He started on the playgrounds in Brooklyn, spent three seasons rewriting the record books at the University of Tennessee and went on to play 14 strong seasons in the NBA. On Sunday, Bernard King’s basketball road reached its culmination as he became the first UT men’s player to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “To say I’m delighted to be here would be an understatement,” King said during his induction speech Sunday at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass. “I simply want all the kids who are watching to know that anything you dream of and set a goal for can be achieved through hard work, dedication, the desire to achieve and commitment.” King was inducted along with players Gary Payton and Dawn Staley and coaches Guy Lewis, Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian and Sylvia Hatchell.
King selected 2006 Hall of Fame inductee Dominique Wilkins as his presenter for the Enshrinement Ceremony. In his nearly 11-minute speech, King spoke about his time with the Vols from 1974-77.
“At Tennessee I teamed with a great player in Ernie Grunfeld and a great coach in Ray Mears,” King said. “I was fortunate to team with Ernie Grunfeld. We had the best chemistry of any players I ever played with, on any level.” King was a first-team All-American and SEC Player of the Year all three seasons with the Vols. He holds a school-record with 62 double-doubles and is second in points scored despite only playing for three seasons. Tennessee posted a 61-20 record during King’s career.