We all wring our hands so much about kids leaving school early to go to the NBA these days. But the lure of money and fame is hard to resist, and always has been.
Henry Bacon, who played on Denny Crum’s first Final Four team at Louisville, left school with one class unfinished in 1972. He probably figured he’d strike while the iron was hot and grab the big bucks. Instead, he played one season in the ABA for the San Diego Conquistadors and that was it.
Bacon spent the next 40 years earning a paycheck the usual ways, but decided it was time to go back to school and finish his degree. He walked across a stage with kids young enough to be his grandchildren and picked up a meaningful piece of paper this weekend. He told Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal that he didn’t leave his degree unfinished because of laziness or intellectual deficit.
“I never cut a class,” Bacon said. “The only classes I missed in college was when I was on the road playing ball. If you were a jock, you were (considered) an airhead, a bonehead. All you were good for was knocking people down and playing sports and you had no brains. I didn’t want to be a jock. I wanted to have an opportunity to do something else. The only way I saw of doing that was basketball. We played basketball in the rain, in the snow, with a ball that wouldn’t bounce, shoes that wouldn’t lace, with car lights, it didn’t matter.”
Bacon says he didn’t need the degree for financial reasons, but that he had promised his mother he’d finish school. He also wanted his grandchildren to know that his words valuing education weren’t just lip service.
So, is there ANY way U of L could get any more positive press this month? I’m waiting for the story about Charlie Strong rescuing a basket full of puppies from a flood. Should be coming any minute now.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.