For the first time since 1976, the head coach of the Syracuse men’s basketball team will not be Jim Boeheim. And for the first time since 1976, local and national media members can lower their guard just a little heading into every post-game press conference.
Boeheim leaves behind a legacy that includes 1,015 official wins, 1,116 unofficial wins (thanks to the NCAA), five Big East Tournament championships, five Final Fours, and a national championship in 2003.
His legacy also includes being an absolute curmudgeon and ornery individual willing to take out his frustrations on any media member who he decided needed to be taught a lesson. He was indiscriminate, taking on national stalwarts, local journalists, and even student reporters.
When people look back on Boeheim’s career, the highlight reel is sure to include those amazing jackets he wore in the 1970s, cutting down the nets in 2003, the meme-worthy freakout against Duke in 2014, and footage of him verbally accosting a reporter over something they said or, perhaps, something he’d been hanging onto, waiting for the right moment to let his grudge loose.
So while we can’t document them all, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable, most controversial, and most absurd moments in Jim Boeheim’s press conference history.
1977: Jim Boeheim Rips Magic Johnson for Winning Carrier Classic MVP
While this one doesn’t involve Boeheim chastising a reporter, it’s the earliest instance we could find of the ornery head coach turning his press conference into an airing of grievances. The first-ever Carrier Classic (played before the Carrier Dome existed) featured Syracuse winning the championship game over Michigan State. However, Spartans star Magic Johnson was named MVP of the tournament, something Boeheim was irate about.
“We’ve played in tournaments 15 straight years. Always a player from the winning team is the MVP…This is typical; it only happens in Syracuse,” Boeheim complained, giving us an early window into just how much wrath he can muster for meaningless things.
1984: The Chair Toss Heard Round The Big East
While Bobby Knight might be college basketball’s most famous chair-tosser, Boeheim had a good-try-good-effort of his own following the 1984 Big East Tournament championship game. Syracuse lost to Georgetown but not before Hoyas star Michael Graham punched SU’s Andre Hawkins in an incident that wasn’t called. Afterward, an incensed Boeheim said “the best team did not win tonight,” and then “threw” a chair on his way out.
THROW CHAIR THURSDAY. From Requiem For The Big East. Michael Graham, Jim Boeheim and the 1984 Big East Tourney presser. #GEORGETOWNSUCKS pic.twitter.com/ssNGhYWfic
— Syracuse Memes™ (@Cusememes) December 14, 2017
2006: “Not Ten ******* Games” Defense of Gerry McNamara
Perhaps Boeheim’s most iconic press conference moment might have been his most justified. Before the 2006 Big East Tournament, an anonymous poll of Big East coaches named Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara as the league’s “most overrated player.” That overrated player went on to almost single-handedly lead the Orange to a Big East Tournament title. Never before or since has Jim Boeheim had the opportunity to fairly call out detractors in a public setting. This was his pièce de résistance.
2008: Jim Boeheim v. Microphone: Dawn of Justice
Boeheim hasn’t just battled with reporters at a press conference, he’s battled the literal microphone as well. While the Syracuse coach was never much of a fan of any kind of feedback, the mic feedback he got on this day was especially too much for him.
2009: Jim Boeheim vs. Idiots, Part 57
Few things got Boeheim more heated than speculation around whether or not one of his players was going to go pro. Usually, an ardent believer that players would be better off staying, he seemed to take out his frustration on the people asking questions about it. That was the case in 2009 when he was asked about what advice he’d give Jonny Flynn and he turned that into a referendum about the “idiots” who even dare ask the question.
2011: Jim Boeheim Doesn’t Think You Know Your Business
Boeheim has always had thin skin but it was never softer than when he felt compared to some of his contemporaries, such as Jim Calhoun, John Thompson, and Rick Pitino. After beating Louisville in 2011, Boeheim felt especially emboldened to put longtime Post-Standard beat reporter Donna Ditota in her place following an article she wrote regarding Syracuse’s recent losing streak to Pitino-coached teams. During the presser, he asked her if she knew his record against John Beilein.
“No idea,” Ditota said.
“Well, then you don’t know your business,” Boeheim said.
“Why would I know that?” Ditota responded. “Why would I know John Beilein’s record against you? When is the last time you played John Beilein?”
“This year,” Boeheim said. “Mike [Waters], you know?”
“I don’t think he’s ever beaten you,” Waters said.
“Yeah, you don’t think,” Boeheim said. “You’re right. That’s the way they work here. They think that’s cute.”
Later, when asked if he takes criticism of the team personally, he didn’t pretend otherwise, saying “You want to talk about personal? Yeah, it’s personal. When people write and say things about me it’s personal to me. Always will be.”
2013: Jim Boeheim vs. “Disloyal Idiot” Andy Katz
The classic example of how Boeheim could hold a grudge and wait until he was in a position to insult the perpetrator in the harshest way possible. Following a loss to UConn, ESPN’s Katz asked, rather innocuously, what the Syracuse-UConn series meant to him. Boeheim responded, “I’ll answer anybody’s question but yours,” adding “Because you’re an idiot and really a disloyal person. And a few other things that I can add, but I’m not gonna go there.” The drama stemmed from what Boeheim from comments Katz made regarding the Bernie Fine scandal from the year prior. A year is nothing when it comes to Jim’s wrath and how long it can fester. The two would later make up and return to good terms.
2013: Jim Boeheim vs. Gregg Doyel
Jim Boeheim always had an uncanny knack for reminding you why he’s still there around the time you start to wonder if the game had passed him by. It happened again in 2013 when the Orange made a run to the Final Four. As had become commonplace at this point, many people wondered if this would be the icing on the cake for him and he’d ride off into the sunset with one last accomplishment. That’s not how Boeheim saw it, however, and he was incredulous about being asked about it by Gregg Doyel right after the Final Four loss to Michigan.
2017: Boeheim Disagrees With Syracuse’s “Downward Spiral” Assessment
The last decade of Boeheim’s career marked an era in which Syracuse tended to underperform during the regular season and then pull off epic NCAA Tournament runs that defied logic. That created a disconnect with many in terms of whether or not Syracuse was in a “downward spiral” or if the end justified the means. Boeheim was of the opinion that if you go to Sweet Sixteens and Final Fours, who cares how you got there? And he let everyone know that following a game in Pittsburgh in 2017.
“When you go to the Final Four, you could lose 20 games. It doesn’t matter,” Boeheim said. “Those are just numbers that you put in the paper that don’t mean anything.”
2021: Boeheim vs. The Athletic’s Matthew Gutierrez
Boeheim was never afraid to bully a reporter over trivial things when he felt like it. That was perhaps never truer than the time he took his frustrations out on Gutierrez over some comments the reporter made on Twitter about the roster and potential improvements.
If Richmond and Edwards had played the minutes they have deserved, Syracuse is probably somewhere around 17-5 overall this season and in the Big Dance. What a difference they provide.
— Matthew Gutierrez (@MatthewGut21) March 2, 2021
“I think these guys have done a great job this year,” Boeheim said following a win a few days later. “But if I played Jesse and Kadary, we’d probably be 22-2 now. I just didn’t see that. I couldn’t figure that out by myself after 45 years. I need a reporter to figure that out who has never played basketball and is 5-foot-2.”
2022: Boeheim Has Difference of Opinion on Buddy Boeheim
Jim was already apt to take everything personally, but that went up a notch when his sons Buddy and Jimmy joined the team. When Buddy was accused of taking a dirty shot at a player during the ACC Tournament, Boeheim disagreed with the notion, and the journalist, longtime Syracuse beat reporter Mike Waters, for bringing it up.
Here’s everybody’s favorite Jim Boeheim talking about his son Buddy’s punch to the stomach at the press conference directly after the game… https://t.co/8moRuPJFfo pic.twitter.com/WvNTQ3QoCx
— The Fan Morning Show (@FanMorningShow) March 10, 2022
2023: Boeheim Doesn’t Like Student Reporter’s Attitude
The last memorable snippy Jim Boeheim press conference came earlier this season when the 78-year-old decided to call out a student reporter over a very reasonable question before smugly saying he didn’t like the reporter’s attitude. Accused by many of bullying, Boeheim later refuted the claim.
Did we miss your favorite Jim Boeheim press conference meltdown? Let us know…
WATCH: His first press conference. Cutting down the nets in ‘03. His heated interactions with reporters. Relive every moment from the legendary career of Jim Boeheim.
(Video by CitrusTV’s @Hudson_Ridley) pic.twitter.com/Sj1YXt0Suu
— CitrusTV Sports (@CitrusTVSports) March 9, 2023