Bill Self said never say never.
One of seven people inducted in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Kansas University men's basketball coach was asked if he would ever consider coaching in the NBA.
“It hasn't really tempted me because I haven't had that many people talk to me about it,” Self said. “But at some point and time, sure, I think it would (tempt me). It would be great to be able to match wits with the best athletes in the world, but I'm certainly happy where I'm at.
“I'm not saying I never would (coach in the NBA) but I'm locked in.”
Since Self wouldn't owe Kansas a penalty if he leaves before his contract expires in 2022, would the ultimate job for the Edmond Memorial product be to coach the NBA team in the shadows of his hometown?
“I wouldn't say the Thunder,” Self said. “They've done a remarkable job. They have a coach (Scott Brooks) who is one of the bright stars in all of basketball, at any level. That's not anything I would think about.”
Self last fall signed a contract extension that guarantees he will make $52.2 million in total compensation over the 10-year period, not including incentive bonuses.
Self, 50, will receive a $2.63 million bonus if he stays through 2015, another $2.63 million bonus if he stays through 2018. Self would receive an additional one-time $6 million bonus — $11.3 million total — if he stays at Kansas the next nine years.
“Yeah (the money is good), but the biggest thing is you will never be happy as a coach unless you know you can attract good players,” Self said. “I'm fortunate to coach at a place where the product is so good we're always going to get, at least I hope so, some pretty good players.
“I love it at Kansas, and they love basketball there. I've been very fortunate to coach at such a tradition-rich place.”
Kansas won the 2008 NCAA championship and was the 2012 national runner-up. The Jayhawks are 300-59 under Self his 10 seasons.
Few coaches have matched their college success in the NBA. But because Self runs a high-low motion offense, using a size advantage in the paint, his style would transition well to the pros.
“When you're talking about coaches at any level the best ones are able to adapt and adjust,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti, in attendance Monday night in support of team chairman Clay Bennett, a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. “Certainly Bill has shown the ability to do that.
“Fortunately for him he has a great situation at Kansas. I'm sure that's the only thing he's focused on right now.”
Self has won 507 games in 20 seasons at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. The Jayhawks have won nine consecutive Big 12 regular season titles and are 277-32 under Self at Allen Fieldhouse.
“This was not unexpected,” said Mike de la Garza, Self's high school coach. “The guy has been my idol since he was in the eighth grade. This guy knows what it takes to win and how to handle individuals. He's a genuine guy that connects on an individual level.
“I thought he'd be a Division I head coach by age 30, his goal, which he did and that he would have one of the five best jobs in the country by age 40. I told him to his face he'd be the best coach in the country at age 50. Other guys coach really well, but game by game, nobody coaches better than Bill.”
Self was named the Oklahoma High School Player of the Year his senior season at Edmond Memorial. After he played at Oklahoma State, Self was a Division I college assistant eight years, all but one at OSU under Eddie Sutton and Leonard Hamilton.
“A lot of people give coaches way too much credit when you win and too much blame when you don't win,” Self said. “My success has been a byproduct of having really good players. I've had an unbelievable run in large part because of timing and so many people that have played a huge role in my life.
“I knew this (night) would be special, but it means more after you get here and see all the other people inducted and have been inducted in past years. To be recognized by my home state makes it even more special.”