By the time Greivis Vasquez took the mic and bellowed an extended "I am Maryland pride" to a roaring sellout crowd of 17,950 at Xfinity Center midway through the first half of Maryland men's basketball's 74-68 loss to Michigan State on Sunday, the statement was wholly superfluous.
After all, the former Maryland guard and seven-year NBA veteran had already spent much of the weekend in the arena.
Vasquez spoke to the Terps at practice for long enough to delay coach Mark Turgeon's Saturday media availability and held a pregame "Legends chat" alongside former coach Gary Williams. That event took place in front of a small crowd of fans in Heritage Hall, and Vasquez then held a press conference before settling into his courtside seat next to ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt.
All the while, he extolled the program and school that gave him what he called "the best four years of his life" and expressed a deep desire to return to the NBA after missing nearly all of the past two seasons due to ankle injuries.
"I came from nothing. Being where I'm at, I'm very thankful. I thank God for putting me in this situation, for surrounding me with great people," Vasquez said. "I had a great breakfast with the people that paid my scholarship, changed my life. I can make an impact in my community by giving back, not only here in the states but back in Venezuela as well."
Vasquez played from 2006-10 for the Terps, climbing to second on Maryland's all-time scoring list and earning the Bob Cousy Award, given to the best collegiate point guard in the country, as a senior.
Even more than his on-court production, however, Vasquez is remembered and revered for his competitiveness and on-court demeanor. The Venezuelan spoke at length about how his upbringing colored his celebrations and attitude on the court.
"I thought it was normal. I just wanted to express my emotions. … I care about this school, I care about what we're doing," Vasquez said. "I hated Duke as much as you hated it."
Vasquez also credited Williams with allowing him to express himself — often by dancing after he swished key shots — rather than squashing his unique approach to the game.
"You don't know how many people I had to almost fight because of your shimmy," Williams told Vasquez to the delight of Maryland supporters. "Everybody, they'd go, 'How come you can't keep him from doing that after he scores?' … We all grow up different. Wherever we grow up, we grow up, and that was part of your culture."
Part of Vasquez's return to College Park was to promote his charity work, which includes providing school supplies to local children in addition to working in his native Venezuela, a country currently embroiled in political turmoil and humanitarian crisis.
More than anything, though, Vasquez gave the impression that he was in College Park simply because he wanted to be and because he'll take any opportunity to be close to a basketball team and game.
Vasquez hasn't played in the NBA since October 2016. Ankle injuries have hampered him since then, but he hasn't given up on returning to the sport, potentially as soon as this year.
While basketball hasn't always returned the love Vasquez has put into the sport, the same can't be said for College Park, where his legend has outgrown his on-court production as an NBA backup looking for work. He relished the hero's welcome he received on Sunday.
"I needed this. I needed this weekend," Vasquez said. "I needed to be with you guys, I needed to recharge my batteries. You guys don't know how motivated I am right now."