Maryland basketball may be out of season, and George W. Bush may be out of the White House, but there’s never a wrong time for this story.
Maybe it’s old news, but I had never heard it before Gary Williams went on ESPN 980’s Sports Reporters this week. Andy Pollin was talking about various teams Barack Obama has honored at the White House, and then he brought up Maryland’s 2002 White House trip.
“That was the greatest,” Williams said. “For the players especially, but for myself and the other coaches, just to see how things worked. Some of the security people there were Maryland graduates, and they kind of took us to some places as we were waiting for it to happen.
“But when the President of the United States walks out of the Oval Office and comes out and speaks directly to YOU, it’s really a big thrill.
“That was Juan Dixon and those guys,” Williams continued. “I remember after President Bush was done speaking, as he was leaving, he caught Juan Dixon’s eye and he called him over. And they were speaking for about two minutes, just Juan and President Bush.
“And actually I was upset, because President Bush didn’t want to speak to me. And I said, ‘Juan, what was that all about,’ and he said ‘He gave me his cell phone number. He said if he could ever help, please give him a call.’
“If you remember, that was [the 2001-2002 season], when 9/11 hit, and he made the point in his speech about how great it was that the Maryland games were on that year. [Many] of the young people working in the White House as interns were Maryland graduates, and he said how important that was to the morale of the whole thing during the year, and things like this. It was really something I’ll never forget, and I’m sure for the players it’s something they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”
Especially for Dixon. Because the President gave him his cell phone number.