Exposing Jim Boeheim
Posted March 9
I have this great pair of old jeans. I’ve had them for almost 15 years. They’re worn, soft and perfectly contoured in all the right places. But, they’re boot cut, which means they kind of flare out at the bottom of the leg and that’s not really the style today. But, around the house, working in the yard (on the off chance that I do that), those jeans are my go-to. They’re like a second skin.
Those jeans are staying with me until they crumble into dust, even if there's a really big hole in a very bad spot -- if you catch my drift.
Same as how the Atlantic Coast Conference feels about the Greensboro Coliseum.
Wednesday afternoon, after his team’s opening game loss at the first ACC Tournament in New York City in the 64-year history of the league, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim dropped a few not-so-congenial bars on the league’s home base.
In answering a question about being the so-called “home team” in Brooklyn, the 72-year old Boeheim went off on a tangent, laying waste to the long time home of the conference tournament.
“I think New York City is a great venue for the tournament”, Boeheim began. “I think the big city is where it should be played.”
But after listing other big metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Boehiem veered off course and took a big swing at the conference’s home base.
“There’s no value in playing in Greensboro…none,” Boeheim blared, after a pregnant pause, about the town that’s hosted a record 26 ACC tournaments. “It’s there because the office is there…it should not be there.”
We now pause for the array of jokes about Denny’s, the south and why the Orange are now 0-for-3 in ACC Tournament games since being annexed into the league with the other schools who chased dollar signs and fled the crumbling Big East.
Yes, it’s easy to fire back at Boeheim’s extreme tackiness with the fact that in his four years in our league, his teams are winless — when they even bother to show up — in the conference tournament.
There was absolutely no reason for Boeheim to take a question about being in Brooklyn and turn the hose on the longtime, traditional home in North Carolina. He didn’t have to act like a spoiled child and a sore loser. Boeheim simply chose to be that way. And, frankly, we should have all seen it coming and reacted accordingly. Laugh as the old man yelled at the clouds, shake it off and move on.
First of all, he’s wrong. Greensboro has value because it’s home. Greensboro has value because it’s the heartbeat of the league. Greensboro has value because IT values the ACC Tournament. Greensboro loves the league as much as the league loves Greensboro and you’re without a soul if you don’t think that has value.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best place for the ACC tournament.
When we talk about major bowls in college football, we recognize — or at least we should — that the Rose Bowl is a cut above the rest. Well, the same goes for the ACC Tournament. With all respect to another conference, it just means more. It carries more history, more memories, more of a connection to the roots of the league and the things that made it what it is today.
But, in the college-sports-is-really-professional-sports world that we live, the ACC Tournament is the best way for the conference and all 15 member institutions to thank their donors, corporate partners, clients, fans, etc., who fill the coffers of the league. When schools from Miami and Boston and Pittsburgh and Atlanta and Durham want to entertain and cultivate relationships with the resources that drive athletics, maybe entice them to renew commitments for another season, is Greensboro a better location than New York City? Than Washington? Than Miami, or Atlanta or even Charlotte?
Boeheim says this is about business — big business, at that — and he’s 100 percent correct. The same business decision his bosses at Syracuse arrived at when they decided to leave the Big East for the ACC five years ago and made Jim so mad in the first place.
You may also recall that Syracuse was supposed to have been involved in the first exodus from the Big East a dozen years ago until the state of Virginia got involved. Maybe, just maybe, Boeheim wouldn’t be so cranky if he’d been in the league since 2005.
When Boeheim waxes poetic about the good old days of the Big East and Madison Square Garden, how that marriage made his old league what it was, that’s as much about nostalgia as Greensboro, no? Granted, I’m not comparing anything to the Garden. It’s the Mecca. It’s the center of the basketball universe. And, if the ACC could figure out a way to bring their signature event to the corner of 7th and 33rd in Manhattan, it simply must happen.
But, that doesn’t mean Greensboro has to be forgotten, never mind trashed by a bully who doesn’t know better. Assuming that the North Carolina General Assembly can find some way to have it’s collective head dislodged from it’s hind end and undoes the damage — past, present and future — of HB2, the Atlantic Coast Conference can go about reuniting the league with it’s long time home.
How often is another matter. I see the Coliseum as a milestone location, a round number site. The 70th ACC Tournament, or 75th edition would be ideal. Maybe it’s an every 10 years type of situation, and with the league scheduled to return in 2020 — again, assuming intelligence from the NCGA — that would be a great place to start. Apart from that, without long-term residence at MSG, I don’t see Brooklyn as being better than Washington, D.C. Maybe it was intentional, but Beoheim also erred in mentioning Atlanta as opposed to Charlotte because I think the Queen City is a great spot for the event.
For those of us who live in North Carolina it’s naturally going to be a difficult adjustment, kind of like switching high schools after your sophomore year. We’ve grown accustomed to the tournament, our tournament, being in our backyard. We’ve gotten used to being the hosts, gracious or otherwise. Now, it’s time to play in someone else’s playground. That’s only fair. Remember, times have changed. The ACC we knew when they used to wheel the A-V cart into elementary schools on Quarterfinal Friday no longer exists.
The conference that was born at Sedgefield Country Club in 1953 does not resemble the 15-member behemoth of today. Times change, people and even conferences evolve. Like cartoons, the house you lived in as a kid and all of your high school friends, sometimes you just grow out of them or they go out of style.
If you look closely at the hole in those old, worn out jeans, you can very clearly see Jim Boeheim.