Sunday, May 17, 2009

John Wooden, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton and Who?

Who, besides UCLA´s John Wooden, is the only other sports figure to have coached both Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton?

Jabbar and Walton are two of basketball´s most famous centers. Both played at UCLA for John Wooden and, then, during different years in their NBA careers, under Jack McKinney. There´s your answer.

Jabbar was a member of the 1974-1975 Milwaukee Bucks, where McKinney was assistant coach. McKinney was also the assistant coach to the 1977-78 championship Portland Trailblazers, which featured Bill Walton at center.

When the Los Angeles Lakers were looking for a coach in 1979, it was Jabbar who suggested McKinney. McKinney was lured away from the Trailblazers, and began the 1979-80 season as the Lakers head coach, but he didn´t finish. Does any sports fan out there remember why?

I know why, of course, because Jack McKinney is my father. That´s a photo of us up on the left at my birthday party in December. Jack fell off my brother´s bicycle and ended up in a coma. The story of that year with the Lakers is told in my memoir, Fast Break South, which is presently looking for representation.

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