Rutgers names court at Barn after Jim Valvano
Bob Lloyd warned his speech wouldn’t go without tears.
“At 71, I cry at supermarket openings, so I hope you bear with me,” he said when his time began at the podium on a court soon to be named after his college roommate.
He first got choked up four minutes in, when he began speaking about his college best friend, and teammate James Thomas Anthony Valvano.
“I want to talk about Jimmy as a player, as a coach, as a broadcaster and,” Lloyd said, choking up before getting to the word. “Friend.”
It wouldn’t be the last time he had to take a second to collect himself on an emotional day for him, the teammates he and Valvano shared on the 1966-67 Rutgers men’s basketball team that finished third in that season’s NIT and the numerous other University alums who were at the College Avenue Gym Saturday.
Affectionately known as the Barn, it was on that court that the Scarlet Knights held home games when Valvano was a member of the team. Now, following Saturday’s Rutgers Day ceremony, it will be known as the Jimmy V. Court at the Barn.
“A historic day for Rutgers,” Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs called it.
The man being celebrated is recognized for a myriad of accomplishments.
A point guard who finished 28th in all-time scoring in program history and served as a co-captain alongside Lloyd.
“We had three seniors and he was the guy who kept the team together, without a doubt,” Lloyd said. “He was a great leader.”
An assistant at his alma mater under Bill Foster, who he played under throughout his three years on the Banks.
A legendary head coach of NC State, where he led the Wolfpack to its only NCAA Tournament championship in 1982, his run onto the court after the buzzer one of the most famous moments in college basketball history.
An incredibly optimistic man who, despite knowing the bone cancer sucking his life away was incurable, fought in his final 6 months of life to create the Jimmy V Foundation, a cancer research institute Lloyd was the chairman of for 21 years which has earned 175 million dollars since it was introduced at the historic speech Valvano gave at the first annual ESPY’s.
Perhaps the most famous speech in the history of sports, it’s one many use as a reference for strength, one of Valvano’s final gifts to the world. Twenty-four years and a day following his death, his alma mater finally repaid him for the many gifts he gave it.
“In closing his ESPY’s speech, Jimmy said ‘cancer can take away all of my physical ability, but it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, it cannot touch my soul, and those three things will live on together forever,’” Lloyd said. “With the Jimmy V Court here at the Barn, thanks to Rutgers University and (those who put the event together), Jim’s mind, heart and soul will live on forever at Rutgers.”
Brian Fonseca is a correspondent for the Daily Targum. He can be reached with any comments, questions or feedback at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @briannnnf for updates.