A few years back, the idea of naming the Bud Walton Arena court for Nolan Richardson seemed to become a popular cause on the Internet.
The majority of fans I saw seemed supportive of the idea. Once Jeff Long became athletic director and he (and also John Pelphrey even if we're loathe to give him credit for anything) began publicly reaching out to Richardson, honoring the glory years of Razorback basketball has been a popular trend in Februaries in Fayetteville.
Arkansas recognized the 15th anniversary of the 1994 championship team back in 2009, and fans packed the arena even though that team was in the midst of a 2-14 SEC campaign. Thousands of fans stayed in their seats after knocking off South Carolina in 2012 to watch the premiere of the 40 Minutes of Hell SEC Storied documentary on the screen in the arena. Arkansas honored all six Final Four teams in 2014 to a sellout crowd. This year they went further and used three games to hang banners and even sold it as a "Banner Pack" for ticket buyers.
All of the events were very well done and did a tremendous job of honoring what fans remember as the greatest days of the program. The fans clearly enjoy them and hopefully they will continue in some form.
I never really got involved in the court-naming discussion because, as a standalone topic, I don't particularly care how Arkansas chooses to honor its legends as long as they honor them publicly.
The problem I now have is this: when I look beyond Richardson alone, I see Frank Broyles has a statue and a field named for him (and a building between the statue and the field), I see John McDonnell has a new statue and the track facility named for him, and Nolan Richardson has a banner. That, to me, seems unjust.
I'm sure some will argue that Richardson's achievements aren't on the level of Broyles or McDonnell, and on some levels that might be true, but on others is completely foolish. Richardson is simply a titan of his sport, a member of so many Halls of Fame that he has to say "I think" when giving the number of his memberships. I don't need to use this space to tally everything he's done. It's all well-documented.
The only reason I bring this up is because I feel Arkansas set its own precedent. They built statues for both Broyles and McDonnell, and named their corresponding fields for them. Richardson deserves the same treatment.
There are some fans still bitter toward Richardson, particularly with the way his tenure at Arkansas ended and the ensuing lawsuit, and some of those probably have big pockets. It's time to move on. If Nolan can put aside those feelings and be as visible with the program, not to mention remaining in Fayetteville throughout, why can't anybody else? I will say this, there wasn't any booing going on at Bud Walton Tuesday night.
A banner should not be a compromise between those who want larger recognition for Richardson and those who want to forget he was ever a coach at Fayetteville. A banner is the least that should happen. Other legends are receiving their own landmarks on Razorback Road while Richardson's banner hangs inside an arena. It's a bad look.