We see it happen too often in Memphis. How the good deeds some men and women set out to achieve are tainted and ruined by the foolish actions of others. Two years ago, we hailed the return of a revered summer event as former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway and organizer Stanley Blue breathed life into the previously dormant Bluff City Classic Basketball Tourney. The expectations were as high as a two-handed jam.
"I mean most guys that grew up playing basketball in a city like Memphis that loves basketball. Most guys grew up dreaming of playing one day with Bluff CIty Classic during the summer," Bluff City Classic organizer Stanley Blue said.
But, the idea of creating new memories for the city's basketball loving youth turned nightmarish last week. The shooting death of a man, not on, but near, the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College where the tourney was in progress, brought police and raised the level of fear in spite of the precautions already in place.
"We had police presence....had Sheriffs' Deputies present. I felt very safe at LeMoyne," Blue said. "As much as we wanted to continue the league, you can't continue the league without players and participants. There were concerns raised by players and participants about their safety," Blue said.
Unfortunately, Blue says LeMoyne volunteered the use of their gym, after the organizers of the free event had been unsuccessful in beating the bushes trying to find a large venue for the 2012 season.
"We were looking at the Memphis City Schools. We were looking at White Station, centrally located, larger venue. So, we wouldn't have to turn people away and Ridgeway was our second option," Blue said. "This is a free event. We employ young people during the summer months. So, there's really not a cash flow involved in this. As a result we were really doing this out of the kindness of our hearts....to give back to the community in a way where we were giving young people something constructive to do during the long summer months."
Before it's brief and splashy revival the tourney sat in mothballs for seven years. However, Blue vows the Classic's latest hiatus is only temporary.
"This league has been too valuable to this community. Been an integral part of this community for quite a long time," Blue said. "We're not going to give up on the league. We're just gonna regroup and try to find another venue."