For Cyclone fans, Dec. 30, 2013, will always be a day of sadness.
Longtime basketball coach Johnny Orr died Monday evening at the age of 86.
Orr, known for reviving Cyclone basketball, coached the ISU program from 1981-1994.
He coached a pie of legends in Jeff Hornacek, Jeff Grayer, Barry Stevens, Victor Alexander, and of course, current head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Hoiberg admits Orr is his childhood hero, along with serving as a mentor.
I was tickled to see Johnny was able to give one of his fabled fist-pumps prior to the Michigan-Iowa State game in November.
While aged, allowing Johnny to have the spotlight one final time was a mark of true honor.
In many respects, Johnny was ahead of his time. The long-time skipper of the basketball team features a fast-paced style of offense.
Orr, to this day, still serves as the school’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 218-200. He also holds the distinction of being Michigan’s all-time winningest coach with a mark of 209-113.
Orr to ISU to the big dance for the first time in 41 years when his 1984-85 squad punched their ticket.
For me, I remember the days of Johnny’s glory.
My aunt and uncle cherished their signed portrait of Johnny Orr. Their daughter worked at the university and had made arrangements to get it signed.
Johnny’s passion, his entrance to the Tonight Show theme, and the chant’s of “Here’s Johnny” were something special.
Johnny Orr, in many respects, is what made Iowa State athletics.
In a modern day era for the Cyclones Orr did for the men’s basketball program what Bill Fennelly has done for the women’s program.
Fennelly has a similar reverence from the women’s basketball crowd that Orr did.
Their personalities are very likeable. They are passionate about their sport, and are generally highly thought of. Both have done wonders for attendance to their events, and, in turn, put up successful results in the end.
As a long-time fan of the Cyclones, Johnny truly will be missed. 29 years after he retired, he still holds that special spot in your heart.
I’m sure, up there in heaven, the throngs of Cyclone fans fired up the Tonight Show Theme and welcomed him in style, and in return, gave them one of his famous fist pumps to acknowledge their presence.
Thanks coach. You’ll be missed.
Ryan Harvey is the president and CEO of Mid-America Publishing Corporation.