Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Nightmare And A Dream

"Dean Meminger was quicker than the 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort."- Al McGuire

The Stoop was saddened to read that Dean Meminger was in critical condition after a fire broke out in his Bronx apartment. Apparently, crack pipes found by Dean's bed may have played a part in starting the fire.

What a shame.

Dean has been battling drug addiction for over 30 years.

He had it all. And squandered it. What a sad thing to see.

Dean was a basketball prince of New York City. He was a city kid who starred at Rice High School. He went on to have a legendary college basketball career with McGuire's Marquette University.

After that, he was a number one draft pick of his hometown Knicks, and was a member of the 1973 NBA champion Knicks.

The Knicks couldn't have won it in '73 without Dean.

Here's the deal; The Knicks played the Celtics in the 1973 Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics were 68-14, and had the best record in basketball.

The Celtics had Cowens. And Havlicek. And Jo Jo White.

It came down to a game seven. In Boston Garden. From the opposing team point of view, the last place you wanted to play a game seven was in Boston Garden.

Why? Because the Celtics never lost a game seven on their court. Ever. You gotta remember, in 1973, the NBA was less than 30 years old, and the Celtics had won almost half of the league championships.

But all bad things must come to an end, and the '73 Knicks became the first team to beat the Celtics in a game seven in Boston.

And what did Dean do in that game? He shut down the previously unstoppable Jo Jo White. He also had 13 points and six rebounds off of the bench.

''Dean went out and shut Jo Jo down and we won that game,'' Phil Jackson recalled. ''It was a signature performance in our history.''

Dean's NBA career was finished by 1977, and I remember he coached the Albany team in the old CBA, and he also coached Manhattanville College a couple of years ago. He got the Manhattanville job through a recommendation from his good friend -Earl Monroe.

But the drugs always got in the way with Dean.

Its amazing when you look at the post-championship lives of the 12 men who were the 1973 NBA Champion Knicks.

On the positive side, you have examples like Bill Bradley, who was a three term U.S. Senator and ran for President, Dick Barnett, who received his doctorate, legendary icons like Clyde & Pearl, a 10 time NBA champion coach in Phil Jackson.

On the other side of the ledger you have Dean & Hawthorne Wingo, who has also led a very sad post '73 life.

From the Presidency to the pipe.

Dean Meminger knows what it feels like to be a champion in his hometown of NYC.

He also knows what it feels like to be a crack addict.

You ever hear the Marvin Gaye song "Flying High In The Friendly Sky"? Its a song where Marvin reveals his addiction to cocaine:

Flying high in the friendly sky
Flying high without ever leavin' the ground, no
Rest of the folks are tired and weary
Oh Lord, and have laid their bodies down.
I go the place where danger awaits me
and it's bound to forsake me.

If you play that song while watching highlights of Dean Meminger, you will capture everything that is great and sad about the first guard off the bench for the '73 Knicks- Dean "The Dream" Meminger.

No comments: