Bill Self has built quite a legacy in the past decade, and on Monday, he added to it by joining the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. He was one of seven inducted.
The 50-year-old Kansas coach is a native Oklahoman, born in Okmulgee and raised in Edmond. He's also an Oklahoma State alum. (I once wondered how things would have changed if Self had taken the Oklahoma State job in 2008.)
“I am proud to be here tonight, but I didn't get here by myself,” Self said (via KU Athletics). “My parents were the best role models anyone could have, and I owe so much to my wife and kids. I've been blessed to coach great players, who have sacrificed personal goals for the good of the team, and have been fortunate to work with the best assistant coaches anywhere.”
Self earned the honor in part for what he's done in his coaching career, but many don't realize -- or just forget -- that Self was a really good ball player. He was the high school player of the year in the state in 1981, and while at Oklahoma State became an impact player.
All this achievement brought in reporters to ask Self a question he's handled before: What about the NBA? Coaching at Kansas is a dream job, and the only real step up -- if you want to call it that -- is taking on a pro gig.
Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman passed along Self's thoughts.
Would he ever be interested in coaching in the NBA? Well, never say never.
“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.”
“I love it at Kansas, and they love basketball there. I've been very fortunate to coach at such a tradition-rich place.”
Self signed a renegotiated contract last fall that was for 10 years and more than $52 million -- before incentives. It's long been assumed that if Self were to ever leave Kansas, two jobs could be the primary candidates: Oklahoma City (for obvious reasons, though Self downplayed any possible future interest in that job due to Scott Brooks' stability and success there) and San Antonio, because Self is very good friends with R.C. Buford, the Spurs' general manager. Of course, neither of those jobs are open now, so Self stays put. But whenever Gregg Popovich retires, or if Scott Brooks leaves the Thunder? Then things would get really interesting, because Self has reached the point where he'll always be in a power position at KU.
How'd he get there? Let's wrap this up full-circle and explain -- which also ties into why he was inducted Monday night. Before getting acclaim at Illinois, Self cut his teeth as an assistant at Oklahoma State, then stayed in-state and took his first head job: Oral Roberts in 1993. He moved up to Tulsa after that, in 1997, and from there went to Illinois for three seasons before landing at Kansas, where he's established himself as a top-10 coach in the sport. You could objectively make the argument he's top-three or better, considering the conference championship streak he's on. And of course, he and the Jayhawks won it all in 2008. Self was named national coach of the year in 2009 and 2012 and has a 507-164 career coaching record.
For the upcoming season, Self will have his latest and greatest taste of what it's like to coach the pros when Andrew Wiggins dons a Kansas uniform. Wiggins was the No. 1 player in the class of 2013 and is already considered by many to be the most coveted draft pick since LeBron James.