For Doug Collins, accomplishing things first must be second nature.
Collins’ Illinois State University career took place under the leadership of legendary coach Will Robinson, the first African American head coach in Division I men’s basketball. With Robinson and Collins in the lead, ISU first entered the Division I ranks in 1972. Collins went on to 3 years as an Academic and Athletic All-American, averaging 29 points per game. Collins was the first and only ISU athlete to have his jersey number retired directly after his final home game. Doug was also the first player selected in the 1973 NBA draft, and he is the first and only ISU men’s basketball player inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, no one promised being first would always be a good thing. Doug Collins was also a member of the 1972 US Olympic basketball team, that was the first to bring home a silver rather than gold medal.
A four-time NBA All-Star in his own right, Collins coached the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and 76ers in addition to broadcasting stints with CBS, NBC, TNT, and TBS.
Now, before you enter Redbird Arena, you’ll first see the statue depicting Collins and Coach Robinson outside the north entrance; step on the playing surface, and you’ve entered the first named court at ISU: Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
As a 4-time NBA coach, Collins was both hired for, and fired from, 3 of those 4 jobs. Now serving as a senior advisor to the Chicago Bulls, with more than more than 50 years of basketball, Doug Collins has experienced both the risks and rewards associated with historic first.
Until next time, for Stories Beyond the Scores, I’m Chris Reynolds.