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.”