OPINION | WALLY HALL: Dick Vitale diagnosed with cancer

There will be no Dickie V. this basketball season.

Dick Vitale, who for decades has raised money for cancer research, has cancer.

It is his second bout with lymphoma in months. While his illness is much more important, he will be missed.

His enthusiasm, energy and love of college basketball endeared him to tens of thousands. He hated it that he had critics, but lived with that quietly.

Vitale, 82, was the analyst for the first basketball game broadcast on ESPN in 1979 and his “Diaper Dandies,” “Awesome with a capital A,” “He’s a Windex player, he just cleaned the backboard,” are a few of the quotes that made him a household name.

We met in an airport after a Final Four when I approached him to tell him how much I enjoyed his work. He was unbelievably humble, friendly and appreciative.

A few years ago he spoke at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s All Arkansas Preps dinner and he was amazing, posing for every last picture request and his talk that night was to the hearts of all the 350 athletes and coaches there.

A former college and NBA coach, Vitale’s career as a broadcaster is legendary. He has been a major player in college basketball’s rise in popularity.

Thoughts and prayers are with him.

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