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Dave Hyde: Athletes weigh in on who taught them the most

Former major leaguer Jeff Conine, shown in a 2000 photo, said Dave Winfield passed on his most important baseball lesson. (NICK WASS / AP)
Former major leaguer Jeff Conine, shown in a 2000 photo, said Dave Winfield passed on his most important baseball lesson. (NICK WASS / AP)
By Dave Hyde Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel

Who taught you the most in your profession?

One simple question. So many answers. Here’s what a few athletes and a legendary coach had to say:

Josh Richardson, Heat guard: “Cuonzo Martin, my college coach my first three years (at Tennessee). He gave me the ‘Eureka’ moment that I could actually do something with basketball after college. My plan was to play some ball, get four years paid for. I’d never thought of more. He told me I had to take the game more seriously. I was joking around. Every day in practice, I didn’t care. He sat me down one day and said I could have a future and I needed to work at it. That’s what I needed. I started taking it seriously. I started to see what he saw in me. That changed everything for me.”

Sarah Reinertsen, Paralympic athlete: “I lost my leg when I was 7. When I was 11, I watched a marathon and saw something I’d never seen before – a one-legged woman running. Until that moment, I didn’t consider running possible. But this woman, Paddy Rossbach, was not just running but running a marathon. That opened a whole new world to me. She taught me how to run with one leg, too. Ever since then, I’ve been very conscious that every race I’m in I might be the first runner with one leg someone sees. In China, where they push the physically challenged aside, or anywhere else, I know what my presence can mean. I’ve been there. One person changed a 7-year-old girl’s life.”

Marv Levy, Hall of Fame coach of Buffalo Bills: “My father. World War I vet. Outstanding athlete in the city of Chicago. He taught me everything. Taught me to respect people. Taught me to respect the game. And he taught me to be on time, which I always am. That might’ve been the best lesson I got from anyone.”

Derek MacKenzie, Florida Panthers captain: “The last few year(s), I’d say it’s getting to know Bobby Orr a little better. He’s one of the biggest names in hockey and seeing that he’s such a great person and personable guy. He’s the agent of (Aaron Ekblad) and lives down here. You watch how he does things for fans, always having a, time for people, always trying to promote the game. Things we all need to learn.”

Tyler Johnson, Heat guard: “When I tore my rotator cuff and Chris Bosh had his blood clots, we were out at the same time. When he started coming back to the game, we would watch film of half a game or whole game before that night’s game started. He’d ask what I saw in the game we watched without telling me what he saw. Then we’d watch it again and he’d tell me what he saw. What he saw was totally different than what I did, totally at a higher I.Q. than me. What it’s allowed me to do is when I go back and look at film, I’m not just looking at the result. I’m looking at the process and details. I might miss a shot at the end and I’d say, ‘That’s a bad shot.’ He’d say, ‘No, it’s a great shot, because you read the defense and set up your defender and this and that and you just missed the shot.’ It changed the way I started to look at the game.”

JoAnne Carner, Hall of Fame golfer: “In golf, there were several instructors. In life? Probably my husband was my most influential person. It helped my game, too. We always enjoyed ourselves. We could be happy by ourselves. He was great at getting out of very boring dinners or cocktail parties. I’d always feel embarrassed. Then, when I got away, I decided it was a great idea. He taught me how, sometimes, you’ve got to take care of yourself. And that means it’s important to say, ‘No,’ sometimes.“

Wayne Ellington, Heat guard: “Roy Williams. I learned a lot about how to be a professional in college. The day-to-day work habits. The values. The approach. I learned the things you have to put into the game to get something out of a game. He instilled them in me.“

Jeff Conine, former Marlins outfielder: “One of the most impactful things said to me was when I got called up (to the major leagues). I’m playing first base. Dave Winfield comes to first base. I think he was with the Yankees at the time. I’m thinking, ‘Holy crap, it’s Dave Winfield and he’s talking to me.’ He knew I just got called up and congratulated me. He said, ‘It’s hard to get here, but it’s tougher to stay. You never, ever stop making adjustments. Those guys trying to get you are always making adjustments to get you out, and you’ve got to keep making adjustments.’ I thought that was a great lesson. And it was true. I was tinkering with stuff until the day I retired.”

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