Category — Hank Gathers
Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Hank Gathers. For you youngsters who don’t know the story, Gathers collapsed on the basketball court in Malibu during a Loyola Marymount game and died a short time later of a heart-related ailment. At the time, the 6-7 Gathers was the best player in college basketball. He once led the country in rebounding and scoring and less than a month before he passed, Gathers hung 48 points and 13 rebounds on the road against a Shaq-led LSU team before Loyola Marymount lost in overtime.
One of my favorite memories of Gathers, in addition to his outstanding play, occurred during a contest against UNLV. The two were natural rivals since both played an uptempo style of ball and both were among the best teams in the country. Tempers flared during the contest. Before it ended, Gathers stood barking in front of the Rebels’ bench and challenged the entire team. He’d whip all their asses, he told them. No one moved.
After Gathers’ death, the entire country was moved by the Lions. I’ve never rooted more for a college basketball team. They beat New Mexico State in the opening round of the Tournament before they gave the greatest exhibition I’ve ever watched during March Madness. My boy Jay begged me to go to Long Beach (I lived in the OC at the time) for the Lions’ second-round contest against third-seeded Michigan, one of the Tournament favorites. For reasons I can’t recall, I repeatedly declined. But I watched mesmerized on the tube as Loyola Marymount, which averaged more than 120 points per game, blew through Michigan like a hurricane. When the dust settled, the final score: LMU 149, Michigan 115. It advanced to the Final 8 before falling, but by then, the Lions were the story of the Tournament. It remains one of the best stories in college basketball.
Clay Travis writes one of the best stories I’ve read recently regarding the anniversary of Gathers’ death.
March 4, 2010 No Comments