Meet a king, a volunteer, and a Naismith Award winner
This is something that hasn't happened in the world of sports since ...
For a change, a reporter doesn't need to consult a team's public relations person to accurately complete the above sentence. Plain and simple, this is something that has never happened before.
But then, if it had, Hallie King likely would have had that information at her fingertips.
Next month, King -- resident of Oconomowoc, graduate of Arrowhead High School and sophomore communications major at the University of Tennessee -- will become the 31st individual recipient of the Naismith Good Sportsmanship Award.
That's a remarkable achievement in itself. What makes it historic is that at age 20, King is 12 years younger than the previous youngest winner of the prestigious award.
"Some of the winners were in their 50s or even their 70s when they won," King said by telephone Monday. "When I look at the names on the list, it's just amazing to see my name there."
Hallie is the daughter of Bill and Shelley King -- Bill was the Milwaukee Bucks' director of public relations from 1977-99. She's the fourth female winner of the award. Among the other female winners is Pat Summitt, Tennessee's legendary women's basketball coach.
Hallie also is the second Naismith Award winner with strong Wisconsin ties (the other is former Bucks great Oscar Robertson) and the second who has never been a player, coach or executive with a team or league (the other is sportswriter Rick Telander).
"When I first heard I had been selected, I knew it was a big award. I didn't have any idea how big," said King, already a seasoned expert in the field of sports information -- handling statistics, game management and publicity for sports teams.
"I did some research and looked at some of the background information, and that's when it hit me," she said. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, my goodness, this is a huge award.'
Named for Dr. James Naismith, who wrote the original 13 rules of the game in 1891, the Naismith Award is not given out annually. Instead, it is only presented when the selection board finds a worthy honoree.
The list of past winners includes such luminaries as Red Auerbach, Michael Jordan, Ray Meyer, Steve Nash, Oscar Robertson, Dick Vitale, Roy Williams and John Wooden.
"It's an elite group," Hallie King said.
On Jan. 15, prior to tip-off of a Tennessee basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, King will receive her award from Ian Naismith, a grandson of Dr. Naismith and founder and director of the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.
The award itself is a gorgeous 70-pound, bronze-and-metal statue of Dr. Naismith standing beneath the iconic peach basket that, legend has it, became the first basketball goal in history.
What will she do before and after the ceremony?
"I'll be working," King said. "It's going to be a busy day. There's a men's game against Vanderbilt with a noon tipoff, and (the ESPN college sports show) GameDay begins at 10, so there will be a lot of running around starting first thing in the morning.
"Then there's a postgame reception with family and friends ... and the women's game (also against Vanderbilt) is at 8 o'clock, so I'll have to be back at the arena for that."
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Great article. Hallie's a remarkable person and will likely be a major conference commissioner by the time she's 25.
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