If ever there was a week to swap Jimmy Patsos stories, this is the one, with Patsos, the former Catholic University forward, beloved ex-bartender at Third Edition in Georgetown and longtime assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland, about to take his Loyola Greyhounds to just the second NCAA tournament appearance in school history and first in 18 years.
Taking note of Loyola’s opponent (Ohio State, the No. 2 seed in the East) and game time (9:50 p.m. Thursday), Patsos is likely the only coach in America who would think to draw this conclusion: “I like it, because we’ll be on [television] in every bar in the country.”
Should the Greyhounds upset the Buckeyes on Thursday night, the rest of America will be introduced to one of the great characters in coaching, a man whose epic, rambling, 20-minute postgame news conference following the clinching win in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament name-checked the following: his late mother, Dave Gavitt, Jim Boeheim, John Lucas, Jerry Tarkanian, the Guggenheim Museum, the movie “Love Story,” Red Auerbach, John Calipari, Gary Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and former Black Panther Bobby Seale.
But for a certain segment of the greater Washington area population — a segment that sits somewhere near the intersection of the college hoops community and the bar culture, and that came of age in the 1990s — Patsos, now 44, is already nothing less than a legendary figure: a nightlife-loving bear of a man who, for years, would pour drinks at the Third Edition by night and absorb the brunt of Williams’s lunatic tirades by day in College Park.
“When he bartended, he gave everybody energy to be there,” said Billy Hahn, who served alongside Patsos on Williams’s Maryland staff and is now an assistant at West Virginia. “Nobody wanted to leave when he was bartending. That was part of his secret, to be honest with you.”
“He had these amazing social skills,” said New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, who played baseball at Catholic and remains close with Patsos. “He wasn’t loud and obnoxious. You just liked being around him. He was just a good dude.”
Confronted with the evidence of his youthful legend, Patsos laughed and said: “It was a different time. We weren’t breaking the law. We just liked to have a few drinks and go to a lot of establishments.”
He acknowledged only one monument to those days: “My happiest day,” he said, “is when they put my picture on the wall at the Palm. You can take me to heaven now.”