OK, we’ll try this again, hopefully a more to-the-point entry on this topic. This blog, of course, is kind of like my “journal.” It doesn’t have an editor other than me, and editing your own work can be a tricky proposal.
Thus, I’ll try to recast this in a way that perhaps reads better than my first attempt. I was at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction on June 12. I wasn’t assigned by ESPN.com to be there. I went on my own, although I did write two pieces for ESPN.com while I was there.
One was on inductee Rebecca Lobo, for which I was interviewing UConn coach Geno Auriemma after the ceremony. While I was talking to him, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt came over, tapped him on the shoulder, and they had a very cordial chat. If you hadn’t known they’d had any previous rancor between them, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from seeing them in this discussion. They looked like two ordinary coaching colleagues catching up.
I didn’t write anything about it at the time because it was a private conversation, and I didn’t attempt to overhear what they were saying, despite their proximity.
Then a photo of them ran on the Knoxville newspaper’s Web site, and was also posted on various message boards. I got a few e-mails from people who wanted to know if I knew what had happened. You can barely, barely see me on the right side of the picture next to Pat and Geno.
So I thought, “Well, I’ll write a blog about it and just explain the circumstances.” But my initial attempt irritated some folks who thought I was showing off how “ethical” I was by not eavesdropping. And I regret it reading that way.
As I said in the earlier version of this blog, obviously I was intrigued by what was a pleasant, several-minutes-long exchange (and positive body language) between the thought-to-be-perpetually-feuding superstar personalities of women’s college basketball.
These are very intriguing people in general, and especially so in interaction with each other. This was the case even before Summitt ended the series in 2007, and their version of the Cold War began.
I believe Pat and Geno are more alike than different, and that as fiercely as their competitive fire burns, they are also in the position of truly understanding what the other goes through and deals with. They are both incredibly intense motivators who demand more from themselves than anyone else. They are both gifted communicators who may go about it a different way, but both handle the media and fans with remarkable alacrity virtually all the time. I don’t know where they get the energy to do all that they do, but I’m glad they have it.
It would be nice to think that this conversation was an indication that the door isn’t absolutely nailed shut forever about the series resuming. The guarantee of Tennessee and UConn facing off each season is something I miss.
But I feel safe in saying that’s not what Pat and Geno were talking about. They were having a casual but friendly conversation on a night when some of the greats of the women’s game were celebrated. And just the fact that they really can have conversations was interesting to see.