"I have great memories here, and entering the Hall of Fame is a great honor,'' he said. "Now I'm in the Hall of Fame with (former teammate) Lou Roe, John Calipari and my idol, Julius Erving. It's overwhelming.''
Still going strong in the NBA, Marcus Camby returns for UMass honor
Published: Friday, September 10, 2010, 9:19 PM Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010, 9:35 PM
AMHERST - When Marcus Camby led the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team to unprecedented heights, only one question existed about his NBA potential.
Fourteen years later, Camby is still going strong, his once-willowy frame having long ago proven it could withstand the pounding of a long season.
"I just signed a two-year extension. If I finish that, I'll have played 16 years,'' said Camby, who was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame Friday night.
"If I saw myself as a 10th, 11th or 12th man, I'd shut it down. Until then, I think I can contribute.''
Camby is getting ready to contribute again for the Portland Trail Blazers, his fifth NBA team.
His career ran into injury problems on several occasions, but he played 74 games last year, the second highest total of his career.
He has played at least 70 four times since 2003-04, with a career high of 79 in 2007-08, when he was 34.
Camby was inducted into his university's Hall of Fame with former UMass sports stars Bill Gillin, Scott Hiller, Sarah Jones and the late Bob Pickett.
Gillin was a track and cross country star from 1971-75. Hiller (lacrosse, 1987-90) and Jones (rowing, 1996-97) came in later years.
Pickett's UMass career as a football coach and administrator spanned from 1971 to 2003.
For Camby, 36, this night at the Campus Center was a night to reconnect with old friends.
"I have great memories here, and entering the Hall of Fame is a great honor,'' he said.
Camby shared it with a host of UMass luminaries from Camby's 1993-96 college career.
Among them were former coach John Calipari and Derek Kellogg, his former teammate and current UMass coach.
He remains loyal to the Minutemen of his era.
"When Derek got the job (in 2008), that was when I wanted to start getting involved with UMass again, he said.
Camby's career has stood the test of time. He has led the NBA in blocked shots three times since 2005, and he was 33 when he was named the NBA defensive player of the year in 2007.
"I know my limitations. I don't take shots I shouldn't take,'' he said.
"I know my role, to get the other guys the ball, and I'm a whole lot smarter as a player now.''
Camby led UMass to the 1996 Final Four as a junior, then entered the NBA Draft. Toronto took him as the No. 2 pick in a year Allen Iverson went No. 1.
He then played for New York, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers before joining the Blazers in the midde of last season.
He laughed when asked if even the Western Conference is preoccupied with the ultra-talented Miami Heat these days.
"Our focus is more on Portland. We had some major injuries last year and still managed to get the No. 6 (West) seed,'' Camby said.
"Hopefully, we'll get everybody back with health and go for a title.''
That remains Camby's dream. His teams have not made it past the first playoff round since 2000 with the Knicks.
Friday was a night for the native of Hartford, Conn., to come back East.
"Being back on campus, seeing a lot of old friends, it was great,'' he said.
"Now I'm in the Hall of Fame with (former teammate) Lou Roe, John Calipari and my idol, Julius Erving. It's overwhelming.''