Our blog almost always seeks to provide original material, but while visiting the Buffalo area and reading the always strong Buffalo News' sports section today, we came across an article (link below) that stirred some memories ... and those are only marginally attached to the MAAC, but certainly touch the emotions of all college basketball fans.
It's a story about Jordan Gathers, a freshman on St. Bonaventure's team. If the last name is familiar it's because Jordan is the nephew of former Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers.
Hank Gathers, a prototypical power forward who was surely one of the best college players of his era and destined for a successful NBA career, instead collapsed on the court in a game on March 4, 1990 and died shortly thereafter at age 23.
The connection to the MAAC?
One of Gathers' best friends was former La Salle standout Lionel Simmons, arguably the best player ever to grace a MAAC roster (La Salle was a MAAC member until it moved to the Atlantic 10 conference after the 1990-91 season). Gathers, like Simmons, grew up in Philadelphia and the two grew up playing together and against each other until each went their separate ways for college.
We remember watching La Salle play during the 1990 MAAC's post-season tournament in Albany, N.Y., that year (which it won), and Simmons just breaking down on the bench with tears clearly visible late in one of that tournament's games.
At the time there was no immediate indication of why the La Salle star was suddenly so disconsolate. It was only a few minutes later that word became public that Gathers had collapsed in the game he was playing in that same day and, then, passed away.
Somehow Simmons had received word, while on the La Salle bench, of his friend's death.
It all happened nearly 22 years ago.
For those who recall that time, or even would enjoy a glimpse into a sad bit of college basketball history through the eyes of Hank Gathers' nephew who, born two years after his uncle's death still knows the legacy, the below link provides a nice story.