Jerry Colangelo was key to Grand Canyon University becoming a Division I program.
He recommended to school president and CEO Brian Mueller to hire former Suns star Dan Majerle to be the men’s basketball coach four years ago when the Antelopes began the transition from NCAA Division II.
His contacts got Louisville and San Diego State inside the GCU Arena to play games.
And now on Wednesday night the school unveiled the Jerry Colangelo Museum in a VIP event that showcases Colangelo’s illustrious sports life, starting from his schoolboy days in Illinois to building the Suns into an NBA Finals team twice and the Diamondbacks into a World Series champion, to rebuilding the USA Basketball team and being the dominant team in the world every four years at the Olympics.
“It’s humbling,” Colangelo said. “Whenever something special is done in your name, a building, a street, whatever the honor may be, and I’ve had the honor to have those things, nothing compares to something like this. It’s meant to be a legacy and it’s going to be here a long time.”
The museum shows pictures of Colangelo’s early years, his beginnings in Phoenix in the late 1960s when he was the general manager of the Suns, the first major professional team in the state.
Valley icon Jerry Colangelo was given his own museum at Grand Canyon University
Richard Obert/ azcentral sports
Randy Gibb, the dean of the College of Business (which bears Colangelo’s name) at GCU, was the project manager of the Colangelo museum, which is next to the arena and connected to the men’s basketball team’s new practice facility.
“I had such an honor working with (Colangelo), going through storage rooms. I’d pull something out and I’d go, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is this doing in a storage room?”’ Gibb said. “One was the sculpture of K.J. (Kevin Johnson) dunking.”
Once he got it going, Gibb said he wanted to do it first class.
“Gold standard,” Gibb said. “He’s like the godfather of Phoenix sports. It needed to be done. His passion was to have four major professional sports teams. And he had a vision of Phoenix and how to revitalize it.”
Colangelo’s journey brings back memories, from his baseball days to basketball, from a dusty desert to a booming metropolis.
“It covers the four decades, going on five decades,” Colangelo said. “That’s a long time. This is my journey in life, the various things I had an impact on. I’m very humbled by the whole thing.”
Colangelo was honored when he was first approached to have his own museum.
“I didn’t really know how to respond to that,” he said. “Then I recognized it was an opportunity to share again. My involvement with the university is quite extensive. Through the business school, I have a chance to give back to young students who are starting their journeys.”
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