We’ve long had a bit of a thing here for South Carolina basketball coach, Frank Martin.
He had a classic moment teeing off on over-involved youth parents who spend their waking moments criticizing youth officials.
OK, so on a Sunday morning instead of being at church, those guys are out there trying to make a couple bucks, to pay their bills, feed their families.
Do you think they really care what fourth-grade team wins? Do you really think that they like sat at home and said, ‘Oh I can’t wait to officiate that game tomorrow, because that one team, I can’t wait to get that 10-year-old kid and embarrass him in front of people.’ Do you really think that’s what they’re doing?
Then, he eternally rewarded our waning faith in humanity by sticking up for these 10- and 11-year-old kids and their mentors as the kids try to learn the game and the accompanying lessons that youth sports teach.
Do you think those coaches coaching fourth-grade kids are making any money? So there’s someone thats giving up their personal time on a Sunday, for free, to help other people’s children, yet, we’re gonna have the adults in the stands yelling obscenities at the officials? Criticizing every decision the coach makes? Yelling at the kids, like the kids — they’re 10 years old, man! Like if they’re a LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing in the NBA Finals, like they know how to handle their coach over here and their parent over here yelling at them. Then we wonder why kids get confused man, why kids rebel, why kids don’t know how to listen. How can you listen when you’ve got so many voices in your head at the same the time. You know what life teaches you? Shut things off.
Always animated on the floor, but gracious off it, Frank Martin is always complimentary of opposing players and genuinely cares about them as players and people. And, last night, he won our hearts forever.
In the midst of ripping his team’s defense — particularly the inability to guard Kira Lewis — he heaped lavish praise on Alabama:
Credit to Alabama. We could not guard them. We had zero chance of guarding them. Our defense was embarrassing. We got exposed.
Thats a credit to Nate. What he has done with this team to get them to believe in his style of play and to overcome, first Jones’ injury and now [John] Petty’s, to have them playing the way they are is a credit to him and his kids.
But, it was what he said thereafter that really turned my head:
“Maybe [South Carolina forward] Malik Kotsar can call [Jones] tonight and he can give him some tips on how to rebound,” Martin said. “I have been competing against [Jones] for three years now and he is a classy kid. He lays it on the line every night and makes winning plays.”
Jones finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double. Despite essentially playing with one hand, he out-rebounded the 6-foot-11 Kotsar by six.
”I told Herbert that if he needs anything from me in life I am just a phone call away,” Martin said. “I have a lot of respect for him and not for the way he has dealt his injury, that is just a represents who he is every day. He is an unbelievable competitor. You do not see him with all the nonsense. He is what it is all about.”
From someone within the program, that would be incredible praise. From a competitor outside it, willing to stick his neck out for an opposing player as they go pro in life, that is just...well, it’s almost unheard of.
Frank Martin remains one helluva’ authentic dude. And we could use a lot more like him.