2001 seemed like a long time ago until I ran across this:
The song is “The Handle,” from 7L & Esoteric’s 2010 album 1212, and it features Sadat X of Brand Nubian. I don’t want to know how many hours it took Tobi Eldridge to compile and edit all that footage, but I’m glad that he did.
Rewind the video to the 0:48 mark to find Syracuse star guard Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. For a bit of 757 flavor, Washington once led his Boys and Girls High School team south from Brooklyn to play in the Norfolk Catholic Christmas Tournament. Unfortunately, box scores from early 1980′s high school games are not readily available online; I’d like to know how many points Pearl hung on Norfolk Academy in the tourney.
Then again, Washington was known primarily for his handle (how appropriate) and his passing skills, although he scored 1,490 points at Syracuse and led the team in scoring during his final season. He currently stands fourth on Syracuse’s all-time assists list, despite playing only three collegiate seasons. Washington dished out 637 assists in 95 career games, including an eye-popping 250 in 32 games (7.8 per) in his final college season, 1985-1986.
Syracuse’s all-time assists leader is Sherman Douglas, who amassed 960 assists over 138 career games. Douglas’ record will likely remain intact for a good while; he has 251 more assists than Jason Hart. In his junior and senior seasons, Douglas averaged 8.2 and 8.6 assists per game. His senior season total of 326 assists led Division I that year.
In addition, Douglas is sixth in career points at Syracuse with 2,060. What makes Douglas’ career numbers even more impressive is the fact that he played only 307 minutes as a freshman in 1985-1986 because he was behind Washington, then a junior. Had Douglas not overlapped with Pearl, he almost certainly would have racked up 1,000 assists and would likely have become Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer (Lawrence Moten currently tops the list with 2,334).
Based solely on statistics, there is a strong case to be made that Douglas had the greatest Syracuse career ever. Dave Bing (1,883 points, 786 rebounds, averaged a double-double in his junior and senior seasons – when Bing played, the NCAA prohibited freshmen from playing in varsity competition), Gerry McNamara (2,099 points, 648 assists, one national championship, and two Big East Tournament titles), John Wallace (2,119 points, 1,065 rebounds, national finalist in 1996), and Derrick Coleman (second all-time with 2,143 points, all-time leader in rebounds with 1,537, averaged a double-double as a sophomore, junior, and senior, freshman starter on the team that lost the 1987 national final to Steve Alford’s Indiana Hoosiers, Big East Tournament title in 1988, and also featured in the video above) might have bone to pick with that, though.
Back to Washington: as you might expect, Syracuse has retired Washington’s #31 jersey, as well as the jerseys of Bing (#22), Coleman (#44), and Douglas (#20). John Wallace also wore #44 before it was retired for Coleman in 2006, which puts him in a strange predicament. Emily Post has yet to take a firm stance on the etiquette for double-retiring a number, but Wallace’s career achievements should earn him the right to have his jersey hang from the rafters of the Carrier Dome.
McNamara’s #3 jersey would seem to be a lock for retirement, especially if Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has anything to say about it. (Click here to watch Boeheim’s inspired defense of McNamara in one of the great NSFW coaching rants of all time. Can you retire an expletive in honor of a coach?) After graduating in 2006, McNamara went on to play in the D-League, but never appeared in an NBA game. He is currently an assistant coach at Syracuse and may well see his jersey retired from his present spot on the bench.
The #3 jersey has most recently been worn at Syracuse by Dion Waiters, a key piece of this year’s Elite Eight team. Waiters elected to leave school after his sophomore season to declare for the NBA draft. Playing two years is unlikely to win you a retired jersey, so Waiters is probably safe from Wallace’s fate, but future recruits may want to consider a jersey other than #3.
Finally, if you are a fan of 7LES, they recently announced a forthcoming project with Inspectah Deck.