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Saturday, September 20, 2003

Thumbs Up: Big O


Top alum at UC

When you're known as perhaps the greatest all-around basketball player in history, it's easy for your other achievements to go unnoticed. Thus we applaud the University of Cincinnati's intent to honor Oscar Robertson this year with the university's top alumni award.

The UC Alumni Association will present The William Howard Taft Medal for Notable Achievement to Robertson at the 2003 UC Day Banquet on Oct. 16.

Robertson's influence stretches throughout this community. A 1960 graduate of UC College of Business, Robertson is an entrepreneur and community activist. He is president of Orchem (Oscar Robertson Chemical), ORDMS, and Orpack-Stone, with interests in banking, real estate and media.

Dozens of charitable and community groups are beneficiaries of his time and talents. A few include the NBA Legends Foundation, NAACP, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal), Boys and Girls Clubs of America, National Lupus Foundation and the National Kidney Foundation.

The Oscar Robertson Transplantation Fund benefits transplantation education and research in the Department of Surgery at the UC College of Medicine. The UC Alumni Association will match the first $10,000 donated to the fund. This is particularly fitting because of Robertson's own donation of a kidney to his daughter in 1997.

Of course, his basketball accomplishments are legendary. During his UC career, Robertson was National College Player of the Year three times, a first team All-American and the NCAA's top scorer. He twice led UC to the Final Four, and after graduation he co-captained the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold-medal team.

He then played 14 years in the NBA with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks, winning an NBA championship with the Bucks in 1971.

Anyone who has read or heard much about Robertson's career also appreciates the personal courage he demonstrated in earlier days when he faced racial prejudice in Cincinnati and other U.S. cities where he played. This isn't talked about much these days, but it's not to be overlooked in this man's enduring achievements. His resolute, quiet excellence on and off the court blazed a path of excellence for others to follow. His footprint in this community, and beyond, is large and enduring. He's a worthy honoree for this prestigious award.




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