By Lee Feinswog, Stuart Bruce Publishing, paperback, $19.95.
When Pat Knight played basketball for Indiana University from 1991-95, he was arrested for drunken behavior. His arrest prompted his father and coach Bob Knight to say, “Patrick Knight is the reason why some animals in the wild eat their young at birth.”
Knight and his quote are part of “HoopDaddy” by Lee Feinswog, but it’s not the book’s prevailing view of fatherhood.
“HoopDaddy” is a collection of stories of fathers and sons bound by basketball. Ex-University of Arkansas coach Eddie Sutton is part of the book, as is current Razorbacks assistant Ronny Thompson.
Sutton, who coached the Hogs from 1974-85, coached his son Sean at Kentucky and Oklahoma State. Sean most recently has been an assistant and head coach elect to his father at Oklahoma State, before a recent turn of events in which Eddie Sutton was arrested for DUI led to Sean taking over the program and Eddie taking a leave of absence.
Eddie Sutton advised his three sons against following him into coaching, telling them it was a tough road.
Thompson played for his father John Thompson at Georgetown from 1989-92. He’s now in his third year as an assistant to Stan Heath. Like Eddie Sutton, John Thompson discouraged his two basketball-playing sons from becoming coaches. Ronny sold securities on Wall Street for a year before getting into coaching. His older brother, John Thompson III, is now the head coach at Georgetown after a stint at Princeton.
“HoopDaddy” intersperses the collection of stories with the author’s own story of following his son’s senior year of basketball at Berry College in Rome, Ga. Feinswog traveled through the 2004-05 season from his home in Baton Rouge, La., where he is a sports journalist.
He chronicles the cheers, tears, hugs and groans of watching Kirk Feinswog, a 6-foot-1 dunking guard for the NAIA Berry Vikings of the Southern States Athletic Conference. Part of the elder Feinswog’s day job is covering LSU sports and the Southeastern Conference.
“HoopDaddy” splices Berry’s season with stories of basketball players such as Pete Maravich, who died before he could see his sons play college basketball.
Not all the stories are about coaches and players. John Clougherty and his son Tim are major college referees. Bill Hancock is the media coordinator for the Final Four. His son, Will Hancock, was the basketball sports information director at Oklahoma State. He was one of 10 members of the university’s basketball family who died in a 2001 plane crash on the way home after a game.
There are tales of Bill Walton’s sons pilfering his Grateful Dead T-shirts. Thompson cursed out his sons when they were boys, and now he curses out his grandsons. Both of Thompson’s sons still kiss him.
Feinswog recalls his son, as a young boy, running obliviously into a busy street near their home to chase a basketball. The author, a divorced father, writes of the challenge of traveling to be a part of his son’s life, and the accompanying joy. He also writes of his difficult relationship with his own father, who was not a hoops fan.
“HoopDaddy” can be purchased online at HoopDaddy.net.
-— Sonny Marks
Editor’s note: Sonny Marks is a former Louisiana newspaper reporter who attends law school at LSU.