An emotional Jim Boeheim addressed the media at the Carmelo K. Anthony Center and talked about the life and legacy of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. It was a Jim Boeheim that no one has really ever seen before. He was overcome with emotion and struggled to get words out. There was no quick wit or snarky attitude, only deep sorrow and mourning.
Boeheim talked about the Pearl he know on the court and the Dwayne that he know off the court. He used the word “humble” throughout his press conference and described Washington as a great player and an even better person.
“There is only one guy like him,” Boeheim said. “He helped make our program, he helped make the big east. He helped make college basketball.”
There is no doubt that Washington is one of, if not the, most influential players in Syracuse basketball history. He played at a pivotal time in Syracuse history. His career marked the rise of the Big East and the emergence of the Carrier Dome as a nationally recognized venue.
“People would come to see him play,” Boeheim said of the twenty-plus thousand fans who showed up on a regular basis in the mid-80s. “They didn’t come to see Syracuse play. They came to see Pearl play.”
Boeheim reflected on his first time seeing Pearl play. It was a charity game and Pearl was set to play at 9pm. People were there at 4.
He also reflected on the last time he spoke to the player that he called special. He spoke to Washington on the phone after Syracuse advanced to the Final Four. Pearl may not have been entirely with it, but Boeheim said he was excited to see his team make one last run.
When talking about what Pearl has meant to him and to the university, Boeheim said, “There aren’t many legends,” leaving no doubt that he thought Pearl was just that.
The press conference ended with Boeheim saying what every Syracuse fan is thinking today, before he walked away from the podium, overcome with emotion.
“We were fortunate.”
Yes, Jim. Yes, we were.