Mr Wooden and I were talking and ….

May15/ 2000

Mr Wooden and I were talking today …..”:  A very special BobLee Buddy started an e-mail to me with that line two days ago.  I get lots of e-mails from buddies.  I read them all.  I savor ones from “him”.  Big time college basketball 2010 is a Skunkworks that makes limburger cheese smell like gardenias. On a good day it is rancid.  Last night the odious cloud parted for a few bright shining moments.

I knew there was a college named Butler.  I did not know they were Bulldogs …. or that they were located in Indianapolis ….. or that their coach was my new favorite coach of any sport any where.  If I had had to guess where Butler was located I would have guessed Muncie or Peoria or Zanesville …. some innocuous zip code in Fly-over Country.  A Butler grad would be as ignorant about Wake Forest or Elon.  “A Butler grad” ?

If you meet one during a lay-over in DFW Airport now you have something to open a conversation.  “Hey that basketball team of yours played some great games back in 2010.  Whatever happened to that tall skinny white kid that looked like Richie Cunningham’s brother ….. the one that almost made the Hail Mary?

My new favorite coach in any sport anywhere, Brad Stevens, is the youngest coach in an NCAA finals since Branch McCracken.   How many of you knew the McCrackens’ had a son named Branch?  One of your fellow BobLee Buddies knew Branch ….. and A LOT more.

I can’t describe Coach Reed in any way that does him justice.  If I list the Top Ten Reasons I bother with this website, Coach Reed will be in there before I get to #5 counting down from #1.

Coach Reed is Basketball’s Johnny Appleseed.  When Dr Naismith hung the peach basket in that Springfield YMCA, Coach Reed was holding the ladder for him.  He doesn’t deny it.  He recommended to Adolph Rupp that “a brown suit” would be a nice touch.  Later he handed John Wooden a rolled-up program to hold on the bench. – “A gentle man” and a real gentleman down in Beaumont Texas ….. BobLee’s special buddy – Coach Reed. 

I have permission to call him Neil or Paul but I prefer

….the simple title he most cherishs – Coach…

the simple title that he most cherishes – “Coach”.  His close second is “Marine”.

He has enshrined yours truly in the pantheon of great sportswriters with Jim Murray, Grantland Rice, Shirley Povich and Red Smith so the hyperbole gets pretty thick when Coach Reed and I get to going.

Our friendship is too special to explain.  When he wrote me …… “Mr Wooden and I were talking earlier today about Mr Hinkle and such/such game in the Butler Fieldhouse back in …..”  I closed my eyes and I could hear Coach Reed and Mr Wooden recalling every dribble in that long ago game from well over 60 years ago.  Yes THAT Mr Wooden and their friendship goes waaaaay back.

Do the math?  A former clubhouse boy for The Gashouse Gang who still feels the frostbite from the Chosan Reservoir isn’t a Baby Boomer.  I could say he’s forgotten more basketball than the Weedons, Kilgos, Woodys and assorted area hoop yokels have ever known but I would be wrong because …… Coach Reed has never forgotten ANYTHING.

Hinkle Fieldhouse was the “just like” that Hoosier-bred Everett Case had in mind when he designed William Neal Reynolds Coliseum.  “If rafters could talk ….”.   Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse is to basketball history what Genesis is to the Bible.

Watching Brad Stevens last night, I saw a young Coach Reed.  There is a LOT of crap in Big Time College basketball.  Famous/wealthy coaches who would pimp out their mamma (and their sister) to sign a one&done McD AA.  As they sweep up the confetti from the elevated court of Lucas Oil Arena, those slimeballs with their slick sales pitches are back out there flimflamming kids and buying off AAU thugs.  Scattered among’em are a handful of Brad Stevens.  America met one last night.  Coach Reed knew Brad before last night.  He knew Brad’s shoe size and his mamma’s biscuit recipe.

Richie Cunningham’s brother’s Hail Mary came within a frog hair of being THE SHOT heard ‘round the sports world.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack and the Nored kid and their Bulldog buddies should never have to pick up a lunch check in Indianapolis ever again.  Peyton Manning will probably drive the convertible that Brad & Gordon ride in in the “We Love Butler” Parade. To quote Coach K “We won the game.  Butler did not lose the game.”  Coach K went on to laud Coach Stevens and what he represents for college basketball.  A rare and wonderful anomaly.

How cool is Gordon Hayward?  Even the residents of French Lick think this kid is special.  They know something in French Lick about goofy-looking white kids who have “game”.

I haven’t said anything yet about Duke winning.  The majority of readers of this column are not Duke fans to put it mildly.  One game nor one column will not undo decades of “hating Dook” for 99% of those who are eat up with that ridiculous cancer.  The Internet ghouls and goblins are as creepily pathetic as ever.  I’m simply not wired that way.

Other than his sideline profanity, I’ve never been critical of Mike Krzyzewski.  “Henderson’s elbow” …… “back surgery” …… “flopping” ……  Laettner’s stomp” ….. The San Francisco earthquake ….. 9/11 ….. et al …. the endless litany of mythical crimes against mankind attributed to the man and his program.  The book that some smart aleck yahoo wrote about “hating Dook”.  I never even picked it up.  Agreeing with me on this is NOT a requirement for being a BobLee Buddy or Babe.  Good thing huh. ….. INCOMING!

“K4Rings” – OK, I won’t go quite THAT far.  Dean has two.  Roy has two (so far).  Mike has four (so far).  But but but ….. But nuthin’ …. Reality bites!

It’s an old joke.   Guy dies and finds himself in the utter depths of Hell …. mired up to his armpits in a vile swamp of odious fecal matter.  He turns to a like-mired soul and says “it can’t possibly get any worse than this?”  Second guy replies “Oh yeah? That’s what you think.  Wait til the Devil comes thru in his motorboat.” ….. 

A lot of Sons & Daughters of The Old Well who have been fussing and fuming and muttering “how could you, Roy?” may feel like those muck-mired souls.  No sooner had they snarled “who the hell is Dayton?”  …. than a ferret-faced Devil has come roaring thru in his motorboat.  Bart Ehrman is not the only Tar Heel today who is convinced “There is no God!”.

Time to haul out that silly Helms thing …. again.

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