My pal Dean "The Dream" Meminger who I played basketball with three days a week at the YMHA on the Upper East Side of New York died today. He was an All American at Marquette, a great defensive specialist on the World Champion Knicks. We played in a morning game at the Y and often ran on the same team.
After the main game he and I and his teammate Hawthorne Wingo would hang out and play three on three with anyone hanging around. Dean could score any time he wanted but was generous and fed me the ball. At first I would lob passes to Wingo who could jump out of the gym. But one day he looked at me and said:"You shoot. I bound." I got it. He needed to practice bounding since that's how he stayed on the Knicks. Dean gets the ball, passes to me and they want me to shoot! This was a gunner's dream come true. I shot, missed Hawthorne bounded and threw the ball back out to me to shoot again. It became embarrassing. I gave the ball back to Dean who would shoot and make EVERY shot.
On same days after everyone else left Dean and I would play one on one. He was two inches taller than me and nine million times better so we made up our own rules. 1. He had to shoot outside the three point line. (Or outside the circle, as I'm not sure they had three pointers yet) 2. He could rebound his ball but still had to run back outside. No put backs. With these rules firmly in place we started out. I was a good shooter and if left alone I could hit shots. Dean left me open and I hit eight shots in a row in a game of fifteen. I could hear a happy little inner voice singing inside my head:"Bobby Ward is going to beat a world champion Knicks player at one on one." Then I missed. Dean got the ball and with me draped all over him made fifteen three pointers in a row. At the end I was laughing and tackling him as he shot and he still made them all. He looked at me and said, "Good try Bobby."
He was a lovable and wonderful guy who everyone at the Y loved. His life was fouled up by drugs and the usual suspects but he was a dear pal and a buddy to all the guys who played with him. In our games he was generous, and would much rather pass than shoot. RIP Dream. No one who knew you will ever forget you.