Gunter gone, but not forgotten
Updated: September 9, 2005, 6:23 PM ETBy Nancy Lieberman | Special to ESPN.com
I saw an open teammate across the court and could have made the easy pass.
But I was young and feeling awfully confident in my red, white and blue uniform. Trouble was, my behind-the-back pass went nowhere near its target, and instead bounced off some guy's head in the second row. It wasn't exactly the kind of show the United States wanted to put on while playing in Bulgaria. I cringed as coach called me over to the sideline. "Lieb," she began with an even voice. And that alone immediately put me at ease. Sometimes, when a parent scolds a child, or a coach gets on one of her players, she makes a point to emphasize every syllable of your name.
Sue Gunter, who retired in 2004 with 708 wins in 40 seasons, will be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in September.
|HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS|
ESPN Classic will broadcast the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions live on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, following a retrospective look at great moments in the careers of three inductees.
1 p.m. ET: 1984 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6, Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks (Hubie Brown)
3 p.m. ET: 1999 NCAA National Championship, UConn (Jim Calhoun) vs. Duke
5 p.m. ET: 2003 NCAA National Championship, Syracuse (Jim Boeheim) vs. Kansas
7:30 p.m. ET: Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
|Fans and former players shared their favorite memories of LSU coach Sue Gunter with ESPN.com. To read a selection of the submissions, click here.|
As a young, impressionable 16-year-old, I couldn't have had a better mentor to mold and influence my life. The same can be said for Chatman, who has since taken over the Lady Tigers and led them to a second consecutive Final Four last season with national player of the year Seimone Augustus (who could have played anywhere but opted to stay home and play for the legendary Gunter). Chatman led LSU to a 33-3 mark last season and also the program's first SEC regular-season title. Chatman's résumé, in fact, includes 17 seasons alongside Gunter, first as an All-American guard at LSU and then as Gunter's assistant coach. Like Gunter and most likely because of her influence Chatman is one of the most highly regarded, loyal, loving and well-liked coaches in the business. In today's competitive age, those can sometimes be rare traits, but they weren't for Gunter. That was truly evident in 2004, when the Lady Tigers reached their first Final Four. Even coaches whose seasons had been ended by LSU were happy to see Gunter finally reach the national semifinals. Though she succumbed to her illness before she could be enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame this weekend, Gunter was given one final honor in April. It only made sense that a woman who was nothing but first class be voted in on her first ballot. Nancy Lieberman, an ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. Contact her at www.nancylieberman.com.
Darrell Walker/Icon SMIThe life of Sue Gunter, born in 1939, could have been a movie, one with a triumphant but thoroughly bittersweet tone.