The face of the White Shadow passed away today as Ken Howard died at the age of 71.
Howard appeared on Broadway and had numerous films and television shows on his resume',but will be most remembered for the starring role of Ken Reeves on the White Shadow.
The CBS show lasted three years and although never a ratings hit,found an audience through kids like me in syndication-Teenagers that liked basketball gave the show a chance and it ran often on channels through the 80's.
The show,which hooked basketball fans with a snazzy opening from an actual NBA pre-season game with "Ken Reeves" (Howard's character) tearing up his knee in an age where a knee injury could finish a career,featured Howard as a former NBA player coaching at an inner-city Los Angeles high school and coaching the mostly African-American team.
The White Shadow dealt with many issues of the day and because of the show breaking new ground (Reeves was the only white guy on the show) as in the majority of the cast being ethnic gained critical acclaim.
The problem was it was never was a prime time hit and as the show went on,the show became softened and a bit more cliched' as CBS tinkered with it in order to gain ratings momentum that never arrived.
The show really began to slide in season three as five of the Carver High team 'graduated' which wasn't all bad as some of these guys looked closer to NBA retirement age than guys leaving high school and new players came in.
The new characters didn't really click other than former Stanford star and Utah Jazz draftee Wolfe Perry added some realism to the on court scenes.
Some fans like Bill Simmons prefer to pretend the final season never existed and although I bought the first two seasons on DVD and the third season wasn't as good,I still wished that they would have released it so my set could at least have been completed.
Ken Howard would go on to be more of a supporting actor than a lead after the cancellation of the White Shadow and would do so successfully,but to me and so many people of my age,Ken Howard will always be remembered as Ken Reeves-the White Shadow...