STILLWATER -- Chianti Roberts told me that Saturday night when he heard his coach at Oklahoma State Eddie Sutton had passed away at 84, he was on social media and on the phone speaking with teammates. It was an exchange with teammate and sensational Cowboy talent Desmond Mason that reminded him on this story from his playing days.
"We're in practice my junior year and we're not very good," Robert started. "We're above .500, maybe .650, but not that good. It's practice and we're getting ready for Missouri and I think at this time, Coach (Sutton) had not won at Missouri. Stormin Norman (Stewart) was still coaching there and Coach hadn't won at Missouri."
Roberts said they were always competitive because of Sutton's coaching and that Roberts was by far the best player on the team. They were in a drill and Roberts was clowning around some and then he was doing some trash talking as he was prone to do at practice.
"Coach said, 'Brother you talk that smack, talk all the trash you want this year, but next year I've got a guy coming in, Desmond Mason,'" Roberts said impersonating Coach Sutton's long drawn out drawl. "'He's not going to allow any of that crap.' I didn't really pay attention immediately. It didn't soak in."
Roberts told me about 10 minutes of practice went by and then it all registered.
"It registered and we were in another drill and I just stopped and the other players and coaches blowing whistles were like 'what's going on,'" Roberts continued. "I just picked the ball up and stopped the drill and I looked at him and I said, 'that is really messed up what you said to me. You think some kid from Waxahachie, Texas is going to come in and take my job. That is crazy.' I was just going off on him and I'm using the Disney G-rated version in this story.
"The players and coaches couldn't believe it and he kicked me out of practice. I could see he had that little grin and he said, 'Brother, you're out of here, get out of practice.'"
Roberts said he went back to the locker room and just got hotter. He was thinking that he would just transfer out of here. He emptied his locker and started loading up his truck. He said he was coming in to get the last load and he saw Sutton.
"He's going upstairs to the office, drinking a diet Pepsi and walking cooler than Shaft. He says, 'What are you doing?' I told him I was leaving and that I should have transferred out of there. He didn't fight for me, didn't plead for me to stay. He just looked me up and down and said, 'Plane leaves at 3:30.'
"I went home and when it was time I got to the airport and to the plane," added Roberts. "To make a long story short, we beat Missouri and I hit the game winning shot that was at the last second. That is the reason he is a great coach, one of the greatest at influencing players and bringing them in line."
Roberts, who did team up the next season with Desmond, and he finished his career with a season where he averaged 13.6 points a game.
He had another story too.
Roberts said they were in the Oval Office after the NCAA Tournament appearance in Baltimore. Sutton had told them he had a surprise and they went to the White House. This story comes courtesy of President Bill Clinton while they stood in the Oval Office.
"He was telling us that he was at a dinner with Coach Sutton and all these folks and Clinton was addressing the group," Robert said. "I'll make this short. The President, who is really engaging, told us he was telling stories and had this group all on the edge of their seats and he noticed Coach Sutton was just kind of staring off and not paying attention. He said he leaned into Coach Sutton and said, 'Coach, if I'm boring you let me know, because everybody else is paying attention?' President Clinton said Sutton leaned in and said, 'Bill, if there is ever a time in life when a University of Arkansas professor is more important than the University of Arkansas basketball coach then you let me know.' The funny thing is Bill Clinton is telling this story from the Oval Office as the most powerful man on the planet and he's talking about Coach Sutton just blowing him off."
A couple of really good Eddie Sutton stories from another good story teller in Chianti Roberts.