MOUNT VERNON — Over 100 people attended “A Night to Remember,” at The Dan Emmett Conference Center on Tuesday night as Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas led a seminar on learning systems and memory training. The program was sponsored by the Ohio State University Alumni Club of Knox County and the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
Lucas is known for his memory and learning techniques, but also is recognized for his accomplishments in basketball.
When he was a young boy, he enjoyed basketball and wanted to “be the best,” so much so that he would practice well into the night.
“I shot a minimum of 5,000 shots a day, every summer day, and some days I would shoot more ... but with a purpose, not just shooting but with an incredible purpose. I used my mind as well as my physical abilities to make me a better basketball player, and that is what it takes if you want to be one of the best,” said Lucas.
Playing for Middletown High School, he led Middletown in 76 straight victories. Throughout his grade school, junior high and high school career, he had only one loss and 151 wins. Lucas is acknowledged as an outstanding player in the history of Ohio State University basketball, receiving many awards for his achievements.
He was chosen in 1960 as a player for the Olympic basketball team, under the leadership of coach Pete Newell, and led the team to a gold-medal victory. Lucas was drafted into the NBA, where he played for the Cincinnati Royals, now known as the Sacramento Kings. During his career, he also played for the San Francisco Warriors and the New York Knicks, and has played in seven NBA All-Star games.
Lucas has played in a high school state championship, a college national championship, an Olympic gold medal game and a world professional championship, making him one of only three players to have won in every level of championship competition.
“It was difficult ... but I was very fortunate,” he said, adding that he had the opportunity to work with a great group of supporting players who worked together to achieve the goal.
“If you are going to be one of the best you have to be willing to work harder, have a bigger heart and use your mind as well to be able to succeed,” he said.
Also known as Dr. Memory, Lucas started learning techniques on memorization when he was a young boy. Bored, he turned learning into a fun-filled way to educate himself.
“All children have very active minds, get bored easily and want things to do, and I was no different. I came up with all sorts of mental games to keep my mind occupied when I had nothing to do,” he said.
Through these mental tasks, he discovered a principle that he refers to as automatic learning.
“To understand this concept [go] back to your first learning experience as very young children, when we reached the age to where we could communicate with our parents and understand them. ... They taught us the only way possible, by pointing to and identifying tangible objects that have an identity that were in the environment around us,” said Lucas.
In schools, education is commonly taught through repetition, he said, but through his learning system, the focus is on making intangible objects register in the mind with an identity, thus allowing recognition and remembrance.
“It’s about giving ink on a page an identity,” he said.
Lucas said much of what is learned in an institution is intangible, but when those intangibles are given an identity, they become less of a problem to learn.
Memorization is such a key tool that Lucas uses it in his personal life, so much so that when he became a Christian, he dedicated a year to memorizing all of the New Testament.
“I wanted to learn it. It took me a year to do it, but I did it. I’ve quoted the whole New Testament before,” he said.
He has also memorized the Manhattan phone book, several different magazines and books. He has shared his knowledge on automatic learning on various television talk shows and conducted seminars for churches, organizations and corporate businesses.
Now Lucas spends much of his time creating and working on an education system that can be used to learn any subject or topic through using his techniques.
“You are attracted to those things that are fun,” he said.
And that is what his techniques involves making learning a fun activity for anyone.