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Eddie Nuñez’s roots: The ties that bind

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — From his years in Miami and college athletics, Eddie Nuñez has a who’s who of athletic directors and athletes on his list of friends and associates, ranging from Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade to Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Shaquille O’Neal

He seems especially fond of former LSU star and NBA great Shaquille O’Neal.

“He’s unbelievable. You talk about somebody who has the acumen for business. But he’s so down to earth. What you see is what you get. He’s real and at times he’s a kid at heart. I love him and I’d love for him to come out at some point and talk to our kids.”

And Saban, the former LSU coach who has built a perennial powerhouse and national-title contending football team at Alabama?

“With Nick, it’s about expectations. He wants to win and it’s about a process. Everybody has a responsibility for their part of that process and we’re here to get a job done.”

“He came to work early and left late.”

Nuñez dealt with Saban early in his tenure at LSU because one of his first major projects was a new football operations center.

Then Saban realized Nuñez could play basketball.

Nick Saban

“He was a fiend for noon basketball. All his coaches would go play. It was really the Nick Saban basketball league. It was his rules. He was the commissioner, head coach and referee.”

Nuñez showed up one day to play, and once Saban figured out he could play – Saban arranged the teams – he picked Nuñez for his team.

“From that point I was always on his team, and we didn’t lose many.”

As for Saban’s basketball prowess: “He’s actually really good … and he was coaching you when you played. If you didn’t set a good screen he would let you know.”

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