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HOW KING RAT BECAME THE BIG CHEESE
Curry Kirkpatrick
December 05, 1983
Can V talk? Oh, yeah. Can V coach? No question about it. Jim Valvano proved that his act was ready for the big time when his North Carolina State Wolfpack won the '83 NCAA title
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December 05, 1983

How King Rat Became The Big Cheese

Can V talk? Oh, yeah. Can V coach? No question about it. Jim Valvano proved that his act was ready for the big time when his North Carolina State Wolfpack won the '83 NCAA title

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The thing about V is, he doesn't take himself seriously. V knows it's only a bouncing ball. V makes it reasonable to believe that a good coach can be a great clown and still get the job done; that a guy can joke and jive and X and O people to dust all in the same sentence; that a game isn't war or even life and death, it's simply grist for another laugh track. People think V is such a winner, but they ought to see him losing. V is gangbusters on the short end. It's like Casey said, "Valvano knows how to lose better than anybody in the history of this league." No question.

You figure it out. The magazine guy wants to eat. Hanging around with V means never having to say you're full. All you get is fast-food junk and popcorn five times a day. V keeps going on diets. Of course, V's an insomniac, never sleeps a wink, A waste of time and all that. And that's a cinch fat-loser. But popcorn all day and amarettos all night and no pasta? What kind of paisan is that? And V hates breakfast because he says it makes people sick to their stomachs, which is probably right on.

V's old coach, Foster, down at South Carolina now, had a heart bypass last year, and after V visited, Foster says he had to get "re-stitched," he was falling off the bed. It's just like V's buddy Frank Dascenzo wrote in The Durham Sun last year. It's there in V's book about the championship, Too Soon To Quit. V will point it out to you. No question. "Valvano lights up a day, a week, a season. He is never dull. He is fun...entertaining...intelligent. Stay around him long enough and you become smarter."

Yeah, and a whole lot happier. Which, when you think about it, whether you're a Big-tinier or a Rat or even a magazine guy, is a lot more important. No question about it.

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