Ahead of Thursday night’s West Coast Conference game against San Diego, the Gonzaga Bulldogs honored former All-American forward Adam Morrison by hanging his jersey in the rafters of the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Below is the transcript of the pregame ceremony where GU coach Mark Few and Morrison spoke to the capacity crowd.
Thank you and thanks for being here on such a special night. And I know all you dressed in red right here (student section) were a little young when this dude was doing his work. Let me tell you something, it was one of the most amazing things that that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.
Gonzaga was known as a really, really good basketball program that had been to an Elite 8, to several Sweet 16’s and had won a lot, but until when Adam came around, he turned this into a national brand.
We became a national entity that everybody knew what Gonzaga was. I’ll forever remember, even though all these games I’ve coached and been so lucky to be a part of, his first basket at Madison Square Garden. And his multiple 40-point games and buzzer beaters. His junior year as he and JJ were just putting on a show, it was absolutely must-see TV.
Adam was just the kind of player, he was a bucket list guy and everybody wanted to see him. What I’m most proud of is the man he has become, a parent and a guy who’s really looking to give back to our community. And it’s just been amazing to watch him from that skinny floppier kid at Mead High School all the way through his Gonzaga years. He’s also a guy after he finished his NBA career came back and graduated from here.
So congratulations, Adam, this is so, so well deserved and I’m so glad you’re able to do this tonight.
Thank you very much. I’d like to start off, I think we have to recognize Frank Burgess because he’s the all-time leading scorer and you know the two jerseys that are already hanging up, so Frank Burgess is the all-time leading scorer and ended up being a federal judge, so let’s honor him first.
And then second obviously John Stockton, Hall of Famer, Dream Teamer. But to be in a category with those two men, John Stockton has done so much for this community basketball-wise with The Warehouse next door. He’s providing opportunities for young players that we never had growing up. So I want to honor both of those players first.
Being a Type I diabetic, I have to recognize Jennifer Nyland who unfortunately couldn’t be here tonight. She was our head trainer when I was here. She made everything smooth for me. I never had to worry about meals. My game prep, my insulin supply. So thank you Jenny, even though she is not here today.
On my way to Gonzaga, there were four coaches, or on my completion at Gonzaga, there were four coaches that really had a big impact in my life. First is Glenn Williams for Mead High School. He prepared me in high school for the next level. Being 6’4”, 6’5” at the time, he allowed me to play on the perimeter. And then on a personal note, when I was done playing basketball, it wasn’t a very fun thing for me. And Glenn invited me back and allowed me to coach and he gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the game and I’ll forever be grateful for that. So thank you.
Next is Tommy Lloyd obviously still on the staff. I first met Tommy, I was in ninth grade at Mead High School and he was a student teacher. And the first time I met him he got in a fight with this student at an open gym basketball. True story. It’s funny how, you know, life comes full circle and Tommy, wherever you are, I can’t see right now, wherever you are, I appreciate you always have my back. You were the guy when I was here that kind of kept me from going over the edge of a few times. And personally, I’m glad we could put water under the bridge, you know what I am talking about and continue to be friends. So I thank you for that, I really do thank you.
Third is a coach Few. I have to tell a funny story about coach Few. So my junior year we played Idaho at home, and it’s right before we go to Maui for the invitational and we win the game and I have 14 points, didn’t have a great game, and Kyle Bankhead tells me the story later in life. He’s sitting in the locker room going, ‘man, I don’t think Mo can score anymore’. And you made a career for having great basketball observations, but … you were wrong. I can’t say enough for what you’ve done for me behind the scenes. You’ve allowed me to be myself when I was here as a player. You’ve grown as a man as well, I appreciated that. And I really appreciated how our friendship has developed over this last three, four years. I really appreciate it because you’ve done so much for me behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about. And I’m just really grateful for the friend that I have now. So thank you coach, I really appreciate you.
Fourth on the list is my father John who is standing right here. So, growing up, my dad was a college basketball coach and I was going to games as young as my son who’s three now, I was going to practices. He taught me everything I know. There was times when you’ve been there for me, both on and off the court basketball-wise that I can’t even repay you with dad. If I can be the half of father that you have been, I’ll be in good shape, so I appreciate you, dad, thank you so much.
Next, I have to thank my family who is all here. There’s other people involved, my immediate family who has been with me through the good times and the bad. There was a time when it was hard for me for basketball and they helped me get through that. And like I mentioned earlier with Glenn, they were part of the healing process of falling in love with basketball again and I just can’t thank you guys enough for always sticking by me, defending me, and really being there and just lifting me up when it was dark for me, so I really appreciate you guys so much and I love you all, thank you.
There’s a couple people from Gonzaga’s administration I want to thank publicly. First is coach Hertz, Steve Hertz. We used to have a tradition at Gonzaga, it was called Zag in the game and you play a game and coach would come in and deliver a speech, and it wasn’t always the person who scored the most points. It wasn’t always the player of the game. But he would come in and really tell you how it to be a Zag and how to be a better man. And I just remember coming back, enrolling back at school, and he really helped me with just self-pride and going back to school to really regain some pride in myself and coach, I really want to thank you for that. You’ve done so much behind the scenes for this university and this program. So you taught me how to become a Zag and continue to be a Zag, thank you coach.
I want to thank (athletic director) Mike Roth, you know, when I first enrolled back in school, it was a dark time in my life. And you know, I got mocked and made fun of because I wasn’t in the league anymore. And along with coach Few and Tommy and coach Hertz, they went to bat for me and got me back in school and restored self-pride and, you know, welcomed me back with open arms and I’m forever grateful for that. You’ve always allowed me to be myself here, all of you people and all Gonzaga, and I can’t thank you enough because it was something that I needed to do from the heart and like I said it helped restore self-pride in myself. So thank you, thank you very much.
Last, you know when I left Gonzaga, I had a great career obviously, but I always felt a little bit regret that I never had a senior night and I truly mean that. I never got to publicly thank all the Spokane community and fans who supported me, the people around town who, you know, gave me the ‘atta boy when I was down and when I was out of the league and when I wasn’t fashionable to be an Adam Morrison fan. And so I thank every single one of you (fan yelled “we love you Adam), I love you too. I just honestly am truly blessed to have the support I have in Spokane. Coming from Mead High School being a nobody, being a Type 1 diabetic and made it to where I was basketball-wise. I thank all of you, the fans, and I still get to love you fans and you people and it is humbling. And I don’t feel like I truly deserve it. And I am just so thankful that I grew up in this community and I am stuck in this community. You’ve always, I know you’ve always had my back.
So yeah, again, thank you so much. This is a tremendous honor. I’m truly humbled. I am blessed. There’s been so many great players have come through this university and I’m just humbled to be one of the first in kind of the modern era … Go Zags.
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