By Elan Kane
La Rue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.
Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.
“There is life after sports,” Martin said. “Period.”
It’s been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.
“I don’t believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that,” Martin said. “I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I’m the type of person I can’t dwell off the negatives. I can’t. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well.”
By Alan Suriel
For some people basketball is just a sport to play when they’re bored. For others, basketball is a sport in which they give up everything. They give up your social life. They give up television. They give up rest and relaxation. For those people, basketball is life.
Every so often, a person who is committed to the sport finds a group of players with the same passion. Those guys become teammates. They then find a man who has been around the block for a few decades. That man has played the game. That man has taught the game. Those teammates call that man “Coach”.
East-West University is far from a big-time basketball program. As a matter of fact, they aren’t even affiliated with the NCAA. It is an independent program that uses basketball to better their players on and off the court.
However, what they didn’t expect was for the players to form a brotherhood, not only on the court, but away from it as well.
By Brent Schwartz
All that stood between the Niles North Vikings and a regional championship were three minutes.
After a back-and-forth three quarters against Notre Dame College Prep, the Vikings used a 10-0 run to take a 48-35 lead to start the fourth. But a flurry of missed 3-pointers followed, and they squandered the advantage, eventually succumbing 55-52.
“In my 30 years coaching basketball, it was the craziest loss I’ve ever been a part of,” Niles North assistant coach George Drase said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. … We shot threes when we should have been holding the ball.
By Karl Bullock
After a disappointing end to their senior season at Von Steuben, members of the boys basketball team participated in the Illinois High School Association’s 3-point shooting contest at Whitney Young Magnet High School on Chicago’s near West Side.
For Tyrus Jenkins, Rafael Cruz and Justan McNair-Sneed, the contest was a chance to have some fun and spend one last time on the court together.
Here’s their take on the experience:
Photo at top: From left to right Von Steuben seniors Justan McNair-Sneed, Rafael Cruz and Tyrus Jenkins outside the Whitney Young gymnasium after they participated in the IHSA 3-point shooting contest. (Karl Bullock/MEDILL)
By Andres Waters
After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.
“That’s the best celebration that I have ever been a part of,” Livatino said. “Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I’m really, really proud just to be one of our coaches.”
While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.
In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.
By Mark Singer
In the final practice before the end of his team’s season, Terrell Walsh pleaded with the players to leave everything on the court the following day. On March 1, the Senn Bulldogs boys basketball team was set to play in the school’s first regional semifinals in nine years.
Senn isn’t known for its athletic prowess. Nearly every banner hanging inside the school’s gym marks an accomplishment earned in the 20th century. But that could be changing soon. Second-year principal Mary Beck is determined to improve the school’s sports program.
“It’s something I’m dedicated to and I’ve been trying to build since I got there last year,” said Beck, a former high school basketball coach.
Senn is among the latest schools to recognize the benefits of investing in athletics. A 2012 study of more than 100,000 Kansas high school students showed that “athletes earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, dropped out of school less frequently, and scored higher on state assessments than did non-athletes.”
By Brent Schwartz
In today’s NFL landscape, teams either have a franchise quarterback or they are pursuing one.
The Chicago Bears’ pursuit has led them to last week’s signing of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup, Mike Glennon, who they will be paying $43.5 million over the next three years, with $14.5 million guaranteed according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
After paying big money for another team’s backup, did the Bears make the right move?
By Yifan Wu
Jeroen “Xaliea” Klaver is a 21-year old veteran in his field. During his four-year career competing in “Smite”, a popular online multiplayer game, the Amsterdam native earned $46,170 in prize money. But the paychecks from Team Paradigm, where he played in the 2016 Smite Pro League, never added up.
Lydia Picknell, Paradigm’s owner and general manager, refused to share any financial records at the request of Klaver and his four teammates. Instead, she offered them the chance to sign a contract. It sounded like a step towards legitimacy for the players until they saw the fine print: “The Player shall receive a salary of $1 USD per month.”
“At the time, we already had distrust with Lydia and the entire deal was a mess because we considered Lydia a friend,” Klaver wrote to Medill Reports in a Twitter direct message. “But when we got the contract we lost all hope that it’d end in a friendly way and felt pretty betrayed.”
By Jacob Rogers
Almost every morning, a soccer team in East Johannesburg gets together to practice. John Real Soccer Academy, as they are known, is a team made up largely of migrants who have come to South Africa to hopefully jump-start careers as professional soccer players.
Unfortunately for many of these players, despite their talent, a professional soccer career can seem far off. Even with a work permit, it is hard to get signed as a professional footballer since the South African Football Association only allows each team to sign three foreign players. According to John Real Academy coach John Nwakanobi, it comes down to one issue.
By Elan Kane
Lynn Hull made sure to get to Welsh-Ryan Arena early Sunday to get good seats. She wanted to enjoy the hoopla surrounding the announcement that the Northwestern men’s basketball team had made its first NCAA basketball tournament in school history. When she went to find a seat, though, she was directed towards the back section.
It surprised Hull, a Northwestern season-ticket holder for 28 years. She complained to an event staff member that the team owed her some loyalty after she had given years of hers. After some discussion, she was allowed to sit closer to the court.
Northwestern isn’t used to having a mad scramble for seats. Then again, it never had an event like this since the NCAA tournament was established in 1939.
That history created a sense of excitement and emotion among both longtime and recent fans, including Hull.