Syracuse plays Connecticut tonight at Madison Square Garden. As part of the Jimmy V Classic. Syracuse a 5 point underdog.
Jimmy V of course the renown Jimmy Valvano. Famed college basketball coach. Led North Carolina State in 1983 to victory in the NCAA Tournament.
Two interesting things about the Championship game.
North Carolina State was losing by several points with a couple of minutes to go. Valvano had his players start fouling. I was watching the game on TV. I thought he was crazy. It worked, however. North Carolina State won by 2 points.
North Carolina State the National Champion. Valvano went crazy. He was running all over the court looking for someone to hug. His team was hugging each other. Valvano had no one. And then he did. Hugged many times that evening.
In his mid 40’s, Valvano died from cancer.
He was loved by all. Loved to this day.
Ten days before his death, a banquet was held commemorating North Carolina’s 1983 NCAA victory. Ten years to the date.
Valvano spoke. Knowing death was near. Fighting death every day. His words remembered to this day. “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
A few days later, Valvano spoke at another event. The ESPY Awards. The first such event. The recipient to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. Valvano was the recipient.
Valvano spoke again words remembered to this day. He admonished all to laugh, think and cry every day.
Words recalled from his address included…..”Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
The Jimmy V Classic tonight is part of the ongoing fundraising for cancer research. His fellow coaches lead in the fundraising to this day. Jim Boeheim one of them. $36 million so far.
I met Valvano one time. The year he won the NCAA Championship or a year later. In Rome, Italy.
I was in Rome with my wife and two of our daughters. It was night time. We were walking the Via Veneto. I was tired. The women wanted to continue strolling and taking in the sights.
I said I would be sitting at one of the outside cafes drinking espresso when they were done.
I approached the nearest cafe to rest my body. There was Jimmy Valvano sitting enjoying a coffee. I walked up and introduced myself. Syracuse fan, friend of Jim Boeheim.
He asked me to join him. I asked what he was doing sitting alone. He said he was tired and his wife wanted to continue taking in the sights. He told her she could find him at the table. We both had a good laugh when I told him my story.
We talked about basketball. The Championship was still fresh in his mind. Till his wife returned.
My one Jimmy Valvano meeting in of all places, Rome.
You never know.
Yesterday by day was not the best.
First a visit with my relatively new primary care physician. He ascribes my tiredness to old age. He said your 82 and expect to get out of a chair quickly. You’re not that young anymore.
I don’t buy it. In effect he was telling me I was an old man (which I am) and there is nothing that can be done to energize me. Left me thinking all I had left was to wait and die.
Then to pick up my new glasses. I was excited. New frames and all. I would be able to see much better.
An absolute disaster. A screw up somewhere. Both distances a blur. I have to return to my eye doctor to check the prescription out against the new glasses. Then return to the optician to get new lenses.
I have been wearing glasses since my 30’s. Never happened to me before.
Tom and Frances last night. Chart Room first and then dinner at Hot Tin Roof.
My Buffalo friends. Fran once again brought me three containers of sauce with meatballs and pork. Frozen solid. In her suitcase all the way from Buffalo. Also all kinds of Xmas chocolates.
Everything in the freezer! I am on a diet. The food and sweets will last.
My podcast tonight. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. All type goodies to talk about. Join me at 9 my time. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.
I am impressed. I have had advertisers the past six months. Among others, GEICO Insurance and Old Navy.
Enjoy your day!