By Daniel Massa
Quinn Buckner, long-time Pacers Fox Sports Indiana analyst and vice president of communication for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, was honored at Friday night’s 15th annual Masquerade event, benefitting the Simon Youth Foundation and the Pacers Foundation.
The Indiana Roof Ballroom was transformed into “Club Q” for the night, as Buckner, well known for his accomplishments on the court as a player (one of only three men to win a high school championship, an NCAA championship, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal) and courtside as a broadcaster, was recognized for his involvement in the community.
“I’m humbled, I really am,” Buckner said. “I’ve been blessed enough to have worked in this organization for just under 20 years, and with the Simon family in some form or fashion, and it’s amazing the giving this family does. And to be considered somewhat in that arena, I’m a little awestruck by being here.”
Buckner has served on the boards of numerous charities, and has made it a priority to serve his community no matter where his professional life took him.
“Quinn Buckner personifies what this event is about,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Rick Fuson Friday night, before the event began. “It’s about giving back… It’s about hope, it’s about caring, and it’s about giving.”
Since its inception, The Masquerade has raised over $10 million to assist the Pacers Foundation and Simon Youth Foundation’s efforts in education and mentoring for at-risk youth across the country. Past honorees include Melvin and Herbert Simon, Larry Bird, Jim Morris, and Tamika Catchings.
“For us, he’s somebody that our students can aspire to be,” Simon Youth Foundation Executive Director J. Michael Durnil said. “And that’s what the Simon Youth Foundation is about, is helping kids see the goals that can be out there for them, and encouraging them to go after them.”
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving,” Pacers Foundation vice-chair Cindy Simon Skjodt said while paying tribute to Buckner in front of hundreds of guests, which included members of the Pacers team and basketball staff.
The reception was highlighted by several videos that took the audience back through Buckner’s life, and featured interviews with many important people in his life. One video described his home upbringing and impressive high school athletic career, while another focused on his time at Indiana University.
Former Hoosier teammates Wayne Radford, Tom Abernethy, and Scott May, along with former coach Bob Knight, all contributed to the video with memories of his time in Bloomington, which concluded with an undefeated season and the 1976 NCAA championship.
Of all the people in attendance, and those that paid tribute in the various videos throughout the night, the person Buckner was most excited to be in the presence of?
“My mother is 93 years old, and she’s here,” Buckner said. “It’s a tribute that she’s here.”