This idea has been in Tyrone Garland’s head since he graduated from La Salle. Not just a personal keepsake of his school’s most-memorable basketball moment of the last half-century, but a jersey to be manufactured, something Garland can put out there and make a couple of dollars.
“People already say to me, ‘I need that jersey,’ “ Garland says.
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Short of the Philly Special for the Eagles in the Super Bowl, name a local sports play that was as perfectly branded as the Southwest Philly Floater. There have been bigger plays. Put the Floater, the game-winning layup that elevated La Salle to the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16, as third-greatest Big 5 game-winner over the last 50 years. Kris Jenkins for the NCAA title in 2016 obviously stands No. 1, and Scottie Reynolds putting Villanova in the 2009 Final Four also rises above.
But those shots, as historic as they were, don’t have names that instantly take you there. (Although you could argue — and be right — that simply the name Kris Jenkins does the trick.)
Garland named his shot on national television, and now he’s looking to sell some jerseys that take you to that moment when the late Craig Sager had him on TV for an on-court interview after Garland drove for the game-winner against Mississippi.
“What do you call that shot you just made?” Sager asked.
“That’s the Southwest Philly Floater, man,” Garland said, then pointed to the camera. “Shout-out to my cousin Bern, shout-out to my mom. … All you all! Southwest!”
Garland, 27, has played professionally overseas in Iceland and this past season in Kosovo. The Floater follows him everywhere.
“This year, playing overseas, I was trying to get them made over there,” Garland said recently of the jersey idea.
He’s put various designs on social media, and while he uses La Salle’s colors, his Southwest Philly Floater jersey isn’t a La Salle jersey. It’s a Garland jersey.
He’s been brainstorming this with people for a while and has come up with various designs. The current design, showing Garland rising, his right arm extending through the O in Southwest, the basketball ready to float … it takes you back to 2013. This design is by his friend Rajy — Siraj Tacuma, who went to Bartram High with Garland. (Instagram handle @sirxj).
“Aww man, I love the design,” Garland texted when he forwarded a replica of it. “So happy he could bring it to life.”
His brainstorming includes future items. Headbands, for sure. A jersey with Cousin Bern on the back? Yep, that could happen. Cousin Bern isn’t just the man who told him to break out the Floater for the Ole Miss game, Garland said. Bern also was friends with the assistant coach who first began recruiting Garland to La Salle.
Garland, a 6-foot-1 guard, originally went to Virginia Tech before transferring home to make some history. That assistant had moved on by then, but now he’s back at La Salle as the head coach. Garland stays in touch with Ashley Howard.
Kosovo was a good experience, Garland said.
“It was like a crazy experience,” he said. “First time I played somewhere where nobody spoke English. I really had to translate everything.”
Including why children would follow him and a 6-foot-10 American teammate around the mall.
“First time people there ever saw Black people,” Garland said.
He’d give out his headbands, built a following, and played well, averaging 25 points a game. Although the team struggled, Garland thought it was some of the best ball he’s ever played.
“They love Americans there,” Garland said. “They were asking if they could come back with me. I’m like, ‘Yo, it ain’t all you think it is. You all want to come to Southwest Philly, it will be a whole different place.’ But people there, they’re like real people.”
With the pandemic, Garland is like the rest of the world, not really knowing his next move. That’s one reason this jersey idea comes along at a good time. He’s ready to sell online. (He’s also ready to buy. Recently, Garland saw his original Virginia Tech jersey on eBay from someone in California, so he bought it.)
For the Floater jersey, Garland informs the world that preorders will be ready next month. Find him on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to speed.
One of the Twitter responses to his logo unveiling: “we been waiting on this merch for years Ty!”