Jeff Goodman: My dinner companions

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
10:00
AM ET
It’s almost time for high school seniors to start filling out their college applications, on which they’ll answer essay questions like the standard -- if you could invite four people, living or dead, to dinner, who would it be and why? That got us to thinking. What if we could host a hoops-centric dinner party? Who would make our guest list?

This week, each of our writers will answer that question. We encourage you to do the same via Twitter using #collegehoopsdinner.

This was incredibly difficult, but the reporter in me ultimately came out -- and that’s why I chose four individuals (after being spurned by William “World Wide Wes” Wesley) who are no longer with us, people whom I never had an opportunity to truly get to know, people who have incredible stories to tell.

[+] EnlargeGuy Lewis and John Wooden
AP Photo/Ed KolenovskyJohn Wooden, seen here with Houston's Guy Lewis before 1968's "Game of the Century," would make for some winning conversation.
Location: My house in Massachusetts. If I want to get the truth out of these guys, no one else can be within earshot. We'd find a way (for Jimmy V) to bring in Italian food from the North End in Boston, but there is no chance that anyone is going to interrupt this dinner for anything besides a bathroom break.

John Wooden: I got a chance to meet the most successful coach in NCAA history on only two occasions, and both were extremely brief. He was considered as brilliant a mind as there was when it came to basketball, and he won 10 national titles in the span of 12 years. I’d love to hear stories from back in the day … especially those that pertained to him and my next guest.

Sam Gilbert: The former UCLA booster was ordered to disassociate from the program in 1981, and he died in 1987. Papa Sam later became a sports agent and was connected to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and other UCLA stars. Just imagine the stories with him and Wooden at the table. It would be incredible to find out exactly what Gilbert did -- and exactly what Wooden knew. They are both gone now, so maybe they'd pour their hearts out with everything that went down. I’m not even sure I’d want two more people at the table.

Len Bias: I’d want to invite at least one player, and Bias is so intriguing to me. He was going to be the guy who took the mantle from Larry Bird as the star of the Boston Celtics, but he died in 1986 -- two days after he was drafted with the second overall pick -- because of a drug overdose. I vividly recall watching him torch No. 1 North Carolina in Chapel Hill for 35 points his senior season, and it would be interesting to hear his stories -- both on and off the court.

Jim Valvano: I’d need someone to lighten it up, make people laugh, and no one was better at that than Jimmy V. He’s as entertaining of a college coach as there has been in the past few decades, and it would be interesting to talk to him about how his legacy has grown since he passed away.

 

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