Those who saw Billy McKinney (SESP77) play at McGaw Memorial Hall remember him as a prolific guard with a fast motor. Starring for coach Tex Winter from 1974 to 1977, McKinney poured in 1,900 points, a record that stood until senior John Shurna eclipsed that mark with a 3-pointer in a 64-53 win over Minnesota on Feb. 18.
“The record is well-deserved because of the way that the team is playing and how they’re winning," McKinney says. "Shurna is scoring points while the team is winning. I would have sacrificed every point that I ever scored to have the opportunity to play in NCAA or NIT.”
In 25 years as a front-office ace in the NBA, McKinney has been just as prolific as he was on the court for the 'Cats. In his first 10 years as an executive, he helped build the foundation for the Chicago Bulls squad that won six titles, he served as director of player personnel for the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, and he was influential in the rebuilding of the Detroit Pistons in the early 1990s. Since then, McKinney has worked as a radio/TV analyst and as general manager of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. McKinney, who played seven seasons in the NBA, is now director of scouting for the Milwaukee Bucks.
In his spare time, he has mastered Italian and is learning Spanish (German or Chinese is next), while balancing a full travel schedule: across the country with the Bucks, to Europe as a scout and to Evanston as a fan.
“I’ve been blessed to have a good life,” says McKinney, who lives in Snoqualmie, Wash. “I couldn’t have done that without getting a great education at Northwestern.”