COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Former longtime Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart made sure while unveiling a statue of himself on campus to give plenty of credit.
Stewart unveiled the statue outside Mizzou Arena on Friday, hours before Missouri’s season opener against Iowa State. The man who coached basketball at Missouri for 32 seasons, finishing with a 634-333 record, pulled a black curtain off the statue in front of a crowd that included more than 20 former players, such as Jon Sundvold and Doug Smith.
“I know I speak for Tigers everywhere,” athletic director Jim Sterk said. “Thank you, coach.”
The bronze statue features Stewart pointing with his right hand, index finger extended — probably in the direction of an official, Stewart joked.
“I’ve been out of (coaching) 18, 19 years and people might not know who that is,” he said, “but I hope people bring their children, I hope they bring their grandchildren, I hope they bring their friends and they come by and the players that were there, the student assistants and doctors and trainers all bring their friends and point to that (statue) and say, ‘I helped put that there.’ Because they did. They’re the ones who put it there. And I’m so proud that it’s me.”
Stewart, who became Missouri’s coach 50 years ago, is the only person in Missouri history to be inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame as both a coach and student-athlete. His reached the NCAA Tournament 16 times and won eight regular-season conference championships and six conference tournament championships.
“He taught us things fathers do,” said Smith, a former All-American at Missouri and the program’s No. 2 career scorer and rebounder. “I owe him everything today.”
Stewart didn’t say if he had given any advice to Missouri’s first-year coach, Cuonzo Martin, but he believes Martin has “passed a lot of tests already.” He said several people have told him they have an “extremely good” impression of the new coach.
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