A Top 5 Perspective

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

This past Sunday in The Morning Call, preeminent sports writer and RCN Sportstalk co-host, Keith Groller, offered up the results of a poll he took naming the Top Five Lehigh Valley high school basketball players of all time.  The headline suggested that there would be plenty of debate about the selections.  I am one who has no debate with the choices and I believe I speak with a bit of authority.  You see, I either played against or covered nine of the top 10 first and second team selections.  I believe the readers got it absolutely right.

The only player I did not see play “live” was the late Bob Mlkvy.  I did see plenty of video on him and his brother, Bill.  I also connected with him in a number of various gyms since he was the color analyst for the Blue Ridge Cable high school basketball games.  He still wore his sneakers of choice from back in the day – Converse All-Stars – to every broadcast.  When he went on to Temple, he became known as “The Owl without a Vowel”.  So many fans would tell me Bob Mlkvy basketball prowess stories that I cannot argue his position on the Top Five.  He is, also, on my list of one of the five nicest people I have met.

The next three players I had the privilege of watching.

Billy McCaffrey came from a family of outstanding athletes: brother Ed was an outstanding football and basketball player who went on to play in the NFL for the Denver Broncos; sister Monica was one of the great girls’ basketball players at Central Catholic before going on to Georgetown to play college basketball.  But “Billy the Kid” led Central to a State basketball championship and a state runner-up title.  Had he not fouled out in his second state final game, I feel he would have been part of two state titles.  He could and did do it all on the court.  He went on to play on a Duke team that won a national championship.

I was privileged to see the greatest single game performance I ever broadcast when Antoine Hubbard scored 63 points against Nazareth in a Salisbury win over the Blue Eagles.  He scored 40 of the last 48 points and 30 in the fourth quarter alone – and every player on the floor knew he was going to shoot and, yet, he could not be stopped.  He finished his career with over 2,000 points.  I have never been great at remembering specific games or performances, but that game is one I will lock away in my memory bank forever.

It was just over five years ago when Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman finished his career at Central Catholic.  But he thrilled the Lehigh Valley and our viewers for four years. I had the privilege to watch him get better and better each year.  He was All-State for all four years and I will never forget how he almost single-handily beat Philadelphia’s Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA state playoffs.  His team finished 29-1 that year and we were there for most of it.  It was, also, special to watch him on TV during his great career at Michigan.

The only person on the team that I played against is Larry Miller.  In my mind, he was the absolute best ever.  In the games my alma mater, Wilson High School, went up against his Catasauqua squad, he never scored fewer than 40 points.  I will never forget playing against Larry at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Arena for the District XI championship.  We could not stop him. I can still envision him rebounding an opponent’s missed shot, dribbling the length of the court, and dunking the basketball.  He could run, dribble, pass, rebound, and score better than anybody I ever saw in the Valley.  His 2,722 career high school points and 2000+ rebounds speak for themselves.  I have played or called high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley for over 60+ years.  I can say with complete confidence Larry Miller was the best I ever saw.

As an aside, let me add that no one causes me to reflect on the Lehigh Valley sports scene better than Keith Groller. I struggle every week to think of something to blog about.  Luckily, when I sit down at the keyboard, something always seems to come to mind.  But Keith finds a very interesting topic or two on a daily basis.  He is certainly at the top of the list for my all-time Lehigh Valley sports writers.  As Bob Hope used to say and I say to Keith, “Thanks for the memories”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. If things weren’t bleak enough for Major League Baseball returning to the field this year because of bitter negotiations, now multiple teams are reporting positive tests for Covid-19. It’s the “bottom of the ninth” for baseball and there is no closer in sight.
  1. The situation in Florida is not helping the NBA’s return either. As you know, the plan was to play at the Disney complex, but Florida is seeing a resurgence of virus cases – over 4,000 this past Saturday.  Players are rightfully questioning what the right thing to do is.  I am getting the impression that our chance to see team sports this year may be fading.
  1. ESPN and NFL Nation put out their all-decade team and, along with that, they listed the best player on each NFC team. They chose Jason Peters as best for the Eagles.  The future Hall of Famer played for the Eagles all ten years of the decade starting in 2009 to the present.  Fletcher Cox received the Honorable Mention pick.
  1. Watching the Belmont horse race this weekend with no fans did not seem like a race at all. It felt a little bit like a practice session for a number of horses.  TV money is so good, I guess, that it truly PAYS to hold the events anyway.
  1. Until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, can anyone be sure of anything?
Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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