Thompson given his due

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

To a younger generation of hoops fans and ballers, the name David Thompson doesn't resonate.

To most, his name would likely get confused with John Thompson.

But thanks to Michael Jordan, David Thompson has been reborn, as fleeting as it might be.

When Jordan gets enshrined this Friday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., his presenter will by Thompson.

To many, Jordan's decision was a surprise, while others were completely taken aback.

But kudos to His Airness for recognizing Thompson's contribution to the game and acknowledging the influence he had on Jordan.

It'll shock today's me-generation to learn that Thompson was playing above the rim well before Jordan carved his name as one of the game's most eminent high-flyers.

There was no oop in the alley-oop dunk until Thompson arrived on the scene.

The term vertical jump would never have been part of basketball's vocabulary had it not been for Thompson and his uncanny ability to get airborne.

Long before the late Jim Valvano was frantically running on to the floor in the wake of North Carolina State's stunning upset over Houston in the NCAA final, Thompson was the featured player on a Wolfpack team that copped the program its first championship.

Whether it's Air Jordan, Kenny (Sky) Walker or Air Canada (Vince) Carter, to name a few, every player who has made a fortune playing above the rim owes a debt of gratitude to David Thompson.

Thompson revolutionized basketball because no other player had the ability to figuratively jump out of a gym. As athletic as Connie Hawkins was back in the day, he had nowhere near Thompson's hops.

Thompson never did realize his full potential as a pro because of substance abuse, robbing him of the opportunity of true greatness.

On Friday, he'll be united with Jordan, the game's greatest.

As a kid growing up in North Carolina, Jordan saw Thompson and saw the impact he had at the college level.

Thompson had such a profound effect that Jordan never wavered when asked to name his presenter when Jordan got the call from the hall.

Jordan joins one of the most esteemed Hall of Fame classes in the history of any sport when the six-time NBA champion is enshrined with former players John Stockton and David Robinson.

Jordan knows that David Thompson remains in a class by himself and hopefully today's generation will be enlightened.

Of the four major team sports in North America, basketball is by far the most overlooked and least appreciated when it comes to history and the personalities who helped shape the game's history.

Michael Jordan has seen fit to acknowledge David Thompson.

And for the first time in quite some time, Jordan has made the right decision.

V for victory

Charlie Villanueva returns to the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 4 as a member of the Detroit Pistons.

The way he shot the Dominican Republic out of its game against Canada and the way he defended, it would seem fitting that officials honour Charlie V.

As much as Canada must be applauded for qualifying for next year's world championships in Turkey, there was no way it would have advanced had Villanueva exercised better shot selection and played even token defence.

FIBA has set up some strange wild-card system that no one seems to fully grasp.

There's plenty of cache surrounding the Dominican Republic because it features NBAers such as Villanueva, Al Horford, Franciso Garcia and potentially Trevor Ariza.

Maybe Canada and the Dominican Republic will meet in Turkey.

And maybe Charlie V will take better shots and decide to lock up his man, though it's highly doubtful.

Banks on this

Marcus Banks has quickly become Michael (Yogi) Stewart, minus the outgoing personality.

In the past three seasons, Banks has played roughly 1,280 combined minutes.

Based on his salary, Banks has earned approximately $9,375 US a minute.

There is no room nor is there any defined role on the Raptors roster for Banks and no recent history to suggest that Banks even has a game.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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