Denver Nuggets guard and former Michigan State standout Gary Harris was a guest on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday to talk about his NBA career as well as his time in East Lansing.
Originally from Fishers, Ind., Harris won 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball as well as the 2012 Indiana Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year Award. According to Harris, the first time he met Spartans coach Izzo was during lunch period at Harris’ high school, when he was in the cafeteria to what seemed to be an average day.
Then, through all of the “commotion” as Harris called it, Izzo tapped on the teen’s shoulder, holding a lunch tray. That’s when the two’s relationship was formed.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) May 16, 2017
For a basketball coach, Izzo was fascinated with the fact that Harris played football as a wide receiver. Harris said Izzo encouraged his recruits to play multiple sports. For instance, when Golden State Warriors F Draymond Green played at Michigan State, he suited up and played in the 2011 MSU Spring football game as a tight end. And Izzo was there to promote the decision.
“That’s the kind of guy Izzo is, he’s a sports fanatic. He loves football. Everybody goes to Michigan State games when it’s warm outside and 70 degrees. He’ll be there, Game 12, 25 degrees outside and raining just watching, but he loves it,” Harris said. “I think everybody concentrates on being specialists and focus on one sport and that burns a lot of people out. But having that mixture of two sports, you get the best of both worlds.”
Harris also reminisced the time him and Izzo yelled at each other during a game. Harris “was having a bad game,” as he put it, and he built up the courage to snap back at Izzo during a timeout.
“I just snapped and everybody said, ‘Chill, chill, chill,’ but I blacked out and just snapped and was so fed up with everything. He said, ‘You know what Gary, F you’ and I’m like, ‘F you’… he said ‘It’s about damn time you showed some emotion,'” Harris said. “I thought I was going to have to run or wake up early to go shoot free throws, but he loved it and thankfully we won the game.”
At the end of the day, He and Izzo have the utmost respect for each other, Harris said, and the two got the best out of each other in their two seasons together.
“He has his players’ back more than anybody and he goes to war with anyone so you just have to respect him,” Harris said.