I remember how I felt when Walter Payton died. Shocked, sad, mad and all in between. A legend had passed. Someone that perhaps only comes along once in a lifetime. We saw his pride, his work ethic, his sense of humor, his courage! I met “Sweetness”; he was a rock, physically and mentally.
I never met ” Stormin Norman” Van Lier, but like many, I felt I knew him. He was a pretty good basketball player…like Brian Piccolo was a pretty fair football player. When the movie, Brian’s Song came out, an entire new perspective on him was revealed.
When you hear the accolades now laid out about Norm, they simply overwhelm you. They come from the superstar competitors of his playing days. They come from present day journalists who worked with him. Mostly, they come from the common man on the street, that Norm Van Lier went out of his way, to feel comfortable and significant.
The man had PASSION in everything he did! He was the genuine article! Was he always a saint, not exactly? Did he have faults? Sure, because when you possess the kind of enthusiasm that he had, there’s bound to be confrontation.
Here’s why Norm Van Lier really is a Saint! I believe: The “Man Above” gives us examples of which we can follow, like being upright and trustworthy, ethical and knowledgeable. Passing these skills along to others and make those lives more endearing.
The only way you find these icons is not through their gloating and boasting. It’s through the friendships they develop. Norm had that gift and he was willing to share it with everyone.
You are going to hear a lot of amazing stories about #2. Some of them will just blow you away. The man had heart! Norm Van Lier may have been a Bull on the court. Off the court, a spirit of which now is residing in heaven.