Following up on that last post, I did one to add one more memory that came from Ted Silary's All-City best high school players. Two of the names on the Third Team are Eric "Hank" Gathers and Greg "Bo" Kimble, who both grew up in North Philly, starring at Dobbins Tech in the mid 80s. I was immediately reminded of the sight of Kimble, star guard for Loyola Marymount University, shooting his foul shots left-handed during the tourney as a tribute to Gathers, his recently-deceased teamate. I thought of Gathers collapsing during a game, taken from the world too soon. Thinking back on that wonderful gesture, the unlikely run to the Elite Eight by this small school, and the loss of a brilliant athlete and wonderful person in the prime of his life brings tears to my eyes.
Go here for a wonderful look at Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and that amazing Loyola Marymount team of 1990-1. It gives you a sense of how much of an impact Hank had on the school and his teamates, and why is death was devastating. Their improbable run to within one game of the Final Four was a fitting tribute to the larger-than-life Gathers, a man who overcame great obstacles to be one of the best basketball players in all of the world.
This article is my favorite, as I love the notion of Hank's ghost haunting his old court. I especially love the fact that the Athletic Director leaves the lights on a little longer so Hank can shoot extra. Ghosts have always fascinated me, the notion that the living world is haunted by the events and people of the past. History as present, I guess. They are clearly the creation of the living, but is that so bad? Hank left too soon, and for many, they were not ready to let him go. Why are we so afraid of memory? Why are we so afraid to acknowledge that memory surrounds us? I know that this sounds like crazy talk, as I am not being very clear now. Maybe I'll come back to it later, in the context of the city, or some works of art/literature that deal with this, or something.
All I am trying to say now is that everyone misses Hank. Read this tribute by the Los Angeles Loyolan, remember Hank and remember that team. As Dan Levitar writes, "They couldn't bring him back, so they played with his spirit, and that carried them a little higher, above their despair. It was moving, watching that, mourning death and celebrating life all at once." I guess that sums it up, mourning death and celebrating at the same time. That sums up the story of 1990 Loyola Marymount team, and so much more.
For you, Hank.