Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online will be counting down the top 10 moments in the 2012-13 basketball season. We continue our countdown with No. 5, Jim Boeheim’s 900th career win.
WHAT HAPPENED: To Jim Boeheim, 900 was just another number, just another win. The fans at the Carrier Dome disagreed.
Boeheim, in his 37th year as head coach of Syracuse, joined long time friends Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) in the 900 win club, as Syracuse hung on for a 72-68 victory against Detroit on Dec. 18, 2012.
“To me, it’s just a number,” Boeheim said. “The only number that matters is how this team does.”
On that particular night, his team gave him fits.
James Southerland led the way with 22 points, as Syracuse’s lead ballooned to 20 points with six minutes left. With a victory seemingly at hand, the staff at the Carrier Dome started handing out placards with Boeheim’s face and the number 900.
It turned out to be premature, as Juwan Howard Jr. scored 14 of his 18 points as part of a 16-0 run that closed Detroit to within 67-63 with 55 seconds left. But Michael Carter-Williams sunk three late free throws to finish with 10 points and 12 assists.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” guard Brandon Triche said. “Only three people have done that so far. Being so consistent over the years pretty much shows everyone what type of coach he is. He’s a great coach and he deserved it.”
A crowd of 17,902 was on hand to see the win. Among those included Hall of Famer Dave Bing, who played with Boeheim at Syracuse.
“This is history, and he’s part of it,” Bing said. “Syracuse as a city, upstate New York and the university is lucky to have had someone of this caliber. Not only has he won games, he’s developed a lot of young men. I know a lot of guys who have came under Jim who have gone on to do very well for themselves and they attribute that to his teaching.”
The night ended on an unexpected note, though.
The win happened shortly after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 27 people dead. Instead of basking in his personal glory, Boeheim used his moment to speak about gun control.
“If we in this country as Americans cannot get the people that represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society,” Boeheim said. “I’m not talking about hunting; rifles. That’s fine. If one person in this world, the NRA, the president, anybody, can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots in the thing.”
Some members of the media began clapping when Boeheim made his remarks.
“If we can’t get this thing done, I don’t know what kind of country we have,” Boeheim said. “We need to make them understand somehow that this needs to get figured out, real quick. Not six months from now.”
WHY IT’S NO. 5: While the number is certainly impressive, what makes the game even more historic is that no one is likely to win 900 games in the same way again. “I’m proud of him because he stuck with it [at the same school],” Bing said. “He’s proven that he’s one of the best coaches ever in college basketball to get 900 (wins).” It’s likely never to happen again with the turnover that happens in college basketball. Afterward, there was a riveting video on the big screen featuring congratulations from Bing, Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino as the Carrier Dome fans erupted in cheers.