MILWAUKEE — He is the man who gave current Boston Celtics head coach “Doc” Rivers his name. He taught Marquette great Earl Tatum how to drive a car. But his ability to coach the game of basketball is what coaches and former players of Rick Majerus say he will be most remembered for.
Saturday, the former Marquette and Bucks coach was remembered during a funeral service at Milwaukee’s Gesu Catholic Church.
Majerus died last week from heart failure. He was 64 years old.
On Saturday, hundreds packed a church on the campus of University of Marquette campus. It was on this campus that Majerus attended high school, college and got his first coaching job. He was an assistant on the 1977 championship team before becoming head coach in 1983.
He would be an assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks before heading back to college to coach Ball State, Utah, and Saint Louis University. His 1998 Utah team made it to the national championship game before losing to Kentucky.
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Among those attending the funeral service Saturday included current NBA and college coaches and former players from around the country.
Former Marquette Star Earl Tatum:
On Basketball: “That’s all he loved, basketball, food, people, and basketball. But he knew the game very well.”
On being taught how to drive: “I needed to learn how to drive, and Rick was there for me. He helped do all that kind of stuff with me. If you see me driving a little weird out here, thanks Rick for that.”
Interim St. Louis University Coach Jim Crews:
On Friendship: “He was a coach’s coach, he was a teacher’s teacher, but he was a friend friend.”
On Basketball: “That kind of sums up Rick, a ball, a little water, little food and things are good.”
Boston Celtics Coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers;
On how he got his name: “I wore a Dr. J t-shirt and I was walking into camp, and Rick told Al McGuire that that kid can play. So they decided to name me Doc. Everytime I’d say Glenn, Rick would say Doc. I kept saying Glenn, he kept saying Doc, and finally Rick won. And that’s what he usually did.”
Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl:
On saying goodbye: “You know somehow I want to get through it, and celebrate a friend, a special person in my life. I’m not very good at these situations, and I just we’re here to say thank you Rick. And then figure out a way to spend the rest of our lives without him.”
Former NBA Coach Del Harris:
On huge crowd: “Did he care and love his players? Absolutely. He’s got all these people that is a testimony to that.”
Jim Boylin, assistant coach of the Bucks:
On friendship: “Everytime there was a moment where I was struggling with something, Rick was always there. He had a way of being at that right spot, at the right time and did a whole lot of great things for me.
Former Marquette Player Bo Ellis:
On his life: “I just think a great basketball mind, a great friend, and a great human being and that’s what I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Former Marquette Player Ric Cobb:
On losing a friend: “It is a tremendous loss for a true Wisconsonite. He was the last of the Big Three. Al McGuire the mastermind. Hank Raymond the X and O guy, Rick the teacher. It’s unfortunate but he had the greatest heart around and the great heart took us away from us last weekend.”