Associate picture editor George Washington has an eye for a good shot. For the last five weeks he has been sifting through 10,000 slides, culling the best pictures to be used for this week's NBA Preview package. But Washington may have an even better shooting eye. In the recent semifinals of the Castle Hill YMCA league in the Bronx, the 6'4", 230-pound Washington racked up 47 points in a victory over a team led by former NBA All-Star Gus Williams. "Three-pointers, driving to the basket, dunks—I just took what they gave me," says Washington. "It was like what Michael Jordan talks about, being in a zone."
Washington, 30, grew up in the Bronx and became an all-city power forward at Lehman High. He attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.—"I wanted to go somewhere quiet," he says. As a swingman in 1978-79, he was the nation's seventh-leading freshman scorer, with a 16.2 average. That season Washington lit up Louisville's Doctors of Dunk for 20 points at Freedom Hall.
Washington quickly became a local hero around Huntington because of his talent, and the butt of jokes throughout the Southern Conference because of his name. "Father of our country, Wooden teeth. Where's Martha?—the whole works," he says. "When I checked out of hotels, people would put signs up saying I slept there."
Washington weathered the hazing and finished his college career in 1982 as the Thundering Herd's fifth alltime scorer with 1,593 points, passing, among others, Hal Greer. Still, he wasn't drafted by the NBA, and he turned down an offer to play in the CBA. "It was the NBA or nothing," says Washington. "That was the dream." So he completed his journalism degree at Marshall while doing basketball color commentary on the college radio station for a season. In 1987 he joined SI. Two years ago, he made a return trip to Huntington as a first-ballot inductee into the Marshall sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to pro basketball, Washington edits the photos for track and field, wrestling and boxing—he helped coordinate our coverage of last week's title fight between Evander Holyfield and Buster Douglas (page 76). Though he's built like a heavyweight, Washington sticks to basketball, playing year-round to stay in shape. And through his job, he keeps a watchful eye on the league of his dreams. "In a sense I didn't make it to the NBA, and in a sense I have," says Washington. "I couldn't be more thrilled."