Guilford Alum selected for Hall of Fame

Provided courtesy of Guilford College Athletics

Michael Jordan, Dean Smith and Coach K are all North Carolina basketball legends and members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Guilford College basketball legend, Michael Leon Carr, affectionately known to fans as M.L. Carr, is now a member of this illustrious group.

Carr, who graduated in 1973, won a national championship while attending  Guilford in ’73 and then two World Championships with the Boston Celtics, as well as coaching the Celtics from 1995-97.

Although a huge honor for Carr, he’s not one for personal accolades.

“It’s a great honor, but there’s not a whole lot of appreciation for the individual honors,” Carr said.

For Carr, this is as much of an achievement for his whole team as it is for himself.

“I like to think of it in terms of the players and coaches that were apart of it,” said Carr. “They were as much a part of it, as I was.”

Currently Carr ranks sixth on Guilford’s all-time scoring list, even though he only played thirteen games his junior year due to a knee injury.

Despite the setback, the Wallace, N.C., native scored 1,993 points during his Guilford College career.

What would motivate a potential “all-world” player to attend a small liberal college instead of one of the powerhouse basketball programs that “Tobacco-Road” is best known for?

After attending Wallace-Rose Hill High School, Carr knew there was only one college for him.

“Coach Jerry Steel and Coach (Jack) Jensen were the only ones who came into my house and said ‘we can’t pay for your books, we can’t for your laundry, but we can offer you a four year scholarship,” said Carr. “And at the end of four years, if you apply yourself, I promise that you will have a degree from a great liberal arts school.”

For Carr, he didn’t want to be one of those players looking for a school that would be a spring board to the NBA.

“It wasn’t all about being a basketball player,” said Carr.

Upon graduating from Guilford, Carr knew that he had what it took to be a member of the prestigious “next-level”, the NBA.

“I knew that I could play at the next level,” said Carr. “I knew there was someone out there on another team that I was going to outwork. There was a place in the NBA for me.”

Carr knew that he may not be the star of an NBA team, and that was alright with him.

While at Guilford, he had teammates who did not play as many minutes as he did, but he understood their importance on the team.

Those players taught Carr an invaluable lesson.

“I learned how to not be a starter and still be a part of the team”, said Carr. “Cheering them on, supporting them.”

That mental attitude and hours of hard work vaulted Carr to become the fifth round, seventy-sixth pick overall seventh pick of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, NBA—now the Sacramento Kings—and the Kentucky Colonels, ABA, in the 1973 NBA Draft.

After playing overseas to hone his game, Carr was re-drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1976, after the ABA folded.

Carr applied that work ethic to his professional game and eventually made his NBA debut on October 22, 1976, and as they say, the rest is history.

Carr knew what it took to be a valuable teammate as well and that work ethic shined.

Executive director of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Don Fish remembers Carr as not only a tremendous athlete, but also an upstanding person.

“Carr was a exceptional person who has achieved a lot, on and off the sport’s field,” Fish said. “What a great player he was, and how he represented himself as a coach was just great.”

Carr has always been a fan of humility.

Even after winning two World Championships in the NBA (1981 & 1984) with one of sports more storied franchises, the Boston Celtics, Carr still recalls his 1973 championship with Guilford team as one of his favorites.

“When I look back, there was never a greater team that I played on than the 1973 championship team,” said Carr. “No one expected us to win. No one believed that we would, except for the guys on the team.”

Leaving Guilford as a National Champion and earning a degree has always been a source of pride and joy for Carr.

“That degree coupled with a NAIA championship, there was no better way to go out of a college career,” said Carr.

Indeed there was not.

Don Fish knows what a tremendous career Carr has had and he believes this is the perfect time for his induction into the Hall.

“Its just M.L Carr’s time”, said Fish.

Carr will join Quaker alumni  Tom Zachary ’18, Rick Ferrell ’28, Bob Jamieson ’33 and Dave Odom ‘65, as well as coaches Jack Jensen and Jerry Steele and legendary athletic directors Herb Appenzeller and Marion Kirby in the N.C. Hall of Fame.

His induction is scheduled for May 10 in Raleigh, N.C. To attend the festivities please call the NCHOF at (919) 845-3455.

Congratulations and much respect from The Guilfordian Sports Staff M.L.

 

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