Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/2/12
Players and coaches from the San Antonio Spurs surrounded first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn with hugs and congratulations after the Magic beat the Spurs in the preseason meeting on Oct. 21. It was in the Spurs organization where Vaughn was given the opportunity to realize his coaching ability as he learned under mentor and friend, Gregg Popovich. Vaughn said the Spurs collective greeting after the game meant the world to him. On Friday, when the Orlando Magic open the regular season against the Denver Nuggets, Vaughn will yet again be reminded of another lasting relationship he has built on his way to becoming head coach. In 1993, Roy Williams came knocking on Vaughns door in Pasadena, Calif., hoping the young point guard would leave the sunny skies of California to come play for him at the University of Kansas. Vaughn had become a rising star and had college offers from many elite programs in the country, including the hometown college: UCLA. But it was Williams genuine care for Vaughn and his family that ultimately sealed his decision to begin a new home at Kansas. I chose Kansas because of Coach Williams. He had committed himself to being at every venue that I was at during the summertime," Vaughn said. "He had formed a relationship with me and it was built on trust. There was just an honesty and a genuine about him that I really enjoyed. Throughout Vaughns four years at Kansas, Williams never wavered in his affection. Williams would frequently talk with Vaughn about his family back home, calling them by name and remembering big events in their lives. Jacque was just a wonderful kid, Williams said, reflecting back on the time they spent together in Kansas. Hes one of the most incredible men Ive ever been around. I love him like a son. Now Vaughn hopes to pass down the same sincerity to the Magic players that Williams showed to him. With this being Vaughns coaching debut, its only fitting for the Hall of Fame coach to be in attendance. Though Williams underwent Kidney surgery this summer, he felt it important not to miss his former point guards first game. I think it just speaks volumes to the type of person he is, Vaughn said when he found out Williams would be attending the game. Coach always took time to put himself into my life and see what was concerning me. That takes a great deal of unselfishness. When youre dealing with all the players hes coached over the years, its even more glaring, his unselfishness. Its just who he is. Another point guard will also be happy to see his former coach on the sidelines tonight. Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets thought Williams was coming to surprise him. I didnt even know he was coming, Lawson said during shootaround. "Hes probably trying to surprise me for my birthday tomorrow." Lawson wasnt kidding either. He seemed to have experienced the same genuine care as Vaughn did and was not surprised at all that his former coach would be in Orlando for his game. Coach Williams has been huge in my life. He helped me mature quickly," Lawson said. "When I came into UNC, I was just a kid, just thinking that I knew everything. He helped me grow up. He helped my game mature. He got me ready for the NBA." The speedy guard has now found a leadership role with the Nuggets in what his head coach George Carl calls a point guard run offense. Although Williams will be supporting Vaughn, Lawson believes that his former coach will have a special affinity to the Nuggets shade of blue. Hell probably be sitting courtside in his Carolina Blue blazer, Lawson said. Yeah, hell be rooting for us, 100 percent. Williams may be torn as he watches two of his former point guards in action tonight. The most important thing is that he cared enough to be there. Vaughn summed it up after receiving the warm greeting from the Spurs: When you think back on what is basketball about, for me it is that people know that I care.
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