Sometimes even the unthinkable can happen. When I arrived at our NBA shoot-around today I learned that Mike Montgomery was going to be name head mens basketball coach at Stanford archrival: UC Berkeley. Of course I called him to congratulate him but it went to voicemail right away so I left him a message–I left that message grudgingly.
All I can remember about UC Berkeley is hostility. One time one of our walk on players from the East Bay almost got into an altercation with a UC Berkeley fan even before the game started! I think the fan threatened a lawsuit or someting. Then last year someone actually hijacked my Gmail email account! The sad thing was that I could see when he was online through the “Chat” functionality from another one of my gmail accounts. I “chatted” with him online to my “old” account and threatened to get the FBI, CIA and every law enforcement agency possible on his tail unless he gave me back my account. Finally he releneted and sent me a message: “You can have your email account back, the new password is “UCBerkeley.”
So maybe you can see why I’m confused about Mike going over there. It’s just a bunch of low lifes over there at Cal.
Of course I’m kidding. While I’m serious about the email hijacking, Cal is an awesome place and a world class institution. I was excited about maybe going there myself, but then they kind of stopped recruiting me. One of my best high school teammates went there an loved it. Actually one of my first text messages was to my brother in law who is doing a UC Berkely PHD. I told him I was mad that his school was stealing our old coach!
In fairness I think it’s great for everyone, and I think that the San Francisco Bay Area is going to have some great basketball in the coming years. Trent Johnson is one of the real rising stars in the college game and one of the best minds I’ve ever had the privilege of playing for (he was assistant coach at Stanford while I played there.). Now you’ve got Trent at Stanford, Mike over at Cal and a lot of great recruits comign out of Northern California. UC Berkeley just took a major step in the right direction in getting back to the levels of Pete Newell and Jason Kidd.
If there is a coach out there who would be an excellent candidate for the Indiana basketball job, it would be Mike Montgomery. Having played for “Monty” as everyone calls him, I can tell you that his knowledge of the game is vast and he knows how to run a team. When I was at Stanford, he kind of just put everyone in a position where they were going to be able to be as successful as possible. I haven’t talked to him yet about this vacancy and maybe he’ll get mad at me for putting his name out there like this, but even Dick Vitale was talking about it tonight on TV too. Monty’s wife actually has family ties in the Midwest (Minnesota) and with both of his kids grown and out of college, it might be a good fit for everyone.
The Boston game this past weekend was a great example of the need to “always stay ready.” Toward the end of the game the score got closer and closer and the rotation tightened up. Latrell Sprewell, who had started the game, sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. Sometimes when you sit too long you can get tight and your mind can start thinking any one of a million things if you let it. But Latrell stayed focused on the game and he was still involved by cheering his teammates on and staying positive throughout. Ervin Johnson always tells us, “You can’t control how much you’re going to play, but if the coach calls your name, be ready.” Spree was ready to go and he knocked in the game-winning shot.
It was good to see my old college coach, Mike Montgomery, last week when we played Golden State. We talked before the game for quite a while and he shared what he loved and the hard things about being an NBA head coach. Mike was one of the big reasons that I chose to attend Stanford over UCLA when I came out of high school. He’s a total family man and as a side note, his wife, Sarah, is from Minnesota. I remember early on in my conversations with coach, he talked about the goal to make it to the Final Four. Finally in 1998 with Arthur Lee and Jarron and Jason Collins, we made it to the Final Four before losing to the eventual champions Kentucky in overtime.
People ask me all the time how athletes at Stanford can go to class and compete in their sport. I studied Economics and there were some classes that were incredibly hard with an unbelievably tough grading curve, and of course some classes that were easier. The trick was to balance things so that you didn’t have more than two of those hard classes during the season.
One year I remember taking two finals on the road in St. Louis during the NCAA tournament. A teammate and I were so worried about this macroeconomics class that we studied on the plane, on the team bus, and pretty much everywhere else during that trip. We both studied so hard we almost got sick. I don’t think I’ve ever studied that hard before or after that class. Our professor arranged for the test to be administered in a conference room at our hotel.
One interesting thing I learned from that class is this: There was an economist named Malthus back in the day who said that the world couldn’t produce enough food for it’s growing population. He added that there would be food shortages and vast numbers of people would die from starvation and that the world’s population growth would stagnate. On one hand it makes sense–there’s a finite amount of land that can be farmed. In this macro class, we actually studied a mathematical model called the Solow Model that showed how the world has been able to grow enough crops to keep up with an exploding population rate. The variable that Malthus did not account for was technological/scientific advances in growing crops. Economists sometimes refer to technological advances as “manna from heaven” because such advances keep happening every year and crop production continues to expand and develop annually.
Well, I figured I’d get at least one economics lesson in too while I had the chance to write this diary. If I forgot anything on that explanation hopefully all the econ majors out there will write me and set me straight. I’ll talk to you next week!