Dandridge grew spiritually while waiting for Hall of Fame call originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Bobby Dandridge had been waiting for the call for over three decades and he missed it. He checked his phone and saw a missed call from Springfield, MA. That's where the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is located, so he had an inkling of what it was about when he called back.
On the phone were four people: Jerry Colangelo, John Doleva, Wayne Embry and Eddie Doucette, Hall of Fame executives, and in Embry and Doucette's case, two with ties to the Milwaukee Bucks where Dandridge played the first nine seasons of his career. Dandridge played 13 NBA seasons, including four in Washington where he won his second NBA championship in 1978.
Dandridge, now 73, retired from the NBA in 1982 as a two-time champion, four-time All-Star and an All-NBA, All-Defense and All-Rookie selection. He long felt like he was deserving to be in Springfield and now, after being inducted over the weekend, he has been immortalized as one of basketball all-time greats.
"'It’s about [expletive] time,’'" Dandridge told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller.
"I’m just blessed and fortunate that my kids and my family members, fans in Milwaukee, in Milwaukee and Washington, were in my corner... Thus far, now, I’m healthy thus far. And, that I’m living and I get a chance to celebrate this with the various organizations I played for; Milwaukee and Washington, and my fans, Norfolk State people, Richmond folks. I think it’s just an exciting time for a whole lot of people who have supported me throughout my career."
As Dandridge noted, playing for the Bullets was a homecoming of sorts. He grew up in Richmond, VA, starring at Maggie Walker High School. He then played college ball at Norfolk State University.
Dandridge had many people from the D.C, Maryland and Virginia area rooting for him, but also many others around the sport of basketball and elsewhere. After news broke he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the first call he received was from NBA legend and his former Bucks teammate Oscar Robertson. He also heard from Rick Barry, a bitter rival of his in the 1970s, as well as Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General.
Many in Dandridge's life were surprised over the years at how long he had to wait. He became used to people assuming he had already been inducted.
But during that time, as frustrating as it could be, he made the most of it by continuing to stay connected to the game of basketball. He has worked with the NBA's rookie transition program, Nike 100 basketball camps and also as a leader of the Wizards/Bullets alumni association.
"My time not in the Hall of Fame has given me a whole lot of areas to contribute to basketball in a whole lot of areas other than statistics. I’m just grateful for that opportunity. It’s been just a joyous occasion over these last 35 years and with being in the Hall of Fame now culminates as one of the greatest honors that I’ve been afforded. I’m just blessed. Patience is a spiritual thing. I’ve been able to grow through this wait," Dandridge said.
Dandridge's playing career is the main reason why he is now a basketball Hall of Famer. But he is proud to say his impact has been felt in many other ways around the sport.
"I think the Hall of Fame for me at this point in my life and having to wait means more than just my basketball performance," he said. "What else have I given to the sport of basketball other than statistics?"