Mar 20, 2012, 2:20 PM EDT
Talk about your confusing messages: the players of Chicago’s Simeon Academy high school basketball team recently won their third straight ISHA title, and celebrated the victory by taking off their shoes and lining them up in the middle of the court, as pictured here. As a former HS basketball coach myself, my reaction to this is: ?? Apparently it’s supposed to mean “We own this court.” Although it might be mistaken for “We often get faked out of our shoes”, or “We don’t have to wear these awful sneakers for another year,” or “We’re leaving these out for the butler; have them polished and back by Thursday.” It’s a stupid statement, is what I’m saying.
Simeon coach Robert Smith took it a little harder. He considered it too boastful, and acted accordingly.
After winning their third consecutive IHSA title, nine Simeon players left their shoes on the court at Carver Arena in Peoria, attempting to showcase their ownership of Illinois boys basketball over the last few years. Coach Robert Smith wasn’t impressed, though, and suspended those nine players — Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate, Kendall Pollard, Bobby Harrison, Myles Harrison, Dennis Williams, Ricky Norris, John Gardner and Quon Davis.
Those players, all underclassmen, will be suspended for one game next season (who wants to bet it will be a game against a weak, nonleague opponent?). Not suspended is junior Jabari Parker, widely regarded as one of the top five prep basketball prospects in the nation. He was being interviewed by NBC when his teammates did their shoe stunt, and missed out on the whole thing.
Even had Parker participated in the act, it probably wouldn’t have had an impact on his recruiting profile. The 6-foot-7 junior has received offers from schools such as Washington, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State, Mizzou, North Carolina and Ohio State, according to Rivals.com.
Simeon has won six state titles, the most of any boys basketball program in Illinois.
My high school basketball team had a similar tradition. At the end of every season, they would take all of my shoes from my locker and suspend them from telephone wires.
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