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Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Gilmore still has
NBA hoop dreams

WE were on a plane, George Gilmore and I, headed for the Maui Invitational basketball tournament. It was November 1992 and Gilmore, Chaminade's all-American guard, was returning five months after graduating to be recognized by the tournament organizers.

A funny thing happened on the way to the West Maui airport. The plane we were on landed on Lanai, with no plans to fly on to Kapalua.

"Unless you want to go back to Honolulu with me, you need to get out here,'' the pilot told us.

So Gilmore, a mainland couple on their honeymoon and I scrambled out, grabbed our bags and waited for a flight across the Auau Channel. There was no such flight scheduled on the departure board but, after about 40 minutes, a plane suddenly appeared and, knowing better than to question the air traffic control gods, we managed to get to the Valley Isle without further incidence.

It was a matter of faith that we got to where we needed to be. It's the same kind of faith that the 31-year-old Gilmore has when it comes to his pro basketball dreams.

GILMORE still hopes to play in the NBA, but knows time is running out. He's been knocking around the EuroLeague for the past eight years, playing for teams in Italy, Turkey and, currently, Israel.

He heads back tomorrow to Israel, a place he calls "very nice when they're not blowing things up.''

"Israel is very pretty, nice beaches, and it reminds me of Florida,'' said Gilmore, who began his college career at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla.

"The atmosphere is not like some of the other countries like Spain and Italy. But I'm adjusting. Everywhere I go, I've been able to adjust.''

Gilmore, the all-time leading scorer in Hawaii small-college history, also has adjusted his game. Where he was once among the scoring leaders in NCAA Division II (31.4 ppg), Gilmore is averaging about 20 points now after making the move from shooting guard to the point.

"I think I've got maybe another eight years of playing in me," he said. "What I want to do is be closer to home to do it.''

Gilmore, his wife, Millie, and 3-year-old son Kaleb live in Kailua. Kaleb is already taking Dad to the hoop and is working on his 3-pointer.

"The hardest thing I have to do is leave the family,'' said Gilmore. "I don't like it that I'm there and they're here.

"That's why I'm going to buckle down this season and try to get into an NBA camp. I have a lot of friends in the NBA, guys I've played with in other leagues. I know I can play with them now.''

AT 6 feet in hightops, Gilmore knows his chances are slim. He's still hoping for the right situation to come along.

One thing Gilmore has been able to do while on break is watch more NBA games. He was not at all surprised when Vince Carter won the NBA All-Star slam-dunk contest.

"I saw him play in high school when we were both in Florida,'' said Gilmore. "Everyone knew back then he'd be in the NBA.''

Gilmore said the Chaminade mystique is alive and well half a world away. When he mentions he played for the Silverswords, people ask if he was on the 1982 team that defeated then-No. 1 Virginia.

"People haven't forgotten about Chaminade,'' he said.

With any luck, Gilmore won't find himself stranded on a flight to nowhere. Maybe that plane to the NBA will show up, just like that plane did for us in 1992.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears weekly.

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