ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
After being up and down during the season, the Blue Devils finished strong enough
to be considered for a #1 seed. Then, there are those teams that people havent
really spoken about much, like Kansas, which has played very well, as has Missouri.
Len Elmore and March Madness
An Interview with Kam Williams
A man long associated with March Madness, Len Elmore is currently appearing on CBS for his 12th season as an analyst during the networks NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship coverage. In addition, he has served as a basketball analyst for ESPN for the past 13 consecutive years, calling ACC and Big East games, including the Big East Tournament.
Mr. Elmore is an eight-year NBA veteran, having played with the Indiana Pacers, Kansas City Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks. He spent two seasons with the ABA’s Indiana Pacers in 1975-76 before the franchise joined the NBA. Len is a 1974 graduate of the University of Maryland where he was a three-time All-ACC player as well as an All-American his senior year. In 2002, the 50th Anniversary of the ACC, he was chosen as one of the ACC’s Top 50 Players of all time.
Elmore also earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987 and began his law career as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. He presently serves on The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform, on the University of Maryland Foundation Board of Trustees, as well as on the Board of Directors of both 1800Flowers.com and Lee Enterprises, Inc. Plus, Len has served as President of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
Born in the Big Apple on March 28, 1952, Len still resides there and was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. Here, he talks about March Madness and about his extraordinary careers on the court, behind the microphone, and as an attorney.
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Kam Williams: Hi Len, thanks for the interview. Im also born in 1952 and grew up in New York, so Ive followed your career since high school when you led Power Memorial to the city championship and the #1 ranking in the nation.
Len Elmore: Thank you, Kam.
Kam Williams: With everyone filling out their March Madness brackets in office pools right now, let me start by asking who you think has what it takes to win the NCAA Tournament this year?
Len Elmore: Boy, theres not just one team. Obviously, there are the favorites like Syracuse, and certainly Kentucky, a good young team. We could also look at a team like Duke which has enjoyed a resurgence. After being up and down during the season, the Blue Devils finished strong enough to be considered for a #1 seed. Then, there are those teams that people havent really spoken about much, like Kansas, which has played very well, as has Missouri. And there are others with plenty of potential, such as Michigan State which worked its way into a #1 seed. Most people didnt have this level of expectation for them after they finished .500 in the Big Ten last year. But The Spartans have really redeemed themselves with a lot of youth, although they also have a terrific veteran in Draymond Green. Ohio State sort of has to overcome some of their issues, but theyre very capable of going all the way in a six-game series. And North Carolina is definitely built to go the distance in the tournament. So those are the teams I think we should be looking at, but in the end, I really believe that Syracuse and Kentucky are the two teams that have shown very few weaknesses.
Kam Williams: When filling out my brackets, I tend to consider coaching, point guards, injuries and momentum.
Len Elmore: Syracuse is uniquely set up in terms of all those variables, especially the point guard situation. But weve seen them in that position the last couple of years, and they still went out early, because of a tough matchup against teams who were able to handle them really well. So your strategy might work some of the time, but you may as well throw stats out the window if some magic dust has been sprinkled on a Cinderella team.
Kam Williams: I think March Madness makes for the most exciting and compelling spectacular in all of sports. Why is that?
Len Elmore: The beauty of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament is in its structure, a one and done situation, which includes so many teams not considered serious contenders who nevertheless have the potential to overcome their shortcomings and rise to the occasion. You also have the fallibility of a heavy favorite who might make a few fatal mistakes in a game and find itself facing elimination. Those are the components of the drama that make March Madness.
Kam Williams: This question is from the Michael Reichwald, President of Yorkson Legal, who is a great March Madness fan: Do you feel a special bond to Jeremy Lin, as you both attended Harvard?
Len Elmore: Not necessarily a Harvard bond. I went to Harvard Law school, not the undergrad, so I cant say Im as capable as he is. The bond I do feel with him has to do with his persevering in developing the fundamental basketball skills hes displayed. Its almost an indictment of NBA players how fundamental skills can become an equalizer of great talent. Lin approaches the game with an unselfish attitude, wanting to play with and for his teammates. Thats where his success lies. Yes, he might not be as talented as many of his opponents. Yet his teammates are better and play harder with him out there on the floor because of his unselfishness. By comparison, weve all too often witnessed NBA stars who attain a certain level and only play for themselves. Well have to see whether Lin can sustain this level of play long term, but I think he will always be a success story regardless, simply because hes demonstrated an attitude that ought to be adopted by more players.
Kam Williams: Gail Marquis says that back in the Seventies, you were teammates at Maryland with John Lucas, Tom McMillen, and Tom Roy. All of them had been top high school players in their respective states. She would like to know how your coach, Lefty Driesell, blended those diverse talents, and how you got along as a team, race relations-wise?
Len Elmore: Thats a pretty interesting question. Coach Driesell was the architect of a system designed to get the most out of our individual talents. And he made sure that everybody had a chance to room with each other to break down barriers. But as far as our actually meshing as a team, that was up to us. That was based upon both how we were raised as individuals and on our desire to become a unit. In terms of race relations, we were looking for unity, to coalesce, and to cross cultural bridges. We were so close that wed find ways to socialize together. We lived, hung out, and ate together. And our love for each other and development of bonds was so deep that were all still friends to this day.
Kam Williams: Rod Williams says: In your day, the NBA only drafted college underclassmen as hardship cases. I think what is overlooked in the success of Jeremy Lin is that he had stayed in college which afforded him an opportunity to study the game while his mind and body matured.
Len Elmore: The term hardship was a fallacy and a work of art, since there was no filter through which the league would determine whether or not someone was really a hardship case. You wouldnt believe how many guys from middle-class backgrounds left school early because they wanted the money. That being said, I do believe staying in college for 4 years obviously allows one to develop fundamental skills. Whats lost on so many of the young kids who come out early nowadays with tremendous athletic talent, with what the pros call a big upside, is that they still need to develop the fundamental base in order to build into an extraordinary talent. As extremely talented as Lebron James is physically, he still lacks certain fundamentals that might be exposed when his body starts to betray him, if ever. The flip side of that is Kobe Bryant who is so fundamentally sound. Hes more of an anomaly.
Kam Williams: That might because he was taught by his dad who played in the NBA. Did you go up against Joe Bryant back in the day?
Len Elmore: Yeah, I played against Jellybean.
Kam Williams: Rod was also wondering what you thought of Secretary of Education and Harvard Alum Arne Duncan’s recent performance in the NBA Celebrity Game?
Len Elmore: Unfortunately, I missed it, but my wife and younger son watched it and they were impressed. Arne was a great player in college. As a matter of fact, I was in law school at the same time he was playing for Harvard as an undergrad. I got to scrimmage with him a little bit back then, since I was trying to stay in shape during my retirement. So I know firsthand just how good a player he is. He still plays with President Obama, and Im sure the game of basketball remains his first love.
Kam Williams: What does Jeremy Lin mean to the NBA?
Len Elmore: Hes a terrific story for the league at a time its trying to recover its fan base and viewership in the wake of the lockout. Hes generating a lot of excitement and bringing new people in who might not have been following the NBA. But whether this level of excitement will last, remains to be seen.
Kam Williams: Lowery Gibson says: Mr. Elmore, you played at a time when the game was bigger that the sum of its players, even with the superstars of your time. He asks: does the sport still feel the same to him?
Len Elmore: In all honesty, Im not nearly as much of a fan of the NBA as I was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, or certainly as I was when I was a player. Its become more entertainment focused, and less focused on the purity of the game. Thats not necessarily a bad thing; its just not my cup of tea. One of the reasons why I enjoy college basketball a little more is because of its team orientation as opposed to individual orientation. Ive always been taught that basketball is a team game and greater than the sum of its parts. So, Lowery, you hit on something.
Kam Williams: Patricia Turnier: A lot of kids think that they can become a superstar athlete without an education. Very few are aware of the financial problems many pros encounter after they retire. You managed successfully to have other careers after your NBA days. How did college prepare you for your post-graduate career? What message do you have for todays youth about financial security?
Len Elmore: Getting a well-rounded education and developing a love of learning that hopefully will continue to last my lifetime certainly helped prepare me to understand whats coming at me in this world and to adapt. I cant say there was one thing in particular that helped prepare me for life beyond basketball except for the exposure to college and that laboratory, if you will, that allows us to learn who and what we are, and to be able to utilize that knowledge in real life. Im concerned that young people today, far too often, abdicate their responsibilities of learning and adapting and give that over to people who may not always have their best interests at heart. And without a well-rounded education, they get into trouble if they dont have the skills or the resources to overcome the issues that present themselves. Thats a big problem today. I also recognize that when I played, we didnt get paid anything close to what these guys get paid today. So, I knew, despite playing in the NBA, that I would have to prepare for another career or vocation for when my playing days were over, in order to maintain relevancy. I didnt want to become known for what I used to do.
Kam Williams: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
Len Elmore: I see a person who has achieved many goals that he set for himself, and who didnt allow a few setbacks to interfere with his love of life. And I see a person who is a good husband and a good father, and who will hopefully leave a legacy for my sons to be the same.
Kam Williams: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
Len Elmore: How my mother and father stressed education and always made sure we had a place to study and books to read.
Kam Williams: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
Len Elmore: Id like to be remembered as somebody who persevered, who in many ways overcame, who recognized the importance of giving back, particularly to our youth, and as someone who tried to reach back and to catapult the next generation beyond him.
Kam Williams: Well, thanks again for the interview, Len. Much appreciated.
Len Elmore: Thanks, Kam. Take care.
Obama Picks North Carolina to Win NCAA College Basketball Title14 March 2012President Barack Obama tapped the University of North Carolinas Tar Heels as his pick to win the U.S. college basketball championship. Obama, a basketball fan who took U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to the annual college tournaments first game last night in Dayton, Ohio, disclosed his selection today on the ESPN cable sports network.
Obama said North Carolina will upset the top-seeded University of Kentucky in the April 2 NCAA Division I mens championship game.
The president had already disclosed predictions that North Carolina, Kentucky, the University of Missouri and Ohio State University would play in the tournament semi-finals, known as the Final Four, in New Orleans. Im big on momentum, Obama said on ESPN, explaining factors that go into his selections. I like teams that are hot late in the season.Bloomberg
posted 14 March 2012
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#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
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#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
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By Charlayne Hunter-Gault
A personal history of the civil rights movement from activist and acclaimed journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. On January 20, 2009, 1.8 million people crowded the grounds of the Capitol to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. Among the masses was Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She had flown from South Africa for the occasion, to witness what was for many the culmination of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States. In this compelling personal history, she uses the event to look back on her own involvement in the civil rights movement, as one of two black students who forced the University of Georgia to integrate, and to relate the pivotal events that swept the South as the movement gathered momentum through the early 1960s. With poignant black-and-white photos, original articles from the New York Times, and a unique personal viewpoint, this is a moving tribute to the men and women on whose shoulders Obama stood.
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Everybody remembers how President Obama invited both Harvard Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates and the police sergeant who arrested him for breaking into his own home down to the White House to bury the hatchet over drinks in the Rose Garden. That photo-op was dubbed Beer-Gate, but the nagging question left unanswered was whether what had transpired back in Cambridge was really an isolated incident unlikely to reoccur or merely a reflection of a longstanding, police pattern of profiling African-American males all across the country. Shedding considerable light on the issue is Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree in this dissection of the matter from a predominantly legal perspective. Granted, as Dr. Gates attorney of record, Ogletree definitely had a horse in the race, so one might question his impartiality when he makes mincemeat here of Sgt. Crowleys rationale for jailing his client.
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By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest.
Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.
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By Mary L. Dudziak
Thurgood Marshall became a living icon of civil rights when he argued Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954. Six years later, he was at a crossroads. A rising generation of activists were making sit-ins and demonstrations rather than lawsuits the hallmark of the civil rights movement. What role, he wondered, could he now play? When in 1960 Kenyan independence leaders asked him to help write their constitution, Marshall threw himself into their cause. Here was a new arena in which law might serve as the tool with which to forge a just society. In Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey (2008) Mary Dudziak recounts with poignancy and power the untold story of Marshall’s journey to Africa
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 25 June 2012
Related files: Derrick Bell Law Rights Advocate Dies at 80