Last night was the Jimmy V Classic. It’s an annual doubleheader of college basketball played in Madison Square Garden every year since 1995. ESPN organizes the event each year to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
But this is NOT about basketball. Last night I watched maybe 10 minutes of basketball.
But I did watch “The Speech” last night. They broadcast it every year between games. I listen to some songs over and over. Speeches are different. Jim Valvano’s speech at the initial ESPY Awards in 1993 is one of the few speeches that I have watched and listened to repeatedly. I watched it again this morning.
Brief background: Valvano was a basketball coach and is well known for his 1983 NC State team winning the national title against long odds. (I’ve got a dozy of a story about that tournament. Some day….)
When he received the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the 1983 ESPYs, he made this memorable speech and also announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
He died 8 weeks later.
There are several unfogettable moments in the speech.
There is the story of his Vince Lombardi speech to the first team he ever coached. I literally laugh out loud every time I hear this story.
There are his comments when the teleprompter starts flashing that he has thirty seconds left: “They got that screen up there flashing 30 seconds, like I care about that screen. I got tumors all over my body and I’m worried about some guy in the back going 30 seconds. Hey va fa napoli, buddy.” I have no idea what the last sentence means….and I don’t care.
There is the motto of the V Foundation: “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.”
And there are these words to live by: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
If you’ve never watched the speech: do it. If you have: watch it again.
It’s something special.