McGuire's passing a huge loss
Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
Al McGuire was one of the real originals in coaching. He wasn't just a Hall of Famer
on the sidelines; he was a Hall of Famer as a person. For people who didn't know him, they missed so much.
Why was Al so special? He was a regular guy, so genuine in his feelings, a
very caring, beautiful, loving person. He was never enamored with stardom,
even though he was great at everything he did.
Al used to light up a room with his smile. He had so many similiarities to my
buddy, Jimmy V. They were both fun guys to be around.
I'll never forget the first time I met Al. I was completely in awe of him. I
was coaching at the University of Detroit, and as a guy from New Jersey, I
knew all about his career. I had heard about Al my entire life, going back to
his playing days at St. John's with his brother, Dick. Al was a scrappy
player, a hustler and a battler.
In the 30 seconds after I met him, I knew he was a regular, down to earth guy.
He would like everyone to believe that all he did was put on a carnation and
strut out to the court, doing no coaching whatsoever. That's far from the
Al knew how to orchestrate from the sidelines with the best of them. He was
absolutely brilliant at game management. He knew how to substitute, how to
motivate, how to get the most out of his talent. His teams always played with
great patience and an understanding of the game and its situations. Their
shot selection was excellent at all times.
He was a star on TV because he connected with the people. He connected with
every Joe out there. Al was so much fun and that translated to the fans. He
was so original with his terminology and many of his phrases are repeated
He was a blue collar guy, a hard worker, truly down to earth.
Al went through tough times recently. In speaking to his wife, Pat, the last
two weeks were a real struggle as he battled leukemia (McGuire's brother, Dick, denied reports that McGuire died of leukemia).
I will really miss him. All of the fans will miss him.
Al was a Hall of Famer in basketball. More importantly, he was a Hall of
Famer in the game of life.
|Al McGuire took Marquette to the national title in '77.|