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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Opinion

Statue a must for UH legend

Derek Dickson
Opinion Columnist

There once was a man who ruled this campus, with the power to fill the Astrodome to its brim. He stood on the court, like a man sure to become a legend, and that's just what he did. Unfortunately, most of you reading this have no idea whom I am speaking of. The man, the legend, is Guy V. Lewis. 

Lewis led UH to five Final Four performances while he was at the helm of the men's basketball team. As a head coach, Lewis racked up 592 wins with four conference titles.

He put UH on the map of great basketball universities, all the while being a man of morals and values. If anyone in the history of UH athletics deserves a statue, it is Lewis.

The lack of tradition at UH is frustrating. Cougars should be able to enter Hofheinz Pavilion and touch the statue of a living legend as good luck. It is a simple tradition to perform and a simple tradition to establish. The University owes it to a man who practically built the basketball program at UH. Hofheinz Pavilion is really the house that Lewis built.

It's great that the court at Hofheinz bears Lewis' name. Every time I see it, it sends chills up my spine, thinking about the energy that once shook that building. However, Lewis deserves something more than his name on the court. The University needs to erect a statue to greet the fans before the game, so the future generations of Cougars know of his legacy. 

Lewis broke the color barrier in Texas. While universities all over the state and country rejected the black community, Coach Lewis welcomed them like he would any other human being. Elvin Hayes graced the community as the first black basketball player at UH. 

"They helped me overcome 18 years of hate," Hayes said of Coach Lewis and his staff. He cited they were the first white people to ever show him respect as a human being. That is just the kind of man Lewis is.

Every year, the heart of the Cougar-faithful breaks as the nominations of the College Basketball Hall of Fame are released, and even more so when the winners are announced. Year after year, the Hall eludes him. The unfortunate fact is, the Hall is eluding the best coach and humanitarian in the history of NCAA basketball.

Lewis is beyond the win at the Astrodome, better known as the "game of the century." He is beyond the two national Coach of the Year Awards. He is beyond anything this campus has ever seen. At a time when blacks were hated -- and so were the white men who showed them love -- Lewis slapped the hate in the face and welcomed any players. Not as white or black, but as human beings.

For the Hall of Fame to overlook Lewis is one thing. He doesn't need the acceptance of the world, as he as shown before. But, for the University to rarely acknowledge his legacy is a shame. Lewis should always be standing in front of Hofheinz, with a hand to shake or a smile to smile back at. We need the tradition, and we need the morals and everything he stands for to greet us all -- come victory or come defeat.

The alumni, faculty and students who know this University will open their wallets and sign the checks; the University just needs to meet us halfway. Let's honor a man who has honored so many and forever enshrine him into the only Hall of Fame that counts -- Cougar pride.

Dickson, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at dcoletexas1@aol.com

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