"Everything reminds you of a story," he said. "... Let's see. I always liked to have a guy I could point to, you know, and he didn't mind. You could tell him that he's doing OK, or you could tell him, 'You're not doing OK.' "
Stewart said he still is a coach, just with a different mission. He said he had not yet thought about how it would feel to go to Missouri basketball games and pass his own statue, and then he began talking about his family. He said this summer, his two grandsons stayed with him while waiting to join the Navy.
"We had some wonderful meetings," said Stewart, who won 634 games as Missouri's coach. "Some of them really pleasant, others -- really educational."
This was how the afternoon went for the old man from Shelbyville. He gave minutes-long answers to every question, often talking his way into tangents from different decades. He said he learned from former Mizzou athletic director and football coach Dan Devine to stall reporters, because the second and third questions are tougher than the firsts.
"I talked so long, I forgot what the question is," he said at one point, inside a room not far away from a basketball court that also bears his name. "What was the question? Oh wait, that brings me to something else."
Stewart didn't say if he had imparted that lesson on Missouri's current coach, Cuonzo Martin, but the man whose career Martin might strive to emulate at Missouri believes the new guy has "passed a lot of tests already."
"I told Cuonzo, you know what, I've had a lot of people, Missouri people, say they've spent some time talking to him, and their impression was extremely good," Stewart said. "But I said, 'I'm going to tell you something. You've passed a bigger test than that..."
That bigger test was meeting Stewart's wife and daughter, and Stewart said "after all these years," he trusts their opinion of a coach. A version of the coach they know best now stands outside Mizzou Arena.
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