A statue of Earvin “Magic” Johnson on display in front of the Breslin Center was vandalized overnight on Wednesday in East Lansing, Michigan. An “M” and “Beat State” were spray-painted on the statue in the University of Michigan colors.
A spokesman for MSU, Jason Cody, said the statue isn’t the only thing that was vandalized. There were signs of vandalism on a sidewalk by Munn Field and on a wall behind the Sparty statue.
“I would like to think that most fans of both schools have a little more class,” Cody said.
Vandalism is not uncommon before a huge football game. On Saturday, No. 7 Michigan State plays No. 12 Michigan. This game is a big one because ESPN College Gameday will be in attendance.
Therese Nugent, who is in charge of MSU’s Landscape Services Department, said her department found out about the vandalism at around 7 a.m. on Thursday morning. She said the paint was already dry when they got to the statue, so they speculated that the vandalism took place overnight.
Nugent said she has never seen the statue vandalised before. The statue is usually guarded around the clock by the Marching Band during the week that MSU plays Michigan.
Nugent said that it would probably take most of the day on Thursday to clean the statue, and it could cost thousands of dollars. She said it would take a lot of scrubbing, and one of the utility workers was using a cleaner called “Mark off” to try to remove the paint.
The “Magic” Johnson statue, worth approximately $250,000, was created by Omri Amrany, who lives in Highland Park. Amrany told the Lansing State Journal that the statue is about 12 feet tall and it weighs around 6,000 pounds.
The statue is bronze and has a granite base. Amrany said that the bronze and granite used to create the statue was purchased in Michigan, the bronze casting was done in Kalamazoo, and some of the glass work for the statue was done in Detroit. The statue was funded by private donations. The statue at MSU is one of two that Amrany created. He created another one that stands outside of the Staples Center, which is the home of the Lakers.
Amrany spent eight months creating the statue and said he is a fan of Magic Johnson. The statue was dedicated on November 1, 2003, and Magic Johnson was in attendance that evening. Magic Johnson played for MSU’s basketball and helped them win a national title in 1979, then went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he has won five NBA titles.
“There’s a lot of great Michigan kids,” said Michigan State Basketball coach, Tom Izzy. “There’s some idiots. And there’s some idiots on our side, too, that do crazy things. But messing with Sparty is a bad thing, like messing with their ‘M’ is a bad thing. But messing with Magic, that’s a worse thing. And we’ll make sure that from now on maybe the basketball team will sleep out. I know the band does and different people. But we’ll have him covered from now on. But I don’t look at that as the university, I look at that as a couple people defacing something that, the only problem I have with Magic’s thing, even more than Sparty for me, is Magic gave so much to the game of basketball and sports and people and our state of Michigan. Michigan fans, Michigan State fans, he’s one of the few guys who transcended all those things. And I know it’s a gimmick and it’s something but like I said, it’ll give me a good reason to keep our guys intact next year, because they’ll all be sleeping around that statue next year.”
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