Roy Williams earned some cheers from Kansas fans again. Turns out all they needed was a little time.
Well, and Bill Self. He helped a little too.
Williams was back in the Sunflower State over the weekend to play Self in a celebrity pro-am game at the opening of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s Firekeeper Golf Course. Self played with PGA Tour pro Notah Begay III while Williams teamed with Randy Towner, the former pro at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, Kan. (and also a Williams buddy).
Not only did Williams and Towner win the match, they won some cheers, too. That brought a smile to Williams’ face, who left Kansas in 2003 after 15 years at the school to take the job at his alma mater, North Carolina. Eight years later, perhaps the wound has finally healed.
From J. Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star:
“… I think we let bygones be bygones. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to go home. He brought a lot of good things to KU, that’s for sure,” said Kevin Langdon, a KU fan from Abilene, Kan., who watched on Sunday.
Of course, the fact that Self has a 237-46 record and a .837 winning percentage in leading the Jayhawks to seven straight Big 12 regular-season titles and a national championship has gone a long way toward mending the wounds. Williams has won two national titles at North Carolina, in 2005 and 2009, but it’s been easy for KU fans to see what they’ve got in Self.
“A blessing in disguise,” Langdon said.
Much of the healing started in 2008 when Self’s Jayhawks beat Williams’ Tar Heels in the Final Four, then won the national title against Memphis. That both school shave won – and won big – since 2003 is essential.
And besides, Williams still loves Kansas. He wore a Kansas shirt during the ’08 title game (and caught endless amounts of grief for it) and always has nice things to say about the school.
“People say time heals a lot of things. There were some hard feelings when I left,” Williams told the Lawrence Journal-World. “I said the day I left, I say now and I’ll say 30 years from now, my two favorite schools are North Carolina and Kansas.
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