First Posted: 6/1/2012 1:07:15 PM | Last Updated: 6/1/2012 1:09:47 PM
By Andy Furman
I hardly knew Jack Twyman.
Oh, in basketball circles you’d see him around; you’d say hello and he would, more often than not, smile back. He was that kind of guy.
Unassuming. Downright normal. A regular mench. A guy you’d love for a neighbor.
In fact, his family was the same. Same genes I guess.
Years ago, when I did talk radio for the so-called Big One in town, a sales gal by the name of Michelle Twyman was on the staff.
She never gave us, “Do you know my dad,” line. Probably because it ran in the family.
Well, one day I did make the connection, and perhaps she was sorry she told me. Why? Simply because anyone who has followed college basketball in this town – and even the NBA when Cincinnati had a team – would and should know Jack Twyman.
He died the other day and the too young age of 78. The Good Lord works in funny ways. When I first heard of the death – well, it was a like a punch in the gut. Wow, Jack Twyman, the Cincinnati Royal star. The guy I watched when I was a kid at Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, New York – the home of the Maurice Stokes Game every summer in August.
The Stokes Game was Jack’s game. Stokes and Twyman were teammates on the Royals in 1958 when Stokes suffered a fall in the last game of the regular season; then took ill on a plane trip, falling into a coma and suffering from encephalopathy.
He spent the final 12 years of his life in a wheelchair.
During that time Twyman served as Stokes’ legal guardian; his benefactor and his best friend. He raised money for him; and did it away from the spotlight.
Imagine today’s athlete doing such a thing – without fanfare no less?
Friend—that was Jack Twyman –a true friend. The late Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain called Stokes and Twyman brothers.
Sure, we can talk about Jack’s college career at the University of Cincinnati. And that his No. 27 is retired in the rafters along with The Big O – Oscar Robertson – and Kenyon Martin.
And his career with the Rochester and then Cincinnati Royals in the NBA.
Why bore you? His stats were unreal and quite honestly go Google them if you’re truly interested.
No it was the friendship he developed with Maurice that was special. It was those games at Kutsher’s in August to raise money for his friend.
And when Jack passed the other day all I could think of – wow, Jack and Mo are together again – laughing and discussing how to beat those darned Boston Celtics.