It has been nearly ten years since Temple basketball has witnessed the remarkable days of former head coach John Chaney. With 741 career wins, 5 Division I elite eight appearances, and 31 career postseason berths, the man born in Jacksonville, Florida is widely considered one of the most successful Philadelphia basketball coaches ever. Before he began at Temple, Chaney coached at Simon Gratz High School and then at Cheyney State University, where he won a Division II national championship. In 1982, he was hired as the new coach at Temple. The man never looked back during his 24 seasons there, as his success was undeniable on the court. This earned him a chance to be in the National Basketball Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 2001. However, the thing is, coach Chaney has never been just about basketball. His willingness to give people from poverty a chance, fight for their education, and instill discipline cannot be questioned.
Last week, The Empire had the honor to speak with the legendary coach.
Full Interview Audio
Cut Down and Edited Transcription
It hasn’t done so for the women because the time that the women are playing is less time than the men. In terms of executing a pattern or executing a play with five youngsters on each team [and] by having to play faster...you eliminate some of those things that are necessary. Passing is one of the most important aspects of the game when you have team basketball, when you have team games. So it certainly insinuates a great deal of the ability of the highly talented and the ghosts youngsters who are not as talented will find himself winged, in my opinion. It takes time to learn, it takes time to grow. And in the sport it takes [less] time for the more talented than the others. The women have been able to manage it and their game seems to be an upgrade in some cases but in some cases it has lost its ability and others because there’s only a few teams are even [worth] watching in the WNBA. There are only two or three teams that are real good and it loses the excitement of watching.
The best thing you can do when you enter college is get yourself a great time clock because being late to anything -- whether it is class or whether it’s your job or it's anything that you do, coming to practice -- whenever you come late, you fail me. So I always look for discipline in my players. Being able to know how important it is to be apart of an organization, to be apart of a structure, and to be a part of doing things in a timely fashion.
Some of the great [coaches] like Pete Carril, who is an example of great discipline, didn't have the great players, but was a great coach. Speedy Morris, who is in our city right now, is a great coach, coaches St. Joe’s Prep, coached at La Salle, who did a lot with a little. That kind of person always intrigued and was always someone in my life.
[People] used testing devices to suggest that a youngster should be instructed and taught to the level of the test and the outcome of the test as opposed to measuring the success of youngsters at an early level and making sure that they reach a level of attainment and achievement so they can be successful in life. Beyond being down at the basketball court or football or tennis or whatever, I wanted youngsters to learn and I wanted people to grow. It is perhaps the greatest thing that must happen for our young people and the lack of funding for inner-city kids, [but] suggesting that we spend enough. We can never spend enough money on the education of our youngsters. And anybody who suggests to me the answer to separate yet unequal doesn’t exist in our charter schools, that is nothing but a failure to seek a challenge and seek success for all of our kids.
-Interview conducted by Benjamin Simon
-Transcription by William Derry and Benjamin Simon
Photo courtesy of delgrecowilson.com.