Tony Hawk 900 original sequence ran in Big Brother Magazine

Tony Hawk 900 sequence that ran in Big Brother Magazine

If you asked someone what they think of when they hear the word “skateboarding,” you can make a pretty safe bet that Tony Hawk and the 900 are some of the first words out of their mouth. You can’t think about the Hawk without thinking about his most famous skating achievement – the 900. The two are so packaged, commercialized, and bashed into our brains, it would be like imagining Kim Kardashian without the Ass.

So it was a bit confusing when Vice’s documentary All This Mayhem, which followed the rise and fall of the Australian vert duo of Tas and Ben Pappas, came out and suggested that Tony had basically “stolen” the 900. Historically, Tas Pappas and several other skateboarders (Danny Way, Rob “Sluggo” Boyce, Giorgio Zattoni) had been trying the trick over the years, but the film suggests that Hawk had conspired to keep Tas out of the 1999 X-Games Best Trick contest so he could land, on live TV no less, the two-and-a-half rotations before Tas or any other competitor would have a chance.

The documentary is really about the tragic story of these two troubled skateboard brothers that made some wrong choices in life but Instagram comments from Tas, Tony, and other skaters have shifted the conversation and blown the 900 debate out of proportion. Transworld called Tony up to get his side of the story, but, as Tas famously says in the documentary, “there’s three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth.”

We have Tas’s side, Transworld gave us Tony’s, and now, we give you the truth (or at least the truth according to the skaters and contest organizers present at that X-Games that day) to figure out point blank if Tony Hawk had anything to do with why Tas Pappas wasn’t admitted to the Best Trick contest that year, and if they believed that Tony had stolen the 900.

photo: gabriel rivera

photo: gabriel rivera

Don Bostick

1999 X-Games Organizer

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year?
I’d like to go on record to say that Tony didn’t have any part of the selection process or criteria in choosing the skaters for best trick.

We did see the movie, and I did private message via Facebook to Tas since it was I who he mentioned in the movie was the one who told him he wasn’t in Best Trick at X Games in SF. I explained to him that it was ESPN that made the decision to only include five skaters in the Best Trick competition, and it was they who decided whom the five were. I honestly can’t remember the criteria used, other than inviting the top 5 skaters from past best trick comps.

That night, ESPN planned for the very first time to use social media to determine the winner of the Best Trick competition. They set it up so that people could text in their votes up to a certain amount of time after the comp was over, which was one of the reasons only 5 skaters were invited. It was going to be a big deal for ESPN, involving the public to be the judges of the competition using social media. In the end, there wasn’t a vote.

That night, Tony had completed his go to best trick, a varial 720, early in the jam. It was Dave Duncan who suggested to Tony to try a 900. I’ve always felt that Duncan should be given more of the credit that night. I can remember the year before at the Triple Crown in New Jersey that, while I was announcing, Tony gave it a go at making a 900. He did several attempts that day, but, other than giving the crowd some great entertainment, he never really came close. I was the starter on the ramp, and I had direct contact to the TV Director, who was the one that made the decision to keep the broadcast going after time had officially ended. It was a magical evening as it became evident that he was getting closer and closer to making it. I believe the rest is history!

That’s how I remember the night, I hope this helps explain how it all went down.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
No.

photo: skateboarder mag

photo: skateboarder mag

CHRIS MILLER

Pro Skateboarder & X Games on-air commentator that day in the 1999 Best Trick contest

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year?
I wasn’t in the back rooms of the 1999 X Games, but just knowing how things worked and being as involved as I was, Tony had nothing to do with Tas not skating. I wouldn’t have expected Tas to be in Best Trick, and the thing that illustrates that the most is that he skated in the vert comp and got 8th. People talk to me about the film portraying Tas as Tony’s ultimate rival. Not taking anything away from Tas, but if you were in skateboarding at the time, he was a middle-of-the-pack guy who only occasionally was one of the top podium guys. I don’t have all of Tas’ contest results, but if you just looked at them, he wasn’t Tony’s ultimate rival during that time. If it was anybody, it would have been Bob Burnquist or Bucky [Lasek], not Tas.

It makes me mad, but I’m not irritated at Tas per se because I don’t know if it was Tas or the filmmakers. But the way it all came together is just factually wrong.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
People who skate understand what goes into making a trick, especially something that was that hard and groundbreaking at the time. I don’t think Tony even thought he was going to make it, you know? Obviously, he wanted to. It’s really sad to turn that into some controversy when it’s either fabrication or misperception on somebody’s part. You either are the first person to make something, or you aren’t. You can one-up somebody, copy them, but it’s common that people are trying something at the same time and somebody will make it first and the credit goes to them. That’s the way it goes.

photo: maxim kotsyumakha

photo: maxim kotsyumakha

DAVE DUNCAN

The contest announcer that day for the 1999 Best Trick contest

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year?
No. No. Only five guys were invited because of the time restrictions. I knew Tas was trying the 900, but you have to remember that up until this moment, the 900 had never been done. We did a Best Trick contest every year and I saw Danny Way come close as heck to the 900 in 1990 in the Titus Monster Mash. He had the spin. Nine years later, everyone was still trying it, but nobody had made it. The day that it happened, nobody actually believed that it was going happen. Hindsight is 20-20, and Tas can look back and have this attitude, but it wasn’t supposed to be a 900 contest, it was a Best Trick contest. Colin did a switch pop shuv-it tailslide shuv-it. Bob Burnquist did fakie 5-0 kickflip. Tony got lucky by landing his varial 720 and had some time to play, and the rest is history.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
No.

photo: damon way

photo: damon way

Grant Brittain

Photographer, Co-founder of TSM & Photographer that day for the 1999 Best Trick contest

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year?
I doubt it. Tony said that he didn’t even know if he was going to try the 900 there. As they were getting ready to film Best Trick, I went to the bottom of the ramp to shoot and a police officer kicked me out. I was totally over the X Games. I was over the way skateboard photographers were treated, like they were nothing after we brought it up to that point where the X Games even cared about skateboarding. I was back at the hotel watching a show about lions of the Serengeti on Discovery Channel in my hotel room while the 900 was going down.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
No. I think that’s a delusional thought. I’ve never heard of anybody stealing somebody else’s trick in skateboarding. Tas wasn’t the first one to try it. I thought Danny [Way] was the first one to try it?

photo: sportsnetcanada

photo: sportsnetcanada

Rob “Sluggo” Boyce

Pro Skateboarder

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year?
Absolutely not. That’s so reaching. I think Tas truly believes that what he is saying is the truth. Unfortunately, it’s not. One day, I think he might put it together, but right now that entire documentary is riding off of that. I’m not dissing Tas. I have nothing but respect for him, but anybody who competed in that year’s Best Trick had either won Best Trick or the X Games before. Granted, there might have been a small number of people in Best Trick, but I would think that had to be limited to be on television.

If anybody should be bummed about the 900, it should be Colin McKay! [Laughing] Because Tony was getting close to a groundbreaking trick, they let him run over time. But Colin definitely did three tricks that won the contest. Every trick he did was a NBD in a contest and he did them in front of the world, but Tony did the biggest NBD that has ever been done in skateboarding.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
No. That’s ludicrous. You can’t steal tricks that nobody has ever done. I had seen Danny trying it. I knew Tony was trying it, and the reason I was trying it was because I wanted to be the first one to do it. It was almost a relief when Tony landed it. That trick gave me anxiety. He did it at the right place at the right time. He did it on the perfect stage. We had ample opportunities to do it. I started trying it in 1993, and Tony didn’t land it for six years. Six years is a long time, you know?

photo: paulo dias

photo: paulo dias

BOB BURNQUIST

Pro Skater & contestant that day in the 1999 Best Trick contest

Do you think Tony Hawk had anything to do with Tas Pappas not being allowed to skate the Best Trick X-Games contest that year? 
Tony wasn’t thinking, “I’m going to do the 900, so let me make sure that somebody who has the opportunity to do the 900 is not there,” because that’s not his call. That’s none of our [X Games competitors] calls. If anything, that was Don Bostick’s call as to who was in the Best Trick contest.

Just like this year, Mitchie [Brusco] wasn’t in the X Games Best Trick contest. People could conspire and say that Elliot [Sloan], who won Best Trick, kept Mitchie out because he could do a 360 varial 540 that could compete with Elliot’s heel 720. But, no, it wasn’t us — it was the powers that be. Mitchie, now, is a lot more deserving to be in Best Trick than Tas was then.

Tas wasn’t a shoo-in for Best trick like Danny, Colin, myself, and Bucky [Lasek]. Tas could have been a name in there, totally, but it wasn’t like if I had been left out or if Colin was left out [Ed note: both had won numerous Best Tricks]. Tas had been in them before, but it wasn’t the first time that he wasn’t in a Best Trick contest. It wasn’t like we were skating and going, “Where’s Tas?”. But this year, I was thinking, “Why the hell isn’t Mitchie here?”.

Do you think Tony Hawk stole the 900 from Tas Pappas?
The reality is that a 900, or any other trick – you don’t steal them, you land them.

Comments

  1. dominic

    June 22, 2015 10:14 pm

    no he didnt steal it, but Tas is completely justified in saying “he probably wouldve beat me to it but at least let me go shot for shot with him.” That honestly wouldve made it way more epic even for Hawk. Fuck ESPN.

  2. TinFoilHelmet

    June 22, 2015 10:21 pm

    Tas actually seemed pretty hyped when Tony landed the 900 in that video shot from the stands(bottom right, black leather jacket, arms in the air, clapping).

  3. JF

    June 22, 2015 10:27 pm

    This is going to be a long-winded rant, so please forgive me, but I feel compelled to put in my two cents…hell, that’s what comments are for right?

    What was alleged was that he was blocked from participating…the fact are these: Tony DID have contacts deep within ESPN and the industry as a whole, he answers back to the All This Mayhem documentary many months after its release, he does so with Transworld with whom he’s had ties with since its inception, TWS photographer Grant Brittain WAS there the day Tas was attempting the nine as he prepared for the X-Games and, finally, Tony was offered to take part in the documentary, which he declined to do. These are facts, not conjecture, not conspiracy theory. Now, people who watch this documentary are focusing strictly on the 900, why is that? You can blame Tas or you can blame the audience for turning a critical eye towards Hawk, but there is so much more to the story than just a trick. Have you ever considered that in the documentary Tas says very clearly that all his hopes in saving Ben was riding on this? So is it possible, if he feels in any way robbed, then perhaps what he is really harboring inside is guilt for not have been able to rescue his closest friend, his blood, his brother before it was far too late?! Yeah, keep looking at things in black and white terms rather than in a larger, existential picture…it’s far easier to do that!

    If you read the TWS interview, Tony, who portrays himself as a moral, honest man, derides Vice, even going so far as accusing THEM of skewing stories…wait, isn’t that the same type of conspiracy nonsense Hawk’s camp has been accusing Tas of doing? So, let me get this straight, Tas thinking he was intentionally blocked entry into the best trick comp, after all he went through, seeing Grant take pictures of him, etc, is conspiracy theory, yet Hawk accusing Vice and the award winning documentary as being yellow journalism is not? How does that double standard work? Apparently, you can say something and go completely against it literally overnight and expect people to believe you? Because it’s funny to note that the day BEFORE the interview in TWS, that very same den of yellow journalism, Vice, publishes a gushing interview with Hawk titled: “Tony Hawk Is America’s Cool Dad”! Think about it, Hawk says he has doubts, yet at E3, while pushing his new video game, he accepts to be interview by none other than Drew Millard Associate Editor for Vice…wow, yeah, he must have had serious doubts about Vice’s credibility.

    Here’s what Hawk Says in the TWS: ” To be honest this whole thing has made me question a lot of Vice coverage. I used to be intrigued by it but now I’m sort of like, “I don’t know about them.” I think they might be skewing a lot of stories. It made me question their ethics. I want to see journalism with integrity.”

    This is business people, it’s marketing, it’s public relations, come on, Hawk isn’t some dude pressing a few boards for the DIY crew! Even in Bondi a couple of months ago, where Hawk skated against a bunch of guys with day jobs and not in the best condition, he walks up barefooted after the contest with Lasek at his side, and the commentator asks where his shoes were, he responds that a charity group asked for them to be auctioned off and he had forgotten to bring another pair, Bucky chimes in with a “Yeah, he does that all the time.” …that whole thing reeked of PR. Now, whether or not this is true, this is the perception I got.

    The problem here is that Hawk is an incredible skater, one of the best in history, yet he is still a man, a very wealthy man, and here we are all of a sudden having the southern California skate industry establishment, ex boom boom crew, and long time associates tell us that what happened to Tas could not have actually resulted due to Hawk’s interference? You don’t think there are any of us who find all this suspicious? Oh, of course, we are all Alex Jones and Tas Pappas supporters, of course, that’s it just disregard us as easily as you can!

    Go ahead and blame Tas all you want, call him bitter, call him a conspiracy nut, call him a crack head, don’t bother given him kudos on surviving, don’t open your arms as you did to ex-junkie Grosso (you think he stole or lied?), or ex Meth smuggler/user hypocrite Hosoi, it doesn’t matter at this stage, the documentary wasn’t about the 900! But for a moment we should look at ourselves and our own double standard. Grosso was accepted back, we saw that he got himself clean, we saw that skateboarding was his life…yet, even after all that, he insults everyone possible at the Van’s Pool Party, and we all keep nice and quiet, because he’s the shit, he has his own little show on the Van’s Youtube channel, he rides for Anti-hero, he has a Crass tattoo…so hardcore.

    What DOES matter is that all of a sudden people are looking at Hawk the man, not Hawk the image. Everyone from major websites to little unimportant blogs have published stories on his marital adventures, do you think Matt Goodman would say Hawk is a stand up guy in private? That’s gotta sting knowing your supposed best bud is banging your ex. You don’t think Hawk or his associates would fall prey to excess? Just go to youtube and watch Epicly Later’d Wild Ride part 15 and you can see video of Tony’s company office, courtesy of ex-birdhouse team manager J.Strickland, as they held “Tryouts for Birdhouse videos” where strippers are being paid to feed Jeremy Klien candy…”World Industries type of shit”. So we know that misogynistic behavior and the demeaning of women was acceptable behavior among the Birdhouse crew at one time.

    So, after all this time, why such a heavy response? Is Hawk suddenly aware that more people who have gone through heavy stuff can relate to Tas’ tragic and triumphant story more so than Hawk’s “I haven’t worked a real job in my life” story? Is Hawk suddenly realizing that he is being viewed not as a skate god, but a man? That because of this documentary and social media, he is being scrutinized? Is he just as capable of making mistakes as everyone else? Can he be a total douchebag? Can he rip people off and not give a shit? OF COURSE HE CAN!!

    Hawk paints himself as a man who has been in control, an honest man, a family man, yet he is by NO MEANS a wise man. A wise man would reach out personally to Tas and make peace privately, EVEN if he felt that he was the one being wronged. A wise man would see what Tas has had to go through, and extend a helping hand to get back on the right track…if that was done, those actions would show Hawk as the hero he so desperately wants to be. You see, in real life, when people see someone bloodied and in the gutter after a street fight get back up, albeit slowly and unsteadily, people instinctively root for that man because he is the underdog, he is the survivor and the man standing over him becomes the villain…Tas is a hero just for surviving. Tas has said he wasn’t the easiest person to deal with, he has accepted that he could be an asshole, he has accepted the wrongs he has done…and that goes a very, very long way in the public’s mind…even if on this one point of contention he has not accepted Hawk’s version of events. In other words, Tas shows the public the worst about himself, which he did, embarrassing photographs and all, then the public asks themselves, “Hell, what else does he have to hide? What else is there that HE CAN hide?” Sooooo, if Tas is telling the truth about EVERYTHING ELSE, then why on this one thing, this one tiny thing, is he being called a delusional liar?

    If you would like insight into the mind of Hawk you simply have to read the TWS interview…

    Mackenzie Eisenhour:” I saw that Tas was sort of going at you on Instagram.”

    Tony Hawk: “Yeah. Of course. Well that’s all he has. He has to hold on to that. It’s his whole link to glory. And honestly, I wasn’t talking about it at all—it wasn’t that I was trying to avoid it. I wasn’t speaking up on my own just because his story is so tragic. It’s so awful that I really do feel like it’s trivial for me to straighten out this Best Trick contest. It’s just so unimportant to how heavy the tragedy of his story is.”

    That first part, was pure venom, as to be expected in a street brawl, but even more revealing is how he accepts how difficult Tas’ story is. Reflect on that for a moment, why couldn’t he take a deep breath and say “Here’s a man who has lost his brother in the worst of circumstances, here is a man who fell victim to the excesses of the industry, WHICH MANY HAVE, here is a man who is just now beginning to get things back in order with many issues still to deal with…maybe I should fly down, swallow my pride, skate with him and discuss how we can come to an agreement on letting this go”? Because who can blame Tas if that is HIS perception of events? To change that perception one must extend a conciliatory hand, not one of animosity.

    You may say, “Oh, but look at how Tas acted on Instagram!”, well hell yes, how do you think a junk yard dog is going to act with its hind corners up against the wall all alone? Huh? How would YOU react? I suspect Tas is no wimp, that’s for damned sure, you call him outside and I am positive you’re gonna have your hands full!

    As I said, Hawk should go down to Australia for a personal meeting with Tas, a nice mellow place with a few mutual friends, maybe get some runs in and end this crap now, IT DOES NOT HELP ANYONE. Hell, why not take a page from boxing’s playbook, make it a win, win situation and have a pay per view skate off! Hawk VS Tas, it would probably be the biggest draw on Pay Per View in years!

    You see, Tas is a free man, he has his woman and son, but he is still paying a heavy price for what has happened, as we all would, and one needs to take that into account. It is absolutely unfair for people to judge him as they would anyone who has never had to experience what he has had to experience…but Hawk keeps leading a charmed life…unless, for whatever reason, this whole thing has become Jason Lee’s Dodo deck all over again and he’s worried he just isn’t cool or relevant anymore.

    So yeah, talk smack all you want, it’s the name of the game, but if you can’t see that this is the industry closing ranks because they sold their fucking soul to Red Bull and X-Games, then keep buying the millionaire’s shit, keep wearing the right shoes, keep drinking your energy drinks…who gives a damn!

    If Hawk is the bigger man, even if he feels slighted, then act accordingly, reach out to a fellow member of the brotherhood and bring him back into the fold, help Tas do what he’d like to do…he still tears it UP!!!! I challenge Hawk to take the path of the enlightened man!

    This whole thing makes me sick, I see a guy who has access to every tool the skateboard industry has to get his point out there, and on the other hand, I see a guy who reminds me of so many of my friends whom I’ve lost over the years, I see someone like the rest of us, a guy who is battling for his last bit of dignity and deserves a second chance…just like anyone of us who has tried their damndest to become better people. I could care less about the damned 900, Tas did it in Australia, it’s over. As Conklin said “Skateboarding use to be so fucking great…”

    I’ll be absolutely surprised if this comment remains here, I certainly hope it does.

    • Alfred

      June 22, 2015 11:31 pm

      Git r’ dun

    • JE Hoover

      June 23, 2015 3:43 am

      Sorry dude your deluded.
      Nobody went past the first paragraph of your rant.
      The facts and reality are obvious.

      • JF

        June 23, 2015 4:52 pm

        Deluded? How so?

      • cool guy

        June 24, 2015 7:12 am

        I did too, besides Tariq. And I agree with both, JF’s response shows maturity and spherical understanding. And yes, it looks suspicious when you interview the people who were blamed for a set-up, to claim objectivity. But it has become so trivial. I think people cna’t grasp that the skateboarding industry is half show business and half product business and so it follows the same path, only in a small scale and a little more awkwardly. It makes millions but is like the rowdy little cousin of wall street.
        And JE Hoover, if you haven’t gone beyond the first paragraph how can you dismiss the text as non-factual?

      • Hawk's Cucked Best Friend

        December 17, 2015 5:07 pm

        Fuck off m8, you’re comments reeks of shit and is too small, just like your dick

    • Tariq Tengu

      June 23, 2015 7:10 am

      @JE Hoover – I did! I read the whole thing! Was extremely well written and insightful from an empathetic person who understands hardship and has obviously seen a bit of it. Someone who is real!

    • Steev Mike

      June 23, 2015 11:17 am

      Well written but mostly irrelevant. Tas accused Tony Hawk of cheating or rigging a major sporting event. The doc has been seen by ten’s of thousands of people and Tony has the right to rebut the claim. Any athlete in the history of sports would refute an untrue accusation of cheating. And as a fan of skateboarding, I wanted to hear Tony’s side of the story as well as all the other players… they don’t need to settle it with a mini ramp sesh in Australia, or a bro-hug… Tas’s accusation was public so the rebuttal has to be public. I am sorry for Tas’s personal and family problems, I am sorry about Tony’s personal problems… but ‘did Tony steal the 900 from Tas’ is the question, and I think we have an answer .

      • JF

        June 23, 2015 4:51 pm

        Who said he stole it? Tas? The documentary? Nope. If anything he is upset for not having had a shot to do it. He had been out for a long time with a back injury, placed in the top 8 I think, even the commentator at that X-Games when talking about Tas, said “I want to see the 900” (Think it was miller, not sure but you can hear him say it clearly) so they all knew it was coming.

        Instances of being shut out are as common in skateboarding as in professional sports in general.
        As I said in my post, Hawk is being scrutinized, he’s fucking himself up not Tas, this shit is going to backfire badly on him because there are those who know Hawk, the man very ,very well…ask Matt Goodman…publicly “It’s all good.” but privately? If Hawk is a man of scruples he would swoop on another man’s, much less one of his friend’s, ol’ lady.

      • JF

        June 23, 2015 5:03 pm

        *he would NOT swoop

      • Steev Mike

        June 23, 2015 10:17 pm

        Why do you keep bringing up Tony’s marriage stuff? Tony never went to jail for domestic violence. The documentary takes us through a scenario where Tas thinks Grant Britton pulled some espionage on a 900 session, then ESPN got together with Hawk to keep him out. Basically stealing the trick or cheating. All this crap about ‘hawk got cheated on his wife’ or ‘hawk Bagel Bites sellout Bitch” is irrelevant. I feel bad for Tas, I really do, especially now that he has to go back under a rock. He fired shots first. And now everyone is piling on him… that sucks, I’m sure he feels ashamed all these people have come out of the woodwork to shut down his story… probably a story he’s convinced himself of. And that’s why he has made no further statement. Danny Way tried the 900 in 1990 and a bunch of people were racing to it, he had a 100 chances, and now he sounds like Uncle Rico “If coach had put me in 4th quarter… I would have made all-state… I bet I could 900 over that mountain…”

    • Pat

      June 23, 2015 5:15 pm

      He didn’t get a shot to try the 900?? People had YEARS to land it, tas is a jealous loser. Just because he felt ‘hardship” doesnt mean he isn’t a liar. Everything you stated above has been refuted by multiple people in the industry and you still believe was tas says to be true? Hahahahah

    • Pat

      June 23, 2015 5:20 pm

      The fact of the matter is that what contest is not going to dictate who does what trick. If tas was really that close to making the 9, he would have done it before or after thw contest

    • BornTooLate

      June 24, 2015 7:14 am

      “I want to see journalism with integrity.”

      Trying to cash in on GamerGate ey? *wink wink*

  4. Shan

    June 23, 2015 4:20 am

    I quote Chris Miller, 99 x games , I think he will be trying that( the 9) in the best trick comp? O if his in it( Tas ) just drop the subject .

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