For a lot of fans, Danny Manning was the failed coach at Wake Forest, a guy who seemed so introverted that you wondered how he could lead a team, much less win.
Yet he was a superb assistant coach and by all accounts is a tremendous big man coach.
But Manning was unquestionably a brilliant basketball player.
Manning grew up in Greensboro and was on track to attend UNC when Kansas coach - and former Tar Heel - Larry Brown had the rather inspired idea of hiring his father, Ed, who was at that moment a truck driver, as an assistant coach. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well at all in
Chapel Capel Hill, and it took years for some UNC fans to forgive Brown for the totally legal stunt (it should be said that the elder Manning had also played pro ball in the NBA and ABA, so it wasn’t as big a stretch as it may have seemed. But it was still a stretch).
It really paid off for Kansas. Before injuries robbed him of his greatness, Manning was years ahead of his time. At 6-11, he could do essentially anything on the court. His teammates were fairly bland players, and we’d bet that hardly anyone outside of Lawrence could remember a single one. It was testament to Manning’s brilliance that he led that group to the 1988 national championship.
It’s a bit unfair that we think of him as a mediocre coach rather than the brilliant player and basketball mind that we see in this video, because Danny Manning was something very rare.