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December 11, 2014

A Tommy Gaines Story

I have a great deal of respect for Grantland; in fact, I believe they do some of the best long form writing in sports. The name of this post isn't a slight towards Jordan Ritter Conn or the editors of Grantland. It is a nod to the difficulty to nail down history when it is the history of someone who's story is hard to grasp.

When I was a student at UGA, we had a decent basketball team. We were a few years removed from the Final Four appearance and regularly made NCAA or NIT appearances. Hugh Durham was among the game's characters and loved hamming it up for the students and press. UGA basketball was relevant.

I'd heard stories about a phenom from Bainbridge who was a game changer. His shooting and scoring abilities were compared to Michael Jordan's, legit to score from anywhere on the floor. I'd heard UGA was a lock to get him. This was not far fetched homerism in the late 80's.

Then he didn't qualify. Or he did, but decided not to come to Athens. Or he did qualify and come to Athens, took one look at all the people, then turned around and drove straight back to Bainbridge. Or he came, hung out at McWhorter and partied for a week, but never signed in or went to class, so he was kicked off the team.

I heard all of those stories about Tommy Gaines. Go read "The Sad Saga of Tommy Gaines" and remember we are all dealing with demons. Also, remember being a 19 year old star might not be as awesome as we think it is before you decide to tweet at, disparage, boo, post on message boards about, or call a student athlete's cell phone.



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