Laugh, think, cry

We’ve been looking through a LOT of basketball photos recently, and I couldn’t help but notice some fantastic Morton shots of the great Jim Valvano, who died of bone cancer 17 years ago this week. In addition to being an extremely talented, entertaining, and exuberant college basketball coach (most notably at North Carolina State University), in his battle with cancer, Valvano gave us a wonderful model of courage, dignity and humor and the face of tragedy. Probably his best-known quote, below, was delivered at the ESPY awards shortly before his death — I challenge you to watch the video of the speech and not do all three things!

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.

Words to live by. (An interesting and related side note is this article I just happened to see on CNN.com today about technology and changing cultural attitudes towards end-of-life).

Here’s Jimmy V making “Bones” McKinney laugh:

Morton took the image below at the January 4, 1986 UNC victory over NC State, the “last game in Carmichael.” After the game, Valvano grabbed the ball and shot a layup so he could jokingly claim to have made the “last basket in Carmichael.” (Of course, as Thad Williamson reports, the Heels played in Carmichael again just last month in the NIT).

6 thoughts on “Laugh, think, cry

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  3. One of Hugh’s favorite Valvano stories he always told when he showed (slides) one particular shot of Jimmy and Dean shaking hands before a State-UNC game went a bit like this.
    Have you ever wondered what the Coaches say to each other when they are shaking hands before a game? When I took this picture of the coaches before ( and he identified the particular game )….
    Dean: Nice jacket
    Jimmy: You like this jacket? I do too. If I lose a game I never wear the jacket again. You wouldn’t want me to have to get rid of this jacket, would you, Dean?

  4. (Hope it’s okay to post a question here.) After reading about Coach Smith’s condition, so to speak, I was feeling a little sad, and naturally, nostalgic. So I’ve been surfing around… I noticed the picture of Coach Valvano making the “last shot in Carmichael.” (I was at this game!) I’d heard there was more to this story, though, that Coach Smith was asked what he thought about Coach Valvano making the last shot, and that his reply went something like this: But I got the last assist. Apparently – I don’t recall this, but I do remember Coach V making the lay-up – he called to Dean to throw him a nearby basketball… And this is how Coach Smith got the last assist. Does a photo exist of this? (I’ve always thought this moment illustrated the essence of Dean Smith. It obviously demonstrated his wit, but also, on a deeper level, it was a small, yet powerful example of the fact that he was always trying to do way more than just win basketball games.) I suspect that no photo does exist, and also that Coach Smith would think that that was just fine.

    Thank your for your time.

  5. Hi Steve, apologies for your comment getting lost in the spam trap for a little while! I’m wondering if this photo depicts the very moment you refer to — the hand-off from Coach Smith to Coach Valvano?

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