Thank you on behalf of Michigan fans for your two amazing years in the basketball program. You were a fan favorite, a coach’s dream, and a source of constant entertainment.
Follow along after the jump to see more of Lance’s letter to McGary.
During your recruitment, all the big boys wanted you. You could have done the cliché 5-star thing to do and gone to Kentucky, North Carolina or Duke. You would have learned under legendary coaches notorious for sending players to the NBA, and you would have been successful there. But you chose to believe in what John Beilein was developing at Michigan. The program had not reached a Sweet 16 before your arrival since 1994, and you saw the potential in Ann Arbor, and saw you were the missing piece.
And you were. Though we didn’t really see you play much during the regular season your freshman year, you brought it in the tournament. My favorite memory was your game against Kansas. Though that game is widely remembered for Trey Burke‘s clutch three-pointer to send it into overtime Buffalo Wild Wings style, Michigan didn’t have a chance in that game without you playing the way you did. A year after Jeff Withey destroyed Jared Sullinger in a Final four game, he was coming for his next Big Ten victim. He even said to the media that he wasn’t impressed with you. Also, early on in your game, Kansas gave you a low blow, and it appeared to be a calculated move to temper your intense play. It had the opposite effect, as you went out and scored 25 points to lead all scorers and grabbed 14 rebounds, against Withey’s 21 and eight.
Though injuries hampered your 2013-14 season, you continued to bring the intensity, rooting on the team, wearing the suit, and holding up the “Win the Game” sign. We loved this phrase as fans and adopted it as our own all season long. We were hoping for a tournament comeback, but it wasn’t meant to be.
You made a mistake. We all make mistakes. Fortunately for us fans, our mistakes don’t make it onto ESPN. The important thing is to learn from it. You’ll have a lot of people saying you aren’t ready for the NBA. They also said you weren’t ready to play in the tournament, and you couldn’t hang with teams like Syracuse, Kansas and Florida. You proved them all wrong. Prove them all wrong on the next level, too.
Go Blue always,