Northwestern retires Billy McKinney’s jersey, marking 1st ceremony in school history


EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) — Northwestern University held its first-ever jersey retirement ceremony Saturday during a game against Iowa.

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

Former Chicago Bull Billy McKinney was honored with a banner displaying his number 30, which he wore during his time with the Wildcats between 1973 and 1977.

McKinney, who is now a radio analyst for his former college team, reflected on the honor while talking with ABC7’s Dionne Miller.

“You know the old expression, I guess, from Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: ‘There’s no place like home,'” McKinney said. “So this has been a great transition for me. From the NBA, to being back home and trying to give back to the community. From a community that gave me so much when I was growing”

McKinney never imagined he’d be the mayor of Zion, his small hometown, when he accepted a basketball scholarship to Northwestern nearly 50 years ago.

“All the schools around that I wanted to attend… all those teams said, ‘you’re too small,” McKinney said. “So when I enrolled at Northwestern, I just wanted to prove I could play.”

McKinney did more than that, scoring 1,900 points over his four seasons with the Wildcats. It was a scoring record that stood for 35 years. The record has made him the first Wildcat alum in Northwestern Athletics history to have a jersey retired.

“I’ve been trying to think of something profound to say. It’s just awesome,” McKinney said. “It’s a tremendous way to be recognized. Something that I’ve never thought about. And for it to happen now, at this stage in my life… when I can really appreciate it and understand the magnitude of what it means… it’s surreal.”

After a combined 34 years in the NBA as both a player and executive, his basketball journey brought him right back to his roots.

“It’s so refreshing to go to those games,” McKinney said. “It’s amazing to be in that environment and feel like I’m home.”

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