Warts and all, Rick Majerus was a treasure – ESPN (blog)

Warts and all, Rick Majerus was a treasure - ESPN (blog)

nlarge
Frank Victores/US PresswireRick Majerus revived both his coaching
career and the Billikens.

Rick was a complex character. I never worked for him. I didn’t play
for him. I wasn’t his beat writer. If you were any of those three, you
probably had a much different relationship with him. I’m not sure why
we hit it off so well. But we did.

No other coach was as much of a mentor to me as a young scribe as
Rick was. I was a hoop junkie growing up, playing basketball
throughout my childhood, going to every camp I could and playing until
my senior year in high school.

I covered the sport in college at the University of Wisconsin. I went
to countless practices. But it was Rick who really helped me delve
even deeper into the nuances of the game when I got to know him as a
young reporter at the Albuquerque Journal. The relationship continued
when I was at the Fresno Bee. He had an incredible basketball mind,
constantly tinkering with how to defend and play.

We used to talk — boy, did we talk — late into the night about
basketball, family, life. He talked about his mom a lot. He was such a
devoted son to his mother, Alyce, who died a year ago. Rick told me
one of the reasons he took the SLU job over any other was its
proximity to his mother in Wisconsin.

There were so many conversations late at night that there were times
he or I would practically fall asleep while talking. This mostly
occurred prior to me getting to ESPN, while I was still a relatively
young newspaper reporter.

We’re not supposed to get too close to subjects. Rick wasn’t always
pleased with what I wrote or said. There were times he was angry with
me. That’s to be expected. But there was a mutual respect. He
understood what I did, and because we had talked so often, he didn’t
hold a grudge. We moved on.

Rick introduced me to a number of coaches in the sport, along with
intriguing people such as Jon Huntsman Sr. He even included me in one
of the more bizarre pickup games ever. I was at the 1997 Final Four,
one year before he would coach Utah to within five minutes of the
national title. He said he needed me for a fourth in a two-on-two game
with Kevin Costner and some guy who played Urkel (Jaleel White). I
guarded Costner. He guarded Urkel. I can’t remember whether we won or
lost, but I do know I had two turnovers that Rick wasn’t pleased with
during the game. More than anything, we had fun.

There were so many meals, too. Everyone who dined with Rick has a
meal story. And if you drove with him, well, you know that was a scary
thrill.

I would finish my story after a game against Utah and usually meet up
with Rick at some late-night diner in Salt Lake City or Albuquerque or
Fresno. I would go to hear the stories and the breakdown of the game,
and just to be entertained. There was one time we were talking in the
lobby of a hotel in Salt Lake and a Domino’s pizza delivery man walked
in for another guest. Rick offered him $100 for the pizza, but only if
I would share. I told him I couldn’t eat pizza at 1 a.m. So he pass

Warts and all, Rick Majerus was a treasure - ESPN (blog)

Source by http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/blog/_/name/katz_andy/id/8700851/warts-all-rick-majerus-was-treasure-ncb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s