The basketball team opens the 2013-14 season on Friday, Nov. 8 against Buffalo.
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FINDING A NEW HOME
Now playing in Greece, Acie Law IV vows to give back to A&M community
by Rusty Burson
12th Man Foundation
The greatest men’s basketball player in Texas A&M history was undeniably uneasy. Former All-American point guard Acie Law IV tapped his feet rhythmically and then rapidly against the hardwood floor, leaning forward at one moment and falling back against the padded chair the next.
Law took several deep breaths purposely and then exhaled anxiously, while at the same time strumming his fingers thoughtlessly against his thighs. He raised his right arm toward his face and wiped away a thin film of sweat on his forehead.
The man who earned the nickname “Captain Clutch” at A&M for his poise under pressure and his flair for heroics was irrefutably nervous. Not about taking a shot in a championship game, triggering an in-bounds pass in a do-or-die situation or anything of the sort.
- Acie Law IV
Law was fretting and fidgety about delivering an impromptu speech for a camera crew in a mostly empty room inside the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball.
“I know I’m making this way harder than it needs to be,” acknowledged Law, who starred for the Aggies from 2003-07 and was the Big 12 Player of the Year as a senior. “I just want it to be perfect.”
“It” was an acceptance message that will be played at the Burgess Banquet on Nov. 1, 2013. Law is one of six former A&M athletes—along with fellow men’s basketball player Rynn Wright, football players Jerry Fontenot and Joe Wellborn and track and field athletes Fabrice Lapierre and Clora Williams—who will be inducted as part of the 2013 class of the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.
While all of the inductees are worthy of the recognition, Law is the ultimate no-brainer for inclusion into any Hall of Fame that includes Aggie basketball players.
Law is the most instrumental player in A&M men’s basketball history. You could argue with me, of course. But you’d be wrong.
Sonny Parker, Barry Davis, David Britton, Darryl McDonald and Joe Wilbert were superb players at A&M…but only for two years. Carroll Broussard, Bennie Lenox, John Beasley, Vernon Smith, Winston Crite, David Edwards, Bernard King and Wright are all prominently featured in A&M’s record books. But none of those outstanding players scaled a higher mountain in a shorter time than Law.
Law guided the Aggies from Ground Zero—an 0-16 conference record his freshman year—to the top of the 2007 national polls, delivering then-unprecedented nationwide attention to Texas A&M. He introduced a new generation of A&M students to March Madness; he energized an entire campus; he was Bucky Richardson-like in his leadership; he was clutch as John Byington or Dat Nguyen; and he possessed the killer instinct of a Stacy Sykora or Kevin Murray.
The 28-year-old Law would love to be back in Aggieland for the Burgess Banquet, but he has become an international star for Olympiacos of Greece in the Euroleague and will be back overseas this fall. After playing for five NBA teams (Atlanta, Golden State, Charlotte, Chicago and Memphis) in a span of four years, Law has found a home in the Euroleague, where he has led Olympiacos to back-to-back championships.
Those are the first two outright titles he’s been a part of during his sensational career. He narrowly missed out on a state title in his junior year at Dallas Kimball High School, and Kansas beat out A&M by one game in the 2006-07 Big 12 standings…despite the fact the Aggies shocked the Jayhawks in Lawrence thanks to Law’s clutch shooting.
“It was frustrating to not make it in the NBA, but you just have to deal with what life gives you,” said Law, who signed a two-year, $2.8 million extension to return to Olympiacos in July. “Sometimes I was playing well, but there were more times I wasn’t given an opportunity to play. There were injuries, and I lost my confidence a little bit. But all of that stuff became a blessing. Following the (NBA lockout), I ended up in Greece. I love the passion the fans have for the game and I enjoy going to work.
“When I was sitting on the bench in the NBA, I was getting tough to be around. But I went to Greece, received a chance to play and it’s just a breath of fresh air. Now, I’m considered to be one of the better players in Europe. I’m having fun again. I still think about the NBA, but if I gave it another shot I would have to play for a minimum contract, which means I would have to take a pay cut just to be in the NBA. I’m almost 30. I have a wife and two kids, and I feel blessed to be playing in Europe. All things considered, it’s going really well.”
Not just in terms of basketball. Law and his wife, Tiffany, recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary after dating for roughly 10 years. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter, Mackenzi, and a 16-month-old son, whose name is—of course—Acie Law V. His son was born during the championship run in 2012, so Law nicknamed him, “Champ.”
Last year, the Laws bought a home in Southlake, where they will plant permanent, around-the-calendar roots once Acie is finished playing basketball. Whenever that day comes, Law says you can count on seeing him in College Station quite often.
“This is the start of the second year we have lived in Southlake, but we have probably only spent three months total in the house because of our travels,” said Law, the 2007 winner of the Bob Cousy Award. “I tell my wife all the time when the playing days are done, I really want to get back involved here at A&M.
“Texas A&M and College Station really embraced me. They took me in like I was one of their own. It’s only right that I give back. This year we are going to start doing some things in the community with my (Acie Law Foundation). My wife visited a children’s museum in Bryan, and we are going to try and get like 60 foster kids and have a dinner for them, as well as raising funds and donations for the kids. I’m not doing it for my name, but I want to give back to this community. Everybody around here did so much for me in terms of supporting me when I was a player here.”
Likewise, the personable Law did so much for Texas A&M basketball. The $24 million, 68,000-square-foot Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball was funded largely on the momentum created by what Law and his teammates accomplished in three years under the direction of former head coach Billy Gillispie.
Walking around the facility recently with his kids in tow, Law took a tremendous sense of pride what he and his basketball brothers accomplished as they reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2007, among many other highlights.
“I told (former teammate) Logan (Lee) earlier that I only hope the current players and those coming in the future can really appreciate this,” Law said. “We practiced in a little gym with no space. These guys today have access to great facilities and can come in here any time and shoot. I used to call (current A&M director of internal operations) Peter (Warden) at 11:30 or midnight and ask if he could open up the gym. Sometimes he would say yes, but other times he couldn’t. And then there’s the locker room now. Wow, it’s almost not fair compared to what we had.
“I do take pride because all of this is here in part because of Dominique Kirk, Antoine Wright, Joseph Jones, Marlon Pompey, Chris Walker, myself, Coach G and so forth. All of those people and many others got this thing going in the right direction. I have so many great memories, and I am really hopeful that Coach (Billy) Kennedy and the current staff can get things rocking and rolling again. I tell people that when Reed Arena was full and rocking, it was one heckuva home court advantage. This place was awesome, and it can be that way again.”
Law had so many awesome moments that he says it is extremely difficult to pinpoint one favorite memory over another. He loves occasionally watching highlights of some of the classic games the Aggies played against Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma State and so forth during his time at Texas A&M. But most of all, he says he loves recalling the camaraderie of his teammates and the atmosphere of game night in Aggieland when fans filled every seat and occasionally charged onto the floor.
“People ask me about my journey, and really my teammates were so unselfish,” Law said. “I don’t think people understand the sacrifices we made day in and day out at practices. We worked our butts off to turn things around. And we really cared for each other. Dominique, for example, could do so much more than be the defensive stopper. But there were so many nights when he was just content to play a role and took a back seat to Joe Jones or me.
“You just don’t meet people like that in the business world. I have enjoyed professional basketball, but being a part of those teams at A&M was something really, really special. Coming back here rekindles all those great memories, great games and great crowds. How could I not love everything about this university and want to be more involved once I am done playing? This place is one-of-a-kind.”
Just like Acie Law.