Suddenly, ‘Mr. Basketball’ is irrelevant

Perhaps it’s only coincidence that the Minnesota State High School League’s press release came days after the owner of the Mr. Basketball award in the state, Ken Lien, found himself in hot water for anti-Muslim tweets, but the MSHSL Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association has made the right decision in announcing a statewide award in honor of a man who would do no such thing.

Starting next year, the MSHSL coaches association will award the McDonald Award to the best senior basketball player in the state, according to a post on the MSHSL Facebook page:

The Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association is proud and honored to announce the establishment of the McDonald Award. This award will be presented annually to the outstanding Senior Basketball Player of the Year beginning with the 2017-18 basketball season.

The award is named in honor of Bob McDonald, a legend and icon in Chisholm, the state of Minnesota, and the nation for his accomplishments as a coach and his commitment to educating students. Coach McDonald served 59 years as a high school basketball coach. Coach McDonald led his teams to 1,012 victories, the only coach in Minnesota hoops history and one of 13 in the nation to accomplish this many wins. He was also known for instilling the values of hard work, teamwork, a strong moral code, and high academic expectations for the students he served on the court and in the classroom. Bob is a member of the MBCA Hall of Fame, the MSHSL Hall of Fame, and the National High School Hall of Fame.

The Award, patterned after the Wooden Award, will include, but not be limited to, qualifications such as exhibiting strength of character, both on and off the court; contributing to team effort ; excelling on both offense and defense; and performance over the course of the entire season. Tentative plans are that the selection committee will include retired and/or Hall of Fame coaches representing geographic locations of the State (NW, NE, SW,SE) and Metropolitan (NW, NE, SW, SE, Minneapolis, St. Paul) areas.

The the establishment of the award is also designed to focus attention on the positive aspects of basketball and the role coaches play in the lives of all the student-athletes they represent and serve. In moving forward, it is the goal of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association that the McDonald Award will be widely viewed as the top award that a senior high school basketball player in Minnesota can receive.

John Carrier, the Henry Sibley coach who led the revolt against Mr. Basketball award owner Ken Lien, gave the move his blessing.

McDonald, the head coach in Chisholm for nearly 60 years, retired after the 2013 season.

I wrote back then…

Shen the young men of Chisholm represented their team, they wore coats and ties and buzz cuts. They still do.

I think it’s come time for me to watch my own kids instead of — not that I didn’t enjoy it — watching other peoples’ kids grow up,” McDonald tells the Duluth News Tribune. “I’ve got some grandkids I want to watch play.”

McDonald was a friend of another Chisholm legend, Archie “Moonlight” Graham, the town doctor who inspired the book (and film) Field of Dreams.

“He and Alicia could have lived up with the high and mighty on Windy Hill, but they chose to be among the common people,” he told the Star Tribune once.

Much like the path of his high school career.