Ya know, we really have come along way, Coach. It seems as if just yesterday I was cursing you and your decision to oust Bob Hill—in retrospect, not one of my finer moments, and none-too-fair to you. But, in all fairness, Hill didn’t just look good on the sidelines, it was as if he came from Miami Vice’s central casting. And let’s be honest, Coach, any adolescent at the time would have felt the same way. I’m not proud of the way I acted, but Don Johnson is Don Johnson—and Don Johnson you ain’t.
But, see, I didn’t get it back then. I was just a punk kid, prone to the superficial. Nuance was lost on me. I knew what I was seeing and I knew there was more to the game than putting the little orange ball in the hole, but I was immature. Irrational, even. I was a fanatic in the worst sense of the word: passionately ignorant.
So even as I saw my hero, The Admiral (have-you-seen-his-biceps?!?), David Robinson, getting unfairly taken apart by the media, Bob Hill was still Don Johnson. And, really, so what if he watched a team zone-up his star defensively on one end while tasking his own to defend the opposition’s (Olajuwon) one-on-one at the other? Crockett had his pros and cons—apparently devising half-court defensive schemes would fall into the latter. (But, man… he sure knew how to dress, and his hair was spectacular.)
Thankfully, and appreciatively, though, you never held that against me. You truly were a gentleman, often allowing my criticisms and inflammatory rhetoric to simply roll off your back. It went in one ear, and out the other. Had I not known any better, I would have believed my words had fallen on a deaf ear or were simply inaudible. But I did know better. You were the better man, above it all—a mountain of a man—and for that you should be commended—I will truly never understand how it is you’ve managed to put up with me for all these years or how you managed to stay focused on the task at hand as I berated and/or questioned your tactics from the comfort of my home. But you did, and because of that—just days away from the fourteenth anniversary of Hill’s firing (Dec. 10, 1996)—we can both look back and laugh. We really have come a long way, Coach.