John Saunders

By Richard kent
Updated: April 23, 2006

CONNETICUTT—John Saunders really cares.Not about his fat paycheck from ESPN,his celebrity status or all the really famous people he has met.He cares about James Valvano,his former broadcast partner for college basketball on ESPN.

Saunders, is host of Sports Reporters and has done many basketball,hockey and baseball games for ESPN and other far more local networks.He was wildly critical of the Detroit Pistons altercation in the stands a few years back and gained a great deal of national recognition for that.He is a member of the IMG speakers bureau and gets a whole lot of money for speaking at events nationally.And he is in big demand.
Friday night Saunders donated his time as he always does a few times a year to host a Jimmy V. event.This one was at the Pier in New York City.He will do the same thing this Summer at a golf tournament in North Carolina and will be back in New York in October for another gala.
Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim were both honored for their battles with prostate cancer.Dicky V. was one of the speakers.So was Bob Lloyd, a former Rutgers All American,a great friend of Jimmy right to the end and more importantly to him the head of the Jimmy V. Foundation.
But it was really Saunders who stole the show as he does every year.Sometimes he has trouble controlling the tears when speaking about his relationship with V.He remembers 1993 like it was yesterday.He did some shows with Jimmy,was there when his friend gave the very moving speech at the ESPY’s in New York and was at the funeral a few days later.
It is tough to tell really what type of person Saunders is from his television stints.He doesn’t talk about himself and is the consummate professional.The game is more important than him.It is a different for Saunders at a Jimmy V. event. You know that he cares.You know that he is speaking from the heart.And you know that he will do anything for the cause.The anecdotes change from year to year but one constant that is there each year is the caring.You can see it in the eyes of Jim’s former wife Pam when Saunders takes to the podium.
The event last week raised over a half million dollars for cancer research.It always does.It will again next April.The names will change.There will be a different honoree.One constant will be Saunders.He will be back as the emcee.He won’t walk away with anything but knowing that he helped raise money again to help fight the battle.Instead he will help the cause as he promised his friend he would a few days before he died 13 year ago.And he has been true to his word for years.