I had the great fortune of being in New Orleans last weekend for the Final Four. I had the even greater fortune of spending an hour at an event next to Bill Raftery, one of my all-time favorite sports commentators. Full disclosure time: I’m a Syracuse University graduate and a die-hard Syracuse hoops fan. Because Syracuse is traditionally a top team, they play an enormous amount of games on national television. Most of which, seemingly anyway, have included Bill Raftery as one of the commentators.
Bill Raftery, or Coach, as I called him, didn’t know me when he sat down next to me. We’ve never met, and yet, it felt like I’ve known him for the last ten years. We’ve watched a lot of Syracuse basketball together – some of which were defining moments of my college experience. We spoke about how clutch Gerry McNamara was and how depressed I was about Fab Melo being suspended from the tournament. Not surprisingly, Coach Raftery put his hand on my shoulder and told me that he understood.
Coach is a bit taller than I expected, but otherwise he is exactly who I’ve come to know throughout the years. There have been many, many articles that talk about the importance of sports, but the individuals that help bring those moments to fans play an important part in memory making. Coach Raftery has probably already forgotten about our dinner together, but I’ll always laugh when I think about the stories that he told me during our encounter. Syracuse should be good again next season and I’m already looking forward to hanging out with him another 20 times next year.
– Brian Landau
Brian Landau is a Westwood One contributor and is one of a very small group of people who would be happy to spend a few days in Syracuse in February – so long as there’s a game at the Carrier Dome.