Photo Credit: https://tucson.com
Reports that Hall of Fame former Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson is ailing set off a flood of well wishes on social media.
Columnist Greg Hansen tweeted that Olson “is in the fight of his life.” It was reported that Olson is receiving hospice care.
Olson, 85, had a stroke in February of 2019 and has not been seen at a UA basketball game since. Olson also did not attend the Lute Olson Fantasy Camp in August 2019 at the Sporting Chance facility, but a group of former UA basketball players working the camp gathered at his home during one of the evenings they were in town.
“Obviously, I came to see him,” former UA and NBA guard Salim Stoudamire said at the camp. “I pray that his future is bright. All I can do is add positive energy.”
The players on hand also included Matt Muehlebach, Bennett Davison, Joe Turner, Kyle Fogg, Craig McMillan, Ben Davis, A.J. Bramlett, Corey Williams, Donnell Harris, Pete Williams, Reggie Geary and Olson’s grandson, Matt Brase. In a group photograph at Olson’s house, they wrapped arms around each other with wide grins.
A North Dakota native who arrived in Tucson from the University of Iowa in 1983, Olson became the most successful basketball coach in UA history over his 24 seasons with the Wildcats. Named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, Olson led the Wildcats to the 1997 NCAA title, still the crowning moment to date in UA athletics history, along with three other Final Fours and 22 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Overall at Arizona, Olson went 589-187 and won 11 Pac-10 championships. Olson also produced 35 players taken in the NBA Draft, including 14 lottery picks. He had been a regular fixture in the stands at McKale Center from his retirement in 2008 until his 2019 stroke.