Another legend has passed away.
We are still processing Thursday’s (Jan.28) passing the iconic actress and Civil Rights icon Cicely Tyson, and now we are mourning once again. This time we are saying goodbye to Temple University’s iconic men’s basketball coach and Hall of Famer John Chaney. According to multiple reports, he passed away at 89.
Chaney is regarded as Temple Basketball’s face, coaching the team for 24 years, leading them to 23 winning seasons, an astounding 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, and reaching the Elite Eight five times. His only losing season at Temple was his first year as Temple’s men’s basketball head coach. With him calling the shots, his teams made the tournament 12 straight times.
When it was all said and done, he finished with a 516-253 record when he retired in 2006. Chaney also became the first Black college basketball coach to win 700 plus games, counting his victories as the head coach of Division II Cheyney State for 10 seasons before Temple hired him. He was also named USBWA National Coach of the year twice (1987 and 1988).
Chaney was also well-known for his tough coaching style, early morning practices, pesky zone defense scheme, and disdain for turnovers. Like his friend legendary Georgetown Coach John Thompson, Chaney was beloved because he took chances on kids that were often overlooked becuase they were deemed “at risk.” Players like Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie, Temple’s current head coach, were both ineligible to play in their first years. However, Chaney still managed to turn them into exceptional men and pro-basketball players.
His post-game press conferences are legendary in college basketball circles. One particular incident that will forever be remembered is the shouting match between himself and current Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari, the coach at UMASS in 1994. Chaney was not too happy Calipari complaining to the referees about the foul calls and interrupted Calipari’s presser to let him know. Things almost got physical between Chaney and Calipari.
Before Chaney became a coach, he was an exceptional basketball player himself, but he met many roadblocks simply because of his skin color. Even though he was named Public League player of the year, not one of the Big 5 schools tried to recruit him, so he ended up at Bethune-Cookman.
The NBA, which is now lauded for being one of the most diverse and progressive professional sports leagues, wasn’t always on the right side of history. Racial quotas prevented Chaney from making it into the league, forcing him to play professionally for the Eastern League where he was a superstar.
Like John Thompson and Cicely Tyson, John Chaney is another example of a life well-lived. Rest in paradise, coach.
Photo: Mitchell Layton / Getty