The next Trojan to be honored for Black History Month earned his stripes on the hard wood. Back when the Trojans played their games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, he was lighting up scoreboards and impressing NBA scouts. His skills on the court earned him a variety of honors, including most recently, having his No. 23 jersey retired by USC: we’re talking about none other than Mr. “Baby Jordan” himself, Harold Miner.
Harold Miner grew up in Inglewood, CA and it was there that his prominence on the court first got noticed. At Inglewood High, he gained notoriety for his amazing dunks, which earned him the nickname “Baby Jordan.” That moniker would stick with him through out his career, for better or worse.
In 1989 Miner started his college career with the Trojans, and he was dynamite from the very beginning. He stayed at USC for three years, and during his final season as a junior he led the Men of Troy to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament. The Trojans got eliminated in the second round as a result of one of the most famous shot’s in tournament history—a three-pointer buzzer beater by James Forrest of Georgia Tech. Regardless, at the end of the season, Sports Illustrated named him their Player of the Year, over other notable basketballers like Christian Laettner, Shaquille O’Neal, and Alonzo Mourning. He was also named the (then) Pac-10 player of the year and earned a spot on the 1992 consensus NCAA All-American First Team.
Miner declared for the NBA drafted in 1992 and went 12th overall. His NBA career was not nearly as illustrious as his college one, but before he hung up the high tops for good, he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest twice in 1993 and 1995.
Just last March, Miner made an appearance at the Men’s Pac-12 tournament to be inducted into the conference’s hall of honor. Later in 2011, he came to USC again to participate in the retirement ceremony of his jersey. Still, his legacy as an NBA-bust still kind of loomed over him after all these years. George Raveling, Miner’s coach at USC once said that he always felt that “the worst thing to happen Harold was the ‘Baby Jordan’ tag,” and he might be right. Being in the shadow of a generation icon like Michael Jordan is an extremely tall task that was impossible to break out of.
Either way, Harold Miner brought some clout to the USC basketball program, one that is often overshadowed by USC’s football program. The amount of big name basketball talent for Trojan Nation is few and far between, so for bringing some glory and honor to the men’s basketball program, Mr. Miner, we tip our hats to you.
Fight On Forever, Harold Miner!