University of Kansas

Trip to statue with dad, ring ceremony latest events in Bill Self’s weekend Hall of Fame activities

Kansas coach Bill Self (center) with some of his former players on Friday night after the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Springfield, Mass.
Kansas coach Bill Self (center) with some of his former players on Friday night after the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. gbedore@kcstar.com

Twelve individuals who attended Friday night’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony and adidas-sponsored post-event party that lasted from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., in Springfield, Mass., boarded an 8:55 a.m. flight Saturday from nearby Hartford, Conn., to Chicago and on to Kansas City.

“Are you going to the football game?” Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard asked a fellow passenger on the Southwest Airlines plane. “I’ll be there ... of course,” he added of the Jayhawks’ 3 p.m. game against Central Michigan at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.

The Saturday fliers with KU ties were not joined by KU basketball coach Bill Self and his own family members, who remained in Springfield a day after Self’s induction into the Hall. They were to enjoy a Saturday night trip to the Mohegan Sun casino/resort where the 11 members of the Hall’s Class of 2017 were to receive their Hall of Fame rings and attend a dinner.

The Self family had a special activity planned for Saturday morning, well in advance of the ring event in Uncasville, Conn.

“We’re going to go to the Hall of Fame to see it tomorrow,” Bill Self, Sr., beamed late Friday night, flashing a wide smile. He was referring to stopping by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to check out the Dr. James Naismith statue in front of the building’s main entrance.

A quote from Bill Self Sr., Self’s father, was carved into the marble below the statue for all to see.

The quote reads, “Don’t worry about the mules; just load the wagon.”

“(It means) don’t worry about things you can’t control. Just do your job,” Bill Self, Jr., said during his 9 minute, 58 second Hall of Fame induction speech at Symphony Hall.

Self made a point to acknowledge his mom, Margaret, and his dad during his speech, which was broadcast on NBA-TV.

“Thank you so much for being such great role models for my sister Shelly and myself: mom for being the rock of the family and dad for always being my hero and for all the life lessons you taught us. I never wanted to disappoint my parents,” Bill Self, Jr., said.

Highlights of adidas party

Adidas, which has a contract with KU to outfit all teams in the athletic department, held a party for friends and family of Self and fellow Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, who is affiliated with adidas.

Highlights included Self posing for a series of group pictures with five different sets of his players: from KU, Illinois, Tulsa, Oral Roberts and Oklahoma State.

Former Oklahoma State center Bryant Reeves attended in support of Self, who recruited him to play for Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State. Reeves played for Vancouver in the NBA from 1995 to 2001.

“What hasn’t’ been said (about Self)?” Reeves said with a smile when asked to comment about Self the coach and person. “He turned out to be a great head coach. We all know him from the early days. He was hard, but you learned a lot (from him). He is a great individual, a great man. He’s somebody you are proud to know. I’m very proud to know Bill Self.”

Reeves was happy to visit with players not only from Oklahoma State, but other schools.

“All of them helped him get here at some point or other,” Reeves said. “He’s a great coach. He’s got people here who want to support him. He’s had a great career, and it’s not over yet.”

Langford wanted to attend

Former KU guard Keith Langford could not attend Friday’s ceremony. He’s off to China to play basketball for the Shenzhen Leopards this season.

“It’s incredible,” Langford told The Star, referring to Self entering the Hall at the age of 54. “One thing I was so impressed with … he wanted to have all his players come and join him. It’s a testament to him. He’s recognized for all the success he’s had with the players on the court and has kept sight of that by inviting everyone to come to his induction. I wish I was able to go. I have to leave a little earlier (for China) but darn, he’s enshrined. He’s one of the greatest of all time. That’s a huge accomplishment. The only thing he can do now is get my jersey retired,” Langford added, laughing.

The 33-year-old Langford is KU’s eighth-leading scorer all-time (1,812 points) who played in a pair of Final Fours and one Elite Eight.

Dooley evacuated from Florida

Former KU assistant coach Joe Dooley, head coach at Florida Gulf Coast, sent all his players back to their hometowns in advance of Hurricane Irma on Tuesday night.

The school is located in Fort Myers, Fla.

Dooley, whose family was with him at the Hall ceremony on Friday, told The Star he would go recruiting in upcoming days.

“We had to evacuate somewhere,” Dooley said. “There’s no place better (to do that) than here.”

Bechard praises Self

KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard, who has been at KU five years longer than 15th-year KU coach Self, wishes he could have attended Friday’s ceremony.

No way, however, with his volleyball team defeating Belmont and Purdue in the Jayhawk Invitational on Friday to improve to 9-0 heading into a Saturday night match against Creighton.

“He sets the pace for all of us in how hard he works, how approachable he is,” Bechard said. “I can’t imagine working for a more professional coach than Bill Self.”

Bechard’s son, Brennan, played for KU and is Self’s director of basketball operations.

“I like to go to his practices,” Ray Bechard said of Self’s workouts. “I like to watch in-game stuff. He has the unbelievable ability to challenge a kid in practice then put his arm around him when the practice is over. They respond to that. Boy are we lucky to have him.”

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

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