I remember my first shot at Moody Coliseum.
It was December 3, 1956, and we were playing McMurry at the time.
There was nothing particularly special about that first shot. Initially, it just seemed like one of many routine layups that went through the hoop in that game.
I never thought about it being the first shot ever made at the arena.
The only thing on my mind at the time was just competing and helping my team get a win. No one ever brags about the historical significance of a layup, you know?
It wasn’t until I scored the last shot ever made at Moody Coliseum in 2013, before the renovation, that I truly appreciated the opportunity to accomplish that feat.
I often think about all of the great players that have competed on that court, and I’m just thankful to have been a part of it.
From the first bucket to the last — and now being inducted into the SMU Hall of Fame — none of it feels real.
None of it feels like my life.
Well, one thing did feel real — how long it took me to make that last shot.
But, I was an old man then.
So, I guess they’ll forgive me, right?
Either way, that moment was really special because it brought everything I’d ever achieved on the court full-circle. It also made me remember why I chose to come to SMU in the first place.
I had a lot of offers from different colleges after winning the state championship with my high school basketball team.
Schools like Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, and Saint Louis all wanted to sign me. Believe it or not, I was a much better ballplayer back then — you know, when I was quite a bit younger.
I was thankful for those offers, but at the same time, those schools had already been pretty good at basketball.
However, when I looked at SMU, I saw a school that was in a transition phase. They didn’t have a well-known basketball program at the time, so I thought it’d be a great challenge to build something.
That was one of the main reasons why I chose SMU.
But then, of course, I got there and just fell in love with the school and everything it offered.
It just felt like the right fit in the end.
Looking back and seeing everything we were able to accomplish as a team, I can say without a doubt in my mind that I made the right choice.
One of my fondest memories with the team was going to the Final Four in 1956.
I’d say it was the highlight of my time playing at SMU.
It’s a moment I’ll always remember because we played against the San Francisco Dons with Bill Russell, who’s probably one of the greatest basketball players that ever played.
That moment obviously became even more special as time went on and seeing Bill go on to become an 11-time NBA champion.
It isn’t every day you get to share the court with such a legendary figure.
Of course, I was fortunate enough to share the court with another legend the following year, when we won the Southwest Conference Championship.
We went on to play Kansas with Wilt Chamberlain.
That was obviously another incredible experience.
We lost to them in overtime, but I would have been hard-pressed to find a ride as good as that one. Just going out there and having that opportunity to compete against the best — as a basketball player, what more can you ask?
Even if we couldn’t win a national championship, those experiences, along with beating Saint Louis pretty bad in the “loser’s game” the following day — it was a good way for me to end my career at SMU.
More so than the actual game itself, the memories I made with teammates, coaches, teachers, and friends while attending the university tower above everything else.
It’s the reason why we have season tickets for SMU basketball.
There’s nothing like coming back and reliving those old memories all over again.
My time there impacted my life in ways you wouldn’t even think possible.
It taught me that everybody needs to work together to try and help each other succeed. That’s true in business or anywhere else in life.
Just everybody coming together for a common goal to win — isn’t that what it’s all about?
SMU taught me that.
Those lessons have carried me through life, and for that reason alone, I’ll always be grateful.
SMU has given so much to me in the form of athletics, life lessons, a future, and most importantly, the love of my life.
I met my wife while attending school there, and we’ve been married for 64 years now.
Not even the Final Four appearance and going head-to-head with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain can top that for me.
Meeting my wife there is by far the best thing that ever happened to me at SMU.
The next best thing just might be joining two of my closest friends and teammates, Jim Krebs and Rick Herrscher, in the SMU Hall of Fame.
One of my favorite memories happened in one of our games against Rice in Houston.
The score was tied, and Krebs stepped to the free throw line to try and knock down the shot to win the game.
Everything came down to that one bucket.
I went outside the gym because I couldn’t stand to watch.
But you know what? He made that shot, and we won that game.
Now, as an SMU Hall of Famer, I can proudly say once again, we made the shot, fellas.
The inductees will be recognized at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony on Friday, November 4 in Armstrong Fieldhouse at the Indoor Performance Center. For additional information or for tickets to the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, click here.