Adam Weitsman and his $150,000 bet to Syracuse basketball

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Weitsman, a native of Owego, didn’t originally attend SU basketball games, but he started going to support Boeheim. He’s followed the team since then, investing his time and regularly asking questions — like changes in offensive strategy — to the Hall of Fame coach during postgame dinners.He’s followed the season, watching Syracuse drop back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden, and most recently, lose its first conference game to Georgia Tech. Weitsman marked Jan. 14 on his calendar to travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium.The morning of the Syracuse-Duke matchup, Weitsman wanted to get a quick morning workout with a couple of his friends he planned to go to the game with. As Weitsman began his workout, he was reminded of a story he read about SU recruiting target Isaiah Stewart.Stewart spent the bulk of his childhood in and out of Boys & Girls Clubs. It dawned on Weitsman that many young basketball players, like Stewart, go through the same programs. He wanted to help, contribute more than he already was.In between workouts, Weitsman ran the idea of pledging money toward Boys & Girls Clubs in three central New York areas to his friends. The bet: If Syracuse can defeat No. 1 Duke, he would donate $150,000.They loved his idea. Mid-workout, Weitsman posted the wager to Facebook. He knew it would pop up on multiple Syracuse basketball players’ feeds. Maybe it would add extra motivation.Courtesy of Adam WeitsmanHours before the game, Weitsman told Boeheim about the pledge. It was already circulating on social media, and his inbox reached triple-digit messages before tip-off. He broke the news to SU’s head coach in a restaurant under the team’s Marriott hotel. Boeheim was in game-mode, not expressing too much excitement because no team other than North Carolina had ever beaten a No.1-ranked Duke squad at Cameron Indoor Stadium.“I don’t think people thought Syracuse was going to win,” Weitsman said. “They were like, ‘That’s a nice gesture.’”Weitsman got to his seat, the closest row behind the Orange’s bench. Usually quiet at games, he was invested in every play, itching for SU to start fast. But the Orange didn’t, down 12-0 in the opening minutes.He tilted his head into Boeheim’s timeouts, listening and taking pictures of the scene. Weitsman yelled after every Syracuse bucket and got louder as SU fought back into the game. And while his phone still blew up, now total strangers clinging onto his challenge, Weitsman soon started to lose his voice.Down only a point at half, SU stayed with the Blue Devils as Tre Jones left the game, and Jack White missed all of his 10 shots. Frank Howard sped up, Tyus Battle took over the scoring reigns and Paschal Chukwu controlled the paint. Weitsman’s optimism grew, the possibility of his donation materializing. In overtime, Howard’s go-ahead steal and layup made him optimistic. And Chukwu’s putback dunk in the final minute made it a reality.“Didn’t feel it in the beginning,” Weitsman said. “But felt it all in the end.”He took to Facebook as the buzzer sounded and stayed around the stadium long after SU played. Usually grumpy following games, Weitsman’s friend, Boeheim, was in good spirits, Weitsman said.“Adam,” Boeheim said to him after the game. “The Boys (& Girls) Clubs are going to be really happy tomorrow.”— Senior Staff Writer Matthew Gutierrez contributed reporting to this story. Jim Boeheim waited for his pizza, his nerves still intact before Syracuse’s matchup against No. 1 Duke. On the other side of the Pizzeria Toro table, Adam Weitsman — who rarely talked basketball with his close friend — badgered SU’s head coach with pregame questions.The two regularly met before and after games at restaurants around Syracuse. Weitsman knew minimal information about basketball, and Boeheim appreciated the change. But midway through their conversation in North Carolina, Weitsman broke tradition.“You know what, I feel like today is different,” Weitsman said to Boeheim. “I think we’re going to win today.”Boeheim, who had remained stoic for most of the talk, widened his grin. Weitsman had added an incentive to a possible SU victory. If Syracuse could pull off a win, Weitsman promised to donate $50,000 to three Boys & Girls Clubs around central New York — Tioga, Binghamton and Syracuse facilities. He announced the $150,000 donation on Facebook hours before Monday’s game, which was later increased to $175,000.As Weitsman watched Syracuse surge past an early Blue Devils lead at Cameron Indoor Stadium, his post went viral, hitting a boom after SU won 95-91, in overtime.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Jim was telling me yesterday before the game that we were 17-point underdogs,” Juli Boeheim said. “But Adam believed in us.”Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorThough the Boeheim and Weitsman families consider themselves close friends, the two met in 2015 through a mutual business friend. Boeheim has raised millions for the family’s “Boeheim Foundation,” while Weitsman’s grandfather founded Tioga County’s Boys & Girls Club.They steered their personal conversations to families, local events and life philosophies. They bonded over Boeheim’s “foodie guy” attitude, testing different restuaraunts after basketball games.“It’s awesome for Jim,” Juli said. “To step away from basketball, it’s a breath of fresh air.” Published on January 15, 2019 at 10:05 pm Contact KJ: | @KJEdelman Commentslast_img read more