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FROM MY SEAT

FROM MY SEAT

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THE ABC'S OF ROUNDBALL (PART TWO) We continue last week’s lesson on Memphis basketball. Your test will come at season’s end, so pay attention. N is for NBA . . . now! When the Grizzlies tipped off the 2001-02 season, Memphis joined Portland, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Orlando as NBA cities with one, and only one, big league franchise. Nothing wrong with a one-horse town. O is for Oscar, the middle name of Mr. Charles O. Finley. The colorful (and rather outlandish) owner of baseball’s mighty Oakland A’s of the early ‘70s purchased the Memphis ABA franchise in 1972. During his two years of ownership, the Tams became better known for the likes of green-and-yellow uniforms and ÒMustache NightÓ promotions than for their performance on the court. P is for Penny. Has there ever been a more electrifying player in the Mid-South than Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway? Having led the U of M to the NCAA regional finals in his first year as a Tiger, Hardaway was named first-team All-America as a junior (1992-93). After twice being named All-NBA with the Orlando Magic, Penny’s career has dwindled as a member of the Phoenix Suns. Q is for quadruped. An animal, esp. a mammal, having four feet. In other words . . . a Grizzly! Or a Tiger! (Gimme a break. Where’s Quentin Richardson when you need him?) R is for Ronnie (and Robinson). Larry Finch’s partner in crime for both Melrose High School and the 1972-73 NCAA finalists, Robinson is one of eight former Tigers to have their number retired. S is for Snapper. Long before he became Bill Walton’s foil as an NBA analyst for NBC, Steve Jones was a star in the ABA, first with the New Orleans Buccaneers and later, upon the Bucs’ move to the Bluff City in 1970, with the Memphis Pros. T is for Tams. What the heck is a Tam, you ask? Tennessee. Arkansas. Mississippi. Think about it. Gotta love the ABA. U is for U of M. Memphis State University officially changed its name to the University of Memphis in 1994. It had previously been known as West Tennessee State Normal School (1912-25), West Tennessee State Teachers College (1925-41), and Memphis State College (1941-57). V is for Vanatta. Head coach of the Tigers from 1956-62, Bob Vanatta led Memphis State College to the finals of the 1957 NIT, where the Tigers lost a squeaker to Bradley, 84-83. W is for West. His silhouette is the NBA’s logo, for crying out loud. A Hall of Famer, voted among the 50 greatest players of all time, a member of the 1971-72 world champion Laker club that won a record 33 consecutive games, and still the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer (25,192 points). There’s only one Jerry West. And he’s now president of basketball operations for your Memphis Grizzlies. X is for Xavier McDaniel. Member of the 1982-83 Wichita State team that Memphis whipped, 85-73, at the Mid-South Coliseum. NCAA scoring leader in 1984-85. Y is for Yates. Between the more highly acclaimed U of M coaching eras of Gene Bartow and Dana Kirk came the Wayne Yates years (1974-79). Yates’ teams compiled an overall record of 93-49 but only reached one NCAA tournament (1976). Z is for Zach. As in Curlin. Longest tenured coach in U of M history, ran the Tiger program from 1924-48, accumulating 173 wins. Street on Memphis campus named after him.

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