|Monday, January 27
Former Missouri coach honored before game
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- For 32 years, Kansas fans despised Norm Stewart. They jeered him, insulted him and sometimes hurled paper cups at him.
The favorite chant in Allen Fieldhouse during Stewart's reign as head coach at Missouri, Kansas' most hated rival, was "Sit down, Norm! Sit down, Norm!''
On Monday night, in a funny and touching ceremony honoring the longtime rival, a rocking chair was brought out to midcourt. As fans cheered and laughed, a smiling Stewart sat down.
"Thank you,'' said Stewart, who retired in 1999. "This is a very meaningful moment. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.''
When Kansas coach Roy Williams first motioned Stewart onto the court, there were quite a few boos heard above the cheers. But when the brief ceremony concluded, there were only cheers.
Williams told the crowd he decided to pay homage to Stewart when told that Kansas similarly honored the late Jack Hartman when he retired as coach at Kansas State.
"I thought that says what Kansas basketball stands for, because it shows great sportsmanship and it shows great class,'' Williams said.
Williams said he wanted to honor Stewart not only for what accomplished on the court, but for his efforts in raising money for cancer research.
"In 1993-94, something was started by this man that has given me a great deal of satisfaction to be involved in,'' Williams said. "Coaches vs. Cancer and Three-Point Attack has raised over $16 million.
"When we were competing against the University of Missouri, this was the toughest competitor I ever coached against. During the games, I didn't like him at all. But I respected him a great deal and the feeling of respect never went away.''
The two men hugged. Then Stewart, who was 33-41 against Kansas, took the microphone and recounted the many great Jayhawks coaches and players he had known.
"No one has any more respect or admiration for Kansas basketball,'' he said. "I want to thank Roy Williams and Kansas University and you great friends and fans for sharing this moment with me.''
At halftime of Kansas' game against Texas on Monday, the Jayhawks retired the jersey of Jo Jo White, an All-America guard in the '60s.
"Every night I took the court I gave you everything I had. and every night you cheered me on,'' White told the crowd. "You gave me everything you had.''