by Jim LitkeAssociated Press Writer (AP)—He never quite believed it himself.At least that’s what Lorenzo Charles always said—from the second after he flushed one of the most dramatic baskets in the history of the college game all the way to the end of his life. Sadly, that came June 27, when the charter bus that Charles was driving crashed along Interstate 40 in Raleigh, N.C. He was 47. TRAGIC ACCIDENT—This April 4, 1983 photo shows North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Charles (43) dunking the ball to give N.C. State a 54-52 win over high-flying Houston, whose destruction of the field justified the moniker “Phi Slamma Jamma” in the NCAA Championship game in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/File) I heard him say it near the end of a phone conversation one April afternoon three years ago. Charles was one of several North Carolina State players contributing memories for a story to mark the 25th anniversary of the Wolfpack’s improbable 1983 NCAA Championship. Like his teammates, he was asked to recreate the last few seconds of the final game against a Houston team fronted by two future Hall of Famers—Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler—that almost no one believed could lose.Charles recalled where everyone else was on the floor, and what they were doing, heartbeat by heartbeat. When he got around to Olajuwon, his opposite that night, the description was so vivid you could have guessed what the Houston center ate during the pregame meal. Charles didn’t enter his own highlight reel until the very end, and even then, reluctantly.In the video clip, though, he looks like the only player with a clue of what’s about to unfold. He leaps out from underneath the basket just in time to grab guard Dereck Whittenburg’s desperate heave from 30 feet out and dunk it in one fluid motion: N.C. State 54, Houston 52.“I was out of position,” Charles chuckled, “because when you’re going for a rebound and putback, you’re supposed to be a step or two away to build up some steam. But it turned out to be the perfect place.”That’s all?“I could see the ball was going to fall short, and my only concern was Hakeem. I was waiting for that big arm to swoop by and block my shot. And,” he paused, still marveling all those years later, “it never happened.”No matter how the question was asked, Charles kept describing his contribution as a lucky break. It was too humble. There had to be more.“No, that’s pretty much it. Turned out to be right place, right time,” he said softly. “Just maybe not the guy people expected.”Another long pause ensued.“I have a hard time,” he said softly, “believing it myself.”It was neither the first nor the last time he said that. His teammates confirmed that was vintage Charles. Opportunistic and tough as nails the second he stepped on the court, just the way you’d expect a kid from Brooklyn to be; saying only so much and laughing a lot as soon as he stepped away. Always deflecting the attention somewhere else.So it came as little surprise that Charles hardly cared the moment after his dunk has become even more memorable still. That was when the buzzer sounded and NC State coach Jim Valvano stormed the floor like a one-man tidal wave, looking for someone to hug.Maybe it’s because Valvano was at his absolute peak as a showman. Or because a decade later, his body wracked by cancer, Valvano cast the same magical spell over a national TV audience—“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” he said that night—he had cast over a dozen youngsters for a few months in 1983.Either way, Charles was happy the spotlight settled where it did. His own NBA career didn’t last as long as he’d hoped. He stayed in the game by playing in smaller leagues all around the world, then tried his hand at coaching. Charles eventually wound up back in Raleigh driving a bus.Somehow, the unending interest in Charles’ singular feat always caught him by surprise. Maybe that’s how he made you feel better simply for asking.What Charles chose to remember most, though, was the effort Valvano coaxed from his team night after night during that meat-grinder of a season. Whittenburg, the Wolfpack’s best shooter, broke his foot early on and N.C. State had to run the table in the ACC tournament just to make the tournament. Then came a series of squeakers. Last up was high-flying Houston, whose destruction of the field justified the moniker “Phi Slamma Jamma.”“I’m sure lots of people figured we didn’t even belong on the same floor,” Charles said, “But a lot of them forgot how tough it was just surviving the ACC week in and week out. North Carolina had Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins. Maryland had Lenny Bias. Virginia had Ralph Sampson.”And so convincing was Valvano in the role of underdog that according to most retellings, he was all N.C. State had. In fact, the Wolfpack had a topflight trio of guards—flanking Whittenberg was Sidney Lowe and Terry Gannon—and rugged, reliable presences underneath on both ends of the floor in Charles and Thurl Bailey.But once Valvano got going, even his own kids forgot about that. He’d be in the middle of drawing up the pregame sets, then put the clipboard under one arm and scream, “You got to be a dreamer.” A moment later, a composed Valvano would point to the blackboard and add, “And if all five of you don’t get back down the floor and play defense every time, they’re going to break that dream into little, bitty pieces.”Whittenburg, who recounted that story three years ago, added, “Then. he’d have to stop himself from cracking up. He never failed to make you laugh or feel good about yourself, and there aren’t a lot of people you meet in life who can do that.”And even more unfortunate, another one of them is gone.
Five finalists will also be recognized: John Minor, Right Systems; Ann Monaghan, Providence St. Peter Hospital; Amber Petersen, Earth Friendly Products; Pat Rants, The Rants Group; and Renee Ries, Fairchild Record Search. This recognition event is sponsored by the Thurston County Chamber and Express Employment Professionals. Evaluation of the applications – including interviews – was conducted by SMU’s business program students. Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 Exceptional workplace leadership will be lauded at the Boss of the Year event on Wednesday, December 14, at Saint Martin’s University (SMU) beginning at 11:30am. This year’s recipients are: Robert Coit, executive director of the Thurston County Food Bank; Mariella Cummings, CEO of Physicians of Southwest Washington; and Mike Harbour, general manager of Intercity Transit. Selection criteria was based on outstanding leadership through innovation, communication, vision, execution, ethics, service and/or knowledge. The program includes the program and lunch. General admission is $30 and prepaid Chamber members are $20. Members at the door are $25. Reservations are requested at 360.357.3362 or www.ThurstonChamber.com.
Facebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by The Thurston County Fair Entries for open class baking, beverage and preserved foods can be submitted at the Thurston County Fairgrounds Heritage Hall. This year’s Thurston County Fair has baking, canning, brewing and bee-keeping for the whole herd! But you’ll have to hurry—entries for many of this year’s open class food contests are due during the week before the fair opens on Wednesday, July 29:Open Class Baking: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 27Enter your favorite yeast or quick breads, cakes, cookies, candies, or pies. Remember to also enter the daily baking contests listed below and get free admission with your tasty baked treats.Open Class Beverages: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 20Ales, beers, ciders and wines are all welcome in the beverage contests. Check the 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.Open Class Preserved Foods: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 20 and Monday, July 27Enter your canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sauces, jams and jellies, vinegars, meats, and dehydrated foods, plus many more preserved foods. Check the 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.Open Class Honey: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 27 ONLYFrom Water White to Dark Amber and everything in between, test your cache of golden honey against the best in the South Sound in the open class honey contests. Honey entries will not be accepted with other preserved food entries on July 20.All open class food entries are submitted at Heritage Hall at the county fairgrounds.For all the best bakers with flour to spare, be sure to enter the Dessert of the Day contests during fair week. Bakers who present their Dessert of the Day entry at the gate get free admission to the fair for the day!Thursday, July 30—Chocolate Cake ContestFriday, July 31—Cookie ContestSaturday, August 1—“Berry Best Pie” Contest sponsored by Spooner’s Berry FarmsSunday, August 2—Cupcake ContestAll of the information and details you need to compete in open class food contests and hundreds of other open class and club contests are included in the 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide. The guide also includes information on entry forms, camping, and this year’s calendar of events from July 29 through August 2. Download the complete 2015 Exhibitor’s Guide at www.ThurstonCountyFair.org/exhibitor_guide.htm.For more information on the 2015 Thurston County Fair Exhibitor’s Guide, contest entry forms or other fair activities, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit www.ThurstonCountyFair.org.“Picture Yourself at the Thurston County Fair!”July 29 – Aug. 2
Facebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by City of OlympiaOn Thursday, May 24, 2018, the City’s contractor, Active Construction, Inc., will begin to repair the water main on Boulevard Road north of the I-5 Bridge. Crews will also make repairs to the sidewalk and replace the fire hydrant. Work will take place between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and is expected to be completed by Friday, May 25, 2018.Traffic control will be in place. Citizens are encouraged to use alternate routes to minimize traffic impacts and obey all signs and flaggers.Featured photo credit: Kim Merriman