25.3.07

MORE TO OVERCOME. For years, graduates of Milwaukee's North Division and Lincoln High Schools have held an alumni basketball game to raise money for academic scholarships.

After 35 years, no one wanted to miss the last chance to relive the glory days back at North Division and Lincoln high schools.

To see former basketball players duke out the intense rivalry on the court again.

To watch former cheerleaders, drill team members and dancers perform routines they first learned when Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

In those days, Milwaukee was a canonical example of de facto residential segregation, although everybody had the same school lunch program.
Fred Brown, a Lincoln High basketball star who went on to play for the Seattle Supersonics from 1971 to 1984, returned to Milwaukee with his wife and sat in the bleachers during Saturday's reunion. Just being there made him think of the "mock chicken" in the cafeteria. And fish stick Fridays. And sloppy joe Wednesdays.
Ah, yes, s*** on a stick. Funny, but in those days nobody viewed those fish sticks as a violation of the Establishment Clause. And, yes, the menu was the same at South Division and Hamilton as it was at North Division and Lincoln.

This alumni game will pass into history, thanks to a restructuring of the schools.
In its 35 years, the North-Lincoln alumni basketball game raised more than $100,000 for student scholarships for 100 students. But in recent years, the game had become too taxing on the aging alumni's bodies. Because Lincoln High School closed in 1979 and North Division was reconfigured last year into four schools, there were no young alumni to replace them.
The great basketball rivalry of this era would be Milwaukee Rufus King and Milwaukee Harold Vincent. Perhaps some of those players will pick up the torch. Some of them might benefit from the advice of longtime Seattle Supersonic Fred Brown, Lincoln 1966.

And, yes, he does close his eyes and cover his head with both arms while watching the bricklayers masquerading as shooting guards in the NBA these days.

"It is a lost art," Brown said. "It's almost like (Michael) Jordan, as good as he was for the game, they took one element of Michael's game and everybody became a dunker.

"Every thing you had to do, had to be a dunk shot. Therefore a lot of the other fundamentals were lost."

Brown suggests that younger players work on all facets of the game, including developing a deadly jumper.

"Shooting is an art," Brown said. "It really is an aesthetic art. More young people should learn the basic fundamentals of shooting. If they do that, they would have longer and more prosperous careers."

Mr Brown is currently a senior vice president with Bank of America, also a career path for the apprentices to emulate.

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