"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, March 31, 2006

Mason Net

In anticipation of Saturday's George Mason vs. Florida semi-final game at the NCAA tournament, I wrote a little appreciation of the GMU fellows and their accomplishment.

Here it is, over at The American Spectator.

And here is a little taste:


Back in 1954, it was still not possible for an all-black team to win at the Illinois High School Association's statewide basketball championship, known in the vernacular as -- you guessed it -- March Madness. But Paxton Lumpkin, a 6-foot guard who was later compared with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, led his DuSable High School team to the Chicago championship, earning a shot at the statewide crown. They dominated the first three rounds and made it to the IHSA finals against Mt. Vernon. Nine out of ten players on Mt. Vernon's squad were white (although the lone black was their leading scorer), and the refs were committed to their winning.


In the last minute of the championship game, DuSable closed to within one point and gained possession of the ball. As Lumpkin brought the ball up the court, he could see what would happen. Mt. Vernon would have someone wrap him up and the ref would never call the foul. So he suddenly let the ball fly from behind the midcourt line. It arced gracefully toward the hoop and for an improbable moment seemed destined to fall through. But it caught some rim and bounced out. Mt. Vernon rebounded and eventually won 76-70.

3 comments:

Kathy Hutchins said...

Next door in Indiana, 1954 was the year of the Milan Miracle -- the true story upon which the movie Hoosiers is based. Coach Larranaga is getting a little tired of hearing his team compared to the Hickory Huskers, but I think there are more similarities than he admits. His players -- all local boys -- play not for NBA dreams but just because they love basketball. They have the same down-to-earth work ethic, the same clear headed sense, and they play the same kind of basketball that's admired in the land of Hoosier Hysteria: patient, balanced, team-oriented, and clean. I've been in this town when the Redskins won the Super Bowl. I've been in this town when the Terps went all the way. And I've never seen this town nuts for a team like they're nuts for these Patriots.

Evanston said...

Jay, what's your source on this IHSA story? I'm not denying it, but after reading reviews of "Glory Road" it's clear that the media is more than happy to create its own morality plays, even when the events they depict never happened. My concern in the IHSA case is the assumption that the refs were racist. If my grandfather were a ref at that game, I would be awful perturbed if I thought he was not a racist. (As an extra note, one of my grandfathers used the "n" word on occasion so I have no illusions in regard to my own family history.)Anyway, it'd be nice if you gave the reader some background references or links.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Evanston, I lived in Chicago from 1979 through '81 and again from '85 through '87. Naturally I knew a lot of folks who remembered those days, and that story was a part of the city's oral history.

One person I remember hearing it from in great detail was a very prominent physician who was the head of a department in a major hospital.