Dec. 29, 2008
Santa Clara, Calif. - Prior to coming to Santa Clara to have his jersey retired on Mon., Dec. 29 at halftime of the Belmont game (6 pm), the Broncos' all-time leading scorer Kurt Rambis talked to the media via a conference call last week. Rambis graduated from Santa Clara in 1980 and finished as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,736 points) and second all-time rebounder (1,037 rebounds). After an illustrious career in the NBA, Rambis now works as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.
After the ceremony at halftime of the Belmont game, Rambis will sign free autograph cards for the fans in the Leavey Center. Note to fans: to keep the line moving, Rambis will only sign the cards made available by Santa Clara. Please do not bring any other items.
The following are a few of his comments from the media conference call.
SCU: First, thank you Kurt for taking time to talk to the media. We are excited to welcome you, your family and friends back for the 42nd annual Cable Car Classic; and especially honored to retire your jersey at halftime of the Belmont game. Kurt, if you could open the conference call with a few comments.
Rambis: I am very honored to come back to Santa Clara to have my number retired on the 29th. I still believe after all these years to think back to when I first chose Santa Clara, it was the best choice at that time. I still believe it was. I enjoyed my time there as a student and on the court. It's very humbling to have my jersey retired. I owe the SCU athletic staff and administration an apology because they have wanted to retire my jersey at a ceremony for over a decade and it's been very difficult to get it done with my schedule, but my family and I are looking forward to returning to Santa Clara on Dec. 29.
SCU: What are you looking most forward to the day they retire your jersey?
Rambis: I don't think I ever thought I would have my jersey retired at Santa Clara when I first started playing. I dreamed about playing in the NBA, but I never dreamed about the money. It wasn't about earning a scholarship when I played in high school. I just enjoyed playing. My dad instilled a work ethic and a desire to win; and a fear of losing that drove me to be very competitive. I knew how to work hard and I just enjoyed playing. It was fun playing with my teammates and working together. More than anything else on the 29th, it will be a lot of fun and hopefully a lot of my ex-teammates will be there as well. I'm sure we will tell some stories and probably tell some lies about how good we were back then.
SCU: You had a very successful career under Carroll Williams. As you look back, do the things you achieved on the Mission Campus surprise you?
Rambis: Fortunately for myself I signed very late and did not go through the freshman orientation programs. When I was leaving to go to breakfast and to go to classes the first morning, I walked around getting directions from other students and that's how it all started. I came to Santa Clara because of Carroll Williams. I enjoyed the way he taught, his philosophy and if I played hard enough and was good enough, he said I would get playing time as a freshman. I never dreamed, I guess I dreamed, but never really thought I would have the tremendous success I had while with the Broncos and beyond to make the NBA. I really enjoyed being there. Whether it was practice, games or sneaking into the Leavey Center over Christmas break, we had a great time. Where ever I could find a game, that's where you would usually find me. I played for fun and it's an honor that they are recognizing me for those accomplishments.
SCU: How did you chose Santa Clara?
Rambis: I let people know I wanted to stay on the West Coast from the beginning. I wanted to play either in the Pac-10 or the West Coast Conference. As I recall, I narrowed it down to Santa Clara, Stanford, USF and San Diego State - but I'm a little fuzzy over the years (there might have been another school or two). Towards the end, when I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down what I was looking for, Santa Clara ended up with the most positives and the fewest negatives.
SCU: What sticks out the most in your mind about Santa Clara?
Rambis: I think I ended up with a good group of friends. I didn't have a lot of friends off the court, but a lot on the court. I was a shy individual so I didn't reach out probably like I should have. The friends I do have now from those days have been long lasting. Probably some of the most fun I had at Santa Clara was getting into the Leavey Center in odd hours and getting games going when no one else was there. We would play for hours.
SCU: Why did you wear No. 34?
Rambis: I've never been someone who puts an attachment on numbers and to the best of my memory the bigger the number was, the bigger the jersey. I was given a jersey and didn't have an attachment at Santa Clara. Same way when I played with the Lakers. I didn't care and I said `34' and they said `you can't have that'. I said '33?' And they said `no, Kareem has that number.' I said '32?' And they said `no, Magic wears 32.' I said '31?' And they said `ok, that's available'. The only jersey that I actually picked out with the Lakers was during my second stint. I had 3 kids at that time and that's why I wore 18 (it was their ages combined). Some players put a lot of emphasis into that, but I did like the number 18.
SCU: You played water polo for Santa Clara your freshman year? Do you have any memories of those games or the practices?
Rambis: I don't remember it being my freshman year, I think it was later. I was a decent swimmer. I went out and worked out with them during their practices. They were going to play in a tournament in Fresno I think. At the tournament the pool had a shallow end so the goalie could actually stand up and I would be the goalie. I practiced a week or so and played in that tournament and had a lot of fun doing that. It was fun playing a different sport and the camaraderie among that team was good. When I stood up it seemed like the water was below my waist and there were balls flying at my head as the goalie. When I got the hang it was a good time. (alumni game in the future?) I get the alumni emails now and know they have a new pool, but I don't think I could last two minutes if I came back for an alumni game now.
SCU: Any good Carroll Williams stories?
Rambis: Good question. Without giving a specific story - I wish I could off the top of my head, but I can't think of one right now. In choosing a college, one of the strong points, a real positive, was Carroll Williams. Not only did he want to win and was competitive, but he was always concerned about the development of you as a player and also interested in his team, his players as people and human beings. He wanted you to succeed beyond basketball, beyond the court and beyond Santa Clara and that will always stick in my head and my heart. I owe him an awful lot of gratitude as a basketball player and as a man as well.
Remember - Kurt Rambis' jersey will be retired on Mon., Dec. 29 during halftime of the Belmont game. It is the first game of the two-day Cable Car Classic, in its 42nd year.