Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boeheim At the Grey Havens

Also pictured: Rollie Massamino, John Thompson and Lou Carnesecca

Sometimes, a man knows when to step off the stage.

Check the ending of The Lord of Rings. (The real ending, not the six or seven extras from the last movie). Frodo knows the world is changing. Middle-Earth is no place for him any more. It’s time to move on, and so off he goes to Elfland, or, as those of us not living in the Third Age call it, “retirement in Boca Raton”.

Vide Jim Boeheim, legendary Syracuse basketball coach and one of the most ferocious critics of the repercussions the seismic rupturing of the Big East has caused. At his press conference after yesterday’s Syracuse-Georgetown game – the last time these two will play as conference rivals, ending a storied rivalry so heated it once made us care who Rony Seikaly was – Boeheim didn’t sound angry over the stomping that his team had just taken. He didn’t sound upset over the end of the rivalry, or of the Big East as we know it. He sounded wistful, and resigned, and nostalgic. He sounded like he had realized his time was over, and that he was done. He sounded like a man about to retire.

Maybe this will change. Maybe a deep NCAA tournament run will revive him. Maybe he’ll discover an uncontrollable desire for Easter Carolina-style BBQ and the chance to pummel Virginia Tech twice a year. Maybe the possibility of the combined sideline barking in a game where he coaches against Mike Krzyzewski actually reducing on-court officials to madness and tears will intrigue him. Maybe he’ll just like going into a weaker basketball conference.
But yesterday, Boeheim didn’t sound like a guy who was looking forward to any of that. He sounded like a guy who was headed to Elfland. And when he goes, we’ll miss him.
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