Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kansas’ Bill Self Enshrined Into Naismith Hall of Fame
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kansas head coach Bill Self, along with 10 others, was officially enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony Friday evening at Springfield Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.
Self led off the 11 inductions and spoke for just under 10 minutes. He opened his speech describing how he received the call last March from Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva and how he turned on Naismith Drive, just east of Allen Fieldhouse.
“Getting the call while driving down Naismith Drive where I office is so surreal to me,” Self said.
Self then started a long list of thank you mentions, beginning with his family. He talked about his parents, Bill and Margaret, and sister Shelly before moving on to his own family, including his wife of 29 years, Cindy, daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Hayden, and son Tyler who played basketball for Self at KU for the last five seasons.
“Being a coach’s wife isn’t easy and it takes on many challenges,” Self said of his wife. “She has been with me in every step of this journey and so supportive and has sacrificed so much to allow me to chase my dreams.”
Self went on to thank his high school coach and friends and fans who attended the evening’s enshrinement. He followed that by tracing his coaching history beginning with Larry Brown, who presented him on stage. Self was a graduate assistant during the 1985-86 season under Brown in his first coaching job after a four-year playing career at Oklahoma State from 1982-85.
“I tried so hard to emulate you in how I coached.” Self said of Brown.
Self thanked Leonard Hamilton for hiring him at Oklahoma State and former Cowboy mentor Eddie Sutton who could not attend the festivities due to health reasons. He mentioned how he, like many, would like to see Sutton inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“It was so special watching him galvanize the community at Oklahoma State,” Self said of Sutton.
Self recognized current San Antonio Spurs general manage R.C. Buford who was a walk-on at Oklahoma State and hosted Self on his recruiting visit to OSU. Buford would later be an assistant coach under Brown at Kansas.
Self then went into his head coaching career, beginning at Oral Roberts in 1993-94 where ORU lost 18 straight games.
“On the baseline of the Maybee Center were the words painted, ‘Expect a Miracle’,” Self said. “But we were so bad it should have read, ‘It’s going to take a miracle’.”
He quickly noted that his ORU teams won 31 of his final 38 games played during his time at the Tulsa school, ending his four-year stint at ORU with a 55-54 record.
From ORU, Self moved across town to Tulsa, where he coached three seasons amassing a 74-27 record. The season before advancing Tulsa to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, Self’s team played in the event’s second round.
“And our second-round opponent was No. 1 Duke, and if we were just 42 points better that night, we would have won that game,” Self said.
From Tulsa Self went to Illinois winning two conference regular-season titles, advancing the Illini to two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight, amassing a 78-24 record.
“After three successful years and coaching some studs, the table was set for them to be great and they were,” Self said referencing an Illinois team made up of most of his players that advanced to the 2005 NCAA championship game, one year after he moved to Kansas.
“We would not have left Illinois unless Kansas called,” Self said about his current coaching spot.
Self set the table of his speech about Kansas describing its rich tradition of coaches and players.
“I’m incredibly proud to be the fifth head coach from the University of Kansas to join the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Self said. “It always hasn’t been perfect in Lawrence. We’ve had some tough losses but we’ve been pretty much a model of consistency in winning the Big 12, 13 years in a row and a national championship when Mario (Chalmers) made a huge shot in ’08.”
Self then went on to talk about how important his staffs have been in all his stops as a head coach.
“The group of men that are doing the lion’s share of the work are my assistants,” Self said. “We have many assistant coaches here tonight and I hope you understand the role you have played in making tonight possible.”
He then went into the many student-athletes who have been part of his journey and had them and his staff members stand and be recognized.
“There are none of these players that have learned as much from me as I have taken from them,” Self said.
Self concluded his speech taking it back to the beginning of his time on the stage of being the head coach at Kansas.
“I will never take this honor for granted and I will be more humble now than ever in actually occupying an office on Naismith Drive,” Self concluded.
Joining Self in the evening’s enshrinement festivities were the other 10 Class of 2017 inductees: Zack Clayton (player, posthumous), Nick Galis (player), Robert Hughes (coach), Mannie Jackson (contributor), Tom Jernstedt (contributor), Jerry Krause (contributor, posthumous), Tracy McGrady (player), Rebecca Lobo (contributor), George McGinnis (player) and Muffet McGraw (coach).
Earlier in the day Self rehearsed his enshrinement speech and attended a Springfield rotary luncheon at the Hall. He then visited with his many former players and staff at the hotel before heading to a VIP reception at the Hall of Fame.
Self becomes the 20th person associated with Kansas basketball to be inducted, the last being coaching legend John McClendon, who was inducted in 2016 for the second time. As only the eighth coach in KU history, Self is the fifth KU mentor to be inducted into Hall joining James Naismith, Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen, Brown and Roy Williams. Kansas has the highest percentage of coaches in the Hall of Fame, 63 percent, than any other school. KU’s five matches North Carolina’s five for the most inducted in college coaching with St. John’s third with four.
Release: KU Athletics
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.