“Rob’s” was a party thrown each year on Thursday night by Rob Ades — no one ever called him Robert, and only Red Auerbach called him Bob — at the most upscale restaurant he could find in that year’s Final Four city. Ades would rent a large banquet room, always at least a year in advance, and invite all his basketball friends to eat, drink and be merry.
And you had better be merry when you were at Rob’s. Because if you weren’t, he wanted to know why and how he could fix it — because that’s what Rob Ades always did: He fixed everyone’s else’s problems.
“This is not a problem,” he would always say. “Consider it done — don’t give it another thought.”
When he first heard he had leukemia in March, Rob forced a smile when he told his friends: “This,” he said, “is a problem.”
It turned out to be the one problem he couldn’t fix.
He fought the disease through several rounds of chemotherapy, through a brief remission and then, when it came back, until he could fight it no more. Late on Sunday night, Rob Ades died. He was 65.
The Final Four will never be quite the same for men like Gary Williams, Jim Boeheim, Digger Phelps, Jeff Jones, Jimmy Patsos and Sherman Douglas — and many, many others. All were represented by Ades, and all were among his closest friends. Tony Kornheiser, longtime Post columnist and ESPN TV and radio host, was also represented by Ades, and he was one of many who went to see him when he came home for his final few hours.
No one loved sports or the people in it more than Ades. But representing coaches and people in media was nothing more than a sideline for him — a hobby. In real life he was a union lawyer, representing the D.C. police, not in contract negotiations but whenever one of them needed legal representation. Whenever there was a shooting involving a police officer in Washington, Ades was among the first to get a phone call and among the first on the scene. Cops called him when they were getting divorced, when they had money problems or when they needed someone to talk to about almost anything.
He also frequently came to the rescue when coaches were in trouble. He would get a call asking him to meet with someone he had never met. Usually, he was in his car that day or on the next plane. Jeff Jones remembers first meeting Ades toward the end of his tenure at Virginia.
“I was living in a small townhouse, and he drove down to talk to me,” Jones said Monday. “He walked in, looked around and told me the place looked awful. That was Rob — no small talk.”
I first met Rob through Williams and Phelps but got to know him well because of the weekly Red Auerbach lunches, hosted by Auerbach for years at a downtown Chinese restaurant. Rob never missed a lunch even though he didn’t like Chinese food. He was always the guy who ordered a cake for everyone’s birthday and made sure everyone’s wife got flowers or champagne on anniversaries.