Turner Renews His Fame

Bobby Turner was inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame on July 9. The former Male High School and University of Louisville star grew up with Cards all-time leading scorer Darrell Griffith. Turner and Griffith led the Bulldogs to the 1975 KHSAA Sweet 16 Championship. Turner was UofL’s second leading scorer (13.6 ppg) in 1978-79. He missed the entire 1979-80 season for academic reasons. UofL, led by Griffith, won the National Championship in 1980. He was one of 17 inductees in the fifth class for the KHSBB Hall of Fame, which is in Elizabethtown.

What does this honor mean to you?

It means everything in the world to me. All the hard work and all the good players I played with. I give a lot of credit to my teammates because without them, I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. I just can’t put into words how special it is.

Describe yourself as a player.

I played kind of a physical game. I liked to rebound and didn’t mind mixing it up under the basket. Played a rough style but had a soft outside shot. I could post up. I was the kind of player – I would do anything it took for us to win. That was the main thing with me.

IMG_7579What was it like playing with Griff?

Playing with a guy as good as Darrell was, I always wanted to be that other guy to take the pressure off of him. If teams would try to double-team him, I would usually have pretty good games after that. My job was to take the pressure off of him. I was another guy who could score. I just enjoyed playing with him since we were kids. We always had those dreams about being really good and going to college. We were just really dedicated. We practiced every day, day in and day out, every day, no days off.

Did you ever play professionally?

I played in the Philippines for a couple of years. I got a chance to play a little pro ball and make some money. I went to the Knicks camp and I got cut toward the end of camp. They had Michael Ray Richardson and Ray Williams and a lot of their guys had no cut contracts, which made it a lot harder for a young guy like me.

Did you and Darrell talk about staying home and bringing a National Championship to UofL?

He’s a big part of our community. When he was a kid, one thing I loved about Darrell was that he was always dedicated. There were days when he was like, “Come on, Turner, let’s go play.” I was like, “Man, there’s three inches of snow on the ground.” That’s all right, we would just get the brooms and sweep it off to side. He said we couldn’t take any days off. We spent a lot of time with one another.

Could he always jump so high?

Griff and I learned how to do that together. His parents, in their backyard, they had a court, but they had a garage that you could jump off of and that’s how we learned how to dunk. We would jump off the garage and boost ourselves up and dunk. Darrell said, “You know what, man, I’m getting tired of jumping off this garage; I’m gonna go on and try to do it.” So he comes down, cuffs the ball and slams it. And I’m like, “If you can do it, I know I can do it.” I’d say it was about eighth grade when we started dunking.

How did Muhammad Ali play a part in your and Griff’s ending up at UofL?

When we were seniors in high school, we got that call from the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, for us to go to Louisville. He calls me – I hang up because I thought somebody was playing. He calls right back and says, “Son, don’t hang up.” He said, “You’re talking to the Greatest of All Time.” I said, “Champ, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you. He said, “Look, since you hung up on me, you gotta do me a favor and stay home and go to the University of Louisville because you know I’m a big fan. I would love to see you guys stay home.” That meant a lot for a 17-year-old kid getting a call from Muhammad Ali. I went to school the next day and said, “Griff did you get your call?” He started smiling. I said, “Muhammad Ali call you?” He said, “Yeah, he called me too.” I said that Coach Crum must have had him give us a call, and that call went a long way with us. He talked to us for 15 or 20 minutes. He grew up like three or four blocks from where we grew up. He went to the same elementary school we went to, same junior high.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE