By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian
Mike King, who just celebrated his 51st birthday, has fond memories of playing in the early 1980s on the West Virginia University men’s basketball teams.
He was a 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward from Fairchance, Pa., where he starred at a high school now consolidated with Albert Gallatin High at Uniontown, Pa.
“I am most grateful for the opportunity coach Gale Catlett gave me,” King said. “Those were four of the best years of my life.”
He’s delighted that he had a hand in games from 1981 through 1984 that posted records of 23-10, 27-4, 23-8 and 20-12.
“We went to the NIT (final four in New York) when I was a freshman, and then were invited to the NCAA Tournament the other three years,” King recalled. “Those were booming years in West Virginia basketball, and the WVU Coliseum was overflowing with fans.”
He’s proud of the fact that he played in games that drew four of the top 10 crowds in the Coliseum’s history.
Those were for Pitt in 1982 (16,704), No. 1-ranked UNLV in 1983 (15,638), Marshall in 1982 (15,409) and a second game with Pitt (15,299). King noted that WVU won all four of those contests.
Of course, King enjoyed the UNLV triumph the most. The Pennsylvania native also cherished the victories over the Panthers.
King revealed that since graduating from WVU, he was diagnosed with cancer and spent several months in a cancer center in Houston, Texas, being treated. He has been cleared.
While he has worked at various jobs, King and his three sons are putting together a family business. It is a professional window-washing company in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“We are really excited about doing this,” he said. “We will be accepting appointments from small businesses as well as residents. We’ll travel together with a working crew.”
His sons are Jeremy, 26; Justin, 24; and Julian, 22. One of them just graduated from Indiana (Pa.) University. The other two are still college students.
More information is available to interested individuals by phone at 304-256-6109.
While being treated for cancer in Houston, King, given six months to live, said he was visited by WVU alumni in that part of Texas offering to help him and his family.
“I was so grateful for such wonderful visits,” King said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”
He added, “I would love to talk to any group about my cancer experience.”
During his career at WVU, King found that the longer he worked the better he got, and the improvement was in all areas.
King played in 120 games, averaging 17.1 minutes per game. He made 247 field goals in 536 attempts (46.1 percent), and cashed 169 free throws in 271 tries (62.4 percent), and finished with 663 points (5.5 average per game).
He also had 392 rebounds, 104 assists, 90 steals and 18 blocked shots.