Playground Ball: A Flashback to 1984-85
Seeing the CBS screenshot of Marquette spending Selection Sunday at what one blogger called an "11-year-old's birthday party" reminded me that I acquired some vintage Warriors material over the summer. At the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, where I was working on a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card story, I killed time looking through boxes and boxes of old periodicals -- mostly Sports illustrateds, Sport magazines and media guides. The gem I uncovered was a mint-condition Marquette media guide from the 1984-85 season.
It features the Warriors posing on a giant playground apparatus, and is pretty much your standard college-hoopsters-chilling-at-fifth-grade-recess photo:
So if you thought Marquette's tradition of putting its team in elementary school situations started on Sunday, you were wrong -- it started 25 years ago. That was Rick Majerus' second season as head coach of the Warriors, and on his bio page in the media guide, he has this quote about the legendary Al McGuire, whom he coached under as an assistant:
"We were in New York recruiting a kid named Butchie Lee. That's a really bad area in the South Bronx where Dick Butkus is the Avon Lady. We came out after dark and there were these two guys fighting, and they had their two coats on top of our car.
"Al said, 'Rick, you give me the keys and I'll drive. You get those two coats off the car.' So I said, "OK, and took the coats off the car, at which time those two guys and about 12 others decide they want to beat me up. I knew [Al] wouldn't split on me, but I didn't know what he'd do.
"That was the era during the Vietnam War and the peace movement. So Al gets out of the car, lifts his arms in the air, gives the peace sign with both hands and says, 'Peace, Peace, my name is Al McGuire and I come in peace. That guy,' he said, pointing to me, 'That's a monk I brought to visit the ailing Mrs. Lee. Start the car, Rick, start the car.'
Those are the things I learned from Al, so you know you're in trouble."
That Marquette team went to the NIT, the same tournament that snubbed Majerus' current St. Louis team this week, causing him to complain about the Atlantic 10's lack of lobbying power. The guy at the bottom of the slide -- whom I'd like to have seen try to fit down the actual slide -- was Tom Copa, who had a very brief NBA career, and has a game-worn jersey up for auction on eBay. Marquette's current media guide cover is photo-free, and appears to conceal some dark basketball mysteries.
If it were up to me, the Warriors' 1977 championship team photo would just be the media guide cover every year. Because Seashells and Balloons didn't make for a good photo theme, they went with Tuxes and a Rolls:
Marquette's 1977 team photo. (Marquette University Archives)