "Southwest Philly Floater" at Myers Recreation Center on Monday. La Salle's Tyrone Garland says he perfected the shot at Myers.
That's how it's done: Isaac Breese, 16, demonstrates the "Southwest Philly Floater" at Myers Recreation Center on Monday. La Salle's Tyrone Garland says he perfected the shot at Myers. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 27, 2013

If you want to play basketball in this Philly neighborhood, Bernard Tyler told his cousin Tyrone Garland, then you'd better learn the floater. The shot would be the perfect complement to Garland's pull-up jumper, Tyler said, and it accentuated his vertical leap.

Together on the courts of Myers Recreation Center, Tyler and Garland tirelessly perfected the shot that propelled La Salle into the Sweet 16.

The 6-foot-1 Garland put it past Mississippi's 6-9 Reginald Buckner to seal the Explorers' 76-74 NCAA tournament win on Sunday, and it went viral.

The "Southwest Philly Floater," Garland coined it after thanking Tyler in a postgame television interview. The term trended worldwide on Twitter, shirts popped up online, and television shows kept the highlight on a replay loop.

"We've been calling it that since forever," Tyler said, "and all of a sudden Tyrone says it and it's the biggest thing since sliced bread."

Monday's rain chased away any players from the Myers rec center's green and orange outdoor courts at 58th Street and Chester Avenue. Three of the four rims were without nets, waiting to be dressed for the summer.

Garland scored his first basket there when he was 5 years old. It's just a three-minute walk from the rowhouse where he grew up.

Before Sunday's game, Garland and Tyler spoke on the phone and Tyler warned his cousin of Mississippi's size down low.

"He told me to try my pull-up jumper, but if that's not working hit them with the 'Southwest,' " Garland said.

"It's a guard's shot, it's a little guy's shot," said Tyler, 30. "It seems like everyone in Southwest Philly shot that floater."

James Brown, who coached Garland at Bartram High, said he saw Garland's floater "many a time."

Kamal Yard, Garland's AAU coach, remembered Garland taking that shot repeatedly.

"Literally, a million [times]," he said with a laugh.

Garland played AAU ball alongside Temple's Scootie Randall and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, and Yard said Garland was "as resilient as they come."

The key to the floater, Yard said, is Garland's ability to force the taller defender to commit before Garland jumps and uses his long arms to release the shot without being blocked.

"Tyrone bleeds Southwest Philly," Yard said. "He's really proud of where he's from, he's really proud of his neighborhood."

Sonny Hill, who watched Garland play last summer in Hill's Hank Gathers College League, said Garland's shot allows him to have two options when attacking the basket: to go strong to the hoop or fade back with the floater.

A basketball historian, Hill said Sunday night was the first time he heard the term Southwest Philly Floater.

"It's a term that you come up with when you're playing against your friends," Hill said. "It reminds me of something we would say in the schoolyard."

After the win, Garland said the shot was something he learned at the playground. Wherever Garland went, the floater traveled with him. From North Philadelphia's Chosen League to West Philadelphia's Pit, Garland continued to master the shot.

"It's just beautiful to see him do that on a national level," Brown said. "I was telling one of my coaches that people are just getting a chance to see what we saw for four years."


Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.

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