Ronald P. Mitchell '92

Basketball - Hall of Fame Class of 2012









Harvard Athletic Achievements
Ron Mitchell’s years donning a Crimson uniform were both successful and earned him a long list of accolades. Ron, a four year letterwinner, was named to the First Team All-Ivy in 1990-91 and the Second Team All-Ivy in 1989-90 and 1991-92. Ron was a skilled five-tool player—he could shoot, pass, dribble, rebound and defend with the best of them. He was able to contribute in so many ways that it made him extremely valuable to his team and extremely difficult for opponents to game plan. His freshmen year, he was the runner-up for the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. He was also named the 1989 Harvard Freshman Athlete of the Year by the Crimson. Ron was named captain of the Crimson for two years (1990-91 & 1991-92).
These years he also earned the team’s Raymond Lavietes MVP Award.

Ron graduated as the all-time leading rebounder for Harvard, and currently sits second all-time for Harvard in rebounds (803), with the most rebounds on the team each of his four years.  Ron is also ranked seventh in career points (1,455) and ninth in career blocks (64). In addition, he was named to the Academic All-Ivy Team in the 1991-92 season and in 1989 earned the Floyd S. Wilson Sportsmanship Award for Harvard basketball. Ron has remained involved with the Friends of Harvard Basketball, serving as a co-chair from 2007 – 2009.

Remembering Harvard Athletics
Let me begin by congratulating the other inductees tonight, especially Kyle Snowden.  I was hoping that I would have the opportunity to speak after Kyle this evening.  The last time I went first, I graduated before him and he broke my rebounding record, so I am somewhat paranoid that he might try to steal my thunder once again.  

There are a number of people I would like to thank tonight.  My parents, sisters, brother-in-law and college roommates who came to cold empty gyms to watch me play many an evening.  My girlfriend who is forced to listen to the stories of days long past.  My nephew, Jack, whom we hope will give up baseball and one day become a Harvard basketballer.  Peter Roby, who recruited and coached me.  Mr. & Mrs. Minor who were my surrogate parents in Boston when I attended undergrad.  Warren Smith who was perhaps the kindest man I have ever met; and of course my teammates one of whom is here tonight, Mike Minor with his lovely wife Roula.  

It is an extraordinary honor to be invited into the Hall of Fame in what may forever be known as “The Year of Harvard Basketball.”  First, my former coach Tom Thibodeau... won NBA Coach of the year.  Then Jeremy Lin turned the world upside down and finally Harvard Basketball went to its first NCAA tournament in 65 years.  Coach Amaker deserves much of the credit for the success of the program, however, Bob Scalise , Tom Stemberg, Fred Schernecker and others in the Harvard community who made a commitment to make this program great also deserve recognition.

I could spend my limited time this evening reveling in the success of the current team, coach Amaker and Jeremy Lin. But I won’t.   I am not even going to speak about myself tonight.  Those that know me well will understand what a great sacrifice that is for me.   I have never been shy to talk about my abilities on the basketball court.  I have even been known to refer to myself in the 3rd person.  However, tonight, Ronnie Mitch is going to speak of someone who embodies the spirit of what Harvard Basketball means to me and what I hope it will mean for others in perpetuity.

I am going to openly embarrass him and speak about Mike Minor tonight.  He is one of my dearest friends whom I am both excited and honored agreed to introduce me tonight.  He was the first person I thought to invite to this ceremony.  Not only as a friend and of course a great teammate but as a person who embodies what is beautiful about Harvard Basketball and what is beautiful about college sports.

Mike Minor came to every practice as I did.  He traveled to every game.  He ate every cold post-practice dinner just as I did.  He wore the same undersized Larry Bird shorts.  He sacrificed every Christmas & Thanksgiving holiday just as I did.  Yet he wasn’t surprised when his name was not written into the starting lineup or when he received limited playing time.   He never sulked.  He never shed a tear, he never threatened to transfer, he never took out his frustrations on teammates (although, he did throw a number of nasty elbows at me during several practices).  No.  Mike showed up and appreciated that experience, with the same verve just as I did.  He was as excited by ever victory and hurt by ever loss just as I was.  

I celebrate Mike today because that is what Harvard basketball represented.  That is what college sports once represented and that is how I hope to be remembered during my time here.  Not for the rebounds.  Not for the points.  But for a love of the game, love of my teammates and love of Harvard Basketball that led me to show up for every game expecting to win and willing to give everything I could out on that court without recognition from anyone but those with whom I shared the locker room.  

I accept this honor tonight on behalf of Mike Minor and others like him who from the moment they took the court at the Mac or Briggs or Lavietes, devoted themselves to Harvard Basketball whether the team won 28 games or 8 games.  College basketball has lost much of that innocence, yet it is that innocence which has made college basketball great.  It is what has made Harvard Basketball great.  I had the opportunity to speak with Keith Wright, the current team’s star player, after his last game in Albuquerque at the NCAA tournament.  What I realized is that our star player today continues to embody that spirit of Mike Minor.  Harvard basketball has not lost its innocence, humility, love of the game nor love of Harvard.  It is a testament to Coach Amaker that he has managed to couple winning with that innocence; and it makes me proud to accept this honor and forever attach my name to Harvard Basketball.  I want to close by thanking the Harvard Varsity Club for electing me into the Hall of Fame. It is an honor that I will cherish forever.