By Stephen Tsai
Superman needs Lex Luther.
Batman needs the Joker.
Beverly Hills police need Lindsay Lohan.
The best rivalries need, well, rivals. Good, tough opponents. For the football Warriors, BYU and then Boise State served those roles.
And for three years in the 1990s, a bleach-haired guard with a swagger that matched his crossover dribble and straight-to-the-heart jumpers served as the UH basketball team's nemesis.
Chris Herren was the ringleader of the circus that was the Fresno State basketball team, which featured samurai-sword-wielding players and a towel-chomping head coach. Herren endured years of alcohol and drug abuse, but is now clean, sober and author of "Basketball Junkie."
Here's an excerpt:
SMU was nothing compared to what happened every time we went to Hawaii, where I was the public enemy. I'd come through the tunnel and the whole arena would go nuts. People yelled, threw things, yelled some more. About point shaving. About rehab. "Fall River Nightmare." You name it, they yelled it. They hated me. And I'd blow kisses to them, which only made them crazier. As a sophomore, I had kicked in 35 against them, in a game that all but ruined their season. After we beat them by two in an NIT quarterfinal game one year, some guy dumped a beer on my head.
When I was there my last time as a senior, there was a big story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, as if I were a folk hero.
"Tell them to show up," I was quoted about the fans. "I want to see ten thousand like I'm used to. I want to see the people who have been screaming at me the past two years."
"He plays with the crowd," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "Most kids don't do that. But he acknowledges them, and they feed off that. And he feeds off them. Might be better to give him the silent treatment."
But they threw leis on the court in appreciation, so in the end, my teammates and I went on the plane wearing leis.
I loved Hawaii.
Has there ever been a UH opponent like that? BYU pitcher Peter Kendrick baffled the Warriors, but that was more for his skill than theatrics. Jim McMahon? The left-footed, rollout punt was classic, but he was a symptom of the overall BYU mania. UCLA coach Al Scates could induce heckles from volleyball fans, but a coach can't make winning plays.
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Received this e-mail:
it's stephen florino - formerly of khnl sports (with jason tang aka "spock").
read your blog and got a story about chris herren.
i was covering that game for the ka leo at the sheriff against fresno during the ac/alika years. i don't remember the game, but i know it was a big one. i remember herren killed us. after the game, i went to get an interview with herren. i chased him down the hall as he was walking toward the bus. told him who i was and he put his arm around me as we walked. i forget what i asked, but i remember the last question was "how does it feel like to be the most hated man in hawaii?" his response -- "i love it man, i love it." he shook my hand and left.
despite his antics, he was the coolest dude. i read about his life and book on yahoo recently. hope the best for him.
please share if you like.
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And linebacker Brenden Daley is on the rock:
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For the first time in years, quarterback Bryant Moniz does not have a regular summer job. In his first two UH offseasons, Moniz famously delivered pizzas and, then last summer, worked as a Waikiki beach boy. He did not go on scholarship until last August. Moniz applied too late for a full-time position on the beach this year. Instead, he is training twice a day, studies football videos daily and nightly, and is attending summer session.
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At today's workout, Allen Sampson grabs a pass from David Graves: