Hall of Fame Arizona coach Lute Olson has passed away at 85, but his legendary status in Tucson and this state will live on forever. His impact is immeasurable.
These are some of the social media reactions of Olson’s passing which indicate how much he touched so many:
Steve Kerr to his former coach: “I love you!”
It’s hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me.He was an amazing coach & a wonderful man. Being part of the U of A basketball family changed my life forever.I will never forget Coach O, those awesome nights at McKale and all my teammates. Thank you Coach- I love you! pic.twitter.com/GUvtSFr9Lm
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) August 28, 2020
The pinnacle of Olson’s career:
We will always remember that smile! pic.twitter.com/hafWKqS4BB
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) August 28, 2020
Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea is a legend in his own right who started coaching the Wildcats when Olson was starting to take the program to great heights:
Rest in Peace, Coach Olson ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/dsih9G0CXE
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) August 28, 2020
Arizona legend Damon Stoudamire with a brief but meaningful message:
— Damon Stoudamire (@Iambiggie503) August 28, 2020
Corey Williams with a touching video of Olson:
Joan Bonvicini, who has the most wins as a coach of Arizona women’s basketball, comments on the men’s basketball career leader:
— Joan Bonvicini (@CoachBonvicini) August 28, 2020
Tom Tolbert, a member of Arizona’s first Final Four team in 1987-88, was one who got a rise out of Olson every now and then but it was a healthy relationship:
I’m saddened to here of the passing of my former Arizona Wildcats coach and friend Lute Olson….He was a great and honorable man..He built an incredible program and helped mold some pretty incredible men….
RIP Lute…I love you
— Tom Tolbert (@byronjr23) August 28, 2020
Arizona alum Jeff Goodman broke the story of Olson’s passing tonight:
Former Arizona coach and Hall of Famer Lute Olson passed way earlier tonight, his wife Kelly told me. Olson was 85 years old.
My Ode to Lute: https://t.co/MZM7qf8zmP
My Ode to Lute:
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) August 28, 2020
Sean Miller mentioned of Olson that he was more than a coach to his players and a leader of the community:
“He had no weaknesses as a coach.”
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) August 28, 2020
Along with our site’s Steve Rivera, Bruce Pascoe had a lengthy time covering Olson more than anyone:
Wasn’t fun having to prepare this story in recent months, but Lute Olson’s life story was something else, not to mention what he did on the floor, for the University of Arizona and for Tucson. https://t.co/l7WXptZ2sZ
— Bruce Pascoe (@BrucePascoe) August 28, 2020
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey comments on Olson, who could have been elected to any office in Arizona if he ever wanted that.
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) August 28, 2020
Josh Pastner walked on at Arizona and later earned a scholarship just to learn his coaching craft from Olson:
Coach Olson is the absolute best, one of the greatest coaches ever and one of the greatest human beings ever. My feelings of gratitude and appreciation cannot be put in words. I love him dearly. My heart hurts, but I know he is now in heaven. May god bless his family. #RIP pic.twitter.com/7ltBVUva77
— Coach Josh Pastner (@GTJoshPastner) August 28, 2020
The two most legendary coaches in Pac-10/12 history — Olson and John Wooden — are together again:
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) August 28, 2020
Message from the John Wooden Award — great choice of photo to go with it:
We are saddened by the passing of former Arizona Men’s Basketball head coach Lute Olson. Coach Olson was the recipient of the #WoodenAward Legends of Coaching in 2001.
📷: Bruce McClelland / Arizona Daily Star pic.twitter.com/80S3HgwG3W
— John R. Wooden Award (@WoodenAward) August 28, 2020
Bennett Davison trying to mess up the hair of Olson again — only this time it’s impossible with Olson’s statue:
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) August 28, 2020
Channing Frye developed immensely under Olson:
Thank you coach for taking a chance on some skinny kid from Chandler,Az. I owe my whole basketball career to you and what you taught me. I’m gonna miss you. pic.twitter.com/yRIBVKM137
— Channing Frye (@channingfrye) August 28, 2020
Arizona president Robert C. Robbins said Olson displayed “integrity and compassion in every endeavor”:
The University of Arizona is deeply saddened by the loss of Lute Olson. He will forever be a prolific member of the Wildcat community and we will continue to honor his legacy.
Forever a teacher, a leader, a Wildcat.
Sept. 22, 1934-August 27, 2020
📸 @azathletics pic.twitter.com/qH8rng1Xxg
— #BearDownMaskUp (@uarizona) August 28, 2020
Pueblo High School, ASU and NBA legend Lafayette “Fat” Lever who praises Olson for what he brought to the city where he was raised:
🙏🏾rest in paradise coach.blessings to your family and all of tucson that you have left a FOREVER impression.🙏🏾
— Lafayette “Fat” Lever (@phattime12) August 28, 2020
ASU coach Bobby Hurley, who played in classic games against Olson’s Arizona teams in the early 1990s while at Duke, calls the legendary coach one of the all-time best:
Sad to learn about the passing of Lute Olson. One of the all time greats! RIP ❤️ https://t.co/L0tRkmCWJV
— Bobby Hurley (@BobbyHurley11) August 28, 2020
ASU with a classy message:
Rest In Peace, Coach Olson.
— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) August 28, 2020
Adia Barnes is building the type of hysteria with the women’s program that Olson did with the men in the 1980’s:
Rest In Peace Lute Olson.I remember when I was a player I would watch him coach, and he had an amazing gift. Everyone loved him, he built a dynasty.
When I came back here to coach, Kelly and Lute supported, loved and believed in me. He will always have special place in my ❤️😭. pic.twitter.com/Zga2abGELp
— ADIA BARNES 🐻⬇️🌵🌞 (@AdiaBarnes) August 28, 2020
Rest In Peace, Lute ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0rQwFIplx1
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) August 28, 2020
John Calipari’s message:
Hall of Famer, national champion, and a great teacher, leader and motivator. Coach Olson was truly a coach’s coach. He was one of the best to ever do it. Rest is peace, Coach Olson. https://t.co/5cycAy0Z3A
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 28, 2020
Olson’s granddaughter Julie Brase was a legendary player at Catalina Foothills and Arizona and she is now an assistant with the Mercury:
Rest In Peace, Lute. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/97IHoQ6Pro
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 28, 2020
Olson came to Arizona after building Iowa into a Final Four program in only nine years there:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former head coach and Hall of Famer Lute Olson. A great basketball mind and a true gentleman. 🙏
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) August 28, 2020
More former player reactions:
Reggie Geary on Facebook:
Today is an extremely sad day as we say goodbye to our Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson. Coach O meant the world to me and my family. My whole adult life Coach has been a powerful voice and mentor for me. At every major event of my life and countless others’ lives, Coach was there to guide, encourage, and celebrate our biggest accomplishments. As a player, he saw my value and allowed me to blossom in his system. As a coach, he gave me my first professional job. He will be greatly missed by so many, and that’s a true testament to his life as not only a brilliantly successful coach but also a family man and community icon. I am grateful I had the opportunity to be coached, taught, mentored, and respected by such a legendary man. Candace and I send our condolences to the entire Olson family. #uofabasketball #family #coacholson #hof #ripcoach #bobbi #beardown
So blessed to be able to play for Lute Olson. An amazing teacher on and off the court. His legacy is many things but I am so grateful for his friendship and the UofA basketball family he built that will always live on Toasting a glass of Pinot to you Coach O #LuteOlson #BearDown pic.twitter.com/TC3HJg06ra
— matt muehlebach (@mattmuehlebach) August 28, 2020
Eugene Edgerson on Facebook:
It feels like yesterday you were in my front room (living room) in our shotgun house in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, offering me an opportunity to play for you at the UofA. I remember telling you that I would graduate in 4 years (I did) and I’d be happy to play for you. You told my mother Susan, who was a single parent, that I would be in good hands and she trusted you. You did not let her down! Because of the instant connection you had with her and me following my heart, my life was forever changed in an extraordinary way. Removing basketball teachings out of the equation, you had a lot to do with my overall success in life as a person. From you, I learned more about the importance of family, team work, leadership, professionalism, accountability, hard work (mediocrity is never acceptable), service to others, and class (through winning and defeat). I am constantly surrounding myself with good people because of you. You said, “Good people will find a way to be successful. Bad people will find a way to mess things up.” Ch. O, I found a way to be successful thanks to your guidance and I will continue to do my best to stop bad people from constantly messing up so they can be successful. I always knew you had a strong impact on my life but now, it’s really starting to hit home. Love you Ch. O. Rest easy.
We lost a giant tonight. I think of the lessons he taught us us before every life decision I make. His value system, competing with class, preparation, being a gentlemen, uniting young men from all backgrounds. He coached basketball but he taught life. The world needs Lute Olson pic.twitter.com/AuonXDwRGB
— Joe McLean (@joemclean15) August 28, 2020
Ben Davis on Facebook:
Thank you coach for all of the lessons. The basketball was such a small part of it. I’m sure I am not the only one that feels that way. Thank you for the confidence you instilled in all of us. Thank you for being an example of what a man should be. While I am extremely sad I know that you are back with Mrs.Olson and will be watching over us all.
Coach Olson was a Hall of Famer that created an absolute 1st class program. It was clear he had everyone’s back from Gumby (me) to future NBA Star (many). He’s also the definition of family man (goals). I value every second he shared with me. RIP Coach O! #CoachO
— Peter Hansen (@phansen14) August 28, 2020
🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾R.I.P. Coach Olson ❤️, Thanks for seeing something in me. Rest up Coach O pic.twitter.com/vtyCencwUN
— Kelvin Eafon (@krocdesertstorm) August 28, 2020
A.J. Bramlett on Facebook:
Needed some time to reflect on the impact this man had on my life. I chose these pictures for different reasons. First off I am happy that my kids were able to meet and spend time with Coach to see the type of man he was and why I hold him in such high regard. They still talk about meeting him til this day and how caring and nice he was to them. That was Coach O. He cared about family. He cared about values. He cared about people. He cared about winning. He cared about details. He cared about Tucson. He cared about all of us. I posted the pic of Salim and I because in this photo was the first time I had met Salim but it looks like we’ve known each other for years. Lifelong friends laughing and reminiscing about old times. That connection is what Coach O built. Any Wildcat player from any generation is like an instant family member once you were a part of the program. So many wonderful players, men, fathers, and community members were developed by Coach that his impact will continue to resonate through all of us, our kids, and their kids for life. Thank you Coach O for being the man you were and coming into and staying in our lives for all these years. Bear Down Lute amd Bear Down AZ!
Man..RIP Lute Olson. Great coach and even better man! will truly be missed.
— Parker Jackson-Cartwright (@unrulymino0) August 28, 2020
Matt Othick on Facebook:
I will miss you Coach O ! You blessed me with your knowledge of the game . You gave our teams your heart and soul . You instilled a confidence in us we didn’t know we had . You made us better basketball players and men ! Thank you ! I love you ! May You Rest In Peace.
Takes legends to know one:
🙏🏼 Legendary coach, man, father, husband, friend, mentor, teacher, golfer & forever one of the greatest Wildcats of all time. #LuteOlson Rest In Peace.
— Chuck Cecil (@chuckcecil26) August 28, 2020
— Jennie Finch (@JennieFinch) August 28, 2020
Brandon Sanders, a former football player, who last year lost legendary coach Dick Tomey:
True icon & one of the most down to earth people I called my Wildcat Family. I remember being excited he called me by my 1st name while in the weight room one day.. his great smile & words that day still sit in my heart.. Rest in Heaven Coach O.. BearDownAlways Wildcat4Ever 💔😥 pic.twitter.com/pPipuV5DIQ
— Brandon Sanders (@coachBSanders18) August 28, 2020
National media reactions:
In memory of Lute Olson, let’s revisit the amazing Arizona Wildcats 1997 NCAA National Championship run.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 28, 2020
Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson has died at 85 years old. pic.twitter.com/2tyCrkOcNn
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 28, 2020
Arizona Wildcats basketball coaching legend Lute Olson has passed away at the age of 85 🙏 pic.twitter.com/v9SadoMNV8
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 28, 2020
We’re saddened by the passing of former Arizona Men’s Basketball head coach Lute Olson.
Olson led the Wildcats to five Final Four appearances, winning the National Championship in 1997. Rest in peace… pic.twitter.com/nHETXpfRa0
— Stadium (@Stadium) August 28, 2020
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.