Friday, April 04, 2008

On the eve of the Final Four...

I am so excited for the Final Four tomorrow, I can barely stand it. I'm scared, I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm everything. More than anything else, I'm proud to be a Jayhawk.

In a strange twist of irony, I remember the words of former coach Roy Williams: enjoy the ride. I'm enjoying the ride. I'm enjoying every second of this magical season, for it's not the destination but the journey that we should be thankful for. Strange that on the eve of the day that EVERY Kansas fan has been waiting for, I take solace in the words he preached non-stop the entire time I was in Lawrence. I believe those words and no matter what happens tomorrow I will remember the preachings of KU's wayward son and remember everything from Late Night to the Final Four.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the way Roy handled his departure from KU was f*cked up. He should have left back in 2000 when he wanted to not bide his time until UNC came calling again. He left for the wrong reasons; it was never his choice. The Puppetmaster (Dean Smith) whispered in his ear like the Emperor to Darth Vader and Roy was told he was The Chosen One to revive the UNC program. Roy will always live in the shadow of Dean Smith, no matter how many championships he wins, how many Michael Jordans he recruits...and Roy thinks otherwise. UNC is Roy, not the other way around...unlike here at KU.

Do I hate Roy? I used to, but I got over it. I went so far as to write a letter and send it to UNC after he left us, expressing my extreme disappointment. I'm not kidding here. After our loss in the 1998 NCAA tournament, we in the band were all hanging out near the locker room and Roy saw us. He approached us with tears in his eyes and he looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said "I'm sorry I let you down." My letter to Roy concluded as such...

You didn't let me down in 1998, coach Williams. I was proud of you and the team you coached; I enjoyed the ride, not the destination, like you had instilled in us from day one. But, now, you have let me down and I am the one with tears in my eyes. Your departure isn't sad because you are gone, it's sad because I no longer respect someone who I judged all others by. I'd ask myself "what would Roy do?" and I never thought Roy would do this. Unlike UNC, KU is more than just a coach; it is a tradition, a history and future built on coaches, players, support staff and fans and you were blessed to be a part of that tradition that is Kansas Basketball, much the same way that I still am. I cherish the times you were here and I wish you luck in all you do, but I'm glad you are gone because there are others far more worthy to lead this program than you. I hope you meet KU someday and it's the hardest game of your life; the weight of 15 years, millions of fans and a history of coming up short a constant reminder that for once you chose the destination, not the ride, and let us all down. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

I don't hate Roy, I just love KU. I love Bill Self and see him as the right man for the job. Will he leave someday? I dunno. Maybe. It doesn't matter. KU is bigger than one coach and Roy leaving was sad, but not the end of the world. When Dean Smith left UNC, it was the end of their world. They needed somebody to "revive" the program because the program, still is...Dean Smith; all about the coach. That is why KU will always be a basketball program and UNC will be Roy Williams. This is why I'm proud to be a Jayhawk and could give a shit about North Carolina, just like Roy Williams :)


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