WALTHAM, Mass. — One of the first things Doc Rivers
remembers about Ben Wilson‘s death is the anger.
Wilson was only 17 years old and the first high school
player in Chicago history to be ranked No. 1 in the nation when he was gunned
down outside a convenience store in 1984. As a combo guard nicknamed
“Magic Johnson with a jump shot,” Wilson was supposed to have a free
pass from the street violence in his South Side neighborhood. With two squeezes
of the trigger, a man named Billy Moore violated that unspoken agreement.
“I just remember how sad it was,” Rivers, a native
Chicagoan who attended powerhouse Proviso East High School a few miles outside
downtown Chicago, said Wednesday at the Celtics’ practice facility. “My
brother, my mom, everybody in Chicago, I think, went to the funeral. I remember
the anger. Chicago has always had an unwritten rule that if you’ve got a
chance, you’re untouchable. The fact that somebody touched him, I thought,
upset a lot of people in the city.”
Wilson’s story gained a fresh audience Tuesday when ESPN
aired a documentary titled Benji
about the young player’s tragic death. Rivers did not watch the documentary,
but he said several Celtics players came to practice on Wednesday raving about
how well-done, yet sad, the film was.
Rivers could not have seen much of Wilson’s high school
career, since he was busy playing for Marquette and the Atlanta Hawks at the
time, but his brother followed Wilson closely — as he did all the city’s top
players. Rivers said his brother was the first person to tell him about Wilson
and Derrick Rose, and that his brother has confirmed the hype surrounding
Jabari Parker, a blue-chip prospect who plays at Wilson’s alma mater, Simeon
Unlike Rivers, Rose and Parker, Wilson never got his chance
at college or professional glory.
Check out the trailer for Benji below.