A Fabulous tribute to Coach Bob Nash

Bobby Curran
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Friday - June 29, 2007
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There are few teams in Hawaii history that have grabbed the enduring affection of the Hawaii sporting public like the Fabulous Five. For many, it was the beginning of their love affair with basketball.

There are not many occasions for the five principals and their coach to get together these days, some 35 years after they went their separate ways. It was nice to see the group gathered last week at the Plaza Club for a tribute to new Rainbow Warrior head coach Bob Nash. Nash was the best player on that team, the one who would be a first round draft pick and play in the NBA. It was a unique opportunity to see what his former teammates expected from him as a head coach.

Point guard Jerome Freeman was the floor general, and the only one of the five not to make his home in Hawaii.

“He’ll be good,” says Freeman of Nash. “He’ll let them play, have their way as long as they stay with it. And you know they’ll compete.”

Shooting guard Dwight Holiday is the team member most dedicated to preserving the identity of the team; he is the driving force behind the documentary on the team that will air this fall on OC 16.

“I expect nothing less than a team that plays in Bob’s image,” says Holiday. “They’ll be tough, they’ll be competitive, and they’ll have fun. And so will everyone who comes to watch them.”

Forward Al Davis has no doubt that Nash is right for the job. “He’ll be firm,” says Davis, “but he’ll also give them a great deal of freedom on the court. It might take him a year or two, because he got a late start, but he’ll get it going here. It’ll be exciting.”

Fabulous Five coach Red Rocha has strong memories and expectations of his former center.

“Bob’s teams, I think, will be a lot like ours,” says Rocha. “He’ll give them all the freedom they can handle, and let them run. But if it starts to get away, he’ll clamp down. People don’t realize that with Bob it wasn’t just his game intensity; he brought it to practice every day. He was unbelievably competitive, hated to lose at anything. His teams will be like that.”

Makes you wish the season started sooner.

Listening to the baseball pundits enthuse about Sammy Sosa’s 600th home run on television made me think that there might be a disconnect between that group of mostly former players and the Baseball Writers of America who will vote for the Hall of Fame. I suspect that unless the perception of steroids changes between now and Sosa’s eligibility, Sosa may be viewed much like Mark McGwire, who was not close to being elected in his first year of eligibility. Sosa may also be viewed as a player whose home run total is tainted, and who does not present any other qualities that would get him in. The corked bat and the sudden inability to speak English before Congress will not help either.

All those concerned about the failings of our young people should have been present at the Kaimana Awards last Saturday. Twenty-one high school seniors were recognized, and their bios were incredible. Not only were they successful in a huge number of athletic endeavors, but the vast majority were National Honors Society members or National Merit scholars, and all had compiled impressive lists of community service. I was seated with Kimberly Hall, a Punahou grad who excelled in water polo and swimming, was a terrific student and community volunteer. It was great to see such a well-spoken, confident person. She’ll represent Hawaii well as she heads off to Stanford.

The entire group will do Hawaii proud in the future.

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