By Jonah Bronstein
NIAGARA FALLS —
Overseeing the final stages of construction on a new basketball gym at the Southwest Community Christian Center in Sugar Land, Texas, Calvin Murphy fielded questions quicker than he used to rise off the floor to hoist jumpers during his Hall of Fame career. And only half of them came from the journalist calling his phone.
“I’m so sorry, can you hang on again,” Murphy said Wednesday, “everyone knows I leave tomorrow, so they want to get their licks in, asking me if I can do one more thing.”
Murphy, 62, is the director of athletics, director of outreach, and a minister of youth at what is known as The Bridge in the Houston community. It’s a year-round job, but every year Murphy takes three days off to visit one of his favorite vacation spots.
To him, the frigid atmosphere around Niagara Falls in winter is a fountain of youth and enthusiasm.
Murphy has returned to campus several times since he set an unbreakable all-time scoring mark four decades ago. In 2009, he was on hand to celebrate Niagara being chosen to host a nationally-televised BracketBuster game. When the ESPN cameras returned last season for the Purple Eagles’ 8 a.m. home opener, Murphy came back to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the school’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Tonight, Murphy will be honored as “Niagara Legend” before the Purple Eagles play Rider on ESPNU. The event is part of Niagara’s participation in the Legends Classic earlier this season.
Prior to the game, fans who purchase advance tickets will get to meet the legend. Starting at 6:30 p.m. at St. Vincent Hall, Murphy will greet fans, share memories and lead a film session. The game tips off at 9 a.m. For more information on the meet and greet, contact Julie Moses, assistant marketing and promotions director, at 286-8494.
“I have a lot to talk about,” Murphy said.
Murphy is passionate about showing his loyalty to Niagara because the university has done the same for him over the years.
When Murphy’s wife was killed in a car crash in 1996, university officials attended the funeral. When he was accused with sexually abusing five of his daughters in 2005, Niagara sent a representative to the trial, where he was acquitted on all charges.
“That’s when you know this isn’t about a jump shot, it’s about a person,” Murphy said. “Niagara University loved me for me. During that period, they could’ve turned their back on me. A lot of people did. But they showed their faith in me. And I’ll never forget that for life.”
Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at email@example.com