Jesus, Lord, Father…
It’s only been a few hours since we learned that the iconic Cicely Tyson made her transition to the afterlife and now we are learning more sad news about another Black iconic. John Chaney, head coach of the Temple University Owls and Cheyney State Wolves, has passed away at the age of 89 according to ESPN.
Before becoming the head coach at Temple, Chaney influenced the lives of young men at Cheyney State for a decade. One of those years, 1978, he won the Division II National Championship. He then spent 24 years at Temple beginning in 1982 where he made the NCAA or NIT tourneys every single year except for that first season.
Chaney owns several unique distinctions as a coach including becoming the first Black coach to win 700 games (he ended with 741). He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. John Chaney is also credited with being the architect of the controversial zone defense that now proliferates the NBA on a nightly basis. Chaney was a fiery coach who accepted nothing less than maximum effort and took no s#!t off of anyone. He would defend his players with that same vigor. If you need proof of that, ask John Calipari.
“I’m capable of being anything,” Chaney told Sports Illustrated in 1994. “… I’m a person who can be out of control. Sometimes it’s better to be crazy than intelligent.”
Beyond all his professional accolades, John Chaney cared deeply about Black people. He wanted better for kids who had been beaten down by Amerikkka’s racist regime.
“Many of my players came from environments where people said they couldn’t do it,” Chaney told The Athletic in 2019. “I came from an era where it could end before being fulfilled. You have to move into a better place, in our minds and for our future. So many of them were able to change who they were. They ended up being what Temple’s statement has always been. Young acres of diamonds, right from the neighborhood, being told they could have the same kind of opportunity as everyone else.”
Rest in peace, Coach Chaney.