Bob Lenz

The accolades and accomplishments include 547 career wins, eight regular season championships, five district titles, five state trophies and two state championships.

But after 41 years of coaching, Bob Lenz is not quite sure how to quantify all that.

“When you’ve coached as long as I have, I don’t know if 500 wins is such a great number,” Lenz joked.

The 65-year-old Lenz retired as the Melba High head boys basketball coach in April, ending a 41-year coaching career with the last 20 being at Melba.

“The clock was ticking and I wasn’t getting any younger,” Lenz said. “I didn’t want to still be coaching when I was eating through a straw so I thought now was the best time. If not now, when?

“It was never about winning or losing for me. It was about all the relationships I’ve made with other coaches, players and even the referees. I have lots of memories and lots of good times that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’ve had a good run for sure.”

Lenz finished with a career record of 547-464 (.541) and two state championships between three programs. He was 275-207 at Melba, which included a 180-94 mark in conference play.

He became the school’s all-time winningest basketball coach by guiding the Mustangs to five district titles, including the first in program history in 1999, eight regular seasons championships and five state trophies. Featured in those was the first and only state championship in program history in 2011.

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For his accomplishments and impact on the game of basketball, Lenz was selected as winner of the 2017-18 Idaho Press’ Sports Stars Legacy Award.

“To me, Bob Lenz is Melba basketball,” Melba Athletic Director Casey Clark said. “What that means to me is that he ran a top-notch program from top to bottom. He started a tradition of excellence with his teams always being in contention for titles every year.

“But he also always made sure our kids carried themselves the right way, as well. From our kids always dressing up in shirts and ties for every away game to always representing the community well by playing the game the right way on the court, that’s always been a major focus of his.”

Lenz spent 21 years coaching in Alaska before coming back to his alma mater to take over the Melba boys basketball program in 1998. He led the Mustangs to their first ever district title and runner-up at state in his very first season.

During the next 19 years, nine more state tournament appearances followed, including the 2A state championship in 2011 when Melba edged New Plymouth 31-30 after the Pilgrims missed a free throw with five-tenths of a second remaining.

But after 41 years Lenz decided that he had other things he wanted to do with his time. He also retired as the school’s counselor, and joked that the weeds at his house might finally get the attention they deserve.

After what he’s done in his career, Lenz deserves the break.

“If you’ve been around my dad at all, it’s never been about him, but the players,” said Dave Lenz, who was an assistant coach for his father for 11 years and now coaches the Melba varsity girls basketball team. “It’s the players’ team not the coach’s team. He’s a guy who has a big heart and always tried to help kids out in any way he could.”

Brandon Walton covers Ada County and College of Idaho sports for the Idaho Press.

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