As I watched ESPN 30 for 30 -The Guro of Go, featuring the emotional travesty featuring Hank Gathers, I couldn’t stop noticing his will to thrive, his determination, and his perseverance.
If you haven’t watched this document yet, I highly recommend doing so. Here is a brief summary: This document was based on former college basketball star by the name of Hank Gathers. The leading scorer as well and the number one rebounder in the nation, he was the All-American star of the Loyola Maramount basketball team and coached under Paul Westhead, most known during his championship stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. He coached a famous offense, known as the “System“. It was an unconventional type of offense, which was a basically a run and gun, fastbreak, high tempo offense that required the most amount of shots as possible and to outrun the other team.
However, Hank suffered an irregular heartbeat and was prescribed with medication, in which he refused to follow because it significantly affected his play on the court, as he struggled to maintain his dominance. On a game of the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament, Hank collapsed after completing his signature tomahawk ally-oop dunk, and was quickly rushed to the hospital, as the arena was in shock, looking down at Hank on the ground, who was not moving. He was declared dead later that day. May he rest in peace.
Many view this tragedy as a result of Paul Westhead’s “system” that led to Hank’s abnormal heart condition. They believed the intense training to get in the shape that is suited for the system, played a large role. Paul and the medical staff was blamed and sued my the Gathers family because they argued that even though they were aware of Hank’s condition, they didn’t stop him from competing in games. The case was later settled.
The most important thing that I want to point out is Hank’s determination. Despite being diagnosed with an abnormal heart condition, he refused to let that stop him from playing basketball and helping his team. He was determined to play what he loved and to lead the Loyala Maramounts to a National championship. He didn’t view his heart condition as his number one priority, but he placed his game ahead of it since the better he played the further he was gonna take the team, and he realized that the medications suppressed his play, therefore it would have threatened his team’s chances of winning.
His drive and determination reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
“We don’t quit, We don’t cower, We don’t run, We endure and conquer”
This is a well known quote from Lakers star guard and one of the greatest ever play the game of basketball, Kobe Bryant. Kobe is currently recovering from an achilles injury, which he suffered early in the year. He vowed that he will come back from this and defy the odds. He said that quote as a message to remind all his doubters that he is determined to overcome this injury and to whatever it takes to return as a dominant force.
Although Hank’s aftermath didn’t end well, determination is the key word for both figures. The condition of being determined can be very powerful and take over your decisions, either for the good, or for the bad. In Hank’s case he defied his medical dosage for the sake his game and his team, and in doing so, he ended up ending his life. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant’s road to recovery has not yet ended, but his determination and drive is unlike any other person I’ve witnessed. Time will tell whether he will return to his dominant self, but I truly believe that we WILL see the return of the BLACK MAMBA.