Archive for John Thompson

Dribbles: David Aldridge on DC Sports Legend Harold Bell

Posted in Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by Gary Johnson

David Aldridge

By David Aldridge, NBA Analyst (March 7, 2014)

If you want to know why Harold Bell is the way he is, start with his grandmother.

“My grandmother used to tell me, ‘A lie will change a thousand times. The truth will never change,” Bell said. “If I leave here today or tomorrow, nobody owes me anything. What I’d like to do is pay back some of the people that have helped me. They can’t say I stole from any kids, or done drugs, or anything like that.”  I was not perfect but I was taught it was best to lead by example.

For four decades, Bell has told the truth as he saw it, on the airwaves or in print in Washington, D.C.  He was the first African-American sports radio talk show host in DC.  More recently, he’s been a no-holds barred Internet columnist who regularly calls out sacred cows who forgot who they are and where they came from.  He honors those in the black community who often don’t get recognition—both sports figures and regular folks.

In February, he was the host of a forum honoring his father-in-law, the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., whose family led civil rights demonstrations in Orangeburg, S.C., in the early 1950s, before Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and Rev. Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963. He’s honored both Doug Williams, the Super Bowl XXII MVP winner, and Gary Mays, a multi-sport athlete in D.C. in the 1950s who guarded Elgin Baylor.  Mays played catcher for Armstrong High School and almost made it to the majors despite having only one arm.

Bell advocated behind the scenes for the release of former University of Maryland basketball star Jo Jo Hunter from prison last year. Hunter had been convicted in 1997 of robbing two jewelry stores and was sentenced to serve up to 43 years in prison. Bell had several prominent sports stars and other Washingtonians write letters on Hunter’s behalf. He was paroled last summer.  Bernard Levi a DC basketball playground legend and NFL legend Jim Brown have also benefited.  Bell campaigned for Brown’s early release from jail after charges of spousal abuse in 2007.

“I’ve come to know Harold in the last few years,” says Brian McIntyre, who was the NBA’s longtime Vice President of Communications through 2010. “He’s a guy who’s reached back and touched an awful lot of people’s lives. He’s a fighter. He believes in what he believes dearly, and he’s not going to give an inch. You have to respect somebody who is as passionate as he is.”

For 45 years, he and his wife, Hattie, ran Kids in Trouble without grants or loans. The organization went into the D.C. neighborhoods in which Bell grew up while playing at Spingarn High. NBA Hall of Famer and Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing was the first pro athlete to reach back into the community.  In 1967 there was a shooting after a basketball game between Spingarn and McKinley Tech. A Spingarn student was shot. Bing an NBA Rookie was playing in his first All-Star Game in Baltimore. Bell working with the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program (Youth Gang Task Force) was assigned to the shooting. There was talk of revenge among the Spingarn students.  The quick thinking Bell drove to Baltimore to solicit the help of his friend Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing.  After playing in the game on national television on Sunday, on Monday morning Bing walked into a Spingarn assembly and got a standing ovation from the Spingarn student body.  His plea for peace was heard and further violence was averted.

Bell tried to improve the lives of at-risk youth by using pro athletes as a vehicle in his community programs. During the 1968 riots he and NFL Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer defensive back Willie Wood walked the 14th U Street corridor trying to quell the violence and save lives.

He was a multi-sport athlete at Spingarn, Bell has remained active in D.C.’s community as an adult.  He and his wife have raised money to send kids to summer camps and coordinated Christmas toy parties for kids that otherwise wouldn’t get any toys. The Washington Redskin’s players Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Ted Vactor, Dave Robinson and Doug Williams often played Santa’s Helpers. Hattie and Harold started and founded Kids In Trouble, Inc. and the Hillcrest Saturday Program for neighborhood kids and their families after the 1968 riots.  They gave away Thanksgiving turkeys and organized tutoring programs.  In 1971, he founded the only halfway house for juvenile delinquents ever established on a military installation.  It was called Bolling Boys Base at Bolling Air Force Base in the Nation’s Capital.

He opened community centers that had previously been closed on the weekends to neighborhood children. Washingtonian Magazine named him Washingtonian of the Year in 1980 and called him “A One Man Community Action Program.”  He was the first sportscaster to receive the honor from the magazine.

Bell and his wife Hattie have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon.  He has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Bob Dole (R-Kan) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for his work with at-risk children.

“I think you’ve got to live by example.  The only reason I’m still standing strong is because my high school and college coaches, Dave Brown and Bighouse Gaines were there for me when I was going to hell in a hurry.  It’s not always financial when it comes to helping people.  I made decent money as a talk show host with The Maryland Lottery, Coca-Cola and Nike as sponsors of my radio talk shows. Plus, I moonlighted on the weekends as a wide receiver playing minor league football.  I tried to keep it real for my young people making sure they went “First Class.”  I think I’m more proud of that than anything else. When I see my former youngsters today, it’s still Mr. Bell and Mrs. Bell. They show respect because I never misled them” Bell said.

Working in the streets, Bell came in contact with Petey Greene, a local legend who hosted a highly-rated radio show (and, later, television show) on WOL-AM.  Bell had met Greene while caddying on the weekends at the prestigious Burning Tree Golf Course located in a Maryland suburb.  It would be years later when Greene would give Bell five minutes of air time on his Sunday show to talk sports.

“It was a short lived honeymoon, Petey would later tell me to get the hell off his show and get my own show.  Waiting in the wings was WOL radio personality Bobby Bennett, he picked me up.  Bennett was the No. 1 DJ in the country at the time and was known as ‘The Mighty Burner.  We talked sports on Saturday afternoons and the rest is sports media history” Bell said.

But within a few months, Bell was ready to go it alone with Bennett’s blessings.  Station WOOK-AM another black oriented station hired him for a solo host job, allowing him to express his strong opinions with no filter. The show was christened “Inside Sports,” and for much of the next 20 years, Bell held court with a Who’s Who of sports figures.  It was his relationships with Muhammad Ali and Red Auerbach that gave him instant credibility.

“Every sports talk show in this country is now formatted after the original Inside Sports,” he says. “Outside the Lines? I was Outside the Lines long before the show. I was real sports before Real Sports. I was discussing tough issues when everybody else was just giving the scores, batting averages and telling you how tall a player was.  I played message music when no one was playing message music (Wake Up Everybody, What’s Going On, Black & Proud, etc). That was unheard of and now that I’m transferring my old shows to CD, I can understand why so many people liked the Inside Sports talk show format.”

His interviews with Jim Brown, Spencer Haywood, Sonny Hill, Don King and John Chaney are classics. He did panel discussion shows with pro football players on the difficulties they faced after they retired, decades before it became a national issue. He was the first to convene a Media Roundtable with other members of the media.  He gave John Thompson and Sugar Ray Leonard their first airtime when they buy their own (and fell out with both).

I asked him if any of the high profile athletes he called out on his radio show had ever confronted him on any issues.  He said “No, because there is no defense for the truth just like my grandmother had told me.”

“My friendship with the late Red Auerbach and his wife Dotie who lived in D.C. was like family” he said.  There are others who have reached back like former NBA referee Lee Jones and Jim Clemons, who played with the ’72 Lakers championship team and went on to be an assistant coach on the Bulls’ and Lakers’ title teams of the ’90s and 2000s.  He said, “I owe them dearly.”

“Good man,” former player/coach Al Attles of the Golden State Warriors says of Bell. “Good man. He does so much trying to help others. He’s good people. We go back a long way. He’s just been outstanding. I grew up in New Jersey and went to school in North Carolina, of course, and moved out to the west coast. But I have always been partial to people who give back to the community. He did so many things. I’m a community guy and he always was. It’s not easy. As we get older, and new people come in and do things, I don’t think it’s that people don’t appreciate what you’ve done, it’s just that people move on.”

In 1975, Bell produced and hosted a half-hour sports special on WRC TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington.  His special guest was Muhammad Ali.  It was the first prime time sports program produced and hosted by an African-American.

“I met Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967, when I was a roving leader,” Bell said. “He was there speaking to the students. He was going through all his problems with the draft and being black in America. We hit it off and walked from the campus down Georgia Avenue to 7th & T Streets together. We talked about my working with young people.  He was really [impressed. We had about 40, 50 people walking with us it was like a parade. I didn’t see him again for at least three or four years.  The late J.D. Bethea a sports writer for the Washington Times and was contemplating on writing a story on me, he and Attorney Harry Barnett invited to ride with them to see Ali fight an exhibition for a Cleveland hospital.  Barnett at the time was representing George Foreman.  And damned if Muhammad Ali didn’t recognize me during the press conference. He was like, ‘Harold Bell, what are you doing here?”

Bell hosted Inside Sports well into the 1990s at different radio stations.  He never compromised (he once gave  boxing promoter Don King a five-figure check back after he claimed King reneged on a promise).  He chastised those whom he believed didn’t give enough back to the communities from which they came. Players, media, coaches, it didn’t matter.  If you were on Bell’s bad side, there was hell to pay. “Radio is a special medium.  I enjoyed taking calls from my listening audience (Bell, however, says he never hung up on a caller, and thinks many of today’s radio gabbers are “rude” to their listeners.)

“You’ve got to be able to distinguish between constructive criticism and destructive criticism,” he says. “I knew when people were trying to help me and when they were trying to hurt me … you always have to consider the source. When When Red gave me advice, I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Or when Al Attles pulled me to the side, I knew he was trying to help me, not to hurt me.”

Bell is still working. He now has his own YouTube channel, which airs his collection of star maker interviews on his radio shows with the likes of Ali, as well as Auerbach, Sam Jones, Attles, and Connie Hawkins. He sometimes can be heard on Sirius XM’s Maggie Linton Show, co-hosting a two-hour special on Sirius (Channel 110) last Friday to commemorate the end of Black History Month. He still has historic events at D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. And he’s still telling the truth and calling it like he sees it.

“If you know Harold,” McIntyre said, “and if you haven’t had a difference of opinion over something, then I don’t think you know Harold Bell.”

Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA described Bell best when he said on the John Thompson ESPN 98O radio sports talk show several years ago, “Harold Bell maybe controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities.  The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc.   To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside

John Thompson Stand Up For Jason Whitlock

Posted in Black Men, Guest Columnists, Sports News with tags , , , , on March 31, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

Quotes from the Fox Sports web site as it relates to Jason Whitlock on John Thompson!

“The Fab Five are taking credit for the real accomplishments of John Thompson’s and Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas.

It was Thompson’s all-black, Ewing-led teams a decade before the Fab Five that shook the foundation of college basketball, changed the complexion of starting lineups across the country, opened coaching doors that had previously been closed to blacks and paved the way for black sportswriters at major newspapers.”

Dear Jason,

You got it all wrong have you forgotten the March 19, 1966 NCAA title game between all white and number one ranked Kentucky faced an all black Texas Western team?

The game took place at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House.  I was there when the all black Texas Western team pulled the biggest upset in college basketball history.  They changed the face of college basketball forever and not John Thompson Jr.

John Thompson and Georgetown University did absolutely nothing to pave the way for black sportswriters at major newspapers.  He in fact did much like Don King did in boxing he stunted the growth of blacks in media by refusing excess to his players.  He has since become a know it all so-called major media.

The Washington Post, Sports Editor George Solomon and his staff were treated like sports media step-children.  Former Washington Post sports writers Dave Dupree, Michael Wilbon and David Aldridge had front row seats to his sports’ media charade.

When he could not win a game and had no one in so-called major media to promote Georgetown Basketball he turned to a little black oriented radio station W-O-O-K  and “The Original Inside Sports” hosted by yours truly.

When he finally had some winning success he hired a white man as his play by play announcer for Georgetown basketball at W-O-O-K Radio.

Jason, I was also puzzled by your quote saying, “It’s easy to forgive Jalen Rose for his lack of self awareness.  It’s America.  In this country self awareness and common sense are our most rare commodities.”

Jason, were you asleep under a rock when Kentucky played Texas Western, where were you and your awareness?

This observation by you was really over the top, “his players were the inner-city black kids who left a legacy of jobs and playing opportunities for other impoverished minorities that exposes the lack of substance in the fads popularized by the Fab Five.”

You must be dreaming! Then you go to put your foot in your mouth by saying, “Hoya Paranoia is the story that deserves celebration and should serve as a teaching tool.  Fab Five is a safe, harmless story celebrating black kids for choosing style over substance.”

You really think that the John Thompson and Hoya Paranoia deserves a celebration?  If you interviewed 100 former Georgetown players off the record 90 will say John Thompson was a fraud!

He betrayed his life time friend, protector and assistant coach Bob Grier (aka Bat Man) by stealing the affections of his girlfriend GT academic advisor Mary Finley.  He also kicked Mike Riley his former player and assistant coach for over 3 decades to the curve and under the bus.

I have known John Thompson since he attended my alma mater Brown Middle School in NE Washington, DC.  I was there to watch him develop as a player and a coach and he was overrated in both.

John’s NBA career was a bigger fraud as his college coaching  career.  His NBA claim to fame “I backed up Bill Russell.”

The late Boston Celtic coach the legendary Red Auerbach was a dear friend and mentor to me.  I know how much backing up Russell he did.  It was like sending a sailboat to back-up the sinking of the Titanic, one of the same!

Red threw John into the expansion draft because he was too soft.  Check out how many 7 footers were put in the expansion draft during the Red Auerbach and Bill Russell era.

The “Big Bad John” you see and hear today saw the handwriting on the wall and retired from the NBA.

I already knew what Red had known all the time,  you can’t dictate heart.

John Thompson could have played the lead role of The Tin Man in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”  He had no heart!

Back in the day on the playground when he and to play  like a point guard, I would banish him from the court and make him sit on the hill.  He sit there until Sandy Freeman and Bob Grier his protectors shown up.

On the playground he would dare not raise his voice and use the type of profanity he used as the coach on the Georgetown bench.  I have no idea where he picked up that part of his coaching personality (Bobby Knight).

John Thompson’s secret to success, he was big and black and he used profanity and “The Race Card” to successfully intimidate his players and white folks!

He gained world wide recognition when he hugged Hoya player Freddy Brown after he mistakenly threw a pass intended for one of his teammates to North Carolina’s James Worthy.

The outcome of the game was still hanging in the balance when Brown  in the closing seconds of the NCAA Championship final inadvertently pass the ball to Worthy.

John Thompson was seen hugging Brown in a picture that went around the world.  Today Freddy Brown’s  feelings about his old coach are x-rated.

In a Washington Post magazine article John said, “My mother better not get in my way when a dollar is on the line.”  In that same story he claimed money could overcome racism in America!

Early in his second season at Georgetown when his job was on the line,  in the wee hours of the morning someone hung a banner in the Georgetown Gym that read “John Thompson the nigger coach must go!”

I was his first media line of defense.  When he called my home at 3 am in the morning explaining what had happen I was pissed off.

I must admit he played me like a beaten drum.  I later discovered he hung the banner himself.

It  helped him keep his job.  The University President Father Henley was scared of the institution being seen in the national spotlinght as racist.  He assured media at a hastily called press conference that John Thompson’s job was safe.  Mission accomplished and the rest is tainted college basketball history.

This is the same college coach who took money under the table from his Georgetown designated player sports agent David Falk.  The player transactions and kickbacks made him a millionaire before he left the University.

Falk also short changed NBA Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley out of several million dollars.

I don’t even want to think about how much money he misused in the bank accounts of Michael Jordan, Pat Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.

In a conversation with Adrian on his last visit to DC as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets he said, “David was not alone when it comes to laying the blame for misusing my money, Donald Dell the CEO and founder of the company ProServe must share some of the responsibility.”

Adrian learned of the fraud when I called his mother and informed her of the missing monies from his account.

In the meantime John Thompson financial empire continued to grow, there were the slot machines, real-estate deals and the home he shared with his white mistress Mary Finley in Las Vegas.  Please excuse “The Race Card!”

This proves that everything that happens in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas.

The Washington Post published part one of a two part series investigation of these undercover discrepancies but part two never appeared.  The investigated journalist was Richard Justice.

According to my newsroom sources at the Washington Post all said Sports Editor George Solomon killed part two of the series without explanation.

The Washington Post investigation was inspired by my commentary in the Afro-American Newspaper titled “The Two Faces of John Thompson.”

John Thompson also lied about how he stared down and backed drug dealer Rayful Edmonds into a corner when he met with him to talk about his involvement with Georgetown players!

There is a BIG lie on the Internet that claims Big Bad John told Rayful that “If you don’t stay away from my players (Alonzo Morning and John Turner) I will have you killed.”  If you believe John Thompson said that, you also believe Jason Whitlock’s story of how Big John changed the face of college basketball!

I spoke with the late DC Police Chief Maurice Turner who said that was not the case.  He said, “When John was meeting with Edmonds he called me every hour on the hour to make sure I would have a police present to protect him.  He was scared to death.”

I have not forgotten the Nike deal that he carved out at my expense.

I was the first ever Nike Sports and Marketing Representative hired here in the DC metro area.  As a rep my role was to outfit the different athletes, media, entertainers and politicians with the Nike brand.  In other words I gave away Nike apparel.

Once I became established as the Nike rep I contacted my college coach the legendary Clarence Bighouse Gaines of Winston-Salem State about wearing the Nike brand.   But he had an on-going deal with the great and legendary coach John McLendon.  Coach McLendon was a rep for Converse.

I then took the same proposal to the campus of Georgetown for my good friend John Thompson to look over.  Remember this is the same brother I gave 5 minutes to promote Georgetown basketball every Monday on Inside Sports.

He looked over the proposal and said he would get back to me.  I left the campus and started the walk back to the Nike store which was just a few minutes from the campus.  When I arrived at the store I had received a telephone call from my Nike boss John Phillips.

I returned his call to the home office in Portland, Oregon only to discover my friend John Thompson had called to cut his own deal!

John Thompson is truly a backstabber in every sense of the word.  His loyalty is only to himself!

The changes that he put me through are nothing compared to the changes he put his family though.  You will never see or hear “The Real Warrior” his ex-wife Gwen who is responsible for holding the family together.  I was in attendance at their wedding.

Gwen is the real “Undercover Boss” of the family and she is totally responsible for the three children turning out to be decent human beings.

When she filed for divorce “Big John” became a stalker hiding behind trees outside of her resident trying to intimidate her.  It got so bad one of her close friends had her lawyer call me to advise her on how to proceed against his bullying tactics.

The last thing he wanted to do was go to court where all his skeletons would come out his closet.

My advice was to stay the course and keep the courthouse as a vehicle for an out of court settlement.  He settled out of court.

Ronnie Thompson his youngest son a Comcast Sportscaster is named after his father’s former “Best friend” Ronnie Watts.  Ronnie is a native Washintonian and played basketball at Wilson High School and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

He played several years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics.  Ronnie and Bill Russell were great friends and were often seen in television commercials together.  He disappeared without a trace, it was  rumored that John put him in a financial trick bag.

You will never hear or see his “Bagman” James Wiggins  who served as John’s right hand man for the Urban Coalition Basketball Summer League.   Wiggin’s hands are just as dirty as John’s.

Rumor has it that these two parted ways because one of the bags of cash came up missing.

David Falk is still operating out of Georgetown for John Thompson III so that means little has change—Son like Father!  The more things change the more they remain the same.

John’s old friend Sandy Freeman at a recent high school alumni picnic told me he had a recent conversation with John and he said, “Harold Bell holds a grudge too long.”

My response, “I have forgiven but I have not forgotten!”


*A journey, rather than an event

*A form of remembering

*An act of empowerment

* The result of a conscious decision

more than an emotion

*A denouncing of the wrongful act

*Making right what can be fixed and

letting go what cannot

*An acknowledgement of the intrinsic

worth of the offender

* A gift, rather than a burden


*Excusing what happen

* Forgetting

* Tolerating continue wrongdoing

*Denying our anger

*Letting people off the hook

* Saying “It does not matter”

*Feeling an emotional “Love” for the


* Something that can be willed

Note Worthy:

Jason Whitlock and Grant Hill both over re-acted to the Fab Five documentary if they had listen closely to Jalen Rose they would have heard him say “I was jealous.”  Case closed.

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