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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Linton's Sidney Edwards remembered as humble basketball star

Linton's Sidney Edwards remembered as humble basketball star

He scored 50 points in a sectional basketball game. He played college ball for a coach who, two deca

He scored 50 points in a sectional basketball game.

He played college ball for a coach who, a decade later, would field a team nicknamed “Phi Slamma Jamma” for the high-flying exploits of players like Clyde Drexler.

He played three seasons for that bastion of showmanship and look-at-me shenanigans, the Harlem Globetrotters.

Still, Sidney Edwards never lost his humility and dignity.

That’s how those who played with him and knew him remember Edwards, the former Linton High star who died of cancer on Tuesday.

An All-America as a senior in 1970 on a team that went 22-0, the 6-foot-9 Edwards broke the Schen­ectady public high school career scoring record and went on to become captain at the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis.

Service for Edwards

A viewing hour will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a service at 11, on Saturday at Friendship Baptist Church, 409 Union St. in Schen­ectady.

A tower of talent whose family moved from North Carolina to Schenectady early in his high school years, Edwards, a 2007 inductee to the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame, was an all-around center who averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds per game for the Blue Devils as a junior, and 27 and 17 as a senior. The numbers never went to his head, though.

That was never more evident than during the 1970 playoffs, when Edwards scored 50 points against crosstown rival Mont Pleasant.

“We congratulated him, because it was such a neat thing, but I wouldn’t say it was an unusually joyous celebration,” said classmate Chuck Abba, who played two seasons with Edwards at Linton. “It was like, wow, you pat him on the back, and he just shook his head. He was a friendly guy, but not someone who cared about being the center of attention.”

He was the center of attention, though, even in a lineup that featured Abba, Dave Modest, Charlie Mack and Billy Suprunowicz.

Edwards was a starter as a sophomore, and gradually improved his offensive game over three seasons.

The Blue Devils won the Section II Class A and A-B championships in 1969 and 1970, as Edwards finished his career with 1,432 points, more than the likes of Schenec­tady greats Barry Kramer and Pat Riley.

Linton was the top-ranked team in the state in 1970, before there was intersectional play, and Edwards took home All-America honors, along with Section II player of the year awards from several news­papers, including The Gazette.

“He was kind of a quiet person off the court; he let his basketball abil­ity speak for him,” said Bob Pezzano, Edwards’ teammate in 1967-68.

“He was a very unselfish player. He let the game come to him. He didn’t demand the ball, and was very patient.”

“He was very good around the basket, and he finished well, which wasn’t the terminology we used back then,” Abba said. “But he also had a nice shooting touch from 15, 17 feet. He was a good shot blocker, he had good timing, and had a real knack for getting on the offensive boards. He ran the floor very well, and had long arms. I guess the term you would use is he was an athletic big man.

“You could see his confidence grow over the years, too. He was very unassuming, but he was clearly the star of the team, and he made us all better.”

Edwards played on two Houston teams that went to the NCAA tourn­ament, in 1972, when the Cougars finished 23-4 and were ranked No. 13 in the country, and in 1973.

As a senior, Edwards averaged 15.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game to lead Houston to a 17-9 record.

He played with Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal with the Globetrotters for three seasons, and when his playing days were over, he bought an 18-wheeler and made trucking runs throughout the Northeast.

“I just never pursued the NBA,” he told The Gazette when he was inducted into the school district hall of fame in 2007. “It was one of the biggest mistakes, as I look back. I wished I would have tried.”

“The strongest memory I have is what a wonderful person he was,” Abba said. “He was soft-spoken and sincere, and really cared about the team and the people on the team.

“Everybody talks about the 50 points he scored against Mont Pleasant. We sort of knew he had a lot of points. It was such a dom­inant performance, but what I really remember was that he was not overly impressed with it. It was like, we won, and we had another game next week. He was very unselfish, and truly cared about the group.”

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