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Yes to Iowa retiring Marble’s jersey — and five others
There are people out there, the Gazette's Scott Dochterman among them, who think Roy Marble's No. 23 basketball jersey should be retired by the University of Iowa.
Obviously, since Marble has Stage 4 cancer, it would be best done this season.
Marble is the all-time leading scorer in Hawkeyes' history. He scored 2,116 points at Iowa, 337 more than anyone else. He averaged 20.5 points his senior season.
The man had his legal issues over the years. But though his last season at Iowa was 26 years ago, he remains a beloved figure to Hawkeye basketball fans who were around to see him and his friends win 30 games in the 1986-87 season.
So I'm in the camp who says give Marble his day, but I would take it a step further. I would include Marble in a group of six ex-Hawkeyes who should get their jerseys retired.
First, know that eight Iowa players had their numbers retired, and a ninth, B.J. Armstrong, had his jersey retired while his No. 10 continues to be used.
The others are Ronnie Lester, Chris Street, Greg Stokes, and the 'Fabulous Five” of Iowa's national runner-up in 1956, Carl Cain, Bill Seaberg, Bill Logan, Bill Schoof and Sharm Scheurman.
Besides Marble, I would add Murray Wier, Chuck Darling, Don Nelson, John Johnson and Fred Brown.
Darling and Weir are the only two Hawkeyes who have ever been Associated Press first-team All-Americans, Weir in 1948 and Darling in 1952.
The 5-foot-9 Wier led the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player and led the nation in scoring his senior season with 21 points per game in an era when a team was considered high-scoring if it scored 60.
Darling averaged 25.5 points his senior season for a 19-3 Iowa squad. He played on the United States' gold-medal basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. He was the Big Ten's MVP in 1952.
Nelson had a fabulous three-year career at Iowa (freshmen weren't eligible to play when he was in college). He averaged 23.7 points as a junior, 23.8 as a senior. He had a career rebounding average of 10.9 per game.
Johnson and Brown were cogs on one of the best Hawkeyes teams ever. Iowa went 14-0 in the Big Ten in the 1969-70 season and scored 102.9 points per game in conference play. That's a league record that will outlive us and our great grandchildren.
And that was before the advent of a shot clock or the 3-point shot. How many points would Iowa have scored had so many of the jumpers of Johnson and 'Downtown” Freddie Brown counted for three points? The mind reels.
Johnson and Brown were both junior college transfers. Johnson averaged 27.6 points as a senior on that 1969-70 team and had a career average of 23.9 points. Brown averaged 17.9 points as a junior on that club, then averaged 27.6 the next season.
Nelson, Johnson and Brown all distinguished themselves in the NBA with long careers. Nelson played on five championship teams with the Boston Celtics, and his number was retired by the Celtics. He was an NBA Coach of the Year three times.
Johnson and Brown were teammates on the Seattle SuperSonics' 1978-79 NBA champions. Brown had his number retired by the Sonics.
Iowa doesn't have to retire any numbers, just jerseys. Some of these names won't resonate with a lot of today's fans. So what? I've always touted what Armstrong gave Iowa in his career. But Marble, Wier, Darling, Nelson, Johnson and Brown gave just as much. Adding them to the school's list of retired jerseys doesn't water down the list. Rather, it makes it stronger.
Oh, let me say it one more time: The 1969-70 Iowa team went 14-0 in the Big Ten and averaged 102.9 points in conference play without a shot clock or 3-point shot.
Let me say this one more time: Iowa has had just two AP first-team All-Americans. Their jerseys have not been retired.
And if Don Nelson was good enough to get his number retired by the Boston Celtics ...