The Philadelphia Association of Black Sports and Culture (PABSC) regularly honor some very deserving people every year. The PABSC will recognize a real basketball great, Vinson “Vince” Miller, posthumously at its eighth annual legends banquet Sunday, Sept. 28 at the Oaks Ballroom, 511 W. Oak Lane in Glenolden from 2 to 6 p.m.
There will be other honorees such as John Raymond “Chink” Scott, a former NBA player for the Detroit Pistons and 1974 NBA Coach of the Year, Jannie Blackwell, Philadelphia city councilwoman, Leonard Miller, pioneering race car team owner and myself.
But it’s nice that PABSC remembered Vince Miller. He passed away in 2009, but he made some great contributions to the game.
Miller was a great basketball coach. He spent 27 years as the head coach at Frankford High School. Miller coached the Pioneers from 1972-98 putting together an impressive 351-171 overall record. He had two great teams in 1988 and ‘89 that posted a sensational 49-2 record over that period while grabbing two Public League championships. Miller coached some great players in his career such as Jeffery Clark, Rico Washington, Kevin Compton, Jason and Carlin Warley, Jamie Ross, Phil Andrews, Darryl Oliver and others.
Although Miller was successful in terms of wins and losses as a coach, he had an even bigger impact on lives of the players he coached off the court. He wanted his players to use basketball as a vehicle to make a better life for themselves. That meant going on to higher education for a degree to help start a professional career or to acquire a trade to secure a position as a skilled craftsman.
Miller was a great basketball player. He played at Overbrook High School with basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, who was Miller’s best friend. In 1954, he played on Overbrook High’s team that went 20-0 and won the Public League and City championships. In 1955, Chamberlain had 35 points and Miller tallied 31 as Overbrook High crushed West Catholic, 83-42, as the school captured its second straight city crown.
Miller played his college basketball at North Carolina A&T with former West Philadelphia High star Joe Howell and NBA legend Al Attles. Howell and Attles were two of Miller’s great friends who stayed in touch with him over the years.
Miller had a successful career as a player, coach and as a chief scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. He was also involved with the Charles Baker and Sonny Hill League basketball programs.
He had some good mentors coming up. He always talked about the late James “Blinky” Brown, who worked for the city’s Department of Recreation. Brown was also the vice principal at Overbrook High School.
He used to open up the gym at Haddington (now Sheppard) Recreation Center, 57th Street and Haverford Avenue, during the summer months when it was hot outside. Brown’s keeping the gym open allowed Miller and others to polish their skills.
It’s going to be nice to relive some of these great memories at the event. For ticket information, call (215) 858-8447.