Black Westchester wants to wish Mount Vernon basketball legend Rodney McCray a Happy Birthday. The 6’7” small forward who spent 10 seasons (1983–93) in the National Basketball Association (NBA), tallying 9,014 career points and 5,087 career rebounds, turns 58 on Thursday, August 29th.
Winning an NCAA Championship is every college kid’s dream, just like winning an NBA Finals is the ultimate goal for an NBA player. Despite the ever-so-slim chances of winning both, Mount Vernon’s native son Rodney McCray is among the 30 or so players who were able to pull off the incredibly rare feat., to be crowned king of the court in college and in the NBA. Even fewer have can add winning a high school championship to their resume. Rodney was a true King of The Court – a champion on every level of the game.
McCray – Class of 1979 in Mount Vernon which is among the 10 high schools that have produced the most NBA Players in history – followed his older brother Scooter to the University of Louisville and was a key member of the Cardinals team that won the 1980 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. Rodney McCray was the quintessential younger brother. He moved when Scooter said move, played ball when Scooter said play, and, he says, ‘’since he never led me anywhere I wasn’t supposed to be, I followed when he led.’’
His college teammates included his brother, Scooter McCray, as well as Darrell Griffith and Derek Smith. Rodney was named to the Final Four All-Decade Team of the 1980s. He is one of a select group of former Louisville players with honored jerseys hanging in the KFC Yum! Center in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, United States. It is named after the KFC restaurant chain and Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC.
A starter of UofL’s 1980’s Championship team, McCray was one of just four Cardinals to surpass both 1,000 career points (1,247) and rebounds (1,029). he helped Louisville to a combines 109-26 record and three NCAA Final Four appearances in four seasons, starting in 132 consecutive games.
McCray qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team but was unable to compete due to the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 2007, he did receive one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the spurned athletes.
He was drafted by the NBA’s Houston Rockets with the third pick of the 1983 NBA draft and played four seasons with them, averaging 10.8 points per game. He also earned NBA All-Defensive Team honors in 1987 and 1988, as well as a trip to the NBA Finals in 1986 in a losing cause against Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics. He also played for the Sacramento Kings from 1988 to 1990, Dallas Mavericks from 1990 to 1992, and Chicago Bulls for the 1992–93 season. He won an NBA championship with the Bulls in 1993 – the third title of Michael Jordan’s first three-peat.
“Rodney was a great player and even more than that as a person,” recalls Lowes Moore (MVHS Class of 1976), Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club. “He was a Freshman when I was a Senior, I played longer with his older brother Scooter, but one thing you couldn’t deny is he had the talent to be the man but was always the consummate team player. He was an awesome player even Micheal Jordan gave him props.”
In January 2017, the star forward was among 14 former standout players and one coach that comprised that years Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Legends presented by New York Life. The Legends were recognized during the 2017 ACC Tournament which was held March 7-11 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Rodney resides in Houston, Texas and from those who know him say he is the same guy today, he has never changed. He always put team first, but he would give you the business if you played against him in the legendary 4th Street Playground. Most that know him, describe him as a quiet guy.
Black Westchester salutes a true King of the Court, a champion on every level of the game. My mom always said, ‘Give me my flowers while I’m alive,” Most of the time you read something like this after a player has passed away but we want to pay tribute to a true Mount Vernon Legend while he is still among us to see it. Happy Birthday Rodney McCray.