It’s been a sad day for Wildcat Nation with the passing of legendary men’s basketball coach Lute Olson, arguably the most famous sports figure in Tucson history if not the entire state.
In times of sadness, though, we’re often reminded of some great memories we may have forgotten. Like those wonderful TV commercials that Lute and former ASU coach Bill Frieder did in the 1990s for Valley National Bank and Bank One.
Frieder, who coached the Sun Devils from 1989-97, recently spoke about those commercials as well as his relationship with Olson, noting their heated rivalry didn’t extend beyond the basketball court (via ASU spokesman Doug Tammaro):
Lute was a Hall of Fame coach and also an incredible friend, father and husband. I look back on our times with so much joy. The games were fantastic. The commercials were so much fun and were instrumental in bringing the schools together. The memories of dinners and having such great times with our wives will be there forever, in fact my daughter Laura has a great relationship with the Olson family. When on the road in the Pac-10 on Fridays if we were in the same hotel we would share thoughts on the game Thursday night and strategy for Saturday—it was always a joy.
Lute and I proved that you could compete hard on the court but be civil to each other after. I encourage everyone in the college basketball coaching world to cherish your friendships now. Keep them strong. Don’t let an intense game or a recruiting battle hurt them. Stay in touch. Get to know your coaching friends. I know that is what Lute and I did and I am thankful for it. It is a tough day for me because I lost a friend, but I had one for decades and the memories will outlast this sadness today.
Ok, now for some kooky local TV ads. Personal favorite: Lute managing to get his team booked on a low-cost airline to get to their game, only to find Frieder is the plane’s pilot.