“While Hashim was known for being brash, I have a feeling that dialogue was a little overblown. Hashim was a good man and a fine player for his time. He even top 8’d a GP way back in the day.”
– Ken Krouner, forums of Blog Fanatic, 8/18/04
“Yo ho ho …. I hear DannyO,
The Mighty DannyO said:
>I think most people are more entertained by a guy throwing chairs around
>then by a bunch of guys playing magic. Whether they admit it or not is
DannyO are you trying to be as funny as me? I noticed that when you mana screwed me two games in a row at that PTQ and i threw the table with Halo sitting on it, you ran out of the room. Does that mean that you are entertained or not? let’s call a cat a cat. My temper is frightening not entertaining andI like it that way. so as long as there are tables around you will think twice about manascrewing me, right tough guy?????
Furniture throwing champion of the World
1-3 against the luckier of the OMS boys.”
– Hashim Bello, rec.games.trading-cards.magic.strategy, 4/25/97
I spent much of the next two years at Neutral Ground, first as a customer and then as an employee. Hashim was one of the regulars at The Ground, as his tutoring jobs left him flexible hours during the week. Though my first impression of him was thoroughly horrid, we grew to become friends as time went on. Hashim wasn’t a bad guy. In fact, he was downright witty and humorous most of the time. It was competition that flipped a little switch inside his head. Once he sat down to play a game of Magic, casually or competitively, that little devil on his shoulder slew the angel, and Hashim’s mouth was off to the races.
There have been a lot of great trash talkers in the game’s history – Mark Zadjner, Tom Guevin, Hammer, Jon Finkel. These players can and could get into your head. They would make you doubt your game play. They would get your mind off of the game. Hashim had the skills to be one of these players, but he lacked one skill – the ability to not distract himself! To this day I will maintain that Hashim enjoyed talking trash more than playing the game of Magic, and he would concentrate more on running his mouth than paying attention to things like board position, his deck, or his current duel.
Remember yesterday’s quote from BDM? Brian called Hashim””the worst best pro player I’d ever seen.” Hashim’s self-distraction through trash talking was just part of the deal. Hashim also fell apart once he realized he had made a mistake in a game. You could see the pieces tumbling like an avalanche – once he knew he did something wrong, he started doing everything wrong. Players pounced on this weakness – the Jersey kids (Eric Phillips, David Bachmann, Mike Lucarello, and Feming Chan) would keep an eager eye out for the first mistake they’d see Hashim make in a match, and then bring it to his attention over and over and over. That would be enough for game, set, and match.
I don’t want everyone out there getting the impression that Hashim was all around a bad guy. He wasn’t! It was just that he couldn’t shut down his competitive edge. Trash talking, when done right, is highly entertaining and quite fun to watch. It adds flavor to the game, and makes Magic a much better spectator sport. The problem is knowing when you should or shouldn’t talk trash. When you’re playing someone you know and feel comfortable with, feel free to talk trash! If you can both give it and receive it, then it will make your match that much more enjoyable. If you think that the other person wouldn’t be comfortable with the trash talk, then shut your yap. Nothing can turn someone off to the game of Magic quicker than having to face an obnoxious opponent.
The story that stands out in my mind about Hashim and trash talking at the wrong time comes from Nicholas DiNatale. He is the younger brother of Anthony and Chris DiNatale, the twins I played with back in New Orleans. They were all from Philadelphia, and were all in town in 1996 when Grey Matter held a PTQ in their area. This is Nick’s account of his match with Hashim:
“So the year is 1996. The place is Philadelphia, PA – pro tour qualifier. I was 15 years old. My two older twin brothers Anthony and Christopher DiNatale were 20 years old. They took me to that tournament and, paid my admission. They had taught me everything I knew about MTG when they lived up North, though they were now independent and living in New Orleans. Needless to say I looked up to them. I didn’t look up to anyone else in the world as much as I did to them.
I was awful at sealed deck so I was out of the Pro Tour Qualifier pretty quickly. Luckily, there was a side tournament going on for those scrubs that got booted like I did. So I pulled out my Type Two deck that my brothers had built for me and I joined in the side event. Somewhere along the line I got faced up against this older Indian-looking guy named Hashim.
Me, being a young round nerd, was easily intimidated by this guy. The game started and the first creature Hashim laid out was Eron the Relentless. Hashim immediately leaned over the table and screamed”ROAR!” in my face. He then yelled at me,”You see this card? It’s red! Like the color of your blood! I’m gonna make you bleed!” I was about to piss myself!. I mean, this guy had facial hair! I lost the first game just as my brothers walked up and started standing behind me to watch the second one. I felt a rush of confidence. I was sure I could take this guy. Nothing could stop the force of the DiNatale brotherhood. There were three of us and hopefully only one Eron the Relentless and one Hashim Bello. We were going to win, I knew it.
That was, until, my brothers’ friend Ben Bleiweiss walked up and started watching the match as well. What was this guy doing messing up our chi? We had something going on here and then some shortie with a goatee and a funny hat walks up and decides to stare at us? I didn’t understand, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me from obliterating this Hashim guy. He played his Eron the Relentless again and again he screamed at me saying my blood shall once again be shed. I am holding onto a Hammer of Bogardan waiting for my chance to use it.
Plotting the demise of Hashim and his boy toy, I hear Ben saying something to my brothers about the way I play the game. I turned to look at the three of them and they are all talking to each other. Simultaneously, they all turn to look straight at me and I swear they all had the same look of disappointment on their faces. What was this? Dissension? What happened to team DiNatale? Hashim screamed again, and startled I cast the Hammer of Bogardan doing the damage to Hashim instead of noticing that Hashim was tapped out and couldn’t regenerate his Legend.
After that play, this Ben guy goes off about how horrible of a Magic player I am and how embarrassed my brothers should be because of their relation to me. I was 15! During the car ride home from the tournament, all my brothers could tell me is how much I embarrassed them in front of their friend Ben Bleiweiss. From that day forward, my mission was clear – make the Ben pay!”
Account of a match with Hashim Bello, circa 1996.
Nick and I are best friends nowadays, so that hatchet is buried. He still has nightmares, literally, about the time Hashim embarrassed him in front of me and his brothers though! Hashim was in his mid to late twenties at the time of that tournament, and was playing intimidation games against an insecure fifteen year old kid in a freaking side tournament! Admittedly, his antics were amusing to watch, but he did not have any consideration for how his opponent felt, or how it might turn him off from the game of Magic. I guess there are a few lessons we can learn from Hashim:
1) Talking trash is fine, especially if you are witty about it. It’s not fine doing it against unsuspecting opponents, strangers, children, or people who don’t like engaging in trash talk.
2) If you’re going to engage in mental games, make sure that you’re not distracting yourself from the main goal of your match – to win. Playing games within the games is fine. Making yourself lose your own concentration is not as good.
Hashim Bello was quite a fellow!
Ben can be reached at [email protected].