Dick Vitale, it seems, has been around basketball forever. He was an assistant coach at Rutgers and then had a terrific run at the University of Detroit before he made the leap to the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
That didn’t work out too well as you may have heard him say from time to time (“I got the ziggy!”).
Then he got a call from something called ESPN and started broadcasting college basketball games.
At first, he was very straightlaced and emulated the greats. It wasn’t until later that Vitale let his personality emerge, and when he did, it changed things. Basketball became much more entertaining.
Vitale has always irritated some people and at times maybe everyone, but no one has ever doubted his heart or sincerity. He loves the game with all of his heart. He has also been herculean with his efforts with the Jimmy V Foundation, and when Len Bias died, he really threw himself into helping kids understand the risks of drugs.
In short, he has been a good man and full of love and compassion.
Over the last few years, he’s struggled with some health issues. Between cancer and voice problems, he has really been challenged. And he’s 83 now.
But the man never stops and he overcame these challenges too. And when he went to Allen Field House recently, the love that he has offered for all these years came back to him as the Kansas fans gave him a two-minute standing ovation, which understandably reduced him to tears.