News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sidelines

February 2, 2007

Sidelines: Advocates had their chance for higher basket

Years ago, if atmospheric conditions were just right, I could occasionally dunk a basketball, particularly at one local gym where pick-up game artists like me knew that one rim was at least three inches lower than regulation height. It was a popular spot for wannabe John “Hondo” Havliceks like Jimmy Chaney, Donnie Gambill, and me, who won more than one imaginary championship in our own backyard arenas.

For a while now, some critics have advocated a basic change in college and professional basketball that, in their opinion, would revolutionize the game and neutralize the effect of the seemingly ever-increasing size of the latest generation of players: raising the height of the basket.

In fact, that innovation had a trial run more than 50 years ago when the National Basketball Association actually tried it in an official game. On Sunday night, March 7, 1954, the NBA raised the basket to 12 feet for a game between the Milwaukee Hawks and the Minneapolis Lakers.

The reviews were mixed.

Steve Thornley, author of “Basketball’s Original Dynasty: The History of the Lakers” — a writer that Gary Fears put me onto — writes that Laker behemoths like George Mikan, and eventually our own local boy, Clyde Lovellette, prompted the wider 12-foot lane change in 1951. It was hoped that doubling the width from the original six feet prevented players like the bespectacled Mikan and Cloudburst Clyde (the late Al McGuire referred to such men as “aircraft carriers”) from camping out under the basket. Why wouldn’t raising the rim help cut those giants down to size too?

Thornley maintained that critics of the era believed it was simply too easy for big men to score. “Something has to be done to make a basket worth a cheer,” said one sports writer. It’s an argument that any casual fan of the NBA might be echoing today.

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Sidelines
  • Old friend missing as Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic begins

    It occurred to me late last month, as I opened my morning newspaper to read up on the draw for this year’s Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, that when I walk through Terre Haute South’s doors on Wednesday it will be the first time that I won’t find my old buddy Dean Kendall sitting at one end of the gym, a smile on his face a good while before the first whistle is blown or the first shot is taken.

    December 25, 2012

  • SIDELINES: Good for even a traditional Classic buff

    Lights down, tree out, another year gone at the Classic.

    January 4, 2012

  • Sidelines: Pizza Hut Classic is basketball on caffeine

    I’m no coffee connoisseur. If it’s hot and black and in a Styrofoam cup, I’ll drink it.
    Knowing I consume a good bit of brew every day, my family helps fuel the addiction by buying Christmas gift cards for me at a local coffee shop, but, since I make it into town only occasionally, the cards stay stashed in my wallet until the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic rolls around.

    January 5, 2011

  • Sidelines: Feeling cold? Here’s a story that just might warm your feet Despite a glowing space heater that hums near my chilly feet, I still hug my arms and rub my legs as I sit to write this story. The sub-zero temperatures this weekend have brutally reminded us all of our human frailty, of our dependence on stoves and furnaces, electricity and natural gas, on blankets and fleece and wool and warm water.

    January 11, 2010

  • Tipping my can in honor of the Classic’s 10th It never ceases to amaze me how fast time slides past us… Or should I say, blows by. I’ve lived in my house 28 years; I’ve taught school for over 30, and I’ve been married a little longer than that.

    December 24, 2009

  • Hayden's loyalty to Colts pays off Hours before the former University of Illinois cornerback was due to be designated as the Indianapolis Colts’ franchise player, Kelvin Hayden — who had made it known that he wasn’t interested in playing anywhere else — signed a five-year, $43 million deal with the team.

    February 20, 2009

  • Thumbing through a real history book My wife and I invest a bit of our time on the occasional Saturday wandering through antique stores and junk shops.

    January 16, 2009

  • Sidelines: When it comes to the Classic, it’s better late than never… I’m normally pretty punctual. Despite having to slip into the back pew at church on the occasionally tardy Sunday morning, I’m not in the habit of paying late fees on bills, standing at the back of any buffet lines, or being the last guy in the neighborhood to mow grass. As a matter of fact, I’m often the first employee to pull into the parking lot every morning.

    January 3, 2009

  • Colts notebook: Team won't be very active in free-agent market Now that Indianapolis has re-signed unrestricted free agents Bob Sanders (strong safety), Dallas Clark (tight end) and Ryan Lilja (offensive guard), team officials are planning to sit back and see what’s going to happen with the rest of the team’s free agents.

    February 22, 2008

  • SIDELINES: Like fine wine, Classic gets better with age I know virtually nothing about wine, but I do know that the best of it gets better with age. That’s apparently true of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic.

    January 2, 2008 1 Slideshow

  • Sidelines: A man has to do what a man has to do I have a job to do just after Christmas, and believe me, it’s a tough one; it takes four days, involves putting in long hours, requires both physical and mental sacrifice, and perhaps even holds the chance for long-term injury. But a guy has to do what he has to do to bring home a paycheck.

    December 23, 2007

  • Metro roundup: ISU announces Hall of Fame class

    November 10, 2007

  • Sidelines: Illinois has its share of unique nicknames too Over the years, I’ve written at least four columns about unique school nicknames, but Casey resident Jim Blome reminded me in a letter about a year ago that I’ve never done a story about interesting names from Illinois schools. I think it’s time I remedied that error.

    February 27, 2007

  • Sidelines: Advocates had their chance for higher basket Years ago, if atmospheric conditions were just right, I could occasionally dunk a basketball, particularly at one local gym where pick-up game artists like me knew that one rim was at least three inches lower than regulation height.

    February 2, 2007

  • Warm up for Classic with Clyde Quiz An obligation at work kept me from being at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic luncheon and tournament drawing at Terre Haute South a few weeks ago, but I don’t intend to let much get in my way when it comes to showing up for the lion’s share of the 28 games in the Classic, which, by the way, gets started today.

    December 26, 2006

  • Mike Lunsford: It’s not how much we’ve gained, but how much we’ve lost I haven’t seen much basketball this fall; the weather outside has been too nice lately to turn my attention to things indoors just yet. So this is the first Sidelines of the year; I was already writing about hoops in October last season. I hope the old adage of it being better late than never still rings true.

    November 29, 2006

  • TSLunsford Sidelines: Mail waste of time for some, but not for me No matter how many bills or how much junk mail I get, I’m one of those folks who anticipates going to the mailbox like Carter opening Tut’s tomb. I’ve always enjoyed getting mail; there’s a feeling of connectedness one gets when he sees his name on a letter from somewhere in the outside world. It makes little difference that what I most often get isn’t worth the postage it took to send it, even at the bulk rate.

    May 12, 2006 1 Photo

  • TSLunsford Sidelines: It doesn’t take much for me to name names It’s no secret that I enjoy talking about old high school nicknames; I’ve done several columns on the subject before. I usually wait a little while before I write about a topic for a second (or third) time, but when Fred Myers of Riley dropped a letter to me a few weeks ago pointing out a potential mistake I made about a nickname, I just couldn’t resist going into it again. After all, it has been a couple of years.

    January 25, 2006 1 Photo

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