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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ex-Jayhawk included in Hall of Fame honor

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Former Kansas University basketball player Al Kelley remembers beaming with pride as the national anthem played during the medal ceremony at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

“I still am that way when they play the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ before KU games,” said Kelley, a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team that was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Class of 2010, announced Monday.

“I feel it strongly about America and our way of life. The emotion is still there,” Kelley added.

Other KU ties to the ’60 U.S. Olympic team include team manager Arthur “Dutch” Lonborg and trainer Dean Nesmith. Lonborg was inducted as an individual to the Hall in 1972. Nesmith worked in athletic training for 46 years at KU (1938-84).

“They (Lonborg and Nesmith) were selected by the Olympic Committee as representatives,” Kelley said. “I had good visits with them. We were able to renew some KU Jayhawker experiences,” Kelley said of his experiences with the duo at the Games.

Kelley was a three-year letterman at KU for head coach Phog Allen (1952-54) and was a member of the 1952 NCAA title team. His gold medal from the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome is in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. Originally from McCune, Kelley and wife Barbara have lived in Lawrence for 10 years since he retired from Caterpillar.

“The main thing I remember were the players,” Kelley said. “I was a guard, about 6-foot. I was selected in a playoff game between the AAU champion and college all stars. They beat us and took Jerry West and Oscar Robertson at guard. I played for the Caterpillar AAU team and they (the U.S. Olympic Committee) selected Bob Boozer from Kansas State and myself.

“The thing I remember about the practice sessions we played around the U.S. were Oscar (Robertson) and Jerry West were the ones I was competing against and I didn’t feel bad that I got beat out (for starting spots) because they both played pro ball for a long time,” Kelley added. “I remember the companionship with the rest of the fellas, the Olympic Village and the food. Some of the Olympics I watched was boxing with Cassius Clay. I watched Wilma Rudolph run and the decathlon was great with Rafer Johnson.”

That 1960 team won eight games by an average of 42.4 points.

Also named to the Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone and the 1992 U.S. Olympic team as well as Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, high school coaching great Bob Hurley, Sr., and WNBA star Cynthia Cooper. NBA veterans Dennis Johnson and Gus Johnson and international player Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira will be honored posthumously in the ceremony, Aug. 13, in Springfield, Mass.

Hurley is the third high school coach elected to the hall. He finished with a 957-106 record and 24 state championships in 38 seasons at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J. He coached KU’s Tyshawn Taylor.

“I am proud to have played for coach Hurley and be a very small part of his legacy,” Taylor said. “His coaching and teaching go far beyond basketball. He wants every one of his players to do well in life.”

Comments

yates33333 11 years, 9 months ago

Al Kelley wasn't nearly as good as his brother, Dean. Dean wasn't a scorer, but he was a good point guard and an excellent defender. He was one of the best at KU over the years.

RockChalkGuy 11 years, 9 months ago

Good job, Coach Hurley. The movie, "The Street Stops Here", was fantastic.

RockCaCO3 11 years, 9 months ago

The title should be "Former Jayhawk" not "Ex". Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk. Unless you take over as head coach at UNC.

Turk 11 years, 9 months ago

The Kelley brothers came from little Mcune, KS. The coach at Pittsburg, KS state had said thet were too small to play for him. They were both All American at KS. They were quick as cats and stuck like glue to their man. Al guarded Norm Stewart, former MO. coach even though Stewart had 3" to 4" on him. He always held Stewart below his average. They had extreme desire. I have see Al throw up at half time because of his nerves. They were very out going and Al helped me to feel at home when I was a freshman.

Turk 11 years, 9 months ago

The Kelley brothers came from little Mcune, KS. The coach at Pittsburg, KS state had said thet were too small to play for him. They were both All American at KS. They were quick as cats and stuck like glue to their man. Al guarded Norm Stewart, former MO. coach even though Stewart had 3" to 4" on him. He always held Stewart below his average. They had extreme desire. I have see Al throw up at half time because of his nerves. They were very out going and Al helped me to feel at home when I was a freshman.

Martin Rosenblum 11 years, 9 months ago

Turk -

Thanks for sharing your stories.

It's always good to hear about anything relating to KU basketball history from somebody who was there. I especially like the one about Norm Stewart being held below his average by Al Kelley!

yates33333 11 years, 9 months ago

I don't know if you played against the Kelleys or with them Turk, but I played against them in semi-pro games. I also doubt that John Lance, the Pittsburg coach, said what you say he said. I played for John and he was tough and said some unlovely things but he wasn't a fool. I think the Kelley's dad quit farming near McCune and went to work in Topeka at the time the Kelley boys entered KU. Al was a good player, but Dean was a superstar. Do you know what physical handicap Al had that made him hard to guard?

hawksince51 11 years, 9 months ago

My earliest KU memories were listening to all the games with my Dad on the radio when I was a kid in the early 50's. I remember the Kelleys well, particularly Dean in '52. But both were great KU players. I believe Al started on the '53 team that lost in the NC finals. Many of the players from that era went to work for Caterpillar so as to play for the Peoria semi-pro team. The money was not any bigger in the NBA except for the top stars and Caterpillar and the other semi-pros offered year-round work. Congratulations Al!!

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 9 months ago

Growing up in suburban Omaha I had the pleasure to live in the same neighborhood as one Bob Boozer - Kstate basketball alumn/NBA Great/1960 Gold Medal winner. As such I have always been interested in the make up of that team.

Good story for a great team.

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