A long season of college basketball is winding down to the championship round. The wins and losses are tallied and a few go on, most go home. As always, the stories behind the game are what matter, what last. Hot off the press, enjoy this interview I just did with Kansas basketball legend, Danny Manning. Be sure to read my comments that follow.
Q1… Danny, you’re kind of a big deal. You led KU to the 1988 NCAA Basketball Championship, you played on the 1988 USA Olympic team, you were a two-time NBA All-Star, and you helped coach KU back to the 2008 Championship. You have two, young adult children, do they consider you a basketball legend? Do you have to remind them that you’ve accomplished a thing or two in life?
Our children know I played the game of basketball. Basketball is something that I did for a profession. It is not who I was or am. It is more important to be a husband, brother, friend and so on….
Q2… I understand that you put off taking a head coaching position for several years because you didn’t want to relocate your family. Can you tell us more about that? What led to that decision? How difficult was it for you, personally, to delay the prestige and compensation of a head coaching job for the sake of the family?
When I retired from the NBA, we wanted to make sure our kids had as much stability as possible in their teen years. We felt being in same place, not moving city to city during high school was the avenue best for them. This would provide them great stability.
Q3… You have kids of your own in college now and you’re not there to keep an eye on them. Would you share any advice you gave them about this chapter of their lives? How have you guided them about handling new levels of independence and responsibility?
We always told our kids to be responsible, hardworking, loving people. Now that they are in college we can’t watch every move or every step they take. Hopefully what we taught them growing up will help them make sound decisions in life now.
Q4… Like you, your dad was a pro ball player and a coach. As a dad, though, what advice did he give you that has served you well in life?
The advice my father gave me in regards to sports and basketball was to make the game easier for your teammates and find ways to help team be successful other than the glorious ways that everyone gets to see.
Q5… We see many college coaches who get involved in the lives of their student/athletes. What wisdom or skills for life do you hope to impart to your players at Tulsa?
We want to prepare our young men here at Tulsa for life. We are able to teach them quite a few great work ethic characteristics thru the game of basketball. Sooner or later the air will go out of the ball and you will not be able to run, jump, or move as fast as you were able to at a competitive level. This happens to every athlete at some point in their career. We want to make sure they are prepared to be a husband, brother, etc for life. We want them to understand basketball is something you do, did, not what you are, was.
Did you pay attention to Q&A #2. Read it again. Head basketball coaches at good schools get paychecks with lots of zeros in them. You rarely see a coach jump from one school to another except for mo’ money. An even rarer sight is Danny Manning. He put off the fame and fortune of a head coaching job FOR YEARS so he could provide something priceless for his kids – a stable home. I get goosebumps just typing that last sentence.
Dads, we all have our heroes. We all have players that make us waddle out of the La-Z-Boy and give a cheer. We need that in our lives. If you want to be legendary in your own home, if you want to give your kids something money can’t buy, give them stability. Give them confidence that home is the safest place on earth. The old song went “I Wanna Be Like Mike”. As for me, and my house, I want to be like Danny.