Bill Self seemed calm, cool and collected during his 9 minute, 58 second speech for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night at Symphony Hall.
Looks can be deceiving, though.
“I was actually very nervous — nervousness and cotton mouth do not go very well together when you first get up there,” said Self, the first of the 11 inductees to give a speech at the enshrinement ceremony.
“It was fine. I’m probably glad I went first to get it out of the way,” he added.
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Self was told by media his speech went a bit longer than the eight minutes allotted to inductees.
“They (Hall officials) told me it’d be at least a minute longer or minute-and-a-half longer,” he said. “Everybody went long. Just about everybody.”
Self said the experience “was fun. I’m getting ready to have a lot more fun now though,” he added of a post-show party for his former players and assistant coaches and their families.
“That’s the best thing about tonight, seeing everyone (supporters in crowd) before I went up there,” Self said.
Roy praises Self in video
Hall of Famer Roy Williams spoke glowingly of Self during a short video shown prior to Self’s class of 2017 acceptance speech.
“Some of those places (Self coached) were not basketball powers, but they got better after he got there,” former KU coach Williams, the current coach at North Carolina, said in the video. “Illinois, they got better. Oral Roberts, they got better. Kansas has been good for a long time. He took them to another level.”
Williams added that Self, “pushed the academic side, pushed doing things the right way, coached players who have been a success in the NBA. Thirteen conference championships in 13 years is one of the most amazing accomplishments anybody can have. He is as quality, quality a coach as far as you can find.”
Buford happy for his buddy
R.C. Buford, general manager of the San Antonio Spurs, said he was thrilled to be in town for the Hall of Fame ceremony with his wife, Beth, and son, Chase, a former KU guard. His wife, formerly Beth Boozer, was a member of the golf team at KU in her years there.
“It’s unbelievable,” R.C. said of his buddy Self being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I remember his recruiting visit to Stillwater (Oklahoma State, which is former KU assistant coach Buford’s alma mater). From that first night to tonight, it’s pretty cool.”
Buford, who has shared plenty of laughs with Self, was serious on Friday: “It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by not only the success he’s had but the people he’s influenced. That’s his biggest accomplishment, the impact he’s had on individual people in universities, their programs. That’s what is special.”
Robinson says Self ‘still writing his story’
Russell Robinson, starting guard on Kansas’ 2008 NCAA title team, had this to say about Self: “He put in a lot of work in his career. The best part about him is he’s still writing his story. Getting in the Hall is great. This is one part of his career. He can continue to strive for greatness. It’s a big moment for him, but a motivational moment for his career.
“He’s great with people, a high-energy guy always. He has a positive effect on everybody who comes in his life.”
Robinson has yet to sign with a team for the upcoming season. He’s played overseas the past several years.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Robinson said of sitting in the Symphony Hall stands supporting his college coach. “It’s great to be around so many guys who played for coach.”
Robinson, who is from New York, said even as a high school recruit he knew Self was “special. I had a lot of great coaches recruit me. I knew something special about him. To see him going in the Hall, I’m not surprised a bit.”
Moody makes trip from South Carolina
Former KU forward Christian Moody, who is completing final studies to be an orthopedic surgeon in South Carolina, said as a player at KU he knew Self “was special. Looking back at what he’s done at the school is beyond amazing, what he’s done at Kansas. Stephen Vinson and I were talking about that as we walked to the Hall and back today (from downtown hotel). What coach Self has done with so many different groups for so many consecutive years, having so many great seasons. It’s hard to imagine other people doing that.
“It’s a special combination of how he coached all different groups. Look at his teams, He’s had four NBA guys on teams; eight NBA guys or one NBA guy. He still managed to win. It’s a testament to him and his staff.”
Howard says Self on Cloud Nine
KU assistant Jerrance Howard, who played for Self at Illinois and coaches for Self at KU, said Self has never seemed so happy as this weekend.
“He’s like a little kid in a candy store,” Howard said. “I think the best thing for him is seeing all his ex-players; He said it didn’t hit him in April (when he found out he’d be in the Hall’s class of 2017). It hit home yesterday. He’s enjoying it. Everytime he sees a player he says, ‘You good? Is everything OK?’ He’s still being coach.”
Howard said it’s “unbelievable” that Self is in the Hall at age 54.
“To work for a Hall of Famer in coach Self … I worked for Larry Brown. What coach can say they worked for two Hall of Famers? The way he goes about it, he’s so humble so cool about it. It’s cool to see. It’s a joy to be here with him.”
Moulaye praises coach
Former KU forward Moulaye Niang traveled from his home in Charlotte, N.C., to Massachusetts for Friday’s ceremony.
“Oh man, look at all the people around, everybody wanting to come back for this big important day says a lot about the man he is,” Niang said. “A lot of people wouldn’t have as many players come back for them. Coach impacted my life. I’m happy to be part of this, to come here and support him.”
Niang works in the financial-services industry.
“It’s so great, so satisfying to have had the opportunity to play for such a high quality coach and person,” Niang said. “To me, it’s more important about the person than the coach.With him it’s the person. The fact we want to come back and be part of this says a lot about Coach Self the person.”
Keller lauds KU streak
Former KU assistant Kyle Keller, the head coach at Stephen F. Austin, said he is “in awe” of what Self has done.
“Thirteen championships. I know that’s important to him. ... He thinks winning each possession. It’s why they’ve won 13. They only think next possession. It’s all a process. He’s a neat dude.”