Flashback: Jim Valvano on David Letterman, 1987

Many thanks to Scott at GarageGabs for this blast from the past. Those of you who remember V will enjoy this. Heck, those of you who’ve only heard about V from the rest of us will enjoy it. This is Classic Valvano, and really, there’s no better words for it than that.

Flashback General NCS Basketball

35 Responses to Flashback: Jim Valvano on David Letterman, 1987

  1. Woof Wolf 01/08/2007 at 12:21 AM #

    Thanks! That’s classic Jimmy V.

  2. packpigskinfan23 01/08/2007 at 9:01 AM #

    wish I knew what college basketball was back then…..

    great clip!

  3. tractor57 01/08/2007 at 9:08 AM #

    Great! Lots of very fond memories.

  4. tooyoungtoremember 01/08/2007 at 10:35 AM #

    Wow. Wish I wasn’t tooyoungtoremember!

  5. Cardiff Giant 01/08/2007 at 12:03 PM #

    Oh, my.

  6. Rick 01/08/2007 at 12:16 PM #

    How many bball coaches do you see on talk shows? Not many.
    He was a special person. I forget sometimes how entertaining he was to watch.

  7. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 01/08/2007 at 1:18 PM #

    I may be making this up but it seems to me Valvano got a short lived late night TV show or pilot that came out of this guest spot- It may of been on ESPN. I seem to remember Valvano interviewing the female jockey (Julie Krone?) that had gained some attention around that time. Anyone else remember what I’m talking about or am dreaming this?

  8. class of 74 01/08/2007 at 3:40 PM #

    He was a very special guy that could talk to anyone, about anything. I just met him a time or two but despite all he had going on around him he was always willing to share a story or a laugh. To this day, IMHO, he was the greatest salesman our university ever had. Not having his name attached to the RBC or the basketball program in some way is a travesty of justice.

  9. BoKnowsNCS71 01/08/2007 at 4:16 PM #

    I agree, V was special. I wrote him a letter of support during the turmoil telling him 31-0 or 0-31 — I supported him. I still have that letter of thanks from him.

    A hack writer (Peter Golebock) wrote a poorly researched and often incorrect book and the N&O jumped on it printing all the half truths, rumors, and falsehoods. This created so much commotion that the school had to do something. A railroad job at its best.

    In the end, any infractions were meaningless or not within V’s control (after all a former player who sells his sneakers does that on the side). There was also a fink manager who contributed some things that if it truly bothered him — he should have told the coach. I don’t recall any NCAA infractions — just what we did to ourselves.

    Some of the V controversy was over admissions but nothing ever came out that was scandalous — the unversity officials then committed ritual sports Hari-Kiri as their way to reign in NCSU sports.

    That was when NCSU administrative staff lost my support. When the Alumni Club would call, I’d say “no money until you fire that idiot chancellor.” My blood still boils. The WPC only gets my donations now.

    Les Robinson came in with an eventual claim to fame of the Les Robinson Memorial ACC Play-In Tournament. Then per the Peter Principal — he rose to the next level of incompetence and he/they hired (he who shall not be named). The school still keeps V at distance as can be seen by the Whittenburg snubs last year.

    Sidney will be the healer I hope. It will take a connection to the past to heal the future.

    To this day, I have to say Coach K stayed by V’s side all the way until he died. That is what class is — to me it has nothing to do with how many games one wins in a career.

  10. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 01/08/2007 at 4:34 PM #

    True that Coack K showed a helluva a lot more class standing by V than the President of Duke did by throwing his Lacorsse team in the trash. How that man has stayed in power is beyond me.

  11. wirogers 01/08/2007 at 4:52 PM #

    We need to continue to push the Alumin Association and the WPC to start to include V back into the program. He did so much good after he left State. As Red Fred 2 stated in a post, we need to forget the bad (as little as it was) and concentrate on the good.

    It would be soooo good for the University to work with his foundation as they do with Kay Yow and her work to fight cancer.

  12. redfred2 01/08/2007 at 4:57 PM #

    Bo, thanks for that. Valvano was totally different from anyone around. He loved the spotlight and the job of coaching college basketball, but it wasn’t all that he had to talk about. He was a nationwide personality, much too big for this area, especially for the well established pecking order in our good ol’ state of North Carolina. The journalists, the same ones want to insure that that pecking order stays intact even to this day, just couldn’t stand having a magnet like him around. Hatchets starting flying in from every direction.

    So much energy and enthusiam, and always trying to just make it fun. I’ll take that side of the extremes we’ve seen, any day. I mean when a guy like Letterman can’t even get a word in edgewise, when talking to a college basketball coach? That interview wore me out.

  13. RedTerror29 01/08/2007 at 5:25 PM #

    I bet an incredible number of “average Joe’s on the street” and kids who weren’t alive when he coached know who Valvano was. He left a big mark on college basketball. But how many know he coached at State? Even less know he was ever involved in a scandal. State should work to ensure the first piece is widely known – and let the second be forgotten.

  14. PapaJohn 01/08/2007 at 5:49 PM #

    What a treat to see again! Back then everyone was in his fan club and it was an event when he was on TV. I watched with several buddies and laughed our heads off. Letterman ended the interview saying something like, “You’re too low key, you need to lighten up a bit.”
    Thank you!

  15. Red 01/08/2007 at 6:57 PM #

    What a riot! They certainly don’t make coaches like V anymore.

  16. kool k 01/09/2007 at 7:50 AM #

    I have a picture on my desk here at work of me and Jimmy V. I was 11 years old and attending his basketball camp. It was taken the day Personal Fouls came out. I remember all the reporters and cameras around the whole time camp was going on. Some punk even tried to get him to autograph it. Bo Knows NCS71 is right, that “writer” is a hack. He got dates and game outcomes wrong, even mispelled names.
    I read that book along with V’s “They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract and Then Declared me Dead” back to back at least once a year. Whatever happened to Benny Bolton and that John Simonds guy? We have all had our problems over the past year or so with Fowler, Herb, Chuck; even some problems with other posters. But everyon of those guys and everyone on here is a stand up guy compared to those low life rats.

  17. BoKnowsNCS71 01/09/2007 at 8:31 AM #

    I pulled out my copy of “They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract and Then Declared me Dead” for a re-read.

    We were blessed to have Jimmy V.

  18. Buddygreen 01/09/2007 at 8:35 AM #

    What made Valvano was he was genuine. He came from humble orgins and never looked down on people. His downfall was caused by people of power with agendas he could not understand. Valvano came to State same year I did as a freshman. I still remember him driving up in a Chysler K car. We were standing outside Tucker dorm drinking beer and shooting the breeze, he stopped and shot the bull with us for about an hour. We spread the word around campus to get behind this guy. I could never forgive Poulton for bailing on this guy during all the turmoil and leaving Valvano to face everything by himself. But V took it. Those in power of UNC orgin especially the UNC board of governors just could not allow Valvano to be as powerful as he was getting. TV, national media, coaches (many forget his corporation was advising coaches on guaranteed contracts), fans, recruits, etc. loved the guy. He not only survived an NCAA investigation with the NCAA lead investigator stating they had never so throughly investagated any program and have them come out as good as State did. Only a coupld minor infractions of selling shows and tickets were found. The thing that upset me was they investigated him like a criminal, the UNC board of govenors had the SBI investigate him. Even NCAA guys thought that was wrong. Still a lot of bad feelings toward the Board of Govenors and the N&O for the stuff they did. Charlotte Observor ran a sports headline basically stating NCAA clears Valvano. N&O’s sports headline stated the total opposite. Many of you may find that hard to believe but the N&O and State’s Chancelor of the time had a horrible feud going. The man was a class act and those that attacked him should be ashamed. He never did anything but try to help people improve themselves, help people feel good about themselves, and bring a little joy to those around him.

  19. BoKnowsNCS71 01/09/2007 at 11:24 AM #


    A video of Coach V at Reynolds in Feb 1993.

  20. beowolf 01/09/2007 at 11:40 AM #

    I think Bennie Bolton was unfairly singled out here — another result of John Simonds’ lies.

  21. redfred2 01/09/2007 at 11:47 AM #

    The “scandal” over a sandal, or was it a tennis shoe? It is really hard to believe that many on this site have, and continue to, bad mouth Valvano.

    What happened was that Valvano was a spark plug, unexpected, and full of life. He was refreshing and about as far from a bunch of coach-speak, and BB cliches, as you could possibly get. He drew attention to himself, and it was always in fun. It was hard for many to except the fact that a coach could light up a packed coliseum, without there being a basketball in sight. The ACC, NCAA, the media, and the nation had something that they had never seen before. Unfortunately, so did NC State.

    He was a fun loving guy who didn’t always stay on the topic of basketball as everyone expected. For the old guard, the ones who expected only to hear a string of mindless nothings coming from a coach’s mouth, Valvano was something that didn’t sit quite right. That was no truer anywhere on the planet, then with all of the old school, simple minded people in high places, who occupied the offices right in good ol’ Raleigh, North Carolina, itself.

    Valvano was a phenom, and he started taking hits for not following the crowd and fitting the mold. Other coaches just couldn’t compete. Once the NCAA started checking in on NCSU, which we all know was at the request of other’s, then media got a sniff of something that could possibly offset Valvano’s popularity. They latched on and ran with it, full steam ahead. The basis and facts could be denied later.

    The only real scandal, and the only real embarassment, was NC State University, and basketball had nothing to do with it. The media, the NCAA, and the coaches who were all taken aback by Jim Valvano’s overwhelming popularity, couldn’t have hand picked a easier group of spineless adults to bully around than those in place in the NC State’s administration. They were more like allies in a scheme to bring their own coach back down to earth.

    I was surprised that he even did it, but Valvano showed everyone that he was bigger than life, and a better human being, by ever setting foot back on the campus and continuing to support NC State in the aftermath of what turned out to be, after rigorous investigations that went on and on, nothing but overblown and very slight of infractions.

    If anyone should have shunned, and distanced themselves, it should have been Valvano. We’ve paid for it for too many years already, but there is a debt still out there, and NC State will always owe a great deal to Jim Valvano.

  22. kool k 01/09/2007 at 12:00 PM #

    This trip down memory lane keeps taking me back to the 1987 team. With Clemson coming to town undefeated tonight, that was the last time I remember there being this much buzz about the Tigers. Horace Grant and Elden Campbell crushed us, and I forgot that their PG Grayson Marshall was at one point, the NCAA career assist holder. That was a strong team that Cliff “I love beach music” Ellis put together. We lucked out that Wake upset them in the 1st round of the ACC tourney that year.

  23. redfred2 01/09/2007 at 12:28 PM #

    Bo, you can’t really add anything worthwhile to that clip. If you read the comments section below, there’s a small sampling of all the great admiration that he brought to a university that doesn’t even acknowledge him now.


  24. TNCSU 01/09/2007 at 12:52 PM #

    ^^Not having his name attached to the RBC or the basketball program in some way is a travesty of justice.

    I concur – is there any way to name just the “court” that they set up in the RBC? They’ve got Coach K court and numerous others. Would the University ever go for it?? I’m all for starting a “Jimmy V Court” drive!

  25. redfred2 01/09/2007 at 1:00 PM #


    Agreed! I said it earlier. The really frustrating part of that is that there shouldn’t be, never should have been, any reason for anyone to have to “drive” the name Valvano back into the minds of anyone. Especially those associated with NC State.

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