Enberg’s Play About McGuire Still Going Strong

Posted by jstevrtc on September 28th, 2010

Are you a college basketball fan, but also long to be a patron of the arts? Well, get yourself to a performance of Coach: The Untold Story of College Basketball Legend Al McGuire, a one-man  play written by none other than  the inestimable sportscaster Dick Enberg about the former Marquette coach. McGuire, who died of leukemia in 2001, was a good friend of Enberg’s as well as his former television broadcast partner. Enberg debuted the playat Marquette in 2005 and it’s been traveling the country since then, but we mention it now because two of its upcoming performances have special significance.

During its run, the play has garnered praise both for the personal and touching nature of Enberg’s tribute to his friend as well as the portrayal by actor Cotter Smith, an award-winning stage actor who you may remember most recently from the HBO movie about the life of Jack Kevorkian entitled You Don’t Know Jack.

The two upcoming performances we mentioned above are the ones taking place at Belmont Abbey College on October 9th and at Indiana University on October 23rd. As just about every college hoophead knows, McGuire led Marquette to the 1977 national championship in his final season as a head coach. Before he took the head coaching position at Marquette in 1964, though, he spent seven years at Belmont Abbey, the site of his first head coaching job. Enberg is an undergraduate alum of Central Michigan University, but holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana in the field of health sciences. The two shows at those venues will be special, indeed. Mr. Enberg — who we should actually refer to as Dr. Enberg, though he’d probably be the first to quell that notion — is scheduled to appear at both of those performances.

McGuire debuted as a college basketball analyst for NBC in 1977 with Enberg and Billy Packer, and is seen as the first real “character” in the realm of basketball broadcasting. He was always insightful and interesting, but the guy could be downright zany, to put it mildly. Who could ever forget this:

Enberg is one of many sportscasters who sees McGuire as having paved the way for future commentators to have fun and show more of their true personalities (we’re lookin’ at you, Mr. Vitale) on the air. Understandable, then, is that tagline on the playbill — a quote from Enberg about his subject: “He’s the most unforgettable human being I’ve ever met, and there’s nobody in second place.”

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