His college basketball career eventually led him, probably several years late, but certainly in time for him to appreciate the experience, to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This is the best thing about John Chaney’s business, and that honor has been attached to him for exactly two decades of his life and for all eternity beyond.
Chaney’s teams at Temple and Cheyney State have won 741 games, eight Atlantic Conference 10 regular season championships, six A-10 tournament titles, March 23 Madness games and the 1978 Division II National Championship. The Owls have reached the top eight on five occasions and ranked number one in the Associated Press poll during the 1988 season.
REMEMBER: John Thompson | Lute Olson
He had spent a decade playing minor league basketball because jobs weren’t plentiful for African American men in the NBA in the mid-1950s. It took him two decades of dominance in high school and in D- II before being shot. The big moment in college basketball at 50, because it was like that for a black coach back then. But he made the people who hired him brilliant.
However, many remember Chaney for just one music video.
Everything was on the internet immediately after the news broke on Friday afternoon that Chaney had passed away just eight days after his 89th birthday. The moment is part of his legacy, for better or for worse.
For the best: It showed Chaney who would fight for what he believed in, whether it was out of contempt for an opposing coach trying to work with the match officials or because of the education he wanted his players to accept . For the worst: it featured Chaney, whose competitive temperament periodically superseded his best instincts.
It was in February 1994 that Chaney interrupted John Calipari’s press conference, after the Calipari, Massachusetts team beat the Chaney Owls by one point and shouted, “I’m going to kill you!” Remember this. When I see you, I’ll kick your ass! More than a bogus reporter would call this a threat to kill Calipari. Yet even if told accurately, as a warning that Chaney would fight Calipari and hope to win, it was not the kind of conduct one would demand of a college coach.
It was not Chaney’s first transgression. A decade earlier, he had had an altercation with George Washington coach Gerry Gimelstob, in which witnesses described Chaney grabbing Gimelstob by the neck. Two decades later, he was angered at the lack of fouls against Philadelphia rival Saint Joseph’s and admitted he ordered one of his players to enter the game and start fouling. “Hard”. An SJU player ended up with a broken arm.
What kind of coach can have these three episodes on their CV and still be revered for their humanity and dignity? Only the best, and Chaney certainly was. It wasn’t just his ability to identify overlooked talent or his knack for convincing elite prospects with many options and no roots in Philadelphia (Michigan’s Mark Macon, Baltimore’s Mark Karcher, Massachusetts’ Rick Brunson) to choose. . A university town with no frills Campus. It was more than his ability to get players to overtake opponents with bigger names and bigger budgets.
Temple University Official Twitter Account declared at his death, “The greatness and wisdom of John Chaney goes far beyond the basketball court. For generations of Owls, he has been a wise counselor, dedicated teacher and passionate leader.
He was revered by his players and those who worked with him. On Chaney’s birthday, Temple Sports Information Director Larry Dougherty posted on Facebook: “Happy 89th birthday to one of the greatest men I have ever met.” Mike Vreeswyk, small forward for Chaney’s best team, the 1988 Owls, wrote the same day: “Almost everything I own I owe him.” Mark Whicker, who wrote a column for the Philadelphia Daily News before moving to California in 1987, called him “the best man I have ever met in basketball and maybe elsewhere.”
Although their rivalry sizzled in the 1990s and reached a climax (or nadir, depending on your point of view) this Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, Chaney and Calipari became friends afterward, often mockingly mocking their curious history of ‘origin. Calipari trained for two more seasons at the Atlantic 10 before trying his luck in the NBA. When that didn’t work out and Calipari returned as a varsity coach to Memphis, Chaney agreed to visit him for his first game as Tigers coach.
“Coach Chaney and I fought in every game we were in, as you all know, sometimes literally, but in the end he was my friend.” Calipari posted on Twitter. “Throughout my career we’ve been talking about basketball and life. I will miss these discussions and make them my friend.
So maybe it’s okay to remember John Chaney for this moment, as long as one understands what it was, why it happened, how the men involved handled it and how it didn’t. failed to capture the breadth of Chaney’s accomplishments and character.
“I tried to think about John Chaney, but it turned out to be impossible,” said his longtime Saint Joe’s rival Phil Martelli. written on twitter. “All the clichés could never give him what he deserves: Hall of Fame, never to be duplicated, once in a lifetime, uniqueness.”
So maybe it wasn’t impossible. If we want to be brief, this captures John Chaney exceptionally well. If we want to be complete, well, it’s a book. An incredible book.