If you haven't yet, you should probably go read Jesse Dougherty's profile of Syracuse temporary and future basketball head coach Mike Hopkins. The story, which tells how Hopkins ended up as SU's head coach-in-waiting, ran in Monday's edition of The Daily Orange and is full of compelling Hopkins anecdotes. Below, you can find a few of them.
My personal favorite comes from the middle of the story. Hopkins once motivated Gerry McNamara by implying J.J. Redick was a better shooter. And he did it creatively:
"Gerry McNamara stretched out his arms and legs, picked up a basketball and started walking toward the basket on the far side of Syracuse's practice court.
He'd worked out with Hopkins, an assistant coach then in charge of the guards, from the start of his career in 2002, and here he was again in an empty gym.
As he crossed half court, the junior guard noticed two pieces of tape stuck to the floor. The first one, about 8 feet behind the 3-point line, read "J.J.'S RANGE." The second, 4 feet in front, read "G-MAC's RANGE."
Hopkins wanted to remind McNamara of Duke's J.J. Redick, who was making national headlines and averaging 21.8 points per game. McNamara smiled, shook his head and started launching 3s."
On Hopkins' diligence from the moment he arrived at Mater Dei (California) High School:
"He played on the freshman team but stayed in the gym to watch the JV and varsity practice, studying players both good and bad. He refused to leave the gym until he won the last game of one-on-one. Late at night, he'd call one of the assistant coaches to discuss everything from his help defense to free-throw form."
As detailed above, Hopkins has a crazy work ethic, something he apparently got from his dad, Griffin Hopkins:
"Five days a week, Griffin woke up at 4:30 a.m. to drive 65 miles through Los Angeles traffic to his family-built business in La Verne, California. Then he'd drive 65 miles back, all so his family could live in the idyllic Orange County. He'd sometimes fall asleep at the dinner table but always helped his wife with the dishes at night's end.
'He was just like a machine,' Mike said. 'That's where I learned it.'"
The story later details the different places Hopkins, when he was a player for SU, would go to play when he wasn't at games or practicing with the team. Among them: a church with Leo Rautins, Manley Field House late at night and the Women's Building when he couldn't get into Manley. Oh, and one more:
"He knew the late-shift security guard in the Carrier Dome, who would flick on the hallway lights to illuminate a path to the court.
Inside a dark, empty stadium, Hopkins took jump shots alone."
As the story ends, Hopkins is flipping through the photos and videos, ones that capture his journey, on his phone.
"There was his son Griffin's first time at Yankee Stadium. A video of him working on Demetris Nichols' jump shot. A photo of his dad and brother smiling in the Carrier Dome stands. A shot of him and Derrick Rose, arm in arm at USA Basketball camp, after he and a handful of NBA stars got McDonald's after a late-night workout."
Yes, that's Derrick Rose, a recent NBA most valuable player, "arm in arm" with Hopkins. After getting McDonald's with him. NBD.