Jim Boeheim is currently coaching in his 41st season at Syracuse University, speeding toward the end of what has been a storied sideline career that has seen him preside over more than 50 NBA players…and counting.
Through his four-decade stint, Boeheim has never guided a team that finished below .500 in the standings. His squads have a winning percentage north of 70 overall and have won fewer than 60 percent of their tilts just once since 1997.
Though the NCAA vacated 108 of his wins for his role in playing ineligible players over the course of five different seasons, it can’t actually remove them from the memory bank. He just recently won his 1000th game as head honcho of the Orangemen and will assuredly go down as one of college basketball’s greatest coaches of all time.
Boeheim only has one National Championship to his name, but make no mistake, that’s an esteemed accomplishment. Syracuse never really enjoyed a protracted dynasty, not even when the best college players routinely stayed for two, three and four years. But the Orangemen were NCAA tournament staples anyway, earning a bid to the big dance 32 times (and counting) under the steady tutelage of Coach Boeheim. And they’ve also made it to five Final Fours—roughly one appearance for every eight years at the helm. There isn’t a school in college basketball that wouldn’t take such a stretch.
According to CBS Sports, Boeheim’s 1,000 wins—even though, again, the NCAA won’t count them as 1,000 victories—is the fourth-most in Division I history. That’s a milestone worth admiring—and, yes, even observing.
The penalty doled out by the NCAA back in 2015 was largely deemed superfluous and meaningless. While Boeheim cannot necessarily take credit for those success stories officially, he has, beyond question, participated in 1,000 of Syracuse’s wins, period.
Boeheim is equally famous for his cranky, if overly blunt, demeanor. He has never been one to sugarcoat situations and responses. He does a pretty good job masking any true frustration when it comes to discussing his team midseason, but his passion wrapped in irritation is unmistakable.
Press him about a former player, and it’s no-holds barred. He will say what’s on his mind. Just ask Carmelo Anthony, now of the New York Knicks, who led Boeheim to his only national title back in 2003. Whenever his former head coach is encouraged to talk about Melo’s situation with the Knicks, he responds in kind, without hesitation, blasting New York for its inability to assemble a winning faction around Melo.
This is all part of the Jim Boeheim experience. From the games won, to the games lost, to the technical fouls, to the serial NCAA Tournament appearances, to the obsession with being the last team standing at the end of every season, Boeheim has been a true treat to the world of college basketball over these last four decades—as have all the teams he’s helped field during that time.