Fans remember Tigers legend Larry Finch - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Fans remember Tigers legend Larry Finch

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Tigers fans said Sunday that beloved former coach and player Larry Finch is a Tiger Nation icon and his legacy will last forever.

"He probably would have averaged another four or five points per game if they would have put a three-point line when he played," said Tigers fan John Carroll.  "He took a lot of outside shots."

Outside the University of Memphis Finch Center, named for the much loved coach, fans credited Finch with putting Tiger basketball on the map.

"He is probably the best player in Memphis history," said Carroll.

Former WMC-TV Sports Director Jack Eaton said Finch deserves recognition for his coaching, especially his record as the winningest coach in Tiger history.

"That was the job," said Eaton.  "He did it well and he did it better than anyone we had ever had before."

Eaton said as a coach and a player, Finch had the kind of charisma that brought Memphians of all races together around a goal of winning.

Eaton said even as Finch's health problems mounted, he continued to bring people together through the Larry Finch Foundation and many other activities.

"He was a magnificent athlete, a tremendous person, and I loved Larry Finch," said Eaton.

Fans, like Carroll, said they feel the same way.

"I think his legacy will be the first black coach in Memphis Tiger history, an outreach to the community, a man who brought the program together both as a coach and a player," said Carroll.

Rebounders Club President Harold Byrd and Finch were classmates.  He said the coach and his Tiger basketball team united a city still torn apart by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination.

"In a few short years, Memphians came together," said Byrd.  "They were back-slapping, they were hugging, and it's interesting to say that a basketball game brought people together.  This city needed something at that time to bring it together, and Larry Finch sure did that."

Byrd called Finch a giant figure in Memphis history.

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