In addition to newfound fame and his first career NCAA tournament win, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter will take another keepsake with him whenever the Panthers' postseason run comes to an end.
He is keeping the rolling blue office chair he tumbled off Thursday while celebrating his son's game-winning jump shot to topple third-seeded Baylor in the round of 64 in the NCAA tournament's West Regional.
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"That chair has more protection than the president of the United States right now," Hunter told reporters in Jacksonville on the eve of his team's round-of-32 matchup with sixth-seeded Xavier. "I want that chair back. I don't know where they got it from, but that chair, it will stay with me for the rest of my life. Whenever we leave, I'm taking that chair with me. Win, lose or draw, that chair is going to be in my house with me the rest of my life."
By now, most know the story of why Hunter can't bark orders while pacing the sideline this week the way he normally would. The Georgia State coach tore an Achilles tendon celebrating the Panthers' win in the Sun Belt title game on Sunday and cannot comfortably stand for more than a few minutes. Though Hunter tried seven or eight different chairs, including one specially made for people with Achilles injuries, this old blue office chair that Georgia State's trainer brought him proved to be the best option.
The chair became synonymous with Georgia State's postseason run because of Hunter's fall. It has its own Twitter handle (@RonHunterschair). It was part of R.J. Hunter's reenactment video of the fall. And apparently it's now a subject of superstition for Ron Hunter.
"R.J. actually got in a little trouble because he actually tried to sit in the chair," Ron Hunter said. "No one sits in the chair, including R.J., the wife, seniors. That's my chair. That's one thing -- I don't get a lot out of this. I think I got one goody bag from the NCAA since I've been here, but I'm taking that chair with me."
The elder Hunter's newfound love for the chair is ironic because he was uncomfortable sitting in it during the early stages of Thursday's game. He actually blamed his team's early deficit in part having to get used to sitting instead of standing.
"I've never sat down my entire life in coaching," Hunter said. "That's not who I am, and I couldn't bark out the signals like I wanted. I couldn't get comfortable. ... I didn't want this to be difficult for the players. I can sit down if it's just for me, but they're used to their coach coaching a certain way, saying certain things. I think you could tell they were turning and looking and didn't see me at a certain spot."
Hunter also revealed Friday that he cracked the cast on his left leg during his infamous fall. He's fine with getting the cast removed, but nobody is touching his chair.
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