Posted: 5:00 a.m. Monday, Feb. 18, 2013
By Rick McCrabb
Jerry Lucas talked about a wide-range of topics Saturday night during the Jerry Lucas Court Dedication Dinner at Miami University Middletown and he took questions from the audience.
Middletown High School player Vince Edwards, a junior, said throughout his travels playing AAU basketball, when he tells people he’s from Middletown, they know that’s the home of Jerry Lucas.
Lucas called that “very gratifying” and said “I love his place.” He said his parents are buried at Woodside Cemetery and he visited and decorated their graves Saturday afternoon. Lucas said he will be buried at Woodside.
Someone asked who the best player Lucas ever played with. That was an easy one, Lucas said. Oscar Robertson with the Cincinnati Royals.
Any advice to the younger players? “Outwork everybody. There are a lot of great athletes. Work harder and be smarter.”
His favorite victory? Winning championships in high school, college, Olympics and pros. He was the first player to accomplish that feat, and only the third in history.
At Sunset Park in the summer, the winning team stayed on the court, while the losers had to wait their turn. Did Lucas ever lose at Sunset? “I can’t remember losing.”
What about his high school coach, Paul Walker? How was he able to win five state championships? “He was a special person. He had great knowledge of the game. He blended and meshed his players together.”
Since retiring from basketball in 1973, Lucas said he has dedicated the last 40 years to improving the educational system in America. One day, he said, he will be known more for education than athletes. “The best part of my life is ahead of me.”
During the 76-game winning streak, there were several close games, including one at the Cincinnati Gardens when Hamilton stalled, holding the ball for more than five minutes in the second quarter. Lucas was asked if the Middies ever stalled. He said once during a timeout Coach Paul Walker told the players not to shoot, and Walker looked right at Bob Cole, who Lucas said couldn’t “spell pass.”
Cole told Walker: “If you don’t want me to shoot the ball, don’t pass me the ball.”