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High school basketball stars go on to become Indianapolis attorneys

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Before they were lawyers, Jeff Oliphant and Tony Patterson were pivotal players in the Hoosier Hysteria that is high school basketball.

The pair starred together in the small-town L&M High School in southern Indiana, before going off and playing college ball, and long before setting their respective sights on legal careers that 25 years later would find them practicing in the same city and similar areas of law. Now, both have been named to the Silver Anniversary Hall of Fame team to be honored at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame dinner on March 24.

"We've had a fun time together through the years, with basketball and now being lawyers in the same city," said Patterson, a name partner at Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson. "Indiana high school basketball is such a welcoming fraternity, just like the legal profession. It's great to be a part of that tradition."

Both have been practicing since the mid-1990s, and Patterson has been at his firm for several years while Oliphant practices at the Hastings Law Firm. They handle mostly personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice cases.

Looking back, they say that legal careers were not even thoughts in their minds in their high school basketball days. Back then, the two played for the L&M Braves in Lyons, a team that would eventually be consolidated into White River Valley School District in 1988.

Oliphant's dad, Tony, was the team coach. The two helped guide their team to the top ranking in the state in their senior year, getting national attention as it was one of the smallest schools - 132 students - to ever be ranked that high under Indiana's single-class system in place at the time.

For the sports stats gurus, they point to the team's record: an overall 27-2 that came to an end in the semi-state championship game against Southridge. They lost 72-54, one game short of the final four. Both Patterson and Oliphant averaged 22.9 points their senior seasons with the Braves.

As a result, the squad was written about in a Sports Illustrated inside spread, a story in Esquire, and included in a National High School Basketball Hall of Fame film. National and state media dubbed them "America's Team," and described the squad as epitomizing what Hoosier Hysteria is all about.

"We were thought to be the second coming of Milan," Patterson said, referring to the Milan High School team that won the state championship against Muncie Central in 1954 - the smallest school in U.S. history to win a state championship.

Patterson was originally slated to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for that February 1985 issue, but at the last minute it was switched to hockey great Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers. Patterson said his dad hadn't told him about that potential cover plan at the time, and he didn't learn about it until he later received a letter from the magazine explaining the change.

"That's one of those things that, in hindsight, it would have been cool," he said. "But just being where we were was enough. ... We never would have dreamed about being in Sports Illustrated. At ages 18 and 19, you don't really understand. But looking back, it's pretty cool to be a part of that history."

Patterson, a guard standing then at 6-foot-5 1/2-inches, was named to the Converse All-American Team and chosen to play on the state's all-star team, as well as being a first team All-State pick in Indiana. He went on to play for two years at Purdue University before transferring to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he played another two seasons before graduating.

Oliphant, a guard who stood 6-foot-6 1/2-inches, played for Indiana University and was part of the 1987 national championship team, the 1989 Big Ten championship team, and co-captain in 1990.

Those who've observed Hoosier high school and college basketball through the years and are still involved in the sports quickly recognize Patterson and Oliphant's names.

"Those were the glory days and it was an amazing time they were involved in," said Jason Wille, spokesman for the Indiana High School Athletic Association in Indianapolis. "Indiana loves a David vs. Goliath match and those two at L&M fit into that role very well."

Though he grew up in a different part of the state as Patterson and Oliphant, Wille was only a year behind them in high school and he remembers flipping through the Sports Illustrated pages and reading about their basketball stories. "They helped put L&M on the map," he said.

Patterson and Oliphant kept in touch through college, and through law school. Oliphant went to Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis and graduated in 1995, while Patterson attended what's now Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington and graduated in 1993. Both now practice in similar areas and remain good friends, going on golf trips and family vacations and playing in a lawyer's basketball league together.

They often bounce legal issues and thoughts off each other relating to the areas they both practice in, and if any conflicts in representation arise, they might refer clients to the other person. They also regularly hear from judges and attorneys who they practice with or see in courtrooms, reflecting on their basketball days.

"Hearing judges or attorneys say they watched you in high school or college, or saw you in Sports Illustrated, that's pretty cool," Patterson said. "It's nice to know your peers recognize that part of your life."

Of course, they remain competitive as lawyers.

"Being competitive, sports is about as close as you can get to trial work," Patterson said.

They both have kids who play sports, and Patterson points out that their high school basketball experience earns them "cool dad points" showing their teens that they might actually know something and validate any athletic advice they might offer. Oliphant coaches his sixth-grade son's team - his daughters don't play basketball, while Patterson has three daughters and his third-grader plays basketball.

Oliphant said Friday and Saturday nights were an event, and unlike today in what he sees at suburban games, the gymnasiums were always packed full. He and his son have a routine on Friday and Saturday nights in winter: jumping into the car and driving off in search of a basketball game. They usually end up in Carmel where his son's friends play, but they've found themselves traveling to other schools to watch games, Oliphant said.

Since their high school days, both said the sport has changed significantly and it's much different for them now as they watch it as adults. Largely, that's because of the class system that started in 1988. Some have speculated that if L&M had won the state championship, as Milan did in 1954, the class system might have not have been put in place or at least it might have been postponed. Patterson and Oliphant aren't certain about that, but they've heard that speculation.

"If we would have had class basketball in 1985, people probably wouldn't have known about us," Patterson said. "We competed with the big schools and won. That's what made is so special. It's just not the same with class basketball as it was when you had one big class playing each other."

The two haven't reflected much on the possibility of some day being inducted into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame, but now that they've reached that 25-year mark, they are eligible.

"Whatever happens in the future, happens," Patterson said. "We're just enjoying where we are now."

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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