The final play of Hank Gathers' life was an alley-oop.
He caught the ball.
He dunked the ball.
|Bo Kimble went 4-for-4 shooting lefty as the Lions went as far as the Elite Eight. (Getty Images)|
The tragedy happened in the semifinals of the 1990 West Coast Conference Tournament. The game was suspended, the event called off. The league awarded the Loyola-Marymount Lions with its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. But it was initially unclear whether they would play or just call it a season, given how they had just watched their teammate die on the court because of what an autopsy would later show was a heart disorder.
"But Hank would want us all to be strong and to go on," LMU guard Bo Kimble said at the time. "I'm sure in our hearts, my teammates and myself, we're dedicating all that we have for Hank."
To be clear, dedications happen all the time.
|Memorable Moments Archive|
|No. 1:||One shot, one memory|
|Turn and shoot|
|No. 2:||Jimmy V's elation|
|Which way do I go?|
|No. 3:||Webber seals Fab 5's fate|
|No. 4:||Bo's lefty tribute|
|Kimble's free throws|
|No. 5:||Valpo's Drew sinks Ole Miss|
Somebody gets sick. Or tears an ACL. Or loses a relative. Then the team dedicates the game or season to that person.
But what does it really mean?
How can you really tell?
Kimble avoided this dilemma completely, making sure nobody would miss his tribute. The right-handed guard promised to shoot the first free throw of every NCAA Tournament game with his left hand in honor of Gathers, who had -- because of struggles at the line -- shot free throws left-handed for a while despite being right-handed. So with his friend's No. 44 sewn onto the left side of his jersey just above the "la" in "Loyola," Kimble took the ball at the free-throw line for the first time in LMU's NCAA Tournament opener against New Mexico State, cupped it in his left hand and shot it toward the rim.
It was more of a shot-put than a shot.
But it didn't matter.