GREENSBORO (WFMY) - Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim, formerly Persona non grata in Greensboro, is coming over for dinner and maybe trade a few tales from the hardwood.
The Greensboro Sports Council is clearing a space at the table for the legendary coach, who hasn't always been on great terms with the Gate City since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013. Ever since Boeheim's comments disparaging the ACC's host city last year, there's been a bit of a rift.
"There's no value in playing in Greensboro. None." said Boeheim after Syracuse lost in the second round at the 2017 ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. "It's there because the league's been there and the office is there and they have 150 people that the ACC needs. That's why it's there. It should not be there.''
But now Boeheim's extending the olive branch. Wednesday, the council announced Boeheim will be the featured speaker at the 2019 Fred Barakat Sports Dinner in May.
“I know Greensboro’s mad at me, and I’m trying to rectify that,” Boeheim told David Glenn at ACC Operation Basketball last month. “I like Greensboro. I just think the tournament should be in a big city, but that’s just me. I could be wrong. Actually, I’d rather go to Greensboro because it’s easier to get to the game and back than in all the other bigger cities because you have to fight all the traffic. The game is the game; you play on the court, and that doesn’t change. I like the ACC, I like Greensboro, and I like restaurants in the south. Most of my recommendations on restaurants are in the south now, and I have a lot of them.”
Boeheim's 2017 comments turned into kind of a big deal in town. The city had an especially spicy response tweet: "We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the 1st round anywhere. At least it's a quick ride home."
The Greensboro Grasshoppers hosted 'Jim Boeheim (No) Value Night' as a clapback and before that, the NIT paired up UNC Greensboro with Syracuse in the first round of the tournament. One church made a 'Greensboro Vs. Boeheim' shirt. Mayor Nancy Vaughan responded, "Unfortunately for Syracuse they didn't stay around long enough to experience the Greensboro value. We know that we have one of the best basketball venues in the country. The best fans. The best value. The best tournament. Greensboro has raised the bar for all other venues."
The dinner is set for Thursday, May 16 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Barakat served as the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament director for 16 years.
Boeheim reiterates he wants to make things right.
"It figures to be a great night of sharing college basketball stories,” he said of the dinner.
The league's all for it.
“Having Jim Boeheim as the featured speaker is fitting as the 2020 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to the Greensboro Coliseum, a place where so much of its history took place.” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said.
The dinner is open to the general public. Single tickets are $95, tables of 10 are $850 and corporate partnerships are available through the Greensboro Sports Council. You can visit greensborosportscouncil.com or contact CJ Johnston (firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-433-7261) for more information.