This spring - hey, what do you know? - the timing, yearwise, was perfect for the compilation of an all-decade basketball team.
So, here we go. We're presenting the Daily News' All-City squad for the 2000-09 seasons. (What's this decade going to be called as history drags on, anyway? Has anyone made an official decision? The Zeros? The Aughts?)
Our search for the Player of the Decade takes us back to the turn of the century, and also causes another bout with sadness.
That honoree is Eddie Griffin, the 6-9 center from Roman Catholic High.
In '99, Griffin was the DN Player of the Year after leading the Cahillites to the Catholic League championship; he entered his senior season at the very top of many national organizations' best-player lists. He did not disappoint.
While again leading Roman to the title, he scored 636 points (25.4 average) and posted norms of 12 for rebounds and six for blocks. POY choices in this newspaper date back to '78. Griffin became (and remains) just the second two-time honoree, along with '93 Simon Gratz product Rasheed Wallace.
Among other laurels, he appeared on the cover of Parade magazine as that group's national best player.
Griffin finished his career with 1,656 points. He then played for one season at Seton Hall before entering the NBA as the No. 7 pick in the first round. Well-documented personal problems hindered his pro career and he died in Houston in August '07 when he crashed his SUV into a freight train.
My dealings with Eddie were always positive, as were those with family members, even in the extremely difficult immediate aftermath of his tragic passing. RIP, Eddie.
The hardest element about picking these teams is to try to keep everything in the high-school context.
Granted, it's impossible not to be influenced somewhat by what happens later. But if a guy was a third-team All-City honoree 6 years ago, for instance, he's not going to pop up now as one of the decade's best players. Please keep that in mind as you check out the assorted teams for the Public, Catholic and Inter-Ac leagues - and overall, of course.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the other All-City first-teamers:
-- Maureece Rice, Strawberry Mansion, '03: Dislodged '55 grad Wilt Chamberlain (2,206) as the leading scorer in city history (2,681) and thrice led the Public League in points per game. Starter for PL champs in '00 and '02. As a senior, he averaged 29.1 points, five rebounds, four assists and 3.3 steals. Co-Player of the Year as a senior. Also a first-teamer in '02 and a second-teamer in '01. Played his college ball at George Washington. Now with Erie in the NBA Development League.
-- Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson, Episcopal, '06: It's impossible not to mention these guys as one, seeing as how they were Heart and Soul for a squad we deemed the Inter-Ac's best ever. Co-Players of the Year as seniors; also first-teamers as juniors. As a senior, Ellington averaged 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He scored 1,756 points at Episcopal and 2,211 total, counting one year at Daniel Boone, near Reading. Recently named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for national champ North Carolina. Henderson's senior-year averages were 21.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists, and he finished with 2,059 career points, nine short of tying the league record. First-team All-ACC selection this past season at Duke.
-- Sean Singletary, Penn Charter '04: As a senior, he earned Player of the Year honors atop an All-City squad that saw 15 of the 16 members play Division I ball. Averaged 22.9 points, six rebounds, five assists and 3.5 steals. His 2 years at PC produced 1,137 points and a 24-0 Inter-Ac mark, counting the postseason tournament. Also a first-teamer as a junior. At Virginia, he played well enough to have his No. 44 jersey retired. Has toiled this season in the NBA and the Development League.
Our Coach of the Decade is Carl Arrigale, of the Ss. Neumann-Goretti Saints (and St. John Neumann Pirates through '04). He coached the school to five Catholic League titles and two other finals, with the losses coming by three points apiece. His overall record for the decade was 223-64 (.777 winning percentage).