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A Legend Passes

If you've been reading here for awhile, you might remember we
wrote about a moving Nightline show which talked about the "Secret
Game" between NCCU, which was called North Carolina College in the forties,
and Duke.

In case you don't know the basics, in Durham, Duke has always been the White
school and Central the Black school. In recent years it has been a less
intense dichotomy, but in the 40's, a White man in Durham was acquitted when he
killed a Black man on a city bus for some supposedly offensive behavior.
Segregation was no joke.

Anyway, the Secret Game took place in an atmosphere of significant risk and
was absolutely not authorized. After Central kicked Duke's butt, the guys
mixed teams and played a few more games, then later went back to the Central
dorms to shoot the breeze. Trivia now, but at great peril then.

We mention this because Central's coach at that time, John McLendon,
died of cancer at 84 on Friday
. We heard that he was the last surviving protege
of James Naismith, amazing as that seems at the millenial hinge. We also had
heard that McLendon, not Dean Smith, invented the four corners.

We wish we knew more about McLendon, but we know enough about him to know
that a) his place in history is secure, and b) his life would make a wonderful
doctoral thesis for someone, or possibly a great opportunity for a biographer.