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The Russell Report: Gator sports postseason and Basketball HOF

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 2:27 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Postseason is here for many college sports and Florida is right in the thick of things in many of them.

Gator Softball again will host a regional and is a threat to make a return trip to Oklahoma City. Coach Tim Walton has done another marvelous job pushing the right buttons to make this team successful.

After Gator Baseball’s series win over Georgia, coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s team has put itself in prime position to finish in the top four in the SEC, which would give the Gators a first round bye in the SEC tournament, and it also helps in their quest to be a top eight national seed, which means they could host both a regional and a super regional. But one big weekend remains at Arkansas to close the regular season and the Razorbacks are good and always tough at home, but this Gator team is starting to round into form.

Gator Men’s Tennis gets back to NCAA tournament play as the number one team facing Illinois tonight. Coach Bryan Shelton’s team has been number one for most of the season, and he too has done a great job with this team.

Finally, the basketball hall of fame Class of 2020 was honored over the weekend, with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant forming perhaps the best big three to ever enter the hall. But the night belonged to honoring Kobe who died so suddenly in that helicopter crash in January of last year. Bryant’s idol, Michael Jordan, was there to help honor him and his wife Vanessa spoke eloquently about her husband.

Of all the things she said in her speech, one point really hit home. She said Kobe’s motivation for playing every night and playing through injuries and pain was because, like Jordan, he wanted to play for a kid or a fan who had saved their money to see him play for the one and only time they could. Kobe remembered that when he was a kid, how lucky he was to have a seat in the arena; to watch his favorite player, Jordan play. He never forgot that feeling. And ask yourself this: How many players today think that way? About the fan, about the kid and the family that save enough money to watch their idol play just once. Maybe that’s the night today’s player takes a night off; Bryant didn’t. The dude was tough. He’d do anything to win a game and his basketball skills and championships speak for themselves. But to play hard every night, to play through injuries and pain and play for the fans, that’s what makes him so special.

“SportsScene with Steve Russell” airs Monday-Friday on ESPN 98.1 FM and AM 850 WRUF.

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