Rollie Massimino was a basketball manager until a day he died

August 31, 2017 - Basketballs

4:00 PM ET

Rollie Massimino died before he could be inducted into a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was comparison as a finalist in 2017 though fell brief of induction. His coaching career is positively estimable of inclusion.

Reasonable minds can differ over either an achieved manager should be certified to a Hall. If we inspect Massimino’s abounding life in a game, few can compare a years a former Villanova manager clinging to basketball and all he endured to stay on a building until a finish of his days. Rollie Massimino was truly a basketball lifer, and he coached a diversion until his failing days.

Massimino was a larger-than-life figure, a constant impression when a diversion was full of characters. Like many coaches of his generation, Coach Mass started with a high propagandize group and afterwards took over during Stony Brook before sitting beside Chuck Daly as an partner during Penn. In a early 1970s, Massimino became a conduct manager during Villanova. He was a brave of a newly shaped Big East, along with John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca, Bill Raftery and Jim Boeheim. Fiery and funny, Coach Mass built Villanova into a battling contender, reaching 11 NCAA tournaments, and he engineered one of a many iconic and intolerable upsets in basketball story with a Wildcats’ win over strong Georgetown during Kentucky’s Rupp Arena in 1985.

The 1985 NCAA championship was a high-water symbol for Massimino, who unceremoniously left Villanova to reinstate Jerry Tarkanian during UNLV in 1992. After usually dual seasons, Coach Mass left a Runnin’ Rebels in argumentative fashion. He took over during Cleveland State a few years later. After 7 forgettable seasons in Cleveland, his coaching career seemed to be during a finish after he’d posted some-more than 500 Division we wins.

As it incited out, Massimino’s coaching career was distant from over. He simply couldn’t give adult a game.

After relocating to Florida, where he could companion around and play golf with lifelong friends Daly, Raftery and Billy Cunningham, Massimino didn’t settle simply into a late coach’s life. Instead, he took a head-coaching pursuit during Northwood University (now famous as Keiser University), an NAIA propagandize in West Palm Beach, Florida, that was usually starting a basketball program. When Massimino took a job, Keiser didn’t even have a gym, usually a few outside courts. Off a beaten path, Massimino has coached a past 8 years during Keiser, and he has finished so by bouts with cancer that were distant some-more fatiguing than Massimino let on. His friends would attend Northwood games to support him, though they still destitute his chops by spasmodic job his final coaching stop “Deadwood.”

Nobody desired basketball some-more than Massimino. Octogenarians do not manager in nearby shade unless they adore it, unless it is in their blood. For Massimino, it was in his marrow. Coach Mass put onward an considerable coaching résumé in his younger years. But what desirous astonishment among his peers and pupils was his persistence and courage in coaching by illness and age during a tiny, different NAIA school, winning 298 games over 8 seasons.

His Nova players and former staffers were constant to Villanova, though they have been distant some-more constant to Coach Mass. In his final days, he was surrounded by family and friends, and former players done a outing to see him before he passed, including Harold Pressley and Chuck Everson. For years after Massimino left Villanova, he would mostly accumulate his former players for dishes and get-togethers. He desired them, though they desired him even more. Whenever his protégés — either Jay Wright, Steve Lappas or Mark Plansky — plead Coach Mass, it is with a genuine giggle and a smile.

They don’t make ’em like Rollie Massimino anymore. And it was smashing to see him distinguished in his final years in a game. Massimino was a acclaimed manager emeritus during a 2016 Final Four when Villanova and Wright won a inhabitant championship. Last deteriorate Massimino notched his 800th feat as a conduct manager and was named a finalist for a Basketball Hall of Fame. This week he died as he lived, as a conduct coach, a basketball lifer.

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