Memphis to Retire Larry Kenon's Jersey
Feb. 14, 2014
Memphis, Tenn. - -
He was, without a doubt, one of the greatest players to ever wear the University of Memphis Blue and Gray and, during the magical 1972-73 college basketball season, helped lead the Tigers to the NCAA National Championship game against UCLA.
Now, 41 years later, Larry Kenon will be honored by having his jersey retired and hoisted into the rafters of FedExForum alongside eight other Memphis legends. The ceremony will take place during the March 1 Memphis-Louisville basketball game.
"It is with great pride that University of Memphis President Brad Martin and I announce the retirement of Larry Kenon's number 35 jersey," said Tiger Athletics Director Tom Bowen. "Larry made a tremendous impact on our basketball team, which in turn, made an even greater impact on the Memphis community during the 1973-73 season."
Most Memphis basketball fans agree that the 1973 trip to the NCAA National Championship game ranks as one of the greatest moments in the programs history.
"Larry Kenon made an extraordinary contribution to this very special basketball team, which, in turn, had an amazing impact on Memphis during a very difficult time for our community. During this year when we are celebrating the historic contributions of that special team, it's the right time to honor one of the greatest Tigers of all time--Larry Kenon," said University of Memphis, President, Brad Martin, who was serving as President of the Student Government Association at the University during the 72-73 season.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Kenon came to Memphis as a transfer from Amarillo Junior College in Texas. The 6'9 forward averaged 27.6 points and an astounding 25.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore and received Junior College All-America honors for the 1971-72 season.
Kenon, who was known as "Dr. K" during his season with the Tigers, became an immediate impact player for Gene Bartow's squad. His on court point-production seemed to increase with each game played. From 28 points against Texas during the early season, to 32 in the Wichita State contest, to a season-high 34 against South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, Kenon's offensive and defensive numbers remained consistent. He finished the `72-73 campaign averaging 20.1 points and 16.7 rebounds per game and totaled an amazing 25 double-doubles in just 30 games played.
For his play during the season, Kenon received All-America honors from Basketball Weekly, Converse and the Associated Press. He was additionally named the Missouri Valley Player of the Year.
Kenon was taken in the 1973 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons but his draft rights were secured by the New York Nets, and he played the 1973-74 season with the Julius "Dr. J" Erving-led Nets that won the ABA Championship. He was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in 1974-75 and averaged 18.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. The three-time ABA All-Star averaged 17.7 points and 11.1 rebounds during his four-year ABA career.
In 1975-76, San Antonio joined the NBA along with the Nets, the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers. During the next four NBA seasons, Kenon averaged 21.9 per game and was twice named to the NBA All-Star team. He completed his 10-year professional career with 12,954 career points, 6,701 rebounds and 1,672 assists.
Kenon now joins former Memphis Tigers players Forest Arnold (#13; 1952-56), Win Wilfong (#22; 1955-57), Larry Finch (#21; 1969-73), Ronnie Robinson (#33; 1969-73), John Gunn (#44; 1974-76); Keith Lee (#24; 1981-85); Elliot Perry (#34; 1987-91) and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway (#25; 1991-93) as the only men's basketball players in school history to have their jersey retired.