It’s lousy to wish ill upon another person. We’re all people, so let’s hope for the best for each other. Steve Alford committed to staying with the University of New Mexico Lobos for 10 years and then, within days, he changed his mind and took the head coaching job at UCLA. He’s a man and he has a right to do what he wants.
But Lobos fans in New Mexico, this infinitesimal percentage of the people on the planet, are going to loathe him. And that loathing will be justified.
Alford’s press conference after the loss to Harvard was amazing. He was such a dick.
“There’s no way,” he said, “if you’ve got any kind of basketball intellect at all, where you could say we had a bad season.”
That’s true. The Lobos had an amazing season, one of their best ever. But the sports cliche goes that it hurts more to lose than it feels good to win. And you just lost to Harvard in the second-biggest upset in this entire March Madness tournament. (Thank god for Florida Gulf Coast.)
“We wanted to advance,” he said. “It’s not so much the Sweet 16 thing, though. I will say that. I haven’t lived here 40-50 years.”
So f*ck your tio! The Lobos never make the Sweet 16, meaning never advance past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. This year, people on television were picking UNM to make the Final Four.
Harvard! You think Zuckerberg and Romney watched this game together in some cigar bar above the clouds, drinking brandy and singing songs of the noble Crimson? Because I do. I can’t believe it was Harvard.
Here’s the best line, though: “I gave a lot to stay here. I took away incentives that I’ve made for five consecutive years. Six consecutive years. I took those out of my contract. I think it was a pretty big commitment, not only on the school’s part, but it was a pretty big commitment on my part, especially what’s out there and the opportunities that are out there to show my loyalty to UNM and how much I appreciate UNM and how much I want to continue to build this thing.”
Yes, a pretty big commitment. Liar!
The day the Lobos were to play Harvard – their opening-round tournament game after the best season of Alford’s tenure – the announcement was made that Alford had “agreed in principle” to a 10-year contract extension that could, with incentives, pay him $2 million per year. So, the conversation in the media and among fans turned not toward the great players who’d just strung together this awesome season and were primed for a killer tourney run, but the coach and his contract and his money. There was bad juju hanging over UNM in that game, and they played like it. They played like it wasn’t any fun.
(UNM athletics director Paul Krebs said on the radio that Lobos fans could expect an increase in ticket prices to cover the contract. This is what they were talking about right before tournament games started.)
Alford’s gonna get $2.5 million per season to coach UCLA, so good on him. But wouldn’t it have been great if he’d thought to himself “You know, not only have I made a commitment to stay here, out loud to all the fans and in writing to my bosses, but I also just lost to Harvard in an ugly upset. I’m not going out that way. Sorry UCLA, I just gotta stay here and make this right.”
Bob Knight has soulless black eyeballs. Check them out:
Knight was Alford’s college coach at Indiana. They won a championship together there. Knight is also notorious for being perhaps the meanest man in modern sports history. Young Alford was told by Bob Knight that he couldn’t lead a whore into bed.
“How can anybody play four years in this system and not learn one thing about playing defense?” Knight asked Alford during a practice. “I’ve wasted, totally wasted, three years trying to teach you, and the minute you go into a defensive crouch I hear people laughing in the stands.”
There’s lots more. Google their names and enjoy.
Knight must have had a major effect on Alford, and I don’t say that just because of their eyes. Knight hated most members of the press and was a complete jerk to reporters. (“All of us learn to write in second grade, and most of us go on to better things.”)
Alford hates reporters too, I think. I’ve interviewed him before and I can tell he doesn’t like being interviewed. (Maybe it was me.) But while Alford has adopted much of Bob Knight’s traits, what he lacks are Knight’s massive, throbbing gonads. Knight could, and would, be crazy and nasty. Alford doesn’t seem capable of that. So what we get instead is someone thin-skinned and mopey. Dickish. Knight was aggressive-aggressive; Alford is passive-aggressive. One of those is better than the other.
• • •
What if all of UCLA’s best guys go pro, and he loses out on some big recruit he’s targeting, or some big injury hits a key guy, and Alford’s first season at UCLA winds up mediocre, and he misses the NCAA Tournament altogether? He’ll have to answer for that, and there are so many more sports writers in Los Angeles than there are in Albuquerque, and they like writing snarky stuff that fires up the sorts of fans who call in to radio shows with hand-written, two-minute rants about why their team’s coach sucks. If he doesn’t do well, Alford’s gonna get grilled. He’s gonna hate it. He probably won’t react well.
So congratulations, UCLA. You gave up a coach who went to multiple Final Fours to poach a liar who couldn’t beat Harvard with the 10th best team in the entire country. The state of New Mexico hopes you suck. You’ll understand soon.