100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Bob Kenney, basketball

Bob Kenney.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 09:00:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another member of the 1952 U.S. Olympic gold medal men’s basketball team, Bob Kenney also played for the University of Kansas’ NCAA championship squad that year.

Originally from Winfield, Kansas, Kenney played football for two seasons with the Jayhawks and three with the basketball team.

He helped Phog Allen’s teams win Big Seven titles in 1950 and 1952, in addition to the national title his senior season, when Kenney averaged 13.7 points — second-most on the team behind Clyde Lovellette’s 28.4 points.

Kenney also averaged 3.7 rebounds.

During the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Kenney ranked second on the U.S. team, averaging 10.6 points per game.

Forrest C. Allen, Phog Allen, Bob Kenney, John Keller, Clyde Lovellette, Bill Lienhard, Dean Kelley, Charlie Hoag, Bill Hougland, all of Kansas, Howard Hobson, Warren Womble, Wayne Glasgow and Bob Kurland, Ron Bontemps, Frank McCabe, Marcus Freiberger, Dan Pippin, Howie Williams
Seven members of the University of Kansas basketball team wait their turn as their coach Forrest C. "Phog" Allen, right, is measured for an Olympic uniform in New York, April 1, 1952. From left: Clyde Lovellette, Bill Lienhard, Bill Hougland, Bob Kenney, John Keller, Charlie Hoag, Dean Kelley, Dan Kelleher, and department store employee who takes down measurements, tailor Matthew Mueller, and Allen.

Kenney, who played professionally for the Wichita Vickers AAU team, was one of two players from the Olympic team, along with fellow former KU star Dean Kelley, to also win gold at the 1955 Pan American Games.

Kenney worked at Honeywell, A.B. May and eventually retired after a career in real estate as president of the Kansas City area offices for Hardin Stockton/Coldwell Banker, according to a KU Athletics obituary. He retired to Arizona, where he died in 2014.

Kenney, a captain on the 1952 basketball team, was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the KU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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