Jim Davis, Hall Of Fame Profile
BOULDER – Jim Davis is 73 years old, but he talks with the passion and light heartedness of a man who is still in his college days. A half century removed from his senior year at the University of Colorado, the Indiana native was inducted into the CU's Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2014.
The decision to induct Davis was made by the school's selection committee, and can be summarized in one word by the former power forward.
"Shocking," Davis says with a chuckle. "It really was. For the longest period of time, and I knew for quite a while that this was gonna happen, I was on pins and needles for two or three months."
It was the final page of a storied chapter of Davis' life. He grew up in Muncie, Ind., during the 1940's and 50's; a time in which race relations were tense across the United States. Davis, a long, athletic post man, was recruited by Colorado coach Dick Nicholson, who asked him to visit Boulder and see the school for himself. The then-high school senior obliged, and it was there he met legendary head coach Sox Walseth. Tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, Boulder became a safe haven for Davis, who never felt any different during an era where differences were highlighted.
"What I found out, and what caused me to come there, was that I came out to Boulder and that truly was the first time I had been anywhere in the country where I felt like I was treated just like anyone else," Davis recalls. "I didn't feel uncomfortable about walking into a restaurant and having the manager say, 'I'm sorry we can't serve you 'cause you're black.' I love that place, I stayed out there for four years. I spent my summers there working and I truly really loved it."
At CU, Davis was truly in his comfort zone, and it translated on the court. The three-year letterman earned All-Big Eight honors his junior and senior years, averaging 13.8 points per game as a junior and 18.5 in his final year. He graduated as the all-time leading rebounder with 863, a number that keeps him in the top five of all players in CU history in that category (Stephane Pelle is the current leader). Davis fondly remembers his time in the black and gold, and not just because his team made the NCAA tournament and went down as one of the best CU basketball teams ever.
"It was the first time I had ever been away from home and with a team you develop relationships with one another and they become your parents, your brothers, your sisters and each one of you depends on each other," Davis says. "When you have a relationship like that as a team, that's what causes you to be successful."
The success meant that Davis' basketball career wouldn't end in a CU uniform. Shortly after graduating in 1964, he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons, and went on to play in the NBA for 11 years. During his time in the league, he was traded to the Houston Rockets, where he met another former Buffalo, Cliff Meely, who became a great friend.
In meeting Meely, Davis started to get reconnected with his beloved alma mater after being busy playing in the NBA. While he currently lives in Canada, Davis made sure to stop by the Coors Events Center and the men's basketball team while he was in Boulder. Davis sees parallels between his own team and this current incarnation of the Buffaloes, coached by Tad Boyle and led by junior center Josh Scott and senior guard Askia Booker.
"I got a chance to meet the coach and met the individual players and watch them practice," Davis says. "They seem to have some of the same qualities that my team had. All of the guys were into each other, guys would help each other and guys would show guys what to do. That goes a long way into making those wins."
But one other thing stood out to Davis, something that made him think back to his legendary coach, Sox Walseth. That one thing was Boyle, whose success over the years and the respect he commands from his team resonated with Davis – and he gave the Boyle a glowing endorsement.
"Coach (Boyle) to me seems to be a tremendous individual. Coach has been a leader, he seems to be very genuinely interested in his players," remarked Davis. "I had a chance to meet him at Bill Harris' after ceremony and I got the chance to talk to him and he really impressed me."
To the 72 year old, it's all about the team, and always has been. The Hall of Fame induction is a reflection of his commitment to teammates; it doesn't just honor Davis, it honors everyone he has ever played with.
"The honor doesn't go to me, it goes to all of us, my teammates and my coaches," Davis explained. "That is something you probably only get to experience once in a lifetime. It says Jim Davis and the 1963-64 teams and the '62-'63 teams will go down in history."
"It seems like sportswriters and news media people tend to pick out one individual on a team and put that moniker on his him as the 'as he goes the team goes,' and I never felt that way," continued Davis. "We all had a specific job to do and that's what made us successful."
With that chapter in the story of Jim Davis ending in storybook fashion, the hall of fame inductee now looks to the future in every way. It is not only the future of CU athletics and Buffaloes basketball, but the future of his family as well.
"I don't want to say I'm in the twilight of my years, but right now what I'm doing is trying to enjoy the rest of my life with my wife and waiting on my son to give me a grandchild," he said.