Monday, August 22, 2011
Kardashian wedding is 'gratifying' for coach
By Diamond Leung
When Long Beach State coach Dan Monson works out at his local gym, he sometimes tunes in to watch "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."
But unlike most fans of the reality show, Monson actually received a coveted invitation to Kim Kardashian's wedding and was present at the star-studded affair on Saturday in Montecito, Calif.
"I don't think there was anything about it that you would say, 'That's the average wedding,'" Monson said. "I couldn't get over the beauty of the flowers and the setting, and I'm a guy. I'm not someone that looks at that and would be struck by flowers. It was just as classy as you would think."
For Monson, who coached groom Kris Humphries during his one-and-done stay at Minnesota, it was a proud moment to be in attendance with his wife, Darci. While the two of them did plenty of people-watching with Hollywood A-listers such as Lindsay Lohan and Eva Longoria at the event, the wedding also offered Monson an opportunity to celebrate his former player's success.
Dan Monson, left, sits with Kris Humphries at a 2004 news conference where Humphries announced he was making himself eligible for the NBA draft.
Humphries was named the 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year while playing under Monson, but the former Minnesota Mr. Basketball left for the NBA draft after a season in which the Golden Gophers won only 12 games and tied for last in the conference.
Monson, who Minnesota fired in 2006, said he spoke with Humphries at the draft party and didn't necessarily leave off on bad terms, but that the two did not reconnect until the player called out of the blue in March.
"I've been thinking a lot about you. I'm in a really good place professionally. I've met somebody special. I've been reflecting back, and you had a lot to do with that. I never got a chance to thank you," Monson recalls Humphries saying.
The player and coach have remained in contact in recent months, with Monson watching Kardashian's show to get glimpses of Humphries. At the wedding, they were reunited.
Monson had wondered whether the made-for-television event would offer him even an opportunity for hellos, but he ended up having numerous private moments with Humphries and also his parents.
For Monson, things are coming together at Long Beach State as well. The 49ers captured the Big West regular-season title last season and has conference player of the year Casper Ware returning along with six other seniors to try to reach the NCAA tournament.
Long Beach State under Monson has put together difficult schedules to prepare for league play, and this season is no different with road games against North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas, Pittsburgh and San Diego State. "This year isn’t about playing that schedule," Monson said. "It's about having success with that schedule."
Before the season gets going, Monson got to experience quite a memorable day. Shortly after he and his wife checked into their hotel for the wedding, a dozen cupcakes arrived with a nice note from Humphries and Kardashian. At the wedding, Monson pointed out the sports figures while his wife recognized the celebs.
Cameras and cell phones were not allowed because the exclusive rights to the wedding had been sold, but Santa Clara assistant coach James Ware, a former director of basketball operations under Monson, offered a snapshot moment from a guest table that included Humphries' former and current coaches.
"We were all sitting there, and Kris has come over and said 'hello' earlier in the evening," Ware said. "Well, Kris comes back a second time without Kim again and Monson says, 'Hey Kris, we are tired of seeing you, and you've never been good at sharing even in basketball. I'm just telling you: Don't come back over here again without bringing Kim.'
"The entire table erupted because Kris as a player has never been an assist guy."
Monson did eventually get to meet Kardashian, but it was Humphries who made his day.
"It's very gratifying as a coach that they think enough for you to be included," Monson said. "For it to be such an event, marrying a Kardashian really adds to the whole thing."