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The Final Moments Of Jim Boeheim’s Tenure Weren’t Like the Rest

Brash. Stubborn. All-knowing. Words used to describe Jim Boeheim throughout his 47-year head coaching career at Syracuse. He built the program from the ground up, and then lit matches and set the place ablaze over the past few years. From unthinkable losses to antagonistic press conferences, the ending of Boeheim’s career was not graceful. But his final moments were.

After Daivien Williamson’s three-pointer fell through the net with .5 seconds left, everyone in Orange was heartbroken. In Boeheim’s last press conference, there were no attacks on certain players’ effort levels. There was no combativeness with the media. Instead, Jim began with an honest assessment of the effort:

Down 12, these guys did an amazing job of just fighting back into the game, and even at the end when it was three and Judah got the drive and Benny got the three to get the lead, we just couldn’t get the stop at the other end.

Again, credit Wake Forest. They played a tremendous game, and I think they’re a really good basketball team.

Jim Boeheim after Syracuse’s 77-74 loss to Wake Forest

Then answered a question about the last play without any griping or sniping.

We were going to go high-low. Benny couldn’t get it to Jesse. He tried. That was the play, and then we got it to Joe and he had to make a play there. I would have liked to have seen him drive it, but he thought that was the shot.

Jim Boeheim after Syracuse’s 77-74 loss to Wake Forest

You’ve surely now seen the quotes about Boeheim “giving his retirement speech” then dancing around the and all that, and it’s his schtick to act like he’s smarter than everyone else. He’s done it for years. However, these words were not said in an angry or frustrated way. Jim Boeheim was reminiscent and thankful on his diatribe surrounding his career path moving forward. Before the stuff about retirement, he talked about how grateful he was for his experiences in the 315.

Again, I’ve been very lucky to be able to coach my college team, to play and then be an assistant coach and then a head coach, never having to leave Syracuse. It’s a great university. The city has embraced our team.

I am amazed that we’ve been able to draw the fans that we’ve been able to draw over the years. Steve told me before the game, we were just talking, he said it was amazing, the fans. Last home game, nothing to play for, and there’s almost 25,000 people there. I’ve been just so lucky to be able to coach at Syracuse, a place I love, I place I love to live. People keep wondering about that, but maybe that’s a flaw I have.

But I’ve lived in Syracuse my whole life, and I’ll live there hopefully a long time into the future. I think it’s a great place. I think sometimes the negativity of people comes to the forefront, and that’s life. That’s there.

Jim Boeheim after Syracuse’s 77-74 loss to Wake Forest

After confusing the whole of press row, the players were asked what they learned from Coach Boeheim. Jesse Edwards said mental toughness, and Benny Williams said work ethic, as well as “being a man…how to handle what you need to handle.” Boeheim chimed in and praised both players, saying Edwards improved “more than any player he’s had” and Benny “can perform [like he did against Wake, with 18 points and 11 rebounds] every night.”

It was a vast departure from many of the press conferences of years past, and testy exchanges that have gone down over the season. While the season ended on a low note, a thankful Jim Boeheim exited the ACC Tournament pulpit with a flourish.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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