Kentucky Basketball: Bryant Gumbel, Clumsy Oaf

In otherwise appropriate and sincere commentary on Real Sports about the great North Carolina Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, who has recently developed problems with his memory because of some kind of neurological disorder, Bryant Gumbel closed with this:

"Unlike some of his peers, Dean Smith never embarrassed his family like Rick Pitino or his program like John Calipari or himself and his school like Bob Knight. Instead he showed as much self-discipline as he asked of his players. And in the process, he gave them an example on which to model their lives. Too often we all wait until good people die to give them the praise that they’re due. Dean Smith's not dead. Not by a long shot. But having waited too long to do his story justice, this abbreviated version is the best I can do."

First, I have to ask this question -- why is it necessary to tear others down like this?  Dean Smith doesn't need a comparison with Pitino, Knight or Calipari to be a great basketball coach worthy of respect and admiration.  I personally believe that Dean Smith would not approve of this embellishment.  It was unnecessary and unworthy of a professional like Gumbel.

Second, it is sadly axiomatic that Pitino embarrassed his family.  It is also regrettably a matter of record that Bob Knight embarrassed his school with his bizarre antics.  These two things are facts known and agreed upon everyone, even the men in question, but is a comparison with them really necessary to illustrate who Dean Smith was not?  He was also not like John Wooden or Adolph Rupp.  So what?

But how, prithee, has Calipari "embarrassed his program?"  This is an absurd polemic having no basis in reality.  So why did Gumbel have to represent such a facile urban myth as an offhand fact?  Calipari has never done anything to embarrass his program -- yet, at least.  Maybe Gumbel is taking up the tarot like me.

Gumbel's apparent ignorance (or outright malice, who really knows?) stands in stark, ironic contrast to the class and grace of the man his words were intended to honor.

It is in situations like these when the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln is so valuable: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." 

Gumbel removed all doubt.  More's the pity.

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