Larry Drew on Playing

Larry Drew on Playing
Larry Drew played in the NBA from 1980-1991.

The First

If you try to find videos on YouTube of Larry Drew playing basketball, you will find a lot of Larry Drew II. As you might know, the latter is son of the new Bucks head coach. But before Larry Drew II and before YouTube, the original Larry Drew ran the point in the NBA throughout the 1980s.

The Playing Days

On that note, here are seven fun facts about Larry Drew, basketball player.

  • In his third NBA season, Drew averaged 20.1 points and 8.1 assists. No one in the NBA managed that in 2012-13. This 20/8 average has only been accomplished 62 times in NBA history. Some very impressive company, check it out.

  • Drew played a season of professional hoops in Italy. He played 1988-89 with Scavolini in the Italian League.

  • Drew played four seasons of college hoops at Missouri, starting in 1976. Keep in mind that the three-point line was not universally implemented by the NCAA until a full decade later, in 1986. However, the NBA had adopted the three-point line in 1979, one season before Drew entered the NBA. So, Drew went from playing without three-pointers in college to with three-pointers in the NBA. In his finest NBA season, he averaged 20.1 points and made 2-16 three-pointers throughout the entire season. In other words, he played to his strengths.

  • In his final NBA season, with the Lakers in 1990-91, Drew lost in the Finals to the Bulls. That marked Michael Jordan’s first championship.
  • Drew played for his hometown team, the Kansas City Kings. He played for them in their final season in Kansas City, and played with the Sacramento Kings in their first season. He also played for the Los Angeles Clippers just two years after their first season after moving from San Diego. In all, Drew played for five teams, including three different teams based in California.
  • In his rookie season in 1980-81, Drew played for the Pistons. They went 21-61. That same season, the Bucks went 60-22 and averaged 113.1 points.
  • In each of his first eight seasons, Drew played on teams with a pace factor of 100+. To put that in perspective, the 2012-13 Bucks played at the third fastest pace in the NBA, with a 94.7 pace factor. Basketball in the 1980s was really, really fast.

Interview

Drew recently chatted with me about mostly about basketball, and briefly about playing basketball. Thanks, Larry. Here are some excerpts.

You have talked about shooting hoops with players. How is your game these days?
My game is ragged. My game is ragged. No, I like getting out there and playing shooting games with them. A lot of the guys feel they can beat up on old coach. But coach keeps it right on very loose.

Do you play with your sons at all?
No, I don’t want to pull anything or tear anything. We just have our shooting games. Actually, all three of my boys. We will go to the gym and have our shooting games. They are always challenging me.

What are the shooting games?
We play a little HORSE. A little Around the World. I have my good days and my bad days. Like anyone else.

The Bucks have never had a player who was born in Milwaukee play for the team. How did it feel playing for the Kansas City Kings?
It was very exciting. Those opportunities do not come around much. Being drafted by Detroit and then being traded a year later being traded back to your hometown. Very exciting.

But even more exciting was having a coach who I really admired, and just watching his day-to-day business with how he prepared his team, and how he dealt with players. And that was Cotton Fitzsimmons. Getting that call from him after the trade, with him saying, I believe in you as a basketball player, I believe in your skills, and I am excited to have you.

Those words, to this very day, when I think about it, they really inspired me. From that year on, to the rest of my playing days. And to be able to go back home to play in front of your family and friends, it is really special. I wish everyone could experience that, because it is special.

You played with Mike Woodson and Reggie Theus. Back then, did any of you have inclinations that any of you might become head coaches?
No, at least I didn’t. When I first got into coaching, and actually I started scouting, I really enjoyed that part of it. And I didn’t know if I could do it or not. I had never thought about doing it.

But I got a call from the Lakers about advanced scouting. And it was Magic Johnson who first said that to me, that I should try it, that I should give it a shot. So I decided to do it. And I did it, and enjoyed it. Magic took over about the last 25 games of one season, and he called me, and said he wanted me to come out on the road and come on the bench with me. And ever since then, I have had that bug. And here I am.

Speaking of Magic, who is the best player you ever played with?
It was probably Magic. He was special, man. I remember the first year that I joined the Lakers as a player, and being in training camp, and just watching how he went about his business. And just how hard he worked and how driven he was. Yeah, without a doubt he was the best player I have played with.

Who was the most difficult player you ever had to guard?
I got switched onto Michael Jordan a few times. Michael is Michael. As for point guards, it was probably Isiah Thomas.

 

 

Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.