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College Basketball

Tom Izzo calls Michigan fans who defaced Magic Johnson statue ‘idiots’

Michigan State Spartans head basketball coach Tom Izzo did not mince his words when providing his opinion of the Michigan Wolverines fans who defaced the Magic Johnson statue on the university’s campus, labeling them as “idiots.”

The No. 7-ranked Spartans square off against the No. 12-ranked Wolverines in Ann Arbor Saturday and some Michigan fans allowed the deep-seated intrastate rivalry go too far, vandalizing the statue of the Spartans legend that stands outside Breslin Center by painting it in Michigan colors. A maize “M” and the message “Beat State” also was part of the graffiti.

Izzo not surprisingly took great umbrage to what occurred but also acknowledged these kind of things do happen and sometimes are even perpetrated by Spartans fans.

“First, I’ve gotta say, that this is rivalry week and you’re not supposed to like your opponent. There’s a lot of great Michigan kids, but there’s some idiots,” Izzo said from Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, via ESPN. “There’s some idiots on our side, too, that do crazy things. Messing with Sparty is a bad thing, like messing with their ‘M’ is a bad thing. But messing with Magic, that’s the worst thing. I’ll make sure from now on that maybe the basketball team will sleep [out there].”

Such antics have taken place before leading up to sporting events between the two rival schools — the Sparty statue and the bronze “M” on Michigan’s campus being the frequent targets of pregame graffiti — but Johnson’s statue has never been painted. Izzo suggests that the legendary basketball player should represent all collegiate athletics in the state of Michigan, not a symbol of solely one school.

“The only problem I have with Magic, maybe even more than Sparty for me, is Magic gave so much to the game of basketball and sports and people and our state of Michigan, Michigan fans, Michigan State fans,” he said, via “He’s one of the few guys that transcended all of those things.”