Aug 24, 2011, 4:31 AM EDT
Pat Summitt’s never been the shy, retiring type. She’s driven, detailed and demanding. Maybe that’s why the Tennessee women’s basketball coach has won more games than any other person in college, men or women. Maybe that’s why the Vols have won eight NCAA tournaments.
Maybe that’s why she’s one of the rare individuals who transcends their sport.
And maybe that’s why when she says she’ll attack her early onset dementia with the same fervor with which she coaches, you’re scared for the dementia.
Is it ready for that singular glare? Is anything?
Summitt, 59, dealt the sports world a shock with her health announcement Wednesday. Coaches couldn’t believe it, writers heaped praises in tributes and fans tried to cope with the thought of what’s next. (This story of how Summitt found out about the diagnosis is particularly good.)
But really, all of that isn’t necessary. Not yet. Summitt isn’t dying. She isn’t retiring. Hell, she’s still thinking of winning national titles. And why not? She’ll manage her condition, stay active and delegate to her assistant coaches as needed. She’ll do what’s needed, just like always.
That’s what Summitt’s always done. Why would this be any different?
“She’s our John Wooden. If you are a Tennessee fan or not, there’s no denying her place in women’s basketball,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I played for the woman. She’s as tough as nails. People think I’m tough. I’m a pussycat compared to Pat Summitt …. Pat Summitt will fight. Pat Summitt will be on a crusade to help people with dementia.”
That I don’t doubt. Summitt’s done more than just win games. She’s a giant in her sport and helped elevate it from niche offering to a major event. From Graham Hays at ESPN.com:
Without Title IX, there would be no Pat Summitt. But on almost any given day of any given month in Knoxville, the sights and sounds of sport suggest Title IX would not be what it is without Summitt. There were others. Many others. But what she built on a basketball court radiated out to soccer, softball and volleyball fields and courts throughout Tennessee and beyond, stopping only when it bumped up against the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
That Summitt has not gone unappreciated proves only that we do not always fail to recognize genius in our own time. Much as each and every tribute must make her face flush with the discomfort of someone raised to shun such things, she thankfully has experienced the love and respect universally directed her way.
That respect popped up everywhere on Wednesday, whether it was those talking about her indomitable presence or the personal touches that emerged when they were least expected. The woman’s a legend. Simple as that.
She’s not perfect. Her ongoing feud with UConn coach Geno Auriemma has robbed women’s hoops of its version of Duke-Carolina or Yankees-Red Sox, but who knows? This development could change things.
Yet even if her Vols never played the Huskies again, it wouldn’t matter. Summitt’s legacy is secure. She’ll spend the next few years building it even higher and doing more than she’s ever done before. Summitt will keep winning.
But I’m guessing the next few years will serve an even more crucial purpose – ongoing inspiration. From ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel:
Summitt has won more than a thousand games. She has eight NCAA titles. She has done a remarkable job of keeping up with every player who has been a part of that mammoth success over a nearly four-decade span.
But Summitt can’t possibly know all the times when a woman was confronted with a sick child, or a crumbling relationship, or a frail parent, or a job loss, or a frightening X-ray … then remembered being a girl who cursed under her breath after an exhausting workout in Knoxville. And thought, “I got through that. I’ll get through this. Pat wouldn’t expect anything less of me.”
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
May 22, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
One week ago UMKC announced the addition of a fourth player to the program, as 6-10 forward/center Isaac Kreuer will return to the Kansas City metropolitan area after spending last year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. According to the Kansas City Star, first-year head coach Kareem Richardson has filled out his coaching…
May 22, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Will Yeguete just cannot get healthy. The Florida forward missed the final nine games of his sophomore season with a broken foot and then had to sit out much of February after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee as a junior. He returned to play the final six games of the season. Yeguete underwent more…
May 22, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT
On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title. Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up…
May 22, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT
USA Basketball has released a list of 24 players that will be attending training camp in Colorado Springs from June 14th-19th to try and earn a spot on Team USA for the U19 championships, which take place in Prague from June 27th-July 7th. While there is some solid talent on that roster, it’s not necessarily…
May 22, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT
Back in March, former San Diego Torero Brandon Johnson, the school’s all-time leader in points and assists, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his role in a point-shaving scheme during the 2009-2010 season back in March. Johnson was lucky; the state wanted to give him a year. He’ll begin serving his sentence…
May 22, 2013, 10:38 AM EDT
The last that we had heard about the AAC tournament, Mohegan Sun was planning on cobbling together an offer to get bring the ‘old Big East’ to Connecticut to play out their league championship. That does not look like it’s going to end up happening, however. According to a report from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Kyle…
May 22, 2013, 9:47 AM EDT
Enosch Wolf’s suspension from the UConn basketball team has officially been lifted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 7-foot-1 German will be returning to Storrs next season. Wolf was suspended back in February as a result of a domestic dispute where he refused to leave a women’s apartment, pushed her and knocked her glasses…
May 21, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
Butler will begin play in the Big East next season with Hinkle Fieldhouse, its home floor for more than 80 years under renovations that will cost up to $34 million dollars. The university believes the renovations will be complete around November 2014. “The important role our athletic programs have had within Butler’s strategy and national…
May 21, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. — In the Class of 2014, one player who should continue making a name for himself is 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu. He is fresh off his junior season at Fairfield College Preparatory School (Conn.), leading the Jesuits to the championship game of the Class LL. Chukwu is currently on the AAU circuit with Connecticut Basketball…
May 21, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
After spending one year on the coaching staff at LSU, long-time assistant Robert Kirby is once again leaving the SEC, this time to join Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune reports that the first-year LSU assistant resigned as an assistant coach on Monday night in order to take a similar position…
May 21, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins wrapped up a great career with the Fighting Irish earlier this spring. Following her graduation from the University Notre Dame on Sunday, her sports agency, Roc Nation Sports — founded by Jay-Z — rewarded her with a Mercedes Benz. Got surprised with a new mercedes! Thanks so muchto Jay and…
May 21, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
The Connecticut back court was already in good shape with the return of Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. On Tuesday afternoon, Kevin Ollie added to his guard depth with George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah. This news came according to CBSSports.com, who confirmed the transfer through a source. Kromah is graduating from George Washington,…
May 21, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
The field for the Legends Classic has been announced. Pittsburgh highlights the field and will be joined by Stanford, Houston and Texas Tech. Each of the four teams will host a pair on games on campus prior to going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals and the finals. The final two rounds…
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT
Montana announced on Tuesday that Washington transfer Martin Breunig would be transferring into the program. “We are very excited about signing Martin Breunig at the University of Montana,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said in a statement. “He’s a strong, athletic post player, and he really adds good size and strength to our front line.” “We…
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