The father of Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles has put the Blue in Rhythm and Blues. An accomplished musician, Tom Lyles has written a song called BBN.
The elder Lyles described the song as part salute to Kentucky fans, part defense of UK Coach John Calipari and part enthusiastic waving of the Big Blue Nation flag.
When asked the message he wished to convey in the song, Tom Lyles said, "That Kentucky, Coach Calipari and his staff are the baddest bunch of coaches. This is the baddest, toughest team in the nation with the greatest fans in college basketball.
"And," he added, "I'm not saying that as a P.R. move. That's just the truth."
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Tom Lyles acknowledged Calipari's critics. The song answers what he called "these haters" by pointing out the many players Calipari has helped get to the NBA.
"Say what you want to say;
"We do things our way;
"We're making dreams come true;
"Let's talk about what you do."
In a telephone conversation last week, Tom Lyles called Calipari a "genius." He lauded how the UK coach "strategizes every move he makes." The proof of this success is John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and "the rest of the slew of guys" now playing in the NBA, the elder Lyles said.
Tom Lyles wrote the song last spring. Because of UK's shaky regular season and uncertain postseason prospects, he decided not to release the song going into the NCAA Tournament. He waited until late summer. It will be included on his eighth CD collection of songs.
CDbaby.com, an online independent music store, put the song in the pop-rock genre. Tom Lyles said he wanted to applaud UK fans for never wavering in their support. The song also advises opponents to submit to UK's superior forces.
"When we come to your town,
"There's nothing you can do.
"But to bow down, bow down."
The elder Lyles said he comes from a musical family. His mother was a singer. He said his three sisters are "really good vocalists."
Basketball was a means to a better life, he said. Music cut deeper into his soul.
"I knew that was the one thing no one could take from me," he said. "I knew that. It kind of became my safe haven."
Tom Lyles taught himself to play guitar, drums, keyboards and bass. "Whatever I could get my hands on," he said.
He recalled playing the guitar and writing songs in his bedroom or alone in the backyard. He said he wrote songs for other artists that placed on Canada's country-rock and pop charts.
"I've always worked around music," he said. "More on the Christian gospel side of things."
Of BBN, Lyles said, "It came out just as I envisioned it."
Bob Ryan book review
Full disclosure: Bob Ryan is a sportswriting hero of mine. So I waited impatiently (just ask the people who handle the Herald-Leader's incoming mail) for the arrival of his memoir, Scribe: My Life in Sports.
If you're a fan of basketball and/or sportswriting, you'll enjoy its serving of history (his beats included the John Havlicek-Dave Cowens Boston Celtics of the 1970s) and what Sports Illustrated called "behind-the-scenes dish that blurs the line between journalist and fan."
When asked about that blurred line, Ryan welcomed the description. "Because that's my M.O.," he said in a telephone conversation. "I'm not one of those guys that gives you the song and dance about detachment. It's about fairness. Objectivity, that's a crock.
"Being a fan is what motivated me in sports. I always thought I felt and acted as a fan."
Not to say Ryan didn't cross swords with those he covered and admired. In his coverage for The Boston Globe, he once wrote that Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach was "devious," "childish" and a liar. He also "loved" Auerbach.
Ryan once described Celtics Coach Tom Heinsohn as acting like "a spoiled brat whose father took away the car keys." Heinsohn, who thought Ryan sided too strongly with the players, said the sportswriter was a cancer.
(By comparison, my parrying with John Calipari seems like dueling penknives.)
"I would put the wood to people if they had to have it," Ryan said. "But it wasn't what I relished or what I habitually did. It's what I did when duty called."
By the way, the slings and arrow did not leave permanent scars. One of Heinsohn's paintings (the coach was an artist) hangs in Ryan's home.
The book details the writer's likes (Wes Unseld, Oscar Schmidt, covering golf, Colin Montgomerie) and dislikes (Elvin Hayes' monotonous playing style, the "farce" that is the word "student" in the label student-athlete).
For Kentuckians, it should be noted that Rick Pitino's brief time as Celtics coach does not get a mention. Ryan cited space limitations and the fact he no longer covered the Celtics day by day when Pitino was coach.
Ryan does include John Calipari in the acknowledgements. Of course, Calipari began his head coaching career at UMass. He reached out to Ryan when the writer's son, Keith, died in 2008.
"I recuse myself from the standard John Calipari discussions," Ryan said. "I settle for calling him a charming rogue, and then move on."
A feeling of an era long gone pervades Ryan's memoir. It's hardly believable that early in his coaching tenure Heinsohn called The Globe after every road game to give his appraisal.
Get this: NBA public relations workers allowed writers into the New York Knicks' locker room prior to the ending of Game 7 in the 1970 Finals. That was the famous Willis Reed-limps-onto-the-court game.
Ryan was there when Walt Frazier arrived in the Knicks' winning locker room and announced, "Man, I need a beer."
Man, I needed this book.
Bob Ryan had a what-will-they-think-of-next reaction to the announcement that ESPNU will televise Kentucky's practice next Friday.
"Needless," he said. "It's needless. Analyzing practice. I can't wrap my head around that."
Ryan knows basketball practice. He played for his prep school team. When he attended Boston College, he often took advantage of then Coach Bob Cousy opening practices to the public. As a sportswriter covering the Celtics, he watched many practices.
"I've seen enough generic practices," he said. "They're not that interesting. I don't get it."
Apparently, ESPNU will try hard to make UK's practice interesting. There will be two college basketball analysts (Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg), one NBA analyst (Avery Johnson), a guest analyst (ex-Cat Tony Delk) and a sideline reporter (Myron Medcalf) involved in the telecast.
"Good luck to them," Ryan said. "Let's see what kind of chicken salad they can make of that."
No matter what happens (or doesn't happen), the telecast can serve as a two-hour infomercial on Kentucky basketball. This made Ryan think of John Calipari's start as a college head coach at UMass more than 20 years ago.
"John's always had an eye for promotion," he said. "He's been the quintessential modern entrepreneur coach, if you will.
"That's my John!"
Butler tabs Holtmann
Last week, Butler named assistant Chris Holtmann as interim head coach as Brandon Miller took a leave of absence for medical reasons.
Holtmann, 41, is a native of Nicholasville. Earlier in his career, he was head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons. He took a program that had won only eight games in 2009-10 to a 21-13 record in 2012-13. He was named Big South Conference Coach of the Year and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year.
To Junior Braddy. He turned 43 on Saturday. ... To Reggie Hanson. He turns 46 on Wednesday. ... To Sean Sutton. He turned 46 on Saturday. ... To Sheray Thomas. He turned 30 on Saturday. ... To Preston LeMaster. He turns 31 on Sunday (today). ... To former Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. He turns 48 on Sunday (today). ... To Mickie DeMoss. The former UK women's team coach turned 59 on Friday. ... To Adrian "Odie" Smith. He turns 78 on Sunday (today). ... To Rex Chapman. He turns 47 on Sunday (today).