Meadow George Lemon III, 1932–2015

Booklet, His Home Town's Tribute, with inscription on cover from Hugh Morton to Sam Ragan. Copy in the North Carolina Collection.

His Home Town’s Tribute, with inscription on cover from Hugh Morton to Sam Ragan. Copy in the North Carolina Collection.

The moon is not ready for us yet, so we must live together here on earth . . .

I woke up this morning to the news that Meadowlark Lemon passed away yesterday.  I logged into A View to Hugh to create a blog post.  Jack Hilliard had already left a comment about Lemon’s passing in Susan Block’s essay, “Wilmington: Faded Glory to Fresh Achievement” and he mentioned the above booklet.  I retrieved it from the stacks first thing after arriving in my office.  Leafing through its pages alludes to why the city conveyed the honor to Lemon when it did—but it never even mentions the exact date, only “on a day in March 1971.”  Lemon’s visit to Wilmington lasted forty-eight hours (maybe more) and took place only six weeks after the February 6th firebombing of Mike’s Grocery and the rioting that followed, and the arrest of suspects that became known as The Wilmington Ten.  Lemon’s autobiography, Meadowlark (1987) tells part of the story, too, a story that extends beyond an honorific day.

Born Meadow George Lemon III on April 25, 1932 in Wilmington, North Carolina (though some sources state he was born in South Carolina and his family moved to Wilmington when he was about six years old).  When Lemon was eleven years old he saw a newsreel at The Ritz movie theater about the Harlem Globetrotters.  Lemon’s heart raced as he watched the players handle a basketball, passing it around their “Magic Circle” with faking and mugging while dancing to the music of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “In a flash,” he wrote in Meadowlark, “I knew I wanted to be on that team, the Harlem Globetrotters.”  As soon as the newsreel ended, Lemon ran out of the theater, skipping the feature films, to his father’s house.  He had had a life-changing experience and he had to tell his dad—but he wasn’t home.  Rummaging around he found a nearly empty onion sack and threaded it onto a wire hanger, which he nailed the crudely made hoop to a neighbor’s tree.  He went back to his dad’s house and found a Carnation Evaporated Milk, which he scrunched for his ball.  He played basketball this way for hours until his father came home.

Meadowlark Lemon’s story of his basketball origins proceed through Wilmington’s Community Boy’s Club where he played his first organized basketball just after finishing sixth grade and continued learning the game there into his freshman year at Williston Industrial High School, the city’s only black high school.  During his first basketball game as a freshman he played as a substitute center for an injured teammate against Laurinburg Industrial with their star forward and guard Sam Jones—a future Boson Celtic and NBA Hall of Fame inductee.  Lemon was green and outplayed by the Laurinburg center; the next year, however, Lemon was named all-state and continued to be a star player throughout high school.  He graduated from Williston in 1952

After graduation Lemon was indecisive about going to college despite dozens of scholarship offers.  His father decided for him and sent off Meadow by train to Florida A&M.  Lemon thought he had also earned a football scholarship there but he had not.  Unhappy and unwilling to wait until basketball season, after just a few weeks he returned to Wilmington, prepared to serve in the U. S. Army having received his draft notice while away.

Upon Lemon’s return from Tallahassee his high school coach told him the Globetrotters would be playing in Raleigh in two weeks.  His coach had previously written a letter requesting a tryout on behalf of Lemon to his friend Abe Saperstein, owner of the Globetrotters, but had never heard back.  Lemon asked his coach to call Saperstein and secure a tryout for the Globetrotters while they were playing in Raleigh.  His call was successful: all Lemon had to do was get to the arena in Raleigh and ask for Marques Haynes.  Much to Lemon’s surprise, he tried out by suiting up for the game.  Haynes was nursing an injured knee and decided Lemon could show him what he had on the court during the game.  As he enter the gym wearing the colors he had only seen as black-and-white in a newsreel, the announcer read from a slip of paper: “For the first time in a Globetrotter uniform, the Trotters present Meadow Lemon, from our own Wilmington, North Carolina.”

Full frame scan of Hugh Morton's negative used for the cover of the souvenir program His Home Town's Tribute.

Full frame scan of Hugh Morton’s negative used for the cover of the souvenir program His Home Town’s Tribute.

There’s plenty more to Lemon’s story, which indeed took him around the world as a Harlem Globetrotter.  In 1971, however, Wilmington needed Lemon back home.

According to the booklet His Home Town’s Tribute, talk of having a Meadowlark Lemon Day dated as far back as 1965.  So in late 1970 when the Wilmington Jaycees scheduled the Globetrotters for a date at Brogden Hall for March 1971, the Chamber of Commerce was quickly able to form a special committee that included city and county government officials, and educational and civic leaders.  Shedding more light on those developments, Hugh Morton wrote in his profile of Meadowlark Lemon in Making a Difference in North Carolina (1988):

Tom Jervay, editor and publisher of the black-oriented Wilmington Journal refers to [Lemon] not as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” but as the “Clown Apostle of Interracial Good Will.”  Jervay, whose newspaper office was one of several places bombed or burned in the spring of 1971 during a period of racial violence, remembers that his son, Tom Jervay, Jr. and former Wilmington Jaycee Ed Godwin telephoned from the Journal office to Lemon, whose Globetrotters were playing in Charleston, S. C. at the time, to invite the basketball star to help Wilmington.  Goodwin arranged for a private plane to bring Lemon to the trouble city.

Editor Jervay says, “Meadowlark really cooled things down here when we needed him.”  Looking back on the strife in Wilmington which he helped defuse, Meadowlark says he would do it again, but that he will never have to, because things like that happen due to ignorance on the part of both whites and blacks, and “all of us have grown.”

Meadowlark Lemon Day was Friday, March 19, 1971.  The previous day’s editorial column in the Wilmington Star News began with the headline, “The trouble here must stop now!” Earlier that week racial tensions erupted into riots at Williston Junior High School (Lemon’s former high school, then recently integrated), Hoggard Junior High School, and New Hanover High School.  The school district closed the three schools for Thursday and Friday.

According to a photograph’s caption the tribute booklet, Wayne Jackson interviewed Lemon on television Thursday evening.  On set with Lemon was Earl Jackson and Walter Bess of the Community Boys Club, and Hugh Morton as a member of the Chamber of Commerce committee. (For context, in December 1971 Morton would begin his short-lived Democratic Party gubernatorial race.)  On Friday Lemon appeared for a press conference, followed by a luncheon with city and county officials at the Timme Plaza ballroom.  He then visited schools, including Williston, and the Community Boys Club.  Lemon stressed the need to work together to get the schools open.  In Meadowlark, Lemon says he told students, “Get the education. Stay in school.  Let’s get things together and get this trouble over.”

The tribute booklet includes a letter from Lemon in which he acknowledges the importance of the Community Boys Club in his life.  He noted that in two to three years the club’s outdated facility would fall inside the Urban Renewal area and would be torn down.  He added,

At that time a new and better home for the Club must be built.  I am grateful to Tom Jervay, Jr. and Hugh Morton for contributing, without cost, the pictures and text of this book, and to the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce for publishing it.  All profits from the sale of this souvenir book of the greatest day of my lifetime will go to begin the capital account that has been established in the Wachovia Bank in Wilmington to help build a new Community Boys Club.

There is so much good to be done in the world, I know I cannot do it all, but in the part of it I can do I want Community Boy’s Club to be included.  The moon is not ready for us yet, so we must live together here on earth, and the Boy’s Club makes life mean more to a lot of young boys. . . .

Meadowlark Lemon at the foul line during the Harlem Globetrotters game at Brogden Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina on March 19, 1971.

Meadowlark Lemon at the foul line during the Harlem Globetrotters game at Brogden Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina on March 19, 1971.

In Meadowlark, Lemon devoted about three pages to his account of events and circumstances surrounding Meadow Lark Lemon Day.  He recalled being flown into Wilmington five straight days before the game.  Despite concerns that violence may break out during the game, none occurred.  Lemon wrote in his autobiography, “No threats, no staring down.  Blacks and whites sat together, laughed together, sang together.  I felt it was one of the best things I ever accomplished.”

Closing Note: Were you living in Wilmington during this time?  Do you have recollections about Meadowlark Lemon’s visit?  If so, what level of importance do you place on his role at that crucial time?  Please share your experience by leaving a comment.  I believe there’s more to be learned about this topic!

The Aggies and the Heels: a short history

Carolina will kick off its 2015 home football schedule on Saturday, September 12th when Head Coach Rod Broadway brings his North Carolina A&T Aggies to Kenan Stadium.  It will be the first meeting between the two schools on the gridiron; the men’s basketball programs, however, have met on the hardwood twice (in 2001 and 2003).  Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at those two meetings.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty, teammates on the UNC 1982-83 and 1983-84 basketball teams, chat as coaches before their teams—North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—faced off on February 18, 2003 at UNC's Smith Center.  Another photograph of the former Tar Heels talking court-side can be found in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty, teammates on the UNC 1982-83 and 1983-84 basketball teams, chat as coaches before their teams—North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—faced off on February 18, 2003 at UNC’s Smith Center. Another photograph of the former Tar Heels talking court-side can be found in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty were teammates on UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith’s 1982-83 and 1983-84 teams.  In 2000 each took a head coaching position with teams within the UNC system: Hunter at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Doherty at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  As was the custom then, and still today, members of the “Carolina Family” often wind up playing each other.  And that was the case with the Tar Heels and the Aggies.  When the two teams met twice in the Smith Center during the early 2000s, photographer Hugh Morton was there on both occasions to document the games.

It was a homecoming of sorts for North Carolina A&T Head Coach Curtis Hunter on December 27, 2001 when he brought his Aggies into the Smith Center to meet coach Matt Doherty’s Tar Heels.  But Hunter realized that his homecoming would need to take a back seat to getting his 1 and 7 team ready to play Doherty’s 3 and 5 Heels.

In a pre-game interview, Hunter said, “To be honest about it, I hadn’t given (coming back to play at UNC) that much thought.  It really hasn’t hit me yet.  Maybe that will all change once the game starts.”  Just minutes before the tipoff, Hunter did notice an old friend seated close by and went over and offered a long embrace.  It was Angela Lee, wife of former Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Lee.  When Curtis played for the Tar Heels, Angela worked in the basketball office.

Game-action photograph by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor)  from the 2001 UNC vs. NC A&T contest.  Who are the players in the photograph?  Please leave a comment below if you know!

Game-action photograph by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor) from the 2001 UNC vs. NC A&T contest. Who are the players in the photograph? Please leave a comment below if you know!

With former UNC head coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge looking on, it didn’t take long for all to see that the Tar Heels had brought their A-game.  They led 52 to 31 at the half and equaled that 52 in the second half with a final score of 104 to 66.  Tar Heel senior Jason Capel led the way with 26 points.  In all, Carolina hit 16 three-point shots—one off the school record and two short of the ACC record at the time.  A&T hit only 37.9 percent from the floor and committed 18 turnovers. In his post game interview, Hunter said, “All I know is that we just got beat by 38 points.  So, it’s up to me to come up with ways to help my team play up to its capabilities.”

But wait . . . Curtis Hunter appears to be wearing the same suit and tie in this photograph as he is in the opening photograph, which we have dated as 2003.  Is that a coincidence, planned or otherwise, or was the opening  photograph also made in 2001?  This image, which is not in the online collection, is from a negative envelope with the following identifying information: UNC vs. NC A&T (plus event at Friday Center Institute; 1 roll), December 2001.  There are five basketball images: two game photographs followed by three podium images.  Another Morton mystery is at hand!

But wait . . . Curtis Hunter appears to be wearing the same suit and tie in this photograph as he is in the opening photograph, which we have dated as 2003. Is that a coincidence, planned or otherwise, or was the opening photograph also made in 2001? This image, which is not in the online collection, is from a negative envelope with the following identifying information: UNC vs. NC A&T (plus event at Friday Center Institute; 1 roll), December 2001. There are five basketball images: two game photographs followed by three podium images. Another Morton mystery is at hand!

While Coach Doherty was pleased with his team’s win, he admitted that beating a former teammate in a blowout is not all that gratifying.  “After the game I said to him, ‘Sorry you caught us on a bad night.’  A month ago it could have been a different story.”
Coach Hunter was asked one final time about his homecoming.  “It still hasn’t hit me yet,” he replied.  “Maybe that will happen next year.”

That “next year” would be February 18, 2003.  The second meeting between UNC and A&T didn’t offer coach Curtis Hunter a happy homecoming either.  His team was winless going into the game, having lost 20 games, while Carolina was 13 and 11.

The Tar Heels took control early and wound up hitting 54 per cent over all.  A&T hit 4 threes and had an overall percentage of 34.9. The Greensboro News and Record described the Carolina effort as a “dunk-a-thon,” adding that they also hit 11 three-point shots.  The final score was UNC 93, A&T 57.

In his post-game interview, Coach Doherty said, “I’m sorry it had to be Curtis Hunter, my old teammate, on the other bench. I have a lot of respect for him.”

A couple of weeks later when the 2002–2003 college basketball season ended, UNC and A&T had a combined win total of 20 games: Carolina was 19 and 16, A&T was 1 and 26.  And by the time the 2003-2004 college basketball season rolled around, both UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina A&T had new head coaches in place.

UNC in the NCAA Regional Semifinals once again

On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper.  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s. I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.

As many also know, Dean Smith, UNC’s revered basketball coach, passed away in February.  Hugh Morton’s last photographs made at an NCAA tournament were of Dean Smith’s final press conference after UNC’s 1997 tournament semifinal loss to Arizona in Indianpolis.

In advance of tonight’s Sweet Sixteen match-up between UNC and Wisconsin in Los Angeles, today’s blog post looks at Morton’s many trips to the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Tournament.

This is one of Hugh Morton's photographs from his first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, the 1946 championship game between UNC and Oklahoma A&M, played in Madison Square Garden in New York City.  On the court from Oklahoma A&M are #90 Bob Kurland and #85 Sam Aubrey. From North Carolina are #4 Bob Paxton, #13 John "Hook" Dillon, and Bones McKinney (only arms and legs are visible).  The Aggies won 43–40.

This is one of Hugh Morton’s photographs from his first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the 1946 championship game between UNC and Oklahoma A&M, played in Madison Square Garden in New York City. On the court from Oklahoma A&M are #90 Bob Kurland and #85 Sam Aubrey. From North Carolina are #4 Bob Paxton, #13 John “Hook” Dillon, and Bones McKinney (only arms and legs are visible). The Aggies won 43–40.

Here’s an interesting factoid from Obscurityville: photographer Hugh Morton was a UNC freshman when the NCAA held its very first men’s basketball tournament in March 1939.  Clemson defeated Maryland in the 1939 Southern Conference Tournament; it was Wake Forest, however, with the conference’s best regular season record that the NCAA selected for its eight-team national championship tournament. Wake Forest lost its opening-round game to Ohio State, 64–52.

There was no representative from the Southern Conference in the NCAA tournament the following year.  In 1941, UNC lost to Duke in the Southern Conference Tournament, but the NCAA nonetheless selected the “White Phantoms” (the UNC basketball team’s nickname) for its first trip to the national tournament—the only team selected from the twelve southeastern states.  During the regular season UNC had posted a 14–1 conference record and were 19–9 overall.  UNC’s NCAA tournament appearances that year were of two extremes.  They lost 26–20 to Pittsburgh in their opening game played in Madison, Wisconsin.  The Yackety Yack yearbook copywriter called it UNC’s “worst exhibition of the year.”  The Yack writer then described UNC’s following night performance in the Regional Third Place game as “a sterling display of southern basketball in losing to Dartmouth, 60–59, in the last few seconds.”  All-America George Glammack scored 31 points.

In 1942, Morton’s last year as a UNC student, Duke captured the Southern Conference crown.  A series of three blog posts on A View to Hugh recounted Morton’s extensive coverage of that tournament. The NCAA did not select Duke, however, as one of the eight tournament teams.  In 1943, in what would have been his senior year, Morton was instead a private in the United States Army.

Not until 1946 did a Southern Conference team return to the NCAA tournament.  UNC took that honor all the way to the championship game in Madison Square Garden.  With his photographic skills now honed by his military experience in the 161st Signal Corps,  Hugh Morton photographed the championship match-up, which the Tar Heels lost to Oklahoma A & M 43–40.

Eleven more years transpired before the Tar Heels’ next appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1957.  Coach Frank McGuire led UNC to an undefeated season and the national title in the basketball season that became known as “McGuire’s Miracle.”  Morton did not attend UNC’s games during that tournament, but he did photograph the team’s return at the Raleigh-Durham Airport.

The frequency of Morton’s attendance at NCAA tournament games began to increase in the mid 1960s.  Here’s a list I’ve compiled thus far (it’s “go to press” time!) of Morton’s trips to NCAA tournament games, with some links to the earlier images.  Did I miss any?  If so let me know and I’ll update the list.

  • Duke’s defeat of Connecticut in the 1964 East Regional Final played in Raleigh’s Reynolds Auditorium.
  • UNC’s victory over Davidson in the 1968 East Regional Final, also played at Reynold’s Coliseum.
  • UNC’s 1969 “Final Four” loss to Purdue in the national semifinal played in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The 1974 national semifinals played in the Greensboro Coliseum, where North Carolina State upset of UCLA in the first round of the Final Four.  Morton photographed the game from the stands, from where he also shot some of the Kansas versus Marquette contest.  Morton did not photograph N. C. State’s win over Marquette for the national championship.
  • 1975 first round win over New Mexico State played at the Charlotte Coliseum.
  • The 1977 “Final Four” games versus the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Marquette University played at The Omni in Atlanta.
  • UNC’s 1981 championship loss to Indiana at Philadelphia.
  • UNC’s 1982 championship victory over Georgetown at New Orleans.
  • UNC’s 1983 defeat of Ohio State and its loss to Georgia in the East Regional Final played at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
  • UNC’s 1987 loss to Syracuse at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
  • UNC’s 1990 upset over number one seed Oklahoma in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
  • UNC’s 1993 national championship win over Michigan, 77–71, in New Orleans, and UNC’s games in Winston-Salem and East Rutherford, New Jersey.  It seems Morton did not photograph its opening round game versus East Carolina also played in Winston-Salem.
  • UNC’s trip to the 1995 Final Four in Seattle
  • Morton’s final trip to the NCAA tournament was to see UNC play at Indianapolis in the 1997 Final Four.

A Special Connection

Today, February 19th, marks the 94th anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth.  Nine days from today, February 28th, would have been legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith’s 84th birthday.  As many if not most of you know, Smith passed away earlier this month on February 7th.

In between those two birthday observances will be a third celebration.  On Sunday afternoon, February 22nd, there will be a very special gathering in the Dean Smith Student Activity Center on the UNC campus to celebrate the life of Dean E,. Smith.  There will be players and former players . . . coaches and former coaches . . . students and former students.  And I choose to believe there will be a very special section that will not be visible to those of us in the arena—and Smith, Bill Friday, and Hugh Morton will be seated there.  All present will come together to honor the man who symbolizes what is known as “The Carolina Way.”

To mark all three occasions, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the special connection that exists between Hugh Morton and Dean Smith.

Dean Smith signaling "Four Corners" during his 879th, and last, victory as head basketball coach at UNC.  Hugh Morton photographed this scene during the Eastern Regional championship game played against Louisville at Syracuse, New York.

Dean Smith signaling “Four Corners” during his 879th, and last, victory as head basketball coach at UNC. Hugh Morton photographed this scene during the Eastern Regional championship game played against Louisville at Syracuse, New York.

Dean Smith, Coach, Teacher, Role Model

—chapter title in Making a Difference in North Carolina by Hugh M. Morton and Edward L. Rankin, Jr.

Soon after Dean Smith arrived on the UNC campus in 1958, he was introduced to Hugh Morton, a longtime friend of the university and its basketball program.  Three years later, when Smith was appointed head coach by Chancellor William Aycock, Smith continued the free photographic access policy that the previous head coach, Frank McGuire, had offered Hugh Morton.  Morton took advantage of that access.  Over the years Morton came up from the North Carolina coast and down from the North Carolina mountains to Chapel Hill to photograph Smith and his championship program.

At the present time, there are nearly 200 images of Smith and hundreds more Carolina basketball action shots in the online collection of photographs by Morton.

For the book Making a Difference in North Carolina, Hugh Morton contributed an eight-page chapter about his friend Dean Smith.  The piece contains eleven pictures of Smith, including one that was to become a Morton favorite.  [Editor’s note: for this occasion, we rescanned Morton’s favorite negative of Smith using our high-end Hasselblad film scanner. It’s much improved!]

Hugh Morton's favorite photograph of Dean Smith, cropped as it appears in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina. Clicking on the image will take you to the scan of the entire negative.  From there you can see other shots made by Morton in the same room, and then explore other photographs of Dean Smith.

Hugh Morton’s favorite photograph of Dean Smith, cropped as it appears in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina. Clicking on the image will take you to the scan of the entire negative. From there you can see other shots made by Morton in the same room, and then explore other photographs of Dean Smith.

In his 1996 book Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described that famous Smith image:

My favorite picture of Dean Smith is this one (above) made right after UNC won the national championship in 1982 in New Orleans. Except for that net around James Worthy’s neck, you wouldn’t know that Carolina had won.  Everybody was wrung out and fatigued.”

Then, seven years later in his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, Morton further described the picture adding, “Sports Information Director Rick Brewer is looking at his watch, fearful that the story will not make East Coast sports page deadlines, and Coach Smith and Jimmy Black are just plain tired.  They were waiting to be interviewed by the media.”

At a slide show during UNC’s “Graduation/Reunion Weekend” in May of 1989, Morton explained how he got in position to take the famous picture.

There was mass confusion on the floor after the 1982 Championship game as the security folks tried to get Coach Smith and his team off the court.  Coach Smith grabbed me by the arm and said ‘stick with me.’ He then turned to the security guard…pointed at me and said ‘he’s with us.

An earlier blog post recounts the closing moments of that game and includes a link to the broadcast (that’s now no longer functioning) where near the very end you can see Morton on the court near Smith.

Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Matt Doherty during the 1993 "Final Four" NCAA tournament.

Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Matt Doherty during the 1993 “Final Four” NCAA tournament.

Another Hugh Morton favorite slide show photograph can be found in Hugh’s 2003 book on page 200.  The image shows Coach Smith with three other coaches that would eventually be UNC head coaches: Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty and Roy Williams.  This photograph is discussed the blog post “Back at the Top . . . Back in the Bayou.”  On page 198 of the same book, is the opening photograph of this article, taken at the final game Dean Smith won as a Tar Heel—his final victory, number 879.

Of the many books published about Dean Smith and his basketball program, I think it’s safe to say that Hugh Morton played a part in the finished product of most of them.  An excellent example would be Barry Jacobs’s 1998 book, The World According to Dean:  Four Decades of Basketball as seen by Dean Smith.  The book contains 23 Morton photos and the front cover image. (Judging from Smith’s tie on the cover photograph, it also looks to be from his final victory game.)

On June 2, 2006, the evening following Hugh Morton’s death, WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte presented a special Morton tribute.  Veteran BTV broadcaster Paul Cameron anchored the program.  During the show several of Morton’s friends were interviewed including Dean Smith, live by telephone from his home in Chapel Hill. Coach spoke of Morton’s loyalty to his University and the basketball program and said, no matter what the weather, Morton always seemed to be courtside and ready for game day.  In addition, Coach Smith paid tribute to Morton’s family, his wife Julia in particular, and said he called often during Morton’s illness and spoke with him when he was able.

Since Coach Smith’s death on February 7th, there have been dozens and dozens of beautiful tributes written in newspapers and delivered on TV . . . many of which were supported by Morton images.  I choose to believe that there will be additional Morton images of Dean Smith taken Sunday afternoon.

You may use the search box at the top of the blog to search for additional  A View to Hugh blog posts that include Dean Smith.

Coach “K” wins number 1000

Composite of three Hugh Morton photographs of Duke Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski in recognition of his 1,000 career victory.

Composite of three Hugh Morton photographs of Duke Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski in recognition of his 1,000 career victory.

With Duke’s win over St. John’s on January 25th, Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, became the first head coach to reach 1,000 victories: 927 at Duke and 73 at Army.  Coach “K” has been the head basketball coach at Duke University since 1980.  He has four NCAA National Championships on his resume and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Over the years Krzyzewski has often been a photo subject of Hugh Morton. In addition to the three photographs used for the composite above, there are thirteen additional photographs in the online collection.  A View to Hugh sends sincere congratulations to Coach Krzyzewski on this career milestone victory.

A March without Madness . . . a season without banners

When Carolina lost three ACC games in a row early this season, some Tar Heel fans started looking back over their shoulders at that dismal 2001-2002 season.  Coach

Williams and the 2013-2014 Heels righted the ship and won 12 in a row before dropping the final game of the season to Duke; and then came a disappointment at the ACC Tournament quarterfinals with a loss to ACC newcomer Pittsburgh.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard looks back at that ’01-‘02 season . . . a season most Tar Heels would just as soon forget.

One Tar Heel I will never forget is Bill Richards.  Bill passed away two years ago on March 18th while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the library’s Digital Production Center.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper,  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Service  in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s. Today’s post is dedicated to Bill.

This year’s Tar Heel fans will still have their dose of Madness: UNC made the NCAA Tournament as the 6th seed in the East.

Jackie Manuel (UNC, #5) shooting during the quarterfinals of 2002 ACC basketball tournament, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University basketball game, Charlotte Coliseum, NC. Jason Capel (UNC, #25) boxes out Duke's Mike Dunleavy (#34), while Carlos Boozer (#4) awaits a possible rebound. Duke won 60 to 48.  Boozer and Dunleavy are currently teammates and active players for the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association.

Jackie Manuel (UNC, #5) shooting during the quarterfinals match-up in the 2002 ACC basketball tournament between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke at Charlotte Coliseum. Jason Capel (UNC, #25) boxes out Duke’s Mike Dunleavy (#34), while Carlos Boozer (#4) awaits a possible rebound. Duke won the game 60 to 48. Boozer and Dunleavy are currently teammates and active players for the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association.

On Friday, November 16, 2001, there were reasons to celebrate on the UNC campus.  The basketball program signed three of the top high school players in the country.  (Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Sean May would lead the Tar Heels to a national championship in 2005.) The “Charlie Justice Era” players were in town for a reunion and would dedicate the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor” in the Kenan Football Center and were honored guests at halftime of the UNC-Duke football game on Saturday, November 17th,  a game in which Head Coach John Bunting’s Tar Heels beat Duke 52 to 17.  Head Basketball Coach Matt Doherty’s 20th ranked 2001-2002 Tar Heels were scheduled to open the season in the Smith Center with a game against Head Coach Steve Merfield’s Hampton University Pirates, and that game would mark legendary “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham’s 1,000th basketball broadcast on the Tar Heel Sports Network.

With all of that going on, the sports headline in Saturday’s Greensboro’s News & Record read in large bold type:

HEELS HUMBLED

Hampton, a team that had been picked to finish third in the Middle-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), beat the Tar Heels 77 to 69. Carolina led only once at 2 to 0, attempted 34 shots from the 3-point line but made only 6, and couldn’t handle the Pirates’ packed-back zone.  It was just the second loss in a home opener since the 1928-29 season for Carolina.  To give Hampton due credit, the Pirates went on to compile a 26-7 record, finishing as the 2001-2002 MEAC regular season champions.  They won the MEAC Tournament and were selected as the 2002 National Black College Champions.  To cap off their successful season, they earned the 15th seed in the East bracket of the Division 1 NCAA Tournament.  Hampton lost their first-round contest to Connecticut—who made it all the way to the NCAA final, only to lose to the ACC’s Maryland.

When Davidson came to town four days later, things didn’t get much better and then a loss to Indiana on November 28th in the ACC – Big 10 Challenge and the Tar Heels had set a record three game losing streak to start the season—all at home.  Finally, on December 2nd Carolina beat Georgia Tech in the Smith Center 83 to 77 with a trip to Kentucky looming in six days.

Defeated by twenty points in Lexington at Rupp Arena, Tar Heel fans were at a loss.  What was wrong?  When a one-point-win came on December 16th against Binghamton, Tar Heel fans said OK we regroup at the Tournament of Champions in Charlotte.  Well, not really.  On December 21st, College of Charleston handed the Tar Heels an opening round loss 66 to 60 but the following night, Carolina came back with a win against St. Joseph’s.  That win was followed by two more wins, against North Carolina A&T and Texas A&M.  OK . . . a three game winning streak.

What followed was new territory for Tar Heel fans. From January 5, 2002 until January 23rd, Carolina lost six games—five of them ACC games and a 32-point loss at Connecticut.

On January 27th Carolina beat Clemson on the road—one of only two road wins all season.  Next came five more ACC losses before a home win against Florida State on February 17th.  Ten days later, Carolina won its final game of the 2001-2002 season, a game against Clemson in the Smith Center.

The final two games of the season were both against Duke: a loss in Cameron and a loss in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte.  The season was finally over . . . no NCAA . . . no NIT . . . it was over and was a record-setter.

Carolina lost

  • 20 games
  • 12 ACC games
  • 9 home games
  • 5 consecutive home games
  • 5 consecutive ACC games
  • and three straight home games to open the season.

Finishing seventh in the ACC was the lowest ever for a Carolina team. Needless to say, there was no March Madness in 2002 (NCAA or NIT) for the first time since 1966 and there are no winning banners in the rafters of the Smith Center for 2001-02 season.

The headline writer at the News & Record could have recycled that “HEELS HUMBLED” headline from November 17th and run it again to close out a season most Tar Heel fans would like to forget.

Editor’s Note: Morton photographed several UNC basketbal games during the 2001-2002 season, but the only photographs in the online collection are images from the Duke versus UNC games in 2002.  See the collection finding aid for a more complete listing.

A medal for Dean

There will be some great Tar Heel news out of Washington, D.C. today—November 20th, 2013.  Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at an honor for one of the greatest Tar Heels ever.

Dean SmithCan you name two things each of the following has in common?

  • Bob Hope
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Lowell Thomas
  • David Brinkley
  • Andy Griffith
  • Adm. Arleigh Burke
  • John Glenn
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Duke Ellington
  • Richard Petty
  • Dr. Billy Graham
  • Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan

Each one of these distinguished individuals has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and each one has been photographed by world-class photographer Hugh Morton.  We can now add one more name to that list: UNC‘s legendary basketball coach Dean Edwards Smith.  Sixteen distinguished individuals, including the man who was Carolina basketball from 1961 until his retirement following the 1997 season, will receive the medal today at a White House ceremony from President Barack Obama.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is presented to those who have “made especially meritorious contributions to security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”  President Obama announced the latest list of recipients on August 8, 2013.

Others to receive the medal this year are President Bill Clinton, Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, senators Daniel Inouye and Richard Lugar, astronaut Sally Ride, and entertainers Loretta Lynn and Oprah Winfrey.  Additionally Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and author; Mario Molina, Nobel Prize-winning environmental scientist; Arturo Sandoval, Cuban jazz musician; Gloria Steinem, women’s rights activist; Cordy Tindell Vivian, civil rights activist; Judge Patricia Wald, the first woman to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington; and Bayard Rustin, gay civil rights activist.

During his 36 years leading the Tar Heels, coach Smith chalked up 879 wins, 11 final four appearances, 13 ACC championships and two national titles . . . along with an Olympic gold medal in 1976.  Along the way he has been awarded membership in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In making the announcement, President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their lives to enriching ours.  This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.”

In addition to his basketball resume, Coach Smith was a champion for civil rights, human rights, and academic achievement. The graduation rate for his players is 96 percent.

As a loyal Tar Heel since birth, I was especially pleased to see a positive Carolina athletic story on the evening news and the reaction in Chapel Hill has been likewise, extremely positive.

“I’m so proud of Coach Smith, happy for his family and friends and appreciative to President Obama for this just recognition,” said current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams who played and coached under Smith’s leadership.

Tar Heel Head Football Coach Larry Fedora said the honor is great news for UNC.  “I can’t imagine how he feels,” Fedora said.  “What a tremendous thing for our university.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford, a former athletics director at UNC, called Smith, “one of the most successful, honorable and remarkable men I’ve had the privilege of knowing . . . his reach stretches far beyond the sport of basketball.”

Duke University Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that Smith receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom speaks loudly about Smith as a coach and the game of basketball.  “He used the platform he attained as a coach to have an influence on other areas of our society.  That’s what we should all do,” said Krzyzewski.

There has also been praise for Coach Smith from some of North Carolina’s political leadership in Congress.  “As one of the greatest coaches of the 20th century, Dean Smith revolutionized the game of basketball and brought enormous pride to North Carolina during his 36 years leading the Tar Heels,” said U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. “But while he brought us glorious moments on the court, Dean Smith will forever be known for the sense of equality and justice that he instilled in his players and fought so hard to advance in basketball, in collegiate athletics and in the country as a whole.”  Said Representative David Price: “Dean Smith is known to all North Carolinians for his tremendous success as the coach of the Carolina men’s basketball team, but the Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes that he has been far more than a coach to his players, his community, and his country.  Throughout his life, Coach Smith has shown courage and determination on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from working to end segregation in college athletics early in his career, to advocating for inclusion in church and community, to supporting equal rights for gay Americans.”

President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton, along with first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy by laying a wreath near his grave site in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, November 20th.  In the evening on Wednesday, the President and First Lady will host a White House dinner honoring this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. These annual awards were initiated by President Kennedy in 1963.

Coach Smith will not be able to attend the presentation ceremony at the White House.  He is struggling with a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory.  He will be represented by his wife Dr. Linnea Smith, his children, long-time coaching assistant Bill Guthridge, and current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams.

“We know he would be humbled to be in the company of President Clinton, United States senators, scientists, entertainers, the great Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and the other distinguished Americans who are receiving the award,” Smith’s family said. “We also know he would take this as an opportunity to recognize all the young men who played for him and the assistant coaches who worked with him as well as the University. Again, this medal is a tremendous honor.”

The award ceremony is the kind of event that photographer Hugh Morton would have attended and I choose to believe on November 20th, he will be looking down and smiling.

Another view of ’82

Wednesday afternoon was one of those times, like so many others in this line of work, where what you end up working on isn’t even on your radar when you step off the bus and head to the office.  Here’s what happened . . . .

Around 2:30 a new staff member in the the library’s Digital Production Center received a phone call from Yahoo! Sports requesting Hugh Morton photographs.  He asked me who should take the call, and I recommended he transfer the call to Keith Longiotti in our Research and Instructional Services Department.  Keith handles most of the image requests for the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Shortly after the call I saw an email that I had received before the phone call, but hadn’t seen because I had been away from my desk.  The email was from an associate producer at Yahoo! Sports, and had its beginnings on Tuesday with a referral from The Daily Tar Heel to the journalism school’s librarian Stephanie Brown.

Yahoo! Sports has been producing a series called “Memorable Moments: March Madness.”  Their last episode was to feature the 1982 NCAA men’s basketball championship game between UNC and Georgetown.  They requested photographs or footage from the game, mentioning that they had seen some Hugh Morton photographs in the online collection of Morton images, but nothing from the closing moments of the game.  The producer wrote,

I’m looking for any photos AFTER Michael Jordan’s go-ahead jumper with :17 left in the game.  Specifically Georgetown’s Fred Brown throwing the ball away to James Worthy during the subsequent play.  Anything of Worthy and/or Brown from the final moments (before the steal, during the steal, after the steal, huddles, shooting free throws, etc.) would be outstanding.

Stephanie replied that the Park Library did not hold such materials, and that she should talk to me about the Hugh Morton collection.  I wrote the associate producer immediately after I finished reading her email, telling her that I had read her email shortly after the telephone call.

If you are a regular reader of A View to Hugh, then you know only 8,000 of the 250,000 items in the Morton collection are online.  I told the associate producer that I would look in the remainder of the collection to see if I could locate any images that were not online.  The catch?  They needed images that day, or early Thursday at the latest.  (Luckily their offices are on the west coast so that gave me an additional three hours to work on the request.)  They had seen Morton’s photograph of the team huddle shown above, but not in the online collection.  Did we have it?  Did we have anything else?

Given their tight deadline and the proximity to closing time, we could have settled for the images they already seen and requested.  Keith sent them scans of the images they’d seen so they could get started.  I couldn’t fathom, however, that Hugh Morton would not have photographed the pivotal closing moments unless he had been on the opposite end of the court.  That, coupled with an opportunity to give the Morton collection some national or even international exposure was too good to pass up.  I jumped on it.

First I checked for scans saved on our image server, but not used in the online collection.  (Yes, there are thousands of them!)  To do that, I had to review all the prints, negatives, and slides from the games, because the scan’s file names are written on the storage enclosures.  The huddle scene above was previously scanned, but not included online.

But look at what else I found that wasn’t scanned:

P081_1982NCCAfinal_Worthy 01

After watching the closing moments of the game on YouTube, I was convinced the scene above was James Worthy driving the basketball down court after stealing Fred Brown’s errant pass.  The steal and drive happened right in front of Morton.  He snapped the camera shutter just a moment before Worthy was intentionally fouled by Georgetown’s Eric Smith (#32).  Eric “Sleepy” Floyd (#21) is on the left.  Both Floyd and Worthy are from Gastonia, North Carolina and were good friends.  The turnover happened so unexpectedly on the other end of the court, and so quickly that it may have caught Morton off guard because Worthy is out of focus.  The result, however, means that Morton captured the dismay on Floyd’s face, and the expressions on the bench and cheerleaders are more visible.

(By the way, if you watch the CBS broadcast, you can see Hugh Morton pop into the frame about 25 seconds after the end of the game.  This may be when Dean Smith told Morton, “Stick with me.”)

Below, Morton photographed Worthy taking one of his free throws with only two seconds remaining on the clock.

P081_1982NCCAfinal_Worthy 02

A staff member of the Digital Production Center helped me make the scans of the two 35mm slides.  (I couldn’t do it because they just starting using new software.)  We had the slides finished before 6:00.  I continued to dig Thursday morning, taking advantage of the time zones difference, but didn’t find additional images that fit the hole they needed to fill.  We delivered the scans by their deadline, and Yahoo! Sports was thrilled.

We received the link to the story, “Michael Jordan’s gutsy shot leads to North Carolina title” this morning.  The downside of our efforts is that Yahoo! Sports doesn’t credit their sources after the episodes in “Memorable Moments: March Madness,” so you won’t see Morton or the photographic archives credited.  The upside is that seven Hugh Morton photographs appear in the episode (one of Worthy during the East Regional final game against Villanova in Raleigh, and six from the championship game), and the library did receive a respectable commercial use fee to help support the work that we do with the collections.  The team huddle photograph also opens a one-minute piece, “Memorable Moments: The huddle before Michael Jordan’s shot.”  Another of Morton’s images appears in a second short, “Memorable Moments: James Worthy remembers UNC vs. Georgetown.”

A remaining mystery emerged from this reference request.  I didn’t find a photograph of Michael Jordon’s game winning shot, which occurred near the very spot of the Worthy photograph above.  Did Morton photograph that memorable moment, too?  If so, I didn’t find it.  Yet.

Player, Preacher, Coach, and Commentator

UNC’s men basketball team bowed out of the NCAA tournament over the weekend, but the UNC women’s team continues on its quest for a national championship this evening.  With basketball season still in high gear, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at a North Carolina basketball legend on the anniversary of UNC’s second place finish in the 1946 NCAA championship game played on March 26, 1946.

Bones McKinney

Wake Forest men’s basketball Head Coach Bones McKinney on bench/sidelines. Possibly during a UNC-Chapel Hill versus Wake Forest University basketball game.

“I don’t remember exactly when everyone started calling me Bones, but with a name like Horace Albert, the sooner the better, right?”

—Bones McKinney from Bones: Honk Your Horn if You Love Basketball (1988)

His resume is like no other.  It goes something like this:

  • High School All-Star Basketball at Durham High
  • Varsity basketball at North Carolina State
  • United States Army, Fort Bragg (basketball coach and player)
  • Varsity basketball at University of North Carolina
  • Basketball Association of America, Washington Capitols
  • National Basketball Association, Boston Celtics
  • Ordained Baptist minister
  • Head coach, Wake Forest
  • Head coach, American Basketball Association, Carolina Cougars
  • TV commentator and analyst, Raycom
  • Newspaper columnist
  • Author
  • Humorist and motivational after-dinner speaker

Folks born on New Year’s Day are special people.

For Horace Albert (Bones) McKinney, born in Lowlands, North Carolina on January 1, 1919, that specialty was his love for the game of basketball.  When he was five years old, the McKinney family moved to Durham and that’s where young Horace began playing his favorite game—starting at Watts Street Grammar School, then to Central Junior High, the YMCA, and finally to Durham High where, under Head Coach Paul Sykes, he led the team to two South Atlantic Prep Tournaments, two Duke-Durham Tournaments, three state championships, and the Interscholastic Basketball Tournament in Glens Falls, New York . . . all the while racking up sixty-nine straight wins.

McKinney graduated a little late from Durham High in the spring of 1940, then headed over to Raleigh for a college career at North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State).  A year of freshman ball was followed by a sophomore year when he led the Southern Conference in scoring with 200 points and was an all conference selection. On Christmas Day, 1941, Bones McKinney married the love of his life, Edna Ruth Stell.

UNC 1946 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship runners-up

Group portrait of UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team after their loss to Oklahoma A&M in the 1946 NCAA championship at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. Among those pictured are head coach Ben Carnevale (back row, second from left) and Horace “Bones” McKinney (back row, second from right).

A week after the 1942 season ended, on April 2, 1942, he joined the Army.  At Fort Bragg, Bones played, coached, and led the team to wins in the Southeastern Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Tournament in Savannah and the Southern AAU in Raleigh.  While at Fort Bragg, he became good friends with Ben Carnevale the head coach at UNC and on January 9, 1945, Bones McKinney became a Tar Heel—but the UNC basketball team was called the White Phantoms in those days. The highlight of the 1946 season, which was his only season at UNC, was a NCAA national championship game against Oklahoma A&M at Madison Square Garden.  The 43–40 loss was difficult for Bones as evidenced by Hugh Morton’s photograph of the award ceremony following the game.

1946 UNC coach Ben Carnevale receiving runner-up trophy

“In 1946, before the NCAA national championship became known as the Final Four, UNC lost in the championship game, 43 to 40 to Oklahoma A&M. The game was played in the old Madison Square Garden before 18,479 spectators. UNC head basketball coach and Navy lieutenant Ben Carnevale (shaking hands), who had responsibilities as the Navy Pre-Flight School at Chapel Hill as well, accepted the runner-up trophy. Carolina’s Horace ‘Bones’ McKinney (far left) was not pleased at being runner up.” Presenting the award is Harold G. Olsen, who was serving his final year as the NCAA basketball tournament chairman. (Identification obtained from book ON TOBACCO ROAD.)

By the end of the ‘46 season, the McKinney family had grown to three and Bones realized that he needed a paying job to support the family, so he left UNC and went to work for Hanes Hosiery.  It was while there that an unbelievable phone call came.  On the other end of the line was Red Auerbach, who was going to form the “Basketball Association of America”—and he wanted Bones to play for him.  Just when it looked like basketball was over for Bones McKinney, along came an opportunity to play for pay: $6,750 for a season with a $500 advance.  He would play for the Washington Capitols for five seasons, making all pro and led the team to the Eastern Division championship his first season, 1946-47. He led the team into the playoffs each year from 1946 through 1950.

As a Caps player-coach, he made some NBA history. He recruited and signed Earl Lloyd, the first African American player in the NBA. On January 9, 1951 the Washington Capitols folded, and McKinney was sent to the Boston Celtics as player-coach.

Following the ’52 season, McKinney left pro basketball and enrolled in the Southeastern Theological Seminary at Wake Forest.  While in class on November 8, 1952, Wake Forest Head Basketball Coach Murray Greason walked in and asked Dr. Bill Strickland if he could speak with student McKinney.  Greason needed an assistant coach and offered Bones the job, a job that would last until March 26, 1957 when he took over the head coaching position at Wake.

In February of 1960, a writer for the magazine Life came to Winston-Salem to do a McKinney feature story.  It wasn’t the first time he had made the big time.  There is an action shot by Hugh Morton contemporary Hy Peskin on the front cover of Collier’s dated January 15, 1949.  Life published another article, titled “Basketball’s Incredible Mr. Bones” in its February 22, 1960 issue, which featured the following:

People go to Wake Forest basketball games to see a winning team perform.  For the same price, they get Bones McKinney, the coach with his own private volcano.  Once the game starts, the bench can’t hold him.  The climactic moment arrives when Mr. Bones erupts dramatically from the sideline, looking like a dead ringer for Ichabod Crane.

In 1961 and 1962, McKinney led the Deacons to Atlantic Coast Conference championships, with the ’62 team playing in the NCAA Final Four.  Following the ’64-’65 season, Wake Forest made a coaching change and Bones McKinney took a job with the North Carolina Board of Corrections, but soon after the ’65-’66 basketball season started, he got a call from ACC TV producer Castleman D. Chesley.  It seems that Bones’ good friend Charlie Harville had recommended him as a possible broadcaster with the ACC network.  Bones was eager to get back into basketball, so on January 8, 1966 at the UNC vs. Duke game in Chapel Hill, Bones McKinney became a TV basketball commentator and analyst, working with play-by-play man Jim Thacker, and stat man Charlie Harville.  At first, McKinney didn’t think he was very good as a broadcaster, but when he was invited back, he figured he must be OK.

Then in early 1969 . . . another phone call and another basketball opportunity.  On January 2, 1969, Southern Sports Corporation purchased the Houston Mavericks, a team in the American Basketball Association.  President Jim Gardner was planning to move the team to North Carolina and he wanted Bones as his head coach.  Gardner and McKinney struck a deal and Bones McKinney became to first head coach of the newly formed Carolina Cougars, leading them that year to the ABA playoffs.

One of my favorite Bones McKinney stories came during that ’69-‘70 season. During a hotly contested game, Bones yelled out at an official following a questionable call.

“Hey, you’re either blind or you’re a crook.”
“And you’re out of the game,” yelled back the ref.
“Why?” asked Bones defiantly.
“Because you called me a crook,” replied the official.
“Did not,” yelled Bones, looking back over his shoulder as he departed, “I gave you a choice.”

While still coaching the Carolina Cougars, McKinney was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 1970.

Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball game, 1977 NCAA

Seated are (L to R) Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley (standing) behind the scenes at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball NCAA finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 4th Annual ABA All-Star Game was played in the Greensboro Coliseum on January 23, 1971 and CBS-TV carried the game nationwide, with play-by-play by Don Criqui and Pat Summerall and color commentary by Bones McKinney.

On November 18, 1979 during halftime of the Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys game in RFK Stadium, McKinney was inducted into the Washington Hall of Stars.  In 1985 his longtime friend Charlie Justice joined him in the DC Hall.  McKinney continued to coach all-star games, and was in high demand as an after-dinner speaker during the 1980s and early ‘90s.

When the Greensboro News and Record arrived on Saturday morning May 17, 1997, the front page headline read, “Legendary Wake Coach Dies at 78.”  Staff writer Jim Schlosser related the story of McKinney’s death at 5:05 PM on Friday, May 16th at Wake Medical Rehab Center following a stroke two weeks earlier.  On Sunday, I went out to WFMY-TV and put together a video piece for Monday’s “Good Morning Show.”  As I was putting the piece together, I kept thinking about a Bones McKinney quote that I had read years before in his 1988 book.  The quote was part of the short section about his broadcasting career.  It went like this: “I soon found out that if your director ain’t no good, you ain’t no good.”  He went on to talk about the magnificent Raycom directors, Norman Prevatte from WBTV in Charlotte, John Young from WUNC-TV, and Frank Slingland from WRC-TV in Washington, DC.

During my time in broadcasting, I never had the honor of directing a Bones McKinney game or a Bones McKinney broadcast.  However, I worked several Carolina Cougar games in 1972 after Bones had moved on.  But in 1969, WFMY-TV produced the Carolina Cougar coach’s show.  It was called, of course, “The Bones McKinney Show.”  Veteran WFMY Producer/Director George Leh was director and Woody Durham was producer along with Bones. The show was usually taped on Thursday afternoons for weekend playback.  On this particular Thursday, Leh was not available to direct so production manager Jack Forehand asked me to direct the show. For twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds on Thursday afternoon, March 5, 1969, I knew I was part of something very special.

CORRECTION: When first published, this post had the following text: “On January 9, 1951 the Washington Capitols folded, and McKinney was sent to the Boston Celtics as a player-coach. While there he made some NBA history. He recruited and signed Earl Lloyd, the first African American player in the NBA”  A correction to this post, made on March 1, 2015 and based upon an obituary, clarifies the chronological order of events.  Earl Lloyd passed away on February 26, 2015.  A link to Lloyd’s Hall of Fame webpage has also been added.