Husky Hoop Hero

When Chester "Chet the Jet" Dorsey was growing up, his father gave him words of advice that helped mould his style of play on the basketball court. "He told me that the more things I could do with the basketball, the better off I would be," the 49-year old Dorsey said recently.

"So I practiced bounce passes behind my back, between my legs, all kinds of things you didn't see anywhere else back then. I was ahead of time with my style of play. Aside from Pistol Pete Maravich, who else did you see playing the style that I played?"

I described to him the photo that UW media relations sent me to use for this article, and he knew right away which one I spoke of.

"That pass was to Lars Hansen and he DID score on the play," he said with a light chuckle.

"Both my father and mother were big influences on me," continued Dorsey, a self-made millionaire from his ten auto salon businesses. "Not just with basketball, but academically as well. My Dad passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 1993, and that was a difficult time; but yes he was a big factor in my development as a player and as a person."

Dorsey's father had also given him his nickname "Chet the Jet", as he sped up and down the court distributing the basketball in flamboyant fashion. He distributed 15 in the Huskies' 103-81 victory over eventual national champion UCLA in 1975. That loss marked the final defeat in the career of Bruin coach John Wooden.

"That game was our coming out party," said Dorsey. "We had something special going… It was in the later part of the season, and Larry Jackson and Clarence (Ramsey) and James (Edwards) had phenomenal games. We shot the lights out and ran them right out of the gym. John Wooden always ran a zone press, trying to force opponents into making mistakes. But I wasn't intimidated by that press. Wooden was shouting to his players GET BACK! He wanted them back on defense. They had nothing but respect for my ball handling skills."

Dorsey was the point guard on the 1976 Washington squad that went 23-6 and lost a heartbreaker to Missouri in the NCAA tourney. But according to Dorsey, it was the tragic death of his roommate that cost that Husky squad a chance at epic greatness.

"My roommate during my freshman year was a guy named Roosevelt Belcher. He was one of those Prop 48 cases, or whatever that was called. He had to sit out his freshman year. He was out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 6'9" and 225 lbs and his style of play was like George McGinnis. He was both mobile and strong as a bull. He was playing in an AAU league to stay in shape, and had a heart attack during a game. That was really tough to deal with. He was a great player, and a great person. He'd give you the shirt off his back.

"… If he'd been with us for those years, WHEW! It wouldn't have been just a good four years, it would've been a great four years."

Dorsey was asked if his 1976 Washington squad took on the 2004-05 Washington Huskies, how they would match up.

"They couldn't pressure us, because I was just as fast as the guards they have now. And their bench is deep, but our bench was deep too. We had another team on the bench. But the game has changed so much. We played inside-out with our bug guys, and the game is now played outside-in. These guys now are pumping threes. Where would Nate Robinson be without the 3-point line? The 3-pointer is his patented shot."

And what does Dorsey appreciate most when watching this year's team?

"I like the way they play defense. They are intense and really apply the pressure. They are all over the court. To play defense like that, you've got to really want to do it and get after it, and they do… It is a lot of fun to watch

Dorsey was asked what he learned from former Husky coach Marv Harshman that he has since applied to his life and businesses.

"Marv Harshman is a great person and a great coach. He is a man of integrity. From him I learned how to overcome adversity. I've always felt I could overcome anything, and much of that came from him. I have been able to project that thought pattern into how I run my businesses and my life. I don't let anything bother me. I believe that everything happens for a reason. If something bad happens to you, you need to discover the positive meaning behind it and learn from it and then apply it to your life."

In conclusion, Dorsey was asked to describe his most cherished memory while the point guard at the University of Washington.

"When my Mom came out (from Indiana) to see me play at Hec Ed," said Dorsey. "She was never able to see my high school or college games, because she had to work. She came out here and was able to see me when we played USC and UCLA. We won both games. In one of the games, I scored 20 points in one half. That's when my nickname changed from "Chet the Jet" to "Chet the Net"... I wanted to be sure to put on a good show for my Mom."

Dorsey paused, before adding: "The crowd at Hec Ed was chanting her name."
Derek Johnson is a freelance writer and can be reached at Top Stories