Dan Steinberg – The Washington Post – February 27, 2012
Those, of course, were the men who initiated the Cold War between D.C.’s most important basketball programs, based on the square root of the amount of change the 8,703rd fan carried in his left rear pocket during a long-ago game at the Cap Centre, or something like that.
Regardless, Thompson — whose longstanding radio show on ESPN 980 will come to a close this week — used the latest fracas to go into his feelings about Driesell, feelings he said he never would have admitted when both men were coaching.
“Can I expound on something just a little bit? I want to continue just a little bit, and I’m gonna try to do it in as nice a way as I can, and I want to say something to the AD at the University of Maryland…
“Lefty was the one who came into this area and really has never been given the credit that he deserves, to tell you the truth, and gave us all a different perspective as to how to look at intercollegiate athletics. High school sports had a bigger platform in this town than college did before Lefty came here. But he gave us all the energy, the inspiration to look at this thing from a national perspective.
“He didn’t work in this cocoon, this box that all of us were in. So whether I would play them or not play them, I learned from him, because I thought he was brilliant. I thought he understood the market. He taught me to look at the market, without sitting me down and talking about it. Lefty Driesell. University of Maryland. Lefty Driesell, ok?
“If Lefty were here now coaching, I guarantee you with his vision and his ability to look out, he wouldn’t still be talking about Georgetown playing Maryland. First of all, he would have a good feel for what’s going on league-wise, as well as having a good feel for what’s going on internationally. The emerging markets are international. That’s where the corporations are going, that’s what the presidents are chasing, corporate dollars. So a lot of it has [nothing] to do with you spurning or looking down your nose at somebody. It’s purely business.
“But I want to say, that I learned to think out of the box from a man that started at your university. And whether I used it towards your university or he used it towards me, there was no hate involved. It was competitiveness that was involved.
“We could have still been talking about high school basketball until Driesell came in here and told us that you better look at the bigger picture and gave some meaning to intercollegiate athletics here. Don’t kid yourself. It had no national meaning until that man walked into this town. So regardless, this town has never given him the acknowledgment that he deserved, and he’s one of yours. He is one of yours.
“Separate of what anybody else has done or has not done in this city, this man changed this whole thing. And I was just a youngster at the time, sitting at his alter, learning how to do it. Whether I liked him or didn’t like him was insignificant. George Raveling and I spent hours in the night talking about that man and how he did things.
“So let’s not get locked into a local mentality when the world is not only going national, the world is going international. And that, folks, ain’t bad educationally. Teach our kids that if they expect to work in corporate America. Because that’s what is happening right now.
“It’s not to get so focused on whether I would play Maryland or I wouldn’t play Maryland. And I don’t have that say. I don’t give a damn who plays who at this point in time, as long as it’s in the best interests of my university. I love Georgetown University. It gave me an opportunity when people wouldn’t give black folks an opportunity. And if I’m asked for my advice, I don’t give my advice predicated on my likes and dislikes. I give it based on the fact that I think it’s in the best interest, economically, educationally, for the university that gave me a chance when none other would give me a chance. Ok?
“So let’s understand. I don’t have anything against that man over there at Maryland. I question how he did it. How he did it. The brother’s trying to get it done the best way he possibly can. I had a problem with how he did it. But Lefty Driesell is my hero now.
“If Lefty called me up and asked me would I play today I’d tell him hell no. I’d tell him hell no. Because I’d tell him you taught me that, Lefthander. You taught me that. You told me to look out of the box, when none of us in this town were looking out of the box. Give the man his credit now. Give him his credit. Ok?
“The man did things that were unbelievable. He had everybody all over the country copying stuff that he was doing. Everybody all over the country copying. And I would never have admitted that when I was coaching at Maryland, never had admitted it, because it wouldn’t make common sense. But I watched every move he made, how he made those moves and what he did.
“The man was one of the best that ever did it. I said it on the show before this stuff has come up, that he needs to be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t give a damn whether he’s won a national championship or has not won a national championship. The man was at the forefront of a lot of things that occurred, not only in this city but in this country.
“So don’t start running around, trying to make this little regional competitiveness and get caught up in this competitiveness, when the emerging markets are international. You’ve got to look at that. That is very important right now. Not the this is good for the community.
“C’mon folks. I sit in a board room with guys — the man who runs Apple, the man who runs Nike, the man who runs FedEx — and I shut the hell up and listen, the same way I did when Lefty was talking about it, because I knew they knew a hell of a lot more than I knew.
“But don’t have me ride into town on the bus and think I’m not looking out the window. Y’all can spend your lifetime fussing about this local crap, when both Maryland and Georgetown will be out of the national and the international picture. That ain’t the ballgame no more, folks.
“Y’all prehistoric. Thinking people need to get Lefty back in, and rejuvenate his expressions of creativity in education. That’s me coming at you, telling you that. See I’m getting ready to go off the air on Wednesday, I can say all kinds of crazy damn things now.”.