CenterStage: Jim Boeheim

Premieres on the YES Network Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 6:30 pm ET
11/15/2013 11:52 AM ET
By YES Network

Jim Boeheim will appear on CenterStage immediately following YES' Colgate-Syracuse college basketball telecast.
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After then-Syracuse head coach Roy Danforth leaves, Boeheim gives the school's administration an ultimatum.

The short answer: I was interviewed on a Wednesday with the University of Rochester. I was going to take the job. So I came back and Friday I interviewed at Syracuse because Roy had left on the weekend before. And they said they were going to open it up and take two or three weeks. And I put my hand up, and I said, "I'm taking the Rochester job tomorrow if I don't get the Syracuse job today. I played here, the players want me, I've done most of the recruiting. I think this should be my job." I said, "We have to get on the road Monday. Or we're going to lose a 6'10" recruit who we were right there with… If I can't get this job today, in two weeks we'll lose this kid… it won't be worth it." And I walked out. If I really was smart, like I am today, I wouldn't have done that. But sometimes you do things that maybe aren't smart, but they're the right thing, because the guy who made the decision was impressed that I would do that. Because I was kind of quiet, they didn't know me. And he said, "I wasn't sure, but I was sure after that, (after) what you said in that room." And he walked down, and he said, "You're the head coach at Syracuse."

Making Rick Pitino choose between taking an assistant coaching position and going on his honeymoon despite not knowing him.

Actually the famous "Going-to-New-York-City-to-hire-Rick-Pitino" story…the day of his wedding - I did. Which again, is something I probably wouldn't do today. I got him out of his room and kept him downstairs for four hours until he agreed to come and not go on his honeymoon the next day, to wherever he was going, and move his lovely wife Joanne up to Syracuse to live in my apartment with three other guys. And I went on the road and got Roosevelt Bouie and he went on the road and got Louis Orr, who both became All-Americans at Syracuse and got us off to the best start of any coach in his first four years…

While in graduate school, Boeheim had to choose between playing in the NBA and entering the coaching profession.

Well, Paul Seymour coached me the first year in Scranton (of the Eastern Professional Basketball League), and he took the Pistons job. (Seymour) called me after probably September, October, when I was in grad school and coaching. You know, he had three guards, Jimmy Walker, Howie Komives, and Dave Bing, and he needed a fourth guard. And I said, "Well, if I'm the fourth guard, with those three guys, I'm not going to play much." But he guaranteed me that I'd be on the team for the year. I thought about it. It was really a big decision. Because, you know, a lifelong dream: to play in the NBA. But I really was starting to enjoy coaching. So I really felt like coaching was what I needed to think about.

Boeheim turned down playing in the NBA and never regretted it.

(Not playing in the NBA) was the best decision I've ever made. There's no question. If I thought I was good enough to play in the NBA, I might have gone.

Boeheim's family managed a funeral home, which led to a prank involving future Hall of Famer Dave Bing.

I lived in the funeral home. You know, we had two or three bodies at one time, maybe, in the funeral home. The room right off the kitchen was where all the work was done. I remember I took my (Syracuse) teammate home, Dave Bing, freshman year, and I sent him in the back room (where the bodies were) for a soda. And he never forgave me.

Boeheim had no desire to get into the funeral business.

That was never a thought. I think after my first pickup, when we picked up a body, I think I was about 14, I said, "I don't think I want this business."

During the six-overtime game against Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament, Boeheim remembers when he realized it was a special game.

I think (during) about the fourth or fifth overtime, when the normal New York City fans who sit right back there, the guys from Wall Street are going, "Coach, come on, the train is leaving." I looked at them and I said, "I care about the train?"

After being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, Boeheim was heckled by an opposing fan.

You know, sometimes things get put into perspective. I was walking off…the court in Cincinnati that year after we had won the game, and the fan upstairs yelled out, "Hey, Boeheim, you're the worst guy in the Basketball Hall of Fame, I just want you to know that." I just wanted to say, "Yeah, but I'm in."

Given the choice, Boeheim would rather change the outcome of "the toughest loss (he's) ever had" - a triple-overtime loss in a high school championship game, rather than the 1987 NCAA Championship Game loss to Indiana.

We lost in the triple-overtime game my senior year, which was the toughest loss I've ever had. Ever. We had (a lead of) 13-2 after the first quarter and we just let the game get away, which was a lesson for me…there's nothing that's for sure in this world…we thought we'd win. But they made a great comeback - they made some shots. We ended up losing (in) three overtimes, so it was heartbreaking. When I sleep at night, when I dream about basketball, for some reason you only dream about the losses. I can't figure that out. It's always that game.

After losing the 1987 NCAA Championship Game to Indiana, Boeheim spoke with then-Hoosiers head coach Bobby Knight.

He said, you know, "It was a great game, and you're going to win one of these one day." He didn't tell me it would be 16 years.

Boeheim played high school basketball against current New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

He was a pretty good basketball player. But (my team's players) were seniors and I think (the score) was 72 - 30, something like that. I do kid Tommy about that once in a while, and was later his resident advisor on his floor at Syracuse when he played. The nicest, quietest guy I've ever met in my life. 

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