PRINCETON — Rod Thorn always used to get Bob Huggins in trouble with his mom.
Growing up in a “suburb of Saberton” before his family moved to Ohio, a young Bobby Huggins would listen to West Virginia University basketball games on the radio with his grandfather. Huggins’ mother was fine with her son sitting on his grandfather’s lap to listen to the games, she just asked that he take a bath first.
“She would get me all clean and spiffy,” Huggins said on Sunday afternoon at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton.
Then, Huggins would listen to the games and try to be like the team’s star- legendary basketball figure Rod Thorn. It seemed the only place for the young player to practice was in the family’s garage. Unfortunately, there was a coal shoot there that inevitably laid black dust all over Huggin’s body and his clothes. Inevitably, this meant another bath.
“I don’t know if I ever told you this, Rod,” Huggins told the current Philadelphia 76ers President. “Growing up, I always wanted to be Rod Thorn. I guess I didn’t do that well.”
Huggins, former WVU coach Gale Catlett and others came to Princeton on Sunday afternoon to remember Thorn’s career. Thanks to the relationship between Del. John Frazier and Thorn’s father-in-law, Bill Reynolds, the interchange of Interstate 77 and US 460 near Princeton was named after Thorn.
In his last year as President of the Philadelphia 76ers, Thorn’s career speaks for itself. Former sportswriter and current delegate Danny Wells explained that the West Virginia legislature had declared Thorn a natural resource to get him to attend West Virginia University.
“The state may have been falling apart,” Wells told the audience. “But they weren’t going to let him get out of the state.”