Any player and coach who have forged a bond through tough love can appreciate the heartfelt thank you letter former University of Wisconsin basketball star Frank Kaminsky wrote to his old coach this week.
Badgers head coach Bo Ryan abruptly announced his retirement on Tuesday, effective immediately, after 14 seasons in which his teams reached two Final Fours, 14 NCAA tournaments and won seven Big Ten titles.
Kaminsky, a rookie forward with the Charlotte Hornets, was the star on last season's Wisconsin team, which lost to Duke in the NCAA championship.
Kaminsky went from a little-used freshman who averaged 1.8 points per game to the national player of the year last season as a senior.
After transforming from a role player to the ninth overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, he credits Ryan with developing him as a player and a person.
"I’m gonna be completely honest – my first few years with Coach Ryan didn’t go well,'' Kaminsky wrote on The Victory Lap.
"I felt like he and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. A lot of that had to do with the fact that I was too immature to see how he was becoming one of the most important figures in my development as a player, but more importantly as a man. He was harsh on me. He yelled at me, benched me, told me I looked like I was sleeping all the time, told me to just go sit down during practice, told me I wasn’t allowed to shoot unless there was 5 seconds or less on the shot clock. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what he was doing was getting the most he could out of me. It got to the point where I didn’t want to prove anything to anyone else but him."
Ryan saw greatness in Kaminsky where others didn't, and his belief in Kaminsky pushed him to new heights on and off the court.
"Without Bo taking a chance on that tall white kid from suburban Illinois, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to attend the best University in the country,'' Kaminsky wrote
"I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends. I wouldn’t have gone to back-to-back Final Fours. The whole complexion of my life would be completely different.
"I can’t imagine taking an alternate path to get to where I am right now. If not for Coach Ryan, I don’t know where I would be, but I can assure you this: It would not be any better. He took in an immature kid that very few people wanted, and in nothing short of a modern miracle, turned him into a man ready to face the future."
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