Michigan introduced an emotional Juwan Howard as its head basketball coach on Thursday, 25 years after he left his alma mater to pursue an NBA career.
Before he ever stepped to address the crowd at the Chrisler Center in Ann Arbor, he had to turn away from the audience to wipe his eyes.
"Tears of joy," he said.
Michigan hired Howard on May 22 to replace John Beilein, who left the Wolverines for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. Howard accepted a five-year deal starting at $2 million annually.
"I said I wasn't going to cry. I guess that happens when you're excited about something that is so special to you, that means so much," he said. "The last time I had a press conference in this building was 1994. I decided that I was going to the NBA. I felt like I was letting down my teammates because I didn't do what I came here to do and that was to bring a championship to this university - the university I care so much about."
He wiped away more tears.
"I guess you can see that now, huh? Now, let's fast forward 25 years later.
Howard, 46, had been an assistant coach with the Miami Heat since September 2013, when he retired after playing more than 1,200 games with eight NBA franchises from 1994-2013. He reportedly interviewed this offseason for the head coaching vacancies with the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Howard, a member of the famed "Fab Five" 1991 recruiting class at Michigan, was the No. 5 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. He was an All-Star with Washington in 1995-96 and won an NBA championship with the Heat in 2011-12.
He averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 19 NBA seasons.
--Field Level Media