I Left My Heart in Prairie View
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M 53 to UCLA 95 - The Prairie View Panthers basketball team came to Los Angeles to be sacrificial lambs for the UCLA Bruins. They were shown no mercy, but they took their beating with class and dignity. UCLA could have made its point by scoring only 75 points, but they did not choose to do so.
I was born in Texas, about 60 miles from the Campus of Prairie View. I had a tonsillectomy there, when I was about four or five years old. My parents drove me there, and I spent about a week in that wonderful institution. The cheerful and beautiful nurses supplied me with endless servings of Jell-O and ice cream. They made me feel special, and I was in love with all of them.
When you began school in Texas, all of the teachers encouraged you to do well, so that you might earn the opportunity to attend Prairie View, which we believed was the best College in the entire world.
I do not want to leave you with the impression that my visit there was all peaches and cream. After spending about three days there and basking in the attention of those lovely nurses and eating my endless supply of goodies, they placed me on a gurney for a ride to the operating room. That was okay with me, so far so good. Then they opened the door, and I saw about seven men standing there with masks on, and they were waiting for me! This was not what I had signed on for.
The site of them terrified me, and I screamed for my mother to rescue me from them. While I was yelling, one of the sweet little nurses put something over my face. It smelled funny, and when I woke up, I was back in my bed and my throat felt sore. Some Doctors don't have any idea of how small children look at the world. However, I discovered that the Nurses still loved me, and in the end that was what mattered most.
I am happy that Prairie View and other HBCU's are playing basketball in the NCAA games, and also that they are on television. For the most part, they will be playing against teams that are much more powerful than they are. So, they will be beaten again and again. However, history has shown us that one of them, and then some others, will find ways to compete as the highest levels of competition. Maybe it will be Prairie View, or Howard, or Grambling, or Morehouse, or some of the others. Mark my words, it will happen and possibly sooner than any of us expect.
THE LAKERS - the team is going through a difficult period of adjustment. However, not to worry, they will make the Playoffs. So they will have an opportunity to pursue a Championship this year. They will not win it, since they are not good enough to beat the Clippers, Heat, Thunder, or Celtics. Real Fans understand that their favorite team cannot win the Championship every year, and they know how to live with that.
THE CLIPPERS - this is a team that seems to be getting better every day. They now have a TEN game winning streak, and life looks rosy for them. Chris Paul, their acknowledged leader, has proven to be the Great Unifier. As the result, team chemistry has never been better, and this will serve them well, as the games become more competitive. Another big plus for the team is Chauncey Billups. He is injured now, but his wise and patient counseling has been most helpful, especially to the younger players. It is ironic that the Clippers now have a much better team than the previously highly regarded Lakers.
UCLA - As we go to press, the Bruins will be facing Long Beach State at Pauley Pavilion. There will be several times during this game when the Bruins will wish that they were still playing Prairie View. Did any of us ever think that it would become routine for the Bruins to not be listed in the AP Men's Top 25? What has happened to the world? To the surprise of mostly everyone, their football team is now better than that of USC. The end of the world cannot be far away. Their new coach, Jim Mora, has done an incredible job of resurrecting the football team.
USC - The basketball facilities are among the best in the world. The University is located in the center of Los Angeles, and that is where most of the people in the world would like to be. However, their basketball program would have to have a dramatic improvement to even become mediocre. There has been no public indication that Athletic Director Pat Haden ever intends to improve this regrettable situation.
The public perception of him is that he is spending his time trying to keep head football coach Lane Kiffin from breaking any of the NCAA's rules, and he is doing some very interesting radio broadcasts. He might be well advised to contact some of the coaches, whose teams are already listed in the TOP 25. USC ought to be able to compete with Cincinnati, Minnesota, Gonzaga, Georgetown, or New Mexico. Pat, it really is not that hard, just do it!