Herb Magee has probably told the story at least as many times as he’s won a game. Which means 922 and counting. But probably never in a more appropriate venue.
“Some people would say, ‘Why can’t this guy get another job?’” said 70-year-old Magee, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past Friday as the winningest coach in NCAA history.
“The way I looked at it was, I already had the best job. And, as I look around here, I think it’s been proven I made the right decision.
“I look up at the pictures of all these Hall of Famers, and to think that my picture will be up there one day is just an unbelievable thrill.”
No, that’s not what drove the kid from West Catholic to Philadelphia Textile (now Philadelphia University) in the late 1950s. Magee wanted to play for Dr. Jack Ramsay at Saint Joseph’s, but the offer never came.
Instead, he played four years at Textile and set all kinds of scoring records, then stayed as a combined golf/track/tennis/jayvee basketball coach. Eventually, Magee took over the reins as head basketball coach in 1966 — and he’s been there ever since, with no interest in stopping.
Especially with 1,000 wins not that far away.
“It’s not as if they’re recognizing me because I retired a few years ago,” said Magee. “They’re recognizing me because of what we’ve been able to accomplish and I’m still going to do it. I don’t see any end to it.”
Meaning that story he loves to tell will still have a long life to it.