Following his team's 80-79 win over the La Salle Explorers on Wednesday night, La Salle graduate and Temple coach Fran Dunphy entered the media room and conducted a fairly routine press conference (save for his second argument of the year as to why "the carry" should be allowed in basketball).
After he exited, but before La Salle coach John Giannini sat down to address reporters, Dunphy re-entered the room, called all to attention, and paid tribute to the life of Big 5 Hall of Famer Alonzo Lewis.
Lewis, 77, scored 1,137 points in his career at La Salle and helped lead the Explorers to the 1955 NCAA Final, where they ultimately lost to Bill Russell's San Francisco. Lewis would go on to coach a number of local schools, most notably Chester High and Cheyney University.
He was killed tragically on Tuesday evening after being hit by a car while attempting to cross Henry Ave. He was on his way to Philadelphia University to watch the Catholic League Girls' semifinal between Archbishop Carroll and Neumann-Goretti.
Audio and text of Fran Dunphy's postgame comments on Alonzo Lewis and (as one would expect) words from John Chaney below...
"I go the Big 5 Hall of Fame yesterday, and I was thrilled to be there. One of my players, Matt Maloney, Mark Jackson, one of the Temple greats, Kelly Greenberg, who I coached with at Penn for a long period of time, so I'm hobnobbing. I'm having the time of my life just because I know most of the room. I'm just having a tremendous time. And I get to eat my meal late. And I get back, I'm in the back of the room, and I sit down beside Alonzo Lewis.
"And I spent an hour with Alonzo Lewis yesterday afternoon. And, last night, the man lost his life in a tragic car accident. And I got the chance to be with that guy. A great La Salle player and a guy I admire so much as a human being. How many he kids that he helped along the way.
"When I got that phone call this morning. I've got to tell you, my heart was broken, for a lot of different reasons. And even if I hadn't been with him for that period of time, my heart still would have been broken. But to sit next to him...
"There was a piece of chocolate cake, and he said, I can't eat this. I would love to eat this, but I can't. But I'm going to bring it to my daughter, and she'll enjoy it. And it just, it blew my mind. I couldn't...and I need to tell that story, because of what I feel about Alonzo Lewis and the quality and the character and the integrity that the man lived his life.
"I'm just so proud to have known him. To be honest with you, I was proud to sit there with him, so much, yesterday afternoon. So, I apologize, go on, but I loved the guy and I feel so bad. Thanks."
Listen to the audio here:
Former Temple coach John Chaney, a lifelong friend of Lewis, was quoted in the Daily News, reminiscing about how he and Lewis used to kid each other about who owed the other milk from when they used to play one-one-one. Allegedly, they played for milk, rather than sodas (as Chaney wanted), because, according to Chaney, Lewis was a health nut.
Said Chaney: "He was a great basketball player, one of our great players...He will be somebody that, every time I look over my right or left shoulder, I'll always think that he'll be there."
RIP, Alonzo Lewis.