I had the misfortune of attending Marquette University from 1983 through 1987, a time when the basketball program took a tumble that didn’t end for another decade — long before Dwyane Wade, Novak, or any of the other recent pros from the program made the school a factory for NBA talent.
It was shameful, but the city of Milwaukee rejoiced when Majerus was fired in 1984 after a so-so season — the kind of so-so season that was unacceptable for a guy who had to follow in the footsteps of Hank Raymonds and Al McGuire, two legends from whom he learned everything there is to know about coaching, and two guys who set the bar so high that almost no one could jump that high again.
He was replaced by Bob Dukiet, who charmed everyone at his introductory news conference by playing the Marquette theme song on the piano. From there, it was all downhill for Dukiet — but not so for Majerus, who passed away from heart failure Saturday at 64.
A great coach, basketball mind, and personality passed away tonight and will be missed by the whole BBall world! RIP Rick Majerus. #MU83-86
— Steve Novak (@stevenovak20) December 2, 2012
Majerus deserved better than what he got at Marquette, but better days awaited him — many of them excerpted below in a great column by Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN. He became a beloved figure in Utah, he was an assistant with the Jazz before moving back to the college ranks, and you would find a hard time finding anyone who would ever say a single negative thing about him.
Too bad that wasn’t the case in ’84 when he lost his job. And shame on everyone in Milwaukee who cheered his firing back then.