SCHMIDT: Marquette’s poster boy

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EricSchmidtHis name is Dwyane Tyrone Wade, first name spelled with the “y” before the “a” because he can do whatever he wants. Around here he’s bigger than Kanye’s ego.

He’s won an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal, been the league scoring king and one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people. He runs the floor like a gazelle, blocks shots with bad intentions and fills up the basket like he’s going on a picnic. In Chicago, where he grew up and dropped 27 a game in high school, they call him the Chosen One. In South Beach they just call him Flash. And if he took a stroll around campus tomorrow afternoon, he would cause a half dozen car accidents and at least one mesmerized fan to walk into a pole.

Yeah, he’s kind of the man.

But Wade’s impact doesn’t stop with awards and adoration. The All-Universe shooting guard for the Miami Heat has been Marquette’s unofficial spokesperson since he jumped to the NBA back in 2004. Unofficially, he’s recruited more players than John Calipari with a trust fund.

“One of the big reasons I looked at Marquette was Dwyane Wade,” current team centerpiece Lazar Hayward said. “Other schools were nice, but Wade was here.”

Somebody needs to get this man on payroll. Wade is without question the biggest draw this university has to athletes and common folk alike. No incoming freshman can tell you who teaches his or her English intro class, but everyone knows that Dwyane Wade went to school here.

College basketball has been around since John Wooden was in diapers — which is a couple of eons ago, in case you’re not a history major — and I don’t know if a player has ever been linked to his university the way Wade is tied to Marquette. He means more to this school than Father Jacques himself, because while the good Frenchman may be the namesake, Wade is the brand.

I’ll be the first to admit that we got lucky. Wade would never have been a recruiting option at this school. Due to his academic struggles — which must have been extreme, even by athletes’ standards — he was pursued by only Illinois State, DePaul University, and Marquette. He chose Marquette and the rest is history.

Points were scored, games were won, he was named to Marquette’s Hall of Fame this year and his retired number now hangs from the Bradley Center rafters.

I want to be careful not to overlook the other sports legends that have graced this school with their greatness, fellow Marquette Hall of Famers like Bob and Jim Allen, Chas Mulcahy, Don Meminger and Doc Rivers. There’s also this guy named Ralph Metcalfe, a running machine that track coach Bert Rogers says may be the most prolific talent in Marquette history.

“Metcalfe was the fastest man in the world in the mid 1930s,” Rogers said. “Not a lot of people know this, but he beat Jesse Owens almost every time they raced. He certainly gives Wade a run for his money.”

Pretty cool story, but let’s be real. Wade is completely incomparable, not just because of what he did as an athlete, but also because what he’s been doing as an ambassador for Marquette since he left. He transcends the university. He’s our Fonzi. Our Jordan.

Speaking of Mike, the comparisons between he and Wade are becoming a little eerie. Beyond the on-court dominance and swagger the two swingmen share, the Windy City connection, and the same shoe sponsor, Jordan’s induction to the Hall last week seems to be like a prelude to Wade’s final chapter. He’s been rewriting the NBA records and bolstering his resume at a fantastic pace. Message to Mike: Keep an open seat in the Hall, Flash is on his way.

The bottom line is that Wade is a once in a lifetime athlete, the kind of player Marquette will probably never see again. He’s done just about everything for this university.

Now if this school could just return the favor and fix that slogan. “We are Marquette”? Nah. “Dwyane Wade is Marquette.”

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