Recently in Wayne Box Miller Category
The passing of Jack Twyman was indeed a loss for the University of Cincinnati and he will long be remembered for contributing to the success of its basketball and athletic programs. But by now you know he is being remembered, revered and celebrated for the humanitarian that he was and rightfully so.
I was fortunate to meet him in the 70's when I coached a basketball team in a city league and we played against a team on which his son played. He was there not as an NBA player but a dad rooting on his son and their team. I nervously but with some confidence walked up to him and said hello after the game and he was very gracious. It was the classic brush with a star but left the right and lasting impression on me.
It wasn't until later in life I knew and truly understood what he did by becoming the legal guardian for fellow teammate Maurice Stokes that elevated my respect for him. Not just that he did it but, at the age he made this life changing decision; 23 years old and in the prime of your life as a young man. I can't think of many, if any, who would give up that prime time in their life to the degree that Jack did. Those kind of friends are rare and as Jesse Jackson said should be the basis for an award that epitomizes those qualities in an athlete who understands there is more to life than the game; Jack wasn't just a ball player, he was a humanitarian. He was a giver; unselfish, caring, compassionate and kind. Not perfect mind you, as none of us are, but a step above most absolutely.
Years later we conversed again and this time for quite a while. He was a guest on my radio show thanks to his son in law, Josh, who I worked with at that time. We not only talked about the NBA and Maurice Stokes but also his comparison to a similar physically and talented player named LeBron James. We talked a little about life and it was just as enjoyable as I thought it would be. It was filled with candor, laughter and a joy that makes you glad you had the chance to interview such a special person.
With his passing I found myself, as I'm sure many of you have, asking that hard question: Could I have done the same thing, at the same age with the same set of circumstances including giving up the prime of my life to take full custody of a friend who needed around the clock care? I want to say yes and I want to say I'd do it now if I had to.
We don't have to ask WWJD. We don't have to ask what would Jack do either.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.
As we transition from the NCAA basketball tournament, spring football, baseball, golf and other sports take center stage reminding me of my on going commitment to myself to continue lobbying for the most fitting tribute, for the most deserving alumni in the history of UC athletics if not UC period.
His name is instantly recognizable; his nickname is a brand unto itself and he has stayed connected to the University of Cincinnati not just in name but with contributions beyond the money. With the obvious need for a new basketball venue, seeing that Shoemaker Center's time has come and gone, it is only fitting that I once again champion the cause in print for a new facility to be built in his honor. Ladies and gentlemen, Alumni and students I present to you the Big Orena (not arena).
Oscar Robertson is one of the most deserving individuals in the history of college basketball and the University of Cincinnati. When Bob Huggins was removed he stepped in; when recruits come and coaches want to show him as a jewel of the University he complies. When he is on TV, in print or on radio the UC name is mentioned so much that a PR firm could easily calculate the value into the millions of dollars. So that in itself should offset the cry that naming rights take precedent over Oscar. I think he has valuated himself worthy of the ultimate naming rights for this new venue.
I have seen broadcasters run to his seat to say hello and ask for autographs; game officials do the same. I have seen successful businessmen and parents alike seek out his hand or signature. That alone justifies my request as to his name taking its rightful place on a new arena. And while you're at it, name the street Big O Boulevard and the address One Big O Boulevard to cement the deal.
Oscars' name is as legendary as his play. The National Basketball Writers of America have named their player of the year award after him so why can't UC name their venue after him? Even if it calls for another 1-2 years before you start, make the announcement now. Oscar, nor you or I, are getting any younger and to do this after he would be gone would be sad. I would say along the lines of Buck O'Neil's blatant snub by Cooperstown, not admitting him to the hall until it was done posthumously while everyone knew it should have been done while he was around to see it and enjoy it.
The time has come; it has always been here and while I see other universities name courts after coaches, deservedly so while they're alive to see it, I think why can't we? I would love to help and I think the Nike's, Reebok's, Converse, Magic Johnson's and others would agree too. Maybe we just need to ask them for their support.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.