I was lucky enough to attend the Night of Legends event on Sept. 13, 2008, where the Assembly Hall was pretty packed with over 15,000 fans. It was also extremely hot since there is no AC available. No matter, it was a remarkable experience watching Luther Head, Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill, Steve Bardo and more stand on the court and watch as their jerseys were raised to the rafters.
Rod Cardinal â€“ coordinator of special projects for coach Bruce Weber and also the father of Brian Cardinal, a reserve forward of the NBA Champs the Mavericks â€“Â says that he has gathered about 30 former players that are willing to come by for the fun, including Williams who now plays for the New Jersey Nets. Cardinal is calling the event the â€œIllinois Basketball Family Gathering,â€ and the timing is scheduled to coincide with Williamsâ€™ Point of Hope charity event.
Other players that are scheduled to be present are Williams, Brown, Head, Gill, Brian Cook, Kiwane Garris, Frank Williams, Demetri McCamey, Cory Bradford, Kevin Turner, Jerry Hester, Robert Archibald, Sergio McClain, Brian Randle, Damir Krupalija, Trent Meacham, Mike Davis, Jarrod Gee, Lucas Johnson, Mike Tisdale, Chris Gandy, Jack Ingram, Marcus Griffin, Calvin Brock and Arias Davis, as well as former players and current UI basketball staff members Jerrance Howard, Sean Harrington and Chester Frazier.
At halftime of the alumni game, the UofI will honor its back-to-back Big Ten championship teams from the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. A highlight video will play from the videoboard, a group photo will be taken, and players from those squads will address the crowd. All players present who have an Honored Jersey Â (from the Night of Legends event) hanging in Assembly Hall will be introduced during the game as well.
â€œWe are excited to welcome everyone back to campus for another Fighting Illini basketball reunion and alumni game,â€ said coach Bruce Weber. â€œItâ€™s important that our former players, managers, support staff members and their families remain involved with our program and continue to have opportunities to return to the U of I and visit with old friends and teammates and share memories.â€
Tickets are $25 each in level A and $15 apiece in levels B and C. I FUND members and season ticket holders will receive an order form by mail. The tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning July 11 online at FightingIllini.com, in person at the UI Athletics Ticket Office located at the Assembly Hall, or by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1.
In addition, Deron Williams will hold a pair of events on Aug. 6 to benefit his Point of Hope Foundation. Through Point of Hope, Williams has pledged to fully endow a scholarship for an Illinois student-athlete. Williams will host a golf outing in the morning at Stone Creek and a post-game reception on campus at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC). For more information regarding those events, visit pointofhopefoundation.org or email Jeff Smith at email@example.com.