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Original Issue


Responsibility and the desire for perfection

The assistant pastor of the Wake Forest Baptist Church was talking to reporters about basketball: "There is inherent in the game always the desire to be perfect. There are more real carryovers from basketball to life than most people realize." The head coach of basketball at Wake Forest College took up the thought. "Man-to-man defense," he said, "teaches individual responsibility. If a person is a good competitor in sports he is generally a good competitor in life." It was small wonder that coach and pastor agreed. They are one and the same man, "Bones" McKinney, as effective a player and coach as the game has produced.

McKinney is that rarity in sports, a highly articulate athlete who loves to win. He was a sensational high school and college player in North Carolina and a happily uninhibited star professional (he once hopped into the bleachers to hawk popcorn) with the now-defunct Washington Capitols and the Boston Celtics. In 1952 McKinney "made up my mind to abandon those things I knew to be wrong" and entered a Baptist seminary. A year after his ordination his lanky figure was back on the bench, suffering visibly, gesticulating, gulping dipper after dipper of water as he watched his Wake Forest boys on the court. From his ministry (McKinney is the college's assistant chaplain and greatly in demand as a preacher) he derives a profound satisfaction.

"If all I ever could be at Wake Forest is a basketball coach," he once told an audience, "I would not be there."