UK BASKETBALL | John Calipari, Louie Dampier enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame

09/11/2015 09:06 PM

SPRINGFIELD, MA — In the immortal words of the movie The Sandlot, “Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.”

Two former Wildcats cemented their basketball legacies on Friday night when John Calipari and Louie Dampier were enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Kentucky duo are two of 11 basketball legends in the Class of 2015 and the 10th and 11th respective UK representative to join basketball’s greatest fraternity.

  • “To join this fraternity — which I never thought about coaching and growing up — it never entered my mind,” Calipari said Thursday after the presentation of the Hall of Fame blazers. “I went to many inductions, but I never thought I’d be standing here.”

Calipari, who’s lead the Wildcats to four Final Fours and one national title (2012) in six seasons in Lexington, attributed his success as a coach to all the schools and teams that took a chance by hiring him over the years.

  • “I can tell you, when you’re coaching, somebody’s got to give you an opportunity to coach,” Calipari said. “Someone’s got to give you an opportunity to be a head coach. When you get fired like I did, somebody has to give you an opportunity to revive. You have to have staff; you all have to work; you have to have players, because that’s why we’re standing here as a coach.”

Dampier, a two-time All-American and three-time All-Southeastern Conference Selection, played three seasons at the University of Kentucky (1964-67), leading the Wildcats to the 1966 national championship game and finishing his career with the third-most points scored in school history (1,575).

  • “I’m just happy to be here,” Dampier said after the blazers presentation. “I’ve been asked so many times how I feel about being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it’s just a difficult thing to express, myself, how I really feel. … There might be a lot of players who were and are better than I was, but I’m in [the Hall of Fame], and I’m going to accept it.”

Dan Issel, Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer, introduced his former college and ABA teammate Dampier during the enshrinement ceremony on Friday night.

Calipari was introduced by Kentucky great and NBA champion player, head coach, and executive Pat Riley (also a former UK teammate of Dampier); UMass alum and NBA legend Julius Erving; and NCAA and NBA champion coach Larry Brown.

All four presenters are also already in the Hall of Fame.

Joining Calipari and Dampier in the Class of 2015 were fellow enshrinees Dick Bavetta, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn, John Isaacs, Spencer Haywood, Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo, George Raveling and Jo Jo White.


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