It seems fitting somehow that, on the night the NCAA played its men’s championship game in a packed domed stadium before millions of fans watching worldwide, the man who made it possible was, once again, denied admission into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Oh, Dickie V. got in. And the one-dimensional Adrian Dantley got into the Hall. And the deserving Patrick Ewing, and the even more deserving Hakeem Olajuwon. But the man who helped to make Hakeem the Dream was turned down, yet again.
Really, people, what kind of Hall of Fame is that lets in the likes of Dick Vitale, but shuts out Guy V. Lewis? Guy V. Lewis who helped to shape and mold Elvin Hayes and Clyde Drexler and the Dream. Guy V. Lewis who was one of the leaders in integrating major southern college basketball. The man who thought of contacting John Wooden about bringing his mighty UCLA Bruin squad to the Dome for a game against the Cougars. Which would be on national television. Which would deliver the largest ever TV audience for a college basketball game.
This man’s not good enough for the Basketball Hall of Fame. But Dick Vitale is.
Sure, Guy V. Lewis never won a championship, but then again, neither did John Chaney or Eddie Sutton, and they are in the Hall. And Lewis never threatened to kill another coach, or sent out a goon squad to deliberately injure another team’s player, or left a major college program in shambles. Sure, he never won that title, but one year his team lost to the UCLA juggernaut. Another year he lost to a Michael Jordan led North Carolina. Another time, he lost in the finals to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown. Yes, the Coogs were part of one of the biggest upset in NCAA Final’s history. But he’s produced more memorable basketball moments than Pat Riley, another of this year’s inductees.
Ultimately, what pisses me off the most is that Dick Vitale is in this so-called Hall of Fame and Guy V. Lewis isn’t. Vitale was a mediocre coach in college and in the pros who’s only major contribution to the sport appears to be a loud voice and shouting things like PTPer instead of giving actual analysis.
Bitter, hell yes, I’m bitter. Guy V. Lewis not being in the Basketball Hall of Fame is akin to Drayton McLane being elected into the Hall of Fame while Walter O’Malley is denied a spot. Sure, Drayton’s responsible for introducing the choo-choo train with the giant pumpkins to baseball, but it was O’Malley who took Major League Baseball to the West Coast.
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Guy V. Lewis was Walter O’Malley. He took college basketball to the West Coast by playing it before huge crowds in domed stadiums to a huge national audience. Dick Vitale’s just the clown who likes to play with giant orange balls.
But what do I know? I still think Xanadu is a good movie because it sends me to a magical place where nobody dared to go…a place where Guy V. Lewis is honored and saluted for his great contributions to the game of basketball.
-- John Royal