A few years ago, there were a lot of folks who figured someday Lynn Archibald, Shawn Bradley and Kenny Roberts would get together.
That moment finally came Wednesday night at the Marriott Center though under different circumstances than some envisioned.Archibald was there in familiar territory, on the visitors bench, wearing a gray sports coat, blue shirt and maroon tie. He is an assistant coach under coach Bill Frieder, who left Michigan just before his team won the national championship two years ago.
Bradley and Roberts, of course, are starters for BYU, which suffered an 82-74 loss to the Sun Devils.
Archibald was the head coach at Utah while Bradley and Roberts were budding prep stars at Emery and Bingham high schools. Archibald had both at his Utah camp several times and was considered to have a good shot at recruiting each to Utah.
Although none of the three will discuss it now, who knows what might have happened had Archibald stayed at Utah and Roger Reid not taken over at BYU after the 1988-89 season.
"That's history. The past is behind me," said Archibald. Soon after Archibald was let go at Utah, there were rumors that he might be hired at BYU as an assistant, thereby giving BYU the inside track on Bradley, Roberts and Ryan Cuff of Richfield (presently on an LDS mission). Neither Archibald nor Reid have ever confirmed the rumor, but it may have been more than wishful thinking on behalf of BYU fans. But BYU got all three players anyway without any extra help from Archibald.
After leaving, Archibald pretty much cut all ties with Utah. "Once you leave, you leave. I've had ex-players call and received wedding announcements, but I don't think it's right to stay too close (to the program)."
He does follow the exploits of his former players through the papers and has been pleased by the success of players he recruited such as Walter Watts and Josh Grant.
"Utah was good for me," he said. "You can't judge it because of one or two individuals."
Archibald has enjoyed his short time in Tempe. His oldest son, Damon, is a 6-3 guard averaging 20 points a game for the 4th-ranked team in the state. Le Anne, a high school junior, played for the state runner-up volleyball team. Beau, an eighth-grader, is playing for an undefeated team this year. "It's been nice, it's been really good for the kids," he said.
After Wednesday's game, Roberts was the first to greet Archibald with a handshake, followed by other local collegians such as Gary Trost and Steve Schreiner. Then Bradley came and put his long arm around Archibald and the two talked for a moment before heading to their respective locker rooms.
"Shawn, he's a tremendous player. He's going to get better and better," said Archibald. "And Roberts, I'm just as proud of him as anybody."
So did Archibald maybe just once during the game envision himself coaching Bradley and Roberts as he watched them run up and down the court in their blue and white uniforms?
"Not at all," he said. "Things worked out for the best for me. You've got to look forward, not back. I've got a lot of life ahead of me."