They get together more than most realize. And not just those who shared a locker room while playing on the same team.
Since the mid-1990s, and definitely after Casey Calvary’s legendary tip-in against Florida in 1999 that led to the program’s first-ever Elite Eight, if you’ve pulled on that jersey with the name most national broadcasters mispronounce and spent a little too much time at Jack and Dan’s, you’re family. It’s a cross-generational, court-crossing tie with a very special basketball bind.
That’s why, when it was announced a few weeks ago that The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages community event series would be taking a deep dive into the history-making role international players have played in the Zags’ meteoric multi-decade rise and that beloved Bulldog Quentin Hall was returning to Spokane for it – and that the entire night would really be a fundraiser to help Hall rebuild his home in the Bahamas after it was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian – well, let’s just say there was no shortage of former players who wanted to help.
And current coaches. And a Hollywood star, who just happens to be the biggest Gonzaga fan in California, and who may or may not have even been one of Hall’s roommates back in college.
And even former women’s team players.
That’s what makes Monday’s event at the Bing Crosby Theater – “World Court: How international players helped create one of college basketball’s elite programs” – so darn special. It represents not only the players’ love for the Gonzaga program, but their love for each other.
The evening’s program is going to be fun, super informative, probably a little loud and definitely have lots of laughs. It will be hosted by KHQ/SWX Sports Director Sam Adams, storied Zag and Hoopfest executive director Matt Santangelo and the aforementioned Eric Edelstein, who everyone affectionately calls “Big Ed.”
There will be tons of historic videos as well as fun and revealing live interviews on stage with Gonzaga men’s assistant coach Tommy Lloyd and women’s head coach Lisa Fortier. We’re going to talk about the cool and stressful international recruiting stories no Gonzaga fan will want to miss and even preview the upcoming season better than this weekend’s 100-plus point blowout games did.
More importantly, there will be lots of Quentin Hall on stage – his great stories and his incredible laugh. Though everyone there will simply call him “Q.”
It will all end with the coolest Gonzaga autograph session ever. More than 20 former players, current coaches and even Big Ed will be there to sign. They’ll be autographing full-size, full-color posters featuring never-before-sold photos of the players from The Spokesman-Review’s archives.
The $6 ticket includes the post-event autograph session and the posters. That doesn’t mean you won’t be asked to donate to help with the evening’s cause. That’s precisely why so many players are showing up. When you see the list, you just shake your head. It’s a veritable who’s who of the school’s hoops history.
Q needs a little help, and his Gonzaga brothers and sisters want to help him and his family.
The event hasn’t even happened and it’s already raised $30,000 in donations to help the Halls rebuild their home. And that’s on top of the $10,000 previously raised on GoFundMe.
It’s called having someone’s back. Especially someone you love.
That takes us back to that breakthrough 1999 team that Hall, Santangelo and Calvary were all on. Calvary’s tip-in was off a missed shot from Q. You see, they’ve always had each others’ backs.
It’s a special tie that Hall talked about a few years ago in an interview with our sister station, KHQ.
“I think that’s why (the Bulldogs) are winners and will continue to win,” Hall said at the time. “Because of the way they embrace people and make it all seem like a family.”
And family is there not only for the good times, but during the harder times when you need them most.
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