Eric McKinney Special to OVP
March 20, 2014
RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, an NBA Coach of the Year and 46-year coaching veteran, will be inducted into the University of Rio Grande Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 22 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
The Benham, Kentucky, native earned the starting point guard position as a true freshman in 1961-62 thanks to his athletic talents and advanced basketball IQ. Bickerstaff led Rio Grande to a winning record averaging 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals per game.
University of Rio Grande President Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley will induct coach Bickerstaff at halftime of the Cavaliers’ game against the Houston Rockets, where Bernie’s son, John-Blair, is an assistant coach.
“Coach Bickerstaff is a true champion of character, both on and off the court,” Dr. Gellman-Danley said. “His collegiate exploits and continued accomplishments as an engaged citizen embody the spirit of Rio Grande. It is a tremendous honor to induct coach Bickerstaff into the University of Rio Grande Athletic Hall of Fame.”
Founded in 1876 and nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of southeastern Ohio, the University of Rio Grande serves as an oasis of learning, innovation and technology. The 190-arce residential campus strikes a balance of liberal arts and experiential learning to prepare students for successful lives as responsible citizens in a culturally diverse, global community. An epicenter of cultural enrichment, Rio offers students a nurturing environment focused on the needs of the individual with a student-faculty ratio of 16:1 and a plethora of extracurricular activities ranging from Student Senate to Greek life, and intercollegiate athletics.
Bickerstaff began his coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of San Diego in 1968. After three seasons he took over as head coach and compiled a career record of 54-49 with a 19-9 record in 1972-73.
In 1973, Bickerstaff joined the NBA’s Washington Bullets (now Wizards) as an assistant coach. His NBA career included head coaching stints with the Seattle Supersonics (1985-90), Denver Nuggets (1994-96), Washington Bullets (1997-99), Charlotte Bobcats (2004-07) and Los Angles Lakers (2012-13). He also served numerous front office capacities, most notably as president and general manager for Denver when the Nuggets became the first eighth-seed in league history to upset the top seed in the first round of the 1994 playoffs.
Bickerstaff, the 1986-87 NBA Coach of the Year, owns a 415-517 (.455) NBA head coaching record over 13 seasons. He ranks 39th on the NBA’s all-time victories list.
Bickerstaff has been presented with the prestigious Horace Mann Award for Leadership (1987); named Sports Person of the Year by the New York Pro-Am Basketball Association (1987); inducted into the University of San Diego’s Hall of Fame; inducted into the West Coast Conference’s inaugural Hall of Honor; inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame; inducted into the John McClendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame; and named a Kappa Legend and Icon in Sports.
For more information about the University of Rio Grande, please visit rio.edu