It was a battle for Jesuit supremacy when Marquette and Xavier met in the West Regional Final of the NCAAs last week. Marquette and Xavier are two of the 28 Jesuit universities in the United States, many of whom boast a proud and rich basketball heritage.
Jesuit schools have fared well in the tournament, winning six championships since the NCAAs began in 1939. In fact, five of the previous six Jesuit entrants in the Final Four wound up winning titles. The University of San Francisco, centered by Bill Russell, above, took back-to-back championships in 1955 and 1956. Holy Cross won in 1947, Loyola of Chicago in 1963, Marquette in 1977 and Georgetown in 1984. Santa Clara made the tournament in 1952, but failed to reach the finals.
Gonzaga became the seventh Jesuit Final Four entry by beating Xavier, and could become the first Jesuit school to win the championship in 23 years.
The list of outstanding Jesuit college basketball players, many of whom went on to win the NCAAs, would stack up well against any competition.
All-Time Jesuit All-Star Five:
C – Bill Russell, San Francisco
F – Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
F – Elgin Baylor, Seatle
G – Bob Cousy, Holy Cross
G – John Stockton, Gonzaga
C – Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown
C – Dikembe Mutombo, Georgetown
F – Tommy Heinsohn, Holy Cross
F – Maurice Lucas, Marquette
F – David West, Xavier
G – Allen Iverson, Georgetown
G – KC Jones, San Francisco
G – Dwayne Wade, Marquette
G – Sleepy Floyd, Georgetown
G – Dana Barros, Boston College
They’re great players, Hall of Famers almost to a man, half of them named to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list in 1997. Some were MVP and scoring leaders, Rookies of the Year, rebounding kingpins, assist champions.
And they have something else in common. They’re the Lords Of The Ringless: Hoops Edition, the best players never to win an NBA championship. Some came close, others never made it to the NBA Finals.
All are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, with the exception or Reggie Miller, who just retired and will undoubtly make it once he’s eligible.
Some came oh-so close. Patrick Ewing (right), Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley were all derailed by the great Jordan. Elgin Baylor’s Lakers lost eight times in the NBA Finals and he retired just months before Los Angeles won the 1972 NBA championship. Adrian Dantley just missed out on the Lakers 1980 title and was traded to Dallas months before the Detroit won the 1989 championship
LORDS OF THE RINGLESS
C — Patrick Ewing: New York Knicks’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder, averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, 11-time All-Star, first pick overall in 1985.
F — Elgin Baylor: Lifetime Laker, averaged 27.4 ppg (4th all-time) and 13.5 rebounds for career, 11-time All-Star, 71 points in one game in1960, first pick overall in 1958.
F — Karl Malone: “The Mailman” spent nearly entire career with Utah Jaxx, second leading all-time NBA scorer with 36,928 points, two-time MVP in 1997 and 1999.
G — John Stockton (left): 19 years with Utah Jazz, played 82 games 17 times, all-time NBA assist (15,806) and steals (3,265) leader, led NBA in assists 9 straight years.
G — George Gervin: “The Iceman” played in both ABA and NBA, primarily with San Antonio Spurs, won four scoring titles, average 26.2 pgg, 407 straight games in double figures.
C — Nate Thurmond: First player to record a quadruple double (1974), averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds per game, spent most of career with Golden State Warriors
F — Charles Barkley (right): “The Round Mound of Rebound” averaged 22.1 ppg and 11.7 rebounds, was NBA MVP in 1993 with Phoenix Suns.
F — Dominique Wilkins: “The Human Highlight Film” spent majority of career with Atlanta Hawks, scored 26,668 points, ninth all-time 24.8 pgg.
G — Lenny Wilkens: Played first eight years with St. Louis Hawks, 9-time All-Star, 10th all-time in assists, all-time winningest coach.
G — Reggie Miller: Indiana Pacers sharpshooter all-time career leader with 2560 three-point field goals, scored 25,279 points, 13th all-time.
C — Bob Lanier: Played with Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, averaged 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds career.
F — Alex English: Denver Nuggets, first ever with 8-straight 2,000 point season, 11th all-time scorer, won scoring title in 1983.
F — Adrian Dantley: 18th all-time with 23,177 points. led NBA with 30.6 in 1984 with Utah Jazz, averaged 30 plus 4 straight years.
G — Pete Maravich (left): “Pistol Pete” all-time college scoring champ, averaged 24.9 ppg in NBA, scoring champ in 1977.
G — Dave Bing: Primarily a Detroit Piston, averaged 20.3 ppg, won scoring championship in 1968 averaging 27.1 ppg.
C — Walt Bellamy
F — George Yardley
F — Harry Gallatin
G — Mark Jackson
G— David Thompson
F — Chris Webber
G — Allen Iverson
G — Jason Kidd
Check out Lords Of The Ringless: Baseball Edition