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Basketball Pickup Games At The Whitehouse.

President-elect Obama shares a passion for sports that allows many of us to admire even if our political views differ at times. There will no doubt be some pickup basketball games at the White House and hopefully the injuries will be limited to the usual weekend warrior aches and pains. Much has been made about our next President being our first African American to hold that position and one of the unique portals of my generation has been this transformation of racial changes. Many of us not only lived thru the racial rioting of the 1960’s but I drove thru it on my first day of graduate school in June, 1967, at Case Western Reserve.

In 1969, I was involved in starting FCA huddle groups in schools throughout Northeast Ohio. The head basketball coach at Cleveland State University then was a man named John McLendon, Jr. At this time in Coach McLendon’s life, he had experienced so much that I had no idea who he was or why he was so significant in the lives of basketball players. To me, he was a man who loved Jesus Christ so much that he would share his faith whenever we asked him to be part of our local events. I suggest you Google coach McLendon to learn more about him but for today just think about this:

In 1944, Coach McLendon’s North Carolina College for Negroes played a private, unpublicized, no-spectators allowed basketball game against the Duke University Medical Team. Why not the varsity you ask? Because the medical team back then was an all star team of former Duke players and also former all Americans who were part of the Army and Navy medical teams sent to Duke for training. They continuously beat the Duke varsity and were looking for more challenging competition. The game took place on Sunday, March 12, 1944 at 11am in the morning as they assumed people would be in church and not likely to break away to watch a game that would have gotten many people in a lot of trouble back then. You see white and black players were not allowed to play together, especially in the South! “Not only were we breaking the law, we were breaking tradition. I don’t know which was worse in the South at that time”, according to NC College player Aubrey Stanley. (This quote from The Cleveland Plain Dealer; 4-11-97)

The final score was 88-44 in favor of NC College! They played a game that included something the college basketball world did not recognize at that time… a fast break! It was not until 1948, when President Truman pushed thru laws changing college sports that white teams would play openly against black teams, and only at that time did colleges start to bring African American athletes into their programs as recruits. John McLendon went on to coach at many schools and also helped to win gold medals in basketball in the Olympics and numerous international events. He may be one of the greatest coaches you never heard of because of when he was born and because of the color of his skin. I knew him as a brother in Christ and a man who always kept his word. Who will you be thinking about when Barrack Obama is inaugurated into office?

I Corinthians 12:12-13 (NIV) “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…”

Monday Morning Message Sent 1/12/09


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