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Cal basketball Coach Mike Montgomery reveals he had cancer

October 28, 2011 |  4:54 pm

Cal3A month ago, Cal Coach Mike Montgomery was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

But he showed up at the Pacific 12 Conference's men's basketball media day at L.A. Live on Friday, when he revealed his illness, cancer free.

"So that's good news," the 64-year-old said with his trademark dry humor.

Still, it was a gloomy time when he found out. 

"Yeah, we didn't have a lot of parties around the house," he said. "It wasn't a real exciting time. I mean, it's scary. It's scary. Anybody that's been through it or had something, you go from being relatively on top of your game to being in charge of everything, to no longer being in charge. It could have gone the other way."

He said the timing of when doctors discovered his illness was extrmely fortunate.  

"[The doctor] said, 'Three months ago, we wouldn't have found this. Six months from now, you'd be done,' " Montgomery said.

The coach said he won't have any physical limitations for the upcoming season.

"I'm a 100% good to go now," he said. "I may continue to be a pain in your [rear] from now on."

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez said the team feels closer to Montgomery. 

"We didn't really have much of a connection outside of basketball, but he opened up a little bit more, so I think that helped us to relate with him more," Gutierrez said. 

To which Montgomery said, "I'm glad that this happened so that Jorge knows I'm human now.  That wasn't necessarily the way I would have chosen, but ..."

Even if other coaches are tired of competing against his teams, they're certainly glad to see Montgomery, a four-time league coach of the year, back and healthy.  

"He's hard to like, but I actually like him. When I was doing his surgery, he was cracking jokes the entire time, so I know it came out well, because I took care of him." USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said, laughing.

"But on a serious note, it's great to see him healthy.  He's got a good team.  He's a great coach, and they're going to be a handful to deal with."


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-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: California Coach Mike Montgomery takes part in Pac-12 Media Day in Los Angeles on Friday. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire