Last year, I was honored to be involved with the Inaugural Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall of Fame Golf Classic and again this year, the second annual Classic that took place September 26-27 at the Wigwam Resort in Arizona.
This event brought together some of the biggest names in the game of basketball. Additional All-Star sponsors include Alliance Beverages, Flying Colors Powered by Moss and the Wynn Hotel Las Vegas.
Thursday, September 26th boasted two forums. The first forum, Success Off the Court, was a panel of players turned successful business people. They shared stories about their transition from playing days to business. This forum was led by ESPN’s Michael Wilbon of Pardon the Interruption. Wilbon asked questions about how successes in basketball lead to success off the court. The forum consisted of Annie Meyers Drysdale, Nancy Lieberman, Wayne Embry, Bob Lanier, Del Harris and Kiki Vandeweghe. All shared interesting journeys in life and provided fantastic insight of their storied lives and the ever moving target known as business.
The second forum, Score, was an informative and entertaining panel discussion with some of the greatest scorers of the game. The panel included Meadowlark Lemon, Dale Ellis, Rick Barry, Bob Lanier, Gary Payton, Bernard King and Mitch Richmond. This group of legends spoke about how they sized up their competition and found ways to counter moves that defenders worked tirelessly to take away. I really enjoyed this group of men batting concepts back and forth how they at times felt invincible on the court when “in the zone.”
I enjoyed hearing Bernard King dissect the court and explain the spots on the court that he worked hard to get to, in order to get the shot he wanted. I also recollect Rick Barry explaining how to read the defender playing him and systematically make his fake or move to a scoring spot on the court. What fun! I could listen to those men all day; the most disappointing moment is when the forum came to an end, all too quickly.
After the forums, the Golf Classic VIP Reception took place. A chance to mingle with the greats and enjoy horderves, have a drink and bid on the silent auctions. There were great sports memorabilia made available by certified specialist in the field.
After the reception, from 6:30-9:00 PM there was a Casino Night Pairings Party. This boasted a live auction and dinner and paired the foursomes with the professional basketball players and offered a chance to get to know the athletes and celebrities in a casual atmosphere. After diner, the party wrapped up with casino games enjoyed by everyone, another chance to show off a different set of skills. Money was raised during the two days for the Hall of Fame to continue to promote the game of basketball. The Hall of Fame is a 501©(3) and offers wonderful insight and recognition deserved by those whom helped shape the game of basketball.
Friday, September 27th was the Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall Of Fame Golf Classic at Red Allen’s Patio where a continental breakfast and registration took place. At 7:30 AM there was a shotgun start and the Golf Classic Luncheon followed.
The Golf Classic featured over 50 Basketball Hall of Famers and basketball legends and one was represented with each foursome. The night before the tournament, guests were treated to a special Welcome Reception and Pairings Dinner and a Silent Auction, almost all of those participating were at the event.
Some of the guests included George Gervin, Bernard King, Kiki Vandeweghe, Medowlark Lemon, Bernard King, Nancy Lieberman, Dan Majerle, Moses Malone, Gary Payton, Oscar Robertson, Ralph Sampson, Lenny Wilkens, Anne Meyers Drysdale, Mitch Richmond and Rick Barry.
The tournament day was highlighted by Championship Play on three incredible courses. We were all up bright and early to golf on one of the three fantastic courses that the Wigwam is famous for.
The site of the Golf Classic, The Wigwam, is a historic Arizona landmark in Glendale’s Litchfield Park that exemplifies resort life. With luxurious accommodations, exceptional cuisine, extensive spa and recreational facilities, plus three 18-hole championship golf courses, the Wigwam served as hosts for this unmatched experience of a lifetime.
That day was a beautiful day of golfing and fraternizing for all to remember. Behind our foursome was Meadowlark Lemon, a great gentleman of the game, kind enough to share some stories and pose for pictures while we were waiting to tee off.
This star-studded event raised over $250,000 for the Hall of Fame. Congratulations Jerry, you scored another slam-dunk for basketball!
About Jerry Colangelo:
Jerry Colangelo is the Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board, as well as the Chairman of USA Basketball’s Board of Directors and architect of the 2008 USA “Redeem Team” Gold Medal winning effort. One of the most innovative and influential owners in NBA history, Jerry Colangelo has spent most of his life involved with the game of basketball. A graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned All-Conference honors as a player, Colangelo began his NBA career in 1966 with the Chicago Bulls’ front office. In 1968, he became the youngest general manager in professional sports with the expansion Phoenix Suns. In only his second season with the new club, Colangelo turned the Suns into a legitimate playoff threat. In 1976, Colangelo received his first Sporting News NBA Executive of the Year award for taking the Suns to the NBA Finals. A respected member of the NBA Board of Governors, Colangelo played an integral role in the formation of the WNBA in 1997. He has also served on the NBA’s the Long Range Planning Committee, the Expansion Committee and the Competition and Rules Committee. Continuing his transformation of downtown Phoenix, Mr. Colangelo was also instrumental in bringing major league baseball to Phoenix in 1998 and served as Chairman and CEO of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Mr. Colangelo was also critically involved in bringing NHL Hockey to Phoenix. Center Court at the Basketball Hall of Fame was dedicated as the Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams.
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate, men and women.