Here is a photo of the basketball court at Henry W. Seale Park (formerly known as Stockton Park) in Palo Alto. The PAHA calls it a “multipurpose bowl with basketball hoop.” It is quite near to 3134 Greer, where Kent lived from 7th grade on, and where he and Jerry Chang, and Mark House, famously (at least, according to Kristin Huckshorn of the San Jose Mercury News) would in the driveway bounce the basketball for hours on end, and where, not entirely incidentally, Lockhart helped his mother Marlinda Fitzgerald design and install a very unique surviving garden, itself fit for either PAPAC attention or Steve Staiger’s files as an arts landmark. Kent later said that carrying and placing the 50-pound boulders, which supposedly came from San Simeon with the direct permission of William Randolph Hearst, was equivalent to putting in that many hours in the weight room. When they weren’t in the drive way, they were often around the corner at the single hoop at Seale Park; Kent and I re-lived those days in a shootaround in 1988, the year he was MVP of the SF Pro Am league that also featured NBA’s Scooter Barry and Lester Conner.
Seale Park, formerly Stockton Park until 1982 and named currently for a large land-holder who was part of the founding of Palo Alto and died in 1888, is getting some sprucing up; a sign says that the new restrooms were to be finished in March, 2011. I left a voice mail last week with Holly Boyd of the City hoping to find out, at the very least, whether there would be a re-dedication ceremony (apparently there was one in 2000). Although these matters are better first vetted via Roger Smith, Greg Betts or Annette Glanckoph, I did mention in my voice mail for the City engineer something about wanting to dedicate the new bathrooms “for a famous Palo Altan.”
Lockhart led Gunn to two SCVAL basketball titles in 1980 and 1981 and was also the Central Coast Section player of the year (and an honorable mention Street and Smith’s All-America).
At University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) he set a school record for most wins and most games in a four year career, for a team that was ranked as high as national top ten and was featured in Sports Illustrated (he played with Dave Feitl, Luster Goodwin and Jeep Jackson, and against John Stockton and Karl Malone). In the 1985 NBA draft he was selected by the New York Knicks, as the 119th player chosen overall, but broke his arm and missed the cut. After time in the CBA (playing for Cazzie Russell and Phil Jackson), he signed to play pro ball in Australia, where he was first team All Australia (a continent of 3 million square miles and at the time about 15 million people, as in he was among the top five players among that many people), and continued coaching and playing for about 20 more seasons at various levels. (He coached Andrew Bogut, for instance). He teaches art at a secondary school near Melbourne and makes sculpture. His mother sold 3134 Greer in 2007 and now lives Down Under with Kent.
If not merely for his acumen, Kent was reknowned for his citizenship, and could be honored for such. When Cubberley and Gunn merged, somewhat contentiously, he led a basketball program whose success and fortune was an amazing balm. A very atypical sports star in demeaner, he befriended everyone from janitors to other playground legends (moving past Seale Park court, he also frequented Burgess Park in Menlo Park, and Gunn Gym — now named for Bob Bow — was the sight for pickup games and workouts featuring area players like Mike Norman of St. Francis and Santa Clara U fame; there was no Paye’s Place, but ask John Paye or Jim Harbaugh for that matter where Kent Lockhart would rank among competitors and sportsman they have encountered on any court or pitch).
I can imagine, beyond a park ceremony, a coaching clinic — Lockhart stresses defense that started with the Hans Delannoy-Bud Presley line and included the Don Haskins-Bobby Knight-Tim Floyd lines — I would also love to see a pow wow among the top three Palo Alto prep players of all time: Lockhart, Jeremy Lin (of Paly, Harvard and NBA Golden State Warriors fame) and “Jungle Jim” Loscutoff, who played for several Boston Celtics championship teams, a Paly grad. Maybe Ron Wyden could join them in a game of “hunch”. Kent was also teammate in Australia one season with future Obama cabinet member Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, the former Harvard star. (Kent recalls him for being a heady player, left-handed and slightly pigeon-toed).
Or maybe the court could be known as “Three L” for Lockhart, Lin and Loscutoff (referencing Alfred Hitchcock’s now ubiquitous joke about the Christmas alphabet and the Scott Turow novel about Harvard Law — it all fits together, in “Plastic Alto” logic at least).
I think we could pledge some money to defray ex post facto the $100,000 from public coffers already spent on the new “room 100”, my generation of athletes, I mean. We could be enhancing the ceremony already in planning (and I am also drawing on having had a great time rubbing elbows with City movers and shakers at the Scott Meadow Greer Park ceremony earlier this spring).
Edit to add, May 2: I am polling some of my former teammates to see if there is a consensus over whether this is worth pursuing, or have we basked in a nostalgic (and in my case mostly reflected) light long enough. I did find this short (5 minute) clip from one of Kent’s UTEP games, in 1984. (There is another video that, uncharacteristically, has him in the center of a brawl). For me, having missed all his college games, the touches at 3:20, 3:25, 4:20, a deflection at 4:34, a steal at 4;59 and even a missed 16-footer at 5:10 are all somewhat satisfying. I wonder if there is a way to access the Gunn-St. Ignatious CCS game at Maples, in 1981, from Gill Cable San Jose.
edit to add, November 1, 2012: I feel a connection to the NBA and the Warriors in that my teammate Kent Lockhart coached new Warriors center Andrew Bogut, in Australia. Monty Poole reports today for the Merc on the big man’s impact.
edit to add, February, 2023: Kent Lockhart, 59, dies, in Melbourne. (Article published in 2011)