Looking back on a great sports memory with one of my best friends

Published 5:35 pm Friday, January 22, 2016

On Friday, I was in Jacksonville, Florida, attending the funeral of my dear late high school best friend Jimmy Walker.

Jimmy was one of the kids I met when I moved to Cairo from New Jersey as a sixth grader in 1956.

He lived right across the street from Southside Elementary School where we both attended. We shared many great experiences together through the years.

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One of those experiences came in 1982 when Jimmy, his dear wife Linda and I traveled to New Orleans to attend the NCAA Basketball Final Four Tournament.

The tournament championship game featuring the North Carolina Tar Heals, coached by Dean Smith, and the Georgetown Hoyas, coached by John Thompson. The contest featured two of the all time greats of the game, All-American Michael Jordan of the Tar Heals and All-American Patrick Ewing of the Hoyas.

Ewing goal tended the first four Tar Heal shots of the game, but it did not intimidate the Tar Heals. In addition to Jordan, who was just a freshman, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty and point guard Jimmy Black were on the team.

In addition to Ewing, the Hoyas lineup included All-American guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd. The Tar Heals took a 57-56 fourth quarter lead on two Worthy free throws.

After Jordan hit a 16-foot jumper from the left baseline to put the Tar Heels ahead 63-62, Hoyas guard Fred Brown thought he saw Floyd open, but instead it was Worthy, who intercepted the pass and headed down court where he was fouled. He missed both free throws with two seconds left but it did not matter. Worthy was named tournament most valuable player and Jordan and Perkins were named to the All-Tournament team, along with Ewing and Floyd.

My dear friend Jimmy was a University of Georgia graduate and an active member the Jacksonville Bulldog Club. At the funeral, a current active member of the Jacksonville Bulldogs talked about what an avid member he was and how much he loved Bulldog sports. I am sure Jim’s dear wife, Linda, his dear son, Scott, and his dear daughter, Pam, really appreciated his remarks.