As keeper of Sports Illustrated's indispensable Vault, Andy Gray spends a lot of his time sifting through the sports photography of another time, when athletes wore short shorts and facial hair, and everyone looked vaguely uncomfortable. Here is one such photo.
On the heels of a largely boring NBA Draft, we take you back to a time when college basketball was fun, and players stayed in school for longer than a smoke break. It was 1984, and Patrick Ewing's Georgetown squad was coming off a national championship, fully expecting to win another. Hoya hysteria ran so high that even Ronald Reagan jumped on the bandwagon. At that moment, the big man in D.C. wasn't the president, but a 43-year-old basketball coach named John Thompson. Author John Wideman profiled Georgetown's leader:
Thompson's hands return to the wooden arms of the chair. He is rich, by ordinary standards. He is said to earn $65,000 a year from Georgetown, has a lucrative contract to endorse a brand of basketball shoe and runs a profitable summer camp. Georgetown gave him a beautiful house not far from campus. I ask if he's ever been in Wilt Chamberlain's house. I've read that it's built to the scale of a 7-footer. No, he hasn't. But he'd like to see it. As he grows older he's more aware of his size. Maneuvering in and out of chairs. The leverage he needs to raise the bulk of his 300-pound body. He mentions his mother. How illness limited her movements as she aged. "But, hell, I could pick her up and set her where she wanted to go," he says. We both smile at the unspoken joke, the preposterousness of somebody lifting Thompson out of one chair and placing him in another. In a way I don't care what the media says. No. That's not what I mean. My mother never liked me to say I didn't care. What I mean is, I have 15 kids I'm responsible for. Other people's kids. That's my first duty. Then I can deal with the press and the rest of what comes with my job."