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Marquette Wire

ALBRIGHT: How Shaka Smart resembles parts of fictional character Ted Lasso

Illustration+by+Kendal+Bell%0A%0A%28Photo+of+Ted+Lasso+courtesy+of+Apple+TV%2B.+Photo+of+Shaka+Smart+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29
Illustration by Kendal Bell (Photo of Ted Lasso courtesy of Apple TV+. Photo of Shaka Smart courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

When Ted Lasso, manager of fictional club AFC Richmond in the television show “Ted Lasso,” brought his entire team down to a sewer as a metaphor for ignoring the critics, I thought one thing: This is something Marquette men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart would do.

Smart has preached the importance of relationships and growth as a team from within his two years at the helm of the Golden Eagles.

In my little time at Marquette, I have grown fond of Smart and his somewhat cheesy habits, like having his players write down how they want to help their teammates on a piece of paper and put it into a water pitcher so “they can pour into each other.”

Or how he hands out dominoes after each game to the players he feels exemplified the “domino effect” in that given game.

There are many more Smart-isms or culture building activities that Smart does, but everything culminates under his belief of building something up together as one.

Sounds a lot like Lasso right? And his importance of relationships and “belief?”

Lasso makes it a point to know every member of the team, including the kit man and waterboy, something that had not been a priority to his predecessor. He always remembers birthdays and stories about people. But most of all, he cares about who everyone is beyond the pitch.

If that isn’t Smart-esque, I don’t know what is.

As you read this, you’re probably thinking, “At least Shaka actually knows about the sport he coaches.”

And you’d be right.

Smart is very knowledgeable about basketball, whereas Lasso is incredibly stupid in regards to soccer, to the extent that he didn’t know draws existed in the sport until after he was hired as head coach.

But that doesn’t mean the similarities do not exist.

Both coaches wholeheartedly believe that a successful program is one that has been built up to be great, and developing players around a unified system is better than getting the flashiest player who has a lot of stars next to his name.

They also both work tirelessly to form a relationship between management and the team’s players and staff.

Lasso has spent hours in his boss Rebecca Welton’s office and even pushed her to come to the dressing room after games. The AFC Richmond players are also always happy to see her, even letting out a big cheer when she walked onto the team bus in the latest episode.

Smart, likewise, always made sure Marquette University President Michael Lovell was involved in the men’s basketball games. When the Golden Eagles won the Big East Tournament in New York City, Smart ensured that Lovell got a piece of the net after the game. 

I have no idea if Smart has watched “Ted Lasso,” or what his thoughts on the upbeat and happy coach from Kansas City are. But I do know that there are similarities between the two.

So, as you watch the final six episodes of the Emmy Award winning comedy about a goofy coach with weird but meaningful -isms, try and count how many times you find yourself saying, “That’s something Shaka would do.”

Because I bet it will be a lot.

This article was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAlbrightMU. 

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright
Jack Albright, Assistant Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a junior from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is an Assitant Sports Editor for the 2024-2025 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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