When news broke of his selection for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Bob Dandridge began receiving calls from friends, family and those from his past. There were some big names like Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General, and Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry, whom Dandridge had an on-court rivalry with in the 1970s.
"Fierce competitor of mine, a guy I used to fight night in and night out," Dandridge told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller.
The first call, however, and one of the most meaningful came from one of the greatest players ever to pick up a basketball, Oscar Robertson. Dandridge and Robertson were teammates on the Milwaukee Bucks for four seasons, the final four years of Robertson's legendary NBA career.
The two won a championship together in 1971, ironically against the Baltimore Bullets, a franchise Dandridge would later join and win a second title with. That '71 Bucks team also had a 23-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Dandridge and Robertson became lifelong friends, so close that Robertson was Dandridge's presenter last weekend at the induction ceremony in Springfield, MA. Dandridge reflected on that initial call to NBC Sports Washington.
"Anytime Oscar calls you, you consider it a privilege and an honor because I tell people he is the ‘Big O.’ He considers me a friend and a lot of people can’t say that about the ‘Big O,’" Dandridge said.
"But I think he’s the hero that transcends all eras of basketball and I’m just proud that he would call and wish me well... There have been a lot of great calls, but for that first call to come from the ‘Big O,’ that’s something I’ll never forget."
Dandridge, 73, would play four seasons with the Bullets and win a championship in 1978. There he shared the court with Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes.
Now Dandridge has joined all of them in Springfield.