NEW YORK -- If Bo Kimble makes the New York Knicks or any other NBA team this season, he will continue to honor the jTC memory of Hank Gathers by shooting his first free throw left-handed. He did it in the 1990 NCAA Tournament and in his two years with the Los Angeles Clippers.
"My personal tribute," Kimble calls it.
It has been just over 2 1/2 years since Hank Gathers died. Kimble says a day doesn't pass when he doesn't think of him.
"I don't think about the tragedy," Kimble says. "I think about the fun, the good times."
Kimble says the painful lessons of seeing a beloved friend dying so young have stayed with him.
"Tomorrow isn't promised. You realize it can all end at any time. You're here on earth for a short time, and you should try to do the best job you can, try to leave a mark. And Hank Gathers left a mark."
For Kimble, one of the sad consequences of the death is that there is a distance now in his relationship with Gathers' mother, Lucille Gathers. Just about every time Gathers would go home, Kimble was with him.
"I know it's difficult, because when she sees me, it's like looking at Hank," he says. "That's the toughest thing. All the pain isn't gone. It'll probably never be gone with her. There's an awkwardness there because I don't want to cause pain for anyone."
It's the same for Hilda Moody, Kimble's mother. She and Lucille Gathers used to go to Loyola Marymount games together. They would holler and laugh, have a ball. "We were closer than sisters," Moody says. There is little contact now.