He was a terrific high-school basketball player who played his college ball for N.C. State and UNC. From 1940 to 1946, he starred for the Washington Capitals and Boston Celtics of the NBA. Horace “Bones” McKinney looked exactly like his name sounded. Tall, lanky, slumped forward a little, and as white as tissue paper. At 6’ 6” tall and weighing only 180 pounds, he reminded you of a buzzard sitting in a tree. Ichabod Crane comes to mind. Thinning hair, volatile, he wore glasses and was an ordained minister before becoming a college basketball coach at Wake Forest University, located in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Bones coached at Wake Forest from 1958-1965 and took the Demon Deacons to the NCAA Final Four in 1962. Does the name Billy Packer ring a bell? Packer was the star guard for that Wake Forest team. Unlike today’s game, where coaches can walk up and down courtside and some even come out onto the floor, there was a time that if a coach left his seat anytime except when there was a timeout, it was an automatic technical foul.
Bones stayed in trouble because he simple could not stay seated. Bones was up and down so often that his assistant coaches came up with a plan. At courtside, one of them would sit on each side of him and put their hands in his pockets, in an effort to keep him seated. Of course that didn’t work. So, a fan of the team that owned an automobile garage devised a seatbelt that could be attached to his chair at courtside. That worked fine for a while until he forgot about unbuckling the seatbelt and at times would stand up out of anger with his seat attached to his backside. The fans roared, the TV folks had a story, and Bones continued to receive technical fouls from the officials.
One night during a 1961 NCAA tournament game against St. Bonaventure, in Charlotte, a Wake Forrest player was called for a foul, as the teams played at the other end of the court. At that time only two referees per game were used in college basketball. Bones disliked the call and jumped up off the bench, while kicking his foot hard against the floor in disgust. His shoe flew off and landed near the foul line. The officials had not seen his reaction so Bones walked out on the court to retrieve his shoe. As he bent over to pick up his shoe, several ink pens fell from his shirt pocket and he had to go back and get the pens. The crowd laughed hysterically, which called attention to Bones. Meanwhile, the possession of the basketball changed hands, and St. Bonaventure players began running towards him. To the crowd’s delight, Bones began to play defense. It was here that the ref noticed Bones was on the court, so they stopped play. Bones explained he was just removing debris from the court. He did not receive a technical foul, but he probably should have. You can’t make this stuff up.
Another story finds Bones coaching his Deacons against the Flyers of the University of Dayton, Ohio. A woman seated directly behind the Wake Forest bench is giving Bones booth barrels of choice words. He heard her, but did not want to turn around and acknowledge that she was being heard. So, Bones asked one of his players on the bench exactly where she was sitting and then positioned himself in front of her. Then he tossed a cup of water over his shoulder, directly into her face. That ended the confrontation.
One of my favorite stories about Bones was a night when things were not going well for his Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Bones thought his team got a bad call and, as the referee ran by him, Bones said “You’re either blind or a crook.” With that the referee turned and said, “You are out of here.” “Why?” screamed Bones. “Because you called me a crook,” said the ref. Bones hollered back, “No I didn’t, I gave you a choice.”