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The Story Behind The Name: USC's Jim Sterkel Court06:50
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"'I have no idea who put his name on there,' says his wife. 'And I have no idea why.'" (Adam Joe / Flickr)
"'I have no idea who put his name on there,' says his wife. 'And I have no idea why.'" (Adam Joe / Flickr)
This article is more than 1 year old.

This story originally aired on Nov. 11, 2016. This week it appears again as part of our episode on "Assists."


In 2006, the University of Southern California named their brand-new basketball court for a former Trojans player named Jim Sterkel.

The name might not ring a bell. Even Sterkel's wife, Joanne, was confused when she first heard about the honor. "His name is on what?," she asked Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke.

"It honors a former Trojan who played only two seasons in the mid-1950s," Plaschke writes in his piece titled "Floored"." He never averaged more than 10 points a game. His teams never won more than 16 games. He never graduated."

So, how did the court come to hold the name of Jim Sterkel? Bill Plaschke set out to solve that mystery. His story was first published on Nov. 5, 2006, and we hope that you'll agree it's worth remembering now, 12 years later.

To hear our radio re-imagining of Bill Plaschke's "Floored", click the play button next to the headline at the top of the page. Thanks to our readers, Alex Ashlock, Walter Dixon, Amory Sivertson and Karyn Miller-Medzon.

This segment aired on September 29, 2018.

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