I’m over in St. Louis, covering Kansas as it prepares to play North Carolina State tonight in the Midwest Regional.
But I’m not the only Bobby (my mother called me by that name) Lutz here. One of North Carolina State’s North Carolina assistant basketball coach Bobby Lutz. That's Lootz. assistant coaches shares the name.
And I’ve got to tell you, it’s not that easy of a name to live with.
My birth name is Robert. But the only person who has ever called me “Robert” was my Aunt Phyllis. And I never tried to correct her because she scared me to death.
Anyway, my name has forever been mispronounced. I get it. Most think it’s “Lutz,” with a short U. As in, “Luhtz.” But it’s not, it’s Lutz with a long U. As in “Lootz.”
Bobby Lutz, the North Carolina assistant and formerly the head coach for 12 years at Charlotte, feels my pain. When I caught up to him outside the Wolfpack’s locker room before their short practice at the Edward Jones Dome on Thursday, he noticed my media credential, on which I’m referred to as “Robert Lutz.”
He wasn’t going to say anything, instead answering questions about his coaching career and being fired at Charlotte and hooking on for a season at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg before joining the staff of new NC State coach Mark Gottfried this season.
Finally, I just had to ask whether he has encountered the same frustration with his name as I have with Former professional tennis standout Bob Lutz. mine. Being that they’re close to being the same, I figured he had.
“I’ve been called ‘Luhtz’ more than I care to count,” he said. “But I’ll also say that I’ve been called worse names.”
Lutz, who is from Catawba, N.C., will be 54 in April. So he’s three years younger than me. I studied his face closely – probably too closely – but didn’t see any family resemblance.
I envy him because he’s never had to grapple with the whole Robert-Bob-Bobby thing. He said he’s always been Bobby and that’s the name on his birth certificate. Same for his father, another Bobby Lutz.
The other “Bob Lutz’s” I know of include the former tennis player, now 64, who won 43 doubles titles during the 1960s and 1970s while teaming with Stan Smith. That Bob Lutz was the No. 7-ranked tennis player in the world in 1972 and a graduate of Southern California. Chrysler chairman Bob Lutz. And there’s Chrysler chairman Bob Lutz, 80, who has a lot of money. None of the Lutz’s in my family have a lot of money.
Both of those guys, however, pronounce their last names, “Luhtz.” They got it all wrong.
Even today, after all this time, only about half of the people pronounce my name correctly. Most of the time I just let it go. It’s not, after all, that big of a deal.
But it was nice to encounter a guy who pronounces Lutz the way my family pronounces Lutz. It’s not the most charming name out there. There’s no rhythm to it, it’s kind of rough sounding. I’ve been Lutz the klutz more times than you can imagine. But I persevere and I wear my name proudly. We’re a small club, we Bob Lutzes. But we’re proud and you don’t want to mess with us.
Bobby Lutz and I get it.