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Alexander Wolff
November 20, 1989
From 1971 to 1984, no major college scoring champ made the grade in the NBA
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November 20, 1989

The Lost Generation

From 1971 to 1984, no major college scoring champ made the grade in the NBA

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"Who was the last white guy to lead the nation in scoring?"

And, as they say, it counted. After that, selling was easy. The McCurdy family Mercedes remained safe, and the handful of college basketball fans who had heard of Bob McCurdy was augmented by one.

McCurdy, for you uninitiated, won the scoring crown at Richmond in 1975, playing his entire senior season on a foot shot up with cortisone—which ultimately might have scared off the pros. "Not playing in the NBA helped me in business, because psychologically I still had something to prove," he says. "And in sales you vent competitive energy every day."

He had entered school as the Vietnam War wound down, and he awoke from a four-year reverie to find an entirely new cultural climate. Suddenly the gym rat who had cut college classes to shoot hoops realized his English degree was of little use. "I was almost incoherent when I got out of college," McCurdy says. "Here I was, hoping to be a businessman, and I couldn't even talk basketball." He hired a tutor to drill him in statistics, and he endured the barbs of friends who wondered why this putative degree holder would lug a vocabulary primer to the beach. Yet within a few years, McCurdy had signed on with Katz, and today, with a salary well into six figures, he oversees 14 regional offices and more than 100 employees. Five mornings a week he leaves his wife, Cindy, and their four kids at their Westport, Conn., home and grabs the 6:03 for Manhattan.

A couple of years ago McCurdy read somewhere that Bradley's Hersey Hawkins had become the first scoring champion since Oscar Robertson to average as many as 33 points on 23 shots a game or fewer. McCurdy could only laugh, for he had averaged 32.9 points on less than 23 shots a game. Then he thought for a moment. (Positioning!) Rework that information, pose it as a question, and the answer is: The Big O, Hersey Hawkins and Bob McCurdy.

Something to remember, if you ever want to win a Mercedes.

Marshall Rogers jealously guards the scrapbooks of his career at Pan American University, down on the Tex-Mex border. Their musty saffron pages are more than a dozen years old, but Rogers's life is limned by press clippings even today.

From the police blotter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , June 1987: Rogers is stopped in a Walgreens in downtown St. Louis on suspicion of shoplifting. He resists a security guard trying to handcuff him and is later convicted of assault.

A piece in St. Louis magazine, November 1987: Rogers speaks of voices that tell him what to do and of how he sometimes obeys, sometimes quarrels with them. "The regime," he calls his disembodied masters. " Pope John Paul, Queen Elizabeth, King Arthur and Hercules."

A Denver Post story, March 1988: Rogers tells of the regime addressing him through his TV set; of the biblical Samson, his natural father; of the other Marshall Rogerses living around the world, including one above a gym in Moscow. The Post reporter plays a game of one-on-one with him. Rogers insists that long-range shots count for five points and arches one perimeter jumper after another sweetly through the net.

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