Robinson-Collins Statue Unveiling Ceremony Saturday
Sept. 14, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - In January of this year, the Illinois State Athletics Department announced the plans to erect a statue to honor Redbird greats Will Robinson and Doug Collins, thanks to the generous contribution of the Don Franke family. Now with the statue completed, Redbird Athletics will host an unveiling ceremony Saturday at 3 p.m., outside the north entrance of Redbird Arena, as part of the pregame festivities of the Illinois State football team's home opener against Austin Peay State.
The statue replicates the historic photo showcasing the two Redbird basketball legends, where Coach Robinson is on one knee leaning on a basketball and Collins is posed alongside his mentor. The work of art, which was sculpted by Lou Cella, a 1985 alumnus of Illinois State, was created at the Rotblatt-Amrany Fine Art Studio in Highwood, Ill.
The plans of the statue were announced following the death of Robinson, who was named ISU's head men's basketball coach Feb. 27, 1970, at the age of 58, and as a result, became the first black head basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. He was hired by former ISU Director of Athletics Milt Weisbecker as Illinois State was making the move from the College Division to Division I in NCAA status.
Robinson coached the Redbirds for five seasons and finished with a record of 78-51, before taking a scouting position with the NBA's Detroit Pistons. Robinson remained in that position with the Pistons for 28 years, while also serving as a part-time scout for the Detroit Lions for 22 years. With the Pistons, Robinson discovered Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman and was instrumental in piecing together the talent that produced Detroit's 1989 and 1990 NBA Championships.
Robinson passed away April 28, 2008, at the age of 96.
Collins, who received the 2009 Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this past weekend, averaged 29.1 points per game in his three-year varsity career at Illinois State, while being named both an All-American and an academic All-American each season.
Following a successful college career at Illinois State, Collins represented the United States at the 1972 Munich Olympics and was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Collins moved to the coaching ranks where he led the Chicago Bulls (1986-89), Detroit Pistons (1995-98) and Washington Wizards (2001-03).
An Emmy-nominated broadcaster with NBC and Turner Broadcasting, Collins' retired No. 20 hangs gracefully from the Redbird Arena rafters above the court which bears his name. He is also a member of the Illinois State Athletics, Missouri Valley Conference and Academic All-America Halls of Fame.