Sonny Hill discussed on Sonny Hill


Nine oh two in the morning and as always your in the living room with Sonny hill as we flipped and we move to the next subject and the next subject is the fact that this past week we lost another of the giants of the game of basketball but more important using basketball as a vehicle to make a difference and the society that we live in and to me that's the most important part when you find a vehicle that you can use in order to enlighten people about life and life has so many different directions and so many different sites this gentleman did that and we talk about the passing coach John excuse me coach Morgan Wootten of the match the high school hall of Famer regarded as the greatest high school basketball coach of all time but more important the way he interacted with young folk particularly those of the middle of the social economic allowed it down in the early years in Washington DC let me say this as racist as any place can be because it's in the south Washington DC he made a profound difference with that being in mind I said let me call my good friend Bob Geoghan and see if I can get him on the have a discussion with you my radio listening audience in reference to the passing of coach Morgan Wootten good morning Bob gegen good morning Sunday how are yeah I'm going with the new go ahead Bob I would say it is and it's always a pleasure for me an honor to be on your show and I thank you for having me on well we've done this on a number of occasions but let's start at the top you are from Washington DC coach Morgan Wootten our coach the map that which is in the Merle inside of the DC speak about coach Morgan Wootten in the early years and then speak about coach Morgan we wouldn't as a person who sue the war saw the world cruise athletics basketball I can tell you about baseball as well because used to be the bat boy for the Washington Senators and he saw the great Babe Ruth played because he told me the story and he said where Babe Ruth played washing Griffith stadium hit home runs he said Josh Gibson from the Negro league here further and was even better so take it from there well a sunny obviously I'm not a coach and I'm not a player but I we had the honor of meeting John woo I mean Morgan Wootten in nineteen sixty five and we became friends and obviously of person like myself is just create believe that he was my friend and I learned so much from him as if I were a player he taught me a lot about life he touched a lot of other people's lives obviously he is record speaks for itself so I won't talk about it the basketball side except to say when he got the job at the map the high school in nineteen fifty six he he transformed high school basketball not only in the city but all across the country and maybe even the world says he did go on clinics to the foreign countries like Europe and still the Philippines and I think he was the one that really started educating some of the European players in foreign players in the basic fundamentals of the game because he was a strict fundamentalist on playing the game and one of the greatest achievements I always thought that he had was for twenty eight consecutive years every graduating senior regardless of how good he was athletically MT graduating senior for twenty eight years got a full four year scholarship wow and the reason for that I think is because a lot of coaches maybe they were division two coaches division one or or three maybe some of his players went to they always told me that they knew if they recruited at the map the player they didn't have to teach him how to play the game they already knew it and as a lot of coaches came through the math a high school some of the top coaches in the country they always mention that they considered Morgan one of the greatest teachers of the game and Morgan and John wooden were very similar in my opinion because they were both teachers and they often told me when I would require what made them so great was they said you have to be a good teacher to be a good coach I like that and and and Morgan always stressed education yeah one time when I asked him what the priorities were in recruiting players or how he was so fortunate to get some outstanding players over the years at the math that he always told me the criteria for him was always you had to have your priorities in order number one you guys yeah number to educate family number three education and force should be your fourth is your basketball priority and if you don't have them in that order he thought you would never be successful as a person and so I always thought to myself geez you know he he gave a lot of clinics to local coaches he he always taught the game the right way and not only that from a exes and ohs he was a great human being just like John wooden they were so similar in their philosophies in their attitudes in there the way they taught the game I thought it was interesting that have similar they were and that he was a great husband he was a great father he was a great friend friend to me and I like to say friends the probably thousands of people and I'm lucky to just be one of those so I always looked at also when I looked at coaches have their alumni treated their coach in all the players are ever played for Morgan when they came back to the map that would speak so highly of the men they respected him for his opinions and for the devices and how to live their lives in if they had problems he would try to help them lemony those problems and so over the fifty years that I've known Morgan Wootten it was a terrible day on Tuesday when I learned of his passing it was very saddened to that I had spoken to him perhaps maybe about two or three weeks prior to that in his voice sounded very strong so I wasn't aware of that he was going to pass so quickly any kind of hit me very hard and I'm going to the doing today and then this June will hopefully tomorrow but he cannot see I now see you tomorrow at the service because I'm planning on going as well yes yeah the he was also the first coach to integrate the Catholic League one he yes he came to coach is the Matthysse will lot of people didn't know that and there was some resentment in the black community from some of the black coaches who wanted to know why some of the outstanding players in the DC area we're going to the massive which obviously was coached by Morgan and being a white coach they didn't understand why the parents didn't send them to their schools so he took a lot of criticism I tell some already listing audience the story about one of the mothers when she responded to the black coaches go ahead well I was very fortunate one day to be in a room with a lot of coaches and the parents of several players and one of the I just happened over here I wasn't trying to listen in because I wasn't part of their conversation but it the room was crowded and I was up against the wall and they were sit they were standing next to me in a couple of black coaches approach this lady in Astor why would you dare send your son to be coached by Morgan moves in a black and a white coach when you try to send them to our school and help the black coaches and she said I was more interested in my son's education and I stand in to the mass of the one thing I knew Morgan would making into a man a good person and forget about the basketball sad because her son became an all American not only in high school but in college in the pros and everywhere that you're talking about is a D. Adrian Dantley that's correct because I know that yes and and and Bob we don't have a lot of time but let's draw let's look at a couple of other things that are historic in terms of coach Morgan Wootten that was the great game between power memorial with the great Lou well send door and high school and the game was played against the mapper and people thought that the math there would be beaten by power memorial N. N. coach Morgan Wootten was able to devise a way to get a victory talk to that well it was very interesting back in the late fifties and early sixties there were very few really tall African American young men playing in the DC area and so when Lew Alcindor and power memorial came to town Lew Alcindor was seven foot tall I guess in in and they had a seventy one game winning streak they didn't think the matter would have much of a chance then they played before sellout crowd a cold feeling as and I was fortunate enough to be there because everybody wanted to see this match up and what I found out later was that Morgan had sid Catlett and some of his other players on his team practice all week long with tennis rackets yes and the read and the reason why he wanted to hold a tennis rackets to teaches kids to shoot hi arching shots so the little else in there couldn't block limit let me to stop that right there in reference to what you're saying Bob when I was in high school when I played against wilt chamberlain and my coach Ike Willie used to get a broom and hold a broom up to simulate how tall and how to be able to possibly get over with the shock or going to the basket so I can identify what you're saying go ahead but anyway Morgan won that game forty six to forty three it was a all I mean the press was unbelievable it put more going on than in the math on the national stage the high school basketball became very very very important and I think he I think all the coaches today in high school they may be in college him a debt of gratitude because he was a pioneer any green is something that puts the spotlight on high school basketball and then was a hero and I school basketball skews me that was an era when high school basketball was bigger than the NBA and in many cases on almost the same level as college basketball because as you know the DC metropolitan area is one of the more fertile grounds for basketball and bitterly at the early stages of the game yeah that's correct the records I lived in a bubble I'm only from DC I didn't know what was going on cross the country and I didn't know what was happening in high schools all across America but I always felt Morgan was a visionary but it was also a very smart person he was a statesman he was an ambassador for the game and just like John wooden yeah people and held him in such high regard I walked with them and felt like I was unbelievably lucky to have John with on one side in the in Morgan was on the other and here I was sort of a nobody in the terms of the game and have them both be my friends for over well John wooden almost forty years in Morgan within for fifty you know how lucky a person could be let's talk about a couple of things before the take a commercial break and wrap it up one of the things I want to talk about was how coach Morgan Wootten was so instrumental Bob when you came up with the idea and the thought that you'd like to develop what we now know as the make Donald game and its and its forty third year speak to that well I didn't know you know I had no background in running a high school all star games but I grew up in DC on the playgrounds with with a lot of great players like Dave being in Elgin Baylor stop it does anybody with a cream and I wanted to I wanted to showcase their skills and a lot of other basketball players skills in a national all star game and I approached Morgan back in nineteen seventy one I think about what did he think about doing a game like that any he told me that there was a need for it and I think you know when you come up with an idea sometimes you need to be have a validated by somebody and when he told me he thought was a great idea he would help me in any way he could it kind of you know motivated needed to pursue it a little further and so I was very fortunate with his assistance in his advice and his guidance and like I said all his his support you know I created the capital classic here in DC in nineteen seventy four and then later you know in nineteen seventy seven John wouldn't have just retired from UCLA in between in between Morgan and John it gave me great credibility with sponsors like McDonald's to believe that this thing could actually be a reality and so with.

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