During the big Final Four week in Dallas, Nancy Lieberman welcomed supporters of her foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters to the Big Coaches for a Big Cause fundraiser. Let’s just say that she was not using the term “big” lightly.
Some of the best coaches in college basketball showed up to Jet Linx Dallas to raise money, shake hands and chat candidly about their experiences. Attendees mingled with the coaches while enjoying a delicious array of appetizers and their spirit of choice. We did mention this was all taking place at a jet hangar, right? Yeah, it was pretty cool.
The evening continued with a silent auction, including NCAA championship tournament tickets; a live auction featuring two Bulgari watches; and a raffle for hot door prizes. The fundraising portion of the evening ended with various members of Big Brothers Big Sisters talking about the difference the organization makes in the lives of children all across the country.
Lieberman herself even addressed the group, hand-in-hand with her little sister Kimmy. Everyone could see the tight bond they shared in the relaxed and comfortable way in which they laughed, shared stories and interacted with one another.
Then the big moment arrived: a special panel discussion moderated by Gina Miller, involving some of the most distinguished coaches in the game, including Denny Crum, David Odom, Oliver Purnell, Lon Kruger, Del Harris and Jim Boeheim. They discussed everything from the power of mentorship to funny stories about Lieberman when she was a young basketball player at Old Dominion.
Crum is a Hall of Famer who coached at University of Louisville in Kentucky from 1971 to 2001. He guided the Cardinals to two NCAA championships and six Final Fours. His last national championship win occurred when they beat Duke in Dallas. His witty banter with coach Odom about a questionable call during past tournament play had the crowd rolling with laughter.
Purnell, who played at Old Dominion at the same time as Lieberman, shared stories of her beating some of the players on the men’s basketball team in one-on-one competition. He also spoke to her ability to work a room with her outgoing personality and genuine compassion for people regardless of her personal success as one of the best women’s basketball players to ever play the game.
The evening ended with Boeheim, head coach at Syracuse University, talking about the infamous technical he received this year in a heated match-up against Duke, along with his thoughts on joining the ACC.
The coaches were then whisked away to a nice dinner in their continued tour of Dallas and the Final Four craziness that inevitably followed them into the weekend. Although this event took just a couple of hours of their time, their ability to raise money for these important causes will help support the children of both foundations for years to come. And that is more important than any basketball game could ever be.