WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Orsten Artis

2014-03-24T18:00:00Z 2014-03-24T19:16:13Z WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Orsten ArtisMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
March 24, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

Orsten Artis spent part of Friday afternoon fitting a tuxedo.

The 1962 Froebel grad and basketball star will be all dressed up with somewhere to go Wednesday when he journeys down to New Castle to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. He is one of 16 former players and coaches to be inducted, including 1960 Morton grad and Taylor University men's basketball coach Paul Patterson, who will receive the Silver Medal.

Artis, who starred on Texas Western's 1966 NCAA championship team wishes his Miners teammate and Emerson grad Harry Flournoy could be with him.

"This is a great honor to receive," Artis said. "I just wish Harry had got in. He had great numbers and was a great player. It would have been great for both of us to go in together."

Artis and Flournoy were starters on Don Haskins' 1966 Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) squad that was the first team with five African-American starters to win an NCAA Division I men's basketball championship. They did so by beating Adolph Rupp's all-white Kentucky Wildcats 72-65 on March 19, 1966 in College Park, Md.

Artis, who later became a detective on the Gary Police Dept., had 15 points and eight rebounds.

"We knew of the significance, but we also just wanted to win," Artis said. "We had faced a lot of (racial) slurs all year. We just wanted to play basketball. We were aware of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

"A few years before (1963) Loyola beat Cincinnati with four black starters and that I think opened some eyes."

He said the night before the championship game, he and his teammates were playing cards in a Baltimore hotel when Haskins came in after a meeting.

"He was so mad at Adolph Rupp because he said, 'No way no bunch of (deleted) are going to beat us. They don't have the brains to beat us,' he told us," Artis said. "We just kept playing cards and said. 'OK, Coach.' We were mad, but we controlled it and we knew we were going to win the game."

The book and movie "Glory Road" is about the 1966 season. Both Texas Western and Kentucky started the season 23-0 and both lost on the same day with the Wildcats falling at Tennessee and the Miners losing at Seattle.

As far as his career as a detective, Gary's crime rate escalated in the late 1970s, so Artis and his fellow officers were busy to say the least.

"We had a good force, in fact, we had about 400 police officers then," Artis said. "We worked together gather evidence and getting convictions. We were always busy, but I loved my work. I loved being a police officer in my hometown. It was frustrating at times, but you just kept at it."

He still remembers the games at historic Memorial Auditorium, the city's palace for basketball, at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Massachusetts Street.

"Man, it held 5,500, but when you were on the court and looked up, it seemed like there were 10,000 people in that place," Artis said. "When we played Roosevelt, that place was packed. I think the downtown stores closed early that night. The players sat below the stage, where the visiting team's fans sat, which was on one side.

"Those bleachers would be jumping and I mean literally moving. When the other team's fans were sitting on that stage, I wanted to stay on the floor."

To submit a "Where Are They Now?" idea, contact Mike Nieto at mike.nieto@nwi.com or (219) 933-3232.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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