Former Marquette standout Dwyane Wade was named the NBA Finals MVP after guiding the Miami Heat to victory in game 6 to claim the Championship. Wade carried the Heat through the finals averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
On Wednesday, Tom Crean, Wade’s coach at Marquette, met with the media to discuss Dwyane’s accomplishments and MarquetteHoops.com was there. Here is part 1 of Crean’s Q&A with the media….
Question: How does it feel to have your former player named as the NBA Finals MVP?
TC: I think I feel like a proud friend. I mean it was incredible watching it. It really was really his time. I mean he is so humble. What is so amazing to me is just watching how excited everyone is for him. When you watch Shaquille talk and you watch Coach Riley talk and you see his teammates react the way they did on the podium when he got the MVP trophy, that’s what is special because that’s the Dwyane I know. I know the one that really people rally around and as successful as he is, no one is ever jealous of him – opponents might be – but people that he is with, they want him to be that successful because they know that he wants them to be successful.
That happens to good guys when they have success in life it seems.
TC: Well, he’s a great guy. He’s a wonderful, wonderful person and my only regret last night was that I didn’t keep the phone on. I got a message that came in at 1:35am this morning and it’s a private one, but it was an expression of love, an expression of thanks, and it was just incredible. It broke me up driving down I-43 into the camp this morning. He’s in the midst of his celebration. I know they got home about 7 a.m. and he’s in the midst of his celebration but yet he’s calling his old coach and that’s a special guy.
Everyone knew that he was a great player when he was here, but I don’t know if anyone knew at this scale, I mean there are comparisons being made to Michael Jordan, whether they are fair or not, I don’t know, but he’s the biggest name in the NBA today. test
TC: Well, if not the, he’s definitely one of them. It’s amazing. The Jordan comparisons I think he is uncomfortable with because he had such a fondness and that was his idol growing up. And then amazingly it became Shaq, you know when Jordan’s career was winding down, but I think Jordan will always be his favorite player, but it’s amazing. We had an exhibition game his first year and a referee, Dan Chrisman, he made a move to the rim, and Dan walked up and said, “That looks like Jordan.” So, I told him, “don’t go there and don’t say that, we want to keep him awhile.” But it’s funny, Dan called last week after game 3 and made that point, but you know there is a lot that you can compare him to, but I hope that at the end of the day, this is the comparison he needs. I hope he gets compared to Bill Russell because that will mean that he won a ton of world championships and if he’s getting that comparison, I think that’s the one that he would look forward to some day. Bill Russell won 11, Dwyane’s got 10 to go, but see if he can catch him.
I just heard before we came over here that he and Shaq are going to share the front of a Wheatie’s box so that rest of the team gets on the back. Still hopeful through something like that?
TC: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I don’t think that will be the last box or magazine cover you see him on over the next few weeks and months. Just look at him last night. I mean I can tell you he is very humble with the whole experience of winning. He knows where he stands on the floor and he knows what separates him I think and the last time we spoke was right before he was on his drive to game 3 and the first time he has ever in his career in the NBA called me on the way to a game where I was actually out of town at a function, took the call, walked outside, we talked 30 minutes and you know what’s fun is sometimes you can remind somebody who we all look at is great sometimes needs a reminder just how good he is. We all go through that. It’s just been wonderful watching what he has done, and he loves Marquette and Marquette loves him and like we said numerous times standing in the press room, appreciate what you got. We may not have it very longl, but appreciate what you got because we got somebody special here, and I think everybody got a chance to watch him grow that way with us. And he remembers that.
Question: Coach, did you think this would all come so soon for him.
TC: No, not this soon. No, I don’t think anybody could have picked. What was amazing to me what was kind of emotional for me a little bit was June 20, 1999 was the first day we ever spoke on the telephone and a private thing I’ll never forget where I was at, where I was driving, how long we talked, what we talked about. You know you get those ironic moments in life sometimes and amazing he’s winning his first NBA Championship seven years from that day. Did I think at that point he would ever be that way? I don’t think any of us could have ever understood, but what separates him is that he’s got an uncommon drive. I mean that’s what it is. I mean it’s uncommon. There are not a lot of us in this world that have the drive that he has to be successful the way he wants to be and along the way making everybody around him better, and that’s what separates him. I thought it would start to happen by about the time he was 25, when he would really start to elevate, and now he is going to walk into 25 in next January and be one of the absolute elite players in the world.
Question: When you recruited him, tell the story about the football coach at Richards High School.
TC: Sure. Well, Dwayne was, you know, we knew and one of the reasons we were able to sign him early is we were committed to getting him in school if he didn’t make his grades. And it was one of those situations where you feel so strong for him. You feel so strong for what he stands for even though you don’t know him great, you know there is something really there about him, and this was far before the 48 pts and 42 pts in December his senior year, what he did here with us, but amazingly we were trying to get some research of what separated him. The football coach at Richards High School I think at that point had been there 27 years, he said that he was one of the three finest kids he had ever seen come through the school that didn’t play football for him, and I think that said a lot about him. And I definitely brought that back here to the people who were in the decision making process, so he has always stood out. He has an ability to make you feel like you’re the only one that’s there, like you’re the only one that he is talking to, and he is very, very sincere with that. But again, that uncommon drive is what separates him. Even his senior year in high school, phenomenal job in high school at the end. He missed the test by a point and a half, but he did everything he could do to get to a point to be a qualifier. We are really very proud of what he has done. I am really proud of him.