Throwback Thursday: Greg Gurley
July 28, 2011
Greg Gurley is a native of Leawood, Kan., who went on to play basketball for the Jayhawks from 1992-95. Gurley played in one Final Four during his time in Lawrence and helped KU win three Big 8 regular season titles. Since graduating, he has remained a fixture at Allen Fieldhouse, calling games on Lawrence’s Channel 6 and working as a studio analyst for Metro Sports in Kansas City. Gurley recently returned to his alma mater as the director of development for the Williams Education Fund. He lives in the town he grew up in with his wife Amy, and their two daughters.
At what age did you first start playing basketball?
“My dad was a high school basketball coach so it was a very early age when I first started playing. If I had to guess though, I would say I was about two years old. Basketball was my deal, I grew up around it and I loved it, so it was not like it was force fed to me.”
Were you a Kansas basketball fan before coming to KU?
“That’s a tricky question because growing up as a kid I was a fair-weather fan. Early on I was a Michael Jordan fan, who went to North Carolina but then in the mid ‘80s, when Danny Manning stepped foot in Lawrence, I became a KU fan. I was actually at the 1988 NCAA Championship game. Growing up in the area and being around it so much it was hard not to become a fan.”
What was your most memorable moment on the court as a Jayhawk?
“Being able to play in the final four in 1993 was pretty amazing. We played in front of 50,000 plus at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, against North Carolina. We ended up losing obviously but just being a part of that experience and having it on my resume is just unbelievable and nobody can ever take that away from me. I even scored three points (against UNC), so I am in the books. Really, you never want to put a loss in your top one or two but I most certainly am because it is such a small fraternity of people that are able to say that they played in a final four.”
Do you still keep in close contact with Coach Williams and other teammates?
“I do but it’s funny because it’s just about the entire coaching staff at North Carolina, who I either played for or with, like Jerod (Haase) and C.B. (Colin B. McGrath). As far as teammates, I definitely have a group that I still keep in contact with but Kansas does such a great job of having reunions every five years. We had one back in 2008 and it was really neat to be able to connect with teammates and coaches. When you play basketball here at Kansas you are basically a family of about 25 when you take into account the coaches and all the support staff that are with the team. Some of my best friends today were managers when I played, so it kind of runs the gamut as a pretty tight-knit group.”
What was the most challenging part of being a student-athlete?
“With any sport there is such a delicate balance of three things. There are academics, athletics and your social life. If you can figure out a way to have a success with all three of those then you have done a pretty good job of using your time. We had a great deal of help academically because the support staff at KU was awesome and the facilities and the resources were and continue to be so nice. It is a very tough balance to figure out how to do everything successfully but if you could figure out how to do just two of those then really you have won.”
What makes the Fieldhouse so special to play in?
“I have been to a lot of different arenas and Allen Fieldhouse is just so unique. Being there for a game is an event, it’s entertaining, it’s everything and the atmosphere is just electric. Even as a 38-year-old broadcaster I would sit there and watch that pre-game video, with the starting line-ups, and get chills. Obviously it was a thrill to run out of that tunnel when I was playing with over 16,000 fans, treating you like a superstar no matter who you are. That does not happen in other places and I think sometimes we take it for granted because it is not that way at 95 percent of the other places in the country.”
What was the transition like, going from player to TV analyst?
“When people in the media started contacting me 10 or 12 years ago, they would say, ‘oh, you would be so good.’ I really had no interest in doing it and I tried to talk them out of it. Really though, I just did it the way I thought it should be done and gave my honest opinion. Although, at times I can be a little bit of a homer. Another thing that was tough to get used to was having people talk in your ear, while still trying to get across a good point. That can be a lot to handle and it definitely took some time to get comfortable, but I have been doing it now for more than 10 years. It has been a lot of fun and it keeps me close to the action of some of the best basketball in the country.”
“It was just perfect timing. I was going through a transition and there was a transition going on in the athletic department that had been in the works for a while. I think they wanted to get more Kansas people in here and I love the university and the athletic program. I have been there about a month and I am still learning. I worked for myself for about 12 years, so it is a little different. It has been a transition for me from working out of my home to going to an office every day, but it has been great. I love the athletic department, the people that I work with and just being around it every day. I am just truly in a great place.”
Are your children involved in sports? If so, which ones do they play?
“My daughters play basketball, volleyball, soccer and golf. I have coached them a little bit in basketball, but with first and second grade basketball there is really not that much coaching. Still, it is fun to watch them develop and enjoy it because youth sports were such a huge part of my life. I want the same for my daughters, but we will see how their athletic path goes.”
What advice would you give current KU players?
“I would tell them just to enjoy it. These are going to be the greatest years of their life and they will never have the kind of fun that they will have here at Kansas. The NBA is the next step and although it is a lot of fun and a lot of money, it is more of a job. It is hard to tell an 18-22 year old that because it is more of a life lesson they will have to learn on their own. Really though, players here should know they are one of a very select few that have the opportunity to play at Kansas and they should not take it for granted.”