Lawyer put the legal into Legal Beagle tournament

Jonathan Taylor put the legal into Terry Fox secondary school’s annual Legal Beagle basketball tournament. He died on Nov. 6, at the age of 70.

A lawyer and former chair of the Coquitlam school board, Taylor had a passion for basketball that developed when he was a player at Burnaby Central secondary, said former Terry Fox basketball coach Don Van Os. 

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Even as his professional career took hold, Taylor continued to climb the bleachers at local games, assessing up-and-coming players, pitching in to keep coaches abreast of their development and the game in the forefront.

Van Os said Taylor took a particular interest in the Ravens because of the program’s dogged determination to test itself against top teams. In 1987 he even took a place on the team’s bench as an assistant coach.

But, Van Os said, the commitment in time and energy was too great.

So, over coffee Van Os and Taylor hatched the idea of creating an invitational tournament that would serve as a showcase for top teams from around the province. Taylor also wanted to improve the image of lawyers.

He organized a luncheon for local lawyers to mingle with all the players and coaches participating in the tournament.

“He wanted to bring the best basketball he could to the Port Coquitlam community,” Van Os said.

The first tournament in 1989 was won by Taylor’s old alma mater, Burnaby Central, that then went on to make it to the final four at the provincial championship tournament later that spring. The next year started a run of every provincial championship team taking part in the Legal Beagle that endured for years.

“When you had a great team, you wanted to be in the Legal Beagle,” Van Os said.

Taylor often followed the Ravens to other tournaments, recalled Van Os. He’d take a place on the bus somewhere between the coaches at the front and the players at the back and pore over statistics he’d compiled. 

Once, during a trip to Portland, Taylor made arrangements to get tickets for everyone on the team to a Portland Timbers’ NBA game so they could see another B.C. kid, Steve Nash, who was playing for the visiting Dallas Mavericks at the time.

“He was such a generous individual,” Van Os said.

A celebration of life is being held for Taylor on Saturday, at 2 p.m. at Trinity United Church, 2211 Prairie Ave., in Port Coquitlam.

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