Rick Reilly v. Bob Huggins
Rick Reilly hates Bob Huggins. Hates him good. Like really hates him….and that’s awesome, cause Bob Huggins is the type of guy that might actually fight Rick Reilly. Let’s hope this happens. On to the column.
I don’t like Bob Huggins. Don’t like his zero-point-zero graduation rates. Don’t like his three-hour practices. Don’t like the Vegas sweatsuit top. The artless, sledgehammer style of his teams that sucks all the air out of the gym. Not to mention the joy. Still, Huggins is brutally effective, kind of like a Russian gulag, only with slightly less charm. If his West Virginia Mountaineers win this Final Four, I’d hate to be a CBS tape editor. There may not be One Shining Moment.
First of all, can we PLEASE stop comparing sports figures to murderous Soviet Marxists? That would be just great. Let’s pass along the memo to Jerry Thornton as well. This whole motif is insanely stupid. Insulting to the coach or person you hate, yes, but far more insulting to the people and their families, who, you know, actually went through the gulag.
Second of all, I don’t think Huggins’ teams suck the air out of the gym. If anything, their fans get, perhaps, a little too into the game. And actually, here’s Huggins telling his fans to stop throwing things at the Pitt bench. Sounds like a real asshole.
And, like ZOMG, three hour practices!!1! You’re kidding!?!? C’mon Reilly, everyone in college basketball practices a lot. It’s basically these kids’s job. Like it or not. If you hate three hour practices, then you’re gonna have to hate a lot of coaches.
But seriously, go see Rick Pitino, he runs a freaking North Korean prison camp…ZING!
Don’t get him. Don’t admire him. Don’t understand his nickname — Huggy Bear. The man is about as huggy as an ulcerous porcupine. It’s like calling Dick Cheney “Smiley.”
His nickname is ironic, Reilly. Ironic. Good gracious.
But I do get that a whole lot of people love him and one of them, Joe Mazzulla, has a story that makes me wonder if I’m wrong.
We’re gonna skip a little bit while Reilly prattles on about Joe Mazzulla and some injury he had, yadda yadda yadda. So, how did Huggy Bear handle the situation?
Mazzulla came to him on that day with tears in his eyes. “Coach, you think I’ll ever play again?” And Huggins took him by the shoulders, looked him in the eyes and said, “Well, you’re always talking about you being the best soccer player in the state of Rhode Island; you can always go play soccer. You don’t need arms for that.”
He was joking, dude. I think. Even if he wasn’t, who cares? Because guess what happened next?
But Huggins brought back Mazzulla as soon as he could dribble, even though Mazzulla couldn’t even shoot a jumper.
He even put Mazzulla and his 6-foot-2 frame under the basket in his 1-3-1 zone D. Put a shrimp under the basket when he could raise only one arm!
See!!! Bob Huggins is a bastard!!! That poor little Mazzulla fella, I’ll be that made him feel like crap. (Hint: It probably actually made him feel pretty good).
Sticking with Mazzulla against all sanity proved even smarter when WVU’s best guard, Darryl “Truck” Bryant, broke a bone in his foot last week and couldn’t play in the Sweet 16 weekend.
So, as reward, Mazzulla went out and beat Kentucky for Huggins on Saturday night in Syracuse. And when he was done making his first 3 of the year and scoring a season-high 17 points and pestering Kentucky’s big men the way mice pester elephants (at one point, Kentucky’s huge center, DeMarcus Cousins, looked down at Mazzulla and said, “Are you being serious right now?”) and becoming the East Region MVP in a 73-66 win, he went looking to hug one man — Huggins.
“I had to find him,” Mazzulla says, “I never want him to forget that I love him. What he did for me, how he stuck with me, nobody else would’ve done it.”
I can just see Reilly rolling his eyes here. “Yeah. Whatever. Meanie.”
And he’s not the only one on the team. They all talk about “Huggs” like he’s their favorite IRS auditor. “We all have one thing in common,” says Mazzulla. “We’re all trying not to get yelled at by Huggs.”
Same goes for the parents, sort of. “I like him,” says Karen West, mother of shooting guard Jonnie West and wife of West Virginia and Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West, “but I just wish he could coach without all the swearing.”
So, Reilly just listed off a bunch of people who actually know Huggins and they all like him. A lot. Except for the swearing part. But you show me a basketball coach who doesn’t swear and I’ll show you, I don’t know, a Gryphon-Unicorn hybrid creature.
There’s no point in going over all the reasons Huggins is bad for basketball. That’s just kicking a man when he’s up.
So stop writing. That would be good. Honestly, what is the point of this column? Other than making yourself look like a fool. Because you keep saying he’s awful, but everyone who’s close to the guy loves him….maybe you should turn your hatred to someone like Rick Pitino, who actually coaches a lot like Huggins, but he’s also a sleazebag.
West Virginians and Bob Huggins are the perfect fit. They’re both gritty and loyal and not particularly interested in what people think of them. Do you realize that they pipe the play-by-play of West Virginia games down into the coal mines now?
Otherwise, according to the state’s governor, too many workers try to get out of working their shifts. Come to think of it, Huggins would’ve made a good mine worker. He’s hard-working, a little dirty, and happiest in places where the light doesn’t shine too brightly.
Honestly, what’s wrong with that? I get all the West Virginia cliches and jokes, but what’s wrong with working hard, and getting dirty, and listening to WVU basketball games in the mine? Nothing’s wrong with that. Now that I think about it, Reilly is showing a pretty good knack for pissing on entire groups of people, like Canada, and now West Virginia.
I get why some people love Huggy Bear, but I’m just never going to be one of them.
And when they put him in the Hall of Fame, I think I’m going to hurl.
You really feel that strongly about it? That’s pretty harsh, buddy. And still, I’m not sure I understand why. Seriously, Reilly has managed to write yet another column in which their really is not point. All I can gather is that Reilly doesn’t like three hour practices or intense, somewhat harsh coaches, which means he really should like any coach. This makes my head hurt.
What I do know is that Reilly insulted Huggins and West Virginia…so add them to Canada and a host of other places that are now out to get Reilly.