Okay, please bear with me. I’m really going to meander today.
I want to talk about the best kept secret in San Jose. First, let me say this: San Jose doesn’t have a clue how to attract, support, and celebrate big-time sports. There, I said it.
We pride ourselves in being the 10th biggest city in America. Yet, when it comes to sports teams, one of the characteristics of a big-time city, we have but one major-league organization, the National Hockey League Sharks. Oh yeah, we also have the Earthquakes.
I still sting over the voters’ rejection of a ballot measure to build a stadium and bring the Major League Baseball Giants to town in 1990. I can’t forget how the Golden State Warriors used the city to get a better deal in Oakland a few years later. What about the ongoing effort to lure the A’s here? Don’t even ask. And, please don’t even mention that little hamlet on our northern border getting one of the most storied franchises in NFL history.
For goodness sake, the 40th largest city in America has the Braves (MLB), Hawks (NBA), and Falcons (NFL).
I must also confess that I’m not much of a hockey fan. As someone who is a native of our beloved city, I didn’t play hockey or watch it on TV as a kid, although I do remember that it snowed here once for about 10 minutes when I was in the 7th grade. The Earthquakes is a major league soccer franchise, but its new 18,000-seat stadium is a far cry from the 114,000 seats in Estadio Azteca, Mexico City’s soccer venue.
But, I digress (and meander).
The best kept secret in town is the San Jose City College Jaguars men’s basketball team. The program is also the most successful sports organization in the history of our fair city. Period.
Let’s start with the numbers. During the past 39 years under Coach Percy Carr, the Jags have won 864 games, the most wins for a California college basketball coach ever. Seventeen players have earned All-State honors. The best number, however, is the 97% of players who move on to a four-year college.
On Saturday afternoon, the team clinched its 14th conference championship and 35th playoff appearance in the Carr era by finishing 12-0 in Coast Conference play and 25-3 overall.
And, guess what? No one outside of the SJCC community knows about it. No mention in the Mercury News, no stories on NBC Bay Area, ABC 7, CBS 5, or KTVU Channel 2. Was the mayor on hand on Saturday to celebrate with the college chancellor and president? Nope.
What gives here? How can a city that prides itself on success and innovation completely ignore one of its most successful institutions?
Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that. But I know this: San Jose City College basketball is fun to watch! If you love basketball like I do, you won’t find a better place in this town to watch a game than in the Jaguar’s gym. And it’s up close and personal.
The squeak of basketball shoes on the maple floor, the referee’s whistle, coaches shouting directions to the players and scolding officials, and the sweet sound of the ball swishing through the net after a three-point shot can all be found at SJCC.
And, the basketball is big-time. The players are big, strong, fast, talented and well-coached. More than a few of them will play at a NCCA Division I school. Fans call them Speed City. At any given moment, a breathtaking fast break or a thunderous slam-dunk will ignite the small crowd.
Did I mention that the basketball is big-time?
Luckily, this season isn’t over. The Jags will host the first-round of the state playoffs at home on Saturday, February 28th at 7:00 PM. Do yourself a favor. Go watch them play. Follow their quest for a State Championship.
It’s the best kept secret in town.