According to multiple sources 2020/21 is not letting up, as one of Philadelphia’s schoolyard and coaching Icons has gone to his Eternal Reward. Former Temple University Mens Basketball Coach John Chaney has passed away today at the age of 89.
I was privileged to be born into a family whose patriarch rubbed elbows and hobnobbed with the Philly Basketball elite and John Chaney has been a part of that since he started coaching at Cheyney State in 1972.
My first memory of Coach Chaney was at the 1979 NCAA final game, you all remember it better as the Magic – Bird final. I remember it that way too but also for meeting Coach Chaney. I can’t explain it other than I knew I was meeting a great human being, and I couldn’t have been more right. Coach Chaney and his Cheyney St. Team watched the game at with the SJU team at an one of the coach’s houses. I won’t forget that because at 14, my goal was to coach in the Big 5 and Coach made sure I could see the game through the trees.
My days at the Historic Palestra were many and although Coach was not coaching in the Big 5 yet, he was as much a staple as Yoyo. I often ran papers to my dad from the mimeograph machine and all I would here is, “there goes another Doc.” What a tribute from a man who just kept winning at Cheyney and was soon to hang his coat at Temple for 24 seasons and winning the NABC, AP, and UPI Coach of the Year Awards.
Coach’s numbers have been well publicized but another set of numbers would be more astonishing, if there were a number for it, the lives he touched. That number would easily be in the thousands. Whether it be listening to a 14 year old at a party with one of the most memorable Final games in my history, or making sure a Temple hat he was asked to autograph gets signed by all the players, or spending time with anyone who wanted a word, and remembering the story of how we met as he passed through the receiving line at my Dad’s funeral.
Finding words for the magnitude of your gruffy voice and more importantly your huge smile is impossible. Coach you made a teen smile that March Day and every time that I saw you after that. God Bless and keep you Coach, I am sure Heaven needs another great Coach and some other Philly elite will have the bench warmed up for you.