Rick Majerus’ funeral took place on Saturday at the Church of the Gesu at Marquette, the Jesuit school where Majerus began his coaching career as a student assistant to Al McGuire. In attendance were hundreds of fans, friends and former players, many of these people their to acknowledge a man who was a great influence in their lives. Majerus was 517-216 over a 25-year career at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and St. Louis, but will be remembered for more than just wins and losses.
Many fans can visualize the portly coach wearing a sweater on the sidelines of the basketball court looking like he was ready to eat one of his players for missing a defensive rotation. What many average fans do not know or acknowledge is that Majerus was one of the kindest coaches in the game. Colleagues tell stories of him hand writing them letters after family members passed away or when their child was born. Majerus has a reputation for being hard to work with, but that is because he was demanding not because he was a jerk. Majerus cared about people as much as he did food.
“I don’t think I would be the coach of the Celtics or a lot of other things if Rick was not in my life, if Rick had never come in my life,” Doc Rivers said in an interview posted on Marquette’s website. “He gave me great love, great attention, great tough love. He made me grow up. He made me a better person and a better player.” Rivers, the head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics flew in to attend the funeral and then immediately had to fly back to Boston for a game that night. Making that kind of effort shows the kind of impact Majerus had on River’s life. Others in attendence included former star players Keith Van Horn, Andre Miller and Michael Doleac.
Majerus was the type of coach who did things his way. He never recruited the “big name” players, he chose jobs to make sure he was near his mother, would live in hotels for long periods of time and didn’t care what people thought about him. What he did care about was his family and his players, something all coaches should prioritize as well.