September 20, 2020

Remembering the blurry, brilliant career of Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson was a flesh-and-blood video game. He averaged 38 points at Roth High in Dayton, Ohio, and his games became too big for the gym. Isiah Thomas called him “Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.”

But when Anderson sought quiet time, he played Pong, the amazing breakthrough of the late 70s, a leisurely antique today. Like Anderson, it was an original.

“Dwight had a tutor whom he loved,” said Stan Morrison, the USC coach at the time. “If he did what he was supposed to do, she’d let him play Pong. We had our Senior Night, and it was too expensive for his parents to fly out. So Dwight invited this lady to escort him onto the court. It was touching. His teammates knew the back story.”

The front story was self-explanatory. In the waning days of vinyl, Anderson played at 78 rpm.

He exceeded the dimension of the court one night in 1982, when he ran down a wild pass at the Sports Arena, and barged past the end line. Before he landed, he turned and flipped it over the backboard and through the hoop.

Such plays are illegal today. Morrison had to call time out because his bench was so out of control. USC beat Washington and won the Pac-10.

Anderson began at Kentucky, where play-by-play man Cawood Ledford dubbed him “The Blur.” The trouble came when the game was unplugged. Cocaine provided its own blur, and Anderson couldn’t outrun it.

His problem was no secret, and he fell to the second round of the draft, and played five NBA games before he spiraled to the Continental Basketball Association and then the Phillippines.

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University of Kentucky’s Dwight Anderson drives past Duke University’s Jim Suddath during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Springfield, Mass., Nov. 17, 1979. Dwight Anderson, who earned the nickname “The Blur” because of his speed on the court playing basketball at Kentucky and Southern California, has died. He was 59. Anderson died last Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, according to USC. The cause was not immediately known.(AP Photo/Paul Benoit, File) 

Anderson returned to Dayton and was badly beaten, losing his teeth. He lived in a crawlspace at his parents’ house, or sometimes slept on the front porch, in the cold. According to Tom Archdeacon of the Dayton Daily News, Anderson talked of selling all his trophies for drug money. But he also got a job at McDonald’s and showed up at Indiana Pacers’ camp. He made it to the final cut.

Finally Sedric Toney, a former U. of Dayton star, and other friends got Anderson to John Lucas’ rehab center in Houston, where Dirk Minnifield, an ex-teammate at Kentucky, greeted him.

Anderson reassembled his life and was working in a linen factory, still clean, when he died last week, at 61.

“He had more speed, jumping ability and body control than anyone I’d ever seen,’ said Clayton Olivier, a USC teammate, now a girls’ coach at Mater Dei. “But I remember that smile he always had on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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