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ACCSports.com interview with John Feinstein, story about V

March 3, 2009
ACCSports.com is doing a two-part One On One interview with author John Feinstein.

In part one, Feinstein relays, among other things, his memories about Jim Valvano and about the times spent hanging out with him in his office ’til the wee hours of the morning:

ACCSports.com:
You’ve told this story before. Valvano wins the national championship in 1983, and he’s still a young, exuberant man in the prime of his career. You two are sitting in his office at 2 a.m. eating pizza, and he’s essentially telling you that he’d already achieved everything he’d ever dreamed of and didn’t know where to go next, right?

Feinstein:
Right. “What am I going to do when I grow up?”

I used to go to Jim’s office after home games, and he would order in pizza because he could never sleep after a game. Jim would order pizza, open up a bottle of wine, and start telling stories. I would just hang out until everybody else left, because I wanted the one-on-one time. That’s when he would get serious.

Jim was as bright as anybody I’ve ever met in any walk of life. I mean that — any walk of life. I remember one time, it was 1988, and he was reading Gorbachev’s book, “Perestroika,” and he told me, “The Soviet Union is gone within three years.” And he was right. It was gone two years and six months later.

He would stretch out on his couch and he would say, “OK, now you’re going to be my psychiatrist for a while.” And he said, “I’ve done basketball. I dreamed of winning a national championship. I won one at 37. Now what do I do?” I don’t want to say he was tormented by that, but he was pulled in so many directions because he was always looking for the next thing.

I always thought the tragedy of his life was that he didn’t find the next thing until cancer found him. That’s when he found his next thing, and it was the remarkable work he did during the last year of his life, setting up the V Foundation.

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