Tag: Miami Heat

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Erik Spoelstra profile reveals he was on the court when Hank Gathers passed away

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Everyone that follows basketball knows who Erik Spoelstra is.

The head coach of the Miami Heat. The man that called the plays when the Big Three invaded Miami.

You may not know where he came from, however. I didn’t, not until I read this story from Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. He’s a fascinating guy, but here’s the part that shocked me: Spo was on the court when Hank Gathers, star of the 1990 LMU basketball team, died:

Spoelstra recalls in detail two events from his playing career, both at Portland. The first came in the 1990 West Coast Conference tournament, when he rushed back on defense against Loyola Marymount, only to see Hank Gathers soar for an alley-oop. Gathers collapsed moments later a few feet away and died that night. The second involves a less heralded power forward named Matt Houle. Spoelstra was easily winning a two-mile race against his teammates when he noticed Houle gaining on him. Spoelstra grew anxious, broke into a sprint and threw up after crossing the finish line first. He dry-heaved for the next 20 minutes.

Spoelstra was the point guard at Portland then. You can see him, No. 30 in purple, on the video here, although I will advise you not to click that link — a clip from “The Guru of Go”, a 30 for 30 on that LMU team — unless you’re prepared to watch the video of Gathers collapsing on the court.

Rashawn King, leukemia survivor, is cleared to play

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Rashawn King is one of the nation’s best stories.

As a 17 year old high schooler, King felt himself getting sick at a football camp. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors essentially told him that his white blood cell count was so high — that his previously undiagnosed leukemia was so bad — that he literally would have died the next day had he not made it to the hospital.

King ended up surviving and has since enrolled at NC Central.

And on Thanksgiving, he was cleared to play this season.

I think I know what King is thankful for, and I think the kind of kid that King is deserves repeating:

Make-A-Wish asked King his wish.

It was to meet Miami Heat star LeBron James.

So everything was setup for Rashawn King to meet The King at last season’s NBA All-Star game.

“But then I started thinking about it, and I decided it would be very selfish of me to use my Wish to meet one of my heroes when there were so many people who had been helping me when I was sick and down,” King said. “I decided I wanted to give back to those people. I decided to do something different.”

What King decided was that he’d rather throw a lunch-party for his classmates who had spent much of the previous two years fundraising and praying for him than meet the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player. It was an odd request for Make-A-Wish but one the foundation happily granted. Chick-fil-A sandwiches and sides were provided for nearly 2,000 students and faculty last April at Middle Creek High while King stood at the head of the line hugging and thanking friends and teachers.

King eventually got a chance to meet and hang out with Lebron, but that’s besides the point.

He’s cleared to play. King, now 20, beat cancer and will now continue his athletic career. And while King will probably never be more than a member of a team that spends every November and December getting slaughtered in guarantee games, the simple fact that he’ll be able to have an irrelevant career is incredible in and of itself.

D’Angelo Harrison leads the way, Chris Obekpa breaks St. John’s single-game blocks record in win over Detroit

D'Angelo Harrison
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JAMAICA, N.Y.–D’Angelo Harrison began Tuesday’s game against Detroit on the bench, kept out of the starting lineup by coach Steve Lavin for disciplinary reasons.

He ended the game as the team’s hero, tallying 22 points and outdueling former McDonald’s All-American Ray McCallum in a 77-74 St. John’s victory at Carnesecca Arena in Queens.

“From the time we booted him out of practice and sat [Harrison]..took his starting spot away, he’s been outstanding,” said head coach Steve Lavin. “Sometimes you have to be like an Irish judge, make the tough choices. But the kids really responded to the tough love.”

The fiery and feisty Harrison overcome a slow first half to score 15 second-half points, including a jumper with 5:48 remaining that pulled the game even at 62. With the departure of Big East Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless to the NBA, Harrison is the Red Storm’s focal point in 2012-13.

Fellow sophomore guard Phil Greene scored a career high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Defensively, the biggest performance of the night came freshman freshman Chris Obekpa, who broke the St. John’s single-game school record with eight blocks.

“In my experience as a coach and a broadcaster, he’s unique to anyone I’ve seen,” said Lavin. “It’s the length and the timing. He doesn’t pick up fouls. It’s rare to have someone get 10, 15, 20 blocks as I’ve seen in high school and pick up one foul.”

The Red Storm tried five different defenders on McCallum, who still managed 21 points, though he shot 8-of-23 from the floor. Detroit had a chance to final off a turnover in the final seconds, but a three-pointer by Juwan Howard, Jr., was off the mark.

St. John’s now heads to the Charleston Classic to take on College of Charleston on Thursday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_