, 9 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
One of the most fun stories I ever wrote was about an epic college basketball prank that four buddies pulled — then kept secret for 40 years. This story had a development recently. (thread, 1/9)
In 1973 the National Association of Collegiate Basketball Writers launched the Hershberger Award for the top rookies in college basketball. Newspapers across the country wrote about the new award. (2/9)
The NACBW mailed winners’ certificates to the top young players of the day: John Lucas, David Thompson, Fly Williams, Quinn Buckner, Louis "Sweet Lou" Dunbar—later a Harlem Globetrotter. Notre Dame framed John Shumate's award and hung it on the wall. (3/9)
Fast-forward to 2012. While reporting another story I met Steve Noll, a professor at Florida. At the end of our interview he said, “I’ve got a story for you.” Usually when people say that it’s not a great story. This was. (4/9)
Noll told me about the award from decades ago. Then he said he and three other @WilliamandMary students had made it up: the award, writers’ organization, even the guy the award was named after (Leo G. Hershberger). They’d kept the secret since the ‘70s. (5/9)
Noll said they were ready to spill the beans. I interviewed the award recipients (most thought it was hilarious), Noll and his co-conspirators. The story ran before the 2013 Final Four, 40 years after the Hershberger debuted. (6/9)
One co-conspirator was Tom Duncan. “I can’t believe anyone would believe it,” he said about the award, “but they did.” He was in Michigan on spring break in 1973 when the news broke....(7/9)
Duncan read about the award in the Detroit Free Press. “I called Steve: ‘I can’t believe it’s here!’” Duncan recalled. He marveled that no one had ever caught them. “My wife still thinks I’m going to get arrested for talking to you,” he said. (8/9)
Tom Duncan died of cancer on Jan. 16. He was 66.

But the prank lives on.

Whoever wrote his Washington Post obituary noted Duncan was, ahem, quite the college basketball player. (9/9). m.legacy.com/obituaries/was…
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