Friends mark 25th year of basketball tradition

Cherry Grove, SC - By Justin Felder - bio | email

CHERRY GROVE, SC (WMBF) – When they started coming to Myrtle Beach to watch the ACC Basketball Tournament, there were no cell phones, Blackberries or laptops.

"Back in '86 we'd call our wives once a night," said Jim Hopkins.

"Now we're all sitting around, it's ring ring, ring ring," said Jerry Banks. "Your boss is calling, your kids are calling. As technology had advanced, some of us have adapted with it."

This group of 10 friends has been coming to a house in North Myrtle Beach every year for the past 25 years to watch basketball. While they come to the Grand Strand from several places, most have ties back to Richmond, VA. The group has grown over the years.

"The first three years it was the same guys; then we started adding guys," said Jim Hopkins.

While most of the group have missed a year here or there, some, like Jim's brother Jerry, have made it each and every time.

"It's come to mean a heck of a lot more as the years have gone by," said Jerry Hopkins.

Especially for Jerry, who had a triple-bypass just about a month ago.

"I was afraid I couldn't come, not having missed a time in 25 years," said Jerry Hopkins. "[Having this to look forward to] helped, it really helped. It gave me something to shoot for, something to be happy and thankful for. The doctor said, 'Go, by all means, have a good time.'"

For the entire group, despite the changes in their lives, they are happy to have this week to look forward to all year long.

"It's the shortest five days of the year," said Jim Hopkins.

"To get to see these guys once a year, tell lies, tell stories, boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever," said Banks. "It doesn't get any better than this."

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.