Florida Today – Apr 5, 2006 David Jones – More than an hour had gone by since Florida’s 73-57 win against UCLA had given the school its first national championship in basketball.
But a brutal picture stuck in the head of Gators point guard Taurean Green, and he couldn’t shake it as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning.
His father, college coach and former NBA player Sidney Green, was crying.
“He’s been crying since Minneapolis,” said Green, who had just two points but, more importantly, handed out eight assists and turned the ball over just one time in 36 minutes. “It’s OK for my mom to cry. Big Sid cannot cry. A 6-10 baby.
“I already talked to him. I said, ‘Man, please don’t cry if we win the national championship.’ ”
Sidney Green just couldn’t help himself. He bawled like a baby. Then it really got ugly. Al Horford’s father, Tito, also let it flow.
The kids could only look in the stands in horror. You know how it is, parents always find a way to embarrass their teenage children.
“Two men, one 6-10 and a 7-footer, they can’t be seen crying like that,” Taurean Green said, shaking his head. “If they want to go behind closed doors and cry . . . that can’t happen.”
Then he laughed, shook his head again and chuckled.
There were a lot of wet eyes at the RCA Dome. A lot of them were caused by the Gators’ 6-foot point guard. He didn’t shoot the lights out, but he left the Bruins in the dark as he dished the ball all over the court to wide-open teammates.
“Taurean did a great job with his composure and not turning the ball over and being smart,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said. “He was the whole key for our whole team to get this far and win the national championship.”
Green declared that his fellow sophomores, Corey Brewer, Horford and Joakim Noah, will all be back next year and won’t jump to the NBA. All four of the Gators’ “super sophs” made the Final Four all-tournament team. Noah was named MVP.
“They’re coming back for another run next year,” Green vowed of his fellow members of the recruiting class of ’04. “I know they’re not going to leave (for the NBA).”
Green seemed a little flustered when told that Donovan gave him so much credit for the championship.
“He has been hard on me all year. I think I’m the guy he gets on the most and the hardest,” Green said. “I felt like (having something to prove) my whole basketball career, in high school, now. It’s just wanting to go out and prove something to everybody.”
He could consider the mission accomplished as NCAA officials started coaxing the media out of the happy locker room.
Green sat in the middle of the room with a national championship hat on his head, still in uniform, and a pile of confetti on his face.
“This,” he said with a tired smile, “feels great.”
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.