Isaiah Nathaniel wears his Danny Rumph Classic wristband everywhere.
People frequently ask about it at his day job as Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc. and Owner and CEO of Calcom Technologies.
“It doesn’t matter if I have a suit on or if I have athletic gear,” Nathaniel said. “It’s interesting when I go into the airport traveling for work, I always get the question, ‘What’s the Danny Rumph Classic?’ It opens a welcome conversation.”
Nathaniel’s ties to the Rumph go back more than 30 years. Him and Mike Morak have been friends since kindergarten. Today, they call themselves the “sandbox kids.” He went to Central High School, overlapping with Sharif Bray. And as a Mount Airy native, played against Sharif Hanford and Danny Rumph at Mallery Recreation Center (now Rumph Center).
“Playing against [Danny] was always fun because of the skill level at such a young age,” Nathaniel said. “I always remember his quickness and his crossover ability. It was almost revolutionary because at that time it was profound that he could handle the ball at such a high skill level. Playing against Parkway was always a game we circled on the calendar.”
When the Rumph Classic started in 2005, Nathaniel had just wrapped up a four-year playing career at Delaware State. He played in the first three tournaments.
Nathaniel’s favorite memory was playing in the Final Four for Team Danny Rumph in 2007. He felt they were considered the underdogs.
“I might have had like 30,” Nathaniel said. “I couldn’t miss and I just felt that spirit of Danny on the team and in my game that day… For some reason the Rumph Classic team always prevails.”
The 6-foot-5 wing pivoted to content creation when his legs could no longer support him playing. Dating back to 2010, he’s been taking photos and videos for the Rumph through his production company, madOptics.
Nathaniel had trouble pinning down one top memory from working the tournament. His list was too long.
“Classic games of Hakim Warrick,” he said. “Watching all of the stars like Evan Turner and Marc Jackson and Mardy Collins play when we were at Arcadia. Flip Murray in Arcadia hit a game-winning shot and the crowd went crazy. There was no place for anybody to stand. I remember the twins [Marcus and Markieff Morris] winning their first championship and how much it meant to them.
“Then there was the glorious Allen Iverson walking into the building and how that just set the place ablaze. Then lastly when James Harden posted the tweet, ‘Philly Whadddddupp!!!!!!’ Those are some of the memories and captured moments that will forever be etched in my brain.”