Scott Brooks’ old East Union basketball jersey will be joined by another this Friday night when the Lancers host crosstown rival Manteca.
Gary Kron, class of 1988, is having his No. 24 officially retired with a ceremony between the sophomore and varsity boys basketball games. The varsity contest is scheduled for a 7:15 tipoff.
Kron reached out to Brooks, now the head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder, with a text message last week and received an immediate response.
“He said congratulations and that it was well-deserved, which was pretty cool,” said Kron, 43, who expects close to 60 friends and family to attend. “I can now tell people that the only other boys basketball player to have his jersey retired by East Union is Scott Brooks. I grew up watching Scott; he and my brother (Randy) were teammates.
“I always looked up to him and admired the way he played. To have my old jersey (displayed) next to his, honestly it doesn’t get much better than that as far as accolades for a high school career.”
Girls basketball standout Danelle (Liles) Bishop and football player Matthew Zaragoza Van Gelderen are the only other East Union student-athletes to have their game jerseys retired by the school. Bishop is currently the head coach for nationally-ranked Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball team. Van Gelderen’s jersey was retired posthumously after suffering head injuries from a football game in 2005.
It’s an honor that Kron gladly shares with the family.
For eight straight years in the 1980s the number belonged to a Kron. Randy wore it for four years (in honor of his favorite NBA player Rick Barry), and Gary took over as a freshman playing for the varsity squad.
Decades later, Gary’s son, Jordan donned No. 24 on the hardwood for three seasons. Jordan graduated from East Union last spring and is playing baseball for UC Riverside. He will be in attendance Friday.
Jordan, at one time, was considered to break his dad’s school record of 1,806 career points but opted not to play his junior year to concentrate on baseball.
“It turned out to be the right decision for him and I totally supported that,” Gary said. “Jordan started his freshman year out with a bang and I had a ton of people ask me if I want him to break the record. I was like, ‘absolutely.’
“I’m glad that the UC Riverside baseball team is letting him come out Friday night. It’s very special to have the last active player to wear your jersey number be your son.”
East Union went 74-30 in Gary’s four years, capturing two Valley Oak League championships and while advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 1988, his senior year. He is also part of the only East Union team to appear in the CIF State Regional Championships. Kron was named to the All-VOL first team three times and voted MVP as a senior.
He went on to play for Delta College and Stanislaus State before serving as an assistant varsity coach for 10 years under Eric Simoni and Brett Lewis. Brooks, Kron and Simoni all played for Bill Stricker, who retired as East Union’s athletic director in 2009. Both Simoni and Stricker will give speeches during the ceremony.
“It’s such an honor for coach Stricker to be there and speak,” Kron said. “He’s not only the greatest coach I’ve had but the greatest guy I know. Here I am almost 44 years old and I still call him coach. I met him when I was 8 years old at one of his basketball camps, so he’s always going to be coach.”