SI Vault
Richard Hoffer
July 14, 2003
It is not possible to get a definitive read on the commercial climate of 1954 from the program sold at the NCAA basketball tournament in Kansas City, but this is interesting: The ad inside the front cover featured "Mr. Basketball," Minneapolis Lakers star center George Mikan, wearing the Sureshot made by U.S. Keds (team-color laces available). Competing inside the back cover was the omnipresent Converse All Star, the sport's dominant footwear, featuring the signed ankle patch of the rather mysterious Chuck Taylor.
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July 14, 2003

"the Sole Reason, But Not The Only One"

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In the tournament La Salle had little trouble with Penn State in the East part of the East-West Championship, leading from the first whistle and winning 92-54. The championship game with Bradley was not much tougher. Gola, who would be named the tournament's MVP, led his team in a second-half comeback, and the Explorers won it going away 92-76.

La Salle returned home on a TWA jetliner and was met at the airport in Philadelphia by 10,000 fans. The mayor proclaimed "La Salle Day," and the school's dean suspended classes for the day. The fun was entirely local and strictly above-board. Outside of Philadelphia, who cared whether La Salle won or what kind of shoes its players wore? Who profited by its championship? Nobody. College basketball was now wholesome enough—and, in any event, sufficiently ignored for the moment—that it seemed a kind of paradise.

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