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Passing of a legend

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

There was tragic news in the college basketball world with the loss of Butch VanBreda Kolff. had a tremendous resume, coaching for a long time in both the collegiate and pro ranks.

I remember watching him coach when I was younger and over the years I saw him grow as a coach and I grew to appreciate him. He was a guy filled with so much spirit, enthusiasm and energy. He coached with a terrific love and passion for the sport of basketball and he passed that spirit on to his son, Jan, who played professionally and later coached on the college ranks at Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, St. Bonaventure and Cornell.

People will remember Butch for his handling of some great Laker teams where he coached a unit that included Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. VanBreda Kolff was instrumental in the success of many players. He coached Bill Bradley at Princeton and got the most out of his talent. He knew how to maximize the ability of the star, and with the Tigers, he built the offense around the future U. S. Senator.

Between his college and pro coaching, he won over 750 games and he also loved his country as he served as a Marine in World War II. He also played for the New York Knicks in the late 40s. His resume also includes induction into the New York Sports Hall of Fame and he served two stints as head coach at Hofstra.

It's been a tough year for the college coaching fraternity as we've suffered the tragic losses of great people like Skip Prosser, Ray Mears and Jim Killingsworth.

VanBreda Kolff lived 84 special years and touched the lives of many players. Our sympathy goes out to the VanBreda Kolff family as we are sorry for his loss.

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