By Tim Lacy, Special to the AFRO

When you hear MARCH MADNESS, fasten your seat belts because it is a signal that the NCAA is about to put on their yearly showcase of basketball talent. It is a wild ride, complete with a feel good story on occasion.

Last year we had our hearts warmed by the appearance of Jean Dolores Schmidt (Sister Jean), Chaplin and inspirational leader of the Loyola of Chicago Ramblers. We followed her from the beginning of the tournament to the Final Four. Fans who had never seen Loyola play a game were caught up in the love for Sister Jean. It was constantly repeated that she is 99 years old leaving us in disbelief. When Sister Jean received her Final Four ring for Loyola’s accomplishments in the tournament, America cheered.

This year we were reminded that the legacy of African Ballers continues. UCF (University of Central Florida) showcased Tacko “Taco” Fall a 7’6″ Senegalese gentleman. There were so many shouts of Taco!!!, people were probably looking around trying to purchase a little Mexican cuisine from a vendor. Taco had been away from home for 7 years, and a band of fans and a little help from the powers that be chipped in a few bucks to bring his Mom to the dance. Hankies all around.

A few other gentleman who helped bring this legacy to life are: Manute Bol “The Dinka Dari” a 7’7″ Sudanese player. He measured 8’6″ from fingertip to fingertip, and averaged 3.3 blocked shots per game. Bol attended the University of Bridgeport and as a pro he played with the Washington Bullets.

Dikembe Mutombo Mpulondo Mukamba Jean Jaques Wamutombo (Dikembe Mutombo), (I think my spell checker just said something unpleasant). Mutombo is 7’2″ tall and was fond of blocking shots and waving his finger in your face and uttering, “Not in my house!” Mutombo attended Georgetown and played his pro ball for the Houston Rockets.

Hakeem Olajuwan a 7’0″ player from Lagus, Nigeria played for the University of Houston.

He was a charter member of “Phi Slamma Jamma” a name bestowed upon the team. He didn’t have far to travel to play pro ball, he suited up for the Houston Rockets.

Stay tuned for more surprises and feel good stories.

Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO