Doug McDermott: Monument Man

PHOTO BY KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD

A record-setter wearing No. 3, Doug McDermott has helped lift Creighton to another dimension. So, for a permanent honor in Omaha, why not a three-dimensional work of art? In bronze.

Tonight, we mortals celebrate a giant. We honor a standard. We'll stand and cheer for all of the moments and memories, a career of keepsakes crammed into four years that flew by. We'll smile because we'll always be able to say we were there, had the best seat in the house for history. Because we saw this incredible thing that was like a gift, and it made every Creighton game like Christmas morning.

For four years, Doug McDermott has been the superstar next door. And now we wave goodbye. But there's a way to keep him around forever.

It's senior night and I don't have a speech. But for Timothy Lannon, Bruce Rasmussen and anyone who wears the blue, I have a serious proposal.

Bronze him.

Commission an artist and sculptor. We can make a strong recommendation: James Lepert, who created the stunning likeness you see here.

Make sure he's holding a basketball. Give him his signature T-shirt under that jersey. Design a look of determination, the one he gets when it's time to make a big shot or drag five defenders to the hoop.

And don't forget that No. 3. Soon it will be transformed from the court to iconic status. That number will never be worn again by any Creighton player after this season.

Doug McDermott: Monument Man

KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD

The World-Herald commissioned a 20-inch casting to recognize the legacy being left by McDermott.

But let's make sure we can still see it whenever we walk into the CenturyLink Center.

That's the natural spot for the Doug McDermott statue. If you're going to immortalize your legend, it needs to be where he once played, where future grandpas can show their grandkids, where future out-of-town fans can look up and say, "Wow, he played here. Awesome."

We can talk about where to put Doug later. The entrance across from the Hilton crosswalk is a natural, except for the party of clowns already there. Don't want Doug hanging out with the clowns. The symbolism would just be wrong.

I'm thinking a little farther south, up the hill, toward the 10th and Capitol entrance to the CenturyLink Center.

OK, we don't have to do it this afternoon. We can wait until after he graduates this spring.

I can guess Doug's reaction to this proposal. I can guess he's not thrilled. He's not about this kind of thing.

This is a World-Herald idea and the timing and premise are simple: Don't wait too long to do this.

Indiana State unveiled a statue of its Larry Legend, Larry Bird, last November — 34 years after Bird left the ISU campus. What were they waiting for? Another Larry to come along? There's only one.

LSU's Maravich Center was named after its icon, "Pistol" Pete Maravich, the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, who played at LSU from 1967 to '70. But LSU didn't name the arena after Maravich until after he died, in 1988. Too bad he never got to see his name on the building.

College basketball players in bronze are a rarity. Michigan State has a statue of Magic Johnson. LSU has one of Shaquille O'Neal, but not Maravich. The famous Michael Jordan statue is in Chicago, outside the United Center, not in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Statues are more for college coaches. Oklahoma has a wonderful row of statues of its Heisman Trophy winners, across from Memorial Stadium. There's not one of Sooner basketball star Wayman Tisdale, but football is king at OU.

Basketball is king at Creighton. And there's but one king.

With apologies to Bob Gibson, who was a good enough hooper to play with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1957, McDermott is that guy at Creighton. No. 1.

You can understand why a place like Kansas or Duke or Kentucky might not build statues of legends. They would run out of real estate. And bronze.

And this is not to say that the good folks on the Hilltop will never see another consensus All-American. The Big East journey has just begun. Greg McDermott is recruiting to a big-time league with a sold-out arena.

But even if the parade of All-Americans is on its way, what are the odds that there will be another player like McDermott, with his impact on the program and community, anytime soon? If ever?

A true blue Creighton fan I know said it best the other day: "Some schools never get to watch a guy like him. He's a once-in-a-lifetime guy and he was here. He's our Larry Bird."

Timothy Lannon will always be Father Big East around here, but what an ace in the hole he had to show the Big East hoops corporation that Creighton could produce one of the five best players in the country.

Tonight is about a senior class, four young men. Basketball is a team game. Somebody, or somebodies, had to throw Doug the ball.

But let's not kid ourselves that Creighton's emergence as a national name could have happened without him. The instant credibility that comes with a former mid-major finishing second in the Big East in its first year doesn't happen without No. 3.

And all of those national media types who flocked to the Creighton campus and downtown Omaha were brought here by a magnet: the player they loved to watch only slightly more than they loved talking to him.

Statues are built for sporting accomplishments. But all of those times Doug signed an autograph or took a photo or gave his time to Joe fan — when nobody was watching — are part of that statue, too.

The story is still being written. Doug has shined on the biggest stages, won championships, but March Madness beckons like a siren. The NBA life after that.

Video: Building in bronze

But those can only enhance, not tarnish, a legacy that is already solid gold.

Make that bronze.

Doug McDermott came into our lives four years ago like a light and grew more brilliant with each year. His career of big shots and breathtaking stuff just kept getting better. He raised the bar and cleared it, over and over.

He came back for a fourth year, because it was the right thing to do, because he loved what he did and where he did it. It was his senior gift to us, and he kept on giving and giving, through those Big East nights.

Thanks for everything, Doug. Now, we'd like to give something to you, though frankly, it's for us, too.

Shooting stars like Doug McDermott don't come along every day. But there's a way to make sure he's always here.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com; Twitter.com/tomshatelOWH

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