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Monday, June 1, 2020

Above The Rim...An Honorable Life

John Rudometkin- 1940-2015  (Pictured here in 1962 game vs Jerry Lucas and Ohio State)


By Harry Cummins

     After all, it is one thing to play the game of basketball and another thing, entirely, to live a life.

     I didn't fully understand this inherent complexity in 1970, the year I first met John Rudometkin.

      I was a young sports-focused journalist on assignment from an east coast magazine and had arrived in the early morning hours at Rudometkin's Fresno, California home to profile the nearly forgotten former All-American.

     My interview request had been precipitated by a succession of unaccountable events that had baffled medical science.  After an arduous struggle, Rudometkin had just beaten a rare and inoperable cancer.  The doctors who recognized a terminal cancer case when they saw one,  had advised the family that the end was near.  These same doctors were now running tests on his blood to determine if he might have had certain anti-bodies in his system that could be used to cure others.  I sensed I was about to interview a walking miracle.

     Later that morning, I remember the 6'6" Rudometkin, now cancer free, emerge from the tool shed in back of his house, a timeworn basketball firmly in his grasp. The adulation of the crowd was long gone then.  So, too, were the acrobatic moves that once prompted famed Los Angeles Lakers radio announcer Chick Hearn to dub him "Rudo the Reckless Russian." Those same moves that prompted the New York Knicks to select John as the 9th overall pick in the 1962 NBA draft.

     A salvo of shots soon began to arch their way through the net and bounce crazily off the the dirt surface.

     "I guess you never lose that touch," he laughed.

      Until the sad day many decades later, when he passed away of chronic lung disease at the age of 75, John Rudometkin never lost his touch.


     He never lost that human touch bestowed on the wife and 3 sons left behind.  Never lost that touch embraced by his basketball family who still celebrate Rudometkin as one of the greatest players in University of Southern California history.  Never lost that touch that memorialized the courts of Santa Maria High School and Allan Hancock College in central California.

     His number 44 still hangs in the USC rafters..his name enshrined in the cardinal and gold Hall of Fame. His luminescent statistics seem irrelevant to this story.  His collegiate coach, Forrest Twogood, flately called Rudometkin "the greatest player I ever coached."  In 1962, he joined an illustrious AP All-American team which featured future NBA greats John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas and Dave DeBusschere.

     Rudometkin also never lost that touch for others, traveling across the country as a ministering associate evangelist for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was a different kind of glory than he once experienced from those celebrated years at USC, and those abbreviated stints in the NBA.  The crowds were quieter, save a hearty amen now and then.

     Beset by chronic fatigue and his yet undiagnosed physical condition, John Rudometkin failed to enjoy predicted success as a professional basketball player.  He was eventually released by the San Francisco Warriors after just two and a half frustrating seasons in the NBA.  Unbeknownst to John, a tumor surrounding his heart and lungs was expanding rapidly.

     Why, he wondered, did it suddenly require unnatural effort to run up and down the court?  Where was the burning desire to push himself beyond his capacity, the trade mark of his earlier style of play? Soon after his release from the Warriors, Rudometkin found himself paralyzed in a hospital bed, close to death.

    What he ultimately gleaned while dangling on death's abyss, John explained in this later conversation:  "It was at that time that an unexplainable certainty came over me. It was a much bigger game, a different set of rules, but I couldn't ever give up. My trust in God had, by now, become very real to me."

     Many years after our interview, I received another letter from John describing how a fire had broke out in his home on Halloween eve.  His wife and boys narrowly escaped injury.  The house, however, was totally destroyed.  All of Rudometkin's trophies, awards, and keepsakes were lost.

     "You know", he wrote, "I realized then that those things no longer meant that much to me. God had replaced that part of my life with something far greater."

     Fighting thru a lifetime of health anxieties, much of John Rudometkin's final years were accompanied by an oxygen tank to help him breathe.  I never knew the degree of his daily suffering.

     Recently, I happened to chance upon the old Walt Disney movie classic, 'The Absent Minded Professor' which tells the zany tale of a professor/scientist who rigs a basketball game by ironing a miraculous substance onto the soles of the home team's shoes.  Once those players take to the court, they bound high over their taller opponents, high above the rim.

     In what remains a stroke of perfect casting, John Rudometkin was selected as one of those real life basketball players used in the making of that film.  Today, the memory of John's honorable life allows my own life to reach a bit further in search of higher ground.

     John called me one afternoon a few years before his death.  He would always begin our conversations with "How's my brave buddy"?

     In reality, he was the brave one.  His example, his touch for life, was a towering influence in helping me understand the exalted lessons and miracles that reside above the rim...above our natural impulses.

     Yes, it's another thing, entirely, to live a life.    I understand it now.
In  Memoriam



hcummins@aol.com

This story is also dedicated to every player, coach, and administrator at every level of basketball. Those who pursue their chosen sport with passion and who also aspire to make a significant difference in the lives of others.

As they say at John's alma mater... FIGHT ON!!!

   

   

   

 

   

   

   

     

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Kiyokawa Crawford Search

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Craw’s Corner is always brought to you by Kiyokawa Crawford LLC.

A brand new division has been formed at Kiyokawa Crawford LLC and it is called Kiyokawa Crawford Search. The name is perfect, as whether you are an employee or you are an employer,, we will lead the SEARCH for your future place of employment or future employee.

Our team cares, we always want the best and we will assure happiness in the end.

No obligation at all, contact at kiyokawacrawford@gmail.com and we will get you started.

Thank you,

Gregory Crawford, COO Kiyokawa Crawford LLC

Saturday, May 30, 2020

“The Kiyokawa Crawford 26”

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Lots of preparation, homework and late nights, but it is all worth it. “The Kiyokawa Crawford 26” is here and here to stay.

What is it ? The Kiyokawa Crawford 26 was developed to help people succeed and become leaders. And it will help you no matter what the subject, be it professionally or personally.

Yes cost is important and we have tailored this program to fit your budget whether you are a business, group or individual. This truly is an opportunity not to pass on.

Finally, we have an individual who is both our Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor who made a career out of teaching people to be successful and leaders, he is Coach Dave Rice.

To find out more at no obligation, please email kiyokawacrawford@gmail.com and response will
come within 24 hours.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Aftermath Of A Sports Sabbatical

Will only the hard-core fan return?


By Harry Cummins


     Several years ago, in order to ensure the safety of our neighborhood, a key overpass linking us to the West was shut down for emergency reconstruction.

     Out of necessity, all traffic ceased and was diverted to the East.  For many, it opened a whole new landscape for local residents.

     We were now exposed to the verities of a wider world.  Suddenly, we found meaningful discovery in another direction.  Ultimately, many found a more satisfying utilization of shopping and entertainment resources.  How we spent our time had been critically reshaped.

     With the extended Western world sabbatical from spectator sports now entering its fourth month, the migratory patterns of sports fans could be permanently altered as well.

     Once the overpass project was completed in our neighborhood, one of the ultimate winners was a nutritional enterprise appropriately named...New Seasons.

   

   

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ticket Prices Based On ???

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Fans are going to slow to comeback to sporting events in person.

How about a littl creativity. Charge the price on the basis if home team wins or loses. It would for sure eliminate ties.

More important, it would create interest. Technology would allow payment after the game and for season ticket holders at end of year, a credit or for winner you pay extra.

I like it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What To Cut or NO Cuts

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

When it comes to sports in college and universities, we all know it is huge business, especially on D-1 level.

Administrations are in a precarious position at present and will be for long time when it comes to budgeting and beyond.

Most schools at present have said they do not plan to eliminate sports. We will see, as some have. One danger of eliminating a sport is that many students in sports outside of basketball and football are not on full scholarship, thus they do contribute mightily to the school’s bottom line.

Obviously the whole key here is having a full season and getting some attendance. Even a bigger key is saving lives and making it safe for everyone.

We often forget the impact sports has on the economy and for many how much extra it brings into ones financial picture. It will return, but how soon is anyone’s guess, I think we all know that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A Big Move Paid Big Dividends

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Some said it was foolish, some said it was a big gamble and many now have called it brilliant.

The two biggest home improvement companies in United States are Home Depot and Lowe’s, Home Depot actually the bigger of two.

Lowe’s decided to aggressively advertise during this pandemic and Home Depot pulled back. The results: So far in 2020 Lowe’s showing 11 percent growth, Home Depot 5 percent.

Lowe’s was all in supporting the NFL Draft. Watch as sports return, advertisers flocking to sports. It will pay dividends, it always does when it comes to marketing aggressively.