Getting Cut from HS team

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Getting Cut from HS team

Postby Coach » Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:39 pm

We all know the story of MJ getting cut at Laney. But who are some others who got cut, persevered and kept on playing. Only to make it to the NBA!

Last night I saw where Nate Archibald and Paul Arizin were both cut from their HS teams. Nate got cut Soph. year and barely got run his jr. year. Arizin didn't play HS ball his first 3 years and then got cut his senior year.

I think I read once where Cousy, Russell and Drexler got cut too. Anyone have any real info on this?

E-mail me any thoughts, I am actually doing research for a basketball book and one section in the book is about 'Failure' then overcoming it to shine.
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Postby rlee » Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:30 pm

Cooz talks about it in this interview: ... 08aac.html

As for Tiny, I believe he was dropped from the team for awhile for bad grades
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Re: Getting Cut from HS team

Postby Jon Scott » Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:44 pm

Coach wrote:We all know the story of MJ getting cut at Laney. But who are some others who got cut, persevered and kept on playing. Only to make it to the NBA!

Sorry, but I think the story of MJ getting 'cut' is the biggest crock there is, especially since it seems to be repeated ad infinitum. From what I understand Jordan as a freshman in high school was not 'brought up' to the varsity team early. Instead his coach thought he would develop better staying on the freshman team. (which he probably did assuming he got to play extensively as a freshman rather than likely sitting the bench on the varsity, only the coach would be able to determine for sure how much time he would have seen in either scenario.)

Not being put on the varsity team as a high school freshman is NOT the same as being cut. He still played on the freshman team as far as I know.

I realize it makes a good story etc. to claim he was cut from his team, but this is yet another example where people tend to let a good story crowd out and obscure simple facts.

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Postby Coach » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:01 pm

John Scott, what are you talking about? How does your comment have anything to do with my topic? You sound very negative. Lighten up Francis. By the way, Jordan played JV, not freshman and yes sir, he was cut by the varsity team and played JV.

You need to get your facts straight.
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Postby Keith Ellis » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:18 pm

Great topic, Coach. I'm unaware whether you or Jon is correct about Jordan being "cut" but in Indiana we don't call making the B-Team being "cut" from the varsity, especially not for a freshman or sophomore.

The player pool is much shallower these days, partly on the excuse that funds are too tight to keep the size of squads we once did, but the classic practice in Indiana when MJ was a schoolboy was to have a big freshman team of 12-15 players (our freshmen had both an A- & B-team). About 10 or 12 sophomores generally made the junior varsity, plus the rare standout freshman. Then another dozen upperclassmen, along w/ a breakout sophomore or three, would comprise the Varsity.

Nowadays schools typically have about half that many kids playing high school bkb at the three levels. Your topic is timely, Coach, because the gad-awful AAU has weakened the high-school-to-college system that once thrived. The faulty theory behind today's "AAU" (which is nothing like the late great AAU of Denver lore) is that it makes it easier for big-time NCAA coaches to find & recruit talent over the summer off-season. In practice, the current AAU forces more budding hoopsters than ever to fall between the cracks, particularly those student-athletes from smaller high schools who aren't in the "AAU pipeline" & have to rely on the AAU contacts of neighboring larger (i.e. rival) schools.

That's why I like your Juco emphasis. Pro bkb needs more, not fewer, places to look for talent in this present age of video games, soccer moms, & Title IX. One more thing: in Indiana, at least, fewer than half as many schools field varsity bkb teams as did when the Big O & Johnny Wooden played. So fewer than half as many kids play varsity ball. And of those, the current class-based system weeds out the lower-level highschoolers pretty ruthlessly, as so-called "minor-leaguers." The big schools squeal & howl against playing small schools in an end-of-the-year tournament, feeling they have too much to lose & understandably preferring to get by on "reputation." Our state's biggest city, Indianapolis, was always a basketball backwater until the class-based system set in.
Keith Ellis

Postby Coach » Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:25 pm

Well from everything I have read over the years and listening to Jordan himself in interviews, he tried out for the varsity team as a sophomore, got cut (he even talks about looking at the list of names posted who made the team and being sad when his name wasn't on that list). Playing JV actually helped him because he logged a lot of minutes.

I would actually have freshmen ineligible in HS so they can concentrate on the transition from Jr. High to 9th grade. Lot of distractions with the freshmen! 3 years of HS basketball would be fine. Too much pressure on kids these days as 14 year old kids. I heard a mother talking about her son who is going into the 9th grade this fall explaining that she wants to send her son to a school where her boy is going to start...ON VARSITY!
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Postby Jon Scott » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:38 pm

Coach wrote:John Scott, what are you talking about? How does your comment have anything to do with my topic? You sound very negative. Lighten up Francis. By the way, Jordan played JV, not freshman and yes sir, he was cut by the varsity team and played JV.

You need to get your facts straight.

Looking back myself, the only thing I got wrong was Jordan didn't make the varsity team as a sophomore (I had said freshman based on memory). Instead he played on the JV (I had said freshman) team.

Other than that I stand by my original comment. Where I take issue is you mention about five times that he was 'cut', which to me is simply incorrect. (and is a term many have used with respect to this Jordan story which IMO intentionally misleads the audience, trying to make it a bigger story than it really is)

Granted every year there's some sophomore and freshmen players who are moved up to varsity but if they're not they simply play on the JV (or freshmen) teams, where they're really supposed to be anyway. Not moving up to varsity from that level doesn't mean they were 'cut'. The ones who are 'cut' are the ones who are deemed not good enough to make whatever team they're supposed to be on.

I don't mean to be negative, only trying to give my opinion on the issue. If you disagree and want to discuss, fine. If you don't, that's fine too.

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Postby rlee » Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:47 pm

Whatever one's perspective on what the "truth" of the story is, it still seems like a good object lesson for Coach's purpose. If a player who is unable to make the varsity as h.s. sophomore turns out to be MJ, this is a pretty good demonstration of how hard work, drive, discipline, and committment can transcend "failure".
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Postby Jon Scott » Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:09 pm

rlee wrote:Whatever one's perspective on what the "truth" of the story is, it still seems like a good object lesson for Coach's purpose. If a player who is unable to make the varsity as h.s. sophomore turns out to be MJ, this is a pretty good demonstration of how hard work, drive, discipline, and committment can transcend "failure".

Agree with this. It is true that Jordan used this as motivation to work even harder, which is something everyone can learn from.

From my perspective, the key point of this whole thing is the use of the word 'cut'. Obviously people can have differing thoughts about what exactly that term entails. I don't know that one is right and one is wrong, and frankly don't care either way.

What I do object to, however, is that when this particular story is told to the general population who aren't familiar with Jordan's bio, when the words 'cut from the basketball team' is used, I guarantee you most of these people (again who don't know the details) assume that means Jordan was told he wasn't good enough to play basketball for his high school team and therefore didn't play at least a year in high school. This scenario is at best grossly misleading and simply untrue.

That's why I object to the term, and why I mentioned it here. I don't disagree that the story can be one that is instructional or even inspirational, only that the persistent use of the term 'cut' in this particular case is IMO intentionally misleading.

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Postby Jon Scott » Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:37 pm


I don't know if this is the kind of thing you're looking for but there's a good story about George Mikan 'trying out' for the Notre Dame team and being told by then Notre Dame coach George Keogan that "basketball isn't your game."

Mikan went on and enrolled at DePaul where he didn't play basketball as a freshman. Eventually Ray Meyer (who at the time of the tryout was an assistant for Keogan) but who later came to DePaul as head coach noticed him on campus, worked with him during the off-season and started his road to stardom.

I mention this on the following webpage:

There's no doubt numerous other examples of players (in particular big men) who were experienced rejection at some level, only to improve and come back better than ever.

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Postby Coach » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:50 am

Larry Bird is an incredible story! I have read every published word on his situation. Did you know Kent Benson treated him like shit? And in a HS all-star game, the coach sat him and Magic Johnson on the bench most of the game? Will go down as one of the hardest working players the game has ever seen.
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Postby Coach » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:52 am

“I was really surprised and embarrassed when the coach cut me. That’s when I started to take the game seriously.”
-Michael Jordan
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Postby Coach » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:24 pm

As for LB, I have taken an interest in his past because I use it often with kids today when I speak with them.

I have read all the books on Bird and consumed as many articles as possible.

Hodges had a lot to do with getting Bird to turn it up.

Great story that comes to mind with Bird is that after HS practice he would walk home and stop at a park to shoot some more before dinner time and then of course there is the Mike O'Koren story when he heard Bird would shoot 4 hours before the game. Long story short, OK shows up at the arena to look for Bird and he sees a security guard,

"Hey where's Bird?' OK asked. The guard replied, "you missed him, he left an hour ago."
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Postby Coach » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:43 pm

After LB's career was over at ISU Magic finished at MSU. They played for Joe B Hall in a post-season all-star game Sidney Moncreif was on the team too and Hall barely played them. To which LB said, "We had a better team on the bench than what they had on the floor."

LB was snubbed in a HS all-star game too...

I get all that info from a great book given to me by a dear friend who used to be the SID at MSU, "Larry Bird" An Indiana Legend. It was compiled by the The Star/Indianapolis/The News in 1999.
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Postby Chuck Durante » Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:33 am

Terence Stansbury was cut in 8th grade.

8 years later, he was the 15th player [the 10th senior] taken in the NBA draft.
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Postby Coach » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:15 am

Thanks Chuck-I always liked his game. How come he only had a cup of coffee in the NBA?
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Frequent Flyer Stansbury

Postby rlee » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:31 am

Frequent Flyer Stansbury Took
Career To New Level in Europe

By Conrad Brunner | Sept. 9, 2005

Odds are, when the name Terence Stansbury comes to mind, so does a dunk.
One dunk in particular.

During the 1985 NBA All-Star Weekend, hosted by the Pacers in what was then known as the Hoosier Dome, Stansbury vaulted into the national spotlight with a spectacular performance in the slam-dunk contest, bringing down the house by leaping over a teammate seated on a chair in the lane on his flight to the rim.

Stansbury finished third, behind Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan. Among those who finished behind him were Julius Erving, Larry Nance, Darrell Griffith and Clyde Drexler – a roster of some of the greatest dunkers in the history of the game.

The problem with that event is that it forever labeled Stansbury as a dunker – a label, as it turned out, he had to travel to Europe to shed. The sleek 6-5 shooting guard spent two more seasons in the NBA – finishing third in the slam-dunk contest twice more - before moving overseas, where he played 13 seasons in five countries before moving into coaching. Now 44 and just three years removed from his playing career, he's currently the head coach of the Basket Racing Club in Luxembourg.

"The dunk contest actually caused a lot of problems because people forgot, when I was in (Temple) University, I was a thinking player, a jump-shooter, a guy who played on winning teams," Stansbury said. "Of course I had athletic ability, but I rarely dunked in games. My job was to run the team, hit the clutch baskets, play defense and not throw the ball away for four years at Temple.

"When I got to the NBA, because I was an athlete and got invited to the dunk contest, the fans would run up to the bench and ask for me to come in and dunk when the coach had his own strategy about how he wanted to play and it became a problem. I remember I got too much attention when there were guys who were starters and key players on the team … I just felt bad about it.

"It was a wonderful experience to be up there with the greatest dunkers in the world at the time and to finish third three times in a row but it really hurt my NBA career, I think, because even now people talk about the dunks. That was the focus – the dunks, the dunks, the dunks. When you make a mistake, it's 'this athlete can run and dunk but he can't play.' But I didn't get to the NBA because of my dunking, I got there because of basketball fundamentals and skills and clutch play."

At Temple, Stansbury played all but seven minutes during his junior season, averaging 24.6 points for a mediocre team. The following season, he led the Owls to a 26-5 mark and hit the game-winning shot to deliver a 65-63 victory over Chris Mullin and St. John's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Though he scored 26 in the next game, the Owls fell to North Carolina, 77-66.

A first-round NBA Draft pick of Dallas (No. 15 overall) in 1984, Stansbury was acquired by the Pacers from Dallas along with Bill Garnett in exchange for a conditional future first-round pick just before the start of his rookie season. In two years with the Pacers, he averaged 6.9 points in 148 games (31 starts).

He has fond memories of his relatively brief time here, particularly of the fan support for a team that totaled 48 victories in his two seasons. Just as the Pacers were on the verge of breaking through to respectability, Stansbury was traded to Seattle (with Russ Schoene) for John Long. Without that deal, Stansbury, not Long, would've been the answer to the trivia question: who was the Pacers' last starter at shooting guard before Reggie Miller?

"It was a wonderful experience with the fans," Stansbury said. "Of course, we had a terrible team then and the fans were always there. That was something that stuck out in my mind. And I hated to leave, even though it was a struggling team. I wanted to stay there and try to develop as a player with the new coaching staff when they had brought Jack Ramsay in (before the 1986-87 season).

"It was a terrible feeling to leave when you know you have a coach like that. But they wanted a veteran player and the trade happened."

After one injury-plagued season in Seattle (averaging 4.0 points in 44 games), Stansbury began his European odyssey in Den Bosch, Holland.

"I just decided to start a career in Europe," he said. "So many guys I had played against (in college) were in Europe and had good careers, so it was a nice alternative. If you wanted to play professional basketball outside of the United States at the time, Europe was a possibility and you can have so many wonderful experiences when you're young.

"It wasn't, of course, like being in the NBA. But it was 10 times better than the CBA – maybe 100 times better depending on the country and depending on the team."

After one season on Holland and two in Belgium, Stansbury found a home in Levallois, France, where he played for six seasons and became more than a star. He was an ambassador for the sport, eventually earning a place in the French basketball Hall of Fame.

Stansbury worked extensively in developing youth programs in France, hosting three-on-three tournaments around the country to expose the game to as many people as possible. In those years prior to the 1992 Olympics, when the Dream Team made its dramatic impact on the international landscape, the NBA was something of a foreign concept in Europe and the game was very much in need of development.

Since then, Stansbury has been an eyewitness to the changes in the sport.

"Basketball has evolved all over the world," he said. "The difference is what has happened to (Americans). We don't really play as a team at the high school and college level the way we did when I was a kid. In Europe, they didn't have the great athletes so they always played together. They always focused on the team. In America, it's play one-on-one for yourself and make sure you shine. That way you'll have the opportunity to go to (a) university and if you're the best one-on-one player and top scorer, you'll have an opportunity to play in the NBA.

"It's never been that way over here in Europe. That's why when we play against these international teams, they are teams. We bring individuals and hope that they can come together quickly. "

Stansbury played in Israel and Greece before returning to France in 1998, but his playing days were numbered. He got a taste for coaching with Levallois in 1995 when, while injured, he was asked to move onto the bench. He moved into that phase of his career in Finland, where he spent two seasons before taking the job in Luxembourg.

Though entrenched in Europe, Stansbury would welcome the chance to do scouting for an NBA team with an eye toward the future. His daughter, Tiffany, a 6-3 post player, just finished a distinguished career at North Carolina State as a second-team all-ACC selection with WNBA aspirations.

He'd like very much to return to Indianapolis one day soon to see the Pacers play because, through it all, this is the NBA franchise to which his heart belongs.

"I had a wonderful time in Indiana and I'm glad they've been successful," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get back in the future to see some games, because I'm still a Pacer. No one can take that away.

"I just don't want to be remembered as the dunk contest guy."
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Postby Chuck Durante » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:31 am

He had three nice years, two of them as part-time Pacer starter. Should have been finalist in at least one of the Slam Dunk competitions where he faced MJ and Nique. Career would have had better trajectory had he stayed with Dallas team that drafted him, and avoided the holdout-induced trade to Irvine's capricious regime.

Cut by Sonics a year before '88 expansion. Big Five connections helped him land employment in Belgium. He liked the civilized pond well enough to move to the rewards of Paris, flourishing in the French league for a decade before embarking on a coaching career that has taken him around the continent.
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Postby Coach » Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:22 am

rlee and Chuck,

Thanks for the info.
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Postby MCT » Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:16 pm

Another twist on this question is players who didn't play high school basketball at all. The NBA Biographical Database on the APBR web site attempts to identify such players, marking their high schools as "DNP". These players weren't necessarily "cut" in any sense, though some of them probably were. Others may simply have not tried out for the basketball team, for whatever reason, or may have even attended high schools that didn't have a basketball team.

One that I always remember is Ron Anderson, who played in the NBA from 1984 to 1994, most notably with the Pacers and 76ers. IIRC, Anderson's talent for basketball didn't come to light until after high school, when he was discovered playing in some kind of a rec league (he did not go to college right out of high school).
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Was MJ cut from his h.s. team?

Postby rlee » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:13 am

by Robbi Pickeral

WILMINGTON -- Ruby Sutton has a distinct pet peeve when it comes to the subject of her former pupil, Michael Jordan: the oft-told story of how he was “cut” from the Laney High varsity basketball team as a sophomore, spurring him to greatness.

“Back then, (most) 10th-graders played JV; that's just the way it was. Nobody ever ‘cut' Michael Jordan,” Sutton, who still teaches physical education, said this month, shaking her head as she retold the story for at least the 100th time.

“Him not making the varsity that year was not his motivator – he was motivated well before that. He just always wanted to be the best.”

Jordan, now 46 and part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, will add another checkmark to his “best” basketball legacy this weekend when he is inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Over the past 30 years, he has won a national title at North Carolina, earned six NBA championship rings, been dubbed the greatest basketball player of all time – and become a cultural icon who transcends sports.

And it all began here in New Hanover County, a 192,000-resident coastal community about 200 miles southeast of Charlotte known – before His Airness – for beautiful beaches, calabash seafood and Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon.

This is where Jordan displayed his now-familiar competitive edge on the Babe Ruth baseball field he helped build; honed his work ethic while cleaning out the pool at the El-Berta Motor Inn as a part-time job; and sharpened his overall skills after watching his friend, Leroy Smith, promoted to varsity ahead of him because Smith was (at least) a half-foot taller at the time.

Little did anyone know Jordan would one day have both his high school gym and a stretch of I-40 near his hometown named in his honor, or have his own exhibit in the Cape Fear Museum (which also features displays of a giant ground sloth skeleton and native seashells).

“Nobody could have predicted Mike would become a Hall of Famer, or any of the other things that he has become,” said Laney athletics director Fred Lynch, an assistant coach on Jordan's high school teams. “But he was something special.”

A diamond on the diamond

Dick Neher thought so too, although he apparently has a notable distinction among those who coached against Jordan: When “Mike” was 10 years old, playing on his first organized basketball team, Neher actually told his squad to let Jordan shoot it.

“He was fast and athletic, but he could shoot maybe only 10, 20 percent back then, and I knew I had a couple of big boys who could rebound,” Neher, 74 and retired from General Electric said, laughing. “Bet I was the last guy that did that.”

Where Neher really appreciated Jordan's talent in the mid-1970s was on the baseball field – particularly the one off Kerr Avenue, which has been upgraded and re-configured since Jordan and his teammates helped build it.

“I don't care what you did with him, he wanted to be No. 1,” Neher said. “If we ran laps, he wanted to be the first one to finish them. When we laid down bunts, he wanted to do the best. … Between innings, after getting the third out, he'd be the first one in the dugout; that's just the way he was.”

A friend and co-worker to Jordan's father, James, Neher coached Michael – who he nicknamed Rabbit, because his ears were so close to his head – as a 13-, 14- and 15-year-old in the Babe Ruth League. Jordan played mostly catcher and pitcher, and the best Neher can figure it, the teenager's competitive fire came from having two older brothers (as well as two sisters).

“James never told the older ones to take it easy on Mike, and I'm sure that motivated him. You always want to beat your brothers,” Neher said.

Jordan, who played minor-league baseball briefly after his first retirement from the NBA, never made an all-star team during three years under Neher. According to the scoresheets the former Marine still keeps in his filing cabinet, Jordan batted .260, scored 24 runs and struck out 20 foes. But his squad went 31-11 over those three seasons, winning the city/county Babe Ruth championship in 1976 and 1977.

Even then, Neher said, the most important thing to Jordan was racking up victories.

“We were playing S&G Concrete one night, and he was on third (base). I said, ‘We've got to have a run, let's call a suicide squeeze,'” Neher said. “ … Mike was coming on the pitch, faked back to third, and instead hurdled the catcher on the way home – because in youth leagues back then, you couldn't run into the catcher. He walked across the plate and scored the winning run.

“… If I would have had nine Michael Jordans on my team, we would have never lost.”

$3.35 an hour

Jordan's work ethic carried over off the field, too.

Before his senior year in high school, his mother Deloris, who worked at a bank, walked up the street and asked Horace Prevatte – owner of Whitey's restaurant and the El-Berta Motor Inn – if he might have a summer job available for her son.

“He hadn't decided on a college yet, but wanted to earn some money for college,” said Prevatte, now 81. “So he did some part-time maintenance around the hotel, cleaned the swimming pool, took out the trash, and cut grass. He was a nice young man, a good worker.”

And he had a keen sense of humor. There's a long-standing story that Jordan once hipped one of his buddies into the 9-foot-deep end of the pool – which has long been closed, and will soon be demolished along with the 82-room inn off U.S. 17 – while he was tending to it.

“He was your typical teenager, getting his work done, trying to earn some extra money,” said Horace's son, Michael, who kept the pay stubs from Jordan's $119.76 every-two-weeks paycheck.

Then, the Prevattes remember, they had no idea Jordan would become, well, Jordan. The summer of 1980, the friendly teen was still going to basketball camps, hadn't hit his final growth spurt, and hadn't even chosen a college.

“Someone told me he was thinking about playing at North Carolina,” Michael Prevatte said, “but he was only 6-2 or 6-3, so I'm not sure I really believed it at the time.”

These days, a cancelled paycheck and signed Jordan photo are on display at Whitey's restaurant, which is next door to the hotel, proof of Jordan's former employment. And Jordan's mom still stops by for a meal when she's in town, Horace said.

“He (Jordan) made $3.35 an hour, that was minimum wage,” Horace said. “Now minimum wage has gone up, and I thought I might call him up and offer him his old job back.”

Then he grinned.

“It's a tribute to his work ethic that he's accomplished all of the things that he has … and it's nice that some of that work ethic (showed itself) around here.”

Short stature, big outcome

Much of Jordan's sweat, though, was saved for the basketball court – be it playing pick-up ball at Empie Park, working out on the homemade basketball court behind his house (where the goal has long since been stolen) or meeting the janitors at Laney High every morning so he could practice before class.

“When I would arrive at school at 7 or 7:30, Michael was already here,” Sutton, his physical education teacher, said. “And he wasn't just working on shooting. He was working on the types of things kids didn't want to work on, like footwork.”

These days, there's a roughly 20-by-14 foot Nike Jumpman logo at center court of Michael J. Jordan Gymnasium, placed there as part of the deal that allowed Nike to sell replicas of his No.23 Laney jersey years ago. Even Lynch, now the head basketball coach, has to laugh at the irony of the size of the emblem, considering that when Jordan first arrived at Laney, it was his sub-6-foot stature that kept him off the varsity squad.

“Leroy (Smith) was not a better basketball player than Mike, he just had size,” Lynch said. “We didn't have a lot of tall kids, and Leroy was 6-6, 6-7 … and (head coach) Pop Herring thought we had plenty of guards but needed size.

“The Hollywood version is that Mike got cut, came back the next year, and was great. That's not true. He played on the JV team, was our best JV player, and played on the varsity his final two years and scored more than 1,400 points (including a triple-double average his senior season: 29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists). It was never a situation where Mike was ever a bad player.”

Smith wasn't a bad player either; he went on to play at UNC Charlotte after the Jordan-led Laney team lost in district play to Wilmington New Hanover their senior season. But it was Jordan, who grew up a fan of N.C. State's David Thompson, who went on to become a McDonald's All-American. Many around town still believe he should have been the state player of the year in 1981, too, rather than Asheville's Buzz Peterson, who went on to become Jordan's roommate and best friend at North Carolina.

Lynch, who also coached Jordan when he played quarterback on the ninth-grade football team, doesn't know whether having Smith make varsity ahead of him motivated Jordan. But Jordan worked on his skills relentlessly, Lynch remembers, sometimes practicing with both the junior varsity and varsity teams.

And the coach thinks playing junior varsity, rather than varsity, ultimately helped Jordan's development.

“One of the things that benefited Mike was, by not being 6-5, 6-6 when he got to high school – like Leroy was – he played guard,” Lynch said. “So because he was a smaller kid, he worked on his ball-handling, worked on his shooting and when he grows to 6-5, 6-6, and he's already got all of those guard skills. Versus Leroy, who was always a big kid – and big kids always get thrown into the post.”

Still, Lynch, and Laney High, have never quite been able to escape the “Jordan-was-cut” myth, for better or for worse. He even got stopped at DisneyWorld once, by a kid who wanted to know how he could have possibly do that to a future Hall of Famer.

He still answers with both a smile and grimace, knowing there's more to Jordan's motivation, and Wilmington history, than why he didn't play varsity in the 10th grade: “Please. Do you really think Michael Jordan ever got cut from anything?”
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Re: Getting Cut from HS team

Postby Jon Scott » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:18 pm

I went ahead and dug this thread back up as recently there was an article by Thomas Lake which readdresses this particular issue and interviews Jordan's HS coach, Pop Herring and talks about his current condition. It's titled "Did This Man Really Cut Michael Jordan?" and is a pretty good story.

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Re: Getting Cut from HS team

Postby rlee » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:34 am

Jack Twyman: ... chievement

Bob Lanier: ... hread=3461

Gerald Green:

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Thurl Bailey: (8th grade):

The Statesman - Sports
Issue: 11/19/03

Hard work pays off for former Jazz man
By Julie Ann Grosshans

You name it, Thurl Bailey has done it.

The former Utah Jazz forward left his 16-year basketball career to follow his passion of being an inspirational speaker and entertainer.

Last Thursday, the Spectrum became his most recent outlet for preaching to high school students and the community about believing in yourself and never giving up.

"It would be presumptuous to say that you guys should know who I am," Bailey said to a group of about 50 people. "I had a 16-year professional basketball career and I'll tell you it was the most awesome thing that could ever happen to me in my whole life. I realized the dream of playing professional basketball."

It didn't come easy, though, as he recounted his story to the group.

When Bailey was about 12 or 13 he was watching basketball on TV with his dad when he noticed a particular player. It was Julius "Dr. J." Erving playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I remember he was like the Michael Jordan of that time," he said. "I was mesmerized by how this guy was playing. I knew that day that I wanted to be like Dr. J. I wanted to play in the NBA."

There was a problem, though.

Bailey wasn't a born basketball star. And the only way to get better was to practice and play on an organized team.

His family was poor so his dad created a make-shift court in the drive way with a trash can as the hoop and a round object that somewhat resembled a basketball. It was the best they could do at the time.

The Baileys would spend time outside together learning different aspects of the game. His dad taught him how to do a hook shot, and his mom was a master of granny free throws.

All this time Dr. J. was still in the back of his mind. Bailey would pretend he was his idol and drive to the hoop to attempt the game-winning shot.

But playing organized basketball was more of a challenge.

As a 6-foot-7 eighth-grader, Bailey tried out for the basketball team.

He was cut.

"I was so disappointed because I felt like it was a step back for me," he said. "It was the end of my goal."

Bailey said he specifically remembers the coach coming to him after tryouts and telling him he was wasting his time.

The man looked the scared teenager in the eyes and said he wasn't cut out to play basketball - he didn't have what it takes.

After not making the team again the following year, Bailey began to doubt himself. He spent the summer down in the dumps but perked up when he heard there was a new basketball coach at the school.

Two inches taller and with a little more confidence, Bailey tried out again.

He was nervous because he associated trying out for the team with being cut. He wanted to experience the joy of making the squad.

He gazed at the list of names who made the team, and the very first one was himself - because of alphabetical order of course.

But he had made the team nonetheless.

His job was simple. He was to start the game, get the jump ball, and on the next possession the coach would take him out of the game.

Bailey didn't care. It was a great accomplishment just to be part of the organization.

"I remember the coach coming over to me, looking me in the eyes, and saying that if I wanted to dedicate myself there would be opportunities," Bailey said. "He said if I was willing to dedicate myself there could be college scholarships."

And a free ride through college was something important to Bailey because he probably wouldn't have the chance to go without it.

He continued to work on his game throughout high school and eventually received a letter from the University of Maryland during his senior year.

The Terrapins wanted him to play collegiate basketball for them.

But so did a couple of hundred other schools around the country.

Bailey had a choice and he picked North Carolina State, which was coached by Jimmy Valvano.

In his senior season with the Wolfpack the team did the unthinkable. A squad that had barely qualified to make the NCAA Tournament upset the No. 1 ranked University of Houston 54-52 to win the national championship.

After a successful college career, the next logical step was the NBA.

Imagine sitting in Madison Square Garden waiting for someone else to make a decision that will affect the rest of your life.

Bailey patiently waited through the first six picks of the first round of the 1983 NBA draft. Then came his turn.

"I realized that that was it," he said. "It was a dream. This is what dreams are made of."

After the Utah Jazz selected him as the seventh pick in the first round, a team representative greeted him and suddenly two things ran through Bailey's mind - how an amazing dream was coming true and the question of where exactly Utah is.

During one of his first professional basketball games, Bailey was sitting on the bench watching the game. Frank Layden, Utah's then-head coach, summoned the rookie to check into the game.

"I was so nervous," he said. "I had to go to the bathroom."

As he was hunched over near the scores table he felt a tap on his shoulder. Bailey turned around and, lo and behold, Dr. J. was standing behind him.

The NBA veteran congratulated Bailey on a great college season and wished him good luck in his career.

When both men checked into the game, Bailey stood still and looked around for a minute. All of his teammates were guarding other players and Dr. J. was left alone.

"It was one of the greatest moments of my life," Bailey said. "I was out there on the same court with the guy I had been watching on TV. ... He worked for everything he got that night. I held him. I held Dr. J to 47 points."

So he was a little nervous.

In his prime during the late 1980s, Bailey averaged almost 20 points per game for the Jazz.

He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a few seasons in the early '90s, but finished his NBA career in Utah during the 1998-99 season.

Since then, the 6-foot-11 celebrity has released three albums, the most recent being 2002's "I'm Not the Same."

Between being a singer/song writer, actor and public speaker, Bailey is also a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah.

He has also won various awards for his leadership and contributions to the community.

Bailey currently lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Sindi, and his two youngest children, BreElle and Brendan.
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