Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Top Tiger

Larry Finch is hands down the most influential figure in University of Memphis, formerly Memphis State Basketball. If not Memphis Basketball period. He is the best point guard and the winningest coach the school has ever had.  But he never gained the status of basketball royalty in this town. From Melrose to Memphis State and eventually the MemphisTams  He should have been like a local John Thompson was at Georgetown University. But he was treated like an outcast before he died . They layed out the red carpet for John Calipari.  He used Memphis as a resume builder to get the job at Kentucky. He forfeited all his wins while he was coach in Memphis.

There were three strikes against him in Memphis from the start. He was black, light-skinned and lacked charisma. Memphis to this day has a race problem. So no doubt there was a problem back then.Some of the fans didn't want a black coach then. Just like they don't want one now. Lionel Hollins led the Grizzlies to the best recird in franchise history and they didn't rehire him.

The fact that he was a man of lighter complexion but didn't look like he was white. Didn't help things either..He didn't have the full support of the black community like a  Willie Herenton as you would think. He had to deal with jealousy from his peers not just the obvious haters. Sylvester Ford was one of his biggest critics. All because he didn't start his son. In hindsight that was a no brainer. Deuce Ford never lived up to expectations.

That along with there is still division among blacks over skin color.  Kriner Cash was the latest victim of this mentaliy  And like Coach Lionel Hollins with the Grizzlies Larry Finch  wasn' t a friend to the media  Him and Coach Hollins were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to attire.  But they were both effective at their jobs.Though one was college and the other pro. They both eventually drank from the same bitter cup  But in terms of dedication to Memphis Basketball. Larry Finch is the top tiger


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