November 2019

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Page 14 of 166

15 A round 30 years ago, a kid from Detroit flew into Iowa City, Iowa, and stepped onto the University of Iowa campus for the first time. Four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament as a Hawkeye and three NBA Championships later, the kid from Detroit returned to Iowa City as grand marshal of the 2019 Homecoming parade. B.J. Armstrong never imagined he would be the grand marshal 30 years ago. "Iowa means everything to me," Armstrong said. "When they called, I was shocked. I thought it was a joke at first. I always look at myself as a kid from Detroit." Armstrong's first time on campus started with a recruiting pitch from hall of fame coach George Raveling. "You're going to love the people here, it's going to be nothing like you've ever experienced," Armstrong recalled Raveling saying. "He was right. He spoke highly of the people and fans." e fans who packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the 1980s for shirts-versus-skins games before football games stood out to Armstrong. "e one thing that hasn't changed is the people," he said. "People are still smiling, friendly, and helpful. at's what attracted me to Iowa. ere has been a lot of change (in Iowa City), but the people haven't, and that's great to see." One of the special moments of Armstrong's career was the 1986-87 season when the Hawkeyes won 30 games under first-year head coach Tom Davis. "When coach Davis and his staff came in, they gave us confidence," Armstrong said. "We took responsibility and had a great group of guys who liked each other. Everyone was coachable and rooting for each other. We had ingredients for success." Kevin Gamble, Gerry Wright, and Brad Lohaus provided senior leadership, while the backcourt duo of Armstrong and Iowa's all-time leading scorer Roy Marble propelled Iowa to the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking aer winning the first 18 games of the season. Iowa ultimately fell in the Elite Eight, but it was one of many highlights in Armstrong's collegiate career. e two-time All-Big Ten honoree le Iowa as the program's leader in assists before being taken by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1989 NBA Dra. In his second NBA season, Armstrong won the first of three straight NBA titles. "I never imagined I would win one championship, let alone three," Armstrong said. "To play in an incredible city of Chicago with great players like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen under (head coach) Phil Jackson was a treat. I never imagined I would achieve the success I did as a professional. I have been humbled by that experience." Aer entering the record books as a member of one of only five NBA teams to three-peat, Armstrong continued to play at a high level. He was named a starter for the 1994 NBA All-Star Game. "To be able to reach that pinnacle, I can't tell you what it meant to my family and all the people that played a part," Armstrong said. "We all dream of it, but to say you've done it is something I cherish." A kid from Detroit turned dreams into reality, and Armstrong considers it a privilege that his dreams started in Iowa City. "Some of my fondest memories happened at the University of Iowa," Armstrong said. "I was born in Detroit, but I consider Iowa home."

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