It’s well known that basketball is like a religion in New York City.
Therefore, it’s fitting that God himself once graced the blacktops and courts of the Big Apple.
God Shammgod was the top dog in the Mecca of point guards.
God Shammgod created one of the coldest moves ever and even gave Kobe dribbling lessons.
Happy birthday to a ball-handling legend. pic.twitter.com/XCrGl4kGfF
— Cycle (@bycycle) April 29, 2018
He was blessed with a first-class handle and infinite skill.
To this day, the point guard position in NYC is regarded as the ultimate measure of talent and ability.
Shammgod absolutely had the talent, the ability, and the will to rise to the top and succeed.
He announced himself to the world in the late 1990s, and to this day his name is synonymous with a specific move and style.
This is the story of God Shammgod.
What’s in a Name?
God Shammgod was born on April 29, 1976, in New York City.
Shammgod was teased about his first name by peers who didn’t believe his first name was actually “God.”
He would explain that his father’s name was also God and that he was named after his dad.
By the time he and his mother moved from Brooklyn to Harlem when he was nine, Shammgod’s father was mostly absent.
To keep the teasing at bay, Shammgod took his mother’s last name and went by Shammgod Wells for the next several years.
Wells’ arrival in Harlem was enhanced when he took in the sights and sounds of the fabled Rucker Park.
Rucker is a well-known outdoor court that is not only frequented by everyday joes but college and professional stars as well.
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) August 21, 2022
The games at the court can be packed affairs with people coming from far and wide to watch the participants.
One day, young Shammgod went to a game with his friend, Mason Betha (who would become the rap star known as Ma$e) and found a spot high above the court in a nearby tree.
While watching the contest highlighted by a pair of streetball legends, Wells knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“That was the moment,” Shammgod says, “when I fell in love with basketball.”
Shammgod Meets Mr. Archibald
Now that he was hooked on hoops, Wells spent every possible moment working on his handle.
He spent significant time working on not only dribbling but passing and would show off his new moves to his friends.
When he was in middle school, Wells was displaying a new dribble technique in PE class and his teacher dismissed the move.
The teacher told Wells that he needed to work on the fundamentals of the game and not worry so much about gimmicks.
Wells laughed and dismissed him as an adult who didn’t know what he was talking about.
Days later, his attitude changed when Wells found out that his teacher was an expert on the matter.
It turns out that Nate “Tiny” Archibald was Wells’ teacher, the same Tiny Archibald that had played 14 years in the NBA, won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 1981, and would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
One of the craziest things I learned a couple of weeks ago is, he was God Shammgod’s PE teacher. https://t.co/LhZ6QA0vyv
— Candyman (@Curtisss718) September 3, 2022
At that point, Wells consumed everything Mr. Archibald taught him.
Archibald showed him the fundamentals while Wells also continued to hone his streetball skills.
He blended both styles into his game to become a better all-around ball player.
“Most people who start out in streetball have flair but they don’t have the simple,” Shammgod said in 2022. “I was able to blend the two and make it my own.”
Shammgod Tutors Kobe
After leaving middle school and the tutelage of Archibald, Shammgod went to LaSalle Academy in Manhattan and played hoops for the school.
It is a testament to the level of talent in the city that one of Wells’ teammates was Ron Artest, who would become an NBA star and later change his name to Metta World Peace.
Wells continued his assault in becoming a New York City legend during high school and became a Co-Player of the Year for NYC in 1995, along with Lincoln High School guard Stephon Marbury.
That same year, Wells was named a McDonald’s All-American and played in the All-American game alongside several future NBA players.
At one point in the game, Wells made a few moves that stymied the likes of future All-Star Paul Pierce and sent the game announcers into a frenzy.
“My goodness!” play-by-play man Verne Lundquist exclaimed.
“Greatest handle since Samsonite,” Bill Raftery quipped. “He is a pleasure to watch.”
Not long after the McDonald’s game, Wells was invited to the prestigious ABCD Camp held in New Jersey by master sports marketer Sonny Vaccaro.
During the camp, former NBA player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, asked Wells if he would show his son, Kobe, some of his ball handling skills.
— DJ TODD (@djtodd1) April 29, 2016
The following day at the crack of dawn, Shammgod Wells and Kobe Bryant began working and developed a friendship that continued until Bryant’s untimely death in 2022.
Shammgod Becomes a Friar
Wells’ bona fides got him a lot of interest from Division I schools, and he chose to sign with coach Pete Gillen and Providence College.
Not long after arriving at the school, Wells found out that he had to legally change his name by paying $600 or he would have to be called by his birth name.
Since he didn’t have the requisite funds, Shammgod became God again.
He would soon find that his birth name suited him perfectly.
“It’s weird because as I got older, a lot of people told me, ‘That name fits you,’” Shammgod said. “After a while, I couldn’t see myself being named anything else.”
In his first season as a collegian, Shammgod kept up his amazing ball handling and passing skills, averaging 6.5 assists per game.
Providence, Guard 1995-1997 pic.twitter.com/48KSTulBUF
— Random College Athletes (@RandomAthletess) March 28, 2021
However, opponents dared him to shoot, and that was not Shammgod’s forte.
As the Friars went 18-12 in 1995-‘96, Shammgod shot a lowly .336 from the field.
In 1996-’97, Shammgod improved his shooting percentage to .441 and averaged 6.6 assists per game, the best in the Big East Conference.
He still didn’t score a lot of points.
In fact, as a sophomore, Shammgod was the fourth-best scorer on the Providence team.
After another mediocre year, the Friars caught fire at the end of the season and won a few conference tournament games.
That got them invited to the NCAA tournament.
Providence Advances to the Elite Eight
As a 10th seed, Providence wasn’t expected to advance far in the tournament.
However, the Friars bounced their first opponent, Marquette, 81-59 then upset second-seeded Duke 98-87 in the second round.
In the Sweet 16, Providence continued their run by taking down Chattanooga 71-65.
The Friars then faced Arizona in the Elite Eight, its first appearance in that round in ten years.
(1997) God Shammgod going up for a layup in the NCAA Tournament. He led 10 seed Providence Friars to the Elite 8 before losing to eventual champion Arizona in OT! #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/xcZ6MQZShW
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) March 16, 2018
By then, Shammgod was becoming a fan favorite as he slashed and flashed all over the court.
During the game against Arizona, Shammgod made Wildcats star Mike Bibby (the man guarding him) look like he was still learning the game.
With over seven minutes remaining in the contest and the Friars down by nine, Shammgod dribbled the ball up the court and made a move that was ever so slight, but deadly.
God Introduces the “Shammgod”
Shammgod approached Arizona defender Michael Dickerson near the top of the three-point arch.
He then tossed the ball in front of him slightly with his right hand only to quickly snatch it with his left hand.
Very nice delivery of the ‘Shammgod’ move in a game setting. Executed by…God Shammgod.
Later to be emulated by many great NBA guards such as Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Manu Ginóbili, John Wall, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, etc. pic.twitter.com/r7T3o3pXKM
— 𝐃𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐝 (@CypressAlou) May 30, 2021
The move thoroughly flummoxed Dickerson who was turned the wrong way while Shammgod went toward the basket.
Shammgod missed the shot, but it was rebounded and put back in by a teammate to cut the Arizona lead to seven.
The sleight of hand dribble was so quick that the game announcers didn’t notice it at first.
However, the move was later studied like the Zapruder film and instantly became the stuff of legend.
Although Shammgod scored 23 points in the game and handed out five assists, the Friars lost to the Wildcats in overtime 96-92.
Happy birthday to God Shammgod, creator of the most disgusting move in hoops history.
Who has the best Shammgod?
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) April 30, 2019
When he returned home months later, Shammgod found out that his deft move had acquired its own name.
“When I went back to my neighborhood that summer, I was in the park and a little kid came up to me,” Shammgod said. “He was dribbling and he said, ‘I’m about to Shamm you, I‘m about to Shamm you.’”
He couldn’t figure out what the young man was talking about until noticing that other streetball players were using the move and calling it the “Shammgod.”
“Pretty soon, it was everywhere,” Shammgod said. “It will help my name be here longer than I will be here and my kids will be here.”
Ill-Timed Exit to the Pros
Believing that he had sufficiently shown pro personnel his game during the ‘97 NCAA tournament, Shammgod decided to forgo his final two years of college eligibility and declare for the 1997 NBA Draft.
“It was a lot of bad advice, a lot of me doing stuff on my own and not getting all the information,” Shammgod said. “If I had known all the stuff I know now, I’d definitely have stayed in school.”
Unfortunately, the ‘97 draft class was loaded.
Wake Forrest’s Tim Duncan, high school star Tracy McGrady, and even Providence teammate Austin Croshere were all drafted before Shammgod.
With the 46th overall selection in the second round, the Washington Wizards picked Shammgod.
Never forget, we once drafted someone named God Shammgod…
Legendar name😂 pic.twitter.com/Uz9VgRna1Y
— Wizards Nation (@WizardsNationCP) August 3, 2021
His fall from the first to the second round guaranteed he would see less money and likely time on the bench as a rookie.
During the 1997-’98 season, Shammgod only played in 20 games and was stuck behind veteran Rod Strickland.
Being a Wizard was disappointing for Shammgod as his coaches told him to stay away from the streetball mechanics and play fundamental basketball.
The less he played, the worse Shammgod’s attitude became.
“At that time, I was young and hard-headed,” Shammgod said. “In practice, I was doing things that I felt showed I was ready, so when I didn’t play, that affected me. It was the first time in my life that I wasn’t playing, and I didn’t know how to deal with that.”
After the season, the Wizards released Shammgod, and he was not signed by any other NBA team.
Just like that, Shammgod’s NBA dreams were over at the age of 21.
For the next decade, Shammgod visited several countries as a basketball-playing nomad, frequently spending only one season in a country before playing in a different time zone the following year.
From 1999 to 2009, he played in the U.S., China, the Middle East, and Poland.
He finally called it quits in 2010 after playing for the Oregon Waves of the International Basketball League.
Second Career as a Coach
In 2010, Shammgod returned to Providence and began working with a few players on the basketball team.
He then enrolled in the school a year later to finish his degree and was added to the Friars coaching staff as a grad assistant.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 21, 2015
It didn’t take long before Shammgod found his second calling as a basketball coach, teaching young players the finer points of the game.
“As I saw how I could really impact players, that gave me more confidence I could really do this,” Shammgod said. “There’s an amazing feeling that you get inside when you’re helping somebody else. It’s not about money. It’s not about anything else. It’s just because you want to see them do good.”
Years later, the Dallas Mavericks wanted to bring someone in to teach their guys dribbling techniques.
Owner Mark Cuban already had an idea of who he wanted.
Mavs director of player development Mike Procopio had seen Shammgod in action when he visited the Providence campus in 2013.
He came away with a healthy appreciation of Shammgod’s ability to communicate as a coach.
“A lot of ex-players have no idea how to teach what they were good at as players,” said Procopio. “They just had a God-given gift and were able to use it. … Sham would teach the small details and intricacies of handling the ball and position players the way he needed them to be. He never chastised players or talked down to them in a condescending way. He was one of them, he related to them, he got the best out of them.”
In 2016, Dallas hired Shammgod as their ball-handling coach.
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) January 25, 2017
He has since ascended to the role of Player Development Coach for the team.
“What has really earned him his stay is his ability to relate to players and also teach [them],” Cuban added. “He truly is really good at his job.”
Shammgod may have only played 20 games in the NBA, but his street cred is off-the-charts.
NBA vets and streetball legends alike all know who God is and have requested an audience with him.
In 2021, Puma helped him design a shoe, and other clothing items, that highlighted Shammgod’s personal story.
“When Puma blessed me with this opportunity, I already knew how I wanted it to look, I knew what I wanted it to stand for, I knew what the people that believed me wanted to see from me.”
The new shoe style was different from the initial version that the company released in 2020.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 8, 2020
Regardless of the change, Shammgod was focused both on shoe functionality and style.
He continued, “You look fly, you play fly. You look good, you play good.”
In the summer of 2022, Shammgod and his NYC point guard brethren were honored in a Showtime documentary called NYC Point Gods.
ℕ𝕖𝕨 𝕐𝕠𝕣𝕜 ℂ𝕚𝕥𝕪 ℙ𝕠𝕚𝕟𝕥 𝔾𝕠𝕕𝕤 pic.twitter.com/vHKjg6GicH
— NYCPointGods (@NYCPOINTGODS) October 6, 2021
Shammgod was highlighted in the documentary, and a new legion of young fans have become aware of the legends lurking in the parks and courts of New York.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to be a part of that, to know that, that time in the history of New York, that that was my era,” Shammgod said. “That was my era, like I wasn’t a part of the culture, I was the culture, you know, when it came to basketball. You know me and Stephon Marbury, Rafer Alston and Kareem Reid like we wasn’t bystanders, we were setting the tone for the culture.”
The documentary only helps cement Shammgod’s legacy in basketball to the generations that come after him.
“I get to see who I inspired everyday and that’s the beauty of basketball,” Shammgod said. “…one thing in life that I can say that I can live with and I’m so proud about is that when it’s all said and done, I know I left one aspect of basketball better than how I found it, and that’s true.”