It is a sportsradio "go-to". We ask, where does this team or this player rank on an all-time list. It usually makes for interesting debate among hosts and callers. Nothing is resolved, but it becomes a chance to kick around names from the past.
After his 30-point performance in the blowout of Virginia on Monday night, Kevin Sheehan on the "Sports Fix", opened the debate on Greivis Vasquez's place in Maryland basketball history by putting him in the top five. That's a bit high for me and apparently for a number of the callers who weighed in. But it made for lively radio, especially if you're passionate about Maryland basketball.
I've been a Terp fan for 40 years, so we picked it up in the afternoon on the "Sports Reporters." Again nothing was resolved, but Czabe brought up an interesting criteria for consideration on the list of greatest Maryland basketball players of all time. He thought that NBA draft position should factor in. And that's what makes the Vasquez case so interesting.
Maryland has had two players taken number one overall in the NBA draft. John Lucas was drafted by Houston in 1976 and Joe Smith was taken by Golden State in 1995. However, neither quite measured up to Len Bias who was taken number two overall by Boston in 1986 and tragically died a day later from a cocaine overdose. Juan Dixon is Maryland all-time leading scorer and the best player on Maryland's only national championship team, yet he lasted until pick number 17 by the Wizards in 2002. And if you brought up the name Gene Shue, an All American in 1953 and 54, you might get laughed out of the room. You might also be surprised to learn that Shue was the number three overall pick by Philadelphia in 1954. And what about the dynamic duos of Tom McMillen and Len Elmore in the early 70's and Buck Williams and Albert King in the late 70's and early 80's? All four of them were first-round picks and all but King played at least a decade in the NBA.
So...what about Vasquez? He will leave Maryland as one of the school's all-time leaders in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He will likely have played in three NCAA tournaments and was the biggest factor in getting them to at least two of them. And his triple-double performance in a stunning win over eventual national champion North Carolina in 2009 will be remembered as one of the greatest individual performances in ACC history. But his draft position remains in doubt. Last year he tested the waters and chose to return to school, unsure if he would be taken in the first round. What if his stock doesn't rise for this draft? If Vasquez is taken in the second round, does his place in Maryland basketball history diminish?
I think you may have to examine his career as something of a hoops Tim Tebow. Whatever he does in the pros, Vasquez not only brought great skills, but great excitement in his four years of college ball. His pro career really shouldn't factor in to how his NCAA years are remembered.
Here's where I stand after four decades of Terp watching. You can debate all you want where in the top 10 Vasquez belongs (and like Mike Wise, who obviously listens to our show writes in the Washington Post, "he doesn't get past the top 10"), but short of Len Bias as a senior, no one has been more exciting to watch. He's left it all on the court and we probably won't fully appreciate it until after he's gone.
Most guys my age collected baseball cards as a kid. My collecting peaked as a seven-year-old in 1966 when I got my grandfather to buy me two boxes (that's boxes as in 24 packs of cards in each one) for finding the afikomen on Passover (it's a Jewish thing you wouldn't understand).
I've managed to hang on to quite a few of those cards over the years through all my moves and thanks to my mom not throwing them out. They're not worth much since they aren't in mint condition, but they bring back some nice memories. Plus collecting as a kid was never about money.
Now that's apparently changed. Topps, which now has an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball, is turning card collecting in to something that resembles the lottery. One in every six packs of cards will include a special code that can be redeemed online for a free vintage card. That includes a Mickey Mantle rookie card that's worth more than $20,000 dollars. Cal Ripken is involved in the promotion.
I haven't been able to find out how much these packs of cards will cost. I recall my son buying a pack about six or seven years ago that went for four bucks. Mine went for ten cents a pack and included bubble gum. Then again, those packs didn't give me a shot at 20 grand. Oh well.