A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers wrote Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on Monday, discouraging him from leaving the school to take a job in the NBA.
Seven members of the state's congressional delegation wrote the coach to encourage him to stay in East Lansing to coach the Spartans, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to lure Izzo away from college hoops.
"Coach Izzo, you certainly have had great success on the basketball court, with an NCAA National Championship, six Final Four appearances and four National Coach of the Year awards," the lawmakers, led by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R), wrote in their letter to Izzo. "Far more important than that in our eyes, however, is that you have been an ambassador for Michigan, a philanthropist and the kind of leader of student athletes of whom every Michigander can be proud."
Izzo's recruitment to the Cavs is part of a delicate chess game set to unwind during the NBA offseason. Cavaliers star LeBron James becomes a free agent on July 1, opening up a lucrative bidding war among teams over the game's biggest professional star.
While teams like the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets are thought to be top contenders for James, a new, prominent coach could be enough to convince the star, a native of the area, to stay in Cleveland.
By contrast, President Barack Obama has weighed in on the LeBron sweepstakes, saying he'd look pretty good in a Bulls jersey next season.
"Coach Izzo, we wish you nothing but the best of luck in the future, a future we certainly hope includes you and your family remaining in East Lansing focused on continuing to win titles at Michigan State, change young men’s lives and promote Michigan on the national stage," the lawmakers wrote.
Michigan lawmakers have been quick to opine on sports issues facing their state recently, as evidenced by Stabenow's urging of the MLB to retroactively grant Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game after an admittedly blown call cost him the historic win.
In addition to Stabenow and Rogers, the letter was signed by Michigan Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R), Candice Miller (R), Mark Schauer (D), Fred Upton (R), and Pete Hoekstra (R), who is also a candidate for governor. Interestingly, Hoekstra and Upton are both alumni of Michigan State's instate rival, the University of Michigan.