Say that one name to pretty much any college basketball fan, especially in the midwest, and they probably know exactly who you are talking about.
Norman Stewart is a legend, both for his coaching career and for his charitable work, but when people talk about him today, they tend to focus on one aspect of his life, failing to see all of the connections. As Kansas fans, we have a shared history with the coach of a school that we have called our rival for so long, and his story is part of our history as well. For those of us in our early 30s (and younger), it’s hard to remember much about a man who defined a program well before our time.
This Sunday, we get a chance to brush up on one of the most iconic figures in college basketball as ESPN Films continues their SEC Storied series by taking a look at the life of the longtime Missouri basketball coach.
ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series returns on Sunday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET, with the premiere of "Norm." The film chronicles the life of Missouri men’s basketball coaching legend Norm Stewart.
… SEC Storied: Norm presented by Auto Owners Insurance centers on Stewart’s life as an athlete, a husband, a coach and a cancer survivor.
I had a chance to preview the film before its premier this past weekend, and I couldn’t help but be moved by the story of a great man that any program in the country would be proud to call an alum and former coach.
Even with the ever-present reminder that this was a story about a Missouri Tiger, it was easy to fall into the telling of the story and the insight that his former players and assistants had into the kind of man that he was. He preached all the same types of principles that we’ve come to expect today from our coaches, including ethics in recruiting, working hard during practice and the value of the team as a whole (a la #FOE). Ending the film talking about his current work with Coaches vs Cancer completed the portrait of an honest, hardworking man who stands by his principles and uses his influence to benefit others.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed watching this film, so much so that I almost felt sorry for Norm for never having the opportunity to make it to the Final Four (at least until I reminded myself which school he coached for). It’s a fascinating reminder of the type of man that built up our rival to a point that they were a threat instead of a school we simply hated and picked on while on the court. The film does talk about the rivalry with Kansas, and both former Kansas Head Coach Roy Williams and current Kansas Head Coach Bill Self do talk about Norm briefly.
While it’s extremely rare for me to recommend anything related to the Missouri Tigers, this film is a great opportunity to revisit the history of the KU-MU rivalry and appreciate the man who made much of that possible. If you have access to the SEC Network and can find the time to watch it (either live or on your DVR), I suggest you find a way to make it happen.
Editor’s Note: Here at RCT, we strive to be transparent in any product or service that we have the opportunity to review, and promise to disclose any consideration that was made. The only considerations made in this case were an advance digital copy of the film to watch in order to write a review about the film, and, we have also been offered the opportunity to interview Coach Stewart, which we hope to bring to you within the next few days. No other benefits were given.