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Wednesday, August 09, 2006 | Men's Basketball
Les, Puckett to Be Enshrined into Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame
Bradley University men’s basketball head coach Jim Les and former Bradley baseball player Kirby Puckett will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame during the group’s annual ceremony and dinner Sept. 14 at the Hawthorne Race Course, according to a recent announcement from the Hall of Fame.
Les and Puckett are part of an 18-member induction class, which also will include former Chicago Bears great Richard Dent, Milwaukee Bucks star Terry Cummings, Phoenix Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo, Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delaney and Chicago sports radio personality Mike North.
A native of the Chicago suburb of Niles, Ill., Les is a graduate of Niles Notre Dame High School and has enjoyed a stellar basketball career as a player and coach. After beginning his college playing career at Cleveland State, Les transferred to Bradley in 1983 and starred a point guard for the Braves for three seasons. As a senior in 1985-86, Les led the Braves to a perfect 16-0 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season record and helped Bradley earn its first NCAA Tournament win since 1955 by downing UTEP, 83-65. He was both the Valley Player of the Year and the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner as the nation’s top senior under 6-feet tall following his senior season.
A third-round NBA Draft pick in 1986, Les played seven seasons in the NBA for Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento and Atlanta. He led the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (.461) during the 1990-91 season and he was the runner up to Chicago’s Craig Hodges during the AT&T Long Distance Shootout during the 1992 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Les became the 12th men’s basketball coach in Bradley Basketball history in 2002 and has led the Braves to a 62-60 record during his first four seasons at the helm of the program. This past spring he became the 45th man in NCAA Division I history to play and coach his alma mater in the NCAA Tournament. The Braves capped a 22-11 season by upsetting #12 Kansas (77-73) and #16 Pittsburgh (72-66) in the first two rounds of the Oakland Regional to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1955.
Puckett played one season at Bradley in 1981, before transferring to Triton College then embarking on his Hall of Fame professional career with the Minnesota Twins. A first-team All-MVC outfielder during his one season at Bradley, Puckett led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. The 1989 American League batting champion, he led the AL in total hits four times (1987, 1988, 1989 and 1992), finishing with a .318 career batting average and 2,304 hits during his 12-year career. Puckett, who died in March, and former Green Bay Packers player Tony Canadeo will be inducted posthumously.
Chicago sports broadcaster Mike Adamle will emcee the program, which will be held in the Gold Cup Room at Hawthorne Race Course (3501 South Laramie, Stickney, IL). Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m. with the buffet dinner and ceremony to begin at 6:30. Tickets are $100 each; $1000 for a table of 10 and $1500 for a sponsorship table, which includes a full page ad in the Hall of Fame program. For ticket information, call (708) 780-7050.
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