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Syracuse does Pearl Washington proud in celebration of life

Everything looked great and was spelled correctly

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

You were worried, right?

There was a point on Saturday when a voice in the back of your mind said to yourself, “Any minute now, they’re gonna mess this up.”

Someone’s going to present a ‘Preal Washington’ plaque or there’s going to be a problem the on-court sticker or the whole thing is going to turn into a marketing lovefest for a sponsor rather than focus on the Syracuse Orange legend. It’s coming...

But it didn’t. And credit where credit is due, Syracuse Athletics honored Pearl Washington right on Saturday. The only thing that didn’t go well was the outcome of the game, but in terms of things they could control, SUA accomplished it’s objective to honor the life and career of Pearl Washington and remind us all what a beloved figure he was.

The week leading up to the game was more about Pearl than the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry and that felt right. Having the team wear throwbacks was great, even if the side effect is that SU fans would now rather see their team wear those uniforms forever. And the 'Celebration of Pearl Washington' held at halftime, which included Pearl’s mom Jannie Washington and fiancee Debra Busacco hit all the right notes. Important but not flashy. It didn’t need to be. Pearl was flashy enough for it all.

Sometimes it’s easy to draw a straight line from one big thing to another in order to make your point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re related. Still, it’s hard not to consider that this was what an Important Syracuse Legend Celebration under AD John Wildhack looks like and if that’s the case then add it to the list of good things about him. Sure there were gimmicks involved but ultimately Pearl was the focus. Everything went off without a hitch. John was out there but he wasn’t trying to steal the spotlight (or at least muscle his way into it). That was refreshing.

There are other new faces behind the scenes who likely had a hand in how things played out. Probably some old faces as well. We might not ever know who does what in a project like this but kudos all around for the presentation.

SU has had some iffy results in recent years when it comes to honoring legends and creating memorable moments around them. Let’s take this weekend’s celebration as a good sign towards a future where we consider those lessons learned.