He didn’t even know she was on the bench.
That was the laser focus St. Joseph’s University Head Basketball Coach Jimmy Lynam had the day his Hawks knocked off Ray Meyer and #1 DePaul in the 3rd round of the 1981 NCAA Basketball Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
Skip Dillard, an 85% free throw shooter, misses both. Lonnie McFarlan, who according to sources never met a shot he didn’t like, took a pass in the corner from Bryan Warrick. As the clock ticked 3… 2… 1 he found a wide open John Smith underneath for the lay-in that stunned the basketball world and put Lynam on the road to the NBA.
And then it happened.
A hysterical and crying brunette with long hair and longer legs jumped the prancing Lynam as he waltzed the Flyers’ floor in a delirious pirouette.
In a game not usually known for its hugs, it is arguably the most famous one in college basketball history.
Dei Lynam had begged her way to the tournament by staying at her grandmother’s home and then took the place of an injured Hawks player so she could have a front row seat. Her Dad, Jimmy, and Mom, Kay, weren’t going to let the kids go.
Aggressive as a full court press for sure. But that has always been her style.
The following year she was working the boom microphone for the Portland Trailblazers telecasts when she annoyed her Dad’s boss at the time, Head Coach Dr. Jack Ramsey.
When Ramsey repeatedly shoved the intruding mic away and shouted to the then 15-year old Deidre to keep it out of the huddle, her response was to stick it back in there and tell Ramsey, “You do your job and I’ll do mine.”
It is that type of tenacity that helped land her current position, where she shares the Comcast SportsNet stage with her father as they break down the Sixers as analysts for the network.
But, if you think her famous name helped her shimmy-shake into the position, think again. Dancing may be a Lynam strong suit, but she earned her stripes the old fashioned way.
It wasn’t easy for Dei when her Dad decided to abandon his Philadelphia roots and leave to be an assistant in Portland, Oregon. Dei was just a sophomore in high school, and the transition could be termed as “challenging.”
A fair basketball player in her day at Cardinal O’Hara (PA) High School, she had to prove herself as a player all over again in the great Northwest at Lakeridge High School in Oregon.
So she played the game, and worked the Portland sidelines in her spare time.
After a couple of Division II offers to play hoops, she decided to abandon that plan and head to UCLA to study psychology.
After graduation, she got into the broadcasting business. Not the glamour anchor job you might think a girl with a recognizable name would be handed, but on a production crew in L.A.
She then went to work for super-agent and Philadelphia native Arn Tellem doing administrative work, and it was there she began to make her connections in the sports world that would eventually launch her on-air broadcasting career.
“I’ve never been one to let grass grow under my feet,” Lynam says. “I’ve always been looking for the next challenge.”
An anchor position with KCAL opened up, and she got the call from producer Joe Fowler. It happened to be the day that Loyola Marymount and Philadelphia native Hank Gathers died. That story consumed much of her first day.
She went on to the NBA Network as an editor/producer in 1991, the same year she married Tim Riviere. (They now have two boys: Max, 9 and Beau, 7). In 1992 her marriage became commuter when she accepted a weekend sports anchor job in Madison, Wisconsin. “Stu Jackson was the basketball coach, and Barry Alvarez was the football coach then. Despite the brutal cold it was a great time for me there,” she explains.
1994 brought another change as a main sports anchor in Cincinnati, Ohio for WCPO.
But in 1997 she got the call from the fledgling Comcast Sportsnet asking her to be a general reporter and anchor. She jumped at the chance to be closer to her family and husband.
“Getting the chance to work with Dei at Comcast is really special,” Jimmy Lynam says. “She knows her stuff and is a real pro.”
Lynam is very optimistic when asked about the current state of the Sixers.
“Sam Hinkie had to take a flyer on [Joel] Embiid and he did. Who else had that much potential?” she asks. “Okafor may be the best player in this draft. Noel is a great defender with a huge upside. If they get another good guard or two I can see a bright future for this team. The fans and the city deserve it.”
You’re right, Dei. Philly does deserve the success. And I can see a day in the not too distant future when there might be some dancing and hugging in the streets celebrating a championship season.
Dancing and hugging, you may remember, are traits all too familiar to Jimmy and Dei Lynam.