Last night at the Final Four in Houston, easily a top 30 Final Four city. The Connecticut Huskies won their fifth national championship in the last 24 years. Bobby Hurley, I'm sorry, Danny Hurley gets his first as a head coach. John Feinstein joins us, talk a little basketball, talk Dean Smith award, and a little Masters as well.
The one and only John Feinstein. Sir, how you been? I haven't spoken in a while, sorry.
Been fine Adam, thanks. Can't complain if I did, nobody really want to hear it, so we'll move on. Alright, so I want to start with the Dean Smith award, then we'll get back to what happened last night and try to put it into some historical context. Because I read the story that Mike Krzyzewski would be presented with the Dean Smith award, and I know you knew Dean Smith very well, and you also obviously know Mike Krzyzewski very well. And I just wondered how the fan base of North Carolina was going to process Mike Krzyzewski getting a Dean Smith award.
I talked to Luke Tkach about this last week, but I'm just curious your thoughts, I know you're very involved in this. Well yeah, I am very involved because the Dean Smith award was my idea. When Dean passed away in 2015, you know how I felt about him. And I suggested to the board of the U.S. basketball writers that we create an award in Dean's name that would be given to someone in basketball, didn't have to be a coach, although all the winners so far have been coaches. Who exemplified the things that Dean stood for that had nothing to do with winning basketball games. And people down there I think are very familiar with Dean's role in helping desegregate restaurants in Chapel Hill and some of the stands he took on various political issues, including nuclear proliferation, I can say that.
And the board immediately said, yes, this is something we should do. We gave the first one to John Thompson, who was very close to Dean as you know, was an assistant coach for him on the Olympic team. And one of my great moments actually came because I was given the honor of calling John to tell him that he'd won the award. And John would never answer his phone. He would call you back. And whenever he called me back, he would say, what the hell do you want? And then we'd use his favorite word and the sentence that I can't repeat on the radio. And I'd usually say whatever it was I wanted. And I said, well, I want to I want to tell you something that I hope will make you happy. And and he said, well, I doubt it and used his favorite word again. And I said, well, we created this award, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's a name. And we voted you as the first winner. Dead silence on the phone for several seconds. And finally said, you got me.
You got me. And because he was so honored and touched to win an award that was named for Perdeen. And the first dinner presentation we had was in Chapel Hill. And all the prominent Carolina people were there.
Roy Williams was there. And and it was it was actually a great thing. And but when John spoke, John spoke as John, which meant there was a lot of profanity.
And it was a very well-dressed upper class crowd. And there were, you know, all these little gasps as John would talk as John. I mean, first time he referenced being, he said, first time I met him, he came to my house to recruit one of my players. And I said, who is this little white boy coming in my house? And so finally, after the fourth or fifth time, he looked over at me and he said, John, you need to explain to these people that I speak two languages, English and profanity. And that was John. And to answer anybody from Carolina who would have an objection to this.
First of all, I don't care. But second of all, Mike Krzyzewski, even though years ago he and Dean were such intense rivals, came to exemplify all of Dean's best qualities. And when we sat down with the Carolina people to discuss that first dinner with John Thompson and how we would handle the award going forward, there was a an agreement among all of us, the Carolina people, the U.S. BWA people that after Mike Krzyzewski retired, he was obviously someone who should win this award.
And so he's retired. And it was unanimous when we discussed who should be the winner this year, that it was Dean. And I'm going to have the honor of presenting it to Mike. And that means a lot to me because of how I felt about Dean and how I feel about Mike. Well, they're certainly used to the profanity, just in case.
I could throw in a few of my own. That's exactly right. And Mike is different than John. But we all know he'd be perfectly capable of throwing in profanities like John if he wanted to. No question about it.
John Feinstein is joining us here. One way he doesn't exemplify Dean, by the way, for the record. Right.
Look, it's an easy choice. I don't know all of Coach's work. Right. And some of the other winners, just so you know, Tom Izzo won the award. Tubby Smith won the award. Fran, excuse me, Fran Duncy won the award. George Rattling won the award, who was also very close to Dean. And I'm very proud of this list of award winners.
Now, John Feinstein is joining us. And yes, I knew Luke had told me that, why I was unaware, I don't know. But Luke had told me that this was your brainchild, much like that tournament in Washington that Georgetown and Maryland won. Georgetown. No, that's right. GW.
Maryland's W. Right. And again, John and I, through the years, had our differences. I respect that.
I dedicated my last book, co-dedicated my last book to John, the one on race and sports. Right. But one of the areas where we differed was on local rivalries. John hated them, and I love them. And Georgetown always refused to take part in the tournament, but Maryland and George Washington did, and we raised a lot of money.
Yeah, those things are, there are two ways to look at them. Sometimes the competition makes it harder for one side to recruit, or they don't want to, you know, bear the brunt of a loss to a local rival. And the other side of it, the one I take, and we talk about it here with football, it's like it's just good for the area to have these games played.
So East Carolina and North Carolina, or East Carolina and NC State, it's good for North Carolina, high school football and college football to have these games played. The other thing that many coaches, because John wasn't the only one, don't take into account, is the players who should be right near the top of your thoughts. Right.
And who should be, again, near the top of your thoughts. They love those rivals. They love those games. And yet you're right, there are a lot of coaches who, oh, it might affect my recruiting. Right. And to this day, Georgetown doesn't play Maryland in basketball, having nothing to do with a charity event. And I think, you know, here we are in Washington, we have, and this isn't relevant to what you want to talk to me about, but we have Maryland, we have Georgetown, we have GW, we have Howard.
Yeah. We have a lot of coaches in the NCAA tournament this year. We have Navy, we have American, we have George Mason, which went to a Final Four, and very few local rivalries. Whereas in Philadelphia, the Big Five play each other every year. And somehow, Jay writes in the Hall of Fame, even though he played four Big Five games every single year.
Yeah. And those are loseable games because there's a culture of really good basketball. In fact, in Jay's last year, second to last year, coming off the national championship in 2018, so it was not the second to last year, but coming off the national championship 2018, they lost to Penn in the Big Five game, and Penn won the Big Five that year. So, and there's nothing better than Big Five basketball, especially games played in the cholesterol, but that's another issue for another day. I saw your tweet about the NIT final in Vegas because Madison Square Garden was being used for the NCAA tournament.
Why you would take it out there rather than take it to a place like the Palestra, I could not agree with John Feinstein more on that. And before I get to the Masters, thoughts on Connecticut? I mean, they are a blue blood, it's hard to deny, even though it hasn't necessarily been that long. It's been about 40 years since Jim Calhoun took that program big time, maybe a little bit less than that, but they belong.
No, there's no question. And, you know, it's funny how you sort of flipped and said Bobby Hurley instead of Danny Hurley. Danny Hurley's been dealing with that all his life. He was Bobby's younger brother, not his talented younger brother, went to Seton Hall, actually quit the team for a while because it was so difficult to be in their home state, New Jersey, and have fans not understand that he was not Bobby. He was a good player, but Bobby's one of the greatest guards of all time in college basketball, still the all time assist leader, won two national championships and came back and had a solid career at Seton Hall and first built a program at St. Patrick's, a high school program in New Jersey. He actually had a coach against his dad, who's in the Hall of Fame, and then built Wagner, built Rhode Island, and now he's built a national champion. And I'm really happy for Danny Hurley because he's a good guy. I know people look at him on the bench and say he's insane. And he'd be the first one to tell you, I actually did a column on Danny and Bobby a couple years ago, and I asked each of them, which one of you is more insane? And they both claimed it was them. Bobby said he was more insane, Danny said he was more insane, and he said, I'll prove to you that I'm more insane.
When I talk to Bobby half the time on game day, which was all the time and is all the time, I'm usually under the bed because I'm so scared. It looked to me like Danny had kind of dialed it back a little bit, but when you're beating everybody by double digits, it makes it a lot easier. And Hoops and I walked out of the building saying that team has as good a chance to win the national championship as anybody. And I don't think it took a genius to figure that out, but they won every game by double digits. The last team, the two teams I remember that were that dominant, Caroline in 2009 was the dominant team throughout the tournament, and Indiana way back in 81 just crushed everybody they played throughout the tournament. Those Indiana teams, they won what, three titles in about a six year span, didn't they? They won three titles actually in 12 years. They didn't go back to back, that's right. I guess there's some stuff about Indiana basketball, I'm not sure what.
Yeah, season on the break might have been the book that launched a John Feinstein into the stratosphere. They somehow separated the most outspoken players from those players who are playing at live golf. Yeah, well, you know how the green jacket guys are, and they don't want controversy. They don't want any big discussion about what will Rory and Patrick say to each other on the first tee. They may have to deal with it Saturday and Sunday depending on how Thursday and Friday go, but they're not going to go out of their way. It's not like a regular PGA Tour event where the people are dying to have something to talk about besides birdies and ponies. At Augusta, you're supposed to just talk about how great the golf course is and how great the tournament is, or excuse me, the tuna-ment is.
John Feinstein is with us. I hope it happens Saturday and Sunday. I hope Rory gets the play with, maybe not a read, but I'd love to see a Rory with a Brooks Koepka or somebody like that, because I just think it would add a little spice. Do you think the Masters, as an entity, would rather have done something to exclude many of the live players?
No, I don't. Again, I'm not a fan of the men in green, as you know, but I think they want it to be about the golf. At a major championship, I don't care if it's the Masters, the US Open, the British Open, or the PGA, it should be about the golf. It shouldn't be about the politics. And the other thing is, let's say you put Rory with Patrick Reed or Phil or something like that, they're all going to act like they're best friends.
And you don't need more spice on the weekend of a major than the fact that there's a major championship at stake. And I think that Fred Ridley, the chairman, and all of his fellow members feel that way, and I rarely agree with them on anything, but on this I would. I think the comments that they have made, though, lead me to believe that they might tweak membership, not membership, tweak exemptions in the future to make it more difficult. But honestly, the world rankings will take care of all of that. The world rankings will take care of that, and their past champions are never going to be cut out. They would never do that.
And I also happen to think, Adam, that, who knows, but by 2025, two years from now, I don't think there's going to be an issue. I think there's going to be some kind of merger between LIV and the tour, and everybody will shake hands and say, oh, we weren't really that mad at each other. That's what happened with the AFL and the NFL. That's what happened with the ABA and the NBA. That's what happened with the NHL and the WHA. And in fact, it even happened in tennis. There was a schism when tennis first became an open, shortly after tennis became an open sport.
There were two different tours on the men's side, and the women were considered just an afterthought back then, until Billie Jean King changed all that. But eventually, they're all going to get together, and you know why, Adam? It's not going to be because it's best for golf. It's going to be because of money. Of course. That's why everything happens in sports. There's no question.
Final thing. Tiger Woods said today, forget about whether or not he can win and all that. Tiger Woods made kind of an allusion to three years or so from now, playing in a cart and playing with Fred Couples. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever thought he would entertain playing a PGA Tour Champions event. But he's talking about that now.
Well, here's what happens. First of all, you get older. And when you're 25 or 22, 21 in Tiger's case, and winning major championships, you don't think you're ever going to be 50. You don't think you're ever going to slow down. Jack Nicklaus said he'd never play the senior tour.
He won seven events, seven majors, excuse me, on a senior tour. And I understand why you'd say, I'm never going to play in a cart. I'm never going to play golf courses that are 6,800 yards long with all the flag sticks in the middle of greens.
But then, when it's right there in front of you, and it's maybe your only option if you want to keep playing golf, then you think, well, maybe I'll do that. You know, and you say, well, I'll do it so I can be with Fred Couples. Well, Fred Couples will be almost 70 by then, just for the record.
Or 6 or 7. And what else is Tiger Woods going to do besides play golf? 2050. I don't know. He's not going to go on TV. He's not going to be in the booth?
He's not going to work on his memoir with me. Oh, come on. He might. Yeah, well, okay. I'm just going to, when we hang up, I'll sit here and wait for the phone to ring. He might.
If he wants it done properly, he will. Well, thank you. But the point being that everybody changes as they get older. You know, I just played AARP commercial before I came on about how we all get older and wiser.
I can attest to the older part. And, you know, Tiger's body isn't what it once was, and his mindset isn't what it once was. And it's interesting to me that the one change I've seen in Tiger Woods, because people say to me, you know, has he changed? No, he hasn't changed at all. He's the same guy he always was.
Except for this. He used to not love attention because there was so much of it because he was so good. Now he craves attention like most people. And it's like when Bob Knight used to say, well, I don't care what anybody says about me.
I never met anybody who cared more than Bob Knight. And now that, you know, it's the old saying about athletes in general, they always want to say hello when it's time to say goodbye. And I'm not saying it's Tiger's time to say goodbye, but he sure as hell wants to say hello more now than he used to. He seems to have better relationships with everybody around him, at least in terms of the players, than he ever had.
Yeah, and you know where that started, interestingly enough? When he was in as vice captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup team. Because Davis Love was one of the few people in golf he actually liked. When Davis asked him to be a vice captain, it was a way for him to, again, stay involved, be in golf. Even though he wasn't playing at that point.
And because he's a competitor, he really took to that role. And I know because I wrote the book that year, the first major, so I talked to every player on both teams. And I know the American players were really surprised at how into it Tiger was, and really happy about how into it Tiger was. And Davis told me that it got to the point before the matches actually began, that when he saw Tiger's number come up on his phone, he'd kind of look at his watch and say, do I have an hour? And that was completely different than the old Tiger Woods. That's where it really began.
Yeah, I agree. I think it's been great to see the connection between he and Justin Thomas and Rory McElroy and those guys. And obviously, he and Fred are kind of besties now, too. Everybody loves Fred.
If you meet somebody who doesn't like Fred, couples call me, because I want to know why. But the other thing I'll say is, he and Phil Bickelson were even saying nice things about each other in order to make two extra bucks. That is true. And they were for a while. Yeah, until LIV came along, and Fred had to fill out a chance to make a lot of extra bucks. And he did.
200... It's I'll leave you with this, because you know I have a book coming out on David Farity next month. Oh, wow.
And when I was getting to the very end of the book last summer, and along comes the news that David's leaving for LIV. And I sent him a text, and I said, you're going to make me rewrite the last two chapters of this book so you can make a measly couple million bucks? And he wrote me back and said, it ain't a measly couple million bucks. These guys are making a lot of money. Yes, they are.
Yes, they are. Well, wow, that'll be a fascinating read either way. John Feinstein, we'll talk to you again very soon. I appreciate your time. I always enjoy it, Adam. Thanks for having me. Add J Feinstein books on Twitter. Tweets says, prolific tweeter. Thank you, sir.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-04 18:19:27 / 2023-04-04 18:28:01 / 9