HOUSTON -- Herb Magee came from West Catholic High to Philadelphia University in 1959. This August, he will be going to Springfield, Mass. It was announced in a hotel ballroom here this morning that Magee would be among the newest members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Magee arrived at Philadelphia Textile as a player. He scored a then school-record 2,235 points, including 29.1 per game in 1961-62. He stayed on as an assistant coach and became the head coach in 1967 at the age of 25. He never left. And, now an NCAA record 922 wins, later, he has earned his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
"I am completely humbled to be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame," Magee said. "I have dedicated my life to the game of basketball, and to become a member of this sport’s elite group of players and coaches is an honor.”
Friday night at Yao Ming’s restaurant in downtown Houston, Magee was there at the annual Final Four ``Villanova Party’’ along with so many of his Philadelphia basketball brethren. `Nova coach Jay Wright sponsors the party and everybody is invited, even some people who are not invited.
When asked how many games he had won, Magee said ``922, but just don’t ask me about the losses.’’
He blamed the losses on all his former assistants, including Steve Donahue, the head coach at Boston College and Patrick Chambers, the head coach at Boston University.
``If you’re happy in your job, there’s nothing wrong with that,’’ said Dick DeLaney last year. ``If you wake up every day and you like the place you’re working and the people you’re with, what’s wrong with that? Nothing.’’
DeLaney has had two tours of duty as a Magee assistant in between his time as West Chester’s head coach.
``Happiness isn’t all about money, not all about notoriety, not all about moving here and moving there,’’ DeLaney said. ``It’s about being around people you want to be around.’’
Which is why Magee came and stayed, even when he had chances to go to more high-profile jobs.
Textile became Philly U. in 1999. Back at the beginning, it was textile classes, 36 hours per week, no gym, practice wherever they could find space. There were once 350 students; there are now 2,200.
Now, the school has a beautiful new gym and court named after its Hall of Fame basketball coach.
“The name Herb Magee has been synonymous with Philadelphia University since his arrival on campus in 1959. He has excelled as a student, an All-American athlete and now as a Hall of Fame basketball coach,” athletic director Tom Shirley said. “Entering the Hall as the winningest NCAA coach of all time only adds to his legacy of success.”
In Magee’s third season as head coach, the Rams (29-2) won their last 28 games and the Division II national championship. Before the 2009-10 season, Magee was honored for his 50 years at the school.
Now, the King has herbmagee.com, his shooting tapes and a team to coach, the only team he has ever coached.
Through the years, he has had wonderful players, including Randy Stover, Christian Burns and Tayron Thomas. And so many assistants who have learned at Herb Magee University.
This August, many of them will make the trek to New England to see the man who taught them so much take his place alongside the legends of the game in the city where the game was invented.