BABY BLUE AND YELLOW: Harvey Carey is the TNT O.G.
Harvey Carey was drafted by Talk 'N Text 4th overall in 2003. 15 years later, the guy is still here, going strong even if you don't notice.
It was a Tuesday in practice and Harvey Carey was the last to leave Talk 'N Text's training facility inside the Ateneo campus in Katipunan.
Harvey was the last to leave because he had to check NBA updates from his phone. The world champion Warriors just beat rival Cleveland on the road. He continued to scroll through his social media while being stretched out by one of the KaTropa’s staff members.
He was the last to leave because he had his knees iced --- among other post-workout treatments --- and he ate his lunch by his lonesome at one of the scattered benches. It was chicken and some salad.
More importantly, Carey was the last to leave because he participated in extra shooting drills with a handful of TNT reserves. We hear players around the league say that they'll do extra in practice and most of the time, they really do.
We don't hear Harvey say that kind of stuff because first of all, no one bothers to ask. But that's okay, he does it anyway.
And for 15 years with the same team in the Philippine Basketball Association, he's been doing that over and over. If you didn't know any better, you'd think that a veteran like Harvey doing all that extra work means that he's still a crucial part of the TNT system.
In many ways, he still is. But not so much on court nowadays, it’s been a while since he saw actual meaningful minutes on the floor.
All that extra work in practice on a random Tuesday? Harvey Carey played exactly 67 seconds in the KaTropa's game the following day. They got the win, and if you ask the veteran forward, that’s all that matters now whether he plays the full 48 minutes or not.
“You know, that’s my brother. That’s the guy who I’ve gone to many, many wars with,” Jimmy Alapag told ABS-CBN Sports when asked about Carey.
Now the head coach for Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League, Alapag entered the PBA the same year as Carey. Harvey was Talk ‘N Text’s fourth overall pick in the 2003 Draft and Jimmy was the 10th overall selection.
As players, they won six championships together. Seven if we count the time TNT won the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup title where Alapag served as team manager.
“Having been with Talk ‘N Text for that long, he continues to do the same things that he did when we first came into the league back in 2003,” Alapag continued.
“It just shows his professionalism, his work ethic, and his leadership,” he added.
When talking about Harvey Carey, it’s impossible not to mention his incredible work ethic and professionalism.
Because for 15 years in the PBA, that’s always been his calling card. It seems to work out pretty fine and he’s been rewarded with a career that anyone would trade for if they had the chance.
“Si Harvey Carey kasi, ever since, has always been a hard worker. You seldom see him complain and his career was more on being a professional. He does not come to practice late, if ever, there is really a reason why. As a professional player, he's always been there because of his effort,” Talk ‘N Text team manager Virgil Villavicencio says about his veteran forward.
“He is a silent worker. He's a typical professional player that keeps quiet but works hard,” Villavicencio added.
To put Harvey Carey’s long career with Talk ‘N Text in perspective, one only has to look at the team’s championship roster back when he was a rookie 15 years ago.
Of the 2003 Phone Pals that won the All-Filipino title that year, only Carey still remains with the team. All of his teammates have moved on.
Since that time, Jimmy Alapag has retired twice from the PBA and is now a head coach in a separate league. Patrick Fran is now an assistant coach with Meralco. Bong Ravena is now part of TNT’s own coaching staff and his oldest son is now a rookie in the league.
Carey’s only teammate from 2003 that’s still playing is Asi Taulava, but he’s the Rock so he’s supposed to be indestructible. He is also 44 years old. Taulava is teammates with Ravena’s son.
“I’ve been fortunate enough and blessed to be here in Talk ‘N Text this long,” Harvey says.
“I’ve grown up here, not just as a player but as an individual. I mean, it’s just crazy to see like if there’s a time lapse with me just sitting here and seeing all the guys that passed through here, the coaches, I feel very appreciative of the management, for keeping me this long,” he added.
BASKETBALL IS A BUSINESS
Everyone understands that basketball is a business. There’s no sure thing in this game.
Asi Taulava was Talk ‘N Text’s MVP and was basically the main reason for the franchise’s first PBA championship. He got traded away in 2007.
Even Alapag, who has his jersey no. 3 retired by the team, didn’t finish his career with TNT. After his first retirement in 2015, he came back the following season and played the rest of his career with the Meralco Bolts. He broke the league’s all-time record for three-point field goals made by wearing orange, not blue.
It’s very rare for one player to stay with one team for this long. In comparison, for some of the big stars in the PBA in this millennium, only Mark Caguioa comes to mind as the one player that has stayed with one PBA team for an extended amount of time and is still actually active.
The Spark has been with Brgy. Ginebra since 2001 and is still going strong. Jayjay Helterbrand, who retired in 2017, lasted 17 years with the barangay. Alapag only lasted 12 years with Talk ‘N Text and so did James Yap, long considered as the face of the Purefoods franchise and the PBA itself. Big Game James, a two-time league MVP, was traded away in 2016, just two years removed from winning a Grand Slam. San Miguel let go of Danny Ildefonso after 15 years. You’d think after eight titles and two MVP awards, Danny I would have retired as a celebrated Beerman.
Alaska’s longest-tenured Ace is Sonny Thoss at 14 years and counting. In May of 2016, Paul Lee was a PBA champion and Finals MVP with Rain or Shine, five months later he was gone as the other half of the blockbuster trade that involved James Yap.
If basketball is a business, why in the world did TNT end up keeping Carey all this time?
Prior to the PBA’s 2017-2018 season, Carey has career averages of 6.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. His best scoring season was in the 2006-2007 season, going for 11.4 points and his best rebounding season was two years later when he grabbed 9.7 boards per game.
As of press time, 38-year-old Carey is averaging 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.
Surely, Talk ‘N Text could have found someone else to give those kind of numbers.
“Maybe no other team wants me,” Carey jokes.
“But I just feel very fortunate that the management and the coaches that I had appreciate what I bring to the team. It may not show in numbers but I think they see what I could bring to the team,” Harvey adds, and he’s basically right on the money.
“His loyalty is very much appreciated. He’s always worked quietly, being a winner. Of course, his priority is the team,” Villavicencio said.
THE ONLY CONSTANT
Unlike Brgy. Ginebra, San Miguel, or even Alaska, Talk ‘N Text’s following is not that huge. That’s just a fact.
So when you ask the team’s loyal fans who they consider as “Talk ‘N Text legends,” you’ll probably get answers in the neighborhood of Alapag, Taulava, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, and even Macmac Cardona. Harvey Carey? Maybe not so much.
And that’s fine, considering all of those players --- and many others --- contributed to the franchise’s rise as a legitimate PBA superpower. But you know who is constant through TNT’s multiple eras of success?
That’s right, it’s Harvey Carey. After all, he’s the only player to play through all of the team’s currently seven total championships.
However, being part of all that success means that Carey was also around when the team failed to break through. After the team’s first championship in 2003, Talk ‘N Text became one of those teams that was good but never good enough.
It wasn’t until six years later when the rechristened Tropang Texters would win another title. It took them another two years after that before they really started to establish a dynasty.
“Obviously when we won that first championship with Asi, it was great. But we went through a struggle after that, we kept going to the Finals but we kept losing,” Carey said, when asked what he remembers the most about his 15-year run with TNT.
“Then we won four out of I don’t know, four out of six [championships]? We went on a run, we won three straight All-Filipinos. That era with coach Chot [Reyes] and Jimmy, and Jayson [Castro] was here, Jared Dillinger, all those guys. It’s something that you can look back on and cherish and appreciate now and later on in life,” he added.
THE ULTIMATE TEAMMATE
It's quite amazing how Harvey Carey went 15 years without getting the attention he probably deserved as a player.
But for those who know him best, Carey lasting this long in the PBA is no surprise, considering he’s one of the premier individuals in the league.
“The ultimate teammate. It would be hard to find a player in the PBA with better character and a better work ethic. I think his 15-year career is just a symbol of that,” Alapag says of Carey.
“Kailangan sipag talaga to make sure that you have a long career. And Harvey has always been one of the hardest working guys in the PBA and remains the same now,” the 2011 PBA MVP added.
His incredible work ethic is not only appreciated by his former teammates. Harvey’s influence definitely affect those who are up-and-coming in the league, even if it seems like he’s more of the silent type.
In particular, Roger Pogoy, TNT’s prized catch from the Gilas Pilipinas draft and the reigning PBA Rookie of the Year, is taking notes from his veteran teammate.
“Sa lahat ng teammate ko, si kuya Harvey yung talagang pinaka-mabait, pinaka-humble, matulungin. Halos nasa kanya na lahat. Bilib talaga ako sa kanya kasi yun nga, pag may kailangan ako, lalo pag mga advice, humihingi ako kay kuya Harvey,” Pogoy said.
“Kahit ano, sa mga game, lalo na pag bad game ako sinasabihan niya ako na kaya ko yan, babawi ako ganun,” he added.
With his current trajectory, it can be safe to assume that Pogoy will have a long career in the PBA as a KaTropa. And with that being said, the young Cebuano, who was in elementary school when Carey was drafted into the league, is taking advantage of having Harvey around as a teammate and mentor.
“Yun nga palagi ko tinatanong sa kanya eh, palagi ko sinasabi na aabot kaya ako kagaya sa kanya? Sabi ko nga kahit 10 years lang pero sabi niya kaya ko din yun basta wag lang magbago, mag-sipag lang. Tapos yun, gawin lang lahat,” Pogoy said.
When it comes to advice, other PBA players ought to reach out to Carey as well, not just guys from Talk ‘N Text.
Alapag certainly thinks that way and he’s the perfect guy to vouch for Harvey. If the Captain speaks, it might be wise to listen after all.
“Harvey is definitely a man of few words but he shares the same passion and love for the game of basketball like every Filipino that I know. He's a quality basketball player and I think people should see that he's a quality person as well. He's a family man who tries to play the game the right way and do things the right way,” Jimmy says.
“I think he's a great example and could be a great mentor, not just for the Talk 'N Text players but the upcoming PBA players, to see a guy like him, who's had this long of a career and it's really just because of his work ethic,” he added.
LEAVING A LEGACY
Ultimately, we’re not going to remember Harvey Carey as the guy that took the Philippine basketball world by storm.
However, at least for those who actually pay attention, his career his definitely worth a second look. It’s not easy playing 15 years in the PBA after all, let alone do it all with one team.
“It just makes me cherish what a journey I've been through with the guys that were on this team as far as the success that we've had. It's great to still see Asi playing, he's an inspiration in itself. I think it's his 19th year? He's still finding ways to transform himself. Jimmy is doing great, coaching in the ABL,” Carey says, looking back on his journey.
“Just trying to play my part in leaving the legacy to these new guys when I'm gone,” he added.
If you’re still not convinced about Carey’s longevity with one team, consider this one last thing as a parting shot:
When Carey entered the league, the Talk ‘N Text franchise was still going by their wacky moniker of the “Phone Pals.” Over the next decade and a half, the team changed its name to Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, TNT Tropang Texters, Tropang TNT, and now, TNT KaTropa.
The team went from not even wearing white jerseys, they only rocked bright yellow and baby blue uniforms back in the day before switching to royal blue and yellow. Now their primary colors are blue and orange.
Harvey went through all of that.
Speaking of those baby blue uniforms though…
“Yeah, I actually want them to bring them back but I don't know if they want to,” Carey said.
“I think we brought the yellow jersey back a few years ago, maybe it's time to bring the baby blue alternative jersey in. We'll see,” he added.
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