My son Steve was four or five years old, my wife was teaching summer school at Male High School during the summer of 1979. For some reason he had accompanied her to school that day.
He doesn’t remember the experience but his mom sure does, and his dad will always be envious.
Around lunchtime they wandered down to the gym. Everything wasn’t air conditioned in those days so it was pretty hot in the middle of the summer. Much to their surprise, they find a basketball player with a University of Louisville sweatshirt dribbling around a jumbled row of chairs, working on his foot work.
After a little small talk, the player tossed the ball to Steve, wanting him to take a few shots. But the highlight for his mother came when the big guy, 6-foot-5, would pick up the little guy, 3-foot-9, and raise him above his head so junior could shove the ball in the rim. He would have to do it two or three times, of course.
The player turned out to be Darrell Griffith, preparing for his senior year. He was already considered the best player in Louisville history, known to many fans as a “living legend.” He would become UofL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,333 points in his career, a record that still stands. His number, 35, was retired during ceremonies after the 1980 season. He would get drafted by the Utah Jazz the next season.
Griffith was announced Tuesday as a member of the 2014 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted in November at Kansas City, Missouri where the hall is located. The Naismith Hall will come later (it better).
Congratulations and thanks for the memory, Darrell. Doesn’t get much better than a one-on-one lesson from the Doctor of Dunk.