He played three years of basketball at St. John's Prep, Brooklyn, New York (graduated 1947), and went on to star at St. John's University (1947–1951), where he played for four years and captained the 1951 team that posted a 26–5 mark and finished third in the NIT.
After college, McGuire played in the NBA, first with the New York Knicks (1951–53) and then with the Baltimore Bullets (1954). While with the Knicks, he once famously pleaded with his coach for playing time, with this guarantee: "I can stop Cousy." Inserted into the lineup, McGuire proceeded to foul him on his next six trips down the court.
McGuire began his coaching career as an assistant at Dartmouth College (1955–1957) for head coach Alvin "Doggie" Julian. McGuire coached the freshman team at Dartmouth. One of his players was Dave Gavitt. McGuire then took his first head coaching job at Belmont Abbey College (1957–1964), in Belmont, North Carolina, where he recruited many high school players off the streets of New York.
McGuire became head coach at Marquette University in 1964 where he enjoyed success, including the NIT Championship in 1970 and a Final Four appearance in 1974, where McGuire became the first coach ejected from a championship game.
With assistant coaches Hank Raymonds (who would succeed him) and Rick Majerus, who would become a successful college head coach, McGuire led the Warriors (now known as Golden Eagles) to the university's only NCAA basketball championship, in 1977, his final season as a head coach. McGuire's Marquette team, led by Alfred "Butch" Lee, Maurice "Bo" Ellis and Jerome Whitehead, defeated Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels for the title, just two days after Whitehead received a full-court pass and subsequently made a last-second shot (the same style of shot made by Duke's Christian Laettner against Kentucky 15 years later) propelling Marquette past UNC Charlotte in the National Semifinals. Marquette had seven losses going into the '77 NCAA Tournament, the most losses up to that time for a team that would win the NCAA Championship. The thrilling weekend in Atlanta's Omni Coliseum provided a happy sendoff.
While at Marquette, McGuire founded "Al's Run," a charity event for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The race celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017.
On December 17, 1976, McGuire stunned fans by announcing that he would retire as coach after the end of the 1976-77 season to become vice chairman of Medalist Industries, effective May 1, 1977. McGuire resigned as vice chairman of the company on March 20, 1978.
After retiring from coaching, McGuire became a popular commentator for NBC Sports and CBS Sports. McGuire's on-air arguments with then-NBC colleague Billy Packer helped increase the popularity of college basketball across the United States. McGuire was courtside for the landmark 1979 championship game between Indiana State and Michigan State that pitted Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, which is remembered as a game that vastly enhanced the appeal of college basketball. Reflecting on the event 10 years later, McGuire said that the 1979 title game "put college basketball on its afterburner." That national championship game remains the highest rated NCAA Final broadcast.
McGuire died at 72 after a long bout with leukemia on January 26, 2001, in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
The Al McGuire Center, which includes a statue in his honor, opened on the Marquette campus in 2004.
He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
McGuire's brother Dick (Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee 1993) was also a prominent figure in basketball, having starred at St. John's and then with the New York Knicks of the NBA. Dick and Al both played for the Knicks. They are the only pair of brothers, and one of only two sibling pairs (the other being Cheryl and Reggie Miller), inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Others in the Hall of Fame Class of '92 included Lou Carnesecca, Phil Woolpert, Jack Ramsay, Connie Hawkins, Bob Lanier, Sergei Belov, Nera D. White and Lusia Harris Steward. McGuire is not related to the late North Carolina and South Carolina coach Frank McGuire. Al and Frank coached against each other when Frank was head man at South Carolina. Al played for Frank at St. John's. Frank McGuire has been considered Al's coaching mentor.
McGuire was survived by his wife, Patricia, three children, sons Allie (who played for his father at Marquette) and Rob and daughter Noreen, and six grandchildren.
Al McGuire's former television broadcast partner and friend, Dick Enberg, penned a one-man theatrical play entitled Coach portrayed by actor Cotter Smith.
It debuted at Marquette University's Helfaer Theater in 2005, and returned there by popular demand in 2006. The play was then presented at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta during the 2007 Final Four Championship, at Hofstra University in February 2008, and at the North Coast Repertory in San Diego County in April 2008. It returned to North Coast Rep by popular demand in August 2008, and subsequently was seen at Central Michigan University, Dick Enberg's alma mater on October 10, 2008. A benefit performance for the San Diego Chargers was presented on November 12, 2008.
From January - June, 2017, the play now entitled "McGuire" was presented by The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, starring Tony Award winner Anthony Crivello <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Crivello>. That run broke all box office records for the space, playing to 'sold-out' houses in the 150 seat Stackner Cabaret. Crivello received critical praise for his work in the show, and won 2017 Wisconsin Footlights Award for "Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play." REVIEWS and PRESS are below:
A five minute presentation of the show was presented at the 2017 Wisconsin Sports Award on May 20, 2017, at the University Of Wisconsin Field House.
The audience included All-Pro Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, All-Pro Green Bay Packers LT David Bahktieri and noted sports figures including The Green Bay Packers players Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, former Packer players including Mark Tauscher, The Milwaukee Brewers including Jonathan Villar, The Milwaukee Bucks, including Jabari Parker, UW Head Women's Basketball Coach Jonathan Tsipis, former University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Head Men's Basketball Coach/Butler Head coach Lavall Jordan, Marquette University Head Men's Basketball Coach Steve Wojceichowski, UW Head Men's Basketball Coach Greg Gard, ... executives and broadcasters Bill "Rock" Schroeder, Steve "The Homer" True, Tim Van Vooren from ESPN, FOX Sports Wisconsin, Major League Baseball... Good Karma Broadcasting founder Milwaukee's ESPN Radio owner Craig Karmazin, top male and female athletes from Wisconsin, Marquette University, UW Green Bay, UW Milwaukee... Marquette University Athletic Director Bill Scholl... Wisconsin Womens Vollyball HOF 2017 Athlete Of The Year Lauren Carlini, Wisconsin Mens Basketball players including Zack Showalter, Athletic Director/ NCAA HOF Former Head Football Coach Barry Alvarez ... among an audience of 1,000.
A VIDEO LINK the performance at the Wisconsin Sports Awards can be found at the BELOW LINK: <https://plummovingmedia.box.com/s/xca1fg54wrfb6le5vrb21vcwudlm30im>
Four books have been written about McGuire's life. McGuire's biography "You Can Call Me Al: The Colorful Journey of College Basketball's Original Flower Child, Al McGuire," written by Chicago area author and journalist Joseph Declan Moran with McGuire's cooperation, was first published in March 1999 by Prairie Oak Press (Madison, WI); "I Remember Al McGuire: Personal Memories and Testimonials to College Basketball's Wittiest Coach and Commentator (as told by the people who knew him)," written by Mike Towle, was published in December 2001 by Cumberland House Publishing; "Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry: The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire," written by Tom Kertscher, was published by University of Wisconsin Press in November 2002; "Al McGuire: The Colorful Warrior," written by Roger Jaynes, was published by Sports Publishing LLC in July 2004.Belmont Abbey record: 109-64
Coached Belmont Abbey to five postseason appearances
Marquette record: 295-80
Coached team to 11 consecutive postseason bids at Marquette
NIT championship (1970)
Coached team to a 28-1 season (1971)
Associated Press, United Press International and United States Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year (1971)
NABC Coach of the Year (1974)
NCAA championship (1977)
Among a select few coaches who have won both the NIT and NCAA championships
Marquette captured its first ever NCAA championship with a 67-59 victory over North Carolina in McGuire's last game as coach
More than 92 percent of his student-athletes completed requirements to earn their degrees from Marquette
Twenty-six of his players were drafted into the NBA
Marquette University Athletic Director (1973–77)
Conducted clinics at two Air Force bases in Europe (1971)
College basketball analyst, NBC Sports and CBS Sports
Basketball analyst, 1988 Olympic Games
Color commentator for CBS Sports' March Madness
Perhaps his most famous line as a commentator came during the 1992 NCAA Tournament at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, when McGuire blurted out "Holy mackerel! Holy mackerel! Holy mackerel!" following a game-winning buzzer beater by Georgia Tech's James Forrest. The shot was the first three-pointer of Forrest's collegiate career in the first game McGuire broadcast for CBS.
Following his broadcast of a 1996 NCAA Regional Championship, McGuire garnered fame for dancing with the players of Syracuse who were celebrating their entry into the Final Four. He would do the same the following year with the players from the University of Minnesota. The Minnesota players proclaimed they wanted to "Get down with Al!"
McGuire's broadcasting career was capped by a warm and poignant reunion less than a year before his death. When Dick Enberg joined CBS Sports in 2000 after a long career with NBC, McGuire was able to be reunited with Enberg and longtime CBS commentator Billy Packer. On Feb. 5, 2000, the trio called its final game together when Michigan State easily defeated UCONN 85-66. It was the first game the trio had called in nineteen year when Indiana defeated North Carolina for the 1981 NCAA National Championship game for NBC.