Bass Headed to Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame

March 31, 2008


Langston football and basketball coach Caesar "Zip" Gayles, Oklahoma State wrestling great Jack VanBebber, and major league pitcher Eddie Fisher join Bass as 2008 inductees at ceremonies on Aug. 18 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The Hall of Fame's Honors Committee selected the four from a list of over 140 nominees.

In 1952, Bass was named head coach at OBU, where he would spend the next 15 years. His teams posted a record of 275-143 (.659), won six conference titles and made six trips to the NAIA Tournament. The Bison won the NAIA Championship in 1966 and Bass was named NAIA Coach of the Year.

After two seasons at Texas Tech, the two-time NBA Executive of the Year made the leap to the professional ranks. All told, he spent 54 consecutive seasons as a coach and/or executive in the high school, collegiate and professional ranks, including the last nine with the NBA's Hornets (in which he never experienced a losing season). Bass was involved in the careers of some of the greatest players in NBA history during his career, including George Gervin, David Robinson, Artis Gilmore, James Silas, Larry Kenon and Alvin Robertson.

Bass joined the Hornets prior to the 1995-96 season as vice president of basketball operations. He was promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations in the summer of 1997 after he was named NBA Executive of the Year the previous season. During his nine-year tenure with the Hornets, Bass was responsible for the acquisition of All-Stars Baron Davis, Eddie Jones, Jamaal Magloire, Jamal Mashburn, Anthony Mason, Brad Miller and Glen Rice as well as all-time Hornet greats PJ Brown, Vlade Divac, Bobby Phills, David Wesley and many other transactions. The team posted a winning percentage of .565 (399-307), experienced four of its five best seasons in terms of winning percentage and qualified for the NBA Playoffs seven times.

When he joined the Hornets in 1995, Bass brought more than three decades of professional basketball experience with him, including twenty years with the San Antonio Spurs (in both the ABA and NBA). Bass served the Spurs in a variety of capacities, including five seasons as head coach (1974-76, 1979-80, 1983-84 and 1991-92), where he compiled a 144-108 (.571) record and led the team to the playoffs four times. In addition to his duties on the sidelines, Bass made his mark during his 18 years in the Spurs' front office, where he was responsible for the acquisition of Spurs legends Willie Anderson, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, John Lucas, Johnny Moore, Robertson and Robinson. He was named NBA Executive of the Year for the 1989-90 season after the Spurs posted a franchise-best 56-26 record.

Prior to his time with the Spurs, Bass spent six years in the ABA. He spent two seasons each as head coach of the Denver Rockets (1967-68) and Miami Floridians (1970-72) and one season as head coach of the Memphis Tams (1972-73). In addition, Bass spent the 1973-74 season as the ABA's director of officials.

Bass began his coaching career in the high school ranks at Cromwell High School.