The madness can take hold at any place. Last Thursday it seized
Orlando Magic television color analyst Jack Givens as he hurried
through a Melbourne Beach, Fla., restaurant on his way to a table
where he and some friends were to have lunch. "I glanced over to
the TV in the bar area, and it looked like Holy Cross was about
to upset Kentucky," says Givens, who had thought that the game
was that evening. "My friends all looked at each other and took a
seat at the bar next to me. Nothing was going to tear me away
from that screen."
Twenty-three Marches ago Goose Givens, a silky-shooting Kentucky
senior forward, held the college basketball world in thrall. In
the NCAA championship game Givens schooled Duke for a game-high
41 points in a 94-88 win and earned the tournament's MVP award.
"Everything was falling for me," says Givens, who thinks his 1978
opponents will win this year's final. "It was the most special
night of my basketball career."
The Goose's gilded play that evening, and his 16.6-point career
scoring average as a Wildcat, led the Atlanta Hawks to choose him
in the first round of the 1978 NBA draft. Three seasons later the
Hawks declared the 6'5" Givens and his 6.7-point average
expendable. "I think I would have blossomed if given another year
or two to adjust," says Givens, who then played five seasons in
Japan while launching his broadcast career doing Kentucky high
school games in the off-season.
Givens shows empathy for struggling players as the father of two
youth leaguers and as the voice of the Magic, a job he has held
since Orlando joined the league in 1989. Rather than harping on
their mistakes when son Jeremy, 14, and daughter Jaimie Lynne,
11, have subpar performances, he offers words of support
underneath the driveway hoop at the Windermere, Fla., house he
and his wife, Linda, own. When having an off night, Magic
marksmen are just as likely to inspire a vintage Givens line--"Ya
gotta like the effort"--as his criticism. "I had two coaches
[Kentucky's Joe B. Hall and Atlanta's Hubie Brown] who verbally
beat up guys all the time," says Givens, who daylights as a
motivational speaker on the Orlando convention circuit. "That's
not my style."
March 26, 2001
He will, however, beat up his 44-year-old body playing
off-season pickup games with Darrell Armstrong, Bo Outlaw and
other Orlando players. "Luckily I'm comfortable up in the
booth," says Givens, who's content to dine out on his one magic
moment. "Once the summer ends, I step aside and let the pros get
down to business."