Bucky Waters – Lifelong Basketball Memories
Born during the Great Depression, Raymond Chevalier “Bucky” Waters’ parents made many sacrifices to see their son succeeded in a tough Camden, NJ neighborhood across the bridge from Philadelphia. Bucky transferred to rival Collingswood H.S. because he had a better chance to be a state all-star, three-sport athlete. Plus, he was the first in his family to go on to college.
In 1954, Bucky was recruited by N.C. State Hall of Fame basketball coach Everett Case to play for the Wolfpack. After playing for four years for Case, Bucky coached at Ashe Central H.S. in the N.C. mountains. In 1959 he was hired by Vic Bubas at Duke as an assistant coach in charge of the then-freshman team. While he was on the staff, Duke won its first-ever ACC tournament. Bucky left Duke in ’65 to coach at West Virginia, where they beat Duke two out of three times.
When Bubas retired, Duke Athletic Director Eddie Cameron brought Bucky back to Duke as head coach in 1969. He produced winning records and postseason tournament teams at both Duke and WVU, including five NCAA and three NIT appearances and a pair of Final Fours. In 1972, on the night the Duke stadium was named Cameron Indoor, he led his team to victory over a talent-ladened Carolina Tarheel team.
Following his outstanding coaching career, Bucky was a T.V. star, including 12 years doing color for NBC-TV college basketball games with Bob Costas and other famous announcers on ESPN, Madison Square Garden, Fox, and other networks. He especially loved to cover the Duke-Carolina basketball games. In addition, he was on the broadcast team for the 1988 Olympic Games in Korea.
Bucky’s career at Duke spanned four decades, leaving as vice chancellor for special projects, one of the health system’s chief fund-raisers at the Duke University Medical Center. In 31 years, his Duke Children’s Classic raised about $14 million for cancer research and attracted to Durham such luminaries as Perry Como, Mickey Mantle, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.
Perhaps most important to Bucky today, on September 1, 1956, he married his high school sweetheart, Dottie, still his best and most favorite recruit for 66 years. They have three children, twelve grandchildren, and twelve great grandchildren. In 2008, the pair moved into CV after Bucky’s 39-year-long basketball coaching and broadcasting career.
Bucky jumped with pride as his Blue Devils won this year’s ACC Tournament, the 22nd time since the first time he coached the team in 1961.
For the past few years, Bucky has been gathering interesting stories to include in his biography now being compiled by George Lewis, the pen name for the son of the late CV resident, Martha Rose Wilson, and tentatively titled “Sharing My Life Above the Rim—Without One Dunk!”
Some of the “gem” remembrances include the times he beat his old high school Coach Jack McClosky six of eight times when he later coached against him at Wake Forest. At 29, he had recruited his first black player at Duke, but moved to West Virginia where coached four black players, bringing one with him as an assistant coach when he returned to Duke. Among the big-name players he coached at Duke included Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins.
Another story he tells in the book is how he sat on a stool to look eye-to-eye at Bob Costas on NBC-TV basketball telecasts. One more is the time he was unofficially bestowed an ‘Honorary Doctor of Medicine’ (but could only make ‘house calls’ at his home) upon running his last Duke’s Children’s Classic in 1999.