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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #17: Walter McCarty

I wanted to lead this profile with “I. Love. Waltah!”

And I do. Or I did, I guess, back in the late nineties and early aughts when he was flying around the parquet in Celtics green, being the very model of a modern major bench guy. Walter was a high-energy player, an annoying defender with his length and hustle, and a capable garbage man on the offensive end. He wasn’t going to fill it up but he was going to make plays at key moments. A block, a steal, a rebound, a clutch bucket. A member of the 1996 Kentucky NCAA champs, he had a penchant for being around the ball and making things happen. During his time in Boston, you knew something good had just happened for the usually-woeful Celtics when unabashedly homer TV color man Tommy Heinsohn let loose with his signature bellow. “I. Love. Waltah!”

So why the hesitation in employing it here?

I started this series with the intention of indulging in unvarnished nostalgia. But the damned varnish of reality can be a sticky thing. The players we rooted for - or root for still - are capable of disappointing us as much off the court as on. When I write these profiles, I do a bit of research, and sometimes there are rocks I wish I hadn’t kicked over because it’s not always pretty.

Walter McCarty picked up a whistle after his playing days, and has been a young coach with promise. Old head coach Rick Pitino gave him a chance at Louisville, and McCarty’s bench stops have included a lengthy stint with Boston in the pros. Over the last couple of years he’s been the head coach at the University of Evansville in Indiana. He’s been popular, and has been starting to rebuild the Purple Aces as well as cultivating a truly astonishing beard. This season, though, he’s been placed on administrative leave for an undisclosed offense, reported “unwelcome conduct” that could be a potential violation of Title IX. I couldn’t find any more than that, but that sounds pretty bad.

The university has been investigating, and word out of Indiana is that Coach McCarty may soon be exonerated and restored to his job. We might never know what really happened. What I do know is that as much as I want to love Walter and other players who wear the home laundry, these are real people who are imperfect and who will almost universally disappoint us if we look too close.

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