By Larra Overton
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 2, 2015)-- The 1976 Indiana Hoosiers are the last NCAA men’s basketball team to go undefeated and win the national title. And a key part of that historic season was Quinn Buckner. The Pacers broadcaster is one of just three men to win high school state title, an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal. He was also recently elected into the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his career accomplishments.
“All I was interested in was being an important part of the success and I look at it as the group dynamic,” Buckner said. “That’s the way I am today, I don’t just want to be a part of it, I want to be an important part.”
After falling short of an NCAA championship in the season prior, Buckner and his teammates were focused on one goal.
“At the end of the day, it was about winning a championship. It had always been about us winning a championship,” Buckner said. “There are guys that have a better memory than I that say Coach Knight said, if you do what I tell you to do and work to get better every possession, his way of saying undefeated and I believe he said it this way, everybody you play against will have a difficult time beating you.”
Although the Hoosiers' success is part of NCAA history, Buckner says Olympic history is what trumps his basketball accomplishments.
“Nothing better than wearing a medal, to represent your country and they put that medal on you and play the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' nah, I get emotional, that’s the best,” Buckner said.
The loss of his father forced Buckner to step away from the court and evaluate his next step
“I was in ten years, I lost my drive, I lost my motivation,” Buckner adds.
But a phone call from a familiar voice brought him back to basketball in a new capacity.
“I got call from Coach Knight,” Buckner said. “Coach called me and asked if I wanted to do Big Ten games and in his way, and I said, yeah sure, and I had never done games before. He said, ‘Here call this number. Click.’ So that’s how I got into television,” Buckner said, laughing.
While the demands of a tough NBA schedule, both as a player and broadcaster, have kept Buckner on the road for much of the past 20 years, Buckner’s sons say he always managed to stay connected.
“Our stuff was very regimented where we had time we spend together as a family, that was something that was always very important to him,” said Jason Buckner, the oldest of Quinn’s four children.
Quinn adds, “At the end of the day, this was more about them than it was about me. I had to try and do my best to ensure that they were gonna be okay.”
“He’s a great dad, the thing about him is he has energy for days,” Jason said with a laugh. “You know even when he came back from trips, when he was broadcasting and doing stuff nationally for ESPN, NBC, CBS, he was able to come home and he was always interested in what we were doing.”
The class of 2015 will be inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame on November 20 at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland in Kansas City as part of a three-day celebration of college basketball. Tickets will be available to the public online beginning August 1. For more information, follow College Basketball Hall of Fame on Twitter or visit their website.