The last time the No. 52 Greece Athena (Rochester, N.Y.) jersey saw the court, the basketball player wearing it made history.
Come Dec. 20, Jason “J-Mac” McElwain’s jersey will have a permanent home in a glass case on the doors to the gymnasium where the high-functioning autistic student-athlete shocked the world seven years ago.
On Feb. 15, 2006, coach Jim Johnson sent McElwain, the team manager, into the Senior Night game against Spencerport with around 4 minutes left on the clock. McElwain netted 20 points, setting a school record of six 3-pointers in the process, during his first and only varsity appearance.
In the media storm that followed, McElwain earned national and international acclaim, including winning the 2006 ESPY Award for Best Sports Moment. As McElwain rubbed elbows with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Reggie Bush, Oprah Winfrey and President George W. Bush, and even became personal friends with Peyton Manning, the hometown hero stayed true to his local roots by assisting the varsity basketball program at Greece Athena.
Since his scoring spree back in 2006, no one else has worn the No. 52 jersey, according to Johnson. With that in mind, Johnson decided it was time to retire the jersey as this coming year would be his last as a teacher, and he wanted to give McElwain a proper sendoff.
“He’s pretty pumped, and that’s probably an understatement,” said Johnson in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, referring to McElwain’s reaction to the news.
Johnson wanted to wait until the holidays to bring back as many former players as possible for the jersey retiring ceremony before the Dec. 20 matchup against Fairport. Although Johnson plans to retire from his teaching position, he intends to continue coaching for a few more years.
“We won sectionals that year. It was an unbelievable run,” said McElwain, reflecting on the 2006 season when Greece Athena won the Section V Class AA title.
The only other retired Greece Athena basketball jersey is that of John Wallace, who went on to play for Syracuse University in the 1990s before embarking on a seven-year NBA career.
“To be next to the great John Wallace… that team was just unbelievable,” McElwain said.