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Abdur-Rahim, 1960 Basketball Team Honored

February 27, 2020
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Shareef Abdur-Rahim was at Cal only one season, 1995-1996, but he certainly made the most of it. 

Because of his stellar performance then and his achievements since he left Cal, he was the recipient of the annual Pete Newell Career Achievement Award. The award was presented at halftime of the Bears game against Colorado Thursday.

The year 2020 is also the 60th anniversary of Newell’s final season at Cal, in which the Bears reached the NCAA Tournament championship game. The Bears lost to Ohio State in the title contest, a game that defines that season more than it should.

Abdur-Rahim scored more than 30 points in his first three games and never really stopped.He led the league in scoring with an average of 21.1 ppg. He scored at least 30 points four times and led the team with 52 steals.. 

He was the first freshman to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year and was voted National Freshman of the Year by several publications, including Basketball Weekly. The Associated Press named him a third-team All-American. 

He declared for the draft in the spring of 1996 and was taken third overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He went on to a 13-year career in the NBA. 

He has served as an assistant general manager of the Sacramento Kings, the last NBA team he played for. He also was associate vice president of basketball operations for the NBA and since December 2018, he has been president of the NBA G-League. Abdur-Rahim has started his own foundation, the Future Foundation, which provides after-school and other support services for youth at-risk in Atlanta.

He seemed genuinely touched by his latest honor. “After my family (wife and twocchildren) and i moved to Sacramento. I would come (to Berkeley) once or twice a year,” he said in a pregame media session. “When I come into campus I usually have to come past the Clark Kerr campus which is where I lived. That brings back a lot of memories. The honor of being recognized with the Pete Newell Award, knowing what Coach Newell means to the University and basketball, in general, is an honor.”

Although he left school after that one season, something he said was not his original intent,  he fulfilled a promise to his mother and came back and earned his degree. He was awarded a BA in Sociology in 2012/

“After four or five years I would take extension classes,” he said. “Everywhere I went I would try to take classes”. His final courses had to be in Berkeley so Abdur-Rahim would commute from Sacramento two or three days a week. 

 And he found it particularly rewarding. “When I was a student-athlete the rigors of that were so much that it was tough to totally engage in everything the campus offers. When I came back I discovered libraries I didn’t know were there. I learned about famous professors. I really got to appreciate all the school has to offer.

That was not the end of his education. He earned an MA in Business from USC.

Todd Bozeman, then the head coach, had to do quite a selling job to get the high school star from Marietta Georgia to come to Berkeley. 

“I was SEC, ACC kid,” he said. “Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina..... Bozeman did a beautiful job of painting the school for me. And what he did better than anybody else is that he recruited my mother. They didn’t have a huge basketball program at the time. He just sold the university. 

Twenty years later another Cal coach Cuonzo Martin did the same sort of sales job on another product from the same high school, Jaylen Brown. In another eerie coincidence, both were the third player taken in the first round of the NBA draft.

Shareef said he became aware of Newell when he was in high school. It wasn’t so much Newell’s coaching reputation that he knew as much as his famous Big Man’s Camp.

“When I was in high school my coach showed me a tape of his Big Man’s camp,” Abdur-Rahim said. “He was in Hawaii, in the Hawaiian shorts and he’d be teaching them footwork. That was my first introduction. Then once I got here I learned more about what he means to Cal.”

Cal Athletics
Newell (eft) and the 1960 NCAA runners up

The ‘60 Cal team, which is also being recognized, never has received the credit it deserved. The year before Newell’s Bears had won the national championship and finishing second was a major disappointment to some.

The 1959-1960 Bears were 28-2, which is still the best mark since the 1927 team was undefeated in 13 games. But in ‘60 they had a tough act to follow.

The Bears lost three starters and some key reserves from the team that beat West Virginia in the title game, But they had All-American center Darrall Imhoff, rugged forward Bill McCointick and a capable supporting cast. They didn’t expect defeat.

“We were stunned,” McClintock said this week.

And in 60 years Cal has not come anywhere near that close to a national title. 

Some interesting notes about the ‘60 team.

  • The only other loss that season was to USC in the conference opener. In a strange bit of scheduling, the Bears and the Trojans met three times in a week. Cal beat USC on Dec. 29 in the semifinals of the inaugural LA Classic Tournament, 65-61. Four days later in the conference opener (also in LA) the Trojans pulled an upset, 65-57. That defeat left some Cal fans anxious, fearing that the Bears were not as good as the year before. Former Sports Information Director Bob Steiner, then a student working in the athletic department, encountered Newell in a hotel elevator. “How worried are you,” Steiner asked. “We’ll be all right,” Newell replied. The next night they clobbered the Trojans, 60-45, and did not lose again until the NCAA title game.
  • The Bears beat West Virginia, 71-70, in the ‘1959 NCAA Championship game. Some thought that was a fluke. But in the finals of the LA Classic the next season, they met West Virginia, which still had Jerry West. This time there was no doubt as Cal rolled 65-45.
  • Ohio State, which had a very talented lineup including Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek, also featured a bench player named Bob Knight. As a future coach himself, he knew which team had the better coach that night, and it wasn’t the Buckeyes. He and Newell eventually became close friends.
  • The Final Four format then was the semifinals on Friday night and the finals on Saturday. San Francisco (actually the Cow Palace) was the host that year. Ohio State beat NYU in the first semifinal, and the Buckeyes were back in their hotel by the time the Bears had finished their tough victory over Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson. It was pushing midnight when the Bears returned to their San Francisco hotel. They hadn’t eaten since lunch and wandered Market Street in a vain search for food. At the team breakfast the next day, Newell could tell his weary troops were lagging. “Ohio State was a great team and deserved to win,” Newell said years later. “But we were a step slow.” Had there been a day between, as there is now, the outcome might have been different. Cal might not have won, but it would have been closer. Newell successfully lobbied for the day in between the semis and the final.
  • “We were wired and couldn't sleep,”  McClintock said. ‘I told Pete later (trainer) Jack Williamson gave Tandy (Gillins)  one and a haf leeping pills He should have given us 2  6 packs “
  • The players from those years still gather regularly to reminisce. 

Other stories:

Cal Upsets No. 21 Colorado, 76-62

https://bearinsider.com/s/2110/a-perfect-match-lynda-brothers-68-makes-transformational-gift-to-cal-athletics

Discussion from...

Abdur-Rahim, 1960 Basketball Team Honored

1,219 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by HoopDreams
TonyTiger
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Yep his dad played in 1960 and he played in 1980
TonyTiger
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and great grandson in 1995
HoopDreams
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Cal should retire Shareef's jersey

Some might say he only played one year at Cal, but he won Conference POY in that one year, and returned to Berkeley to graduate

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf jersey was just retired by LSU. Mahmoud played 2 seasons for LSU and never graduated.
Big C
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HoopDreams said:

Cal should retire Shareef's jersey

Some might say he only played one year at Cal, but he won Conference POY in that one year, and returned to Berkeley to graduate

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf jersey was just retired by LSU. Mahmoud played 2 seasons for LSU and never graduated.
How about if they hoist his jersey to the rafters (and put the others back up there, while they're at it), but not retire the number? (sorry, but i think "retiring" the jersey -- implied that the number is retired -- should be just a much higher standard and i don't care if we did it for Grigsby or what LSU does... JMO)
HoopDreams
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Big C said:

HoopDreams said:

Cal should retire Shareef's jersey

Some might say he only played one year at Cal, but he won Conference POY in that one year, and returned to Berkeley to graduate

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf jersey was just retired by LSU. Mahmoud played 2 seasons for LSU and never graduated.
How about if they hoist his jersey to the rafters (and put the others back up there, while they're at it), but not retire the number? (sorry, but i think "retiring" the jersey -- implied that the number is retired -- should be just a much higher standard and i don't care if we did it for Grigsby or what LSU does... JMO)
How bout Kidd?
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