Where Are They Now? - Nate Archibald
He was the man who made Texas-El Paso go in the late 1960's. He was the man who got the Cincinnati Royals and the Kansas City-Omaha Kings going when his professional playing days began in the early 1970's. He is the only man to ever lead the NBA in Scoring (34.0) and assists (11.4) in the same season (in 1972-73). And, from 1978 through 1983, he was the quarterback who guided the Celtics and helped lead the Green and White to their 14th world championship title in 1981. He is Nate Archibald.
In the five seasons that Nate Archibald graced the hallowed parquet floor, the diminutive 6-1 guard averaged 12.5 points per game while handing out an average of 7.1 assists per contest.
Archibald recently return to Boston and Celtics.com's Jeff Twiss had an opportunity to ask the Hall of Famer and one the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History a few questions.
Nate, many Celtics fans still remember you in the familiar #7 uniform, but I understand now you are working in the front office of the NBA?
Archibald: "I was in Community Relations for the league office for a while and right now I'm trying to get into some coaching. I'm, probably, going to do that this summer. A USBL team is asking for my services so I'm, hopefully, going to do that. Plus, I am working on my last degree. I'm trying to an EDD in Education and that's keeping me much busier than I ever expected."
What brings you back to familiar surroundings in Boston?
Archibald: "Well, someone just called me and asked me if I just wanted to come back to Boston and, basically, mix-and-mingle because I hadn't been up here for a while. I believe the last time I was in Boston was last year during the Legends Tour, and I really enjoyed myself. I'm just coming back to visit some old friends."
Are there any particular or special memory you have from your playing days here in Boston?
Archibald: "Oh wow! Winning the championship! I mean, playing in the league for 14 years and not starting my career with the Celtics or did I finish my career with the Celtics - but just winning the championship and playing with, probably, some of the greatest basketball players to ever have played this game (that are in the Hall of Fame and some of the top 50 Greatest Players in NBA history) is a great feat. But winning the championship is the all-time best memory that I will ever have."
In looking back, Nate, was there anything that you learned from your days as a Celtic?
Archibald: "Well, I think when people talk about the Celtics mystique, I always think about Red Auerbach. As a man behind the scenes, orchestrating everything in those days and building us into a winner, I sincerely thank him for bringing me here. Because I was on the downside or the closing of my career and he revitalized me and gave me a chance to win a championship."
Nate, you were not a big man, just 6-1, but the size did not slow you down nor stop you from your dreams of playing basketball professionally. What words of advice would you have for a young player wanting to someday make the NBA, like you did?
Archibald: "I would tell them to get as much experience as they can. Play as much as possible and have solid coaching and good mentors around you. The game is good but you also to have prepare for your off-the-court activities and also your off-the-court career path. A lot of the players are coming out younger and better now, but there is so many coming out behind them. So, I would say, learn the game, study the game and try to do the very best that you can because the game of basketball is short-lived - the game of life is bigger."
When you were playing, you were a fearless penetrator through the lane and could see the entire court and knew where your teammates were. How has the game changed from when you were playing to today?
Archibald: "When I watch the guys today they are more athletic. When I was playing, we didn't have 6-10, 6-11 guys handling the ball as much that was the duties of the guards. Now you have forwards and centers handle the ball. But the guys more just more athletic, and they are playing above the rim more. Plus, you are talking about younger guys in the league today. So, you have to practice and dedicate your skills, your ability and also be open and be flexible for good coaching and good mentorship in order to sustain some longevity in this league."
When your playing days were over, was it a big adjustment for you?
Archibald: "Of course it is. It's a big gray area because what you do physically is prepare your body and your mind for the team that you are going back to. Like I said, I was fortunate and lucky that I got a chance to play on a championship team here, but this wasn't the only team I played on. So, you talk about different players and different coaches - I didn't have that longevity like a lot of guys who stayed in one place had. But it is an adjustment after you finish playing because you don't regiment your body anymore. You talk about running and training and players today have their own physical therapist today to regiment their body stronger. I didn't have to do that. I was in a big gray area to find out where do I take my career now? It wasn't about basketball. Oh, I'm still interested in doing coaching and mentorship if I can get back into the sports management part of the game. But, I'm working on my education and I feel good about that. But, hey, I got a good education, I played the game, not for a long period of time, but I had fun at it. Enjoy the game while you can because it's not a long-lasting game!"