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A blessing in disguise from Bethlehem
Don Delliquanti
July 24, 1972
Coaches tried to avoid steelworker Hank Slider until they saw him swish baskets. Now they consider him a savior, one who spends his summers teaching their young shooters how to stay hot during the winter
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July 24, 1972

A Blessing In Disguise From Bethlehem

Coaches tried to avoid steelworker Hank Slider until they saw him swish baskets. Now they consider him a savior, one who spends his summers teaching their young shooters how to stay hot during the winter

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Slider's own basketball background is minimal. He was a varsity substitute at Allentown High School before he enlisted in the Navy halfway through his senior year in 1943. When he got out of the service in 1945, he and an aptly named buddy, Ralph Baskett, headed west to Baskett's native Arizona. Baskett made the team at Arizona State and Slider, who planned to enroll the next semester, stayed in shape by playing for Del Webb's Webbcos, an AAU club. But the Webbcos played a few pro teams and Slider's eligibility as an amateur was questioned. Rather than wait a year for a ruling on his status, he turned pro. His career lasted less than a year before a congenital back problem, which causes his present limp, ended it. Depressed, he went through a series of odd jobs, returned to Allentown in 1948 and began drinking and gambling heavily. The next two years, he recalls, were the worst of his life. And then one day he began to teach basketball to boys at a Salvation Army recreation center.

"I examined myself for the first time," he says. "I always could shoot well, but I never knew why. I began thinking about the process, and I discovered a lot of things, including the fact that I enjoyed teaching."

Though he permits all kinds of individuality in shooters, there is one thing he insists every player must have: a fluid movement of arm, wrist and fingertips. "It is just one motion to the basket," he says. And he has one surprising theory about shooting that does not involve the shooter. "When players pass, I tell them to put a slight spin on the ball so the shooter immediately gets the feel of it. My son David, who is a junior at Muhlenberg, knows how. He feeds me at my clinics, and then I can really shoot."

So the method is simple. Give it a spin, add some magnetic paint and let her rip.

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