SPRINGFIELD, Mass. The Temple fans were chanting, “I said it’s great to be a Temple Owl.”
Not the normal chant you would think to hear when basketball is not being played and it is the first weekend in October.
But that is the sentiments that Temple fans bellowed as they lined the red carpet of the Springfield Civic Center to welcome Coach John Chaney to the National Basketball Hall of Fame last Friday.
“It was a very nice feeling, very fun, and too good to be true,” freshman Karalyn McGrorty said. “I get to view history, tell my kids that I was there when Chaney got inducted.”
Temple students were offered a $50 package from Temple to witness the induction, stay in nearby Newton, Mass., and go to the Temple football game the next day at Boston College.
“I have got to thank Dean (Jim) Fitzsimmons for giving me this opportunity for 50 bucks,” sophomore Andy Simon said. “It’s exciting to meet new people and share school spirit with other friends and fans. You’re in college, you enjoy yourself, it’s a road trip.”
Sophomore Shaneeya Cooper said she took pleasure in seeing Chaney take his place in the Hall.
“My favorite experience was watching John Chaney in his glory,” Cooper said. “Just taking all the time he wanted, talking about whatever he wanted, and letting everyone know he was going to do it, because it was his time in history.”
Fans traveled to Springfield by bus from Temple. Sophomore Bernie Brogden described the trip up to the hallowed halls.
“It was kind of a dog trip up,” Brogden said. “There were nothing but traffic jams, every part of the highway on (Interstate) 95. But as soon as we got up there, as soon as we sat on the bleachers, from the red carpet to the Hall of the Fame it was wild, it was crazy. Everyone was screaming when Chaney, (Duke) Coach (Mike Krzyzewski), and Moses (Malone) came through we gave them all praise, but Chaney got the loudest of course.”
The red carpet was an Emmy’s-like atmosphere, which welcomed storied celebrities and athletes alike to the festivities.
“I wouldn’t have missed this induction for the world,” sophomore Rick Olivieri said. “It is an honor to see such a legend getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Although Temple fans normally have a grudge with Duke and Kryzyzewski, on this night it was all about honoring legends.
“It was all about the sport of basketball,” sophomore Kevin McAlpin said. “It was not about Duke and Temple. It was about respecting the coaches for what they have done.”
Sophomore German exchange student Thomas Wagner felt a little overwhelmed with the whole situation.
“It is difficult to say how I feel about the induction,” Wagner said. “This is very interesting because we do not have sports like this in Germany. This is a great feeling, that is hard to explain, but I am so glad to be here.”