Be wary if you call him "Gary"
The Mage of
By: Richard Linde, 8 March 2004
remember UCLA fans heckling Gary Payton when he played at Oregon State. A long time
watched him play against Loyola-Marymount University, my wife’s alma mater, his
brilliance being quite evident at that time in his young career.
This Huskies’ team spirit and
quickness reminds me of the LMU teams led by Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, then
coached by Paul Westhead, the “Wizard of Westchester,” as I called him in a
sports-viewpoint letter published in the LA Times.
Westhead sent me a note
thanking me for that letter, even though I should have known better then playing a sobriquet
off the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden being an icon in Los Angeles. Besides
coaching basketball, Westhead taught a Shakespeare class at LMU and is a fan of
wizards and witches
— you know, “I Come Graymalkan! Paddock calls,” as
two of the
witches in Macbeth chant, one line apiece. It seemed so natural to call Westhead a wizard.
Hank Gathers, an incarnation of
hustle, inspiration and spirit, collapsed during a game with the Portland Pilots on March 3, 1990 at Gerston Pavilion,
which is located on the LMU campus in Westchester. He
was 23 at the time, and pronounced dead a few hours later.
Westhead’s run and
gun offense will always be remembered, while the ghost of Gathers still haunts
In LMU’s subsequent games that
season, Kimble shot some of his free throws left handed to honor the memory of
his close friend, who did the same before, when his charity tosses refused to drop.
Life is so tenuous,
unpredictable and miraculous that it deserves better treatment from us all. We
should all shoot our free throws in the humbling off hand to honor our creation. Or
better yet, watch Mel Gibson's sobering movie, “The Passion of the Christ.”
Denigrating the greats, such as
Gary Payton, is like throwing a whisky bottle at Babe Ruth’s memory or a crutch
at Lou Gehrig’s. Sometimes this “humor” goes too far and, really, it’s
self-deprecating to the defamer, showing a lack of smarts.
As you would guess,
likening UW guard Nate Robinson to the undersized, former child actor Gary
Coleman has backfired on its protagonists, motivating Nate to jump to higher
heights and spirit faster breaks.
referring to the cardboard cutouts of Gary Coleman and the “Gary Coleman” chants
rained down on Nate Robinson when the Huskies played Oregon at Macarthur Court
early in the season and two nights later when they played Oregon State in
Corvallis. The game in Corvallis, which the Huskies won in overtime, was the
turning point of their season. After losing their first 5 games in the Pac-10,
the Huskies won 12 out of their next 13 conference contests, starting with the
win over Oregon State and concluding with a win over number one
to call him Gary Coleman? Good," UW guard Will Conroy said to a reporter. "He's going to get
mad, and he's going to get his dunk or the rebound.”
matter what Robinson’s height is (5-foot-nine or 5-foot-seven); he can dunk and
rebound with the tallest of them. If he has any limitation, it will be that he
is too quick and has too much hustle to play in the NBA. “The Lakers are
standing around,” the late Chick Hearn used to say. On the hardwood, the
ubiquitous Nate was not born to stand around.
multi-talented athlete, the born-to-fly Robinson can play football, as well as
basketball. A member of the 2002 football team, the exciting sophomore
bypassed football last year to
concentrate on basketball. His father
Jacque, who played tailback at Washington, is the only college player ever to
earn MVP honors in both the Rose Bowl (1982) and Orange Bowl (1985).
selfish standpoint, I would like to see Robinson stay with basketball and
forgo football altogether, because along with coach Lorenzo Romar, he’s helped
revive Husky basketball. An injury in football could cripple his future.
speaking, to secure his future, Robinson
— be wary if you call him Gary
— needs to
follow the money trail, weighing the career options of football, basketball or both.
In this competitive society,
when a gifted person is allowed to become the best he can be, he motivates those
around him to become the best they can be. In 1990, LMU reached the sweet
sixteen without Gathers, losing to the eventual NCAA champions, UNLV, in the
March Madness tournament.
Fourteen years later, another
Cinderella team, the Huskies, belong in the NCAA tournament —
the RPI ratings being so much BCS.
From above, I'm sure Hank
must love that Husky spirit and hustle.
Why not call Coach Romar the
"Mage of Montlake?" There I go again.
The photo of Hank Gathers and
Bo Kimble is taken from the Los Angeles Loyolan Online, 26 March 2003.
In 1990, LMU was the nation's
highest scoring team. From 1985-90, ex-NBA coach Westhead was 105-48 with the
LMU Lions. The Lions made it
to the sweet 16 by beating highly favored Michigan 149-115, the highest score
ever in the NCAA tournament.
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at