MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Marquette University basketball hasn’t lived up to its high standards this season — so maybe a visit from someone who played for the great Al McGuire would help change the luck!
“My stay here at Marquette from 74-78 — probably four of the greatest years of my life. I had a great time here,” Butch Lee said.
Lee played on the 1977 championship team and then went on to have a successful career in the NBA.
Lee now resides in his native Puerto Rico — but he recently took his first trip back to Marquette in over five years.
“My wife has been here before but my two sons, Matthew and Brandon hadn’t seen snow and haven’t felt that cold chill of Milwaukee,” Lee said.
When asked if you can compare the present era of MU hoops with his, Lee gave an honest answer.
“We had a great team. You’re not going to find a team with myself, and Jimmy Boyle and Lloyd Walton. We had a team that was difficult to compare to some of the teams now,” Lee said.
Lee admitted that since he’s a former player, he tends to be a bit critical and he feels MU can improve in a couple ways.
“If they were a little better on the perimeter, they could be in the top 25, so being able to score baskets from the perimeter that’s what’s gonna raise the level of any team,” Lee said.
Lee is able to follow the Golden Eagles and other basketball teams in Puerto Rico and has even gotten to know Buzz Williams over the phone, but to Lee, no one can ever take the place of the great Al McGuire.
“Al was one of a kind, and had a great run at Marquette. It’s difficult to compare someone to Al. I remember in Detroit, Dick Vitale tried to act a little bit like Al, but he couldn’t do it,” Lee said.
Lee says McGuire was a big reason why he chose to be a warrior.
“He got the top inner city players and added a little organization and discipline to their game. That’s what I like. I was a winning basketball player in high school and I wanted to win at the college level,” Lee said.
Besides having a successful career at Marquette and with the Lakers and Cavaliers, Lee is known for being the first Puerto Rican born athlete to play in the NBA. There have only been a handful of others since he retired. He hopes to see more Latinos and Puerto Ricans in the league.
“We have a lot of young guys now going to prep schools in the state, and have a lot of starting guys at Division 1 schools. I think you’re gonna have a couple more,” Lee said.
Even though they were eliminated in the second round the year after they won the national crown, Lee says there were no lows in his Marquette Warriors career.
Lee also found success in coaching in the Puerto Rican professional league known as the BSN, and has even taken a team to the finals.