Friday, May 20, 2011

Wanting to believe in Chris Herren

Chris Herren's new book is stirring old memories and lingering questions. We arrived at BC at the same time but under very different circumstances. I met Herren once and sat up close for his first and only game at BC. Before he could truly recover from his injury or give BC fans more memories, he bolted to Fresno State. Shortly after the transfer, Will McDonough dropped the hammer on Herren in the Globe announcing to the world Herren's drug problem. Those of us on campus had already heard the rumors. For the next few years there was a lot of "what could have been"s regarding Herren and his time at BC. I never bought into the talk. I always thought Herren was more hype than substance. If he hadn't arrived as a local star and book subject, no one at BC would have given Herren a second thought.

My doubts about Herren the player were also influenced by the questions regarding Herren the person. The guy was his own worst enemy and with each recovery I became that much more skeptical.

Because we are close in age and are both fathers, I have new empathy for Herren. Reading the excerpts of his new book, has me rooting for him for the first time since 1994. Yet I still have serious doubts. Is he sober now? Is this all an act to keep his name out there and sell a few books? Is his co-author Bill Reynolds (who put Herren in the spotlight as a high schooler) doing him a disservice by putting someone who cannot handle the public back in it?

Every time someone tells Herren's story, they use BC as a turning point. The Heights is where it began to unravel. Because I was there I should care. I didn't for a long time. Now I do. Now I want to believe. Let's hope this is finally his happy ending.

1 comment:

Tim said...

ATL, I must strongly disagree with your assessment of Chris Herren the player, and what "could have been" at BC. Herren as a BC signee, was more than just an over-hyped local product with a book deal. He was (and still is) the highest rated hoops recruit BC has ever signed. He was on the cover of SI with Allen Iverson and Felipe Lopez. His signing with BC was a big deal nationally. More importantly, I can speak to having seen Herren play in high school...not at national tournaments, most notably in an AAU Tourney in Vegas playing against the best players in the country. And as a BC fan, I always felt we were looking at a kid with the potential not only to be an all-time BC great...but a pop culture phenomenon. BC Basketball's version of Doug Flutie. He was that good. Imagine some sort of unholy spawn of Eminem, Rocky Balboa and Allen Iverson (think AI's toughness, ballhandling and ability to get to the rim). That's what Herren was like as a player. Incredibly charismatic, intense, competitive and talented. At his best, there was really no one else like him. He could have been a rock star in the vein of Jimmer Fredette...but with more cross-over appeal (good looking kid with street cred).
Met him a number of times at BC and always found him friendly and fun. Alas, the guy clearly had some serious demons and personal issues and has no one to blame for the disaster his life became than himself.
But as a BC alum and fan, it's heartbreaking to think what he could have been for us had things worked out differently.
Glad to see and read that he's on the road to turning his life around.