Thurl Bailey was shocked when he heard the news earlier today that former N.C. State teammate Lorenzo Charles had died.
``It’s devastating,” Bailey said from his home in Salt Lake City, hours after hearing the news from another ex-teammate, Cozell McQueen. ``It’s really like losing a member of my family, a brother. It’s just way too soon.”
Bailey was on the Wolfpack national championship team back in 1983, the one that needed Lorenzo Charles’ memorable game-winning dunk to knock off Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma.
``Everyone talks about (Jim) Valvano running around, but Lorenzo was really the face of the culmination of what we did,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that, after hearing the news of Charles’ bus accident in Raleigh, the members of that 1983 team began reaching out to one another.
``That’s the first thing we did,” said Bailey, an analyst for the Utah Jazz who also does corporate motivational speaking. ``Call that circle of brothers, that fraternity.”
Bailey said that there was a sharp contrast between Charles on and off the court.
``He was that funny, loveable, huggable Teddy bear,” said Bailey, who was taken seventh overall in the 1983 Draft and played a dozen years in the NBA. ``But you looked at him, with that body, and he looked like he could crush you with one hand.”
``He was so tough on the court, so competitive,” added Bailey. ``He was able to really command respect.”
What Bailey remembered most about Charles, though, was the smile, the giggle each time he’d laugh.
``He was always a guy who would break the ice when we were tight as a team,” he said. ``He’d always have something funny to say.”