Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Deconstructing a Legend

Growing up in Manitowoc County during the early 1980's, I heard a few stories about Mickey Crowe.  The kid who played at a small, private high school in nearby St Nazianz was something of a "rural legend" in those parts.  You would hear someone talk about how they saw him score 100 points in a game (his actual single-game high was 72) or how he scored 5,000 points in his high school career (his actual total was a then-state record 2,724).  And those stories would always end with "I don't know whatever happened to him."

Remember, these were the days before the internet and Wikipedia and social media, so keeping track of someone was far more difficult.  There were rumors that he was still playing in beer leagues around the area and lighting everyone up like in his glory days.  There were stories that he was coaching somewhere out of state.  But in nearly all cases, nobody really knew exactly what became of Mickey Crowe.

Now, we have a chance to find out.  Brett Christopherson of the Appleton Post Crescent tracked down the legend, has worked with Crowe on an authorized biography.  For the first time, we will find out why someone who was better than anyone ever was in Wisconsin high school history at putting the ball in the hoop, basically walked away from the game after graduation.

I find stories like this fascinating.  I wonder why someone with so much talent decides to forego all of that and let it go to waste.  I always figured that Mickey Crowe was just another typical '70's burnout--the long-haired hippie who decided that smoking pot and getting drunk was more fun than playing hoops.  Based on some of the excerpts from the book, that was a factor.  But it also appears that Crowe's father may not have wanted his son to move on to bigger and better things--because it was likely that facing bigger, faster opposition, the points (and the glory) would be much harder to get.  And Crowe may have feared facing the reality that he could never live up to the legend his high school career created.

We will talk with Brett Christopherson about Mickey Crowe at about 8:45 this morning here on WOSH.  If you can't tune in, I would highly recommend picking up his book--just in case your son is ever called "The Next Mickey Crowe".

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