If you enjoy excellence and the pursuit of it, you should enjoy Imhotep basketball.
If you appreciate dedication and hard work, you should appreciate Imhotep basketball.
If you respect young people sacrificing for each other, holding each other accountable, playing tenaciously and unselfishly, you should respect Imhotep basketball.
If you don’t, the Panthers don’t care, but I’d argue you’re depriving yourself of truly appreciating their greatness.
Monday night in Hershey, the Panthers thumped District 10 Sharon, 71-35, to capture their sixth PIAA boys’ basketball championship and second consecutive crown in Class 4A play — all facts that are not in question.
But in the days before the game, social media, as it does, housed the gripes of the ill-informed.
Twitter, a known digital sanctuary city for the willfully ignorant, was used to peddle fake news about the program.
I don't presume to know the inner workings of the PIAA, but how unfair that Sharon has to face a private school like this that recruits players with no ties to the school community? If Imhotep wins it's nothing to celebrate. Any local Philly media glorifying it is enabling fraud https://t.co/umsJ6UHWOF
— Jeff Jankovich (@JeffJankovich) March 23, 2018
This is nothing new. It has happened for years, most often just before folks from outside of the Philadelphia area have to compete against the Panthers.
Their sentiments, to me, suggest that these folks are saying that “there’s no way Imhotep could be that good without cheating.”
The truth: The Panthers are just that good.
One tweet claimed: “I don’t presume to know the inner workings of the PIAA, but how unfair that Sharon has to face a private school like this that recruits players with no ties to the school community? If Imhotep wins it’s nothing to celebrate. Any local Philly media glorifying it is enabling fraud.”
A few actual frauds are worth pointing out here: Imhotep is not a private school and it doesn’t have players with no ties to the school community, whatever that means.
After coach Andre Noble’s team taught a master class in defensive domination Monday night, allowing the Tigers just eight field goals, he seemed proudest of something evidently some outside of the area don’t know.
“The thing that feels really great is that they’re our kids,” Noble said. “Our top 10 guys, every one of them, started here as a ninth grader and they’re here now as juniors and seniors and sophomores. They’ve followed through with the program when a lot of times guys are in and out. These guys stuck it out and could have been other places. This is like the fruit of all their work, so I’m really happy for them.”
Another tweet: “Should be called Imhotep Charter New Jersey.”
The truth: Imhotep has no players from New Jersey.
Another tweet, this time in response to a complimentary tweet about Noble: “When you can recruit like a small college it makes it pretty easy to win. Would love to see him go to a school with a boarder and do the same thing.”
The truth: The entire tweet is trash.
Rob these people of their ignorance by introducing some facts and the reality that they would be left with is that Imhotep is a team full of young black men striving for and achieving excellence in a sport they love, a sport they sacrifice for, a sport they treat with respect and devote themselves to fully.
If in the face of that new reality these same folks still choose to look for reasons to discredit this team, that, to me, would illuminate the darkness of their true motivations.
The smart thing for them to do would be to just go kick rocks, because by the looks of the ultra-talented junior class that should return next year along with the younger crop that just dipped their toes in some championship water, Imhotep doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
After ending last season No. 5 in the nation, according to USA Today, the Panthers will likely again finish in the top 10. Before Monday they were ranked No. 7.
With stud juniors Donta Scott, Chereef Knox and Dahmir Bishop as seniors next season, the Panthers could repeat the feat.
All of this while some of these young men live in areas that some people are fortunate enough to only see on the news, cordoned off by yellow police tape while red and blue lights illuminate the night sky.
Amid the current of drugs, violence and despair that have caused generations to spin helplessly and hopelessly, these young man have found something they love, dedicated themselves to the pursuit of it and have already changed their lives in the process.
If you can’t enjoy, appreciate or respect that, I feel sorry for your broken heart and hope that life heals it for you soon because you’re missing greatness that isn’t likely to repeat itself anytime soon.