Washington Post Column: In recovering Minnesota, a new men’s basketball coach offers a vision of change

BleedGopher

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per Jerry:

In his healing hometown, Ben Johnson dreams anew. He’s a 40-year-old version of the south Minneapolis boy who pedaled through the city on his bicycle, searching for a good basketball run. He’s a college coach now, a head coach for the first time at Minnesota, his beloved alma mater. He’s trying to express, to an outsider, what that means.

“It’s almost like I’m living my childhood at this stage,” Johnson said during a recent interview. “I like being from here, from Minneapolis. I want to show the country what we look like at our best by being an example for our community, our state. By winning and being able to create change. What’s cooler than that?
“The timing was right for me to get this job, in a lot of ways. And I get that. Another time, I might not be sitting here talking to you.”

Johnson, who was hired in March to replace Richard Pitino, is just a coach hoping to re-energize the Golden Gophers. But he symbolizes something greater as a Black man who sought to come home and inspire a city still in a post-George Floyd state of recovery. His return is not an act of goodwill, but rather an essential step in his burgeoning career. His vision of success always included leading Minnesota. Despair did not change that; it made the dream more important.

What’s up with Minneapolis? What’s wrong with your city? Friends and colleagues have asked Johnson those questions a troubling number of times during this decade of national tension over excessive police force and the lethal disregard of Black lives. Minneapolis has endured recurring status as an epicenter of the mistreatment. The city did not invent such cruelty, but natives have had to live with the shame while also mourning the lives lost. Johnson provides high-profile proof that Minneapolis, and every other city struck by tragedy, should not be defined by its lowest moments.

Throughout the Minneapolis basketball community, there’s a similar feeling of hope about the new coach. He’s not the next big-name “savior.” He’s one of them.

He’s healing with them. He’s dreaming with them.


Go Gophers!!
 


GopherBlood666

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.
 

JimmyJamesMD

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.
In this world, I pick honesty above all other traits.
 

howeda7

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.
Success is a combination of effort and luck. There's no shame in acknowledging both parts.
 


SanDiegoGopherFan

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.

I caught that as well. At least BJ is honest. I respect that.
 

Johnnyboy18

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.
Timing could mean a number of things, like in-state recruiting for example.
 

Spaulding!No!

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What is Ben’s winning record as a player or coach? Is his high water mark winning in high school?
 

TWeber

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Timing could mean a number of things, like in-state recruiting for example.
“The timing was right for me to get this job, in a lot of ways. And I get that. Another time, I might not be sitting here talking to you.”

Hmmm....I certainly don't read it that way. I read it as saying what I think we all acknowledge at least to some degree...by Ben saying it that way, I think it means it is okay for us to acknowledge it also.
 



CoMn

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per Jerry:

In his healing hometown, Ben Johnson dreams anew. He’s a 40-year-old version of the south Minneapolis boy who pedaled through the city on his bicycle, searching for a good basketball run. He’s a college coach now, a head coach for the first time at Minnesota, his beloved alma mater. He’s trying to express, to an outsider, what that means.

“It’s almost like I’m living my childhood at this stage,” Johnson said during a recent interview. “I like being from here, from Minneapolis. I want to show the country what we look like at our best by being an example for our community, our state. By winning and being able to create change. What’s cooler than that?
“The timing was right for me to get this job, in a lot of ways. And I get that. Another time, I might not be sitting here talking to you.”

Johnson, who was hired in March to replace Richard Pitino, is just a coach hoping to re-energize the Golden Gophers. But he symbolizes something greater as a Black man who sought to come home and inspire a city still in a post-George Floyd state of recovery. His return is not an act of goodwill, but rather an essential step in his burgeoning career. His vision of success always included leading Minnesota. Despair did not change that; it made the dream more important.

What’s up with Minneapolis? What’s wrong with your city? Friends and colleagues have asked Johnson those questions a troubling number of times during this decade of national tension over excessive police force and the lethal disregard of Black lives. Minneapolis has endured recurring status as an epicenter of the mistreatment. The city did not invent such cruelty, but natives have had to live with the shame while also mourning the lives lost. Johnson provides high-profile proof that Minneapolis, and every other city struck by tragedy, should not be defined by its lowest moments.

Throughout the Minneapolis basketball community, there’s a similar feeling of hope about the new coach. He’s not the next big-name “savior.” He’s one of them.

He’s healing with them. He’s dreaming with them.


Go Gophers!!
Great article. Thanks for posting.
 

GopherBlood666

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What is Ben’s winning record as a player or coach? Is his high water mark winning in high school?
Winning record not a requirement for the U, per job release. This hire was based on character, and a minimum of 1 year experience as assistant coach. The ultimate mystery box hire, we all hope to be pleasantly surprised.
 

MennoSota

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Love how Jerry says we're living in shame, guess I didn't get the memo. May be hyper critical, but Ben crediting the "timing" as a reason for his hire doesn't sit well with me although I can certainly appreciate his honesty. I would rather hear, "I deserve this, I am the best person for this job, and I have no doubt I will succeed." I suppose when you achieve a dream, it takes awhile to realize your achievement.
In this world, I pick honesty above all other traits.
I caught that as well. At least BJ is honest. I respect that.
I take Ben's comment to mean that before the George Floyd murder, Ben's skin color may have kept him from being considered. I do like that honesty. It acknowledges that racism has played a part in black coaches not being offered head coaching jobs.
 

Gopher Teeth

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“The timing was right for me to get this job, in a lot of ways. And I get that. Another time, I might not be sitting here talking to you.”

Hmmm....I certainly don't read it that way. I read it as saying what I think we all acknowledge at least to some degree...by Ben saying it that way, I think it means it is okay for us to acknowledge it also.
It’s true, the key players and more have already intimated it. The only people who didn’t know, were the ones who didn’t want to see it, and never will. They will keep pretending and making up possibilities for each piece of evidence. I hand it to Ben for being straight up about it.
 



Ozzy&Ray

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We have far too many fans that I wish were Badger or Hawkeye fans. Of course, my assumption is they pretend to be Gopher fans but likely never attended as they demontrate a very narrow, closed view of the world. Unfortunately, many of them are jumping in this very thread.
 

GopherBlood666

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We have far too many fans that I wish were Badger or Hawkeye fans. Of course, my assumption is they pretend to be Gopher fans but likely never attended as they demontrate a very narrow, closed view of the world. Unfortunately, many of them are jumping in this very thread.
Seems more like you are making character assumptions based on false presuppositions you hold about some on this board, but that's just my opinion. Accusing people of being "pretend" Gopher fans, LOL that is rich.
 


umn99

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We have far too many fans that I wish were Badger or Hawkeye fans. Of course, my assumption is they pretend to be Gopher fans but likely never attended as they demontrate a very narrow, closed view of the world. Unfortunately, many of them are jumping in this very thread.
I don't know if people are pretend Gopher fans, but continued pot shots at the hire, two months later, gets old for sure.
 

Go4

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I don't know if people are pretend Gopher fans, but continued pot shots at the hire, two months later, gets old for sure.

+04. just wait until you venture to the football board, there's a poster by the name ozzy&ray that is an absolute pretend gopher fan, still taking pot shots at the coach, years after. talk about getting old for sure. the hypocrisy out of ozzy is next level.
 

SanDiegoGopherFan

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Yup. George Floyd was a Martyr and Ben definitely benefited from it. Before, he wouldn't have been judged based on the color of his skin, but by the content of his resume. Now he was just judged by the color of his skin as good enough.

The U basketball program, we're "good enough"
 

MennoSota

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Yup. George Floyd was a Martyr and Ben definitely benefited from it. Before, he wouldn't have been judged based on the color of his skin, but by the content of his resume. Now he was just judged by the color of his skin as good enough.

The U basketball program, we're "good enough"
Actually, before George Floyd he would likely be excluded because of the color of his skin, not the content of his resume.
SDGF, closet racist, Ben Johnson hater.
 

Spaulding!No!

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Yup. George Floyd was a Martyr and Ben definitely benefited from it. Before, he wouldn't have been judged based on the color of his skin, but by the content of his resume. Now he was just judged by the color of his skin as good enough.

The U basketball program, we're "good enough"
We didn’t choose him - he chose us. Ugh. But all that crap aside I hope he does so well in yr 1 that we are all worried about losing him.
 

builtbadgers

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Actually, before George Floyd he would likely be excluded because of the color of his skin, not the content of his resume.
SDGF, closet racist, Ben Johnson hater.
100% BEHIND BEN. But take exception to the idea that he would likely have been excluded before George Floyd as Clem and Tubby were not excluded.
 

60's Guy

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My gosh, I'm not sure how anyone can read the article and come to negative conclusions.
Ben speaks with honesty, recognizes his opportunity and desperately wants to succeed to make the people of the state of Minnesota once again proud to be able to announce they are from here.
He has passion from the heart to attack the task.
Qualified, prepared, deserving is not the point. I may criticize some of his choices and decisions, just like I did Richard and still do with PJ but I'm certainly rooting for Ben and PJ to to succeed.
I see nothing in this article to throw stones at here.
 


builtbadgers

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That’s the problem with today’s world. Disagree with the pretense, you are called a racist. Stupid
That is a problem. We are now calling a lot of people racist and all of them are of fair pigmentation. Very strange. I lived through the 60's and i see far more anger and hatred now. Good thing Ben and Dave are not thinking about skin color. They are rolling up their sleeves and going to work. The way Ben handles himself earns respect.
 

MennoSota

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That’s the problem with today’s world. Disagree with the pretense, you are called a racist. Stupid
Nope, when you imply that a coach is not good and only got hired because he's black...that makes you a racist.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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We have far too many fans that I wish were Badger or Hawkeye fans. Of course, my assumption is they pretend to be Gopher fans but likely never attended as they demontrate a very narrow, closed view of the world. Unfortunately, many of them are jumping in this very thread.

Funny coming from the person who refuses to cheer for the football team only because PJ is the coach.
 

alchemy2u

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“The timing was right for me to get this job, in a lot of ways. And I get that. Another time, I might not be sitting here talking to you.”

Hmmm....I certainly don't read it that way. I read it as saying what I think we all acknowledge at least to some degree...by Ben saying it that way, I think it means it is okay for us to acknowledge it also.
Yea, I guess the timing was right. After Pitino losing on so many local recruits and not able to make a team out of his national recruits, the timing was just right for a locally connected guys to get the job.
 

Ozzy&Ray

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Funny coming from the person who refuses to cheer for the football team only because PJ is the coach.
I never said I refuse to cheer for the football team - just said I don't like PJ's approach publicly. I do appreciate their style of play, have never questioned in-game coaching, and I hope he wins because I want the program to be successful. I have never questioned his ability to coach. My primary frustration with him was his denigration of past program leaders while building his own program - I don't think you have to do that.
 

SanDiegoGopherFan

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Actually, before George Floyd he would likely be excluded because of the color of his skin, not the content of his resume.
SDGF, closet racist, Ben Johnson hater.

had we never had a black head coach, I would be more partial to agree with your opinion.

Just know that all you have are opinions, much like most of us here. They are worthless to the powers that be, more that it's just fun to argue about what ever you might think is real (which is not actual reality).

As far as racist, you are right. I find human beings to be the worst mammal on the planet. I don't like any color, I like people that do the right thing by each other. Pretty simple really.
 




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