SI Vault
Rick Telander
December 16, 1974
For a while the Missouri Valley Conference had perhaps the best basketball in the country. In the late '50s and early '60s, during the post-cold-war and pre-UCLA days, it couldn't be beat.
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December 16, 1974

One Brave Fan Found The Way To Insure A Victory: He Sold His Soul

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"Fourteen. Max Sanders is only 5'8". He did not dunk."

"Fifteen. My uncle was there. He saw him."


"He saw him. I told him to watch. The crowd went crazy. Max Sanders dunked the ball!"

"He did not."


Whack! The teacher's ruler on the back of the head. Basketball was a topic not allowed in class.

About this same time a lot of us were deeply involved with religion. Though we went to a public school, there were quite a few Catholics among us. On Sundays our parents took us over to St. Thomas Church for catechism class, then we came home and hit the courts. It was easy to combine doctrines of similar intensity. When the bishop came to church one day to bless our missals, rosaries, etc., one boy held up his autographed Bradley basketball program. Another wore his gym shoes, hoping that some of the holy water would be absorbed into the canvas. We believed prayer should be used primarily to win basketball games.

Eventually your dad would take you to a game. You had done something good, more than likely shoveled the snow from the driveway after a big storm. He knew as well as you did that you had done it only to clear off the court under your basket, but he took you anyway.

Inside the gymnasium you sat quietly. Warmups were going on. The organ played. Right-handed dunk. Left-handed dunk. Twenty-five-foot jumper. Baseline dunk. Nonchalant over-the-head dunk.

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