SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
April 23, 1984
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April 23, 1984


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Turpin's adviser, Mel Cunningham, said that other factors may also have entered into Turpin's decision to skip the Trials. "A lot of pro teams aren't enthusiastic about draft choices going to the Olympics," he said. "They're afraid of burnout, or that they might fall behind other rookies who've been in pro camps two or three weeks."

But one also has to wonder how enthusiastic NBA teams will be over a draft choice who's at least 25 pounds over his playing weight two weeks after the end of a season.


None of his friends who gathered in Atlanta earlier this month for a golf tournament in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could remember the late civil rights leader ever making the slightest mention of golf, much less of having played the game. But Evelyn G. Lowery, who organized the Drum Major for Justice golf tournament as part of the annual week-long commemoration of King's death, sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization King founded, considered the event an appropriate tribute to the man. "This week is a celebration of Dr. King's movement and how it elevated black people," said Lowery, whose husband, the Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, now heads the SCLC. "Black people used to serve only as caddies. Now they can play the sport and really enjoy it."

The tournament, which took its name from King's avowed wish that he be remembered as a "drum major for justice," attracted 133 entrants, mostly local amateurs, who paid $60 apiece for the privilege of fussing and fuming and hacking pieces out of the weather-beaten fairways of the Alfred (Tup) Holmes public course. Walt Bellamy, the former NBA center, was on the tournament board of directors but didn't play. Dick (Night Train) Lane, the former NFL defensive back, who now has a more ample caboose, had a respectable opening-round 87. Lee and Rose Elder were the honorary chairpersons, but Lee couldn't attend because he made the cut at the Greensboro Open. The host pro was Thomas Smith, who in 1971 became the first black golf professional at any of Atlanta's municipal courses. Smith was a cofounder, also in 1971, of the North American Golf Association, which was set up to hold tournaments for black golfers and conducts its own minitour through the South, including such memorable stops as Jabbing Joe's Pro-Am in Eufaula, Ala.

The way Smith tells it, a golf tournament in Dr. King's honor makes perfect sense. Recalling the days when black golfers lived by their wits in the shadow of the lily-white main tour, he says, "Nobody ever gave us anything, and we all came up through the caddie ranks. Travel meant six to a car and as many to a bedroom. And we'd stay with private families. Remember, there weren't a lot of motels that would take us. Dr. King, I guess, helped us get into the motels."

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