Early in Al's career at Marquette the Warriors beat DePaul. There had been a fight in the game and Pat Smith, the Marqutte center and one of DePaul's top players were both thrown out of the game. Ray Meyer complained that his player being tossed was a greater loss because Pat Smith couldn't throw a basketball in the ocean if he was standing on the beach. A few days later there was a picture in the Milwaukee Journal (in the middle of winter) with Pat Smith standing on the beach of Lake Michigan with a basketball and McGuire pointing him towards the lake. It was very funny.
A man of the first resort
A message from an MU grad ('68) and season ticket holder in Al's days:
Favorite quote: "That kid is faster than a priest at a 12:15 mass in a resort town."
Favorite moment: Last home game he ever coached. He turned it on in the second half and had the Milwaukee Arena rocking one more time.
Worst moment: Attending the first home game after he had reitred and not having him there to work the crowd into the game. It was "just" basketball.
Observation: At alumni or social events after a game, Al refused to talk about the contest or basketball. He was on to other interests and issues.
Comment: I am disturbed how some reporters/interviewees have told stories that seem to involve alcohol and Al. Other than his involvement with his parents' bar, he was nothing more than a minimal social drinker and did not use liquor to relax or escape pressures. He is perhaps the most charming man my wife has ever met. He was tall and handsome and his smile and quick wit won her over within ten seconds of meeting him. We both will miss him and are deeply saddened by his suffering and passing.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Making a hoop dream come true
As a high school basketball player in 1992, I was extremely excited to be able to skip school and attend the NCAA tournament at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. My buddy and I got there early and took in the shootaround from the third row at center court. As the stands started to fill, we began to think we may be able to stay in the seats we picked. All the seats around us were occupied, but no one came to kick us out of ours. Our seats were right next to the aisle that the CBS broadcasters came down, and I was shocked when I turned to see Al McGuire looking at us. "Are those your seats?" he asked us. "No, sir, we were just hoping whoever had these seats wouldn't show up and we would get to stay here." He looked right at us and said, "Well those are my seats, and if anyone comes and tells you to move, you tell them that I said that they should find some different ones, cause you're staying right here!"
Without another word he when to press row and sat down, and my buddy and I could only say in amazement, "Thank you, Mr. McGuire." One more time, today, I would like to say "Thank you, Mr. McGuire!"
The road rose to meet him
Al McGuire once said that "sometimes you have to let the day come to you" (remarking that sometimes while riding his motorcycle to work, he would turn in the opposite direction from where he was headed). His motorcycle ride after the 1977 game. ... No matter what game he was covering, I made the time to listen to his play by play, which was a combination of Irish poet and parish priest.
A team with personality
One of my favorite quotes from Al was in the Greensboro, N.C. paper during the 1974 Final Four. Al said that, "A basketball team should reflect a coach's personality ... my teams are obnoxious."
Dancing days were many
When I hear the name Al McGuire, I instantly think of him dancing with the 1996 Syracuse Final Four team. I was just a freshman at Syracuse at the time and this hilarious broadcaster was dancing with John Wallace singing "The Cuse is in the House, Oh my God." It was a riot, but more importantly, Al McGuire showed how much he loved college basketball, the tournament and everything that surrounded it. He and the NCAA tournament experience go hand in hand for me.
Bird-Magic showdown was his best call
My favorite memory of Al was the 1979 championship game. It seemed that he was responding to the greatness of the game being played, and I can't remember him calling a game any better. He seemed to rise the the level of the game, and that game was the pinnacle of all games he did.
He loved getting up to keep the Irish down
As a Notre Dame fan, I certainly have memories of Coach McGuire. He reveled in beating the Irish in the pits that were the Old Fieldhouse and then the ACC. I remember him egging on the student body at games on more than one occasion. Despite the intense rivalry there always seemed to be a mutual respect.
As a broadcaster, he reminded all that it's a game, and fun. My roommate at ND worked at the student radio station and requested an interview with Coach McGuire and Billy Packer at the height of their popularity on NBC, thinking it was a long shot at best. Not only did they agree to do the interview, but was loose, friendly, funny and of course, fascinating throughout. You'll be missed, but no forgotten, Al.
And how about those wacky Marquette uniforms!
Remembering the Titan call
He coined the term "triplets" for the 1978 Arkansas Razorbacks basketball threesome of Ron Brewer, Sidney Moncrief and Marvin Delph. Reportedly, McGuire stood up and applauded when Brewer hit a clutch shot in the '78 West Regional final against Cal-State Fullerton.
Helping an irate Badger
The game was at the old Milwaukee Arena against bitter rival Wisconsin. The Badger coach, John Powless, was going berserk after getting a technical for protesting an obviously bad call. I was sitting in the second row at the end of the floor with the UW bench immediately to my left. I could see Al observing from the other end of the floor. When Al realized that Powless had lost it and was intent on harming the refs physically, Al raced down the floor, got himself between the refs and Powless, and started screaming at the refs himself. This gave Powless a moment to compose himself, and prevented what would have been a really ugly situation. I've never doubted that, despite the importance of the game, Al stepped in to save a fellow coach. Al McGuire was a class act with a unique perspective on life. We'll miss him.
He's the winner in this road race
It's a sad day around here, but like most Milwaukeeans, I'm glad Al made his home here. He was an accessible guy. You would see him all the time, walking down Wisconsin Avenue, riding his motorcycle, waving and smiling; "Hi, Al. How's it going?". The last time I saw him was at the finish line of his charity run for Children's Hospital. He didn't want it called Al's Run anymore and had the name changed to a corporate sponsorship. He thought, as the years went by, his name wouldn't have the impact the cause needed.
He's wrong, of course. No matter what you call it, it's still gonna be "Al's Run".
May it always be 'Butch Lee Time'
When I was the Chief Researcher at CBS Sports, the network brought Al back to work the NCAA Tournament. Needless to say, Al was among the kindest and most grateful people I have ever worked with.
Upon his induction into the Hall of Fame, I penned him a small note of congratulations. Shortly thereafter, I received a hand-written note of thanks from Al himself. Several years later, while producing Final Four coverage for ESPN Radio in Indianapolis, I invited Al to join Chuck Wilson and Todd Wright on our set in a hotel near the arena. Al went far out of his way to make sure he was there on time and was able to join his former assistant Rick Majerus on the air. It was a memorable segment to say the least. Al was a class act. One of the best. Now I know, there is a playground in the sky, complete with blacktop and optional metal nets hanging from the rims. Hopefully, it will always be "Butch Lee Time."
God bless you Al and rest in peace.
He's the 'mensch'
As a child of the 70s in Milwaukee, Al's Warriors and Kareem's Bucks ruled this town; as an adult of the past two decades, what has impressed me indelibly about Al McGuire has been his humanity; it's no surprise that he lent his name to one of the country's first fundraising 'fun runs' to benefit Children's Hospital in Milwaukee; it's no surprise that his former players still sought his counsel, friendship, and encouragement in their off-court endeavors years after his retirement; it's no surprise that his coaching proteges at Marquette (Hank Raymonds, Rick Majerus) are considered "player's coaches"; and in a time when swagger and strut are so commonplace in sports that the reaction to it is apathy, Al's first reaction to his crowning glory in 1977 were tears of humility.
Simply put, Al McGuire was a mensch. Humanity has lost more than basketball has in his passing.
A freshman orientation to remember
I liked his line, "The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores". He used it everytime a freshman made a bonehead play. And he got to use it a lot. I loved listening to Al. He'll be missed.
Film school days
I have two moments of Big Al. When I was in high schoool, he personally recruited Maurice Lucas from Schenley High. It was after a successful season at Marquette because I remembered seeing him on TV, a week or two later he was walking in the hallway of my school, and I thought that was so cool to see a national sports figure walking down the hallway of my high school. A couple of years later I ended up going to Milwaukee Area Technical College to study film. I requested an interview with Big Al. I made the arrangements through his staff and was granted permission for the interview
before the team started practice. I was running the film camera and one of my classmates interviewed him. He asked him two or three questions, and I rolled 100 feet of film. I ran out of film but he was still talking. I kept recording because I was using a seperate audio tape machine that was used with the film, I thought what the heck as long as I was recording. I didn't care if I ran out of film, I was still taping something. After the interview we set up in the upper part of the practice gym to shoot B-roll of the team practicing and a fight broke out. Coach Al just let them settle it among themselves. That was the year they lost to NC State in the Final Four. Wow, what a year it was.
Kevin T. Pugh
One day with Al
Back in 1992, I was a freshman at Villanova. He came there to give a motivational speech. The passion in his voice was unbelievable. You could tell how much he enjoyed basketball and how much he enjoyed his players when he coached. The one thing I remember most was how he recruited. He felt that every year you would go after one recruit. You would focus on one bigtime high school star. I think that he said that he got all but 1 or 2. I found that amazing. Back than I didn't know that much about him, but ever since I heard him speak I always wanted to hear all the games he called. I remember that last game he called and I remember Dick Enberg wishing him well when he first got sick. At a time like this, after reading that book Tuesdays with Morrie, that is probably the one person I would have liked to have spent my Tuesdays with.
Midland Park, NJ
Dancing on the scorer's table, twirling his jacket
I was freshman at Marquette and in the preseason I think we were ranked either No. 1 or No. 2. Jim Chones was our center and he was only a junior. We won our first two home games with ease and our first away game was at Memphis State. It was a tight game down to the wire. Chones fouled out with a minute or two to play. We had the ball down by one, with 30 seconds left and were trying to get it inside to our senior star Bob Lackey (The Black Swan).They were playing great defense and the crowd was really razzing us and Coach Al. With just a second to play someone launched a shot, I can't remember who and it swished home. We won by one and that place went dead silent. Coach Al jumped up on the scorer's table and was twirling his jacket over his head and yelling at the crowd. I've never seen anything like it. He was just like one of us kids. Sometimes I would watch a game that I have no interest in just because he was announcing. I will miss him dearly.
Pink elephant man
I loved when McGuire would talk about the "pink elephant" someone would see when they took a shot near the paint that ended up rushed, hurried or had 10 upfakes in it when they thought they felt a lurking 7-footer nearby. In reality the 7-footer would be out of the play or on the bench and the big "pink elephant" would appear in the heads of would-be shooters. He used to say that Patrick Ewing and Pervis Ellison would create a few of those. My friends and I still scream "pink elephant" in our adult recreation league, something that started on our CYO team when we were 12. I also remember Al dancing with the Orangemen and their run with the John Wallace team singing "the 'Cuse is in the house oh my God, oh my God." I guess he liked to dance because ESPN had a picture of him dancing with his team at midcourt at La Salle in an early 70's victory.
Thanks for the memories Al, you helped me love the game.
Time matters in Einstein move
I think of McGuire calling Notre Dame's David Rivers an "Einstein" for calling a timeout as he was falling out of bounds. Dick Enberg had a chuckle at that one. But from that moment on every player, regardless of level of play, always called timeout when falling out of bounds and gaining possession of the ball. Who knew how much that would influence the game of basketball?
David Mojica Jr.
Clawing his way to the top
This story has circulated among my friends for 20 years. Seems that the president, dean and athletic director of Marquette were determined to favorably impress Al McGuire during the recruiting process. Apparently, they contacted McGuire's friends before his visit to Milwaukee to find out his food preferences. Having been told that McGuire liked lobster, the recruiting team made sure that the designated dinner spot had lobsters available. Sure enough, McGuire reviewed the menu and selected the lobster. His hosts were pleased and proud. All was going very well. When the dinner was served, McGuire startled the waiter by pointing to his dinner and asking "What is this?" Suddenly, a palpable tension was present. The waiter, having been informed in advance of the special guest's preferences responded with confidence and sophistication as to impress his guest. "Mr. McGuire, that is a cull lobster. Sometimes when the lobsters are in the tank, they fight. This one lost a claw." Without hesitating one second, McGuire instructed the waiter to "take this one away and bring me the winner."
Sure seems like a good McGuire-ism.
King of Prussia, Pa.