Saturday, April 02, 2011
Goodbye to the greatest Tiger of them all
Larry Finch, the man who brought Memphians together during his playing career like no one else before or since, passed away this afternoon at the young age of 60, reports the Commercial Appeal.
Finch, who led the Tigers to the national championship game in his senior season of 1972-73, served the university as a player, assistant coach, and as head coach, with more victories than any other head coach in Tiger history (remember, 2007-8 no longer exists). His service to the university was recognized with the naming of the Larry O. Finch Center in his honor; it serves that the practice facility for Tiger men's basketball.
After being fired by Athletic Director RC Johnson at the end of the 1996-97 season, Finch dabbled in politics, nearly unseating County Register Guy Bates in 1998. However, a series of strokes led to Finch moving into a nursing home. He had recently been taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he passed away this afternoon.
I moved to this city as a 13-year-old in the summer of 1972, and that fall I discovered the grip he had on this city as he led them to the NCAA finals, only to lose to Bill Walton's spectacular performance for UCLA, a game that was tied at halftime. He remains the reason I have feelings for the neighborhood school, and his passing is sad for anyone who remembers him as a player, as a coach, and as a human being.