In celebration of their 13th year anniversary, the Gary Chamber of Commerce, led by Chief Executive Officer Chuck Hughes, hosted the 2021 Lake Shore Classic for basketball fans in Indiana.
The event is held every year in November during Thanksgiving week.
“The Lakeshore Classic is a regional family-oriented event,” said Hughes via the site of the Gary Chamber of Commerce. The site noted the Classic is “focusing its activities on raising educational awareness and drawing on the parallels between sports participation and academic achievement to encourage the region’s youth to follow a path for success.”
According to Hughes, the group has held corporate luncheons in the past that featured prominent guest speakers such as region native Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs; Gene Keady, former head coach of the Purdue University Boilermakers; and Bob Love, retired Chicago Bulls star player.
Bryce Drew, former player and head coach of Valparaiso University; Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State and Founder of the Jesse White Tumbling Team; and Oscar “Big O” Robertson, former NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer, have been featured as well.
In addition, two-time NBA World Champion Dr. Dick Barnett; Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, former NBA Star and successful businessman; Lloyd McClendon, former MLB Player and Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners; Winston Garland, former Southwest Missouri State University Hall of Famer; and NBA veteran Winston Garland have participated.
Garland was selected in the 1987 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. He played for a few other NBA teams during his stellar nine-year NBA career. Winston also served as the head boys’ basketball coach at Gary West Side.
Hughes said, “Coach Garland’s proudest sports moment is being the father of former corporate luncheon attendee and current NBA point guard Darius Garland.”
Darius Garland attended the event back in 2010 as a young boy.
“As far as this corporate luncheon, what made it so special and unique was back in 2010 Mr. Winston asked me if he could bring his little boy to the luncheon to meet coach Gregg ‘Pop’ Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.” said Hughes to the Crusader. “I have a picture of coach Popovich talking to a nine-year-old kid. The kid was Darius Garland, the top-five pick in the 2019 NBA draft.”
In addition to Garland’s success, Hughes also mentioned that NBA players such as Jabari Parker of Simeon and others have played in his Classic in the past.
Over the Classic’s 13 seasons, the group has watched their yearly attendance increase to 7,000 people. The Classic has welcomed college teams from HBCUs Central State University, Fisk University, Tuskegee University, and University of Michigan, Dearborn.
The Classic has hosted high school basketball teams from the states of Indiana and Illinois, which participated in a “Border Battle” challenge.
Other guest speakers who have attended the Lake Shore Classic in the past include David J. Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Mike Huff, VP of Baseball/Fast Pitch for the Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball team; LaTroy Hawkins, former MLB pitcher and 1991 graduate of Gary West Side High School; and Kenny Lofton, star Major League Baseball player from East Chicago, Indiana.
This year, the Lake Shore Classic basketball event was held at Gary West Side High School, and the corporate luncheon was held at the Hard Rock Council Oak Steak House in Northwest Indiana.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.