After four years as the emotional leader of the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball programme, Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr bid farewell to the MSU faithful at the final game of his collegiate career in the Breslin Center.
The No.2 ranked Spartans defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini, 81-61 to clinch at least a share of the Big 10 regular season title Tuesday night in East Lansing, Michigan.
Nairn was one of three seniors to get the start, on a night when he was furthered honoured by the Spartans playing the Bahamian national anthem prior to tip off.
“It was the best. Unbelievable. Something I couldn’t even dream of or imagine. I am so thankful for the opportunity that God placed in front of me. I am so happy for the program and our team. We stood together and that is what Spartans always do,” Nairn said, “I dreamed of kissing the Spartan head. Having the opportunity to raise the banner, the trophy, and having my mom here, my teammates. It was an unbelievable experience. I am so humbled.”
Nairn finished with three rebounds and two assists as the Spartans improved to 27-2, 15-2 in the Big 10.
“Illinois is always a tough team. We had 25 turnovers when we played at their house, so we knew we had to take care of the ball. I had a couple turnovers early. In the second half, I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball and making smarter plays,” Nairn said, “We just have to take care of business. Play smarter, continue to play harder on defense and take care of the basketball. Focus on executing the game plan and we will get the job done.”
This past offseason, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo named Nairn a team captain for the third consecutive year.
Nairn was was also awarded the Stephen G Scofes Inspirational Player Award this past offseason for the third straight year when the Spartans hosted its annual Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet for the 2016-17 season.
“Tum just extended himself to this… I’m not sure, to the whole nation, you know? I talk about different guys that have come into games and they talk about Tum and I think of the Moneyball and it was Tum and Miles. I think of all these things that this kid has done. but I just think it’s amazing how the humility that he has and Tum (Nairn Jr.) has and it kind of branches out to our whole team. I think they are role models, I think they are kids that people should look up to and that’s pretty awesome,” Izzo said, “I told my guys at the beginning of the year, my staff, I said, ‘make sure everyone is there for that six-thirty meeting we have tomorrow.’ The next day at six o’clock I was in here with my staff and I said, ‘did you get ahold of everybody?’ And they kind of looked around. And I said, ‘well, did you call them?’ They said, ‘well, we just called Tum.’ I said, ‘you lazy S.O.B’s, you know, tomorrow, next year, that’s not going to be as easy.’ Although I’ve been really, really, really excited about where Cassius (Winston) has learned from him. Watched him today in practice in our walk-through, he’s starting to develop some of those same camaraderie, some of the same togetherness characteristics that Tum has. That’s what Tum is; He’s infectious.
Izzo appeared tearful as Nairn exited the floor and kissed the Spartans logo at midcourt.
Izzo previously said former Spartan and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green encouraged him to name Nairn Jr as a team captain ever since his first season in East Lansing.
“That very first year, Draymond was back for the whole summer and told me that I should name him captain. I said, “We don’t have freshmen captains.” He said, “You got one now.” We didn’t, but he acted like it then. There haven’t been many three-year captains,” he said, “He’s worthy of that accolade, and I just think he’s a guy that makes you appreciate life. He started a motto at the beginning of the summer. One day somebody was complaining about being there for some reason. He said, “You don’t understand, we don’t have to do this, we get to do this.” That has kind of been a motto of our team every day. It’s so true. The neat part is I believe it, but he lives it. He’s taken it one step farther. He lives it. That makes it good for me. He teaches me probably more than I’ve taught him. Hopefully, he’s going to will this team to have one of the great years in Michigan State history. That’s what we’re looking to do.”
The Spartans close out the regular season Sunday February 25 on the road against the Wisconsin Badgers.