Let's thank VCU Coach Shaka Smart and Marquette Coach Buzz Williams for showing what is good in sports. Coach Smart has taken all they naysayers and critics and used what they said to motivate his team in a positive manner. His kids have won 3 NCAA games in 5 days and deserve to be in the Sweet Sixteen. They may not win another game, but they have truly given us another memorable NCAA moment, a Cinderella team that proves heart and determination can get you pretty far. As Kenny Smith has been saying as an analyst in the CBS studio, heart will win but will also lose to heart and skill. Well, VCU has taken down a few giants with heart (and skill), but mostly something else people forget-determination! Going into the next 2 weekends, I don't think that VCU will go George Mason or Butler on us and make the Final Four or the Championship Game, but if they did, I would cheer and smile. They are winners, but most of all they have integrity.
Buzz Williams showed the raw emotion that basketball should have at every game. It may not have been Jim Valvano, but his outburst of joy, tears, and emotion with his players and ultimately, his wife and kids, cements him as one of the all time greats in March Madness. Earlier after the brackets were announced, he said the only way to prove you were tournament worthy was to win your games. That is so true...but now, he has shown what too many athletes and coaches don't-emotion is okay...winning is great in context. Enjoying a win can be done without disrespecting the other team. In fact, when shared with your family and team, it shows your perspective is clear and priorities are straight. Good job, Buzz.
I really don't have any bad sports...some of the losing coaches showed some class, especially Lorenzo Romar at Washington and Jamie Dixon at Pitt. Both could have complained about the refs or other end of the game issues, but each congratulated the victors and made no excuses. Romar is an excellent recruiter who habitually has Washington in the top 25 and the tournament every year. But this year, he showed true sportsmanship. Roy Williams of UNC said he liked Romar and had such a hard time enjoying the victory because of his fondness of Coach Romar. Recruiting is always important and winning is the ultimate goal, but thanks Coach Romar for giving us a dose of integrity to mix in.
Coach Dixon's team was a number one seed...possibly a title contender all year. They did not have a huge individual talent, but their overall team talent won the tough regular season Big East. Coach Dixon now has the bigger monkey on his back of getting to a Final Four. He hasn't and obviously, won't this year. Does this make him a bad coach? No way...took Dean Smith and John Wooden awhile to get to the Final Four. Coach Dixon may need to tweak a few things to get a team to a Final Four, but don't label him a failure. He has a bright future and is an outstanding leader. Remember how he stood tall with all the emotion surrounding his brave sister's death a few years back. How about when he stopped at a car accident scene to assist. Dixon understands balance. Sure he is disappointed that he hasn't had better results in the tourney, but c'mon, in real life points, he is a true winner to his team, school, family, and fans. Add his coaching success and you have the makings of an outstanding person.
Don't want to critique anyone today, not even the NFL. Maybe they can read this or other testimonials about athletes with integrity and owners with ethics and get the lock out thing squared away. Fortunately for us, when you add players like LT, Drew Brees, and other top notch individuals (notice I did not say athletes) and add them to the Rooney family, the Green Bay trust, and other great owners (as well as coaches like Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton and GM's like Bill Pollian) you know that the good guys always win...so the NFL will be okay.
Good sports in the NBA? Well, how about Derek Fisher? I mean, this guy really goes all out every night, leads the union, and still has time to make public service commercials for his family. Let's just say that everyone, in sports and not in sports, could benefit by reading a little about D-Fish and his outlook on life.
Thank you Coach Dixon, Coach Williams, Coach Smart, and Coach Romar showing that you can be a goo sport in victory or defeat.