ESPN’s Keri Potts with Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim in 2003, the night the Orange won the NCAA Championship. (Photo courtesy of Keri Potts)
Editor’s note: Jim Boeheim’s Car Wash visit to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters on Monday provided a chance for a timely reunion with ESPN Communications publicist Keri Potts. She relates what it was like to work for Boeheim while she was at Syracuse, and quizzes him on his thoughts about this season.
I recall the day clearly.
I had returned from lunch at my summer staff assistant job for my school’s basketball office. Two weeks in, I had yet to meet or speak to my boss, the head coach.
My nerves were high, for I had seen him on the court during our team’s run to the Final Four, flapping his arms wildly up and down the sideline, making scrunched up faces with eyes shooting daggers at the officials; he never seemed to like any of their calls.
I wasn’t exactly torn up about not meeting him, but the longer it went, the more my imagination took over and I was convinced I’d be the recipient of a flapping arm-dagger scenario.
But there it was, a white note on my desk chair, “Kerry, Please get stamps. J.”
My name! He knew my name! Sure the spelling was off, but suddenly, I had proof he was aware of my existence, and furthermore, he said “Please.”
I mean, he couldn’t be all that bad, right?
No sooner had I ceased marveling at this note than a call came in from the general manager of the Denver Nuggets looking to speak with Coach. With renewed spirit, I promptly transferred him, and by transferred, I mean hung-up on him so that Coach sat in his office waiting for a call that never came.
I made the long, painful, 10-foot walk to his office door to confess my mistake.
“I, um, hung up on the Denver Nuggets man. I am so sorry,” I sputtered, preparing for the fury.
And that is when Coach said the magic words, barely looking up from his newspaper, face scrunched: “Ehhhh, he’ll call back. No worries.”
And so began my fealty to Jim Boeheim, a man who drove the school-issued Chrysler LeBaron instead of something flashier, who preferred to cash his paycheck in person rather than accept that new-fangled direct deposit idea, and who helped calm me down after my bicycle was stolen from inside my summer apartment while I was asleep.
In the 16 years I have known him and his family, I’ve done my best to make it to his coaching milestones: his 600th win, his first National Championship, the Big East finals, and myriad other moments in a coaching career few will ever match.
So naturally, I caught up with him during his recent visit to Bristol, Conn., to promote the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, peppering him with questions while he tried to eat his tuna sandwich.
We have some new analysts in the ESPN rotation this year, as you know. Any thoughts on the new guys?
On Seth Greenberg: I have to be honest, he talks too much, but other than that, he will give good insight into the games. He’ll be somewhat analytical and critical, but not overly much; that’s what coaches look for. continue reading…