Kings of Kings: Part 1Posted: Updated:
A group of basketball players, many from Brooklyn, took the borough by storm 14 years ago, leading Long Island University to the NCAA Tournament in 1997.
Prior to the team's now infamous winning season, few expected the team to succeed. The school's basketball program hadn't had a winning record in more than a decade and played its home games in an empty gym.
Head coach Ray Haskins, a Brooklyn native, turned it around in 1996, stacking the team with strong players who had a reputation for being difficult to coach. The school also made a controversial move, granting admission to admitted sex offender Richie Parker.
On Opening Night, the Blackbirds beat St. John's for the first time in 60 years and finally gained support and fans. As the season continued, the team racked up more wins and larger crowds until they led the country in scoring.
The LIU Blackbirds made it to the Northeast Conference Championship, where they beat Monmouth 72-67, sending the underdog team to the NCAA Tournament.
In Part 2 of the special segment, News 12 Brooklyn will detail the team's trip to the tournament and how they made a name for themselves outside of the borough.