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On the Scene with Vivalo: St. John’s legend Felipe Lopez at Mr. Throwback (ESNY Video)

Basketball legend Felipe Lopez joins Vivalo for a visit to Mr. Throwback in New York City. “The Dominican Dream” airs April 30.

In the mid-1990s, Felipe Lopez was a larger-than-life figure in New York City basketball. Today, he is the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary titled, “The Dominican Dream,” profiling his upbringing in Santiago, the Dominican Republic, the sacrifices his family made to bring Felipe and his siblings to America and, of course, his rise to basketball immortality in New York.

This week, I caught up with the always dapper and friendly Dominican legend as he prepares for the premiere of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival and TV premiere, Tuesday night, April 30 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

I invited Felipe and his crew to “Mr. Throwback,” located in Manhattan’s East Village. The trendy store specializes in original jerseys and memorabilia from the ’80s and ’90s. This literally “threw back” to some old memories for Lopez as we looked at players jerseys who he once faced and played a classic video game that includes his old teammates.


Lopez has a magnetic spirit and personality that is undeniable, is friendly to everyone and dressed to impress. We had some fun with his old St. Johns jersey and walked the streets with throwback boom boxes like back in the day.

After basketball, he has continued to work with NBA Cares and give back to his community in The Dominican Republic. Although his NBA career didn’t play out as the experts had once predicted, the lasting lesson of Lopez and his story is that you don’t need to become the next Michael Jordan to be considered a success.

Playing pro ball and creating a better life for loved ones is truly the Dominican dream. The Dominican Dream airs Tuesday, April 30, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.