Getty Images - Jonathan Daniel Jud Heathcote

As an example of Jud Heathcote being a master of the one-liner, many stories about him over the years featured this quote, or some approximation, regarding his philosophy of basketball:

"Sooner or later, this game makes fools of us all, and I'm living proof."

Well, as it turned out, this game is better for us all because Heathcote spent most of his life coaching it. He was 90 when he died Monday night.

Heathcote led Michigan State to its first NCAA title in 1979, a couple years after persuading a local kid from Lansing named Earvin Johnson to stay in town for college. In the late 80s, after some other Big Ten coaches had published books, Heathcote cracked if he were to write one, the title would be "Magic and Tragic."

But my favorite Heathcote quip came during one of the Big Ten media days while I was at the Daily Northwestern. I don't have the quote verbatim, but anyone else who was there can vouch for capturing the spirit of the thing. Heathcote was holding court at a table in a ballroom of the Hyatt in downtown Chicago. When it was suggested to Jud that his team might be a little suspect at point guard in the upcoming season, he quickly came to the defense of his player in classic Heathcote fashion.

"Most coaches in America would give their left testicle to have a point guard like Mark Montgomery," he said.

Then he thought better of it.

"I guess they won't like me saying that," he said. "So what I should say is that most coaches in America would give their right testicle to have a point guard like Mark Montgomery."

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