As a proud alumnus of Michigan State University, it always worries me to hear rumors about our fabled men’s basketball coach, Tom Izzo.
Izzo is a “Michigan man” through and through, and his accomplishments as the Spartans head basketball coach have elevated him into the upper echelon of collegiate sports. No longer is Izzo just a coach on a hot streak; he is a definite commodity.
This is why he has been entertained by other schools, such as Kentucky and Oregon, about filling in head coaching vacancies. Izzo never seems to flinch because he understands the program he has built and how hard it is to keep it level.
This isn’t the first time NBA general managers have salivated for Izzo, and it surely won’t be the last if he decides to forgo the opportunity. A deal has been rumored to be offered, while other reports suggest the Cavaliers are merely just interested in courting Izzo to take over Mike Brown’s old job. Either way, it’s all too real for Spartans fans.
Izzo has a god-like status at Michigan State. Six Final Fours in 12 years and one national championship will achieve such high recognition, and a statue will be built for the man down the road, just like a statue of Magic Johnson which currently stands in front of the Breslin Center.
But it’s more than just all the victories and all the Final Fours. It’s about the attitude he openly expresses and encourages.
He preaches about working hard and not ever giving up on a play, which is probably why the Spartans are among the NCAA leaders in rebounding year after year.
He talks about making the right decisions, on and off the court, a sign as to why Michigan State basketball has high graduation rates and less off the court drama.
And he's all about accountability. He wants his players to support each other rather than point fingers. He understands the importance of a selfless team and how it pays dividends later on, not only in athletics but in life in general.
Someday, Izzo will want a new challenge, and the NBA is as high as it gets when it comes to professional basketball. But with a LeBron James situation as unclear as a stormy summer night, it just gives Izzo more reason to stay at the place where his legacy was born.
Plus, there is only one “Izzone” in the basketball world, and it belongs at Michigan State.