Written by Joe Kleinsasser Tuesday, 01 June 2010 20:31
Radio broadcast legend Paul Harvey had a segment called “The Rest of the Story,” stories that contained unexpected endings.
In this age of nonstop media coverage, we are fed a steady dose of tidbits about sports celebrities. And for all we know, what do we know for sure? In some cases, i.e. Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger to name two, we know more than we ever needed to know. Even so, we rarely, if ever, know the whole story.
Bob Huggins, former coach at Kansas State and Cincinnati and now West Virginia, has always had success, but his off-the-court reputation is not particularly great.
One wonders how he was given the nickname “Huggy Bear.” He is known for yelling and being intimidating. His teams had a 0.0 graduation rate for several seasons and his players were viewed as thugs in trouble with the law. In one case, two student-athletes were accused of punching a police horse.
He had an embarrassing DUI arrest that was caught on video and is credited with starting a feud with a university president that led to his firing in 2005.
Huggins also is considered to be incredibly loyal, although he left KSU hanging after one season.
I read that Huggins stuck with his point guard Joe Mazzulla when Mazzulla’s shoulder was so useless that he was shooting free throws with the wrong hand. He stuck with the injured guard even though he hadn’t made a 3-pointer all season until the Elite Eight.
Mazzulla thought his basketball days were over when he was about to have radical shoulder surgery that doctors said no hoops career had ever survived.
It might shock Huggins’ critics, but after Mazzulla helped West Virginia beat Kentucky, he went looking to hug one man—Huggins.
“I had to find him,” Mazzulla said. “I never want him to forget that I love him. What he did for me, how he stuck with me, nobody else would’ve done it.”
And then there’s the coach and team that everyone loves to hate—unless you’re a Duke fan, of course. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has always been respected, but any coach who wins a lot generates a lot of dislike as well.
Don’t count Ross Deutsch among Coach K’s critics. He played on a team for Coach K at what amounts to a summer camp for basketball-crazed adults. Deutsch and Coach K won the camp championship, after which both returned to their normal lives.
Six months after the camp ended, Deutsch’s 6-year-old son, Rory, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Rory’s life slowly began to slip away.
To this day, Deutsch isn’t sure how Krzyzewski found out about Rory’s illness. Krzyzewski said someone from the camp let him know.
Coach K and Deutsch talked a few times over the next few months before Deutsch went into a shell. According to ESPN.com, mere months after the diagnosis, Rory, then 7, was going to die.
Deutsch stopped taking phone calls, but for whatever reason, one time he picked up the phone and it was Krzyewski.
“He said: ‘Ross, in basketball we define success by winning and losing, but with Rory, with this sickness, you don’t define it with a cure or no cure. The definition will be how you handle it. You have handled the most horrific illness as winners.’ It was a little thing. And it wasn’t like I needed to hear this from Mike Krzyzewski. But it was the perfect thing to hear from him at the perfect time.”
The next day, Ross and his wife, Mindy, established the Rory David Deutsch Foundation for brain tumor research. Rory died July 22, 1998, five months after his diagnosis.
Coach K held a charity dinner for the foundation. He also told those attending the speech that at every game he would wear a pin on his lapel that Deutch had given him—Rory’s pin.
Coach K said, “I've worn it every game since because I’m proud of it. It puts the game in perspective. How can a game ever be that difficult? It can’t ever be more difficult than what the Deutsch team went through.”
If nothing else, we should remember there’s often more than meets the eye.