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Appreciation And Empathy

If you live long enough, almost anything changes, and that's the case for
Eddie Sutton. When he showed up at Oklahoma State, after the terrible
situation at Kentucky, he had a lot to overcome, including damage to his
reputation, and alcoholism. The terrible tragedy at OSU with the plane
wreck a couple of years ago must have been a terrible moment in any number of
ways, and would have sent a lesser man back to the bottle. He said
recently that the accident was with him every single day; he didn't think there
could ever be any closure.

We were watching the Georgia Tech-OSU game, and like everyone else, we were
totally engaged by the passionate, extraordinary ending. Basketball, like all
"amateur" sports which generate revenue, has a distinct odor, and it's
not always pleasant. But when you see the game played like that, with that
sense of urgency, and that level of courage, you don't worry about the facade,
you just revel in the moment. When it's played at an extraordinary level,
basketball, unlike almost any sport except perhaps boxing, has exquisite
pressures from beginning to end.

And when you saw Eddie Sutton's face at the end of that game, the hurt, the
resignation, the realization that perhaps his best team wasn't going to be good
enough, you realize how much his love for the game has driven him, and despite
his demons and terrors (can you imagine what it must be like for him to fly
now?), he has lived for a pure moment like this his entire life - and in an
instant it's gone.

And it's impossible to see that kind of hurt in a man's face and not feel
empathy. The chances of him getting back are not good, but he has given us
two great programs and two transcendent teams - his "triplet" team at
Arkansas, and this year's OSU team.

So in the midst of everything else, if you taped the Finals, watch the One
Shining Moment video, and see his face, and you'll see hope, resignation, hurt,
and acceptance, in less time than it takes to read this sentence. There's
a lot wrong with basketball, and there are issues in Sutton's past, too, but
there are moments where it's just a beautiful game, with elation and heartbreak.
You can see a lifetime in that hurt, and while it is definitely a hurting
moment, it's not a bad life, all things considered.