One could argue the 2013 class is the best in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame's 28-year history other than the inaugural 1986 class.
The 2013 class, inducted Monday night at the Oklahoma National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum includes: Nadia Comaneci, an Olympic gold medal gymnast who scored the first perfect 10; college basketball coach Bill Self, who has won 507 games, including the 2008 NCAA championship; 16-time wrestling national champion Wayne Baughman; and Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, who brought an NBA team to Oklahoma City.
Three were inducted posthumously: former Oklahoma State two-sport star John Henry Ward, an All-American in football and wrestling who played in two Super Bowls; former OU quarterback Jimmy Harris, 25-0 as a starter, part of the Sooners' record 47-game winning streak; and former OCU great LeRoy “Ace” Gutowsky, who retired in 1939 as the NFL's career rushing leader.
The 1986 class?
Mickey Mantle, Allie Reynolds, Jim Thorpe, Bud Wilkinson, Carl Hubbell and Henry Iba.
RUSSELL RECEIVES STANDING OVATION
Hall of Famer Bill Russell, a 12-time All-Star, a five-time MVP who helped the Boston Celtics win 11 NBA titles received a standing ovation from the crowd before he introduced Bennett.
Known for his wit, Russell retold the story how Bennett informed him he knew of a great golf course named “Plantation” to which Russell quipped: “Clay: Don't ever say plantation to a black man.'”
Comanechi and Bart Conner is the first husband-and-wife combo in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Conner introduced his wife.
One of Conner's stories was Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, once had a talk show. Producers said they could use someone to help with her English. Conner hurriedly flew from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, changed clothes on the plane and handed her two dozen roses and his phone number.
The couple has been married 17 years.
“We have 11 Olympic medals in our house,” Conner said. “Of course, nine of them are hers.”
SELF TAKES SHOT AT OU
One of the nation's top recruiters, Self's humor was one of the highlights of the night.
“I never liked OU,” said Self, who attended OSU. “There's a reason. (OU coach) Billy Tubbs wouldn't recruit me. They already had a slow, white guy I knew I wouldn't play ahead of — Tommy (Tubbs).”
A few minutes later Self announced former KU assistant and current Tulsa coach Danny Manning was in the crowd. “You OU fans remember him well.”
Self also told a story of a waitress who gushed over how great a job he had done. Self tried to inform the woman it's the players that deserve the credit.
“She said, you don't understand Coach (Bob) Stoops, you had a great year,” Self said. “True story.”
BY MIKE BALDWIN