Bob MacKinnon

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Basketball Player and Coach

During its long, distinguished history, Canisius College has produced scores of stellar athletes and outstanding coaches, but never a single individual who excelled in both roles more than the latest Golden Griffin inductee to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Bob MacKinnon. Bob first achieved notoriety as a three-sport athlete at McKinley High. He was an All-High choice in basketball in 1944, 1945, and 1946, and established a Yale Cup scoring record in pacing the Macks to the City Championship as a junior and senior. Bob excelled in football as well, as an All-High halfback and member of three City Championship teams. An outstanding infielder, Bob also won All-High honors in baseball in leading the Macks to the 1946 City Championship.

Although MacKinnon played baseball at Canisius College and in fact captained the 1950 squad, he majored in basketball at the Golden Dome. His laurels included All-Western New York, 1948-1950, All-Auditorium, 1949-1950, and Sporting News Second-Team All American, 1950. IN a moment of great individual distinction, Bob edged out Bob Cousy of Holy Cross at MVP of the Jesuit Game of 1949. Today, Bob is remembered as one of the most superb defenders and playmakers in Golden Griffin annals. Following graduation, baseball beckoned once again, and MacKinnon signed with the Brooklyn Dodger organization. However, a steady diet of third-rate hotels and bus trips in the minors drove him back to his first passion, basketball.

Following a season as a player for the NBA Syracuse Nationals in 1951, MacKinnon returned to Buffalo to coach basketball at Canisius High. His two-year record of 36-2 was duly acknowledged by an appointment as coach of the Canisius College freshman squad, and, in 1959, Bob was named head basketball coach and Athletic Director at Canisius. At the time, MacKinnon was the youngest coach in the NCAA. The program reached its peak just 4 years later with a 19-7 record and NIT Finals appearance that earned Eastern Coach of the Year honors for MacKinnon. Bob coached the Griffs for 13 illustrious seasons, and during that tenure, his capabilities were recognized by fellow coaches by his selection to the National Invitation Tournament Selection Committee and NCAA All-American Selection Committee and Rules Committee.

Bob brought his Midas touch to the Buffalo Braves in 1972 as assistant coach and scout, and within three seasons, the Braves were a National Basketball Association power. MacKinnon also coached for a season in the American Basketball Association, and led the St. Louis Spirits to a stunning upset of the defending champion New York Nets (and Julius Erving) in May 1975. MacKinnon’s significant achievements in professional basketball were a fitting culmination to a career spent in service to the sport and an appropriate cap to a list of achievements which have resulted in Bob assuming his rightful place in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.