Arizona Basketball

Throwback Thursday: Autographs from 1997-98 defending champs in late nephew’s game program



The defending champion 1997-98 team finished the season 30-5 (Javier Morales/

The defending champion 1997-98 team finished the season 30-5 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-10 (Javier Morales/

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Feeling nostalgic? Check out our Arizona memories with these Throwback Thursday links.

While visiting family earlier this week in Tucson, my sister Debbie gave me this Arizona program from the 1997-98 season with autographs from some members of the defending national champions.

The program belonged to my late nephew and Godson Ian, who passed away five years later from a work-related accident. Ian stuck around after the UNC-Asheville vs. Arizona game on Nov. 29, 1997, and managed to get autographs from Mike Bibby, Josh Pastner, Bennett Davison, Miles Simon and A.J. Bramlett.

I happened to be there too but I was busy covering the game as the Arizona beat writer for The Arizona Daily Star. Ian was in his senior season at Buena High School.

The program and autographs are very meaningful because I view them as a gift from Ian from heaven because I never knew he got with these players after the game. I also covered that team and remain in contact with a few of them, including Pastner, Davison and Bramlett.

Pastner later was the keynote speaker of my nephew Wade’s graduation at Buena in 2004. Earlier that year, he got with Lute Olson and other assistant coaches to sign a poster for my oldest brother Hector, who is a huge Arizona fan who is mentally challenged but also very mindful of his Wildcats. The poster was a birthday gift for Hector.

Needless to say that era of Arizona basketball is very near and dear to me.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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