The 10 Biggest CBB Stories of 2012 — #5: Rick Majerus Passes AwayPosted by Chris Johnson on December 29th, 2012
Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
College basketball gave us plenty of memorable moments and stories in 2012. After sorting through the main headlines, we’ve come up with the 10 most consequential items and, for the sake of maintaining publishing sequence symmetry, releasing two per-day over the next five days to lead into the New Year. It was an excellent year for the sport, though I can’t promise you won’t regret reliving at least one or two of the choices. In any case, here’s to summing up a great year and to hoping that 2013 is better than the 365 days that preceded it.
The outpouring of nostalgic literature produced in the immediate aftermath of Rick Majerus’ passing bore a common theme. Everyone had a personal anecdote to relate, a unique encounter that spoke louder than general platitudes and standard obituary prose. For some, the stories dealt with Majerus’ shameless discussion of personal toils with health issues. Others described his astounding disregard for normative comportment – Majerus would often receive guests in his hotel residence with nothing but a towel cloaking his massive figure – or the wacky recruiting tactics, or the borderline obsessive eagerness to talk hoops at all times. The post-mortem compendium of Majerus remembrances painted a picture of a basketball coach, teacher of the game and man whose underlying trait was an adherence to the obscure and the outlandish, and a resistance to the conventional.
Mixed in with the crazy stories was an undying respect for Majerus’ pure basketball knowledge and his in-game strategic wizardry. Majerus left us as one of the sport’s all-time great tacticians. An inability to control personal temptation ultimately lead him astray of the game he loves, but Majerus will be mostly remembered not for the way he left us, but for how he imparted his boundless reservoir of hoops wisdom to mold so many young players and the game more broadly. The negative aspects of Majerus’ coaching tenure – the way he reportedly demeaned and berated players, even resorted to physical abuse – were not overlooked, but that’s only a fraction of his overwhelmingly positive legacy.
The Majerus moment of 2012 invariably draws back to the NCAA Tournament, where he nearly led Saint Louis to a third-round upset of one-seed Michigan State. Afterward, in an emotional meeting with the press (seen above), senior forward Brian Conklin poured his emotions into a heart-warming speech that captured the essence of Majerus’ genuine love for his players. Utah’s decision to hang Majerus’ trademark white sweater in the rafters was a unique tribute to commemorate the death of a unique figure.