Former Tigers Enjoy Legends Game

Auburn, Ala.--Aaron Swinson showed he can still dunk in spectacular style, Wesley Person displayed his long-range shooting magic and variety of players from different eras of Auburn basketball noted they enjoyed a Legends basketball game on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Part of the festivities celebrating 100 years of Auburn basketball, the theme was having fun and seeing old friends and teammates. The score and statistics weren't that important.

"It's obvious I haven't been playing or practicing, but some of these guys looked real good," said Doc Robinson, the star point guard of the Tigers who played for a No. 1 seeded NCAA Tournament team and was a four-year letterman from 1997-2000.

Reggie Gallon (14), Franklin Williams (44), Doc Robinson (50) and Ronnie Battle (21) are shown in action.

Person led the scoring with 24 points, including a three-point missile from the edge of the center court AU logo.

Swinson scored 18 points, Nate Watson got 14 and Gallon added 10. Franklin Williams, Mike Springfield and Ronnie Battled each scored nine points.

Prior to the game, a variety of the oldtimers said a key for them was to get through the game, which was played in four eight-minute quarters, without damage to their bodies.

The only casualty was former Auburn center Earl Banks, a standout center for the Sonny Smith teams from 1978-81. "I had a lot of fun out there and I think I will be okay," he said. "I was going for a rebound and Wesley (Person) came down on the back of my heel and pulled my Achilles tendon a little bit."

Banks got a hand from the fans and players as he got up off the deck and walked off the court. Banks, who played high school basketball at Holy Family High, had a successful pro career in South America playing in Argentina and Chile. He also played for a pro team in Bahrain.

Banks says he is glad that the university put on the Legends Game and a series of other activities for the former players. "I had a lot of fun playing with these guys these guys."

Franklin Williams, a standout forward for the Tiers from 1995-98, agrees with Banks about the Legends Game and the related activities being worth doing.

"This was an opportunity of a lifetime to get to see so many of the former Auburn players," Williams says. "It was wonderful for them to bring us back to our roots and see how the old guys, the guys who built the foundation of Auburn basketball, are doing. It was a privilege for me to play with those guys and I appreciate the Auburn Athletic Department putting on game the game and the other activities."

Swinson, who put on a show that included three slam dunks, just wrapped up a long and successful pro career that included a short stint with the Phoenix Suns and several of the top teams in Spain where he was an all-star. Swinson was offered a contract to play again this season, but decided to return home to spend more time with his family. His wife, former Auburn women's hoops star Charlene Thomas, is in her first season as head coach of the University of Tulsa women's basketball team.

Aaron Swinson scored 18 points.

Swinson, who is helping his wife coach at Tulsa, is also the head coach of a junior high girls team and junior varsity team in addition to owning a business. "I am enjoying the coaching, but it is probably the most challenging thing I have ever had to do," he says. "It is interesting being involved in the game from a coach's perspective."

Swinson notes he really enjoyed a Friday night reception at the AU Hotel and Conference Center that attracted players from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s\ and 1990s as well as recent graduates.

"At first I wasn't going to make it because of my coaching duties, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that this is a once in a lifetime event," he says. "There won't be another centennial situation and I don't expect to be around to celebrate the 200th anniversary."

Wesley Person, from Brantley High, was a star for the Tigers from 1991-94. He recently retired from a successful NBA career.

Most of the players who returned didn't play in the game, but participated in the other events. One of those standouts, 1950s star Terry Chandler, notes that he and other former players appreciate the time and effort that Coach Jeff Lebo, his staff and other Auburn officials put into the weekend. "We are having a really good time and I think Jeff has the program going in a positive direction. He has good young talent and I think the team will be better as he brings in more players."


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