Keady's wife has change of heart

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

CHARLOTTE -- After watching the lowly Raptors play -- and lose -- for the first time this season, Pat Keady had straight-forward instructions for her husband, Gene.

"When she watched us play Boston, she said, 'You can't help them, come home,'" Gene Keady, 69, recalled with a laugh on his first day as a member of an NBA team yesterday.

Something changed between Nov. 18 -- when Gene Keady went to Boston to explore whether he wanted to join the Raptors coaching staff -- and this week. The legendary Purdue coach stuck around the team for its first win Nov. 20 in Toronto and signed on as an assistant coach Friday.

"After (Pat) got to watching more of them and talking on (their recently-completed Caribbean) cruise, she said 'They want you and if you can help them, I think you need to go there and try to help them,' " Keady said. "A lot of it was because she really encouraged me."

If the native of Larned, Kan., had his way as a youngster, basketball probably would be the furthest thing from his mind today.

Keady was a multi-sport athlete, but he excelled in football. He played wide receiver for Kansas State and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958.

But a knee injury ended his NFL career before it even started and he needed another job. Keady wanted to teach and coach football, but the only position available at Beloit High School in Kansas was a basketball coach/science teacher gig.

It's a safe bet that the football coach at Beloit didn't have quite as successful a career as the intense Keady, who has a constant scowl on the sidelines and is a defensive specialist. He took jobs at a junior college, as an assistant at Arkansas and as a head coach at Western Kentucky before landing the Purdue job in 1980.

He led the team from Lafayette, Ind., to the Elite Eight twice and won more than 500 games.

Keady, who had a short interview with the Indiana Pacers in 1984 before determining there was no mutual interest, was an assistant with NBA-based American national teams in 1999 and 2000 and enjoyed the experience.


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