One Word – Two Fan Bases – 30 Years

Charles Shackleford
BobLee
January27/ 2017

…. Because Legends, like Dragons, Will Live Forever

Puff The Magic Dragon lamented – “Dragons live forever, but not so little boys….”. Replace Dragon with “Legend” and the same will apply to former NC State Basketballer – Charles “Mr. Amphibious” Shackleford.

Charles Shackleford, age 50, was found dead on Friday AM in his hometown of Kinston.  Cause of Death – Cirrhosis. Shackleford had a long history of involvement with drugs and related nefarious activities.

It could be argued that no single individual and certainly no single word – “Amphibious” – is so forever cemented into Tobacco Road sports rivalry “lore” than is Charles Shackleford and the word “Amphibious”.

An innocent malapropism that Charles Shackleford may, or may not, have uttered in 1987 when describing his ability to shoot with either hand – i.e. “ambidextrous”.

Whether “Shack” said it or whether his coach Jim Valvano “said he said it” has long been debated. For sure malaproping (?) the words “amphibious” and “ambidextrous” did NOT originate in 1987. I credit Wake Forest’s legendary “Peahead” Walker with coming up with the line. I credit “Peahead” with 95% of all such one-liners.

There are over a dozen permutations of whether “Shack said it” or not and each version is backed by scores of “I was there when….” eye witnesses. Jim ValvanoIrrelevant. For certain Jimmy V “said he said it” as part of “V’s” standard rubber chicken stump speech to Wolfpackers and other sports banquet audiences.

The companion “Shack story” involved a long plane ride home from a holiday tournament in Hawaii and Shack falling asleep with his head propped on his wrist… and subsequently spraining his wrist when startled awake.

That “V” promoted Shack’s “not all that smart-ness” ended up being a key element in what brought The Valvano Era to such an inglorious conclusion.

A bit more historical background…. Charles Shackleford played high school basketball in Kinston for “my coach” – the legendary Paul Jones. At one time “Coach Jones” was the winningest BB coach in NC High School history. Coach Jones had 25 years of experience prior to coaching “Shack” including two state championships and several runner-ups. Why Paul Jones never moved up to coaching college BB is linked in part to the recruiting of Charles Shackleford in 1985.

At 6’10” and “amphibious”, Shack was highly recruited. It is not intended as any indictment of Jimmy V that he (“V”) somehow got Shack admitted to NC State. On numerous occasions over the years, “Coach” would laughingly recall that Charles Shackleford “getting admitted to any college” told him all he needed to know about the hypocrisy of college sports. He would then recount assorted “Shack said …. Shack did ….” stories.Chris Washburn

At NC State, “Shack” would be forever linked with Chris Washburn. Or as rival fans would call him “475” for his (Washburn) fabled low SAT score.  Washburn apologists have longed argued that UNC’s Kevin Madden’s SAT score was equally “remarkably low”. … and that Dean Smith had aggressively recruited Washburn.

However unremarkable “475” and “Amphibious” may have been academically, their combined presence on Valvano’s roster became very very heavy straws that broke the camel’s back of Jimmy V….

“consistently recruiting young men not academically suitable for North Carolina State University”.

THAT malfeasance, and not “a pair of sneakers” and “a few tickets”, is why Jim Valvano was ultimately terminated as BBHC and Athletics Director at NC State.

Before Washburn & Shack there had been Lo & Co – Lorenzo Charles and Cozell McQueen. I can never remember if it was Lo or Co that “supposedly” said – “I came to NC State because, growing up in South Carolina, I always wanted to go to school in the North”. OUCH. That line also became a staple in “V’s” quiver of banquet zingers. He “had a million of’em”.

While V’s audiences roared with laughter at his player-effacing anecdotes, they began to wear on the more image-conscious members of the NC State University community.

Why was Jim Valvano promoting his own players’ so dumb that …. Whether the anecdotes were real or exaggerated. We’ll never know ….

If V’s own words about his own players had been tempered, or not recounted at all, might he have survived His Inquisition?

In V’s own words – They gave me a lifetime contract, then told me I was dead. Did V’s own words about his players actually come back to do him in?

During The Inquisition…. Former head of the NC physical education department, Richard Lauffer, described him (Shackleford) as a poor student, without “any interest in trying to get an education” and who “should never have been in school.

It must be noted that shortly after the Washburn / Shack Era at NCSU, the Grand AfAm Eligibility Scam @ UNCCH began, so we are told, in the early 1990s. Unlike V, Dean Smith was forever touting his players’ academic proficiencies and successes. To whatever degree such touts were justified, it was certainly what Franklin Street Faithful LOVED to hear…. as they repeated “amphibious… amphibious… amphibious” to their NCSU aquainti over a bazillion times over 30 years.

That one word, attributed to Charles Shackleford, came to symbolize the supposed “lack of integrity” of NC State athletics while simultaneously elevating UNCCH athletics.

Arguably, no single word, has spontaneously generated more gastric reflux among NC State alumni and fans over the past 30 years than “amphibious”.

“Shack” left NCSU in 1988 under a cloud of suspicion over possible involvement in point shaving. He had a total of six years in the NBA and a dozen more years with various European teams. Rebounding proficiency was always his forte.

At some point “Shack” got involved with drugs and all its nefariousness. Over the past 20 years he was “picked up” on various occasions for drug-related activities. Every new incident, of course, meant a renewal of “AMPHIBIOUS” taunts aimed at NCSU fans.

I never met him. Other than Coach Jones’ comments I only know “The Charles Shackleford of Legend” that most all of you know. How much of “it” an individual believes is likely tied to one’s sports allegiance.

Did he “love his momma”? … Did he spend time with kids to warn them not to follow his Life track? …Did he “love the Baby Jesus”? …Is this world a better place because Charles Shackleford walked upon for 50 years? …. I am not qualified to even suggest an answer to any of those questions. I DO know that:

The Legend of Mr Amphibious did NOT die early Friday morning in Kinston because….

Legends, like Dragons, Live Forever!

###

Uh Oh… AgentPierce wants to be “Trump’s Tweetist” …. CLICK

BobLee

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OldWuf Vet
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OldWuf Vet

On the Money BL. I was near the end of Vet school when Washburn and Shack came through. The bloom of ’83 had faded and V appeared to be desperately grasping for the recruit that would get him back. At the time I remember being pretty disgusted at the academic abilities of the guys he was bringing in. I remember how other alumni/students used, “Well, DES was recruiting him just as hard” as an excuse. JV and the ’83 team memories will always be near and dear; but I never liked what was going on in the late ’80’s. The… Read more »

dalemanning
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dalemanning

I think the amphibious faux pas by Charles Shackleford was actually spoken during a 60 Minute interview with Morley Shafer, several days after “Shack” had made a pivotal shot ina win over UNC. This was during the late stages of the Coach V era when some of the questionable actions of team members were being disclosed. The interview was held in a small room somewhere on campus and included Chris Corcianni and one other player whose name I cannot recall. What I do recall is when the infamous line was made, Corcianni literally fell off the bench/couch on which he… Read more »

Old MacDonald
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Old MacDonald

So somewhere there is tape of a “60 Minutes” interview where Shack “says it” and Corch “literally fell off a bench laughing”? Really?! Why has nobody ever seen this?

NCSU68Grad
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NCSU68Grad

May I suggest that you email Jeff Gravely of WRAL. Despite working for Jimmy G….he is really trustworthy and truthful. He take on it is different and he will be more, I think, to enlighten you on HIS recollection of it. I doubt that he was sitting in on a Morley Shafer Interview. BUT, you never know with Fake News today.
My $$’s is on Gravely’s take on it….and I will support him, locked arm in arm with Rev BB and BK….if necessary.
Run with that one, BL….

58WolfKennel
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58WolfKennel

(NOTE: BK had an issue posting this himself, so I am re-posting for him. Every word is Bre’r Kennel’s. I promise. – BL) . “BobLee, First and foremost I am sorry to hear of Shackleford’s passing far too early, regardless of the causes. As a New Bern guy, I really do understand Kinston and its appropriate prides, joys, and sorrows. Your extended article, however, does call for a few more lengthy comments. . -I never personally met Shack and don’t believe he ever attended any of Gottfried’s basketball reunion dinners. However I have met most of NC State’s basketball players… Read more »

NCSU68Grad
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NCSU68Grad

Jeff Gravely said in his broadcast last night that the “Amphibious” quote was REAL and he was there and that Shack would actually use it himself and kid about it, later on. He first covered Shack when he started at WRAL and that Shack was a comic at heart who could hold his own with Jimmy V. V, per Tudor’s column, said that Valvano would often comment that it was impossible to LOVE Shack for more than two days….but that it was also equally hard to HATE him for more than two days….. Shack was often confused with Cozelle McQueen… Read more »

RJ.Gsbo
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RJ.Gsbo

I bet “your buddy Art” has a different opinion on this than you do. What are the odds he would post it on his website like you often post his stuff on yours?

Harley
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Harley

The underbelly is the Cleveland Steamer of college sports.

ELB.55
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ELB.55

I love the amphibious quotation as I have used it myself with reference to Shack. I now have a new right shoulder and do not have the range of motion I once had. I now sometimes eat with my left hand, scratch with my left hand places I used to scratch with the right, etc. I have been asked why I use my left hand and arm when I am normally a right handed person. I reply that I am “amphibious” and most always reference Shack. …. Gets a laugh most times.

MB.Balmer
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MB.Balmer

I remember a story about a State player saying how he missed being away from home.
Someone said ” but you are from Kinston and it is only one hour away”. To which the
Player said “yes but it is a long way when you don’t have a car”. Was that a Shack story
Or someone else?

John
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John

Amphibious in Raleigh = Go to class in Chapel Hill.

Jackie.82
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Jackie.82

This should be required reading for every Triangle area sports fan. You nailed it. “Fair & Balanced” as always.

John.UNC'75
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John.UNC'75

Vintage BobLee Perspective. 🙂
.
Of all that may be written about this over the next few days, I bet few if any will connect the dots like you do. Surely a few rabid board monkeys will do what rabid board monkeys do, but you know that. EXCELLENT job BL.

Babs.n.Derm
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Babs.n.Derm

This seems to happen to a lot of these players – sad.

Doug
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Doug

I did meet Charles inThessaloniki, Greece in the mid-90’s while he was playing for some European League team. He was in the hotel bar with another player. He didn’t speak unkindly of Kinston or Coach Jones as I recall. After a rough start in life he was ultimately dealt a pretty good hand and misplayed it badly. If anyone knows any teenaged basketball wonderkinds looking forward to the NBA life; Lamborghini’s & SUV’s with fat tires, and rims, 20,000 sq ft mansions, assorted bling, curvy girls, party life, endless adulation, and fame and fortune etc., please tell them about Charles.… Read more »

Paul Coder
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Paul Coder

I remember that in the late 1960’s, Pete Maravich couldn’t get admitted to State, despite his father being the coach. Mike Grosso was admitted to South Carolina but immediately declared academically ineligible by the ACC. Henry Bibby, from Franklinton, couldn’t get admitted to any of the Big Four schools. Getting into UCLA was no problem, though. What they had in common was failing to get at least an 800 score on their SATs. . The further away from the point shaving scandals of the ’50s and ’60s and the more income that was being generated, the more lax entrance requirements… Read more »

Old MacDonald
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Old MacDonald

I was on campus when Shack supposedly “said it.” I never heard it or saw it, and there are no audio or video recordings of it or even contemporaneous reports of it in the print media. Don’t you think such a “famous” line would have some sort of evidentiary trail?

For sure it was part of Valvano’s ongoing stand-up act, which is how everyone heard of it.

Also, not that it makes any difference, but Shack and Washburn only played together for one year iirc. Washburn left before the 1987-88 season.