I have colleagues that cannot write about Steve Alford, now the coach at UCLA, formerly the coach at New Mexico, without mentioning that he likes to wear a basketball net as a fashion accessory.
Check out my pal Ed Graney’s column today. Or any day he writes about Alford.
And he’s not the only one. Not by a long shot.
In researching this blog, I stumbled upon an Albuquerque Journal story written about Alford’s successor at New Mexico, Craig Neal. The story asked if Neal would wear the net, in the manner of his former boss, should the Lobos cut one down.
Neal said he would.
But when New Mexico won its third consecutive Mountain West championship here last week, the man they call “Noodles” walked into the postgame press conference sans net around neck. And sans bright red sports jacket, too.
I told Graney I thought maybe this was an Indiana thing, the coach wearing the net around his neck after the championship game. (Alford is from Indiana, so is Neal.)
I told him I had been to dozen of gyms in Indiana, maybe even hundreds, in which there is a giant picture of the sectional champs on the gym wall, or the regional champs, and in this picture someone invariably is wearing a necklace made of nylon twine. Usually the coach.
Then I found the photo that runs at the top of this blog.
John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood. Wearing the net.
John Wooden played at Purdue, grew up in Martinsville, Ind.
Must be an Indiana thing.
If you want to poke fun at John Wooden for cutting down the neck and wearing it as a necklace, go right ahead.
But I would do it sort of quietly.