Crean says Izzo deserves unanimous hall of fame selection #iubb

Tom Crean wants it to be clear — vote Tom Izzo, or else.

The Michigan State coach is one of 14 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which will announce its next class on Monday, April 4. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the honors committee, and Crean issued a fair warning to the panel during his radio show Monday.

“If he’s not a unanimous (selection) for the hall of fame, then they really need to take somebody’s (voting) credentials off that,” Crean said. “There’s no way he shouldn’t be. I’m not talking about making it. I’m talking about unanimous.”

Crean’s friendship with Izzo dates to the mid-1980s when Izzo was an assistant under then-Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote. A day after Izzo’s Spartans beat Indiana, 88-69, in East Lansing, Crean recounted the first time the two coaches met after a Michigan State practice back when Scott Skiles was still in school.

Head coaches Tom Crean, left, and Tom Izzo chat before the Indiana vs. Michigan State game on Sunday in East Lansing. (Chris Howell | Herald-Times_
Head coaches Tom Crean, left, and Tom Izzo chat before the Indiana vs. Michigan State game on Sunday in East Lansing. (Chris Howell | Herald-Times_
Crean said their relationship grew while he was an assistant at Alma College in the late 1980s, and detailed a recruiting trip he made with Izzo that took the pair from East Lansing to Pittsburgh to Cincinnati to Rennselaer, Ind.

“That was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had learning about recruiting and learning about players,” Crean said. “The greatest thing was seeing that this is what somebody is capable of. Somebody is capable of caring about you like this, and he really has no reason to other than he wants to help you. It wasn’t like I was somebody who could deliver a player or something like that. It was a great thing and our friendship has been incredibly strong. He’s as close of a friend as I have.”

Their friendship was clear this weekend in East Lansing, where Izzo made a thoughtful gesture to help Crean’s mother, Marjorie, get to the game.

Crean said his mother hasn’t been in good health recently and can no longer get down to sit behind the visitors bench at the Breslin Center, which is roughly an hour south of his childhood home of Mount Pleasant, Mich. So Izzo made sure Marjorie Crean had a place to sit in one of his private suites at the arena, accompanied by Izzo’s wife, Lupe.

“He did an incredible thing yesterday,” Crean said. “He just lost his father and he knows that my mom is not healthy and my mom can’t get here. She was able to come to the game with my sister, and he actually got her seats in the box. … He put her in the box with his wife and gave her a parking spot. There are different parking spots that he has access to, and he gave her his parking spot because it was the closest one to the building. That’s just how he thinks.”