Congrats to the Miami Heat on winning back to back NBA championships. Once again, King James proved that he is the best in the game today. His 37 points was the key as he earned his second straight Finals MVP award. LeBron can do it all and he is a leader. I was really impressed with the class and respect the Heat and Spurs had for each other at the end of the series. Erik Spoelstra showed why he is an outstanding young coach. The decision to put James on Tony Parker for much of game seven was brilliant. Now the question is, will LeBron’s legacy match up with Michael the Magnificent? James is certainly getting cloer with his clutch performances. He had back to back 30+ point games in games six and seven, when Miami really needed him to come through. Shane Battier hit several big trifectas in game seven. Dwayne Wade showed heart while playing hurt, he looked like the Wade of old in earning his third championship. Will Miami do it agin next season, making it a three peat? Pat Riley will probably make a few tweaks and James will lead his team to the winner’s cicle again, further enhancing his legacy.
My wife and I had a fantastic time in the Big Apple. We were in NYC for two days. We had the opportunity to see three Broadway shows – we are Broadway fanatics. On Friday we saw Motown, it was absolutely Awesome Baby with a capital A. We were joined by our longtime friend, Tom Longo and Michelle Ferguson (both ND grads). We sat right behind Evander Holyfield and David Checketts, former head of NY Knicks and NY Rangers and Madison Square Garden and now president of Legends. We were all dancing in the aisles to all the Motown sounds of Michael Jackson, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and the Four Tops. It was fantastic, we loved it and we guarantee we will see it again. We also saw Bette Midler’s comedy, in which she plays an agent. It was one funny line after the other. On Saturday, we went to see Get it if You Can with my agent Sue Lipton and her husband Larry Rascio. We first ate at Becco’s, one of my favorite Italian restuarants. We met Sarah Jessica Parker, as she was there to see her husband, Matthew Broderick. It was closing night for the play after 500 performances. We were invited backstage after the show, and Matthew and Sarah Jessica were as nice as could be. A terrific two days in the Big Apple. So much to do and see as always!!!!
I am so excited to see the Rays bring up Wil Myers. They gave up a lot to acquire him, including a standout pitcher in James Shields. Myers should provide a spark for the Rays as they battle in the tough AL East. Just look at the boost the Dodgers got when Yasiel Puig was brought up from the minors. My word of advice to Myers is to relax. He has been on a real tear in the minors, and while some will apply pressure on him, he needs to think positively. He has to do what he has done since Little League…hit the baseball. It is great that the Rays decided to bring him up during the season. There have been times where the franchise waited to call up a potential star. I believe the addition of Myers will give the Rays offense some juice. Tuesday night in Boston is just the beginning of his career in the majors.
I am celebrating at Wendy’s in Fort Lee, NJ with Peter Henckel who is the manager of Harmon’s Cosmetics in Totowa, NJ. We are now enjoying lunch at Wendy’s because Peter was the winner of a contest to win lunch with me in Fort Lee, NJ. Peter was also the recipient of a $5,000 check from Wendy’s. I had lots of fun doing the promo for Wendy’s. It was Awesome Baby, with a capital A!
I have been truly blessed in my lifetime. I have a wonderful family, great friends, tremendous colleagues at ESPN that have meant so much to me. That is why Monday night down in North Carolina will be so emotional and so special. I am being honored with the induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, along with esteemed writer and ESPN contributor, Mitch Albom. My friends, I have never looked at myself as a broadcaster as much as I have seen myself as a coach and sports fan lucky enough to have the best seat in the house to call college basketball. I feel I have had passion and emotion in calling those games, and in the final quarter of my life, this is truly an amazing honor. I think of the greats already in the Hall and I am simply amazed to even be mentioned with the likes of many of them. I almost get teary-eyed thinking about how blessed I’ve been in my life and my career. I had a loving mother and father who said to never believe in the word “can’t”. They always provided encouragement, and I know that on Monday they will be looking down from heaven, proud of their son, Richie. I have treasured every minute with my loving wife Lorraine, I have two tremendous daughters. I’ve been lucky to work with a fantastic team at ESPN. I have been fortunate enough to work with so many talented and wonderful people at ESPN. There have been so many great producers, directors, on-air talent and people behind the scenes that have helped me so much. To all of the great people that have helped me over the years, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so special, so wonderful. None of this would be possible without my support system and that support has come from all the kids on the college campuses who have allowed me to work a job where I can still be a kid myself. Thank you to all of them. And a special thank you for all the support in my newest mission and passion – to raise awareness and money to help kids battle cancer through the V Foundation. I will fight against the dreaded disease until I take my last breathe on earth. As I accept this unbelievable honor on Monday, I will be thinking of each and every one of you. You have meant so much to me and my family.
Talk about going a cheap route for a laugh and having it backfire. Go ask Ohio State University president Gordon Gee about his recent comments. How a person running an institution of that stature can make remarks about Notre Dame and Catholics the way that he did is unbelievable. It is hard to fathom how they came out of the mouth of an educator and a leader. According to Gee, the reason that Notre Dame was not invited to the Big Ten was, to paraphrase, that you cannot trust the priests and Catholics. He used the reference holy hell in describing them. Gee has since apologized for his indiscretion, but the damage was already done. Perhaps the president of The Ohio State University should have a conversation with another powerful person in Columbus, his football coach, Urban Meyer. I guarantee you that Meyer was not happy with those comments either. Meyer has had tremendous love for Notre Dame and worked in South Bend under Lou Holtz years ago. I cannot believe it. It is amazing how many Ohio State followers have been in touch with me via twitter, calling Gee’s remarks embarssing and unfortunate. Come on, is this what a leader is about.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on UCLA basketball now that it is in the hands of Steve Alford. The former New Mexico coach takes over a program that was the Pac-12 regular season title but lost in its first NCAA tournament game.
The expectations are always high in Westwood. They always have been since John Wooden put up all of those banners as national champion. Alford led the Lobos to great success. This past season ended with a disappointing loss to Tommy Amaker and Harvard.
There is another interesting situation at Rutgers. It has become a total embarrassment for a school which is so passionate about sports. I used to work at Rutgers, so I know what the support is like. I can go over incident after incident, from Mike Rice, Tim Pernetti, Eddie Jordan not having his degree and now the Julie Hermann situation. I understand about giving people a second chance, but I do not understand how Hermann doesn’t remember about issues with Tennessee volleyball when she coached there. How can you not remember being in a wedding party or about 15 players writing a letter complaining about her. How can an administrator not know that her players were upset with her tactics. Why didn’t she come out and be honest about it? That is what really bothers me. I do not know how she can lead Rutgers after all of this. The school is going to the Big Ten and deserves better.
It was a special, special weekend down in Sarasota, Florida. We raised so much money for the V Foundation. Cancer research is so, so important as the late, great Jim Valvano said near the end of his life. The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota became the sports capital of the world with over 80 sports celebrities and over 850 people in attendance overall. We met our goal of raising over $1 million for cancer research. The final totals were still being accumulated, but the weekend was a great success. We raised awareness in this battle to beat the dreaded disease. There were a number of youngsters brought on stage to show that the dollars work in helping save lives. I can not thank the honorees, Jim Calhoun, Bobby Bowden and Bill Self enough for their generosity and time. The sponsors did so much to help the cause. The people behind the scenes, Mary Kenealy, Janet Allen and Elise Kashmiry, were so special, working so hard to make this happen. This is a year-round project, not some chicken dinner and the logistics are incredible. I want to thank my family for their support. My wife, Lorraine, is a rock through this event. It is so emotional, seeing these kids and telling their stories. Thanks to so many great people, we have reached many lofty goals. We went over the $10 million mark for total dollars raised at the various Dickie V Galas. Year after year, people have shown so much heart, they have done so much to help us in our effort. It is so important to win this battle against cancer. Kids should be playing outside and not having to deal with chemotherapy. We have made some great strides over the years. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Rock, chalk, Jayhawk country was jubilant as Kansas was the winner in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. Many times you hear about these superstar scholastic players and they are so hyped. Sure, they are good, but are the expectations too much? That is not the case for Mr. Wiggins. He is the real deal, legit and better than advertised. He is so explosive, with a great first step to the basket. I think fans are in for a real treat. Kansas is now a legit top 10 team. This may be the best recruiting class that Self has put together in Lawrence and that is saying a lot. Wiggins joins an already highly-touted Kansas class with 6-7 forward Brannan Greene (Monroe, GA/Tifton HS), 7-0 center Joel Embiid (Cameron/Gainesville, FL/The Rock School), 6-0 guard Conner Frankamp (Wichita, KS/Wichita North HS), 5-11 guard Frank Mason (Petersburg, VA/Massanutten Military Academy) and 6-5 guard Wayne Selden (Roxbury, MA/Tilton School). Keep an eye on the Jayhawks as Bill Self has to be ecstatic.