Manny Harris –born Corperryale L’Adorable, a combination of names from cousin Corrine, uncle Perry and siblings Janelle, Jerrelle and Al– just goes by Manny. Why? His father took a liking to a character in a classic movie.
“Yeah, it’s from Scarface,” laughs the 27-year old. “It was like his best friend but he eventually got killed in the movie so I don’t know why I was that. But it was a popular movie.”
Life has gone far better for Manny Harris than it did for Manny Ribera. Harris is one of the Texas Legends’ best players.
The 6-foot-5 combo guard is in his fifth D-League season and second with the Mavericks affiliate. The Legends star also had pretty full cups of coffee with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2011) and Los Angeles Lakers (2014). He has also spent four years overseas.
The Detroit native attended the nearby University of Michigan. Harris played three years as a Wolverine and was an Academic All-Star in his sophomore and junior years. He works just as hard on the books as he does on the court.
“I’ve always been that type of person,” he tells me. “Whatever I did I wanted to be good at it. Not just do something just to be doing it.”
“So that means a lot (to be an Academic All-Star) because I know that can take me far beyond basketball. I still have credits, like half a semester to finish, but I just know that it means a lot. In high school I always kept good grades. My mother and people like that instilled it in me that it was important.”
On whether he will finish school, “whenever the time comes, definitely.”
Harris is one of the most decorated Wolverine basketball players of all time, on top of his academic accolades. He averaged 18.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists his junior year and has the third highest three year scoring total in Michigan history behind Jalen Rose and Mike McGee. Prior to his college exploits, he was named the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball of Michigan in 2007, awarded to the state’s top high school basketball player.
“It’s part of the reason why I chose to go to Michigan in the first place,” Harris indicates about the storied legacy of Michigan Wolverines basketball. “To help the program and to be a part of that legacy behind all of the other great players who went there. It means a lot for sure.”
“And that being my hometown.” Home is where the heart is, after all.
Injuries caused Harris to go undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, but his determination knows no bounds and despite not being a draft selection, he made one of 30 opening night rosters prior to the 2010-2011 NBA season, the Cavaliers.
With the Cavs, he says a certain former NBA star’s attitude rubbed off on him on and off the court.
“Antawn Jamison when I first got to Cleveland. Not just his game but how he approached the game.”
Three years later with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant offered him some sage advice.
“(Kobe) didn’t have a lot of words to say but every time he spoke with me it was teaching points,” Harris says. “I definitely learned from that. Being a scorer he used to tell me, ‘you’re a scorer, anytime you get anywhere in the key that should be your sweet spot area.’”
Between the Cavaliers and Lakers, Harris has played in 89 games across three different seasons, including 20 starts. He’s averaged 6.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists along with half a steal in his time at the world’s highest competition of basketball.
The NBA experience has proved priceless for the seasoned Harris.
“The NBA is definitely the best competition,” Harris says. “All the stronger players and everything. Playing against them makes it, not easier, but you get a better feel of the game.”
“Good coaches at that level and players you play with teach you. From just watching, learning from experience and being able to play, that helped me a lot. It was big.”
Harris is valuable as a combo guard, supplying talents and possessing abilities that make him a viable point guard and shooting guard. He doesn’t care where he ends up, as long as it’s on the floor.
“I don’t really have a preference. Whatever the coach wants me to play, I just want to get out there and play. Whatever they need me to do, it ain’t really a preference.”
This fits perfectly into Head Coach Bob MacKinnon’s system.
“I think Manny is a guard in the truest sense,” says MacKinnon. “He’s a guy who can play with or without the ball. Offensively I think he’s an NBA ready player and I think he’s showing people on defense, too.
I think in our first game he was our best perimeter defender and he’s showing everybody he’s an NBA ready player.”
Harris got off to as good a start as any in the Legends season opener last Saturday night. He hit his first shot of the game from three and proceeded to score an electrifying 49 points. He finished with an incredibly efficient 19-of-27 shots (5-of-8 from downtown) and added six rebounds, three assists, three steals as well as a block.
“It felt good. It’s always good to go out there and get some game action,” declared Harris, who also played a team high 39 minutes. “We’ve been practicing for two or three weeks and not that you get bored with it, but you’re ready for some game action. It was just fun to get out there and play.”
49 points is the most the Maine Red Claws, affiliate of the Boston Celtics, have ever given up to any single player. Not that that was the plan, but it’s not a shocker either with the hard work Harris gives the game.
“I didn’t come in expecting to go for 49 points. It was just something that kind of happened. I definitely work hard so it’s not like some kind of surprising thing but (laughs) it wasn’t planned like that.”
“It was definitely fun to go out there and do that. We didn’t get the win like we wanted, but it’s a long season.”
The Legends continue their season next Saturday, November 19th in Chicago vs. the brand new Windy City Bulls, D-League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, in the first ever matchup.
Texas returns home on Saturday, November 26th, to face the Salt Lake City Stars, affiliate of the Utah Jazz.