Mannie Jackson, the Edwardsville High School graduate who went on to play for and eventually own the Harlem Globetrotters, was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady and University of Kansas men’s coach Bill Self are among the 10 other honorees.
Jackson led the Edwardsville Tigers to the state championship finals for the first time in school history and earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois, where, with Govoner Vaughn, became the first African-American to earn a varsity letter.
Jackson starred at the University of Illinois from 1957 to 1960, where he was an All-American as a senior. Upon graduation, tried out for the New York Knicks of the NBA.
He spent time playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, but left to for Detroit to work for General Motors. He moved onto Honeywell, Inc. where he became one of the company’s highest-ranking executives.
In 1993, Jackson rescued the Harlem Globetrotters from bankruptcy by purchasing the famous barn-storming team for $6 million. The team continues to travel and draw crowds today and Jackson continues to be a financial benefactor in his hometown.
He served as chairman of the NBA Hall of Fame from 2007 to 2009. In 2015, Jackson was the recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor given by the NCAA to a former athlete “who ultimately became a distinguished citizen of national reputation based on outstanding life accomplishment.
McGrady — who went straight to the NBA from high school — was a seven-time All-Star who played 15 years in the league. He had his best years with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets before injuries limited his effectiveness.
He led the league in scoring while playing for the Magic in both the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. At 37, McGrady is the youngest in this year’s class.
“I did get emotional. I did start crying, I’ll tell you that,” McGrady said. “I was trying to call my wife once I got off the phone, but my eyes were so watery and I was so nervous I was opening up every app on my phone but the right one to make a call.”
Self is one of six coaches to lead three different schools to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight and led the Jayhawks to a national championship in 2008.
“The thing that I think hit me the soonest was the journey,” Self said about receiving the Hall of Fame call. “And certainly how many people have played a significant role in helping me and putting me in a position. And the more I thought about that, the list just grows and grows and grows. And certainly very humbled by it.”
Former UConn star Rebecca Lobo, another honoree, starred for the Huskies when they won a national championship in 1995 following an undefeated season and was also an Olympic gold medalist for Team USA in 1996.
Lobo said she was surprised and excited by her inclusion into the Hall of Fame and thought about her mother, who died in 2011.
“This just would have been something she dreamed of a lot more than I ever did,” Lobo said. “But I know she’s happy and I knew she was happy then, and just a very gratifying feeling.”
Former Chicago Bulls executive Jerry Krause, who died last month at 77, was the general manager during the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s. He was a two-time NBA executive of the year and responsible for surrounding star Michael Jordan with the pieces that helped create two championship three-peats.
“I know this would have meant the world to Jerry. It only further validates his legacy and what we all knew about his body of work with the Bulls,” Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement.
Others in the class include Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, Texas high school coach Robert Hughes, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Globetrotters player Zack Clayton, former European star Nikos Galis and former NBA and ABA star George McGinnis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.