Kansas Olympic (and NCAA) Champions

With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in full swing, it seemed appropriate for KU BALLS to present a recent acquisition and Olympic-related item from its collection:


The above picture is of an extremely limited print by John Boyd Martin that has been signed by members of the 1952 NCAA Championship team, who also went on to win Olympic gold.

Moving from left to right is Dean Kelley (lower), John Keller (upper), Clyde Lovellette (shooting the hook), Charlie Hoag (upper), Bob Kenney (lower), Bill Hoagland, Bill Lienhard (upper), and Al Kelley (lower, in blue). All eight of these Jayhawks were on the 1952 NCAA Championship team and were also Olympic champions, though unlike the other seven (including his brother, Dean), Al Kelley did not play on the 1952 Olympic team that won gold in Helsinki – he instead won his gold medal in Rome in 1960. Lovellette and 1952 Olympic Games assistant coach Phog Allen obviously made the Naismith Hall of Fame, but Al Kelley’s 1960 team was considered to be one of the best amateur teams of all-time and in 2010 was elected as a unit to the Naismith Hall of Fame, as well. As an aside, Kansas’ Naismith Hall of Famer Dutch Lonborg served as team manager on the 1960 gold medal team.

The 1952 team used to get together regularly, meeting in Lawrence to share stories and sneak in the occasional KU basketball game. Age, illness, and the passing of teammates such as Dean Kelley and John Keller made these get-togethers more challenging, but in 2012 they once again gathered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their NCAA title. Noted painter John Boyd Martin (more on him in a moment) is a friend of the team, and for this event in 2012 he painted the above picture to celebrate the NCAA and Olympic champions. Martin gave prints to each of the team members, who then signed each other’s copies.

Although you might not recognize Martin by name, if you’ve followed KU basketball for any length of time, you probably recognize his work. His painting is one of the first things you see when you walk into Allen Fieldhouse, his mural in KU’s basketball office captures the history and high points of Jayhawk hoops, and his work was prominently on display during the 1988 NCAA Tournament games in Kansas City. Some of his work:

2KUMural6KUAll-Americans  basketball_mural001_t640 NCAA50

If you’d like to read a bit more about Martin, check out the story on updating his mural after the 2008 championship at KUsports.com or visit his website.

KU BALLS is proud to showcase Martin’s piece of Kansas’ Olympic and NCAA championship-related history.

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