KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nolan Richardson sat quietly in his chair, stroking his gray goatee with his fingers, contemplating his next move as Reggie Minton of the National Association of Basketball Coaches spoke.
When Minton finally finished reeling off accomplishments and telling stories about the former Arkansas coach on Sunday night at the Sprint Center, Richardson strolled to the podium.
He shook Minton's hand and smiled as he began his comments at a news conference for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
"I'm Nolan Richardson, and I approved those statements," Richardson said, drawing the loudest laughter from those in attendance. "It's a great, great honor to be here tonight."
The night actually was only getting started. Richardson already had participated in several hall of fame-related activities on Saturday and Sunday, reuniting with and meeting some of the greatest coaches and players in college basketball history.
But Sunday night, Richardson officially became a member of his seventh hall of fame.
He was honored alongside former players Charles Barkley, Danny Manning and Arnie Ferrin, as well as fellow coach Jim Phelan and color commentators Dick Vitale and Billy Packer. And a common theme emerged from the people who spoke about the man who introduced the country to "Forty Minutes of Hell."
"It's been a long time coming," said Corliss Williamson, who played on the 1994 National Championship team coached by Richardson. "He taught us the importance of hard work and standing up for what you believe in, and he touched so many lives off the court. Coach Richardson has gone above and beyond of what most coaches do for their players away from basketball."
Williamson was one of many who traveled to Kansas City to see Richardson's induction. Williamson's teammates Scotty Thurman and Clint McDaniel were there, as was former Arkansas assistant coach Wayne Stehlik. Richardson's wife Rose, his sons Nolan III and Notes and his grandson Garrett proudly watched him get honored.
The man who gave Richardson his first college coaching job at Western Texas Junior College, Sid Simpson, flew in for the occasion. And plenty of people from the University of Arkansas also made the trip, including former athletic director Frank Broyles, current athletic director Jeff Long and basketball coach John Pelphrey.
Pelphrey remembered Sunday night the advice Richardson gave him when he accepted the Arkansas job in April 2007. Richardson said three important words, Pelphrey recalled.
"Just be yourself," he told Pelphrey.
That's how Richardson lived, how he coached, and the game of college basketball was never the same because of it.
Each of the other six inductees raved about the ways Richardson changed the face of the sport. Vitale said Richardson proved that people had the wrong impression when they believed "you couldn't run and press and be disciplined." Barkley went even further with his praise for the only coach to win a junior college national title and postseason NIT and NCAA championships.
"He's one of the great innovators of the game who's just now getting the credit he has always deserved," Barkley said. "Everybody is playing now like his teams did, or at least they're trying to. Florida won a national championship like that. Rick Pitino won one like that.
"But he played like that before it became popular."
Manning even joked about the time Arkansas drilled his Kansas team, the same one that claimed the 1988 national championship.
"They called the pigs on us all night," Manning said.
The evening wrapped up with the induction ceremony, which was hosted by ESPN's Dan Shulman and CBS' Seth Davis. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson introduced Richardson to those at the Sprint Center, as well as those watching on ESPNU.
"He never traded what he believed in for popularity or acceptance," Thompson said. "He said what he needed to say, and that's what I always admired about him."
A highlight video played to the music of U2's "Elevation," and when the video ended, Richardson received a hall of fame medal and chatted with Shulman, Davis and Packer for about 10 minutes. Sitting in a leather chair, Richardson discussed the national championship.
"That was great, but the biggest memory still is 1995," he told them. "That still haunts me."
Richardson also delved into the importance of creating consistent work habits, the circumstances of Simpson giving him that first job and the impact of Don Haskins, his former coach at Texas Western.
He then uttered his parting words, designed for everyone, not just basketball coaches and players.
"If you develop an attitude of working hard, you'll be successful, no matter what you do," Richardson said. "That's the key to success."
It was for the winningest coach in Arkansas basketball history.
Nolan Richardson's Division I Record
Team Season W-L Finish
Tulsa 80-81 26-7 NIT Champions
Tulsa 81-82 24-6 NCAA First Round
Tulsa 82-83 19-12 NIT Second Round
Tulsa 83-84 27-4 NCAA First Round
Tulsa 84-85 23-8 NCAA First Round
Arkansas 85-86 12-16 No Postseason
Arkansas 86-87 19-14 NIT Second Round
Arkansas 87-88 21-9 NCAA First Round
Arkansas 88-89 25-7 NCAA Second Round
Arkansas 89-90 30-5 NCAA Final Four
Arkansas 90-91 34-4 NCAA Elite Eight
Arkansas 91-92 26-8 NCAA Second Round
Arkansas 92-93 22-9 NCAA Sweet 16
Arkansas 93-94 31-3 NCAA National Champions
Arkansas 94-95 32-7 NCAA Runner-Up
Arkansas 95-96 20-13 NCAA Sweet 16
Arkansas 96-97 18-14 NIT Final Four
Arkansas 97-98 24-9 NCAA Second Round
Arkansas 98-99 23-11 NCAA Second Round
Arkansas 99-00 19-15 NCAA First Round
Arkansas 00-01 20-11 NCAA First Round
Arkansas 01-02 14-15 No Postseason
Nolan Richardson Accomplishments
• Led the Arkansas Razorbacks to one national championship (1994), two national title games, three Final Fours, four Elite Eights and six Sweet Sixteens.
• Became the only coach in history to win a national junior college title, a postseason NIT crown and the NCAA Championship.
• Won more than 71 percent of his games when adding in his five seasons at Tulsa, posting a Division I record of 508-206.
• Played at Texas-El Paso (formerly Texas Western) under coach Don Haskins.
• Most recently coached the Mexican national basketball team.
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