“I love the Red Wave,” exclaimed Boyd Grant as he finished his address to the sold out Selland Arena crowd Saturday night during halftime of Fresno State’s victory over rival San Jose State. The crowd stood in acknowledgement and left no doubt that they felt the same way towards him.
The event, organized by a joint collaboration of the Young Bulldogs, the Time Out Club and the Bulldog Foundation benefited the men’s basketball team’s Summer school fund. But the real beneficiaries were the fans who had the chance to share their memories and feelings with the legendary coach.
The evening started with a private ceremony at the Radisson Hotel where memories of a time long past were shared. Memorabilia from the Boyd Grant era was on display. Newspaper articles heralding the Bulldogs 1983 NIT Championship and the Bulldogs Sweet 16 berth from the year before were looked upon with great reflection.
The crowning piece of memorabilia was unveiled at halftime. As Coach Grant walked onto the court at Selland Arena for the last time, a sign from the past was dropped from the rafters - “GRANT’S TOMB”. Selland Arena, once the feared home court of the Bulldogs, was once again Grant’s Tomb. With three games remaining before the Bulldog’s move in to their new on-campus arena, Boyd Grant was king of the court once again.
“I can’t believe the butterflies in my stomach,” said Mark Gustin prior to the private event before the game.
Former players Pete Verhoeven, Charlie Smith, Marvin “Westside” Carter, Omel Nieves, Tyrone Bradley, Bobby Anderson, Bobby Davis, Keith Postler, Gustin and Scott Barnes all came to honor their former coach. Tyrone Bradley and Bobby Anderson both addressed the crowd and shared how Boyd Grant had come to Chicago and changed their lives for the better forever.
”I may not be the richest man financially, but spiritually and personally I’m very wealthy,” were the words Tyrone Bradley used to describe the love he felt for the Red Wave and Boyd Grant. Both former Bulldog’s ended their talk the same way, “I love you Coach!”
Current Bulldog coach Ray Lopes stopped by to offer his thanks to Coach Grant for “laying the foundation for success at Fresno State.” Lopes explained to the crowd how he had sought the advice of the former coach prior to accepting the position at Fresno State and how his beliefs about the game had also been shaped by the teachings of the legendary coach.
“You know, if Ray Lopes weren’t doing such a good job, I’d think about applying for the job at Fresno State,” joked Grant in a manner that exuded his mutual respect for the first year coach.
Then it was time for Coach Grant to share his feelings with the assembled crowd. After the ovation subsided, Coach Grant gave a heartfelt speech that shared thoughts on every player in attendance and his time at the helm for the Bulldogs. No moment was more emotional than when the hardened coach choked on his words while trying to introduce his children who had come to support him. It was clear that Coach clearly missed his deceased wife Glenna but was joined by new wife Mary Jane and obviously had her full support.
When discussing his decision to leave Fresno State to coach at his alma mater, Colorado State, Grant stammered on his words and simply stated, “sometimes you make decisions and sometimes you make decisions you regret.” The thought left those in the room touched that even though the man was gone, his heart was still in the valley.
The Red Wave loves you too coach! Thanks for the memories!