Carroll Dawson was humbled.
A man simply known as “CD” has done so much for Houston basketball over the years, and he was finally honored with the 2013 Jerry Colangelo Award at the 8th Annual Athletes in Action All-Star Breakfast on Saturday morning as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend events. This award is named in honor of Hall of Famer and former CEO of the Phoenix Suns, Jerry Colangelo and recognizes a member of the NBA community for their character, leadership and faith on the court and in their community.
“It blows me away,” Dawson said. “I'd been shocked if I'd gotten it when I was working, but I’ve been retired five years and it happens. I don't understand it but I'm sure honored and grateful.”
“I'm very proud to have him be the recipient this year,” Colangelo said. “He's a terrific guy. He's made a real contribution to the game of basketball. His character and what he stands for puts him in a position to be here today, and I'm glad that we have an opportunity to honor him
Dawson had a successful college career as a center at Paris Junior College and Baylor University. He was later an assistant and head coach at his alma mater, but he is mostly known for his time with the Houston Rockets’ as an assistant coach and general manager. He spent 27 years with the organization, during which time the Rockets went to four NBA Finals, including two NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. He is also known for his work with several legendary big men, including Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson and Yao Ming.
“A very special person has done so much for Houston Rocket basketball, but there's nobody in the room that appreciates him more than I do,” Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston Rockets coach from 1991- 2003, said. “It’s a very tough job to be head coach. He was there with me all along.
“He is integrity and doing things the right way, and he's not a conformist. He has some real creative and new ideas. We ran some plays that were not NBA textbook. We put in a spacing scheme that worked for Hakeem Olajuwon that other people weren't doing. I'm the luckiest guy. He's being honored, but this is an opportunity to for me to tell him thank you for all those years of support.”
“I'm hoping to do what he's done,” current Rockets GM Daryl Morey said. “He won two titles and had the team competitive every year, so I have big shoes to fill and I'm trying to do it. I'm happy for him. He deserves it. He's an icon. His name is in the rafters for a reason.”
Also on Saturday, Dawson was honored by Charlie Ward and Westbury Christian School with The Charlie Ward Tribute to Excellence at The Downtown Club at the Met in Downtown Houston. This award, named after Heisman Trophy winner and head coach of Westbury Christian School Varsity Football Team, Charlie Ward, recognizes individuals of distinction, commitment and faith. Retired NFL coach Tony Dungy and legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden have been the two past recipients.
Dawson retired in 2007 and is currently the president of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Board of Trustees. He was inducted into the Paris Junior College Hall of Fame in 1991, Baylor University Hall of Fame in 1998 and Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001.