It was a rare treat Wednesday night to work alongside one of the true legends in the sports writing profession.
Boston Globe columnist and TV personality Bob Ryan was on hand at Alfond Arena in Orono to watch the Black Bears take on Boston University in their America East men’s basketball game.
No, Ryan didn’t get lost on his way someplace else and wind up at UMaine. He was there with a purpose.
In preparation for Boston serving as the host for the NCAA Men’s Basketball East Regional in March, Ryan is traveling around the region for the Globe.
Ryan explained he is visiting each of the 21 Division I men’s basketball teams in New England this season. His plan is to compile a diary of his travels and weave his thoughts together into a story on men’s hoop in the region.
He said Orono was the 14th stop on the tour thus far.
It was both intriguing and humbling to watch as people went up to Ryan and introduced themselves. All were quick to praise his expansive and impressive body of work during years with the Globe. He politely greeted the folks and expressed his appreciation for their kind words.
I actually spent the game as a “pretender” at the media table. Ryan had asked if he and I could switch seats so he could chat with America East associate commissioner Frank Sullivan. Naturally, I said yes.
As a result, I found myself seated with a small UMaine placard in front of me that read “Bob Ryan, Boston Globe.”
I told a co-worker that was as good as it’s likely to get for me.
Ryan explained it was his first trip up for UMaine basketball game since 1985, when he came up to cover the collegiate debut of Boston College guard Dana Barros.
Barros scored 16 points on Dec. 2, 1985, to help coach Gary Williams’ Eagles post an 82-69 victory over UMaine in front of 5,000 fans at the Bangor Auditorium.
Barros, a Massachusetts native, went on to become a first-round draft choice (16th overall) of the Seattle SuperSonics and enjoyed a 13-plus-year NBA career, including a five-year stint with the Boston Celtics.
I’m hoping some of Ryan’s sports writing karma drifted my way at the Alfond. He certainly has enough talent to share with some of his peers.