Sometimes we find find our idols in strange places and sometimes they find us.
I started reading the Chicago Sun Times at the ripe old age of 8 or 9 back in the mid 80's, always starting with the sports pages, guys like Ron Rappaport, Terry Boers and Lacy J. Banks.
I wanted to write even then, used to make homemade books out of copy paper.
But it was the sportswriters who were my Hemingway, they told the greatest stories of all, those of the nightly games and heroes on the hardwood or figures of glory on the field. And they wrote pretty much everyday and never wavered, they used that ink and newsprint to capture me everyday.
Lacy J. Banks was the best of the group, just had a way with words, description and made you feel like you were there. A quintessential sports reporter. Not to mention he always had a scoop, an inside bit about the team and just always had more than what was in the story or the box score.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com wrote the most beautiful columnn about his time with Lacy J. Banks today, its a moving piece about a dear colleague, you have to check it out, I can't do it justice, just like trying to write about a master scribe like Lacy J. Banks.
I'm a writer today because of Lacy J. Banks, working the beat, making deadline and never letting the readers down. I've done a beat in college, its hard work and he made it seem easy and with that smile you knew he loved it. And he was loved, I knew he had been sick for a while but he was still putting in a story every now and then. Guess once the ink gets in you, its hard to let it go and he was so good with the written word.
My favorite Lacy J. Banks moment isn't even one of writing, Lacy was also a ordained minister and at halftime of a Bulls game 10-12 years ago (when they were dreadful), he perfrormed a halftime wedding for none other than Bob "Butterbean" Love. He did a great job considering it was halftime and he took the duty of presiding over Butterbean's service serious but at the end when the officiant usually says you may kiss your bride Lacy said "You may help yourself", just a hilarious moment.
Its how I want to remember Lacy, doing his job on an exceptional level and having a good laugh and sharing it with all of us.