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Lute Olson Suffering From Depression

Oct 28, 2008 – 4:50 PM
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Chas Rich

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The saga of Lute Olson's retirement was indeed medically related as Dick Vitale revealed when he broke the news on ESPN. Contrary to the very sanitized press release of Arizona, the reason was indeed medical. Lute Olson is suffering from depression brought about by a stroke he suffered sometime last year.
Lute Olson had a small stroke in the frontal part of his brain in the past year, which resulted in severe depression and changes in judgment, his doctor said today.

Dr. Steven Knope said his motor function "was perfectly normal." In the past few weeks, Knope began to treat what appeared to be depression, to which he did not respond.

Knope said the stroke resulted in "uncharacteristic behavior" over the past few months. He said he believes the stroke occurred some time in the past year.

"He is frankly devastated," Knope said of the 74-year-old Olson. "This is something that is simply beyond his control."
This is truly a sad thing. It also explains a lot. Starting with the abrupt retirement, to Olson's sometimes questionable behavior over the last year.
There was the whole strange conflict with interim coach Kevin O'Neill after O'Neill was named the successor-in-waiting of Olson. Olson reportedly was criticizing O'Neill behind his back. Getting rid of O'Neill. The complete overhaul of the coaching staff when he returned -- including terminating Miles Simon, even as Olson denied any culpability. Even the strange recruiting violation.

The very contentious news conference in April, that Olson recently apologized for his behavior. The divorce from his second wife that ended up with the two airing things out on local morning radio.

The anger at Jarryd Bayless' agent when the freshman opted for the NBA Draft. Taking shots at a couple recruits who asked out of their letter of intent or decided to play in Europe.

All of this from a coach that had done everything right for so long, and had managed to keep much of his personal life just that. Everything seemed to invert.

Maybe it doesn't neatly explain everything, but it makes sense of a lot more. Here's hoping that Lute Olson can get the help and support he needs. Despite how bleak it can be, there are treatments and options that can help.

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