Basketball has developed into a true global sport; the NBA’s wild popularity in China and other foreign countries is evidence of this. The number of players from overseas playing in the NBA and in the college game is at an all-time high.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Springfield College men’s basketball put the game we know and love on display for thousands to see. According to Garry Brown of MassLive.com:
In 1965, coach Ed Steitz took his Springfield College men’s basketball team on an around-the-world goodwill tour sponsored by the State Department, playing exhibition games and conducting clinics in eight countries from France to Japan. Over 62 days from mid-July to mid-September, the Springfield team played 26 games (winning them all) and conducted 111 clinics. It was estimated that the team played before 250,000 fans, including one crowd of 30,000 in India.
The trip took Springfield College to France, Italy, Ceylon, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. In a time where college teams are taking summer trips to Europe and foreign countries every four years, I’d venture to guess that none of these trips can top what Springfield College did in 1965.
One may wonder — why Springfield College? They’re not a Division 1 program and are barely a blip in the world of college basketball. But, the city is regarded as the birthplace of basketball, so that made Springfield College a natural choice to represent the United States on this extensive tour.
The New England Basketball Hall of Fame does not have yearly inductees; the last one took place in 2009. The 2013 ceremony took place this past Saturday evening in Worcester, MA and inducted, along with the 1965 Springfield team, current Division 1 head coaches Derek Kellogg (Massachusetts), John Calipari (Kentucky), and Bruiser (Flint)–both of whom were coaches at UMass earlier in their careers.
Cal had this to say about the evening:
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