July 23, 2019 | 71° F

Rutgers teammates share stories of Jim Valvano

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez and Dimitri Rodriguez |

Members of the 1966-67 Rutgers men's basketball team reveal the name of the Jimmy V. Court at the College Avenue Gym in a ceremony on Saturday. 

Jim Valvano is known for many things. 

His tremendous courage in the face of bone cancer. His imperfect smile which never seemed to leave his face due to his unwavering optimism. His passion for the game of basketball that saw him succeed as a player on the Rutgers men's basketball team and as a head coach at NC State.

But perhaps one of the most underrated talents the man known affectionately as Jimmy V had was his knack for stories — both in telling them and in being apart of them.

His most famous example is an iconic speech at the first ever ESPY awards, a riveting talk coming at a time in which his life was in danger of ending any day, one which continues to inspire millions to this day 24 years later. 

But there are no shortage of others, and plenty were shared on Saturday when the court at the College Avenue Gym, where he played for three seasons as a Scarlet Knight, was dedicated in his name as the Jimmy V. Court at the Barn.

Here's a sample:

Bob Lloyd, Valvano's co-captain on the 1966-67 team:

“We’re playing at (Madison Square) Garden against NYU, and I get fouled with one second to go. I get two free throws. Made the first, missed the second, game goes into overtime.

Guess what? One second to go in a five minute overtime, I get fouled again down one. Just as the ref is ready to give me the ball, Jimmy comes up behind me, says something to me.

Afterwards, a reporter said to me, ‘What did your roommate say? You can do this?’ 

Not Jimmy. What Jimmy said to me was ‘Lloyd, you got us into this mess, now you get us out.’”

Doug Clark, starting senior center on the 1966-67 team:

“We were playing Lafayette (at the Barn). Seats were real close to the basket. 

(Jimmy and I) knew we were going to be taken out because we were like 15 points ahead and there were 15 minutes to go. Jimmy says to me “you see that girl in the front row?” 

I said “yeah, how can you miss her?” 

He said, "if we have a fast break, I want you to throw the ball a little too far ahead of me so I dive and I end up in her lap." 

Low and behold, the next play, we had a fast break, we did it, I threw the ball, he landed in her lap and then I got pulled out for throwing a bad pass.”

Rick Harley, junior forward on the 1966-67 team:

"The only time that I can recall, or anybody else I talk to can recall, where Jim was at a loss for words.

It was during the NIT, and after the NIT, Mohamed Ali was going to fight Zora Folley. He was training in the basement at Madison Square Garden and we went down to see him. After he was done sparring a little bit, we were standing around the ring. And he pointed at Jim and said ‘Come on out! Come on out!’ and Jim (backed up). Totally speechless. Couldn’t think of a word to say. He choked. He did not go in the ring.”

Bob Greacon, sophomore forward on the 1966-67 team:

“Somebody asked him after and (Jim) said ‘if he would’ve just touched my nose, I would’ve been bleeding.’”

Brian Fonseca is a correspondent for the Daily Targum. He can be reached with any comments, questions or feedback at briannnf@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @briannnnf for updates.

Brian Fonseca

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