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Harold Bell got some mainstream media time this afternoon.
He didn’t waste it.
Bell, a D.C. sportstalk pioneer profiled in our pages in February, was brought on the Mike Wise Show on WJFK-FM because of a characteristically flame-throwing column he recently posted on Bleacher Report.
In the money grafs of the column, Bell’s post puts a different and amazing spin on one of the most heinous incidents in D.C. sports history: The appearance of a racist banner at a Georgetown basketball game.
From a 2002 story I wrote about the incident:
At the start of a game in February 1975 between Georgetown and Dickinson College at what was then the Hoyas’ home court, McDonough Arena, a bedsheet was unfurled scrawled with “Thompson the Nigger Flop Must Go.” The “Thompson” on the sheet referred to the Georgetown coach, John Thompson, then in his third year of running the Hoyas program. The folks who hung the sheet from a window inside the gym ran away as their hate speech fell to the floor.
Bell, however, says in the column that Thompson orchestrated the whole incident. Bell didn’t provide any evidence to back up that accusation in the post.
Asked by Wise to support the tale, Bell said that Thompson’s “right hand man” from back in the day, who Bell identified on the air as “James Wiggins,” told him years ago that the coach had in fact staged the banner’s appearance.
Wise then loudly confronted Bell with what he said were discrepancies between Bell’s version of events and what Wise said he knew about the goings on that fateful and hateful night — the banner was thrown threw a window, not hung, Wise said.
But Bell didn’t back down from anything he’d written or said.
“A lie changes a thousand times, the truth never changes!” Bell said. Also: “You ain’t poked holes in nothing I said!”
Later, when Wise’s co-host Chris Johnson, said he doubted the validity of Bell’s tale, the guest retorted: “You can take it or leave it!”
When Johnson tried to diminish Bell’s credentials by yelling, “I’ve worked in the business 16 years… I don’t know who you are!” Bell called him “a cheerleader with pompoms” and “Howdy Doody!”
“You’re a zero, man,” Bell said as Johnson railed.
The show’s highlight, out of a large field, came when Bell told the WJFK hosts that they haven’t ever done anything for the “community.”
Wise yelped: “I painted schools!”
“This is a waste of time,” Bell said.
Not for listeners, it wasn’t! Awesome radio!