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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rick Majerus was a great coach who loved being naked

I never knew Rick Majerus, who died on Saturday at age 64, but I can tell you that he was a great coach who loved to be naked.

Majerus played college ball at Marquette, and went on to be an assistant coach and head coach for his alma mater. He was also an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, and then a head coach at Ball State, Utah, and eventually St. Louis. He took the 1997-1998 Utah team featuring Andre Miller and Keith Van Horn to the Final Four. He took three different schools to the NCAA tournament. He took St. Louis down to the wire against Michigan State in the NCAA tournament in what turned out to be the last game he ever coached.

Majerus was known for his huge gut, his love of food that led to the gut, for living in a hotel room during his tenure at Utah, and for berating his players. There are also legendary stories about how crude he was.

This fantastic 2008 profile by S.L. Price in Sports Illustrated gets into a lot of it. We posted about it back in 2008, and we’ll share the great parts here again as a tribute to Majerus.

The first time, [Utah was] recruiting me, and after the game I went down to the [Utes’] locker room,” says Jeff Johnsen, who signed with Utah in 1996. “His hair’s everywhere and his sweater’s off and he’s just drenched, and he’s eating a whole pizza in front of me and he’s like, ‘You want any?’ I grab a piece, and then he starts undressing and gets in the shower and is still talking to me. It was funny. It was weird. How many grown, fat, naked men do you see when you’re a high school kid?”

Another player remembers Majerus calling him up to his hotel room on various occasions, and “he’d answer the door in his towel and I’d come in and the towel would fall off and it was like nothing had happened. He’d just be standing there buck naked. One year he had this lower-back injury, and he would have the trainer massage it with ultrasound. But instead of just lowering his pants a little bit, Majerus would pull his pants down to his ankles and sit in a chair and coach us. Sometimes he’d be like, ‘Guys, bring it in, take a knee.’ We’d come in, and we’re just like, No way this is happening.”

Price also wrote about a time Majerus whipped out his member on Michael Doleac. That story is below.

Yet there have been instances, with even his favorite players, in which Majerus’s behavior was decidedly odd. Doleac spent his first three years at Utah shell-shocked by Majerus’s tirades, his knack for calling his players “c—-.” It didn’t help that once during the 1995-96 season Majerus got so desperate — to make a point, to lighten the mood — that he flashed his team. It was during a morning shootaround. Majerus kept telling Doleac that he needed to keep six inches between himself and his opponent in the post. When Doleac was caught shortly after leaning on his man, the coach erupted. ” ‘Jesus f—— Christ, Doleac! When a guy catches the ball in the post, you gap him six inches!’ ” Doleac recalls Majerus yelling. “Then he turns to the guys sitting on the baseline and says, ‘Six f—— inches,’ and he says, ‘the size of the average white d—!’ and pulls it out. That story spread like wildfire, but at the time it’s not funny. At the time you’re terrified.”

We recommend you read the entire profile from Price.

Deadspin added some other crude Majerus stories that are more disgusting and less humorous.

Since the love for Majerus was overflowing on Saturday, we’ve shared links of various tributes to the man below.

Bill Dwyre of the LA Times shares some great Majerus quotes, anecdotes [LA Times]

Doc Rivers, who got his nickname from Majerus, was emotional [Boston Herald]

A tribute from St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, whom Majerus inspired to overcome obesity [STLtoday.com]

A retrospective from USA Today on Majerus’ career [USA Today]

ESPN’s Andy Katz once set Majerus up on a date and had a good relationship with him [ESPN]

St. Louis University student reporter whom Majerus befriended shares his thoughts on Rick [The University News]

Roundup of tweets from those paying tribute to Majerus [Yahoo! Sports]

Stats, facts, anecdotes, and quotes from Majerus [CBS Sports]

And here’s Majerus working as an analyst for ESPN, saying he’s “not a big gay guy.”

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