BOSTON -- Danny Ainge was inducted at the beginning of this month (May 1) into the GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
Joining Ainge as this year's inductees were: Dr. Regina Cavanaugh Murphy (Rice University, class of 1987), a star shot-putter and Rhodes Scholar candidate; Oliver Luck (West Virginia University, class of 1982), NCAA two-time MVP and former NFL quarterback (a teammate of BYU's Gifford Nielsen with the Houston Oilers); and Pablo Morales (Stanford University, class of 1987), an 11-time NCAA swimming champion who won three Olympic gold medals.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame as an honorary inductee was Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland (Ohio Wesleyan University, class of 1948/University of Chicago, class of 1952), a two-sport standout who became a Nobel Prize winner. And Bill Russell, NBA Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic center, was the Dick Enberg Award recipient.
Enberg, a broadcaster for CBS who has won 12 Emmy Awards, was the host for the press conference and the induction banquet which featured the theme "Tapestry of Life."
"These are American heroes and role models," said Enberg. "I would volunteer to be the coach, but I don't qualify. One of our Hall of Fame is a coach, John Wooden. How would you like to coach the basketball team who are members of this Hall of Fame?" These members include: Bill Bradley, Princeton '65; Doug Collins, Illinois State '81; Bob Elliott, Arizona '77; Tom McMillen, Maryland '74; Jack Sikma, Illinois Wesleyan '76; Bill Walton, UCLA '74; Kermit Washington, American '73; Jamaal Wilkes, UCLA '74; and Ainge.
Ainge was selected as an Academic All-American as a junior and senior at BYU. He became eligible for induction to the Hall after completing his degree in communications in 1992 at BYU after also taking classes at Boston University and Lewis & Clark College.
Ainge, now living in Gilbert, Ariz., was accompanied in Boston for the event by his wife Michelle and four of their six children. Oldest daughter Ashlee is currently the associate sports editor for BYU's Daily Universe and oldest son Austin signed a basketball letter of intent last November with BYU, but is applying to serve a mission this summer.
"This is one award I'm going to get that Larry Bird or Charles Barkley won't get," said Ainge, who began his 14-year career as an NBA player with the Boston Celtics. Then on a serious note, Ainge spoke of the pressures, balance and privileges he experienced as an athlete, concluding his remarks with a quote from Mahatma Ghandi: "Each of us must be the change that we would like to see in the world."
Walton, a former Celtic teammate and GTE Academic Hall of Famer, presented Ainge for induction.
"Danny was so good he was able to make the Sacramento Kings better, something Bill Russell couldn't do," said Walton.
At the event in Boston, media asked Ainge, also a former Toronto Blue Jay while he played basketball for BYU, questions ranging from baseball, the current status of the Celtics, a possible return to coaching, and about leaving his job as head coach of the Phoenix Suns in favor of spending more time with his family. He currently is a commentator for TNT broadcasts in the NBA.
"I don't regret my decision to leave coaching, it was the best decision I made in my circumstance and I it shocked my wife more than anyone."
U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts was in attendance at the banquet, along with 29 of the previous 58 inductees, including football player Merlin Olsen of Utah State University. CoSIDA (The College Sports Information Director's of America) has selected Academic All America Teams since 1952. GTE has been the exclusive sponsor of the Academic All-America program since 1985.