by user

College basketball fans received news today that Coach Chaney would no longer be coaching the Temple Owls. With his wife undergoing an unspecified medical procedure he has elected to leave the Owls on the verge of the NIT tournament. While some fans may judge him on the timing of this anyone who has their priorities in line will realize that family should be a bigger priority than any basketball game.

One of my favourite writers, Adrian Wojnarowski, penned a great column that’s posted over on ESPN. Wojnaroswki start’s for the column by writing the following.

“On one of those blustery predawn mornings at St. Bonaventure, a student manager named Mark Murphy had unlocked the gymnasium doors and let the Temple Owls into the Reilly Center for practice. The campus paper had gone to bed now, and I had been walking out the downstairs doors, only to hear a voice beginning to boom on the floor of the gymnasium.

John Chaney was always a thoughtful proponent of what he believed.

Soon, the basketballs were sitting on the steel racks and the Temple players were surrounding John Chaney in a semicircle. This was a closed classroom — nobody but his team invited. But I found a spot behind some chair-back seats in the stands, lay on my stomach and watched through a space between the rows.

He talked about life and living, about education and opportunities, insisting to his kids that they were forever one bounce from the curb. Looking back, one of the best college lectures I ever heard as undergraduate would come that day out of the visiting professor at Temple University, John Chaney.

The balls never left the rack that day, and I never did make it to my 8:30 a.m. class.

This was before Chaney threatened to rough up John Calipari at UMass, before he lost his mind with his self-described “goon” against St. Joseph’s a year ago, before one of college basketball’s most inspired minds had become one of its most irrational acts.

This is the Chaney that I’ll want to remember, a Hall of Fame coach out of a generation when most Southern blacks couldn’t get basketball scholarships to major universities. He would go to Bethune-Cookman on a scholarship, and coach Division II ball at predominantly black Cheyney State, before getting his Division I break at age 50 at Temple in 1982. All of that history — all of that struggle — made Chaney a dying breed in coaching: an original thinker, an original doer, in a profession where they pump these coaches out on the assembly line of sameness these days.”

In recent years Chaney had managed to soil his reputation in the minds of casual basketball fans because they weren’t not familiar with the full story involving Chaney. They didn’t see his past and were blinded by his recent indiscretions and lapses of judgement. Should he have stepped down a couple of years ago when the game started to pass him by? Probably. Would I have stepped down? No way! He had earned the right to continue coaching at Temple and no one should begrudge him that. I just hope that when it time to elect him to the Basketball Hall of Fame that voters aren’t caught up with the tail end of his career and rather can look at all the monumental things he was able to accomplish in the game of basketball.


Tue 03/14/06, 12:26 am EST

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