Don Richardson spoke to Telegraph reporter Joe Kovac Jr. for the reporter's "This I Know" feature back in 2007. These are the longtime Southwest basketball coaches own words. I thought this would be a nice time to re-run it.
Nov. 11, 2007Don Richardson, champion hoops coach, teacher, 'Duck'
Born in New York City in 1935, Richardson was sent to live with his grandmother in Macon when he was 4. ("My mother didn't want me growing up in New York.") He went to Morehouse College and began teaching in Bibb County. In the 1970s and '80s, his basketball teams at Southwest High won more than 83 percent of their games, amassing six state championships and a 1979 national crown. This past spring, Richardson was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He was recently named the general manager of the American Basketball Association's Georgia Gwizzlies team in Macon. These are his words:
There's a lot of things you have to do to get what you want.
Discipline is No. 1.
If you're mentally tough, you can deal with the pressures of life.
I never thought I was good. I thought I was lucky. I thought I was pretty good, but I had sense enough to know that a game can go either way.
Class is taught.
If something is wrong, it needs attention.
When we went to restaurants, I made my players tip. If they didn't have money, I'd slip them some.
The toughest thing to teach is basic stuff - getting youngsters to do things the right way as opposed to just doing them.
If you've never been exposed to a situation, you don't know how to act when you get in that situation. ... You need to know how to dress, you need to know how to act. Then it won't be new and you won't feel out of place.
Nothing takes the place of travel.
When I first started at Southwest, Afros were the thing. And of course I was told by the athletic director that I couldn't wear one. But I didn't pay that any attention.
Look in the mirror and say, "Now what have I done for somebody else today?"
You're not gonna do a good deed every day, but as long as you are thinking about it maybe at some point every now and then you will do one.
Fifty people might disagree with you, but if you really and truly believe in what you are doing or saying, you stick with it.
If you lose, there's another day. Congratulate the other team, clap for them.
You don't want to lose, but then again you've got to remember, I didn't experience that too often.
You can't win an argument with a woman. The best thing to do is not say anything.
At practice sometimes we would have eight or nine college recruiters come and we'd be running drills and the recruiters would be writing the drills down to take back.
Don't look like you're mad all the time.
You learn by doing.
I was staying with my grandmother and my aunt and they said they wanted me home at a certain time. And I went around to my friend's house. He had a TV and we didn't. And I was looking at that TV and I said, "I'm not going home, I'm gonna wait till this show's off." It was about a block from my house, and when I went home all my clothes were on the front porch. I rang the doorbell and they said, "You can't stay here anymore, just go somewhere else." I learned about being on time.
One of my friends called me "Meatball" because I was a little chubby. ... My name is Donald, but everybody else usually just calls me "Duck," you know, because of Donald Duck.
When you're dealing with youngsters, don't give up on them.
Everybody is not very smart.
There is not enough loyalty.
The only kids that get exercise like they need to are the kids that participate in sports.
The whole idea is mind and body - they work together.
I'd tell kids to always prepare for down the line. I'd tell them, "Get you a job and be sure you have some type of retirement or do some saving so you won't have to be picking up cans and things to survive."
I think religion is a thing that you live every day as opposed to going to church on Sunday and leaving it there.
When I had the '79 team, supposedly the best team, they didn't smile enough. So I'd do crazy things. I said to all the players, "Look, every time I see you in the hall you better smile." And when I'd walk by they'd smile. Eventually it became a part of them, it helped in their personality. They would smile when they would meet people.
We were playing a team in the early '70s when were running the break pretty good and they had waxed the outside fast-break lanes so you would slip. You couldn't get any traction. ... Some people want to win at any cost.
We would get a microphone and teach players how to talk. We knew they were gonna be interviewed, so that was a part of our training. Reporters would come to me and ask, "Coach, which players can I talk to?" I'd say, "Talk to any of them." They were prepared.
I was always thinking a play ahead.
The only way you could live without air conditioning is if everywhere you went there was no air conditioning.
You'd be surprised the young kids now that can't even catch a softball, can't hardly do anything. Awkward. No balance. When I was growing up you'd be talked about if you didn't have balance.
One of the first years we went to the state tournament we stayed near Georgia Tech in this hotel right across the street. We got there, we checked in and before long we were missing a player. We looked all over this place. We found him in the elevator. He was just riding - up and down. He'd never been on an elevator before.
Sometimes whatever's gonna be is gonna be. There's really not a hell of a lot you can do about it.