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Oakland Accommodates Tom Izzo’s Phobia, Hosts Game at the Palace
by Baker Cronin
This coming Saturday Oakland will host the Michigan State Spartans at the Palace of Auburn Hills. One might assume that the reason for playing at the Palace instead of the O’Rena is the larger seating capacity and ticket sales to draw in the Big Ten school. The real reason behind the game not being played at the O’Rena is that Spartan coach Tom Izzo is deathly afraid of bears.
The head coach made it clear that under no circumstance would he step foot inside a building with that many images of bears. Even with the game played at the Palace, Izzo has filed a restraining order against OU mascots Grizz and Clawz in hopes of avoiding bear-related contact altogether.
Tom Izzo was born and raised in Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula. He had always feared the bears living there, but his phobia took a turn for the worse when his parents went on a cruise and the only babysitters available for young Tom due to the UP’s sparse population were a family of Northern Black Bears.
During those three weeks, Tom was forced to sleep surrounded by Teddy Bears and only allowed him to watch Little Bear, Rupert, The Care Bears, and Winnie the Pooh on the television. The Bears would read him “The Berenstain Bears” and a modified version of “Goldilocks” every night.
Rather than help him overcome his fear, this experience only worsened Izzo’s already fragile condition.
Things have progressed to the point where Coach Izzo is even wary about spending time around Junior forward Draymond Green, who is nicknamed “Dancing Bear.” Izzo contemplated having Green not make the trip with the team despite his 19 point 12 rebound effort against Oakland last year so as to not “bear overload.” As it is, Izzo has had his assistant coaches inform Green than when he is not on the floor, he is to sit on the opposite end of the Spartan bench.
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, Izzo vows to walk in with his head held high and try not to curl up into the fetal position or run away screaming like a girl at first sight of Oakland’s logo.
Related news: Izzo threatens to sever friendship with lifelong friend Steve Mariucci over rumors that he is currently in communication with the Chicago Bears.