RIP Lorenzo Charles, the Man Who Broke Phi Slama Jama's Heart

Lorenzo Charles, who will be forever remembered in Houston as the man who astonishingly ended UH's Phi Slama Jama's title hopes, has died at the age of 47 in a bus crash.

Charles was driving an empty bus back to his company's depot when he crashed on an interstate in North Carolina. No one else was hurt in the accident.

He apparently was a good guy who understood the "15 minutes of fame" concept. But Lord, what he did to Cougar fans.

The highly entertaining Coog team had already beaten the equally flashy Louisville "Doctors of Dunk" team in a classic game in the semifinals of the 1983 Final Four, and had only to defeat the Cinderella North Carolina State Wolfpack to get the championship.

Yeah, there are a lot of Guy V. Lewis lovers in town, and we're in that group, BUT....the Coogs could have put the damn game away, but Lewis had them slow things down.

NC State whittled away at the UH lead, and with the clock ticking down to the final seconds the teams were tied. It looked like a sure overtime -- where, for crissake, Lewis would surely let the Coogs loose -- when Dereck Whittenburg took an inept, desperate long-range shot.

Someone -- someone who had the name "Akeem" on the back of his jersey, so we don't know who he is -- failed to FUCKING box out, and Charles grabbed what turned out to be the basketball's longest, most looping pass, one that fell into his hands short of the basket, and with no one around to persuade him otherwise, he simply jumped up and dunked it.

Not that we're bitter or anything.

Like we say, Charles seems like he was a good guy. From the Charlotte Observer story on his death:

"It's still kind of amazing to me that ... people are still talking about it," Charles said in an excerpt from his comments about the championship game on his N.C. State Web page. "I remember when (it) first happened, I figured I would have my 15 minutes of fame and that would be it. Here we are and it is still a conversational piece. I don't really think that was the only great Final Four finish that has been played since then, but for some reason people just single out that game and talk about it. Maybe because it was such a David and Goliath thing."

Yes, and in this case it sucked to be Goliath.

But RIP, Lorenzo. You went far too soon.