This was fun — spent some time with Lefty Driesell. What a storyteller. And what a career. Somehow, Lefty has not been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. This might be the year.
There were dozens of stories Lefty told that couldn’t fit into the piece — one was how Red Auerbach was almost his coach when he played ball at Duke. Gerry Gerard was the coach at Duke when Lefty got there, but he was very sick.
“They knew Gerry Gerard had cancer,” Lefty said. “I’m a freshman at Duke, and I knew he had cancer. I didn’t know he was going to die, but they knew he was going to die. So they hired Red Auerbach. … In fact, I think he’s the one who taught Dick Groat how to shoot jump shots. We never shot them. In high school, I was the leading scorer in the state, but I never shot a jump shot. I shot one-hand push shots or two-hand sets, but when I got to Duke, Dick Groat taught me the jump shot. And I think Red taught it to him.
“Anyway, when Gerry died, they told Red, ‘Listen, you go ahead and start teaching phys ed classes. Back then you had to teach and coach. I taught when I was at Davidson.
“Well, Red said, ‘All right, I’m not teaching class. I’m leaving.’ And he left.”