Posted 02/18/2010 at 01:06 PM
I want to wish former Florida center Dwayne Schintzius nothing but the best of luck in his fight with cancer.
Schintzius, who is recovering from a bone marrow transplant, is suffering from a nasty form of leukemia. His brother Travis, who also played for UF, provided the bone marrow for the medical procedure. According to multiple reports, the prognosis isn't good for one of the best basketball players in UF history.
Schintzius has always been a mercurial character. I was sitting courtside at the Leon Co. Civic Center (where FSU plays) next to my Dad and former Florida assistant Kenny McCraney when I first saw him play at a Christmas tournament as a junior at Brandon High School. On that night, Schintzius was only the second-best player on the court, as he played with Toney Mack, who went on to enjoy an excellent playing career at Georgia.
I met Schintzius a year later at the O-Dome after he had signed with UF. He wasn't the friendliest of cats to say the least. In fact, more than a decade later, my Dad ran into him at a casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My Dad introduced himself as a long-time Gator fan and told Schintzius that he knew his former coaches Monte Towe, McCraney and Phil Weber.
Schintzius thought my Dad was full of it and said something like, "Oh, really? Well there's Phil Weber right over there." (Weber, now Mike D'Antoni's top assistant with the Knicks, was coaching some sort of national team that Schintzius was playing on in some obscure tournament in Puerto Rico.)
As it turns out, not only did Dad (Bobo Edwards) know Weber, but they had been on multiple trips together to Atlantic City and spent plenty of time at the craps tables. So Dad gets Weber's attention from one table away and when Weber spots my Dad, he screamed, "Bobo!! Let's roll 'em, baby!"
Anyhow, back to Schintzius, who led the Gators to their first regular-season SEC title in 1989. He also played for the Spurs, Nets and Kings in a ho-hum NBA career. He also testified in former Nets' teammate Jayson Williams' manslaughter trial, telling the jury that he witnessed Williams killing his own dog with a shotgun blast.
Before his junior season at UF, Schintzius was involved in a fight at the ATO house in which he allegedly used a tennis racket to inflict damage to an ATO member. During the 1988-89 campaign when the Gators played on the road, opposing student sections would flood the court with tennis balls when UF's starting lineup was announced.
I witnessed as much when UF played at FSU in Tallahassee early in the season. In the regular-season finale at Vanderbilt, the Commodores appeared to have UF beaten with a two-point lead and the ball with one second remaining. However, at that point, a tennis ball was thrown on the court, prompting officials to issue Vandy with a technical foul.
Trailing by two and with the crowd going nuts at Memorial Gym, Schintzius went to the charity stripe and calmly knocked down both attempts to force overtime. The Gators then prevailed in the extra session to win the conference crown.
When the late Stormin' Norman Sloan was fired on Halloween night the next fall, Don Devoe took over as UF's interim head coach. He and Schintzius immediately clashed, as the new coach insisted that his senior big man cut off his "permed mullet." Schintzius refused and then quit the team along with Livingston Chatman. In a statement explaining his decision to quit the team, Schintzius called Devoe "Captain Ahab."
Again, best of luck to Schintzius in his formidable battle with cancer. Now to a few other items...
--So Tiger is going to face the public for the first time in 3 1/2 months at a "press conference" tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Thing is, Tiger won't take questions. Which begs the question, "What is he thinking?" He's had months to face the music, but has refused to do so. Yet when it's time to come out of hiding, he still insists upon being in complete control. Earth to Woods: You have to face the media at some point and the longer you wait, the worse it's going to be.
--Golden St. rookie guard Stephen Curry is just ripping up the NBA despite being on an abysmal team. Curry's stat line in last night's blowout win over Sacramento: 24 points, 15 assists, six rebounds and three steals.
--Purdue is going to the Final Four -- book it! So is Kansas (no breaking news there, right?), but I'm still undecided on my two other squads.
--Cleveland is going to be very difficult to beat after the acquistion of Antawn Jamison. And I'm not just talking about the Magic, Celtics and Hawks. If the Cavs stay healthy, they are going to be favored in a potential Finals matchup against the Lakers, too.