We join friends, family and fans from across the country and around the world in mourning the loss of three Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees over the past week - Bingo Smith, Frank Howard, and Bob Knight.
Robert "Bingo" Smith, died on October 26 at the age of 77. He had been in a period of declining health. Smith was enshrined in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and was deeply moved by the honor. He had the audience laughing through his enshrinement speech.
Chosen sixth overall by the San Diego Rockets in the 1969 NBA draft, the former University of Tulsa star played one season in California before the Cleveland Cavaliers made him one of the 11 players they selected in the 1970 expansion draft. He earned his nickname "Bingo" while at University of Tulsa, to differentiate him from the two other Bobby Smiths on the roster.
He spent nine seasons with the Cavs, playing all 82 games of the regular season four times, and 81 games twice. Cleveland made the playoffs for the first time in the 1975-76 season and Smith added a bit of magic to the season that has become known as the “Miracle of Richfield.”
During Game 2, Smith scored a team-leading 17 points and made the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining to secure the 80-79 victory. The win served as the first playoff victory for the franchise and propelled the Cavaliers past the Bullets and into the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston where they eventually fell in six games.
Frank Howard was an All-American in both basketball and baseball at Ohio State University. The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Columbus native played three basketball seasons (1956-58) for the Buckeyes under Coach Floyd Stahl. He averaged 20.1 points and 15.3 rebounds in 1957 when he was a first team All-American. He led OSU in both scoring and rebounding in 1957 and 1958 and made All-Big Ten both seasons.
He was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors but chose to play baseball in the major leagues instead. As an outfielder, he was named the National League Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1960 and a was member of the 1963 world champion Dodger team. Howard won American League home run titles in 1968 and 1970. After retiring due to injury, he went on to manage San Diego Padres and the New York Mets in the early 1980's.
Frank Howard was enshrined in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He was unable to attend that year and returned in 2010 to receive his award. He died October 30, 2023 at the age of 87.
Bob Knight graduated from Orrville High School and went on to play basketball under Hall of Famer Fred Taylor at Ohio State University. They won the NCAA championship in 1960 and were runners-up the following two years. He pursued his passion for basketball off the court as an assistant coach at Cuyahoga Falls High School.
Knight’s extraordinary ability to lead teams to success became readily apparent enabling him to further his coaching career. His head coaching jobs led from the United States Military Academy at West Point to Indiana University to the University to Texas Tech. He became the USMA coach at 24 and thus the youngest varsity coach in major college history. He led University of Indiana teams from 1971 to 2000, winning 11 Big Ten Championships and competing in five Final Fours. They won NCAA championships in 1976, 1981 and 1987.
Bob was named Head Coach at Texas Tech on March 23, 2000. He led Texas Tech to their first NCAA appearance since 1996 with a 23-10 record. His West Point teams led the nation in defense three consecutive years. Coach Knight was national Coach of the Year in 1975, '76, '87, and '89. He was Big Ten Coach of the year in 1973, '75, '76, '87, and '89. Sixteen of his former assistant coaches have become head coaches at the collegiate level.
Knight’s coaching record over 42 years was 902-371. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest coach in basketball. Since then, Duke University's Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse have passed him.
He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1991 and was a member of the 2006 Charter Class of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2015, the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame honored him with the Ohio Heritage Award.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, teammates, and all who knew and loved these three men. They will be missed beyond measure.