It’s March Madness in the United States, which means that basketball fans all over the country have filled in their brackets, and are moaning over the college teams that let them down, or the ones who have won to live another day.
While high school superstars at times skip college and go straight to the pros (ie: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James), many great ones make their mark at the university level, and a few go on to win an NCAA championship. Both my neighborhood college, St John’s, and my alma mater, University of Pennsylvania, have made it to the famed Final Four, but neither has won an NCAA championship.
After all, only one team can be champion….which makes this list absolutely amazing. Only seven people in history have won championships at the NCAA level, the NBA level, and at the international level, i.e. The Olympics.
- Quinn Buckner: Olympic Champion: 1976, NCAA Champion: 1976 (Indiana University), NBA Champion: 1984 (Boston Celtics)
- Magic Johnson: Olympic Champion: 1992, NCAA Champion: 1979 (Michigan State University), NBA Champion: 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-88 (Los Angeles Lakers)
- K. C. Jones: Olympic Champion: 1956, NCAA Champion: 1955-56 (University of San Francisco), NBA Champion: 1959-66 (Boston Celtics)
- Michael Jordan: Olympic Champion: 1984, 1992, NCAA Champion: 1982 (University of North Carolina), NBA Champion: 1991-93, 1996-98 (Chicago Bulls)
- Clyde Lovellette: Olympic Champion: 1952, NCAA Champion: 1952 (University of Kansas), NBA Champion: 1954 (Minneapolis Lakers), 1963-64 (Boston Celtics)
- Jerry Lucas: Olympic Champion: 1960, NCAA Champion: 1960 (The Ohio State University), NBA Champion: 1973 (New York Knicks)
- Bill Russell: Olympic Champion: 1956, NCAA Champion: 1955-56 (University of San Francisco), NBA Champion: 1957, 1959-66, 1968-69 (Boston Celtics)
And if you look closely, you’ll see that K. C. Jones and Bill Russell played together on championships teams with the University of San Francisco, the US Men’s Olympic squad in Melbourne, as well as 8 championship seasons with the Boston Celtics. On top of that both won two championships each with the Celtics as a coach.
And one more amazing fact: On that 1963-64 Boston Celtic team – the one that defeated the San Francisco Warriors in 5 games – three of these seven immortals played together: K. C. Jones, Bill Russell, and Clyde Lovelette.