"You Can Call Me Al"
Used with permission from Joe Moran, author of Al McGuire Biography,"You Can Call Me, Al"
Many people, I think, when asked about Al McGuire would say something to the effect that he has been one of the great personalities in the game of basketball.
I would not in any way disagree with this.
Al's unique way of going about and doing things created an aura that I think was quite singular in all the history of basketball.
However, I would go beyond the personality that Al created for himself to say that he quite simply was one of the bet coaches ever in college basketball.
He had an understanding of what was important as far as the game was concerned that few coaches have. He had the ability to get kids to play extremely well together at the offensive end of the court without making mistakes and, at the same time, working to get good shots.
It did not seem to make a lot of difference to Al's players who scored points or who took shots, which I think is the true mark of a coach who understands offensive play.
At the defensive end, his players played hard and were always difficult to score against. I don't think Al ever paid much attention to the Xs and Os of the game or different offenses or different defenses, but he had this exceptional ability to get across to his players that on offense it was important that you didn't throw the ball away and that you got good shots and played hard on the boards.
At the same time, at the defensive end, it was always clear to me that Al's emphasis was simply, "Let's not let these other guys score easily against us." In the simplicity of this approach, I think, really lies Al's true greatness as a basketball coach. He went right to the core of what makes a team good and how players have to play together to develop into a good team, and this is not done by using all kinds of different offensive and defensive approaches.
I have always enjoyed Al's many unusual comments and the things he does relative to both basketball and other aspects of his life. Throughout Al's career as both a coach and a broadcaster, the very uniqueness of his personality was a tremendous asset to college basketball.
When basketball was in the developmental stages of becoming as popular as it is today, both during the college season and throughout the NCAA tournament, no one brought more attention to college basketball than Al did. Both Al's style and lack of style have, I think, been central to the great contribution he made over many years as a coach and as a broadcaster to popularize the college game.
From the first time I met Al when I was a young coach at West Point until today, I have been a great admirer of his and have a tremendous respect for what he is and who he is.
It is a great honor to write the foreword to this book about Al McGuire, a coach I greatly respect, a man I admire, a personality I have thoroughly enjoyed, and a friend I treasure.
Bob Knight 1999