USBL SADDENED BY STRICKLAND'S DEATHNovember 09, 2010 By Jacob Gordon, USBL
A New York basketball icon and one of the USBL’s greatest players of all-time, John Strickland, leaves a legacy few hoopsters could ever dream of attaining. His recent passing at the tender age of 38 has been felt all across the basketball community, including the United States Basketball League (USBL).
Although many of his fans may better know the man called “The Franchise” for his days on the blacktop in New York City, John brought his game to the USBL in 1995. He would spend the next six years of his heralded basketball career dominating opposing defenses for the Long Island Surf. He would also do it in a way nobody in the USBL would ever forget. So it is no wonder that in one of the most storied minor leagues of basketball history, Strickland’s name comes up frequently, both in discussion and in the record books.
Ed Krinsky, then the General Manager of the USBL’s Long Island Surf drafted the power forward coming out of Hawaii-Pacific with the seventh overall selection in 1995. He fondly recalled the attributes that led to his decision to draft the young player. “John Strickland was an outstanding competitor, a prolific scorer, rebounder and great performer when a game was on the line.”
Krinsky, who would later serve as the USBL’s Director of Operations, would witness hundreds of talented basketball players hone their craft with the hopes of playing in the NBA. In Krinsky’s eyes, his former player “was certainly one of the best players to ever wear a USBL uniform and he made all of his teammates better. Wherever he played, John soon became a fan favorite and he will be missed.”
Strickland’s earliest achievements include being named to the 1995 USBL All-Rookie team after finishing his collegiate career at Hawaii-Pacific. He would then average over 22 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game throughout his USBL tenure. Strickland would earn All-USBL Second Team honors in 1997 and All-USBL First Team honors while playing in over 100 regular and post-season games. John’s game was so awe-inspiring over this period that USBL Director of Scouting, Mark Argenziano, considered Strickland “the most devastating power forward in minor league basketball.”
His presence in the low post wasn’t one-dimensional either. “Opposing coaches had to immediately double him or he would score at will,” stated Jeff Argenziano, USBL Director of Player Evaluation. “Defenders quickly had to rotate through, but being one of the best passing big men the league has ever seen, cutters and open shooters soon received that magical feed from him.”
Yet of all of Strickland’s accomplishments in the USBL, none stand as prominently as his place in the USBL record books. Strickland’s superior scoring ability would lead to him setting the record for most points scored in a single game during the regular season. He would then go on to break it not once, but twice. Like all great players, Strickland had the ability to rise to the occasion during the post-season. When the games mattered more, his scoring and rebounding averages improved to 23.7 and 9.0 per game. His 213 total points scored during post-season competition would make him the USBL’s All-Time leading scorer in playoff history.
"We are very saddened to learn of John's passing," stated USBL Commissioner Daniel Meisenheimer, III. "He was a great player and star in this league. His contributions to the USBL will never be forgotten."
In 2000 Strickland’s USBL career was recognized when he was named to the USBL’s 20th Anniversary team. Now ten years later, he’s still being acknowledged and remembered amongst the best that ever played in the United States Basketball League. For those that did not watch Strickland, the words of Krinsky and others will continue to pay homage to the player and the person that was John Strickland.