And now? He’s got his own court, right where it all began.
Detroit unveiled “Dick Vitale Court” Monday night against St. John’s, celebrating its former coach who became an ESPN analyst 32 years ago. (Added bonus: the Titans won.) He only coached the Titans from 1973-77, going 78-30 and reaching one NCAA tournament in that span, but it was enough to bump him into the NBA for slightly more than a season and then into a fledging 24-hour sports network.
Thirty years later? He’s forever part of the hoops landscape.
“I’ve had many honors come my way, the ultimate was going into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but having a court named after you is an incredible honor and I’m emotionally spent about it,” Vitale said told the AP on Monday. “When they called to tell me about it, I didn’t feel comfortable with it.
“But they made it clear that this wasn’t based on solely what I did as a coach, but also for the visibility and exposure I’ve given the school with my career at ESPN.”
It’s not the typical court-naming scenario. Those usually involve an esteemed coach who led the school to many victories, titles, etc., etc. And they usually have to stick around a long time. But there’s no denying that whatever your feelings about Vitale, he’s one of the sport’s most visible and memorable figures. If Detroit wants to honor him, that works. Nothing wrong with giving a nod to one of the nicest guys in the biz.
Vitale knows this. And he’s grateful for it.
“I can’t run, I can’t jump, I can’t shoot, and yet I’m in 10 Hall of Fames because of passion,” he said. “Passion plus hard work ethic plus good decision making equals wins in the game of life.”
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