Each and every year Rutgers Basketball does battle on the court with Big East foes and off the court with recruiters who seem adept at sneaking into the Garden State and snatching up prized recruits while no one is looking. After years of watching this dynamic, I felt compelled to sit down and conjure up some thoughts and feelings. Now we all know that college sports are big-time business and a major part of many households through the multitude of cable and satellite programming available. We also know that we cant watch a major college sporting event without some sort of celebrity involvement. Snoop Dogg in the end-zone at USC games, Ashley Judd rooting for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, Michael Vick on the sidelines rooting for his brother, Jay-Z sitting behind the St. Johns bench with a chain that flashed enough blue light to blind you.
Who can forget the day Michael Jordan proclaimed Carolina would no longer wear Converse, they are going to be wearing Brand Jordan!!
Now I switch you to Rutgers who has some of the most loyal fans, but also have some pretty powerful and famous alumni at their disposal. Yes we all know Tony Soprano went to Rutgers and thats great, but did you know that Mr. Dress Code himself David Stern is a Rutgers Alum? Do you remember watching Roy Hinson play alongside Charles Barkley, and do you know he is very involved in the NBA Players Association? Are you old enough to remember John Battle going head to head with Larry Birds Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons back in the late 80s? I certainly do and growing up in Washington D.C. I was also familiar with his legendary performances in the famed Urban Coalition Summer League where he was known to drop 50 or more on numerous occasions. Are you aware that right now besides David Stern, the most powerful Rutgers person in the basketball world is Eddie Jordan Head Coach of the Washington Wizards? Can you name the last Rutgers player to actually get drafted by the NBA? I can, I played alongside him for 3 years.
So what exactly is my point? My point is that before Rutgers can enter into this bright future we dream about each and every year, we must build upon the foundation that was laid down by the people that came before us. Take advantage of your star power! Ask any incoming recruit who Paul Robeson was and see what they say. Better yet, ask them to name some of the players who have played before them and see what they say. On the flipside, take a look behind the benches when the Big East Tournament comes around and take attendance on who is sitting behind the bench clapping it up for the current players. I guarantee you those same suits are called upon in some form or fashion to help entice recruits who might be undecided about their college choices. Go visit Chapel Hill in the summertime and ask for next during the infamous alumni pick-up games that take place each and every year. In order to have a rich tradition and a top program a school must show a consistent lineage of success that includes evidence of past, present and future greatness.
In this great future you cant forget your past.