Every Illini basketball fan of a certain age can tell you where they were when Nick Anderson beat the buzzer — and Indiana — in Bloomington.
But we bet you haven’t heard the tale about the damage the Flyin’ Illini’s front man did on a campus court two years before leading his team to Seattle.
Jim Rowader, who went on to become Target’s vice president and general counsel, takes it from here.
“One night in 1987, I was playing pickup basketball at IMPE. Somehow, I got myself having to guard the great Illini baller Nick Anderson. We both were from Chicago proper, but I was a 6-foot goalie on the men’s soccer team and he was a 6-6, well, just about one of the best basketball players to ever play at Illinois.
“I am desperately trying to hang and in one sequence down the floor I am determined to strip him of the ball. Well, that was just plain dumb — as I went for the ball, he exploded to the hoop and we collided heads. I ended up with a split forehead, gushing blood on the IMPE floor and my gray soccer sweatshirt, and he dunked on me two seconds later. I ended up getting 17 stitches at student health.
“Funny thing is, a few years later I literally ran into Nick on the streets of downtown Chicago one day — he was getting ready for the draft and I was clerking at a law firm downtown. As I am just about to pass him, I say: ‘Hey, we went to school together.’ After a few seconds, his face lights up and he says ‘Hey, how’s your head?’
“No kidding. We had a great conversation on the street and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy.”