Let the Spotlight Shine on Legendary Tyronn Lue
By Randy York, The N-Sider
Oh what a night Thursday will be at Pinnacle Bank Arena. In the midst of being head coach of the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Husker fans will welcome Tyronn Lue back to Lincoln to retire his jersey.
What a great asset inside The Vault against perennial power Michigan State and Coach Tom Izzo, who has guided the Spartans to eight Final Fours and 19 consecutive NCAA appearances. Welcome also to ESPN Prime Time with play-by-play commentator Rece Davis and expert analyst Fran Fraschilla.
In all phases, the motivational ammunition inside PBA could reach epic proportions and not just because the gritty Huskers are coming off an upset win over a talented and ranked Purdue team.
Lue’s introduction at halftime enables the spotlight to shine on the soft-spoken Mexico, Missouri, native, who had a distinguished collegiate career at Nebraska before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick in 1998.
Lue played three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and 11 seasons overall with seven franchises. A first-team All-Big 12 player, he won two NBA titles with the Lakers and 11 seasons overall with seven franchises. A first-team All-Big 12 player, he won two NBA titles with the Lakers in 2000 and 2001, then guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA Championship.
Mother Kim Supported Ty's Decision to Attend Nebraska Over Bluebloods
Heady stuff, for sure. But pro basketball’s highest achievements as both a player and a coach required a program that laid a fundamentally sound foundation, a trail to blaze and a path to honor his mother, Kim, who supported his decision to attend Nebraska over blueblood programs that were too late to the party.
“I’ve watched some old tape on Tyronn Lue. He was so fun to watch and could get separation,” Nebraska Coach Tim Miles said. “He really was guy who was a special player, powerful in his legs, got into his shot and was a lot fun…and a winner.
“I think Tyronn proved that as he went through the NBA and won two championships as a player and one as a coach at a very young age,” Miles said. “It’s very impressive. He talks the talk, and he walks the walk.”
When Lue made the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2013, “he went to every player and gave each one his cell phone number and personal e-mail address,” Miles pointed out. “He said to reach out anytime you want."
Bottom line, Tyronn Lue “really cares about Nebraska and he really cares about the success of our program,” Miles said. “We’re very fortunate and lucky enough where we’ve been able to include him with the (Nebraska) Hall of Fame and have him come back for a football game.”
Lue Joins Legendary Ranks of Stuart Lantz, Dave Hoppen, Eric Piatkowski
Miles believes retiring Lue’s jersey Thursday night will solidify another meaningful milestone for a gracious man who shows his appreciation with warm smiles. “What a special honor for Tyronn,” Miles said. “What a well-deserved honor.”
This is one game when no one should leave your seat at halftime. When the lights go down and the ceremony begins, fans will be asked to look at the north wall where three retired Nebraska basketball jerseys hang – No. 22 Stuart Lantz (1966-68), No. 42 Dave Hoppen (1983-86) and No. 52 Eric Piatkowski (1991-94).
Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm and Hoppen will present special gifts to Tyronn and his mom on behalf of Husker Nation.
For many, watching Tyronn stay on the bench, by himself, to watch everyone else celebrate a world championship after winning the last three of a seven-game series, was priceless. It’s who he is, how he was raised by his mother and why LeBron James wanted Tyronn to be the Cavs’ head coach, so he could motivate individually and bring everyone together.”
Thursday night’s halftime video will dramatically reinforce that point in several ways, so don’t miss the essence of this important ceremony.
Boehm: Lue Built Strong Relationships with Teammates’ Mutual Respect
“Ty is special. That’s why he came to Nebraska,” Boehm said. “He built strong relationships with his teammates. He had so much respect for them, and that’s why they had so much respect for him. His mom encouraged Ty to be an athlete and a student. He had great character and accomplished great things."
When Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst and Boehm flew to California to attend a banquet and inform Lue that his jersey would be retired, “Ty didn’t say anything about himself the entire night,” Boehm said. “His mother was all he would talk about…her and Nebraska.
“They both love this place,” Boehm said, “because Nebraska prepared Ty to live his dream and succeed at the highest level. We’re expecting a pretty emotional standing ovation, and I think everyone would agree that he certainly deserves one.”
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