This morning, at 11 o’clock eastern time, funeral services for Marvin Webster began at Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore.
Funerals are sad in and of themselves, and the younger the deceased, the tougher they are to take. The fact Marvin’s mother will be in attendance is hard enough to swallow, let alone the fact he was only 56.
But think about this for a moment – 31 years ago tomorrow, on April 18, 1978, Marvin’s team, the Seattle SuperSonics, was in Portland to face the TrailBlazers in the first game of their best of seven Western Conference Semifinals.
Remember, the Blazers were defending NBA champions. True, they were missing Bill Walton, but they were still the defending champs. The Sonics? The Sonics were a team that started out the season 5-17 and finished 11 games behind Portland in the Pacific Division standings. It was a 1 seed versus a 4 seed; no contest, right?
You couldn’t tell the Sonics that, or Webster, either. That night, 31 years ago tomorrow, Marvin Webster stood in against 12,666 Portland fans and poured in 24 points as the Sonics jumped out to a 1-0 lead, thanks to a 104-95 win. Seattle earned wins in 3 of the next 4 games, taking that series as well as the next one against Denver before ultimately losing to Washington in the Finals.
How did he feel that night? A young man, on the precipice of his greatest professional accomplishments, Webster would go on to lead the NBA in minutes played, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, and blocks, and finished second in defensive win shares and total win shares during the playoffs.
It was 31 years, but a lifetime ago.
In light of today’s service, I thought it might be a kind idea if those with memories of Marvin might post them in the comments for this article. Whether you saw him play in Seattle, New York, Denver, or as a collegiate athlete, pass it along. If enough people contribute, I’d like to put the thoughts together into a booklet and mail it to Marvin’s mother in Baltimore, so that she might see how many lives her son touched during his lifetime.