The Daily

The Logo

My Father used to say that he turned down an Ivy League scholarship (Brown University) so he could play basketball at West Virginia University with Jerry West (known to NBA fans as “The Logo”). He loved telling the story about a game early in his college career when his parents drove in to Morgantown to see him play as a starter. They arrived late and my Grandmother, wearing a completely inappropriate full length mink coat, scooted down the full aisle of seats reserved for parents of players. When my Grandfather didn’t see my Dad on the court, he asked the gentleman seated next to him – “Where’s Thompson?”.

“He fouled out,” came the quick reply. There were ten minutes left in the first half.

Jerry West hails from Cabin Creek, West Virginia. The idea of a kid coming out of that holler and becoming the iconic logo of a global sport brand worth hundreds of billions of dollars is – well – something to ponder.

In August of 1921, miners gathered at Cabin Creek Junction from around the Mountain State, headed for Lens Creek. They came by rail car, horseback and foot. Finding the passenger trains full, three hundred men commandeered a freight car at gunpoint. All told, there were more than ten thousand miners of every size, shape and color by the time they mustered to march on Mingo County – to avenge the death of Sheriff Sid Hatfield who had been killed by Baldwin-Felts Detectives in the ongoing war between coal mining companies and the striking miners.

Noone seemed in charge. They were held together loosely by their union organizations, solidly by their anger. They were unsophisticated men, thin-skinned, thick-headed, emotional, gullible, fierce in loyalty, dangerous in hatred. They were so straightforward that they might kill a man rather than dissemble. Although many were churchgoing Christians,  they included a few convicts and still others who would be in prison except for good luck. Some were ignorant; most were unlearned; but many too were bright, alert and perceptive.

They felt, rather than knew, their history …”

I like to pause when I read that part – which I do often. It is truly excellent.

Their grandfathers had stood by – even helped – as outsiders stripped the timber from their mountains and floated it off on streams. Their fathers had stood by – even signed papers – as outsiders took the minerals from beneath their mountains and carried it all off on trains. They had gone into the mines to do the work few outsiders wanted. As coal prospered, they lived on company land in company cabins, shopped in company stores, worshipped in company churches, died in company hospitals, were buried in company cemeteries. Their lore was bloody: they had been crushed and killed on their jobs and fired from them when they tried to organize a union that could articulate their needs. They had been evicted from their company homes and machine-gunned in their union tents. Periodically they had risen in fury.

Thunder In The Mountains, Lon Savage

In my family, we do everything loudly. That’s the way I was raised. Play in the paint, take the direct path to the basket and don’t be afraid to foul. Be physical. Be honest. Life is a full tilt boogie.