…but he knew it wouldn’t last: Earlier this month, a long, long overdue announcement was finally made – Jo Jo White is one of the newest members of the Naismith Hall of Fame. Although the class has been characterized as being headlined by Dikembe Mutombo and John Calipari (more on him later), Jo Jo isn’t some sort of Kewpie doll consolation prize – he deserved his induction a long time ago.
Along with his outstanding play earning All-America honors at KU, White helped to lead the US to its gold medal victory in 1968 and was a seven time All-Star and NBA Finals MVP with the Celtics. Quite frankly, when he retired from playing in 1981, it seemed like he was en route to a sure-fire induction into the Hall of Fame. “I wanted you to be the first one that I called,” White’s wife recalled Naismith Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva saying of this year’s class, “because it is long overdue.” Better late than never…
When you look at White’s stats as compared to other members of the Hall of Fame, it’s even more remarkable: Basketball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame Probability ranking has White 81st – ahead of over 40 other players that are already in the Hall of Fame.
In any event, the purpose of this post is to serve as a celebration of White’s election to the Hall of Fame and not an indictment of how the Hall of Fame overlooked White on the post-Bill Russell Boston Celtics.
Long-time (i.e. “older”) KU fans will undoubtedly cite White’s performance against Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA Tournament as an example of “what could have been” on White’s Hall of Fame resume – NCAA champion. At the end of the first overtime, White was called for stepping out of bounds as the potential game-winning shot went through the basket. Texas Western prevailed in the second overtime, and went on to eventually beat Kentucky in the title game. Despite White even admitting that he did, in fact, step out of bounds, Jayhawk fans still lament the call as being the wrong one.
KU BALLS is proud of Jo Jo White’s election to the Naismith Hall of Fame, where he joins 17 other Jayhawks enshrined with this honor (interesting race to watch, whether Paul Pierce or Bill Self is elected next).
Speaking of Jo Jo White serving as an assistant at Kansas, check out the 1982-1983 team picture and autographs, below:
See Jo Jo’s autograph going vertical in the lower-middle area? Look from there to the right edge of the picture and you’ll see the autograph of one John Calipari, who was an assistant at Kansas from 1982-1985.
I know, I know – KU fans can’t stand John Calipari or Kentucky, and I’m one of them. That aside though, the serendipity of these two being at Kansas, signing a 12-year-old’s team picture, and then being elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame at the same time is pretty remarkable.