If you follow college basketball closely, or even just the Pac-12, there's a decent chance you saw the photo and know the story already. It's a picture of California coach Cuonzo Martin and his son, Joshua, standing with their backs to a camera, gazing into an Australian skyline, celebrating the fact that this dad -- who was diagnosed with cancer and promised nothing when his son was just three months old -- lived to see his son's 18th birthday.
Here's the post if you missed it:
What an undeniably sweet and touching moment.
But guess what?
That wasn't the initial photo.
The initial photo actually had father and son facing the camera.
"But I broke down a little bit ... so we turned around," Martin told me. "Now, mind you, he's never seen me emotional like that. In 18 years he's never seen me like that. He had never seen his dad that way. But that was just a big, big moment for our family. I had always prayed to see that day. And when it came it just took a lot out of me, man."
Any parent can understand.
Because, truth is, once you have children, goals change. Sure, you still want to accomplish things for yourself, both personally and professionally. But you start to time your life relative to your children, and you pray, or at least hope, you'll be there to watch them graduate from high school, then college, and you'd love to see them start their own families someday.
That is actually my biggest fear -- not being here to see my two boys grow up.
And yet, thankfully, I have no real reason to fear that right now.
Obviously, any of us could go at any time; I get that. But my point is that I'm relatively healthy, far as I know. So I can reasonably expect to see my boys age while I age.
Cuonzo Martin wasn't so fortunate.
Back in 1997, on an otherwise normal day, he collapsed at his home and was subsequently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — an aggressive form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system and often spreads quickly. Martin remembers a doctor once telling him his chances of survival were similar to the odds that Shaquille O'Neal would make his next free throw. In other words, not great. But the cancer went into remission in 1998. And, all these years later, it's never returned. So Cuonzo Martin lived to see Joshua Martin's 18th birthday. And, absolutely, that was the highlight of Cal's preseason trip to Australia.
NOTES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Sources: USM expects to meet with NCAA in January
Sources told me this week that, while nothing is officially scheduled, Southern Miss expects to go before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in January for violations that allegedly happened while Donnie Tyndall was the school's men's basketball coach.
The investigation, of course, has already cost Tyndall his job at Tennessee.
Regardless, he's still living in Knoxville, for the time being. But I'm told Tyndall is planning to move. And there's a chance he could end up on a D-League staff this season while he waits to learn the severity of the penalties the NCAA will use to punish him for various violations.
Future of coaches networking group in doubt
The resignation of Norwood Teague combined with the leave taken by Mike Ellis hasn't only torn apart Minnesota's athletic department. It's also put the future of the Villa 7 consortium very much in doubt, and nobody seems to know whether it will continue.
Teague and Ellis started Villa 7 while at VCU, you see, and it's grown into the premier networking opportunity for assistants. That's how they met Shaka Smart before they hired him at VCU, how they met Richard Pitino before they hired him at Minnesota. And three Villa 7 alums I texted over the past 24 hours told me they genuinely don't know if the event will continue now that Teague's reputation is destroyed and Ellis' is under question.
Gathers won't face additional punishment for shoplifting charge
I caught up on Friday morning with Baylor coach Scott Drew, who told me all discipline for Rico Gathers has been handled in-house, and that the bruising forward who averaged 11.6 points and 11.6 rebounds last season will not face further punishment after an arrest in June for shoplifting at a local Walmart. Translation: Gathers will start the season with the Bears. He isn't expected to miss any regular-season games.
From a legal perspective, Gathers' issues are also over. As long as he completes community service and stays out of trouble, the charge will be removed from his record.
Spartans appear to have good time on trip to Italy
All sorts of teams from all levels of basketball took offseason foreign trips this year. But I'm not sure anybody did a better job of documenting the action on the court and interesting moments away from it as well as Michigan State.
Everything -- box scores, videos, pictures, etc., -- from the Spartans' trip to Italy last month is on the program's official Twitter account. And if you've always wanted of see Tom Izzo play an accordian, today is your lucky day.
Duke received a commitment from five-star guard Frank Jackson earlier this week, which means the Blue Devils now have two commitments from top-15 national recruits -- the other is five-star forward Jayson Tatum -- and are thus in great position to finish with the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. More than that, though, the development served as a reminder that Kentucky coach John Calipari is no longer clearly the dominant figure in recruiting.
To be clear, Calipari remains terrific.
Don't get it twisted.
But Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has definitely closed the recruiting gap between his program and Calipari's program, and it's been trending this way for a few years. In fact, you could reasonably argue Duke is now recruiting at a higher level than Kentucky, and one way to argue that would be to point out that -- according to 247Sports Class of 2016 Composite Rankings -- Duke, to date, has received commitments from a total of eight top-15 national recruits from the Class of 2014, Class of 2015 and Class of 2016.
Kentucky's total number of top-15 national recruits over that same stretch?
Whether Krzyzewski's role with USA Basketball -- or a strong staff of assistants featuring Jeff Capel, Jon Scheyer and Nate James, or some combination of the two, or something else entirely -- deserves most of the credit for Duke's recruiting surge is up for debate. But what's not debatable is that Coach K, who will turn 69 years old this season, is still operating at the highest level, and there really doesn't seem to be any end in sight.