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White Shadow memories: #10. Mike Warren

March 24, 2016

woo0-064In tribute to the late, great Ken Howard, and his fictional counterpart Ken Reeves, I’m spending the day counting down my ten favorite White Shadow memories.

10. UCLA national champ Mike Warren guest stars

A huge part of my love of The White Shadow rested on the basketball action being a close enough proximity to the real thing to keep the fictional reality afloat. Coolidge, Thorpe, and Coach Reeves could all play, and the others were for the most part close enough to not mangle the whole presentation. (This can happen—see: William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story, DeNiro in Bang the Drum Slowly, every second of Teen Wolf up until Michael J. Fox’s stunt double for the wolf scenes starts mincing the opposition). The verisimilitude factor hit its peak in the episode guest-starring Mike Warren, who played on consecutive national championship teams at UCLA in 1967 and 1968, earning All-American honors in the latter year. On The White Shadow, Warren played a street ball legend who joins the team briefly before his irreparably damaged moral compass sends him back to other, darker eventualities. The morality tale for the team—even the most talented ballers can fall—was backed up by—and also somehow secondary to—the visceral thrill of watching someone who could really play the game.

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