Bob Portman’s number 33 will make a return to Creighton men’s basketball

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Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:05 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Number 33 is making a return to the court for Creighton men’s basketball. Bob Portman last wore it and after smashing scoring records in the 1968-69 season it found a new home in the rafters. Bob still has several of those records including single-game program records for points (51), field goals (19) and free throws (19) made in a game.

Incoming freshman Fredrick King also wore 33 in high school and wanted to continue that at Creighton.

Greg McDermott explains how it came together.

“It was really important to Fredrick and his family, so before I said ‘no’ I decided to contact Bob to get his thoughts, and certainly it was 100 percent his call.”

“After thinking about it, while he’s invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that number and it’s pretty cool to see it hanging in the rafters, he also thought it’d be pretty special to see it back on the floor. Hopefully Fredrick wearing the number will allow us to retell the Bob Portman story, which is an incredible story in itself.”

Bob scored 1,876 career points from 1966-69 at Creighton and also played in the NBA. At 75 years old Bob now lives in North Carolina and here are his thoughts on bringing number 33 back.

“Coach Mac talked to me about him and he said Fredrick wanted to wear the same number he had in high school,” explained Portman. “It’s one of those things where to me, hanging onto the past is not that big a deal.” “I had multiple thoughts but one of them was my gosh, that was 53 years ago,” continued Portman. “I shared with him that my only concern was what happens if this guy has a great career, which hopefully he does, and then his jersey gets retired? Coach Mac assured me that I’m sure we can work that out.”

Portman was inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982 and into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 2013. His jersey is only one of five that has a special place inside CHI Health Center. McDermott explains why he approached Portman.

“I’ve gotten to know Bob, and that’s why I felt so comfortable calling him and having the conversation. What he accomplished at Creighton was incredible, and one of the things that Bob wanted is the opportunity to get to meet Fredrick and get to know him, and we’re going to make sure that happens. I think it’s a great way to honor one of the all-time great players that’s ever worn a Bluejay uniform.”

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