June 22, 2015/ / INTERVIEWS/ Comments: 114

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?

photo: skateboarder mag

photo: skateboarder mag


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


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?

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


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.

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  1. butterface

    June 22, 2015 12:30 pm

    Case closed comments are now open to bottomless arguments and casual racism

  2. That guy

    June 22, 2015 12:35 pm

    This sums it up perfectly. Theres that interview where Tony gives his side and now we have all of these people backing him up. Tas was just desperately trying to stay relevant. His “glory” days are long gone.

    • Matt gower

      June 24, 2015 1:35 am

      Seriously half of these comment are dilussional! Tas and Ben at there prime made tony look second rate on vert, tony with the help of espn made millions of dollars for themselves. And at the end of the day did not give a fuck about others!Tas’s main issue with tony was about creating a union so “skaters would be looked after” and then tony and crew do a deal and fuck everyone over! Sellout fuckers!!!

      • Matt J

        June 24, 2015 1:55 pm

        I couldn’t disagree more. Tony Hawk is HUGELY responsible for what skateboarding is today, an industry where pros and ams are taken much better care of and make significantly larger incomes due to sponsorships than ever before. A lot of these current sponsors would have never been interested in skateboarding if Tony didn’t bring skateboarding into the mainstream. How was Tas and his brother going to help create a union that truly looked after pro skaters when they couldn’t even keep their own lives in balance whatsoever? Whether you think he sold out or not, he played the game better in every aspect and has helped shape the industry for the positive. And he still rips hard as fuck…

      • Nostradamus

        June 27, 2015 1:52 am

        Tas and Ben were at their prime for a year. Tony was at his prime for 25. Tas did his first 900 in 2014. Tony did his first of his many 900s in 1998. You reap what you sew, and thats why Tony is where he is, and Tas and ben where they are. Story over.

      • Nine Hundred

        August 27, 2021 7:52 pm

        Who. Landed. It. First? Charlie Uniform. November. Tango?

  3. Tas Pappas

    June 22, 2015 1:11 pm

    Tony stole 900 dollars from me that day. I didn’t mean the trick.

  4. Will

    June 22, 2015 3:06 pm

    I dont think the film suggests it was TH that conspired against Tas it was ESPN.

    • bartfarf

      June 22, 2015 6:12 pm

      Then you should watch it again, Tas straight up says he thinks Tony pulled strings to keep him out. It’s a pathetic allegation from a sad bitter man who had a good story to tell until he let pettiness muck it all up.

    • Kevin Sutton

      August 27, 2021 7:53 pm

      Nope, Tony’s mom has got it going on

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