Friday, August 1, 2014
A few more hoops dinner parties
By Jeff Goodman
It’s almost time for high school seniors to start filling out their college applications, on which they’ll answer essay questions like the standard: If you could invite four people, living or dead, to dinner, who would it be and why? That got us to thinking. What if we could host a hoops-centric dinner party? Who would make our guest list?
This week, each of our writers answered that question. We encourage you to do the same via Twitter using #collegehoopsdinner.
Jeff Goodman asked some prominent coaches for their lists, and here's what he got:
Location: Il Mulino in downtown New York City. I’d have Veal Milanese.
Cawood Ledford: He was the voice of Kentucky basketball, and I became close friends with him.
Billy Donovan: Love him like a son. We always have a great time together.
Jerry Tarkanian: Has been a friend for 40 years and is one of the best this business has ever seen.
Bob Huggins: He’s just plain fun, but I’d need to rest up for about two weeks before and afterward.
Location: At my house so no one else is around. There’s no noise, no crowd, no one asking these guys for autographs. I’d have them to myself and cater in soul food. I’d hope the dinner goes as long as possible.
Nolan Richardson: He’s my No. 1 guy. If I only had one, he’d be the guy. He had the most dominant pressing teams ever, and they were terrific on the offensive end also. I’d love to steal some ideas from him.
Dean Smith: When I was in college thinking about getting into coaching, he was the guy. As I learned about coaching, he was the innovator, and it was incredible how much people stole from him. He didn’t get enough credit for being such an innovator. So many things we think of now as common sense were done by him.
John Chaney: When you talk about coaches as mentors, people who help mold and build young men, I don’t think there was anyone better.
Len Bias: I’ve seen all the tapes and highlights, and I coached with two people in Oliver Purnell and Ron Bradley who were assistants on that team. So many people say he was a better college player than Michael Jordan. We know so much about the other guys who have gone on to stardom in the NBA, but we know very little about him as far as his makeup as a player.
Location: That’s easy. A barbecue at my house.
Mark Emmert: Because of the changing landscape, I’d want to tell him how much good there is going on in college campuses in terms of educating student-athletes and how they aren’t treated differently anymore. He’d be proud of the fact that they go to class and are held accountable. I’d also like to ask him what he thinks the future of the NCAA holds and also apologize for my mistakes and let him know how devastating it was for my family, my coaches and my program to go through what we did.
Rick Pitino: He’s the best I’ve ever gone against. He knew what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it and how to attack it. It was like he was in our huddle.
Shabazz Napier: I’d like to tell him how proud I am of him and ask him how he developed his swag. He really matured and represented his school and the sport well.
John Wildhack: He’s the one at ESPN who took a chance by hiring me. He’s also the one who told me to get back into coaching and get a return investment for ESPN by making the SEC better. He gave me a great opportunity and then put me to work.
Location: Caffe Luna Rosa on the beach in Delray Beach, Florida. It’s awesome -- good food and a great view. But my favorite food is in Memphis. I’d want to jump around to a bunch of spots in Memphis.
Lute Olson: He gave me the opportunity to play at Arizona and be able to stay on the staff, work for him at a very young age and be a part of a national championship. He’s the greatest practice coach in the history of the game.
John Calipari: He brought me to Memphis, and I was able to learn a lot from him. He gave me an opportunity to be a part of the greatest run in college basketball history, even if it was only for one year. Without him, I wouldn’t have a shot to be the head coach here.
R.C. Johnson: He took an unbelievable leap of faith hiring me at just 31 years of age to follow a guy like Calipari. He gave me the keys. It was an unreal leap of faith. Thankfully, everyone turned it down too.
Tom Bowen: My current athletic director. He’s one of the best ADs in the country -- if not the best. He’s allowed me to have an unbelievable contract and continue to employ me. He’s extremely innovative, and I’m grateful and thankful to him for all he’s done.