John B. McLendon

With an engaging personality and pleasant demeanor, an extraordinary knowledge of basketball history, and a coaching résumé that made many in the profession envious, John McLendon was one of the game's leading ambassadors for more than 60 years. McLendon, who learned basketball from James Naismith as an undergraduate at Kansas, is the first coach in history to win three consecutive national titles. McLendon’s teams featured superior conditioning, a patented fast break offense, and an aggressive in-your-face defensive attitude. A spokesman for heightened awareness of basketball at all-black colleges, McLendon also helped initiate an era of integrated basketball. In 1944, during the era of Jim Crow, McLendon’s North Carolina College team participated in “The Secret Game,” a match against a team from Duke University which was the first intercollegiate basketball game where blacks and whites competed on the same court. McLendon’s well-rounded coaching background included positions at the collegiate, AAU, and professional level.