University of Oklahoma men's basketball coach Lon Kruger received the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Metropolitan Award for long and outstanding service to men's college basketball on Sunday at the AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show in Phoenix.
The Metropolitan Award has a long and storied history, which began in New York City. The Metropolitan Basketball Association presented its first Metropolitan Award in 1941 to legendary City College of New York coach Nat Holman and followed that a year later with Ned Irish, who first brought college basketball to Madison Square Garden.
Over eight decades, the most famous names in men’s college basketball have been honored with the award, including Adolph Rupp, Clair Bee, Henry Iba, John Wooden and Dave Gavitt.
Kruger was presented the award by his son and OU assistant coach Kevin Kruger.
Below is a transcript of Kruger’s acceptance speech along with Kevin Kruger’s introduction.
“First off – Dad, congratulations. Awesome award and much deserved. Also, congratulations Mom. As we know, this wouldn’t be possible without your support. Witnessing it my entire life is special and I know for a fact that he wouldn’t be getting this without you by his side all day and supporting him throughout.
Last year when you asked me to come onto staff at Oklahoma, I was just over the moon like a kid on Christmas Eve every day. Even though I wasn’t a ton of help this past season, I’m just proud to go into work with you every day and figure out how to get some wins and positively impact the guys. Thank you very much and congratulations.”
“Thank you. That’s kind of hard to follow, quite frankly, but it is very special looking at the list of names of the previous winners, obviously many jump out who have inspired and mentored me and a lot of young coaches growing up in the profession. Now they continue to do that as we grow older in the profession. A very special group of people. I’m somewhat humbled, very humbled, and honored to be joining that list today.
A lot to thank. Jim Haney with the NABC and the leadership you give for all the coaches in the country. Certainly Eric Lautenbach and Nike – great partners of NABC and college basketball and how the game has grown under that partnership over the last 25, 30 years.
This is an award that is shared by many. All the coaches that I’ve had a chance to work with and play for. All the players who have been on staff. Kev took care of family, thanks Kev for doing that. My wife, Barb, going on 42 years of marriage and she’s been there all along.
Congratulations to all of the award winners, the four Final Four coaches in this special weekend. Good luck to Roy [Williams] and Mark [Few] and their two great teams tomorrow night. Looking forward to a great game. Thanks very much.”
Picture courtesy of the OU Men's Basketball Twitter account