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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Patricia Sue Head (Summitt), 1952-2016

You could read thirty of these, and it wouldn't be enough. I probably ranked as a casual fan, albeit one who understood something of the context. Sports at its best is a big giant human interest story, and there were few as interesting and as human as Pat Summitt.

I hope you get sick of the stories and remembrances, because then you will begin to understand. An icon, right under your nose. I really need Bob Costas to do a piece; some say he's melodramatic. I say he understands why sports matters.

I can remember when the Lady Vols blew a 16-point second half lead against Baylor one year, with another trip to the Final Four on the line. Even in the determined jubilation of Baylor, it was in their eyes: We just beat the greatest coach of all time. Kim Mulkey wasn't apologetic for winning, but she wanted to be. And this is the power of the legend: she knew she'd better look that way.

The great Peyton Manning released a statement. Two-time Super Bowl champion, and arguably the greatest quarterback ever, had to say something. Because even football legends in the making are second fiddle to the Lady Vols and Summitt at Tennessee.

When the legendary Geno Auriemma becomes a sports footnote himself, and takes his place as the greatest, his supporters will have one irrefutable argument: He won more than Summitt.

She believed no one was bigger than the game of basketball, and thus, in a rare spell of justice, became bigger than the game of basketball. That might get an eye-roll from her now, but she'd get over it, screaming at one of her athletes to rebound, and get back on defense.

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